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I don't want to give a guy oral sex...but maybe I do?

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Anonymous asks:

I come here quite often to browse and get information I need, and now I need some advice.

Since I was 13 and started dating and getting more intimate I decided I didn't want to go down on a guy. I had quite a few reasons for it and on top of it I just found it abnormal. Well now I'm 15 and have been in a relationship for quite some time now. Me and my boyfriend talk about sex openly, what each of us are ready and not ready for, and this really does work. He knows my stand point on the no going down thing, though he has done that for me. I know he doesn't expect it back, but he does say that he really wants to. And I find myself compelled to at some points. Does this mean I'm a hypocrite, turning my back on what I've believed? Every time we bring it up I always tell him I'm paranoid, I have researched what you can get from doing something like that. I just don't know, can you help me?

Heather Corinna replies:

For the record, there isn't anything abnormal about oral sex: it's a very common practice. People (and other animals) have been engaging in oral sex for a mighty long time. As well, the risks of infections from oral sex are actually substantially less in most cases than from vaginal intercourse, and if he's giving you oral sex unprotected, he can be putting himself at risk too (though STI risks from cunnilingus are smaller than those from fellatio). In either case, we have sound ways of reducing our risks with any kinds of sex through safer sex practices: if you both get regular STI screenings and use latex barriers, your risks of infections from oral sex are very minimal.

Now, none of that means it still isn't 100% okay if it's not something you want to engage in or do, or that you have to have any kind of sex you aren't into. I just think it's always helpful to weed out factual misinformation. Doing so might also help you find some clarity about why you don't want to do it so you can express that better to partners.

If you're sure this just isn't something you want to do, now or ever, you just need to be very clear with your partner about that. If he's still saying he would really, really like to do something you really, really don't want to, then you need to have another chat, make clear that you just don't think you're going to feel differently about this any time soon, ask him to please respect that and stop voicing a desire for it, and allow him to decide if that's something he can live with or not. Not all partners are sexually compatible, after all: it may be that he'd prefer to choose a partner where he can engage in that, and you'd be better with one who, like you, didn't have any interest in it. On the other hand, many partners will find that one or both of them has interests or desires the other doesn't share, but they like their relationships enough, and benefit from them in enough other areas, that that's not a dealbreaker or even that big of a deal. But if you're sure this isn't something you want, then once you make that clear to a partner, they need to drop it if they choose to stay with you.

My concern is that whatever you decide to do sexually you decide to do because it's something you want to do just as much as a partner does. If you're feeling compelled to give oral sex only or primarily because your partner wants it -- and you still really don't -- that's not so cool. Feeling obligated or pressured isn't a healthy motivation for any kind of sex.

On the other hand, if you're just changing your mind and do feel a desire to explore oral sex with him, that doesn't make you a hypocrite. That makes you someone who is changing her mind, a thing people do about a whole lot of things all of the time. Hypocrisy is the act of opposing a belief or behaviour while holding those same beliefs or doing those same behaviours at the same time. In other words, if I say that I am against abortion while I'm having one, that's different than my once saying I was against abortion, then changing my mind and seeing it differently once I was in the position where I need or want one, and after that, no longer saying I am against abortion. See the difference?

Too, it's common for us to want to do things sexually once we get a little older that we didn't want to do when we were younger. A great many of us, for instance, went through a phase in late childhood where the idea of even kissing was all "Ewwwww, GROSS!" and lo: many of us changed our minds on that radically in a few short years. Our sexuality is something that develops over time, and in your teens years, you're in the thick of that development. If you feel the same way about sex and sexuality at 40 that you felt at 12, chances are good that you probably didn't develop much as a person or that you were an insanely precocious 12-year-old. Sexual development isn't just about growing breasts or getting your period: it's also about your sexuality, about developing and changing desires, about sexual changes socially as you grow into an adult.

It sounds to me like what you need to do is just sit down with yourself and suss out how you feel about this at this point. Is it something you want to do? A good way of feeling that out would be to ask yourself if it's something you might suggest yourself to a partner as wanting to do, rather than only wanting to do in response to their desire to do it. Do you fantasize about it, get turned on when you think about it? Is this about you changing your tune on how you feel about oral sex -- which if you enjoy receiving it yourself, wouldn't be a shocker -- and about feeling different because you're a bit older and closer to someone sexually, or is it about feeling pressured or worried that if you don't do it, you're going to get dumped?

Once you get a better idea of how you feel, you can bring that greater clarity to the table with your boyfriend in talking about this. If you decide it really still isn't something you want to do, I'd just clearly set that boundary and ask to have him let it be. And if that's the case, be honest: if it's not about disease or ideas of abnormality, and just about the fact that even though it can be healthy or normal, you just aren't feeling a strong want to do it, then just say that it just isn't something you want to do. You don't need a reason, nor do you need to come up with a line or excuse to convince him it's reasonable for you not to want to. It's always reasonable for us to have whatever desires we have, and not to have those we don't: sexuality is very individual, and we're all different. If it is something you think you'd like to try and might change you mind about, you can make clear it's tentative, and also be clear that safer sex is a must (which I'd say it is no matter what).

You might also check in with him to be sure that oral sex for you is something he does because he enjoys it, not because he's trying to get you to pay it forward: if he's not really into that for himself, and is only or mostly doing it in the hopes you'll do it for him, then it's probably not the best idea for him to be doing it for you, either.

Here are a few articles to help you out:

written 29 Mar 2008 . updated 29 Jan 2014

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