How to Do It

My Boyfriend’s Strange Habit After We Finish Having Sex Breaks My Heart

Is this normal?

Woman looking annoyed, a graphic of a TV.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by PeopleImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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Dear How to Do It,

I’ve been with my boyfriend for seven years, and recently we’ve been able to get a place by ourselves, so we have privacy now. We’ve been exploring and experimenting sexually with each other. It’s been great, but I’ve been noticing one thing my boyfriend has a tendency to do.

Sometimes after sex—and he always gets off—my boyfriend puts on porn. It’s always oral, and that’s my weak area. I’ve only ever done oral on him; I’ve read and watched stuff to try to get better. It definitely helped, but I still feel average.

Should I be feeling as hurt as I am by this? Is it normal? How can I get better at oral, or get rid of my gag reflex and learn to deep throat and swallow?

— Swallowing My Insecurity

Rich: I don’t know if she should be hurt by this. You can’t necessarily draw a cause and effect here, but I don’t feel that her interpretation is necessarily off. It seems like they agree that this is a weak spot for her. Can we take her at her word?

Stoya: I think we can take her at her word, and I think based on what she said in the second half of the last line, it does seem like it is what modern sexuality would consider a weak area. If you’re gagging and you’re unable to swallow, I can see how someone would feel that that is weak. So I’m OK with it, we can proceed as though she is “weak” at this.

Rich: So then do you think this question is fundamentally tips and tricks for oral sex?

Stoya: So, not entirely. I don’t like that the boyfriend turns, presumably somewhat in front of this letter writer, to porn. That is the exact thing that our reader is sensitive about. I think that is rude, perhaps callous. We don’t get much background on the relationship. It’s a very efficient question, but I would say to definitely think about other aspects of your relationship—is there a lot of other behavior that is insensitive? Because then that’s something to consider.

Rich: Yeah. I mean, to the boyfriend, just have some respect. If you know that something might hurt your partner’s feelings, don’t rub it in their face. I don’t think he’s wrong for using porn when he wants to, but he should just be a little bit discreet about it because he’s dealing with another human being with feelings.

Stoya: It’s a “if/then” kind of thing for me. If you’re going to use porn directly after, in front of your partner, could you pick something sometimes that isn’t the thing that they’re sensitive about? Or if it has to be oral porn—if that’s the only porn that works—then does it have to be where your partner has to experience you experiencing it?

Rich: Right.

Stoya: So, I’m curious about your experiences, Rich, and I’m thinking back on my own experiences. When I first had a dick in my mouth, and much like the first time I had a tongue in my mouth, my reaction was involuntary…basically what a cat does when you give them a pill but you don’t get it quite far enough back in their throat. I wanted the dick in my mouth, but my tongue was like, “Absolutely not. This must go.” It was this uncontrollable pushing maneuver.

Rich: I don’t really remember what my arc was. I know at some point it was a lot harder for me to take as much dick in my throat as I can now. But I think I just believed in myself really, and I persevered. I just thought I could do it, and I did it. I mean, I know people say there’s no such thing as willpower, but I have felt a lot of results from what I would consider to be willpower. There was a will and there was a way, and that’s what happened. And it was the same for bottoming too.

It’s so hard to advise on it, because it’s a paradox really—you have to focus on relaxing, you have to make your body accept this thing, and that requires this deep relaxation that’s part of a conscious process. The only thing I can really kind of compare it to is meditation; you have to be so in control of yourself that you have to be able to let go on command.

Stoya: Yes. Speaking of letting go—so for me, if I am afraid of vomiting, I cannot deep throat. At first, I was very afraid of vomiting consistently. Then one day, because there is a part of me that is a fuck pig, I was like, it is more important to me to get my whole face fucked than to not puke on this person. My priorities shifted. And then I was amazed by how far back it could go.

Not being afraid of vomiting has unlocked this gray zone where I will gag, but it’s actually really cool if one person has a part of them in my vagina and another person has a penis I am gagging on. The full body experience, including the pelvic floor response to gagging, is fascinating. It’s cool for me, it’s cool for the person whose dick I’m sucking, and for the person who’s inside me.

In case you’re wondering, Rich, I have actually come around on threesomes. For long-term HTDI readers: Something happened, and it expanded my tastes.

Rich: We’re all on a journey.

Stoya: Yeah. But back to the dick-sucking and gagging, there’s this moment when my throat produces what we called in porn “the good spit.”

Rich: Right. Yes.

Stoya: It’s really viscous and really slippery. It doesn’t dry out very quickly, much like bottled manufactured lube. Actually, for several years on porn sets, I was aiming for that good spit so then I could do a better hand job.

Rich: Right. I’ve had experiences with this. I don’t want to sound creepy because it’s not, but sometimes there are guys who are inexperienced with bottoming and they want to get trained, and that training becomes an erotic experience. It requires a lot of patience; you can’t fuck them the way that you want to fuck. This is basically for them to understand the sensation and to get used to it and stuff. And even though it often gets halted and that stop-start process is frustrating in one sense, the entire experience is so eroticized and really hot.

And so what I see here is a potential opportunity: Here is a boyfriend who loves blow jobs, and here is a partner who wants to get better at giving blow jobs. So let him guide you. I think maybe this person feels inadequate, they feel like, “I can’t do this right,” and it gets to the point of, “I don’t want to talk about it because I feel ashamed of it.” But actually no, he understands you’re inexperienced, you understand you’re inexperienced. So get experienced. Make this a project for the both of you. I mean, that sounds really hot to me. And then you’re admitting upfront, I’m not so great at this, and no one’s expecting you to be great. They’re just expecting you to bring a can-do attitude. A good spirit, that’s all you need.

Stoya: With swallowing, I’ve found the faster I get it down, the better.

Rich: Yes. I mean, I don’t even remember what it’s like not to love the taste of semen in my mouth, but I feel like that’s psychological too, right? That feels more like a block to get over. The actual taste of semen can be a little bit gross, but it’s generally mild.

Stoya: The only times that semen has tasted bad to me has been when there’s some kind of health problem or dietary thing, where they’ve been taking painkillers for a week and now their semen tastes bad. But generally it’s not the taste, it’s the texture, the longer it sits in the mouth, it tends to shift. And there’s kind of a shortcut, right? Men frequently eroticize swallowing, but they can also frequently eroticize say swishing it around in your mouth and drooling it onto your breasts and rubbing it in. You can show an appreciation for it in other ways.

Rich: Yeah. So to me, this is an opportunity. It’s just about the approach. I think coming clean, being honest, being like, “Look, I want to learn.” Especially because we could give you tips all day long, but if it doesn’t work with that particular dick, those tips are irrelevant. There’s nobody better to tell you how to suck a dick than the person whose dick you’re trying to suck.

Stoya: And maybe think of it as not dick-sucking, but performing pleasure with your mouth. It’s not this scary dick-sucking thing, it’s making someone feel good with your mouth. And then from there you can figure out how to make them feel really good consistently enough to give them an orgasm. But try to step it back a little bit and go, “All right. I’m going to do a thing that feels good for them,” with your mouth for a little bit. “We’ll see how it goes.” That might take some of the stress off of it.

More From How to Do It

I am a 29-year-old straight guy. I’ve been sexually active since I was 18. I’ve had a couple longer relationships, but I’m still not ready to settle down, so I’ve been dating casually and do pretty well for myself. But I am running into a problem I’ve had since I first had sex, and it feels like it’s getting worse. I really, really hate going down on women. I just don’t like to be that up close and personal with vaginas—even very clean vaginas. Something about staring the anatomy that close in the face just puts me off. I’ve often pushed past my dislike of this with new partners because I want them to enjoy themselves too. In my two relationships, I eventually told the truth and we worked around it. I also love receiving oral sex and I’m not sure I’d be OK with a partner taking that off the table. But no matter how many women I’m with, I still hate giving oral sex, and my aversion is only getting stronger.