Show Transcript for Episode 217: Men Who Don’t Go Down

Laurie Watson:                  We’re going to talk about men who don’t like cunnilingus. We’ll be back.

Laurie Watson:                  Welcome to Foreplay Radio – Couples and Sex Therapy. I’m Laurie Watson, your sex therapist.

George Faller:                    And I’m George Faller, your couples therapist.

Laurie Watson:                  And we are passionate about talking about sex and helping you develop a way to talk to each other.

George Faller:                    Our mission is to help our audience develop a healthier relationship to sex that integrates the mind, the heart, and the body.

Laurie Watson:                  George, you got to help us. A lot of men don’t actually like to give oral sex. And we have had four letters just recently from women who are saying their partner don’t go down. And what are they going to do about that? And that’s-

George Faller:                    I think I figured it out.

Laurie Watson:                  What’s that?

George Faller:                    Whoever came up with the word cunnilingus… you go wonder why men don’t want to do it. I mean, who comes up with words like that? I mean, does that sound like a really fun thing to do? Let’s do some cunnilingus. I don’t even know how to say it. Seriously.

Laurie Watson:                  Cunnilingus.

George Faller:                    Holy moly.

Laurie Watson:                  So they can’t say it, so they don’t want to do it, huh?

George Faller:                    Exactly. I mean, what kind of crazy word is that to-

Laurie Watson:                  Fellatio, fellatio.

George Faller:                    Even that’s a tongue twister. I mean, I get.

Laurie Watson:                  So to speak, so to speak.

George Faller:                    So to speak. So go ahead.

Laurie Watson:                  I want to read about this couple. They started dating and she was asking him about himself and she says going down her own mental checklist, ask him about cunnilingus and he says, “Well, it’s like taking out the trash. I don’t enjoy it but I’ll do it.” And then in therapy-

George Faller:                    But she married him, huh?

Laurie Watson:                  Why did she marry him?

George Faller:                    That’s a whole nother conversation.

Laurie Watson:                  That is a serious conversation, don’t marry him. Okay.

George Faller:                    Gosh, if this man actually felt that way. He was honest.

Laurie Watson:                  Okay, okay. We’ll get there. Wait, he says joke that he had heard once and he has no idea why he made that stupid comment. He says he loves it, he’s always done it and he’s never had a problem with it. And she says it was a moment of truth and he’s either been lying or he’s been in denial and maybe they’ve only had oral sex successfully in like two or three years. But now for her, her anxiety comes up and she says she always feels self-conscious and she doesn’t want him to do something that he doesn’t enjoy and then she won’t let him. So we got to talk about how we got to help this couple unblock and what the blocks are and why in the world some men don’t want to do it.

George Faller:                    All right. I mean I love the word block. You’re already just trying to get curious about hey this is something that if everything’s working it should be fun for both people. We have a pretty clear target. I mean this is enjoyable for both people. So something is stopping the natural process, right? So I’m just trying to break it down. Is it physical? Is it something about the taste, the smell, the feel of doing it? Is it more psychological? You was saying that. Is it about being self conscious or worrying I’m going to do it wrong? Is it spiritual? Does it feel dirty or bad? Is it emotional? Is it something that makes me feel inadequate or like I’m failing? So where is this block or is it a combination of blocks? How do we open up that space to start just getting interested and curious together about what’s stopping the process.

Laurie Watson:                  Well I appreciate that it could be difficult probably for some people. Some people enjoy different smells and tastes and they’re okay with all that. And probably different people smell and taste different to different people. I’m not exactly sure how that works. But for women, that whole idea of she doesn’t taste good, she doesn’t smell good, George, they are so hung up about that. I mean the majority of women who have tension in receiving oral sex, that’s a big one. They are terrified that that’s what he’s going to say it’s all about.

George Faller:                    What do you do for that?

Laurie Watson:                  When the woman says that?

George Faller:                    Well for both ends, if the woman is afraid she does smell or maybe the husband or the partner or the another female is afraid of how it does actually smell?

Laurie Watson:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative). Or taste.

George Faller:                    Or taste.

Laurie Watson:                  So I try to fair it out. Is there anxiety about that? If she’s the one that’s anxious and her partner, male or female, says “No, I like the way you smell. I like the way you taste. It’s fine.” And it’s just her own anxiety. Then I ask her is there anything you can do that you feel more confident, often jumped in the shower, jump in the bath or whatever. That can make her feel that she’s more confident about it. But in this case, the man is saying, “Like taking out the trash,” which trash smells bad. So he’s putting in her head this sense that somehow or another your genitals are like trash. They smell bad. I don’t like them. It’s a pretty painful, difficult way of thinking about it.

George Faller:                    It is. I mean, I’m sure there are a lot of women who are giving oral sex to their partner or their husband that don’t like the taste of semen. Right. But they can still do it. I think that’s the practical part about that. Do you need a lube that’s kind of brings a different smell or taste to it?

Laurie Watson:                  Sure.

George Faller:                    What are some of the things that you said? Taking a shower.

Laurie Watson:                  I have them do… okay, so you want to know all my practical tips.

George Faller:                    Yeah.

Laurie Watson:                  So yeah, I mean sometimes I say you put a Altoid in your mouth. You can’t smell or taste anything when you have an Altoid in your mouth. And that can kind of bring a menthol like flavor or breezy feeling to your partner. That can be fun. There are lubes that are flavored and that can be helpful. I mean, I think that in general-

George Faller:                    But to implement that advice you have to be willing to have a conversation.

Laurie Watson:                  Right.

George Faller:                    But I think that’s the hardest part of this. People don’t want to hurt each other, right? So if I think if someone I’m working with, they’re afraid their partner smells, but they don’t want to hurt their feelings, so they don’t want to say anything, it’s still going to inform their actions. They’re not to kind of go down on their partner. They’re just not going to say why they’re not going down, which leaves it up to her brain to figure it out and it’s just all is miscommunication, because they can’t really talk about it.

Laurie Watson:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right. They can’t solve the problem because the partner doesn’t want to hurt their partner so they can’t resolve it. I will say my lesbian patients are a little more open about it. I had a couple who came in and they were talking about that the taste had changed over time and some of it was one of the women was vegetarian and so she smelled in her mind very different and her partner ate meat and so there was a very different smell to her and some of what they worked on was apparently eating avocados and papaya and pineapple. That enzyme changes the way that you taste. I think certainly people who smoke tastes differently. I think coffee actually changes the way you taste as well, but that might be personal. I don’t know.

George Faller:                    You’re going deep here. I didn’t know avocados did that to you.

Laurie Watson:                  That’s right. That’s right.

George Faller:                    I think [crosstalk 00:07:01].

Laurie Watson:                  [crosstalk 00:07:02]

George Faller:                    Avocados just went up right now.

Laurie Watson:                  So there are practical ways certainly to change taste. But I also think that a majority-

George Faller:                    But that’s why, but hold on. Hold on Laurie, because that’s why this is so important to have practical, because people don’t know these things. They just think this is how I smell. There’s nothing I can do about it. Right. So to actually gets some practical advice. Some of these problems are not as big as they seem. It’s the first step is really the most important step. It’s like we need to talk about it, because then we could fix it. We could do something with it. But if we don’t have the conversation, we think we’re protecting our partner, but it’s coming at the cost of more distance in our relationship.

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah. If you’re not giving your partner oral sex and it’s because of the way they taste, the withholding is going to be probably a bigger problem. But I also think-

George Faller:                    The withholding, you mean the female not-

Laurie Watson:                  Withholding-

George Faller:                    … wanting oral sex is a more common problem than… what did you mean by that?

Laurie Watson:                  No, I meant if her partner, like this guy, is not going down right, it’s going to be a real big problem, because this woman also, she orgasms that way, so she’s not going to reach orgasm.

George Faller:                    That’s a problem.

Laurie Watson:                  That’s a big problem. She’s not going to want to have sex. Okay, so we’ll come back talking about going down some more.

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Laurie Watson:                  So what can we do with this couple? She’s already wounded, she’s already self-conscious. She can’t believe him.

Announcer:                        So where are we identifying his block? Was it really just the physical thing? Was it the taste? Was it the smell?

Laurie Watson:                  Let’s say it was stupidity and immaturity, that many times as young sexual beings, there is resistance, that sex is something that we grow into and hopefully we expand our repertoire and what we can enjoy. And as we’re longer in a relationship, hopefully we learn to enjoy more things. And so maybe he was 22 and he’s saying this thing about taking out the trash and then he grows up some and he says, “Wow, okay, she tastes fine. What was I thinking? Now I’ve inhibited her.” He feels awful about that. I guess I would want to know the cycle. What happens for her when she says, “I’m having sex. I know I’m not going to have the pleasure I want to reach orgasm.” What does she do first? What does she do with that and presumably her body locks up some. She probably doesn’t enjoy other kinds of touches as much. She’s thinking the whole time. She’s getting preoccupied. He thinks I’m garbage.

George Faller:                    I like how you’re trying to make space for her experience. Even though we’re trying to explore his, you’re still talking about her.

Laurie Watson:                  Well, yeah.

George Faller:                    All right, that’s-

Laurie Watson:                  It’s dynamic.

George Faller:                    It is a dynamic. And there’s-

Laurie Watson:                  It’s dynamic.

George Faller:                    There’s always a psych.

Laurie Watson:                  There’s always a psych, right.

George Faller:                    But I guess I want to lean in the direction of let’s go play by play. How is this guy experiencing it at when he goes down? A lot of men that I’ve worked with, they really don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing. So, and again, they don’t want to fail.

Laurie Watson:                  That would be very true for that.

George Faller:                    If your worst fear is you don’t know what to do, I mean this is not a great setup. Let’s go down there. You’re in a dark. You don’t know what the heck you’re doing, and chances are you’re going to get it wrong and fail and that’s going to feel pretty horrible. That would be a pretty big emotional block that stopped and somebody. It might have nothing to do with their smell. It just might be their own fears and inadequacy that are kind of like, “What am I supposed to touch? Am I suppose be using my hands? Am I supposed to be using my tongue? I mean, somebody told me I’m supposed to make the alphabet, but I tried that and it really didn’t work so well.” And it’s like-

Laurie Watson:                  That is right, right? Common instruction to young man, just do the alphabet.

George Faller:                    All right. And that seems like high levels of engagement, to go back in school where you didn’t want to be and just go through the alphabet or we have to have better psycho ed out there now.

Laurie Watson:                  And the problem is too, it is fairly difficult, I would imagine, as a man to know how to do this. You can’t see this on film very easily. Right?

George Faller:                    Considering most women, I mean most men have never even been taught about the clitoris or different general parts of a female, they have no idea. It’s just all one thing.

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah.

George Faller:                    So they don’t know what they’re touching, what they’re licking, what’s they’re… they have no idea. They just want to get back to the intercourse because that’s what they’ve been taught is going to work.

Laurie Watson:                  Right. That’s what makes her climax. Right?

George Faller:                    Right.

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah. Not really. Usually mostly women climax with oral sex. Just for the record.

George Faller:                    Again, it starts with this communication. How can that man going down be open to feedback? He’s not supposed to be an expert. Again, we see the pornography, we see the Hollywood movies. Everybody knows precisely what they’re doing. It always works. So when it doesn’t work so well, the man starts thinking I must be doing something wrong.

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah, and I also think, and just for a practical tip, men who know how to do oral sex think that it work… they think it works.

George Faller:                    Should I write this one down?

Laurie Watson:                  You should write this one down.

George Faller:                    All right.

Laurie Watson:                  So they do it too quickly. They do it before she’s very aroused at all. And so first of all, it’ll take them all day.

George Faller:                    Yep.

Laurie Watson:                  And second of all… you’re not supposed to say yep there. And second of all, it doesn’t feel the same to her. It doesn’t feel as good. It’s too soft to really get her moving. So that’s part of it. So, okay, so either way-

George Faller:                    But if you don’t know that… so put yourself in a man’s shoes.

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah.

George Faller:                    If you don’t know that and you start off hot and heavy and you’re ready to go right out of the gate and now you go down on your lady and you’re doing what you think is supposed to be doing, but it’s not really working so well, what do you think that feels like?

Laurie Watson:                  It feels like you’re failing and you’re lousy at it.

George Faller:                    Right? So wouldn’t it make sense while you go-

Laurie Watson:                  And she doesn’t necessarily say-

George Faller:                    No.

Laurie Watson:                  … that’s too soon. Not ready for that yet. [crosstalk 00:14:57].

George Faller:                    So if I’m getting no information and it feels like it’s not working, then that starts to become a turnoff to me. I’m starting to feel pressure. I’m starting to feel like I’m failing it. I want to get out of Dodge and get back into doing something else. And who sees that in a man that feels so bad? You’re doing a great job of putting words to how the female feels, where this is how she can have an orgasm and it’s going to take her some time. And yet her partner doesn’t seem to understand any of that. That’s going to feel pretty disconnected.

Laurie Watson:                  Okay. We want to know where he’s blocked. Is it that he feels like I don’t know how to do it and I was anxious and so I just said it’s a chore? I didn’t really mean that she smelled like garbage. I just meant it’s a chore. I’ll do it, but I don’t feel competent about doing it. Or maybe his experience was it takes all day, because he didn’t know when to do it. Or maybe-

George Faller:                    All of these examples that you’re giving, that we’re were talking about are something not working so well and their style is to avoid conflict, so they don’t want to say anything about it. That’s what sets them up to not really have any of these conversations. I’m afraid of hurting your feelings with the smell. I can’t talk about it. I’m afraid I’m going to fail. I can’t talk about it. I’m afraid I’m not going to know what to do. I mean, all of these fears are never allowed to be expressed. And then it turns into let’s just avoid that topic and not do it.

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah. And I remember one man too… just another one to throw in there. He said the first time he went down on a woman, she had this terrible grimace on her face. And women actually, when they’re excited, sometimes their face does grimace. It was hard to know if she was really enjoying it or if she didn’t like it at all. But of course, they were young and they didn’t talk about it and he never knows. But that’s his imprint. Oral sex, it gets me that face. And so he’s loath to do it

George Faller:                    Right. And that’s why both the male and the female needs success in the experience to do more of it. So if the first few attempts fail and you can’t have a conversation about it, it starts to kind of create, embedded, like you said, that imprint that this is just not something we do, which is so sad because then the couple loses some of that range of flexibility to kind of unleash more of their sexual potential.

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah, that’s what David Schnarch, he’s a sex therapist, he says that people kind of lop off the ends of experience without speaking about it, without discussing it. Their partner says no once and they don’t realize it was, well, they had indigestion or they don’t discuss this, but pretty soon the range, instead of what I was talking about, how as we become more experienced as lovers, we can actually have more, it actually becomes more narrow.

George Faller:                    Exactly right.

Laurie Watson:                  Okay. So I want them both to talk about what they really feel. So when he goes down or he wants to go down and she pushes him away, what does he tell himself? He says, “Okay, I messed it up the first time. Never going to let me do this. She’s not going to get there.” I mean, right there. They need to talk about it. He needs to say, “I know I’ve hurt you, honey. I’ve hurt you by what I said. Tell me what you’re feeling because I want to do this to you.” And hopefully she’ll say, “Yeah.” Hopefully she can go into it. I do. I feel so hurt. I believe that you’re now lying to me and then you were telling the absolute truth and I just, I can’t let you do it.

Laurie Watson:                  And then I would want to know, okay, how does she not let him do it? Wat happens inside her heart? What happens inside her body when she thinks about him doing it? Does she imagine him hating it, thinking that she’s smells, thinking that she tastes bad? And then what does that do to her? Where does she feel that? Is it her gut or her heart? And where does she put that and what does she need? This sense of rejection, is it possible at all for her to feel his love and acceptance of her? I think that’s what they need to talk about.

George Faller:                    Totally agree. My big takeaway in this conversation, I have a big picture in my office of Curious George. Now that’s the word that I like to… I’m inviting both the female and the male in this encounter or if it’s two females, whatever the makeup is… for the person to try to understand why your partner is not going down, let’s get curious. Are they just out to make your life miserable or is there something blocking the natural process? I guarantee you there’s some fear, there’s some protection, there’s something lurking that’s getting in a way. How do we open up a space to explore what that is so we can work through it? It’s not that big of a problem. It becomes a big problem if we can never talk about it.

George Faller:                    The flip side for the person who’s not doing it, to get curious about themselves. How do you think your partner experiences you not doing this and what is going on inside of you that’s stopping this process? When two people start heading towards each other and open up space to kind of explore and discover, good things happen. But when they never have conversations, we know where that leads, which is further and further distance and lower and lower levels of engagement.

Laurie Watson:                  And lower and lower levels of eroticism.

George Faller:                    Now I’m depressed.

Laurie Watson:                  They can get through this. I know they can.

George Faller:                    All right.

Laurie Watson:                  Thanks for listening to Foreplay Radio.

George Faller:                    Keep it hot.

Laurie Watson:                  So George, we’re going to offer an intensive on May 14th in Raleigh to two couples. We have two two hour slots and we would love to get a couple to come in who has sexual problems and you’ll be able to work with George and I, right George?

George Faller:                    That’s right. And what a great opportunity to just open up some space to hang out and see if we can make some progress in these areas we’re stuck in.

Laurie Watson:                  You can just reach us on Foreplay Radio by email and let us know if you’re interested. There is a cost for both George and I and we are videotaping this for our trainings that only are shown to students. Thanks so much.

George Faller:                    We look forward to seeing you there.

Laurie Watson:                  Hi, Foreplay fam. The biggest support you can give us is sharing our podcast with a friend. You can find us also on socials, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and we’d love your questions and feedback and really do use these to guide our show. We’d also love it if you’d rate and review us. If you’re interested in learning more about us and our mission. Look us up on our hot new website, foreplayradiosextherapy.com.

Announcer:                        Call in your questions to the Foreplay Question Voicemail. Dial 833-MY4-PLAY. That’s 833-the number 4-PLAY. And we’ll use the questions for our mailbag episodes. All content is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for therapy by a licensed clinician or as medical advice from a doctor.