Oral sex doesn't affect me. Is this normal?

When my boyfriend preforms oral sex on me and "eats me out" it's like it has no affect on me. Is this normal? I mean, he's down THERE... using his mouth... shouldn't that affect me? It's almost as if I just don't feel it either. Sometimes I exaggerate my motives a bit when he does just to make him feel a bit better. It's not that I don't WANT him to. And I don't want him to stop. I just... don't feel like it's anything. And it makes me feel bad.
Jenna replies:

It sounds like you have two different concerns in your question: that it is not normal for you to not be experiencing pleasure (or much sensation at all) while receiving oral sex, and that you also don't want your boyfriend to feel bad about that. Let's talk about the first part of your question.

What's Normal?

When it comes to sex and sexual pleasure, nothing is really "normal" or "abnormal". Everyone is different, and we all have different preferences for sexual activities. Generally speaking, what feels great or sounds appealing to me very well might not feel or sound so great to you. Many of us have similar body parts and anatomy, but the way our nerve endings respond to different sensations isn't the same.

For example, many people enjoy stimulation of the clitoris or other parts of the vulva with a hand, vibrator, or mouth/tongue. However, some people don't like that type of sensation. Some might find it too intense, or not intense enough. And any of that might be how a person feels about these kinds of sex all the time, even through a lifetime, or how they feel about it and the experiences they have might (and more often do) vary from one time of life to another, or feel one way in one sexual relationship or interaction, but different with another.

There is nothing wrong with liking this kind of sex or not liking it, as long as you recognize what you do and don't like, and communicate with your partner if you are engaging in any activities that you don't want to do (but more on consent and communication in a little bit). Additionally, people can experience pleasure on a spectrum. Something might feel neutral, mildly pleasant, or downright awesome. Just because something might not result in an explosive orgasm does not mean that it is not a pleasurable experience. It might be helpful for you to check out Innies & Outies: The Vagina, Clitoris, Uterus and More for an overview of female sexual anatomy, as well as With Pleasure: A View of Whole Sexual Anatomy for Every Body to get more information about what parts of our body can provide us with sexual pleasure.

Something that is important when experiencing sensation or pleasure with a partner is ensuring that you are mentally and physically aroused. Do you feel turned on when you are with your boyfriend? Do you feel sexual desire before engaging in any sexual activities? Many people's bodies take time to warm up. What might not feel like anything if you aren't turned on can feel amazing if you're sexually aroused and with a partner that you are desiring. Additionally, if you aren't feeling sexual attraction towards your partner (which feels different from general physical or emotional attraction), then it seems likely that you would not experience sexual pleasure from any type of sexual activity.

While feeling sexual arousal and attraction towards your partner can be necessary for pleasure, feeling any type of pressure is definitely not conducive to a positive sexual experience. Whether it's external pressure (such as a partner asking "Did you orgasm yet!?") or internal pressure that we put on ourselves, stress and sex do not go well together. Worrying about disappointing a partner is a huge barrier to really enjoying sexual activities together.

The Down Low on Oral Sex

There is a wide range of how people respond to receiving oral sex, regardless of gender or genitals. Because of messages that we may receive from our peers, pop culture, and society in general, there is this assumption that oral sex (or any type of sex, for that matter) feels amazing all the time, every time. Something that I can't repeat enough times is that we all have different preferences, and respond differently to sensations. Just like someone's favorite meal might not taste good to you at all (or might not taste like anything), your body has it's own likes and dislikes as well.

Mouthing Off on Oral Sex talks a little more in detail about the different types of stimulation that can occur during cunnilingus, or oral sex on a vulva. Oral sex is a really general term for when someone's mouth, tongue, or lips are sexually stimulating a partner's genitals, but what actually happens during oral sex can vary. Many people also use their fingers/hands, and there can be kissing, licking, or sucking. In addition to different techniques that can go into oral sex, it's worth noting that there really isn't a set structure to it. Many people think that a sexual activity has a beginning, middle, and end (usually ending with orgasm), but that's not the case. Not all sexual activities end in orgasm or need to lead into sexual intercourse, and they can stop and start at any time. If you're engaging in oral sex, there's no rule that says you need to continue having oral sex, and not integrate other activities.

When you take a step back and think about it, it's really amazing just how many things you can do with a partner if you're seeking sexual pleasure. You didn't mention if other types of sexual activities do feel good to you, so I don't know what else you have explored together. Depending on the type of stimulation that you're receiving during oral sex, one possibility is that you're not experiencing the type of touch that your body responds to. I don't know if you have experienced pleasurable feelings during any type of sexual activity with your boyfriend before, but I would recommend reading Sexual Response & Orgasm: A Users Guide to get an overview of what your body is going through during sexual activities. Using this guide to understand what you're experiencing if something does feel good can be helpful in identifying what types of sensations your body likes. Depending on what you discover about your body, you might be able to incorporate those activities into your oral sex sessions.

I want to repeat what I said above, about feeling sexual attraction towards your partner. If you're not feeling chemistry with your boyfriend, this can really play a role in how much you feel during oral sex, or any other type of sex, with him. It can be difficult to recognize or acknowledge when that's the case, particularly if you really enjoy him as a person and get along well. However, sexual attraction and chemistry is an important factor in a sexual relationship.

For Yourself

The best thing that anyone can do, regardless of one's age or level of sexual experience, is to take time for explore and appreciate one's body. Masturbation is a great way for people to identify what types of sensation their body responds to, as well as what does and doesn't feel good. Additionally, masturbation doesn't come with the same type of potential pressure that having partnered sex can have.

If you are interested in exploring masturbation and have not yet, I would recommend checking out Having trouble reaching orgasm? Masturbation is your friend. and Is Masturbation Okay? (Yep.), two great resources on masturbation.

When/if you masturbate, do you feel any sensations? Good, tingly, sexy, intense? Pay attention to what your body is telling you, and what types of stimulation feels stronger than others. If something feels really good when you are masturbating, then it might also feel really good with a partner. You can use what you learn by yourself to help guide what you do with your boyfriend. If you don't feel anything at all, good or bad, when you're touching yourself, then it might be worth getting checked out by a health professional. More on that at the bottom.

Communicating Your Pleasure and Desires

The second part of your question mentions feeling bad that you aren't experiencing much pleasure when receiving oral sex, and not wanting to tell your boyfriend because you don't want him to stop. I understand not wanting to hurt his feelings, especially because it can definitely be a disappointment hearing from a partner that something we are doing isn't working for them. However, I have a feeling that he might prefer to know how you're feeling and what is going on, rather than have no idea.

My favorite article that I love to recommend is Be a Blabbermouth! The Whys, Whats and Hows of Talking About Sex With a Partner, because it is so helpful to any situation that involves a partner. Sometimes it's hard to know how and when to start a conversation about sex with someone, particularly if you aren't sure how your partner will respond. For your situation, you might find it easier to tell him what you like versus what you don't like. If you don't feel much when he does X, but it feels pleasurable when he does Y, then instead of saying "stop doing X", you can say "I love it when you do Y."

Exaggerating your sexual responses can potentially pose issues for your sex life and relationship. I know that it can be tough if you have been responding in a certain way for a while, and don't want to stop now for fear of your boyfriend thinking you have been misleading him all along. However, by not being honest in your response to receiving oral sex, you are signaling to him that you are getting sexual pleasure out of it, which is positive reinforcement for him to continue. While you might enjoy it on some level, if you would prefer him to not continue performing oral sex for an extended length of time, then you might want to take a step back and think about what your responses are saying to him.

You mention not wanting your boyfriend to stop when he is eating you out. I think it is useful to differentiate between emotional pleasure versus physical pleasure. Emotional pleasure, for example, is enjoying the fact that your partner is performing oral sex on you and appreciating being desired. Physical pleasure in this case would be your body's response to this type of stimulation. It sounds to me like you aren't experiencing physical pleasure. I am wondering if it is emotional pleasure that is making you want your boyfriend to continue having oral sex with you, or if it is you feeling like you should be experiencing physical responses.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with emotionally enjoying your sexual activities, but I want to make sure that your heart is happy and your emotional needs are being met. If you are experiencing emotional but not physical pleasure, you might want to communicate with your boyfriend that receiving oral sex from him is enjoyable to you as a way for the both of you to connect.

Sometimes it can feel like being in a relationship means that you should always compromise with a partner, but I firmly believe that you should never do anything that you don't want to do or feel comfortable with, including any sexual activities. Even if you feel comfortable receiving oral sex, I would suggest checking out Yes, No, Maybe So: A Sexual Inventory Stocklist and Reciprocity, Reloaded. Regardless of your relationship status, it's important that you and your sexual partner are being respectful of each others needs and desires, and are both playing in active role in decision-making regarding the sexual activities that you two are doing.

The bottom line is that your pleasure comes first. If you are happy with your current sexual activities and enjoy what you and your boyfriend do together, that's all that matters. If you decide that oral sex isn't something that you feel like continuing to engage in, that's also okay. Either way, keeping the lines of communication open with your partner will ensure that you and your partner are both satisfied and also respecting each others boundaries.

What Else?

If you truly are concerned that you are experiencing a complete lack of sensation -- where even when you touch yourself with your fingers, for example, you literally cannot feel that you are touching yourself -- going and speaking with a health professional is a good idea. If you don't have a health provider that you trust and can speak about your sexuality with, check out Find-a-Doc to explore options near you. In addition to checking in on your physical health, your mental health is just as important. Stress, depression, anxiety, and any other feelings of distress or unhappiness can play a role in sexual arousal and pleasure (or lack thereof). Your health and happiness are intricately connected, and many of us need reminders to check in on our mental and physical well-being.

Recommended Reading

Here are some helpful reading resources that I would suggest checking out.

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