Even Tiger Woods Has To Practice:
Preparing Yourself to Find (and Swing)
Your Partner of Choice
If sex is such a natural phenomenon, how come
there are so many books on how to?
IT WOULD BE a cause for celebration if we were born with the natural and intuitive set of sexual skills that we all pretend we have. Without stating it outright, our culture—via our parents, the media, and our peers—implies that sex and sexual skills should come naturally, with all but the most advanced techniques being somehow instinctive. You'd never expect someone to hit a perfect tennis serve without lessons and practice or to play a beautiful sonata on an instrument they've only touched a couple of times, yet somehow, most of us come to maturity with the expectation that sexual skills will magically develop in the presence of our naked lover, that this lover will likewise experience a spontaneous onset of spectacular proficiency, and that it will all unfurl as smoothly as a movie montage.
Where do real-life Don Juans get their savoir faire? There's only one way: practice, practice, practice. Some people try to pick up tips from their friends, but while you may have a friend or two with information to spare, you're probably dealing with what literary critics calls an "unreliable narrator." (I personally stopped trusting the sexual knowledge of my peers when they asked me if my cherry had been popped, but could not specify what this "cherry" was, nor exactly where it was located.)
Real sex is awkward. The fact is, if you expect great sex to come naturally, you're in big trouble, and your partner is in even bigger trouble. Giving great oral sex is dependent upon being truly comfortable with the act, "in good times and in bad." Real sex with live people is tricky—it smells, it squeaks, it gets stuck on some things and rams too quickly into others. People get injured physically (especially in the shower) and emotionally (especially in affairs), and on the whole, doing it probably causes about as many problems as pleasures. This doesn't mean that you should stop—in fact most of us should be having more sex rather than less.* But it does indicate that we have a lot of false expectations surrounding sex, and these expectations take a lot of the fun out of sex without our even knowing it.
ACCEPTING THESE REALITIES WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER LOVER
Sexual Skill Doesn't Come Naturally
Sure, the impulse to have sex is "natural," and the heat of passion is sure to lend a little on-the-spot inspiration, but sexual skill must be learned and practiced like anything else.
"If girls are made of sugar and spice, why do they taste like tuna fish?"
Genitals have a naturally pungent odor and taste. Some people love it, others don't. But you're in denial if you're surprised by it. If this is a concern for you, just take a bath or shower with your partner, instead of trying to skirt oral sex, or pretending to be comfortable going down when you're not. If you forge ahead anyway, your partner will sense your repressed discomfort, and the effort to conceal your true feelings will take the zest out of your performance. Barring a bath, be aware that a vagina will taste and smell very differently after it is stimulated enough to create the body's natural lubricants, which have an addictively delicious flavor. A little foreplay and hand action can change the menu entirely.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Orgasm
What's the matter? Labia got yer tongue? Whether it's that funny slurping noise, a penis that veers to the right like it's catching a curve ball, or a pubic hair in your eye, unexpected things are bound to happen during sex. Who can say what they will be? One woman I know started laughing while her guy was coming in her mouth, and it ended up dribbling out of her nose. Things like this are a natural part of an active sex life, so you might as well expect them and make sure to bring your sense of humor with you to the bedroom. Taking sex too seriously is a sure passion-killer.
Genitals Look Funny
Believe it or not, the overall quality of oral sex is still being compromised by people's shame and fear of genitalia. The people giving oral sex are afraid to stare too much, because they don't want to make their partner feel uncomfortable, while their partner can barely even relax and enjoy themselves because they're so freaked out by someone sniffing around down there. Shocking as it is, this is occurring in the twenty-first century, and it's compromising the quality of oral sex. To overcome any vestiges of genital-fear, take a moment with your partner to really look at her genitals. Tell her why you want to do it, and make sure that she feels comfortable with it first. Then look—really look—at all the different parts, and acknowledge that these are what you have to work with. This exercise is worth it: an anatomically complete understanding of your partner's genitals will assure your subconscious that there is nothing "bad" or "dirty" or "scary" lurking in there anywhere.
"That was great. Really, it was . . ."
Most likely, no one's told you the truth about your sexual skills. The fact is, women fake orgasms pretty regularly, and it's a rare lover who openly communicates what they do or don't like, because they're trying to be nice. But withholding feedback is extremely counterproductive with regards to sex. The way people communicate about sex isn't even worthy of the term "miscommunication," because not only does withholding feedback send the wrong information (that you like something you don't or dislike something you do like), it actively obstructs future communication about sex. We're lucky consultants can't be called into the bedroom, because most people would be fired. The result? Very few men and women have been given enough feedback to develop a repertoire that works. And it's a damned shame. Since they haven't built up the strength and precision of their lips and tongue through a history of feedback and refinement, they develop a repertoire based on second-rate skills and subject every poor date they meet to it. As a loving pet-owner thinks their cat or dog is absolutely unique among the breed, everyone—and I mean everyone—thinks they have great sexual skills. Meanwhile, most people report more than a few instances of less-than-satisfying sex every year. You do the math.
You don't have to pass out a Comments and Suggestions card afterward, but you do need to elicit your partner's feedback. A whispered "Do you like that?" during oral sex will produce more honest feedback than a "Was that good for you?" after she's already decided that she just wants to be friends.
It's Not Just About the Orgasm
You don't have to make your partner come to have great oral sex. Great oral lovers are not orgasm-making machines, and if you treat oral sex this way you're not going to enjoy it—and neither will your partner. Aside from straining yourself, your orgasm fixation will actually distract you from any subtle signs or signals given by your lover. You don't have to frantically chase orgasms. The orgasm will come to you. Straining and stressing about how long it's taking your partner to come wards off a real orgasm like a snake scares a mare, so it's better to just let go of this expectation and enjoy yourself. Experiment and play—"the light touch," as it's sometimes called—will inevitably create more pleasure for your partner than strain or stress.
People who perform poorly at oral sex are usually hung up on one or all of these basic issues. But there's another, related set of concerns that are a little more serious, and must be addressed for you to get the most out of giving—and getting—oral sex.
When Your Mind Spoils Your Head: What Wrecks Oral Sex
NO MATTER HOW much you might try to convince yourself that you are a sexual cavalier and not a vulnerable human being, sex is an intimate act. It almost always brings up somebody's emotions. Oral sex is in some ways even more intimate. There's a Chinese proverb that says if you save a person's life, they're yours forever. That's fine and well, but hair-pulling, moan-making, nail-sinking oral sex breeds its own strain of attachment, and it can be pretty fierce.
Partially because of the intense feelings of vulnerability it can provoke, some people have a very hard time opening themselves up to receiving oral sex. At the thought of someone else fully exploring their genitals and witnessing their states of uncontrolled ecstasy, some people begin to drool, while others snap closed like a clam. (Personally, I drool.) Control issues (After all, what might that other person do down there? Will they try to stick something weird in my [insert most feared orifice here] or do something else that I'm not prepared for?), self-doubt (Do I smell down there? What if I have to fart? What if I didn't wipe well the last time I . . . you know. . . ?), and a negative body-image (Are they noticing my love-handles/cellulite/ass hairs or whatever aspect of my body I tend to despair over?), as well as a plethora of other issues can take the fun out of oral sex faster than you can say the word "orgasm." And that's just on the receiving end!
On the giving end, performance anxiety and fear of being judged are chief among the pleasure killers. "What if they don't like what I'm doing?" "What if I get tired and need to stop before they've had an orgasm?" "What if I can't bring them to orgasm?" And for those who are hip to all the orgasm-faking going on: "What if they're just pretending to like it?" You may be surprised just how many people let thoughts like these crash their oral sex party.
While there is no magic potion to remove these inhibitions (other than drugs and alcohol, which are not long-term solutions!), there are some steps, before, during, and after your rendezvous that can help you to better relax and enjoy yourself. Being comfortable and happy make almost anything you do better, and this goes double for oral sex. In order to devote yourself fully to giving and receiving pleasure, you need to be as deep in the pleasure groove as you can get.
GETTING READY TO RUMBLE: A DATING GUIDE FOR FABULOUS ORAL LOVE
For those of you who are perfectly comfortable with your body, have no trouble relaxing and getting down to business, and are 100 percent ready for action, skip this bit and go straight to chapter 3. For those of you who have been single for a while, tend to fumble with sexual tension, or simply feel that you could be better at relaxing and enjoying the ride, here's some information on how to prepare your entire being for oral sex.
Before going out with a sexual partner or soon-to-be sexual partner, most people spend time squinting in the mirror and picking out their most flattering clothes. Paying a little extra attention to your appearance and hygiene before a date is a natural inclination—and should be de rigueur if you're hoping for future dates—but the buck rarely stops there. All over the country, people go tearing through their closets looking for the "right" outfit, wrestling into one sweater just to run to the mirror and frown. "You're fat," the mirror says back, "and I'm not granting you any wishes." Noticing a new pimple or wrinkle just before a date has furrowed countless brows. "This big, ugly pimple next to my mouth looks awful—they'll probably think I have herpes! Maybe I should just cancel." These thoughts and feelings aren't restricted to ephemera—our more substantial physical "flaws" provoke even more nerve-racking thoughts. "My pubic hair is turning silver," an older friend confided in me, "and I don't know what's more painful: their facial expression when my underwear comes off, or plucking the damned things."
Fretting seems harmless, but how are you going to get comfortable and enjoy what your body can do if you've spent all the time before your date chastising it? The seeming innocuousness of predate fretting is only skin-deep: it has very real consequences for sex and physical pleasure.
Being clean and sweet-smelling is a considerate gesture that says to your partner "I want you to enjoy contact with my body," and it can boost your self-confidence. However, criticizing your body on any level will impede your oral sex performance, because how you feel about your own body will be played out in how you react to your lover's. It can also distract you from your partner's subtle signals, and delay your own orgasms. Is being zitless and well-dressed worth it? Is anything? Of course, you should look nice for your date—but obsessive thoughts have a momentum of their own and cannot be cast off as easily as clothing.
Consider limiting your preening time to around fifteen minutes—just enough time to cover the basics, not enough to nitpick. Use the rest of the time to prepare yourself psychologically to have fun and relax.
The Two Big Basics
These are very simple ideas, but disregarded by one and all. First, wear comfortable clothes. Not quite the jeans with holes and your favorite tattered sweater, but make it a rule to avoid tight or restricting clothes, and clothes that are out of character for you. If you don't look like yourself, you won't act like yourself. (Also, it's not a bad idea to save the tight jeans and fancy shirts for a time when you may need the kinkiness.)
Second, use the time before your date to relax and unwind. If going on your date straight from work, take a walk around the block just to absorb the atmosphere of the neighborhood, or treat yourself to something that will loosen you up—maybe it's listening to music, getting a beer, or going in a pet store and watching puppies tussle. Whatever it is, it needs to relax you. For more serious stress cases, it may take a ten-minute massage or short workout. No matter what your stress level is, though, there's one cure-all: breathing. The breathing exercises outlined in chapter 7 are among the best stress antidotes around. They cost nothing, take little time, and relax you utterly. But if you want to be giving off your most sexual vibes, there are some specific activities that will send sparks flying on contact.
If you don't have time to relax and unwind before a date, simply pop into the bathroom and look at yourself in the mirror. Do you like yourself? If you don't get a resounding, "Hell yeah, I'm awesome!" keep looking at yourself and just say it out loud: "I like me." Say it until you start to mean it, and then you can go rock the world. Feeling good about yourself makes everything you do better.
From the Trade Paperback edition.