Real Talk: Do I Have to Swallow if I'm Giving Head?
DEAR DR. JENN,
Am I a horrible BJ giver because I don’t swallow? It makes me gag and tastes gross. I am, however, very enthusiastic when giving one. Does a guy get upset when you don’t? I just let it happen on his chest if he’s on his back. Can I train myself to like it? I mean I don't see the point in going down at all if he's not really loving what he's getting. —Spit Take
There are lots of people who don’t swallow. And, lots of men who don’t care and think a blowjob is the greatest sexual gift no matter what. What matters is knowing your partner well enough to know what is important to them. Yes, you can learn to swallow, if that's what you really want to do. But unless it is someone really special (who has been tested) and who is eating you out like there is no tomorrow, why would you?
Why They Want You To Swallow
There are many reasons why men enjoy having their semen swallowed. For some it is the ultimate sign of acceptance. “You accept my dick, you drink my cum, you embrace all that I am.” For others it can be dominance (if it were delicious to drink they would be selling it in stores). Knowing that this is not a scrumptious delicacy but pressuring your partner to partake of it can be an act of dominance. According to Ian Kerner, sex expert and author of such titles as Passionista: The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Pleasuring a Man and She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman, “Some men feel that swallowing indicates a degree of passion or acceptance or even love, and that spitting is rejection. For some men, it also is a behavior that's linked to a fantasy of feeling powerful. So some guys treat swallowing like it's part of lovemaking, others feel like it's part of eroticizing a partner during sex.”
Why It May Not Actually Matter
While it is important to understand the preferences of your partner and to be able to work together so that everyone has a great sexual experience, the pleasure of receiving oral sex is not dependent on the swallow. Focusing on the finish ignores the talent and skill that is takes to perform a great blow job, not to mention the pleasure that provides. According to Kerner, “Oral sex feels great, but swallowing has little to do with the actual physical pleasure. The essence of a blowjob is friction to the head of the penis, pressure to the base, and lubrication to facilitate the process. Suction and tongue-work augment the friction.”
In addition to technique, there is a lot to be said for enthusiasm and passion. “Beyond physical pleasure, the difference between a great blowjob and a not-so-great blowjob is the psychological stance of the giver, namely does she seem into it?” says Kerner. “There are lots of ways to be into something — sensual, sweet, passionate, powerful — and guys can tell the difference generally between authenticity and going through the motions.” You can swallow a river but if your technique sucks, so to speak, and you seem repulsed, you’re not going to impress anyone. Showing him your really down, with authentic groans and getting into it yourself, will go a lot farther than one gulp.
Options for the Semen-Averse
1. Communicate with your partner about what you are comfortable with. Let him know what you are comfortable with and, if there are circumstances that might help you to feel differently, what that might be. Kerner suggests, “It's important to communicate your likes and dislikes and also be able to talk about them and feel like you're both listening and being heard. Taking a sexual behavior like swallowing off the table shouldn't be a deal breaker, especially if a partner enjoys other aspects of oral sex. Also, if not swallowing allows you to really enjoy the other parts of fellatio, let your partner know this.”
2. Try new techniques. High-level technique requires study. When you were in school, if you wanted to get an A on a test, you studied for it. To get an A as a lover is no different. Many people have a hard time putting their ego aside to learn about sex and anatomy. “Why should I? I already know how to give a blowjob,” you may think to yourself. But you can always heighten your partner’s pleasure, give better orgasms and learn new things. When it comes to technique, no matter how much you know, it is best to put your ego aside and approach this learning process from a place of openness and humility. There is no shame in learning, and asking what feels good — and what could feel better — is a good place to start.
3. Go deep. Spice things up by going deeper than you usually do. Check out some tips and techniques from my column about deep throating to give swallowing a whole new meaning.
4. Keep it equal. Make sure that oral sex is reciprocal, that one person is not doing all the heavy lifting while the other lays back. This can breed resentment and make a partner nitpick and focus on what he isn’t getting (swallowing) instead of what he is getting.
5. Don’t let up til the orgasm is over. A really common mistake that people without penises make is to stop blowing mid-orgasm which can make it less pleasurable. If you don’t want to swallow, Kerner recommends, “don't stop applying friction with your hand until a guy has finished ejaculating.”
Things to Consider on Your Journey
It’s okay. You don’t have to swallow if you don’t want to. And, if you want to work past your aversion, that is an option too. Here’s what you can do.
1. BJ as appetizer. You can use your fabulous oral sex techniques as a warm up to intercourse. Once things are hot and heavy, you can jump on top of him to take him inside of you (assuming he's consenting and game, of course).
2. Give him a different bullseye. There are so many places for him to cum! The world is his oyster... and your oyster is only one of them. He can cum on your stomach, your face, your boobs; roll over and give him your back as a palette if you want. He can cum on himself or shoot it across the room. Just try to keep his jizz our of your eye, which is not only mood-killer, it is potentially dangerous. If that does happen make sure to rinse it with warm water, put a compress on it and check in with your doctor if things get inflamed.
3. Spit. There is nothing wrong with spitting it out. Just don’t act like you are grossed out or find his juices repulsive. You can be so discreet he will hardly know. You should always have a wash cloth or tissue nearby when doing anything that involves bodily fluids, anyway. He'll be psyched about the orgasm (and probably that it happened in your mouth), and you can just discreetly spit it into the cloth you already have on-hand. Win-win.
4. Or... swallow. If you want to get over your aversion, there is nothing like exposure therapy. Perhaps you had a bad experience with some “funky spunk” like Samantha did in Sex and the City. Maybe your current guy has a better taste than someone you were with in the past. Diet, health and lifestyle habits can make a huge difference in acidity and taste. Another option is to let him shoot it further back in your throat so it does not hit your taste buds. Sometimes a bad experience, like a partner who did not warn you it was coming or one who pressured you to swallow when you weren’t ready or didn’t want to can spook you for a long time after. Having a sensitive partner who lets you be more in control and doesn’t pressure you can be very healing here.
Finally, Be Safe
For myriad reasons, you should think twice about any man who pressures you to swallow or shames you about not doing it. You should always have a conversation about STI’s and HIV status before swapping fluids. People forget that they can catch something from oral sex but it happens. It is okay to save something for a committed relationship or even marriage. Or, save it for never and straight up say no. After all, a sexual encounter with someone you're into should never be that hard to swallow.