Pleasures Of Loving

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Feelings and emotions around sex

FEELINGS These are some of the feelings men and women report about giving and receiving oral sex:

"Getting it done to me is better than doing it."

"I always feel I'm doing it wrong."

"When I'm getting head I get lost in those wonderful feelings."

"I feel a sense of power because of the pleasure I'm giving."

"I feel alive but very vulnerable."

"With a new partner I'm worried about odors and STIs."

"If it's not mutual I feel guilty or ripped off."

"I love the tastes and the textures."

"I love oral sex because it is so clear that I'm the one giving pleasure to my husband."

"When he does that to me it's really special."

"Sometimes I feel like I'm giving a performance."

"Oral sex is too impersonal."

"I feel very intimate when I have oral sex."

Many people who try it enjoy oral sex, but many have reservations about it. These reservations tend to arise from three different kinds of anxiety: first, that oral sex is unhygienic; second, that there is a taboo against it; third, that it is not a true expression of femininity or masculinity. Let us look at each in turn.

Hygiene. Both vaginal fluid and semen can transmit HIV and other STIs. The best way to avoid risk is to establish a relationship with a partner whose sexual history is known to you. Otherwise use a condom.

No disease is passed by oral sex that wouldn't be transmitted by any other kind of sex - if one person has a sexually transmitted infection the other is likely to catch it whatever they do together sexually. In short, oral sex between healthy people is entirely clean and safe.

As to genital odor, another hygiene aspect that people worry about, it can always be reduced by washing and is entirely natural anyway - in fact, a lot of people find some degree of genital odor stimulating.

Taboo. Oral sex has long been frowned upon and often made illegal. Underlying the legal strictures and the social disapproval there are age-old religious prohibitions on oral sex which are still powerful.

People who accept and practice almost any of the major western religions can therefore be confused and made to feel guilty. On the one hand, they know the facts: that oral sex is entirely safe and that many people find it an appropriate form of sexual expression.

On the other, they have grown up in an atmosphere of disapproval or prohibition. In the end, believers have to choose for themselves whether to follow the letter of their religious law or to reject it in favor of their private convictions.

It is clear that the major religions are addressing more openly and humanely the morality of sexual behaviors, and this can only ease some believers' guilt. It is, however, certainly in the interest of believers to be aware of the position their religion currently takes.

Femininity and Masculinity. Some heterosexual men and women believe that the only real and proper way to express their sexuality is by having intercourse with the penis in the vagina, and in particular with the man ejaculating inside the woman - a social and sexist concept for sure, because where does that leave men with - men who have retarded ejaculation?

Women sometimes feel that in giving oral sex to a man they are giving him a service and are thereby inferior. Men sometimes feel that stimulating a partner orally reduces their masculinity because the penis is not involved.

A lot of inappropriate sexual pride can be involved on both sides. Fortunately, many people are not significantly affected by any of these negative feelings about oral sex.

They feel free to accept it and enjoy it, to give, receive and share. There are also the people who feel perfectly relaxed about oral sex but choose to practice it infrequently or never; they too can gain intimacy from that shared understanding and decision.

Q. "I know my feelings about oral sex are based on some really bad experiences I had. Sometimes I wonder if they will ever change."

A: "Many people's feelings about oral sex are directly tied to their experiences. If they have enjoyed it, they will want to do it again, whereas experiences that have produced feelings of embarrassment, anxiety and guilt are not likely to be repeated.

However, even when inhibitions and barriers are long-lasting they can be overcome in a trusting and tender relationship in which vulnerability can be risked without fear or shame.

Of course, oral sex does influence intercourse - some men find it so arousing that they will inevitably come quickly and may need to acquaint themselves with knowledge of how to stop premature ejaculation afterwards."

Relationships and Oral Sex

In relationships the importance of oral sex varies from couple to couple, from person to person and from time to time. The best is to discuss this and agree how each partner gives and receives in the manner that suits them.

Over time, experience with each other and communication enable them to appreciate each other's desires and pleasures and to respond to particular needs as they arise.

This kind of giving can produce enormous stimulation and pleasure and is a form of receiving pleasure while giving it. It is non-competitive and unselfish, and leads to the greatest sense of fulfillment.

Q "All that sounds pretty good, but my wife just can't get herself to fellate me. It just doesn't seem right."

A: "The true standard of the quality of your sex life together is your mutual sexual fulfillment and happiness - not whether you practice every possible sex act.

Couples who are honestly in agreement and do not have oral sex at all, or who have it occasionally, are normal too; they can enjoy just as much pleasure and intimacy as couples who have oral sex regularly. Problems can occur with a couple if one wants to try oral sex or have it regularly and the other doesn't.

This may result in anger, conflict and guilt, and in such situations a qualified sex therapist or counselor could be helpful in assisting the couple to sort out their feelings, attitudes and values and to understand the meaning of this issue in their relationship."

Q: "I really enjoy having oral sex with my husband, but when I do, he comes quickly, loses his erection and falls asleep. Now I don't even bother any more, and I know it makes him angry. What should I do?"

A: "This is a common situation and you need to discuss it openly. He is probably going to have to exercise some restraint. Tell him that you enjoy having oral sex with him, but when he ejaculates and falls asleep it leaves you feeling frustrated and alone.

Perhaps if he signaled you when he is nearing ejaculation you could stop and do other things together, and then begin again - if that's what you both want - when he is not quite so excited. Be certain to discuss what gives you pleasure as well.

And don't be surprised if your husband is relieved to know what you enjoy and how you feel about what you do together sexually: people individually and as couples need to be clear with each other about their sexual needs and preferences.

The momentary discomfort a discussion like this may create will be outweighed by the probable long-term satisfactions and rewards that honest communication can produce."

Q: "What bothers me is my partner wants me to do it to him but he doesn't want to give me cunnilingus. I want it too. How can I get him to change?"

A: "Discuss it. Don't let anger and frustration build up, which means a relationship gets a measuring, competitive dimension when the issue should be sorted out as quickly as possible. It may be that your partner is influenced by some myth or misinformation about getting a disease or losing his masculinity.

He may be embarrassed because he really doesn't know what to do and needs your help. Perhaps genital odors bother him, and it may help to bathe together and try a scented lotion.

So you see it is possible for several things to be responsible for your friend's behavior. The only way to take care of it is to work it through together so that you understand each other's needs."

Q. "I would like to have oral sex with my wife but I don't know what to do. I'm really embarrassed, and I don't want to make a fool of myself. Is there a way to learn?"

A: "Yes. Most people start off with the feelings you express, wondering if they will do it well and embarrassed by their lack of know-how, but they learn about oral sex by having oral sex. They learn what is pleasing and they take cues from their partners about what works and what doesn't.

Reading books that show various positions and describe techniques can help. If you read them together you can discuss what appeals to each of you.

You may find that you feel more comfortable the first few times you have oral sex if you do it in the dark - this may reduce embarrassment about how you look while you're giving or receiving. Once you've got used to oral sex you can make it part of your normal range of acts and do it as freely as any other.

Remember, there is no best way to have oral sex. The best way for you and your wife is the way you are both comfortable and fulfilled."

Q: "My boyfriend says if I really love him I would have oral sex with him. I do love him, but I just can't. It's not for me."

A: "He's talking nonsense. One can have oral sex with someone without loving them, and one can love someone without having
oral sex with them.

Forcing someone to do something is rarely a good idea, and in a loving relationship it is uncalled for. If oral sex really is not for you, tell him so plainly. Tell him that if he coerces you, you are not going to feel good about it, and if you don't feel good about it your feelings for him will be put under an even bigger strain.

It is important though that you air the subject completely; you don't want the development of your relationship to get stuck on this issue, so that it is still in the back of both your minds in the future. Both of you need to examine your motives.

Why does he want you to give him oral sex? Perhaps because he wants to experiment, perhaps because he really enjoys oral sex, perhaps because other women do it to their lovers and so he feels he has a right to it. Why don't you want to do it? Perhaps you think it is unclean or unhealthy; perhaps you think that it might make you seem submissive; perhaps you think that if you give him head you will have intercourse less often? Try and think all these things through clearly.

Try and discuss them so that you can each understand the other's real position. Whether or not you decide to have oral sex, in the end your emotional relationship will only improve by being honest with each other and replacing coercion and frustration by frank understanding."

Q. "I enjoy having oral sex with my wife, but I like to come in her mouth and she doesn't like me to."

A: "It is important to discuss this with your wife and clear up the issue before it becomes a problem. She may simply not like to swallow semen and you will have to adjust to that.

Perhaps you can decide together that when you signal your wife that you are about to ejaculate, she removes your penis from her mouth. But there may be another side to it. After you ejaculate you may lose your erection and maybe sexual activity between you then stops.

Perhaps your wife's reluctance to have you ejaculate in her mouth is a sign that she wants you to maintain your erection and carry on so that she gets satisfaction too.

Perhaps you ejaculate quickly when you're given fellatio and she feels deprived of her full pleasure in that way too. Whatever the reason for her dislike, talk it over together; try and understand what each other wants and then see if you can't work out a way that makes you both happy."

CULTURE AND RELIGION

In western civilization oral sex has always been frowned upon officially and enjoyed privately. The current mix of attitudes is our legacy from the interpretations of centuries of religious scholars and teachers, many of whom sought to prohibit oral sex as being against divine law.

In ancient Greece and in classical Rome oral sex was seen as a male homosexual activity first and as a lesbian activity second. Indeed, having or enjoying oral sex was the principal indicator of homosexuality, and if it was done heterosexually it was thought to show a tendency toward homosexuality.

Although the Genesis (19: 411) account of Sodom and Gomorrah is repeatedly used as biblical evidence against homosexuality, I believe this story is more about oral/genital contact.

Because God punished by death the men of Sodom and Gomorrah and destroyed these cities, oral sex was classified as a sin, as an act contrary to procreation and therefore inappropriate even within the context of marriage.

The weight of religious teaching over the centuries has had a profound effect on our legal and social rules. As the effects of religions on governments have diminished in this century, society's experience has shown that many needless prohibitions and barriers have been set up in the name of religious covenants.

Some people see this as a sign of progress, others take it as an indication of the loss of important social restraints on proper feelings and proper behavior. We shall look in turn at the attitudes of Judaism, Catholicism and Protestantism.

Judaism. There is no single teaching about oral sex in Judaism which can be called the law. Biblical interpretations, Talmudic teachings and responses from learned rabbis do not convey the attitude of Judaism in a single voice.

However, it is clear that any sexual act between Jews can only be evaluated in terms of heterosexual marriage. Marriage is a duty, a mitzvah. Some strict Orthodox Jews believe the only proper act is intercourse, and essentially for procreative purposes, but most Jews believe sex has an intrinsic worth and value beyond procreation, and each married couple may express that value in the ways they find appropriate. Oral sex can be one of the proper marital sexual expressions.

Catholicism. St Thomas Aquinas exemplified the formal Catholic opinion on oral sex. He taught that anything but face-to-face intercourse with the woman on her back was a sin against God and nature. Even if both man and woman agreed and no one was hurt, any other activity was sinful.

This rigid teaching was fully in keeping with the Church's view that the passions of men and women must be controlled; when they were exercised at all, procreation must be the goal. Throughout history, many popes have by inference argued against oral sex, especially as an end in itself. In the Encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968) Pope Paul VI stated that "each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life."

But today the Roman Catholic Church in some of its pastoral teaching offers a more accepting view of oral sex. Though not publicized by any papal teaching, oral sex is seen in the Church as an appropriate marital sexual expression as long as it is not an end in itself, but is part of an act in which intercourse occurs. This view is not uniformly accepted by all Church leaders, scholars or lay Catholics and it is clear that there exists today a real tension between the historical Catholic teachings on sexual expression and the actual sexual behaviors of Roman Catholics throughout the world.

There is no simple statement from the Church on oral sex. Ordinary It seems to me that Catholic men and women need clear guidance and reassurance by the Church's leadership that their marital sexual behavior is proper, regardless of the way they choose to express their intimacy and love.

After all, the traditional Church laws governing proper and improper sexual acts are interpretations of the Old Testament, reactions to Greek and Roman customs, and the rulings of medieval courts.

Mere repetition of these moral evaluations based on sources thousands of years old is not necessarily a proper way to assess or analyze issues whose meanings are different in today's social context.

This is not an argument for abandoning moral values, but a proposal that we should reassess traditional rules to be sure that they take account of current knowledge and are relevant to the contemporary world.

Protestantism. Today, most Protestant groups in Europe and America do not assign a sinful meaning to oral sex in marriage. Harmony in thee marriage and the meaning of the acts to both partners in it are the standards used by most Protestant sects to evaluate sexual behaviors.

Therefore, if oral sex is mutually acceptable and part of the loving relationship between a husband and wife, it is viewed positively, regardless of the procreative intentions of the couple.

Some fundamentalist Protestant sects, however, believe that the only marital act sanctioned by their religion is intercourse for procreative purposes.

Their teaching derives from Calvin, Luther and the Protestant Reformation, and says that control of sexual impulses is crucial even in marriage; when they are expressed they must be for procreative purposes and not for pleasure. Oral sex is, therefore, ruled out.

The Puritans who colonized America and dominated the early legal and social system ruled that oral sex even between married couples was not only sinful but illegal and punishable. These early laws or modifications of them still remain on the statute books in many states. As recently as the late 1970s a married couple in Virginia were prosecuted, convicted and given a jail sentence because they had oral sex in their own home and were seen by a young person who peered through their window.

They won the case on appeal, but the mere fact that the case went to a criminal court is a staggering testimony to the enduring power of the ethic.