Here’s a true story:
I used to not enjoy receiving oral sex.
I know, I know. You may gasp in disbelief, but it’s true. Being a fierce explorer of women’s sexuality, I knew it was supposed to be the quintessential feminine experience — the thing that felt “the best.” It wasn’t that way for me.
I could never relax enough to actually enjoy it.
I was always worried…
…worried that my genitals smelled bad.
…worried that he was getting bored down there and it was taking me “too long.”
…worried that if I told him to go slower or lighter, he’d get offended and stop altogether.
…worried that I had to make noise to keep it interesting.
…worried that now I “owed it” to him later, as he was surly VERY bored at this point—
It follows that I had a hard time relaxing under this kind of mental chatter and self-imposed pressure.
My strategy: move on to intercourse—STAT! I would let him hang out with his face between my legs for a few minutes, pretend to like it, and then pull him up to have him fuck me. Intercourse, I reasoned, was “mutual.” If his penis was inside of me, I was certain that he was enjoying himself and that I wasn’t accruing some sort of emotional debt. With my worries gone, I could finally relax, let go, and enjoy myself.
At some point, I realized this pattern was causing me problems. I wasn’t getting the kind of sexual attention I really longed for. But even more troubling was that my anxiety around receiving oral sex revealed a major lack of faith in my worth as a woman. I was a powerful, confident woman. Yet here I was, caught in the trade of “tit-for-tat” sex, thinking I owed him something in return every time he paid attention to me.
My experience points to our conditioning as women that the natural state of our bodies, needs, and emotions—especially in sex—is a burden. Back that, I didn’t see the social implications of my soon-to-be research. I just knew I wanted to be able to relax and receive more without getting stuck in my head, worrying, and eventually going over my to-do list while waiting for “it” to be over.
So I set up some research. I am huge fan and teacher of sex research. Even the most uncomfortable and awkward human experiences can be endured and even enjoyed when turned into an experiment.
At first, my oral sex research attempts failed—utterly. It wasn’t as easy as “just relax.” (Has someone ever told you to, “Just relax?” Yes, exactly—how well did that work?) Receiving pleasure, it turns out, is not a passive experience, but one that requires work. It took wrestling the my demons of self-worth and deservedness and months of practice to learn to put my attention on MY OWN body during oral sex—rather than putting my attention on him. I’ve learned that it takes guts to receive fully.
My research needed some parameters beyond “just relax, Bez.”
Introducing the Timer, my all-time favorite sexual device to this day. Yes, it turns out that I, for one, will do ANYTHING if I know it will end when the timer goes off. The timer provided me with enough structure that I felt safe to experiment and try things that normally scared me.
So I started with 5 minutes on the timer—his mouth, my genitals, 5 minutes. That’s it.
I also added the parameter that there was no pressure to climax or make anything happen during my research sessions. Because, as anyone who has ever been a woman or been with a woman knows, trying harder to get her off usually backfires. (See my TEDx talk here where I broach this very subject on stage.)
It took me a month of research. Timed session by session, nibble by nibble, I began to be learn to relax enough to actually feel something during oral sex. Sometimes what I felt was incredibly pleasurable. The timer would go off — and I wouldn’t want to stop. Other times I was bored, distracted, or restless. I accepted all of it and I kept going. Three years later, I truly enjoy receiving oral sex and have supported many women in learning to feel pleasure in areas of sex they’d written off.
In what areas of sex do you struggle? Want to embark on some sexual research of your own? Here’s what I advise:
- Take all the pressure off.
I mean ALL OF IT. Pressure and expectations send our enjoyment into hiding. They stop female orgasm in its tracks and send the horniest of us straight into our heads. Expectations have no place in sex. Throw your expectations about what you think “should” happen in sex out the window and instead just observe and discover what unfolds in your laboratory, like a scientist.
- Create clear parameters.
Within the context of a sexual research project, we are often willing to experience aspects of our sex we’d kept hidden our whole lives. The number one way to let go is to clearly contain your research within some sort of confines: time, body parts, sex acts, etc. Set the timer without shame. Give yourself a clear container for your experiment. It is an act of bravery to face and undo your sexual programming. Give yourself whatever it takes.
- Approach all sexual discoveries with the genuine curiosity of a true explorer.
Our sexuality is designed to give us the experience of unbridled connection, which includes the full spectrum from enjoyment to despair. When we use it for any other purpose—to prove our love, to make him or her happy, to show that we’re still hot—we bypass the very thing sex is good for.
Sex is one place in our lives where we have the opportunity to truly let go with each other and explore. Like any exploration, sexual research is fraught with as many awkward, embarrassing outtakes as it is with perfect unions and the ravenous consuming of flesh. I’m am certain, however, that every uncomfortable sexual situation can be slowed down, navigated, and eventually enjoyed.
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I’m committed to supporting individuals and couples strip away every that gets in the way of fulfilling sex and relationships to reveal the natural state of connection.