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How do I get my partner to change things up in bed?

The question:

My girlfriend, who I love very much, doesn't like to give oral sex. In fact, she's never gone down on me - not once in the year that we've been together. She says the idea of putting it in her mouth grosses her out. The sex otherwise is great, and she makes me happy. But I wonder if there's anything I can do to make this happen. Why would she not like it? Do you think this a deal-breaker?

The answer:

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One of the joys of sex is that we all like and dislike different things: One person's hottest-sex-of-all-time can be another person's omg-you-want-to-do-what?!

Par example: A good friend loves sex in the shower, and recently called it "the best ever " while I cooked my gal pals dinner the other night. Another friend nearly choked on her kale chips at the thought of her man in her "personal cleaning space."

"My shower is my me time, not for sex time!" she cried. "How could you ever enjoy that?"

I listened, while thinking about your dilemma. My first reaction to your question was how is that possible: a woman who just won't ever go down on her man?

But then I realized I react like that because of my own personal likes and dislikes. And many of this column's readers are so varied – and argue so adamantly with each other (see this enjoyable dialogue) – because of their own sexual preferences.

The challenge, then, is how to communicate what we like to our partner, and what to do if they like something we don't.

To a certain extent, I say communication and compromise will get you far. If you haven't already, have an open conversation in the light of day with your lady about why she won't give oral sex: it could be as difficult as a past traumatic experience, or as easy as you taking a shower beforehand.

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And doing something you don't necessarily love but can tolerate for your partner is part of a good relationship (it's how I feel about watching football).

But if she's grossed out, is there anything you can do or say to change that? That's like trying to talk me into ironing: Not a chance.

"Well - he could certainly suggest avenues to get her to start thinking about it," says relationship expert Jen Kirsch, who says you might be able to help her come around.

"It's like food: You don't know whether you like it until you try it," says the Toronto-based writer. You could suggest she watch oral sex on a porn site ("it's as easy as deleting your history, so no need to be embarrassed") or suggesting an erotic novel like Fifty Shades of Grey so she can get in the mindset of a character.

She also suggests your lady attend an oral-sex workshop with a girlfriend or a sister, "something cute and fun with the girls. She might see that it can be playful and not about being dirty or slutty."

Still, I maintain this is great advice - if your girlfriend was the one writing to me, asking how she could learn to love it. Excuse the overused metaphor - but I'm not convinced you can ever expect that metaphorical horse to take a drink if it won't go near the water.

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The good news is that I hear often from readers who are madly in love, but some aspect of the sex just isn't right. What defines a deal-breaker is completely up to you. But real love and great sex together is quite a rare find.

Cherish your relationship, I say. Enjoy the great sex, stop thinking about that one little thing you'd like to fix and embrace how lucky you are.

Have a sex question? E-mail amcateer@globeandmail.com or tweet your question to @amberlym.

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About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More

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