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My Struggle to Overcome My Blowjob Anxiety

For years, I've been confused about what I'm supposed to be doing down there and whether I'm doing it wrong.

by Tia Marpole
07 November 2015, 8:00am

Photo via Flickr user Alex Thompson

Photo via Flickr user Alex Thompson

This article originally appeared on VICE US

A couple months ago, I brought a sweet, dorky dude home from the bar. We spent the whole night talking about politics before hopping into bed. I knew I didn't want to have sex with him, but all of a sudden I had a brainstorm.

"If I give you head, will you give me feedback on it?" I asked. He readily agreed. I proceeded to give him a blowjob for about seven minutes before I got tired (it was 5 AM) and gave up. Then I asked for his critique, which was mostly flattering. His main suggestion was to make sure I used my hand consistently. I felt relieved.

My clinical approach to giving this guy a blowjob may sound strange, but that was the point of the whole exercise. BJs give me anxiety. They always have. The apprehension comes from many places. Like most straight women, I've dealt with my fair share of assholes who've been demanding about oral sex. The type that push down on your head when you're making out or unexpectedly hump your face. Those encounters were degrading and in and of themselves would be enough to turn anyone off blowjobs. But my reasons are practical, too. For one thing, I have a petite mouth and a fairly active gag reflex, which means, worst case scenario, I'm throwing up on your dick. Also, I generally don't like staring at penises. Much like the sun, I enjoy their presence but try to avoid looking straight at them. That's tough when you're putting one in your mouth.

The bulk of my insecurity, though, comes from being confused about exactly what I'm supposed to be doing down there. And potentially doing it wrong.

Over the years, I grew to believe a great blowjob was something you were just supposed to know how to execute, but I never really felt like I had a good grasp on it. So I gave them infrequently and was hesitant to discuss my doubts with partners or even friends.

"I can make a guy cum in like five minutes," one of my college girlfriends would brag; she tried to walk me through her foolproof routine, which involved leaving a glass of water on the bedside table to dip her hand into in case her saliva ran dry. It seemed like a lot of work—and also just weird. Cosmo and other women's magazines aren't any less overwhelming with their endless guides to the "best blowjob ever." How are there 21 never-before-heard rules on how to perform what should be a fairly utilitarian act? This is a blowjob, not Settlers of Catan. (Also, is there anyone out there who is actually going to alternate between putting ice cubes and hot water in their mouth to create two "really nice, but different sensations"?)

I asked Claire Cavanah, co-founder of Babeland, a se- toy company that hosts workshops like "the Art of the Blowjob," if my concerns were uncommon.

She said while attendance for Babeland classes on things like G-spots and S&M has dwindled over the years, the ones on oral sex "can still fill a room."

"You are not alone in wondering how to do it better or the anxiety that you're feeling," she added.

That anxiety, she said, comes from wanting to please the other person but maybe lacking the actual experience to do so. To make it less scary, she suggested doing some research, like reading sex-positive books ("you can sort of learn about penises before"). Beyond that, she said, "practice really does help."

According to Cavanah, talking about sex is one of the biggest challenges for couples, but it is key to getting information that might help one get over something like BJ anxiety.

"It leads to answers to your questions, things you need to know, like what he likes," she explained. She recommended waiting until after sex to barrage a partner with questions so as not to kill the mood—probably best to avoid preemptively asking a guy to rate you like I did.

She also said try to have a good time, because "the more fun you have, the more fun he's going to have." I pressed her on this point—how much fun can one have when giving head? It's not like licking a popsicle where there is a clear, measurable benefit to the person doing it. She clarified, "Mainly it's the pleasure of making him happy." So yeah, maybe fake that part a little, if need be.

What put my mind most at ease was when I asked Cavanah what she hears from men regarding blowjobs. I was expecting her to share at least a few horror stories involving teeth, but I'd forgotten how simple dudes are.

"They're just like, 'Hell yeah, a blowjob.' They loooooooove it," she said. "If you're great at it that's just icing on the cake. Bad sex is like bad pizza, it's really not that bad."

Like most other aspects of sex, I'm realizing blowjobs are inherently awkward. The reason I chose to practice on the political nerd is because I knew he was harmless and that I wouldn't see him again, so I didn't feel self-conscious.

Maybe next time I'll be braver and try it with someone I'm actually into. If it turns out I'm the Pizza Hut of giving head, well, there are worse things.

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