Show Transcript for Episode 280: My Partner Won’t Go Down—How Do We Go On?

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Announcer 00:00
The following content is not suitable for children.

Laurie Watson 00:02
So many people, even when they come to therapy, George, and get to a better sex life, there’s a lot of things to forgive, there might be years of their sex life that wasn’t so good and right when they get what they want, though that resentment that sorrow of not having had it comes up. And there’s a difficulty in accepting. Wow, we weren’t there for a long time. And how do we help people learn to forgive what either didn’t happen in their sex life, or parts of their sex life, maybe things that their partner doesn’t want to do? That’s what I want to talk about.

George Faller 00:42
All right, morning. Sounds really fun.

Laurie Watson 00:48
Welcome to Foreplay Radio, Couples and Sex Therapy. I’m Laurie Watson, your sex therapist.

George Faller 00:53
And I’m George Faller, couples therapist,

Laurie Watson 00:56
and we are passionate about talking about sex and helping you develop a way to talk to each other.

George Faller 01:01
Our mission is to help our audience develop a healthier relationship to sex that integrates the mind, the heart and the body.

Laurie Watson 01:12
We had a listener, a longtime listener who wrote us a note. And thank you so much, you know who you are. I appreciate it. You’ve given us comments throughout the years. And that’s been great. We have a couple people who consistently comment and I do read every email that comes in, I try to respond to most of them. I don’t get there all the time. But your feedback helps guide us. So we definitely appreciate it. But this listener says, I love what you’ve been doing on the podcast lately. In the past, you’ve talked about grieving for sex acts that we want, but just aren’t on the table for our partners. Can you please do a show about how exactly we go through that grieving process? I want to let go of things that I want, but my partner doesn’t want. I’m worried it’s causing her in the relationship, which means more to me than the sex acts in question.

George Faller 02:01
Wow, big picture. We know what it makes me think about Laurie is. So let’s get practical. Okay, now I get a lot of this with my couples where say, the wife doesn’t want to give oral sex or doesn’t want to receive oral sex. Right now, it could be major disappointments for the partner, or the flip side, you know, the guy doesn’t want to give oral sex or doesn’t want to receive oral sex, right? So there is if you’re not going to get what you want, and you’ve expressed it multiple times, there’s going to be a natural resentment and an unnatural mourning for kind of what can’t be. So I think we’re going to get more into that. But can you help me? Just like what would you say, as a sex therapists, you know, when people say late, they can identify the block, I just don’t want my partner to go down on me, or I don’t want to go down on my partner.

Laurie Watson 02:56
So hard, so painful. I hear this too, about oral sex. And I mean, I think as a sex therapist, I often believe there are, there are ways through. So first of all, before you give up, definitely contact a sex therapist. And I think there are, you know, pieces of us that resist certain acts that our partner wants that, you know, maybe something that we can deal with, and think about and be practical about and work it through. I mean, my first part, when I listened to this inside, says, you know, there’s maybe there’s hope, maybe there’s hope in terms of thinking about it, there’s growth and development, I happen to know this man who wrote in is fairly young. And I know that in an arc of a long relationship, I’ve been married a long time. You know, there’s lots of different feelings that we have about sex and we we grow up to. So I think that that development piece is helpful, but I also don’t want people hanging out there, wishing for something and it kind of torturing them, if really what they need to do is grieve that it’s not going to happen. Okay.

George Faller 04:05
So I am a wife, I do not want to give oral sex. How could you help me?

Laurie Watson 04:10
Oh, that is so sad. So I mean, the first thing I would ask this woman would be Why do you not want to give it you know, what, what’s the turnoff for you? Because a lot of these turn offs, maybe we can mitigate with a bit of a change. A lot of women I think, say things like well, you know, I don’t want to give oral sex because he smells bad. That That might be the first kind of piece of resistance. And sometimes I say okay, you know, first of all, so have you tried it, you know, and she says yes or I haven’t tried it or I just think that I wouldn’t want to try it because he smells bad. You know, first of all, I think genitals have a smell to them. You know sex has a smell to it and a taste to it. It is different. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. I think that in their head, they worry about it. And so I’m I asked her, would you think about giving oral sex in the shower? You know, if there’s water everywhere, he’s completely clean. You can’t smell anything in the shower anyway, would you consider doing it there? That might be the first part that I would ask? What are the resistances? Do you hear a woman would offer to you to ask her? Like, why and what she’s, what she’s anxious about?

George Faller 05:33
Yeah. A lot of women will say it, it’s just don’t like the gags makes them gag. It doesn’t. Right.

Laurie Watson 05:40
Right. So like the gagging. I hear that one too, all the time. I mean, I think good oral sex, you need to use your hands too. So if you’re afraid about gagging, maybe your hand sort of keeps the depth at a place where you know, you’re not going to gag. And that can be pleasurable for him as well. I mean, I think some men, you know, they’re all into deep throat, they want her to take him completely into her mouth. But some men, they could care less, you know, it’s just about having her mouth on his penis that he’s excited about. So I think controlling depth with her hand might be one way that I would suggest getting over that or she’s in control. You know, he doesn’t, it’s not standing up. It’s her on top, you know, when he’s on the bed, so she’s completely in control of it. And that can be helpful. I will say, most women say they don’t like their heads pushed down. Because that can change the depth. So if that’s the issue, gentlemen, hands off. Let let her be in control.

George Faller 06:45
So helpful that, you know, you can go somewhere to talk about this stuff. Yeah, right to get actually tactical tips on how to make it more enjoyable. And what are the things getting in a way? Now? What about a woman who doesn’t want their partner to go down on them? They don’t want oral sex. It’s it kind of grosses them out there. They’re fine with everything else, but they don’t want that.

Laurie Watson 07:09
girlfriend. What are you thinking here? Most of what I hear from women is, this is the part of them that they don’t accept their own body. They think their body doesn’t smell good or doesn’t taste good. They’re so anxious about it doesn’t look good, or it doesn’t look good. Exactly. Especially with pornography. Women have seen other women which by the way, porn shows a particular type of vulva. So, you know, she doesn’t have a sense that actually every woman is kind of like a snowflake, you know, a little

George Faller 07:41
vulva. My new motto? I love over. There’s no normal. It’s all good.

Laurie Watson 07:50
It’s all good. Thank you. That’s right. You know, I would say to her, you know, practical tips again, good. Go hop in the shower. You know, would you be more comfortable if you just taken about a lot of women say yes. So I often ask them Have you told them that and they say no, which just is crazy in my mind. But they you know, maybe he approaches her right? at a time of day or something that she hasn’t been in a shower, and she doesn’t have the I don’t know, the sense of herself, or her ability to direct the event to say, hey, love to but I gotta go hop in the shower first. So she doesn’t do that. But that might be one one thing to do. And I think so many women grow up thinking that they’re stinky, or, you know, their mothers say that when they’re about to, you know, in the evening, you need to go take a bath, Honey, you’re stinky. And it’s like an internalized thing. And often, what I tell them is, first of all, I want them This is crazy. I know, women who you’re scared of this smell problem, but to smell their underwear every time they go to the bathroom all day long. And what they actually will learn is they smell very different throughout the day, throughout the month. During their cycle, women smell differently. So I mean, these are just the tips that a sex therapist would give to help them through that.

George Faller 09:15
I so appreciate it was so sad when you said for most of these women, it’s because they don’t like their own body. They’re too self conscious. And they would rather just avoid kind of a beautiful opportunity to just kind of relax and let their bodies kind of be responded to

Laurie Watson 09:31
because I think their partners don’t feel that their partner’s love looking at them and smelling them and tasting them and it’s just hard for them to get that through their head. All right, well,

George Faller 09:43
let’s come back and talk about the men. Okay.

Laurie Watson 09:48
Had a patient tell me the other day Uberlube.com with the coupon: FOREPLAY. They bought some and they said you were right Laurie. It is the best way better than what they had been using before because scent free, tastes free. There’s no sticky residue, which is so important. It doesn’t get gummy, it doesn’t create that friction that some of the lubricants out there do. It leaves you feeling soft and silky. It uses high grade silicone with a little bit of vitamin E, you can switch from oral sex to intercourse, you can use it with touching, I highly recommend it during foreplay makes her feel better makes him feel good. I mean, it’s a better touch. And

George Faller 10:31
you know, when 1000s of doctors, sex therapists and clients are all agreeing and recommending the same thing, you’re onto something.

Laurie Watson 10:39
Exactly. So Uberlube.com, with the coupon FOREPLAY for 10% off.

George Faller 10:49
All right, Laurie. So we given women some tips to just go somewhere, talk about a you can identify the problem and find a way of just becoming more practical, what things you can do to make it more enjoyable. So let’s help the men out there. What do we do with men who, who don’t want to go down who don’t want to give our sex?

Laurie Watson 11:10
Probably a smaller percentage. And women who, you know, their biggest turnoff is oral sex. You know, it’s so painful and rejecting, especially if she’s the one who’s more open. And he’s not quite as open or he’s disgusted, I had a young couple. And that was her way to orgasm. And he said, You know, I just I don’t think she smells or tastes good. And part of me was just, you know, my stomach hurt. It was like, Oh, my wish you hadn’t said that out loud in the room. It’s just so painful. So rejecting, you know, and he had been with a number of partners. So he had said, Actually other women tastes differently. And I like that. I’m just like, Ah, this is this is terrible, you know, because it’s, it’s not only a rejection of oral sex in general, but he’s definitively saying he doesn’t want to give it to his wife. I mean, first of all, I, I gotta give her credit for being able to walk out of the room just stand up after that, you know, I think it’s so rejecting. But you know, there are things that are practical that could be done. You know, a lot of times, eating different things. You know, if you’re a smoker, that could be a problem in terms of changing your taste and odor, and eating avocados and pineapples supposed to sort of change the taste of the genitals, that might be one fix. I mean, again, I think for him, right? If, if it’s really taste and odor, you could probably still give it to her while he’s in the shower. Because there’s just so little taste or smell that’s even possible in that situation right now. But especially, I think when we talk to each other about the No, you know, I can’t do that for you, or I don’t want to, we have to be so careful not to injure our partner. It’s so so careful. I think it’s, I heard a woman say, you know, giving oral sex, you know, she didn’t like the shape of his penis or something, and my heart just hurt. It’s like that’s so unchangeable, where the way you taste is so unchangeable. So I don’t know if there’s a tactful way to describe the dilemma of what you’re feeling like, you don’t want to do that. And why use as much tact as possible. But you do have to say something,

George Faller 13:36
or you do have to have some kind of compensation. And I mean, hey, listen, if if your partner has really bad breath, and it gets in a wave, you want to kiss them, maybe you could use mouthwash or things you can do that got it can help with that. So, I mean, I don’t want to play people, if they if they could identify that turn on how did they come up with us as a team, a way of addressing that I love your idea of being in the shower. And if that takes care of the problem, then then, you know, try it out. Let’s see what it’s like. But I find a lot of men actually lack confidence in oral sex. That’s a part of the turnoff that they really don’t know what they do you know, that they’re taught duty alphabet, and they’re like, just down there. And, you know, they just, they feel like, they’re not good at what they’re doing. And we know their susceptibility to messages that they’re failing. So if they feels like they’re a failure doing that they try to avoid that feeling.

Laurie Watson 14:30
Mm hmm. Right, exactly. And I think the same with women giving oral sex. They say, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to make them happy. Yeah, absolutely. lack of confidence is a big one. And those things I think you’re right, George, I think people have to have these conversations, even if it’s painful. Especially they can do it without without offending their partner and telling the truth. Such a delicate balance. Right, I think being careful about the things that are unchangeable. You know, the way they’re their partner looks or something that is just going to offend them. And then there’s no fix. But yeah, this one, and oftentimes it’s projected on the partner, I don’t want to do that to you, when really they’re saying on the inside, I don’t know how to do that to you.

George Faller 15:19
Yeah, that’s the missed opportunity. If, if you listen to your avoidance, you’re never gonna kind of connect in this area. Right. But if you’re willing to have a difficult conversation, and know what can be more intimate, and then give an oral sex, right, so if you had some basic psych Ed and a different body parts and where to touch it, what time it and you’re open to feedback could be what, what a great leap forward, you can make as a lover, right, that that’s why these difficult conversations and talking to a sex therapist about like, actually, what do you do? Where do you like, what do you do with your hands? I mean, there are so many practical guides out there, that that are? What is that book that you mentioned once before come as she comes first? Right? There’s just a whole book, right on on just oral sex and how kind of amazing both people can feel with some basic education.

Laurie Watson 16:12
Right, exactly. Well, let’s come back and talk though, let’s say it’s a, you know, all our work doesn’t help. And the person says, I’m never gonna do that, or maybe the frequency is really low. And they just can’t find their way through to offer their partner more frequency in sex, and it’s 15 years down the road. Why and? And how do they get over that and forgive that and accept that even because that’s necessary even to change it forward?

George Faller 16:48
I find it really helpful, Laurie, just to have those basic five steps of grief. You know, it’s all different. There is no normal, but there is this basic, you know, that first step of when it’s when you’re being rejected, just the shock and the hurt, and you know, that denial, like how can this be happening? And that second stage is to try to change it to fight back to get angry to give advice a What do you mean, try to get your partner to change, when that’s not working, you go into that third stage, the bargain, Can we do something like, I don’t want this to happen, then that fourth stage is really that depression, just kind of recognizing the losses here, this is the mourning part of it, that you can’t change it, you can’t get away from it, it’s just not going to happen. And maybe you’re with a partner who’s just never going to be into oral sex. And this part of you is not going to be really met in the relationship. But the key is that fifth stage, right, that learning to get to a place of acceptance, which is really what a listener wrote in about, like, how I love my partner, I don’t want to lose the relationship. How do I get to a place of acceptance around just the pain of this need never been met?

Laurie Watson 18:01
Right. Okay. The stages of grief. I mean, let’s say, the partner says, Okay, I’m not going to ever be able to give you oral sex. That’s just something that I can’t do. I cannot do that. Right. I mean, the first part denial, like there’s got to be a way, right, just like Lori says, go to a sex. Let’s try all that. And, and they’re like, no, I, I’ve tried that. And I can’t go there. I mean, there’s just this part of us. Maybe it’s the pursuing energy. I don’t know, maybe it’s just even withdrawals have this. When it comes to sex, right? You’re kidding me? You know, this is so essential to me. How could you not want to do this? And they just can’t believe it, that their partner is denying them and they go through denial themselves like this. I can’t just, I just can’t accept it. So there’s this initial resistance?

George Faller 18:59
Yeah, I think that first four stages we’re very familiar with with that pursuer. They can’t accept it. They’re frustrated. They’re given advice that being critical that trying to bargain and trying to push for conversations, right, but it really hits. That’s that fourth stage of just the oppression of it, like just trying to get to a place like this is despite all my efforts, it’s not working. Right. So how do you how do you listen to your body’s signals that saying, well, let’s come back and talk about the depression and what to do with the loss and the pain. Okay. OMGyes.com. The truth, Laurie, of course, is that our pleasure gets better over our lifetime as we learn and discover more and more about what we like and what our partner likes. more knowledge makes a great thing. Even better, right.

Laurie Watson 19:57
I think people believe this minute. That they’re supposed to know how to do it, how to touch each other. And I think for women, our bodies are so sensitive that we need high attunement and oh my god. yes.com is where you can actually see real video of women explaining the touch that they need, labeling it so we can speak the same language and then showing it is explicit. We know that but we think it’s beautifully done. It’s artfully done. And we just encourage you to try OMGyes.com/FOREPLAY so that they know we’ve sent you there and therapists as well. If you come to our website, they are offering this product to you free. So please come to our website and figure out how to do that you need to send them your website, and you can get a free membership. I was frustrated that I rarely wanted sex, but I learned there’s an FDA approved pink pill for that Addyi or Flibanserin is the number one prescribed treatment for pre menopausal women bothered by low sex drive visit Addyi.com and complete your consultation to see if it is right for you. It is for premenopausal women with a via generalized hypoactive low sexual desire disorder HSD who have not had problems with low sexual desire in the past you have low sexual desire no matter what type of sexual activity the situation of a sexual partner for low sexual desire is troubling to them. And it’s not due to a medical or mental health problem problems in the relationship or medicine or other drug use. It is not for use in men towards enhanced sexual performance your risk of severe low blood pressure and fainting is increased. If you drink one to two standard alcoholic drinks close in time to your mid dose wait at least two hours after drinking before taking it at bedtime. your risk of severe low blood pressure and fainting is also increased. If you take certain prescription over the counter herbal medication for liver problems low blood pressure and fainting can happen when you take it even if you don’t drink alcohol or take other medicines sleepiness sometimes serious can occur. Common side effects include dizziness, nausea, tiredness, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep and dry mouth.

George Faller 21:56
So Laurie, this is the heart of the message, your partner doesn’t want to have oral sex, you really want it. And after years of missing each other here, it’s just not going to happen. Right and just face into depression, or that the hurt of something that makes you come alive. And it’s just not going to happen with your partner. Right and just to allow your body to feel the sadness at that the field of rejection of that to feel the pain of that, that kind of fear what that means there’s just so much there that you can’t really talk about because to talk about it makes your partner feel bad. So you wind up just kind of going off into your own world with these things, that I think to really get to that place of acceptance, there has to be some, some ability to to share the pain and the fear with your partner. And you know, for both people that just come to a place of more acceptance of just kind of recognizing a lot more of their relationship. I mean, again, we’re just talking about a small segments, a spot where they’re missing each other.

Laurie Watson 23:05
Or, yes, it could be a small segment. You know, it could also be about I mean, I think it it gets to be a larger segment when you’re talking about frequency. Yeah, you know, just for our EFT listeners to I mean, this can be kind of an attachment injury. You know, you feel like, this is where I need and my partner hurts me here in this really important part of our relationship. How do I forgive them and go forward when I feel like, you know, my soul is kind of ripped out in this way? Because, yes, it might be one tiny act, I had a guy friend who wanted anal, and it was with my girlfriend, who I know and all my life and I knew she wasn’t gonna do that. I just knew and I’m like, buddy, you have a great sex life. And he did. He had, she was willing, she was open. She was experimental. That was just off limits. And so sometimes grieving the one thing opens up the world to more because the partner is more open. But, but I think there are times when we have to grieve something even bigger. Or maybe we’ve healed something but there’s 15 years behind us where it wasn’t happening.

George Faller 24:23
The couple has to find a way of uniting because they’re both losing When this happens, right. He’s not having anal sex. She’s feeling like she’s letting him down and not able to make him happy. They both lose here. He wants oral sex. She don’t want it he feels rejected. she feels like she’s failing him both are losing. Right. So I do think there are a couple has to be able to get to a place of recognizing it’s neither one of their fault that this turns one on and turns the other off, right. This is like the blueprints we were talking about in another episode. Like how do we help them take this less personally This is just a different tier, then I think if both people can learn to emotionally support each other in the pain, then it’s a lot easier to come to a place of acceptance and CREATIVITY WITHOUT acceptance. All right, maybe you don’t want to have anal sex. But maybe the partner can fantasize about it. And you could just kind of say that out loud. I, you know, could imagine you in my anus right now, right like that couples, you don’t have to actually do it to be able to talk about, they can still find ways of responding to each other, while holding on to their own kind of dignity and a process. But the only way I see that happen successfully with couples is when both of them hold the pain together with each other, and they don’t blame each other for it. You know, they unite inside saying it just sucks. We’re different here. Right, you know,

Laurie Watson 25:49
I think is something that you said a little bit earlier is important to me. You said, you know, if you can feel it in your body, the grief? You know, most feelings are survivable, when when we’re feeling it in the beginning, it just is overwhelming and acute, and so painful. But as I was imagining what people might go through, you know, to have a partner who wouldn’t want to do something that was essential to them, or wouldn’t want to do it as often as they felt was essential to their survival. In my own body, I could just kind of feel it in my lower back just that ache and that pain about that. And I think emotional intelligence, this is why we asked all these questions in the EFT type of therapy, you know, what do you feel in your body? What do you tell yourself about that? You know, maybe it’s like, I’m gonna, I’m gonna die. Without this. I don’t even know if I can survive the partnership. Without it. I think for many people, they do have to go through the choice, this man has made his choice, he wants the partnership more than he wants the sex act, that doesn’t mean that there’s not a lot of pain, or he doesn’t have to go through a grief process he does. So it’s like, what do you feel in your body? What do you tell yourself about that? What’s the emotion that comes up for you? You know, maybe it’s, it is this terrible, terrible grief and pain inside? As we think about, you know, how do we go forward in life without something that feels like it’s so important. And I think what is torturing is, you know, if only our partner were a little different, you know, it can feel so withholding or you don’t love me, because you won’t consider this or whatever. That’s the attachment injury piece. Sure.

George Faller 27:44
And what happens when we get caught in our own pain, and we don’t share it, the world really shrinks, we got tunnel vision, and we can no longer can see our partner by being able to have this conversation. If this man can share his pain, and just the loss of something that was part of his sexual vitality. Right? Even if his wife can’t meet the need, she can still meet the need that the pain and the grief and the sadness right into can give him permission for it or not. That’s a powerful thing to be met in your grief.

Laurie Watson 28:14
Yeah. And you can receive comfort from your partner. I mean, in an attachment injury, the tricky thing is, we need our partner who’s hurting us. And we need them to see how they’re hurting us. Without them spinning into shame, anger or anything else, we need them to come toward us and comfort us.

George Faller 28:36
Right. And it needs to be reciprocated, yeah. That this person who is trying to stand up for themselves in a healthy way, there’s something about this turn off for them. That’s real, given their experiences. And they’re put in a position of letting down their partner which really feels bad, right? they’d need that same acceptance and permission and just kind of being seen. And that’s what I’m talking about when a couple of can unite when they can start to say, Hey, listen, we just came into this with different different needs in a spot. And, and this happens a lot in all relationships. We know 70% issues, couples fight over and never resolved like some areas were okay to agree to disagree. But in these kind of more meaningful, deeper places that are loaded with emotion, it gets harder and harder to do that. But couples can learn how to do that. They can learn how to hold two truths and still focus on the bigger picture of their relationship.

Laurie Watson 29:34
Right the person you’re saying who is saying no, also needs to be seen. And know that for them. It’s got to feel crummy to let down their partner and also, whatever their resistance is, is valid. You know, they have a right to say that’s not something I want to do, for whatever reason, and they have to be honored there and accepted there. As well, and seen that this for you feels like something that would cross who you are.

George Faller 30:07
That feels really important when you said, the reason though, has to be explored. It’s not enough to just say no with no explanation, right, you need to do the work. And this day, hey, listen, maybe this happened to me when I was a little kid. And that’s why this, you know, if you’re able to articulate why it’s such a turn off, and you don’t really think you’ll be able to work through that, then that’s just is what it is. But a lot of people just don’t want to face it. They want to avoid the conversation, they just say no, never have any words about it. And that I don’t think it’s enough for the partner to ever really come to a place of acceptance, they really need to have the hard conversation with each other, to really understand what’s blocking, you know, meeting in this place, then it’s easy to come to a place of acceptance, but we need to be able to tell ourselves a story that makes sense.

Laurie Watson 30:52
Yes. And I love that. I think that’s a possibility. But people are afraid to have this conversation because they blow up over it. Exactly. Now, and then they get into disconnect, and they can’t stay long enough in accepting my partner is so different. Yeah, it’s so hard. And and I would say, yes, this happens in sex, and it’s so essential in our sex life, especially if we have pledged fidelity, you know, and we want the relationship, there’s no exit, there’s no out. So we have to accept there. But you know, many things in partnership we have to accept in terms of over time, you know, our partner is very different. But getting to the conversation having it and and that maybe that’s just the facilitated part with a therapist, that conversation.

George Faller 31:41
That’s why it’s nice to have a skilled therapist like you, Laurie, they come they get try to figure out practical solutions. If that doesn’t work, that you’ll help them go deeper and need in a place of acceptance, where they can just kind of, you know, unite against this thing that both of them are losing from,

Laurie Watson 31:58
right. I mean, it’s the fun part right to offer fixes. But it’s the difficult part of therapy to really be with people in these blocked places that can’t resolve and help them through the grief on both sides. Yeah, yeah.

George Faller 32:14
Sometimes life throws us things that we’re pretty helpless against. So well, we can do that in isolation, or do it together.

Laurie Watson 32:26
Thanks for listening.

George Faller 32:28
Keep it hot everyone.

Announcer 32:31
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