Join the conversation as Laurie and Tony talk about oral sex and the relational stress that comes from its absence which often happens in a committed relationship.
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Laurie Watson: Hi, this is Foreplay Radio, Sex Therapy. I’m Laurie Watson, Sex Therapist and author of Wanting Sex Again. And I’m here with my cohost, marriage and family therapist, Tony Delmedico. We are here to help couples keep it hot.
Tony Delmedico: You can check us out on the web at ForeplayRST.com. And you can find us on YouTube and Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you. Laurie, where is Foreplay going to take us today?
Laurie Watson: Oh, this is a good one, Tony. We’re going to talk about go oral or go home.
Tony Delmedico: Go oral or go home.
Laurie Watson: Which is your title? So, start us off. What does it mean, go oral or go home?
Tony Delmedico: I think right up front we should be saying we’re going to be talking about oral sex.
Laurie Watson: For men, fellatio.
Tony Delmedico: For men, oral sex.
Laurie Watson: Giving men oral sex.
Tony Delmedico: Yeah.
Laurie Watson: Or getting oral sex if you are a guy.
Tony Delmedico: Yeah. So, in your experience as a sex therapist, do you find that oral sex for men continues well after the couple gets married or goes into a committed relationship?
Laurie Watson: A softball, a softball.
Tony Delmedico: Or do you find that it diminishes over time?
Laurie Watson: Yeah. You know, I mean, I think this is — your title really captures, I think the frustration that men feel that that somehow or another, you know, oral sex seems to drop off after marriage.
Tony Delmedico: Precipitously.
Laurie Watson: Yeah.
Tony Delmedico: Many men report.
Laurie Watson: Yeah. And I think that there’s so much rage about that. And I don’t blame them. You know, there suddenly, it’s like, well, she used to do it when I was dating and when we were together then. And why doesn’t she do it now? I mean, there’s just this frustration. Like some somehow or another oral sex becomes this really exotic act where it used to be just kind of part of the routine. And part of what they did.
Tony Delmedico: And men, it seems like men get duped over and over. And in the culture, everyone lampoons the fact that oral sex drops off.
Laurie Watson: Duped. That is a really strong word.
Tony Delmedico: Exactly. Yet all men entering into relationship thinks it’s going to be different with us. It’s, you know, she wouldn’t do that to me. It’s going to be great. It’s great now. It’s going to be great forever. She wants me. She desires me. That tender male ego sort of ballasts itself as it goes through this period. And I think, many men wake up really confused like, well, did she have an agenda in this thing.
Laurie Watson: Did she trick me? Was it bait and switch? I do think your word duped is a really angry word. And is descriptive though of how men report this to me. So, I think you’ve captured something there. They just feel so hurt. And so somehow or another deceived that this very important part to them of the sexual experience goes away. In the University of Quebec, there was a research study that was done in 2015 that basically studied, you know, people’s sexual fantasies. And the number two fantasy for men was of receiving oral sex. I mean, this is so high. Not just on an individual guys mind, but I think in general, oral sex, you know, that’s where it’s at for him.
Tony Delmedico: By and large is a real turn on.
Laurie Watson: Yeah.
Tony Delmedico: Yeah. And that doesn’t go away. I mean number one incidentally was men receiving oral sex so. What was number one? Do you remember?
Laurie Watson: Yeah, I do. It was actually having sex with a romantic partner. It was the same for men and for women. So, that was the research. It was about 1,500 adults that were surveyed over the internet.
Tony Delmedico: Fabulous. Fabulous. And number two is right there. So, that doesn’t go away.
Laurie Watson: Number one and number two.
Tony Delmedico: So, that shouldn’t surprise anyone, I don’t think, who’s listening today. I’m wondering, and it’s a bit of an aside, but we are kind of talking about something that for a couple was on the table and in play when they started together and somehow this has been taken off the table, right?
Laurie Watson: Right.
Tony Delmedico: And we’re focusing today on oral sex. But I’m wondering if there was something else that was taken off the table, if the male mind just doesn’t start to focus on her.
Laurie Watson: Yeah, like letting him give her oral sex, often gets removed from the table as well. You know, suddenly — But I think in general your point is that for some people in couples that sex, you know, once you marry or once you commit to each other, it should be this highway right of sexual freedom. But what we observe is that sex becomes constricted. That no longer are the things that they were doing that were really experimental and maybe hot and full of variety, that suddenly they’re doing something that is more constricted, less variety, not as much, not as exciting.
Tony Delmedico: In the box.
Laurie Watson: Yeah, in the box.
Tony Delmedico: Why is that? You would think over time that you would, in general couples would begin to explore more and more of the boundaries of the things they like and they don’t like. And very naturally we don’t.
Laurie Watson: Right. I think that there are reasons for that. I think that, you know, in the beginning, like in a one night stand or the first time you have sex with somebody, you know, oftentimes that person really is not that meaningful to you. And so, people let out there kind of crazy wild side and they don’t care what that person thinks about them. But later in partnership, we care so much about our partner’s feelings about us and their potential judgment of us. That we start self-editing what we put out there. You know, it just takes one look from your partner after you’ve suggested something that you go, “Oh, okay, I am never going to suggest that again.”
Tony Delmedico: Yeah. So, with hookups you’re less vulnerable. And you’re able to risk more.
Laurie Watson: Right, right.
Tony Delmedico: And then the vulnerability increases, as you actually grow closer to someone, somehow —
Laurie Watson: Our sexual vulnerability seems to go down instead of rise to the occasion. I can’t, I can’t help but hear sexual endos in both of those things, right? I mean, I do think that people somehow or another are worried about what their partner thinks. Either if you bring a new idea and they think, “Well, where did you get that?” You know, “Have you been with somebody else?” You know, “Where did you get that idea?” Or, “Gosh, that’s something that you wanted to do and you haven’t told me.” And there’s this feeling of disappointment. You really don’t bring to me your ideas and your creativity. And so, it’s this once in a blue moon thing that people offer. “Yeah, I kind of wanted to try that?”
Tony Delmedico: Do you think that’s a cultural thing? Sort of good girls don’t. And bad girls do sort of thing.
Laurie Watson: Sure, sure. Absolutely. I think for women it is. And I think that, you know, you’re talking specifically about oral sex that good girls don’t give oral sex.
Tony Delmedico: Yeah.
Laurie Watson: I think that in certain cultural expression, certain cultures that’s true. That there is this sense that oral sex, giving oral sex means you’re a bad girl. And so, they don’t do it. Or that it’s something that has to be given as a reward. And I mean, there is nothing that kills kind of natural sexual desire and love between a couple when sex becomes an exchange for being good or you know, giving each other something, you know, you take out the garbage and I’ll give you oral. I mean there’s just something so soul killing in that when sex becomes a quid pro quo sort of experience.
Tony Delmedico: To turn the thing inside out Laurie, do you find that there are men out there who don’t feel comfortable receiving oral sex?
Laurie Watson: Yes, yes. And I think one main thing I’d like to say is a lot of men can’t climax with oral sex. Because it doesn’t include usually the thrusting motion. And so, they need kind of that hip motion to climax. And they need a firmer touch. And so, yeah, a lot of men don’t climax. And women say, you know, “It takes me forever to give him oral sex.” Whereas if we’re having intercourse, you know, he can climax easily. And some men just don’t like oral sex. It’s not top of their list. I mean, very few as you kind of indicated. And as the study shows, probably very few, but there are some men out there that are not crazy about it.
Tony Delmedico: I’m thinking about the man who can’t, who just can’t relax in the act of receiving. So, some men are very anxious and feel like they need to be doing and performing. It can be very hard just to sit back.
Laurie Watson: Right.
Tony Delmedico: Or remain undefended and just actually drop into your body and receive pleasure.
Laurie Watson: Just to receive. I think that’s true that men have trouble sometimes just receiving. They should be doing something. And I think sometimes it goes to an extreme. Men report being ticklish when they’re receiving oral sex. And that is often kind of a sign that they’re anxious. And so, they can’t feel the of the whole thing. But we don’t want to spend too much time on that because hardly any man out there cares about that, I think.
Tony Delmedico: Well, I was also thinking about the female ego. So, you had reported that men have trouble having orgasm during oral sex. And so, oftentimes women will take that on as, “I’m not doing it right. I’m not good enough. What’s wrong with me?” And I think we’re trying to debunk that myth that there’s actually nothing wrong.
Laurie Watson: Sure. And that is one main reason I think that I hear from women that they don’t give oral sex as much because they don’t get enough feedback. And they don’t know if they’re doing it well.
Tony Delmedico: Got you. So, maybe in the second half of the program, we can spend some time talking about techniques.
Laurie Watson: Right. And I think men say to me often, you know, the only difference between good oral sex and bad oral sex is enthusiasm. You know, does she want to do it? Does she enjoy it? Does she feel pleasure at me in her mouth? Does she take pleasure in my pleasure? I think being a grownup and having an erotic self that is developed is that, you know, you take pleasure in what gives your partner pleasure.
Tony Delmedico: Right. So, you actually feel the joy of being desired. A prime way that a man can feel that. She actually wants me this much that she’s doing this.
Laurie Watson: Yes, absolutely. And it’s so intimate. I think men feel so wanted and desired when a woman does that. It’s really a affirming act.
Tony Delmedico: Great.
Laurie Watson: Yeah. When I got married, I will say that the preacher’s wife told me, you know, that oral sex is kind of like worshiping at his alter. You know, I mean I think she really got it in terms of how special this was. And how important it was to a male. And how intimate his penis is connected to his heart. You know that this whole thing really, really means she loves him.
Tony Delmedico: Wonderful. Well, Laurie, we’re near the end of the first session here. So, stay tuned. We’ll be back with the second half of Go Oral or Go Home. This is Foreplay Radio, Sex Therapy. We’ll be right back.
Commercial: Wanting Sex Again, how to rediscover desire and heal a sexless marriage by certified sex therapist, Laurie Watson. Each chapter is designed to fix one of the problems that caused low libido from early marriage through the childbearing years, even all the way through menopause. I’ve also had men read it and tell me that for them it was the most helpful thing they read about resolving sexual problems. Look for Wanting Sex Again on Amazon.com. You can also talk to Laurie Watson for therapy in person or via Skype. I offer couples counseling and sex therapy and I think about both aspects of the relationship, emotional intimacy, and sexual technique. And that combination together helps marriages be happy. Improve your sex. And improve your relationship with awakening center for couples and intimacy. Find out more at AwakenLoveandSex.com and sign up for their next couples retreat weekend hosted by Laurie Watson. AwakenedLoveandSex.com, awaken what’s possible.
Tony Delmedico: Welcome back to Foreplay Radio, Sex Therapy. We are talking today about Going Oral or Going Home. I’m Tony Delmedico marriage and family therapist. And I’m here with Laurie Watson, sex therapist and author. And Laurie, we talked a lot about —
Laurie Watson: Kind of the rage that men feel when oral sex goes missing after they’ve committed or married.
Tony Delmedico: Sort of the dynamics.
Laurie Watson: Right.
Tony Delmedico: What goes on in the minds of the couple. So, I’m wondering the second half, maybe we can get to some technique if you feel that might be good ground to cover.
Laurie Watson: Some of the reasons that women say why they stop giving oral sex. You know, do focus on technique and issues that are problematic for them.
Tony Delmedico: And you were saying the biggest technique near the end of the first half was enthusiasm.
Laurie Watson: That’s right.
Tony Delmedico: Right.
Laurie Watson: That’s right. I mean, men say, you know, does she really want to do it? That’s what makes it good for him. You know, if he knows she does, then he can sit back and relax the way you were talking about it.
Tony Delmedico: So, it makes him feel appreciated. There’s a bit of an ego stroke. I’m wondering if there’s some power dynamic there. Some submission. I don’t know if you want to touch on any of that.
Laurie Watson: Sure. I think for men, sometimes there’s the sense that they are being given to, so they are dominant. And I think for women sometimes there’s the sense of, you know, I’m holding his very private parts in my mouth between my teeth and there’s kind of a dominance in that. I mean, it can be both. Or maybe she’s giving to him, so she’s submissive. I think dominance and submission really are kind of very big themes that are woven through our sexual expression and our feelings of desire. I mean our arousal patterns are kind of formed very early in life and complicated as we’ve become adults with many things. But those are kind of two big ones.
Tony Delmedico: So, does technique. We talked a lot in earlier episodes about techniques for women in oral sex. I’m wondering does technique matter for men as much?
Laurie Watson: Well, I have not heard that is as important. Yeah, for some men they do say, “Yeah, she really does it lousy.” But most of that is because she’s anxious. And that’s conveyed during the act.
Tony Delmedico: So, when you have a woman that comes into your consulting room and she says, “This is a growing edge for me, I want to learn how to perform oral sex for my partner.” Do you take the time and bring her through things that might help her be successful in that?
Laurie Watson: Yes, yes. I mean, the first thing I ask is, you know, what gets in your way? What are you feeling about it that stops you from wanting to give it? And I would say, the number on thing that women go through is really kind of this sense of an ick factor about it. Is it dirty or it is gross or there’s aspects of it that are gross and dirty. And I cannot overemphasize the need for clean for men. And I had one guy, he said, “Well that’s ridiculous. I like her smells. You know, why would she want to me to shower off first. Why can’t she enjoy my smells.” And all I can say is, you know, if it gets you more oral sex, please just take a shower. You know what I mean. That’s just a crazy argument.
Tony Delmedico: That’s a stubborn man. Just because he enjoys the scents, doesn’t necessarily mean that she does or has to.
Laurie Watson: Right.
Tony Delmedico: He can enjoy his experience as he wants it.
Laurie Watson: I asked a girlfriend who, you know, we had been friends, you know, they’d been married for 25 years and we were all hiking together. And it was a weekend that some friends and I were out together. And she said, you know, as many of my girlfriends do, they talk to me about sex. And she said, “You know, I don’t like to give her oral sex.” And I said, “Why not?” And she said, “Well, you know, I’m worried about, you know, if he doesn’t smell right or he’s not that clean.” And I’m like, “Okay, so what have you told him?” And she says, “Well, I’m kind of afraid to tell them to take a shower because it’s so insulting.” And I said, “Oh, just tell him. Please tell him.” And so, later on in the hike, the next day, he kind of walked by me and very casually said, “Thank you.”
Tony Delmedico: Nice. And then he jumped in the Alpine Lake and got scrubbed up for a night in the tent.
Laurie Watson: Exactly.
Tony Delmedico: Good for you Laurie.
Laurie Watson: Yeah. Soap on a rope.
Tony Delmedico: Always working hard.
Laurie Watson: This is actually one place, that can really be helpful for somebody learning or relearning how to give oral sex is the shower is a great place because it’s absolutely clean. There are no smells, there are no tastes that are really possible. Because there’s so much water. It can be great to try it again in the shower for the first time back.
Tony Delmedico: Yeah, oddly enough, we don’t as couples, we typically don’t have a problem saying, “Hey, could you brush your teeth?”
Laurie Watson: Yeah. But saying, “Hey, you take a shower.”
Tony Delmedico: Because parts that have been cooped up all day aren’t smelling fresh.
Laurie Watson: Oh, that’s right. That’s right.
Tony Delmedico: Why wouldn’t we say, get cleaned up if you want to have some fun.
Laurie Watson: Yes. And I think that the second thing that I hear from women is this kind of gag reflex. They are afraid that they’re going to choke. That it’s too much in their mouth. And they don’t know how to control it, especially for men. You know, sometimes men get carried away. And they put their hands on the back of her head and they pushed down. And I just kind of say, never do that. Just never ever do that. And I understand, you know, it feels so good and that’s why he’s doing it. But it’s just the wrong thing to do because it can gag her. And it will, you know, turn her off. And that’s the last thing that you want to do guys is turn her off. So, don’t do that.
Tony Delmedico: So, you’re saying leave her in control of the process?
Laurie Watson: Yes. And what I tell her is that, you know, good oral sex often requires, and it’s accompanied by good manual technique so she can control depth by using her hands. And the men who have trouble climaxing with just oral sex often can climax with sort of more attention, more manual tension at the same time.
Tony Delmedico: Okay. So, you’re talking about hand around the base.
Laurie Watson: Right around the shaft of the penis.
Tony Delmedico: Got you.
Laurie Watson: Yeah, that can be helpful.
Tony Delmedico: It was just flashing through right now is the go to nowadays is to look at porn. So, to get all of your information from porn and looking at porn, some of those things are quite extraordinary in terms of what goes on.
Laurie Watson: Right. The whole deep throat thing.
Tony Delmedico: Yeah. And you’re saying that that’s not the way to go. And a woman can’t perform like that.
Laurie Watson: I think men are willing to accommodate oftentimes if it means getting more oral sex. And it’s not, you know, the absolute fantasy. I think that men would say, “Oh yeah, do what makes you comfortable.” Just so that they have more of it.
Tony Delmedico: Sure. If a woman wants to get good at it, can that technique be taught and can it be learned?
Laurie Watson: Well, first of all, I think it’s just like what we tell women. Please help her by giving her encouragement and telling her that she’s doing a good job or that you love it. I mean, maybe she’s not perfect yet, but tell her how much you love it, how much you’re glad she’s doing it, maybe assist her some in doing it. I think that criticism is so problematic when you’re in the bed.
Tony Delmedico: I’ve had couples come into the consulting room that, you know, it’s her fault. She just won’t learn. She won’t learn to relax her throat. She doesn’t care. She doesn’t want to try. So, there is this big impasse. And it puts pressure on her.
Laurie Watson: And any act, I got to say, even oral sex. Even though it’s so important, there are some reasons that maybe we don’t understand fully in the beginning. But if a person absolutely will not, does not want to do an act. I mean you got to accept that in some ways. I mean, this one, I feel like oral sex gets kind of caught in latency for a lot of couples. And what I mean by that is, remember when you’re 12 years old and you heard about French kissing. And the first reaction is, “Oh, that’s disgusting.” Well, oral sex for whatever reason is caught and snagged in this sense of latency. We’re not grown up yet. You know, we can’t and haven’t accepted that sex has its own tastes and its own smells. And so, it’s like we’re more childlike in that and we can develop and become more adult and learning that these things are part of sex. And they’re not necessarily tastes icky or bad. They’re just different. It’s a smell and a taste that we’re not familiar with. And so, becoming more familiar, we can grow. But I would say for every woman, for every man, there may be a sex act that they got to say no to. And I know it would be terribly, dreadfully disappointing. But sometimes that is a bottom line, has to be accepted, right?
Tony Delmedico: But that may be a line that’s drawn in the sand at the very beginning. So, you know, the rules of engagement in the boundaries in the relationship. And I think that’s different than the drop off after a relationship.
Laurie Watson: The frustration later. I think there is a difference. I will say though, like, I mean I’m just thinking of an extreme case. But a woman who was molested, maybe forced to give oral sex, fellatio at some point. And her excitement and her joy in the relationship early overrides her anxiety about it. But then ironically, when she’s safe in a committed relationship, some of these tensions and memories start to emerge. And so, it could be that. And I’m not saying that a woman who doesn’t want to give oral sex was molested. That’s not what I’m saying. But sometimes there are real reasons that are not about withholding and not about not wanting to give to your partner.
Tony Delmedico: Yeah. And as therapists, I think in any oral sex or any kind of intimate act, if there are traumatic memories that come up, go see a therapist and get some work around those memories. Because it could liberate you from them.
Laurie Watson: Yes. And I would say another thing that women feel very anxious about is ejaculating in her mouth. And sometimes men really don’t care. You know, they reach the point of inevitability and they’re going to climax any old way. So, if they knew that it didn’t, you know, that she would give him oral sex as long as he didn’t climax in her mouth, they would absolutely take that.
Tony Delmedico: And some men take the opposite approach, which is now, “Wait, you’re having an orgasm while I’m performing oral sex on you. Why don’t you reciprocate?”
Laurie Watson: Right.
Tony Delmedico: Fair is fair.
Laurie Watson: Fair is fair but it is different. I mean most women don’t ejaculate in his mouth. So, there is something that is different about that for a man giving a woman oral sex.
Tony Delmedico: Can you give us, I don’t know if you would know, but is there a study that’s been done that, that gives you what percentage of women swallow and what percentage of women do not?
Laurie Watson: I don’t know that. I really don’t know that.
Tony Delmedico: Any thoughts. I mean, not to put you on the spot.
Laurie Watson: I would say anecdotally men who want her to swallow versus men who are just fine if she, a, I mean swallowing is different than him climaxing in her mouth, right? If she climaxed, if he climaxes in her mouth and she spits it out or she swallows. Again, I think vast majority could care less what she does with it. There is, I have heard some men talk about it with a lot of kind of heartfelt need. Like this is her really ta king me inside her and this is completion. But I’m not sure necessarily sensation wise that there’s any difference to him. So, I’m not sure exactly why it’s as big a deal to him. It’s a psychological.
Tony Delmedico: A little bit of male ego in the mix there. Maybe?
Laurie Watson: Not ego, but maybe psychologically, you know, there’s a sense of acceptance that he from that. But again, I think if you’re a guy and you don’t care, please make that clear. The other thing women say, you know, is I don’t know when he’s going to climax. And I just think, you know, if you’ve been with a lover for a few years, you really ought to know what he feels like before he is going to ejaculate. But maybe, you know, they do the old, it’s sexual intercourse and so she doesn’t really know what he feels like. So, I would say tell her and some women say, you know, “It happened once in college, he told me he wouldn’t climax in my mouth and then he tricked me. He did anyway.” And it’s like sometimes men early in their life, they don’t have as much control. So, it’s not really that he was purposely doing that. But you know, it wound up that way. So, we talked about a lot of things here.
Tony Delmedico: We did. We got to some technique. We got to some rules of engagement. We got to some of the psychological issues around oral sex for men. Thank you for tuning in to Foreplay Radio, Sex Therapy. Laurie, before we go, I’m wondering if you have a tip.
Laurie Watson: I think that the lack of oral sex by and large can be helped and healed so that people get comfortable with it.
Tony Delmedico: And I think the tip I heard today for me was, gentleman, fellows, be sure that you’re clean. Put yourself in a good position so that if oral sex has an opportunity to happen, that won’t be a barrier.
Laurie Watson: Good. Well, thank you for tuning in today with Foreplay Radio, Sex Therapy. We will be back with some more Foreplay later.
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