Life

How to Eat Someone Out Properly

A large portion of you will, at some point, go down on someone with a vulva. Here's how not to fuck that up.
17 February 2020, 10:55am
fruit look like vagina
Photo: Svetlana Farafonova / Alamy Stock Photo

Kids learn a lot throughout their time at school: who invented lightbulbs, for instance, or fun rhymes about Henry VIII beheading his wives. What they don't learn are lessons that are actually useful in adult life, like how to file taxes, make an aubergine curry or go down on someone – if they're that way inclined.

Straight cis men, especially, are taught by mainstream pop culture that the simple act of eating someone out is good enough: a few flicks of the tongue and... bam, a mind-blowing orgasm (and even if not, they should at least be grateful that you're trying).

But as anyone with a vulva knows, there is a difference between someone going down good and someone going down not so good (the same goes for dicks, I'm sure, but that's a separate piece entirely). The "alphabet trick", for example – where you're instructed to spell out the alphabet with your tongue – was most likely invented by someone who'd been on the receiving end of too many fake orgasms.

If you want to know how to eat someone out properly, it's best to not listen to anybody but the source. To that end, we mined the wisdom of people with vulvas to find out what they think constitutes a good eating out.

'Don't assume what worked for one vulva will work for another'

"My main thing is to ask people what they're into, because every vulva / vagina is different. I would always advocate for as much communication as possible and asking people how they want to be touched. Problem is, people with vaginas are typically discouraged from even exploring their own bodies, and are almost fed the idea that sex isn't 'for them', so a lot of people may not even know what it is they want, because they don't know their bodies well enough.

"Personally, I still have enough internalised shame and weirdness that I can't always tell someone to stop doing one particular move or thing. So I think it's important for the person going down to say, 'If I do something you like, tell me,' or, like, a sexy equivalent of that.

"Also, don't assume that what worked for one vulva will work for another. Do check in regularly, and don't be a baby if someone tells you to change up your method. Also, straight guys need to spend way less time at the hole, because that is not where the party's at."

– Alex, 26

'Start soft – and use lots of spit'

"I would say you need softness and intuition. Also, be confident enough to ask *exactly* what they want because it turns you on to know. The best way to harness that intuition – and I know this sounds trite – but really read what the body is doing. But I'd say always start soft. Oh, and lots of spit."

– Eleanor, 35

'If you're not relaxed, you're not going to come'

"I personally think a lot reaching orgasm is in the mind – if you have a vagina, anyway. I have no idea what it's like to have a penis. If you're not relaxed, you're not going to come. It's as much of a mental-emotional thing as a physical one. If you want to be good at oral sex, make sure you and your partner are relaxed and connected. Make the mood right. Try to alleviate any pressure that either of you might feel. Nobody has to come. I find that once the pressure to come is off, you're more likely to come anyway.

"When it comes to actual technique, that's tricky, because different people like different things. It's about learning what an individual likes. For example, I know someone who really likes to be penetrated at the same time. But I wouldn't like that, because I don't respond well to penetration. Also, like... get inventive! Put warm water in your mouth and go down on them? Try different types of lube. Sex is supposed to be fun."

– Rhiannon, 29

'Find a repetitive move that gives pleasure'

"Explore all the elements; there's more than just the surface. Don't stay down there for ages without knowing what feels good for the person. Ask, talk, explore. If you found a spot and they say it's good, don't leave that spot until they say so! Stay there – and I repeat, STAY THERE. Find a repetitive move that gives pleasure. Don't think just stroking with your tongue feels super exciting, either – it takes harder work than that sometimes. Also, obviously don't go down on someone if you don't feel like it, or feel obliged. And don't ever make fun of the shape or size."

– Angela, 28

'There's not a one-size-fits-all approach to going down'

"Everyone's body is built differently. Some like it soft, some like it rough, some like it in certain areas and others prefer it in others. So I would say there's not a one-size-fits-all approach to going down on someone. Instead, it will take some learning and exploring that person's body. Ask them if they like what you're doing, and try different things until you find something they're into. Also, pay attention to body language and response. And I mean really pay attention to it. If they are turned on by what you're doing, then carry on. And if you're not sure, then ask them – communicate.

"I personally think it's good to start off slow and build up. For most people, vaginal pleasure doesn't just happen immediately without any work put into it. If that was the case, we'd all be turned on by smear tests and tampons. If you have a vagina yourself, it helps to imagine how you would like someone to touch you, and go from there."

– Rach, 26

'Take your time'

"It's pretty simple, but it bears repeating. Do: ask me what I want and take your time without any expectation. Don't: just shove your tongue down there and assume you know where my clit is and also assume I'll come after like two minutes because that's what you've seen in porn. I'm a fan of certain porn, but mainstream porn has not done wonders for any of our sex lives when it comes to expectation."

– Jo, 24

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