Dear Dr. Jenni,
I hate swallowing. I hate the taste. I hate the texture. And I hate the feeling that this activity is so demeaning to women. But my boyfriend loves it. How can we reconcile this gigantic difference?
—Sickened by Swallowing
It certainly sounds like swallowing is not your cup of tea. It’s fine to feel this way. Some people love semen, some people detest it. Same goes for tofu. Some embrace it on a daily basis; some find the taste and texture creepy. At the end of the day, your boundaries are your boundaries — and your boyfriend needs to respect and honor that.
On the other hand, there are three entities you may want to consider: you, your boyfriend and the relationship. Finding a compromise that works for the relationship will result in greater satisfaction. Some partners agree to take the semen in the mouth, but have a little cup by the bed to spit. Others agree to switch to manual stimulation or a “fleshlight” (a male masturbatory sleeve) before ejaculation. And others do a combo of all the above, switching things up.
The best thing to do is maintain ongoing communication about your boundaries, and also why you hold them. Taste and texture are understandable reasons, but I would also explore where you learned that swallowing is demeaning to women. Sometimes porn perpetuates this belief. While I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with this idea, it’s beneficial to look at how we originally established certain beliefs, and if they presently serve us. If you love your partner, perhaps blow jobs can be reframed as making love with your mouth, where swallowing on occasion is part of giving pleasure to the one you love.
Dear Dr. Jenni,
My husband craves sex much more than I do. I’d be happy with a few times a month, and he prefers a few times a week, if not every day. I feel so guilty telling him no all the time, and I can see it crushing his morale. Yet, I can’t muster the energy and interest to have sex with him as often as he’d like. Is there a way to better soften the blow?
—Dire Differences in Sex Drive
Your question is the most common issue I see in my practice and probably one of the top issues with which couples struggle.
My advice differs depending on surrounding circumstances, such as age and hormones, life stress and/or relationship satisfaction.
It sounds like energy may be an issue, which you may want to explore with your doc or endocrinologist. Without further information, my suggestion is to find a compromise that works for both of you.
No two partners have the same sex drive. As long as the person with the higher drive has an outlet, like masturbation, then sexual frustration becomes less of an issue. The main issue then becomes that the higher drive person feels like they are not desired as a person. Thus, ensure that you regularly communicate to your husband that your lack of desire is about frequent sex, not for him as your husband and lover. Then consider how you say “no.” A blanket NO can feel like rejection. Rather than saying “no,” offer an alternative by saying, “Instead of sex, let’s do a sensual shower.” Or, offer a raincheck and follow up in a day or two. Again, the raincheck need not be intercourse. As long as you are connecting on an intimate level, both of you will likely feel satisfied.
Send questions for Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., to firstname.lastname@example.org. Skyler is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.