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Nervous about going down for the first time

Dr. Timaree discusses overcoming anxiety in the bedroom.

Q: I’ve tried looking on every website possible, but I could not find the answer I was looking for, so I thought I could come here. I’m a queer woman and I’m currently seeing another woman. We haven’t gone far yet, but I really like her, and I hope we can move forward. However, the one thing that is scaring me so much is the sex. 

I’ve never done it before and I’m scared that I’m going to go down on her and not enjoy it, which gives me another anxious thought: what if I’m not really queer if I don’t like giving a woman oral? I fantasized it for so long as much as I fantasized giving blowjobs, but I think society’s expectations on vaginas is what is making me really nervous on the idea of giving.

How can I overcome this anxiety?

There are going to be a lot of people – myself included – who are grateful for this question! It gets at several things that our culture has a hard time handling: consent, body shame, double standards, and pleasure. 

I’ve received queries about whether vulvas or balls smell worse, if someone is obligated to reciprocate giving head, and how to make vaginas and semen taste “better.” 

All understandable questions, but they obscure the fact that several things can be true at the same time:

  • No one has to perform any sex act they don’t want to.
  • Sexism has told us for a long time that women’s bodies are gross – which is bullshit.
  • Genitals aren’t supposed to taste like fruit snacks, they’re supposed to taste like genitals.

First: Let’s validate your fears, because that can be – paradoxically – calming. 

Personally, I’m never good at anything the first time and I also don’t tend to enjoy things when I think I’m bad at them. Performing oral can be challenging, even tiring and there’s less direct payoff than some other activities. There is also a ton of cultural pressure about sexual performance, which can be its own anxiety attack and a half. So, I get the fear that you won’t enjoy yourself, which then spirals into a whole existential question about your orientation. 

But let’s challenge those fears with some reality monitoring.

When you think of the things you most love to do, were you amazing at them the first time you tried? Do you derive pleasure from touching your partner? Are there any incredibly satisfying sexual experiences you’ve had where you didn’t cum? Have you orgasmed with someone, but the overall situation was meh? Do you believe sexual orientation revolves solely around a partner’s genitals or a specific sexual act?

These questions point us toward the truth: that we can have fun without being expertly skilled, that enjoyment can come with increased comfort and experience, that our best sexual and romantic experiences aren’t necessarily the goal-oriented ones, and that there’s a lot to a person’s sexuality.

You mention that you scoured the internet trying to find an answer, and I believe that. There are many guides to oral sex techniques, tips on bringing a vulva-haver to orgasm, as well as introductions to safety and other considerations. I even managed to get a cool thread going on Twitter with advice. 

Reading this kind of information may or may not quell your anxiety.

For some folks, feeling studied up will give them a sense of confidence and mastery, but for others all the information – and the reminders that every vulva is different – will be overwhelming. 

Perhaps some of the best advice I’ve heard is to approach sexual experiences with the intention of touching for your own pleasure. The idea here is that you are not just engaging in this act for her satisfaction, but for your own. 

What does that even look like? Consider non-sexual examples, like: running your hand across a soft fabric, fidgeting with play-doh, or petting a cat. We enjoy the texture, the process, the sensation. 

Rather than going in with a game plan to give her the best head she’s ever had or to set a land speed record for orgasms, approach with the intention to play and have fun.

You say you have fantasized about this. What were the things that made that fantasy appealing? Were you picturing the up-close look of her flesh? The lip-smacking sounds? The ability to feel, grasp and explore? Now you get to go do that!

And let’s say it turns out not to be your bag: there are plenty of other ways to touch, play, bring each other pleasure and connect. But one thing at a time. First: just go have fun. 

Have a question for Dr. Timaree? Send an email to asktimaree@philadelphiaweekly.com.

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  • Timaree Schmit Headshot

    Timaree Schmit is basically an episode of Adam Ruins Everything, but in the shape of a person. She has a PhD in Human Sexuality Education and years of experience in community organizing, performance art, and finding the extra weird pockets of Philly.

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