To this day, folks will debate that one of my favorite songs by the R&B group SWV, “Rain” is about sex even though Coko has made it clear that it’s not. Now another one of their classics, “Downtown”? That’s about the matter entirely. In fact, some hail it as being one of the most sex-positive songs of its time when it comes to — we’re all grown here, right? — cunnilingus. Its praise makes a lot of sense being that it is the act that helps women climax the most.
You know, I did some reading up on oral sex in this country, in general. It looks like around 80 percent of both men and women experience pleasure from it, around 22 percent have an orgasm most of the time (that’s it?!) and most sexually active folks who choose to partake in fellatio and/or cunnilingus do it around five times a week. Yeah, oral sex is bomb and most of us know it.
So, what if you happen to be like a married girlfriend of mine who could literally take it or leave it? It’s not that you haven’t tried to understand the hype; it’s just that, no matter how much you’ve tried to get into it, you just…don’t.
If you’re shaking your head up and down at your monitor or phone screen because this is exactly how you feel, oftentimes getting to the root of an issue can help to resolve it. So, let’s explore some reasons why either you’d prefer not to have oral sex or you’re not enjoying as much as so much of the free world seems to be.
You’re Not Comfortable with Your Vulva/VaginaGiphy
I recently saw an exchange on Twitter that was like the checkmate shot that was heard around the world. Someone had posted a clip of a woman talking about how disgusting she found uncircumcised men to be. One of the things she said was, “Eww. Who wants to deal with all of that extra skin?” Most of the women in the comments were all agreeing and then a guy posted a chart of different vaginas — many of which had all kinds of hanging vulvar skin (where do y’all think the slang “roast beef curtains” comes from?). Like I said…checkmate (by the way, women have a greater chance of experiencing a vaginal orgasm from an “uncut” man due to the extra skin…the more you know).
Anyway, my (main) point is this — no one should feel ashamed of how they were born…men and you included. Besides, I promise you that most men don’t have the same kind of hang-ups about our bodies as we do. In fact, many guys will tell you that they’re even a fan of Arby’s (if you know what I mean).
So, what can you do if you are so self-conscious about your vagina that it’s keeping you from relaxing during oral activity? A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Why 'Vaginal Mapping' Needs To Be Part Of Your Healing Journey.” Check it out when you get a chance. The more time you spend exploring your own vagina, the more comfortable you will get with it — and that will make it easier to share it with your partner. Maybe not immediately but certainly eventually.
You Haven’t “Prepped” Your Vagina Properly
Seems like a few throwback memories are coming to mind with this topic (LOL). Y’all remember the episode of The Game when Tasha Mack was telling her then-boyfriend Danté Young (played by Terrence J) that she enjoyed having sex with him right when he got off work and before he hopped into the shower? Yeah, that’s a hard pass for me. If you want me to enjoy all (and I do mean ALL) of you, make sure that bathtub does first.
Most of the men I know feel the same way; however, this particular point isn’t just about hygiene (check out “Are You Washing Your Vagina Correctly? You Sure?” and “Love On Yourself With These 7 All-Natural DIY Vaginal Washes”). Vaginal prepping also includes deciding how you want your pubic hair to be (also check out “Yep. Pubic Hair Has Trends (And Specific Needs) Too.”) and consuming a diet that keeps everything fresh down below (a couple more: “Foods That Keep Your Vagina Smelling Right (And The Ones That Don’t)” and “10 Ways To Have An 'Extra Sweet' Vagina”).
By the way, when it comes to vaginal grooming, if you’re in a long-term relationship, you might want to discuss that with your partner. The reason why I say that is I once counseled a married couple where the husband said that he didn’t enjoy being on the giving side of oral because — and I quote — “I prefer a golf course to a jungle.”
Listen, I know some of you modern-day women don’t wanna think too long about doing what makes your partner happy when it comes to your own body but being that his face is gonna get closer to your vulva and vagina than you ever will (unless you’re one hell of a contortionist!), it’s worth making the compromise. Just ask the wife in the story that I just told you. #wink
The Foreplay Sucks (Not in a Good Way Either)Giphy
As far as oral sex is concerned, it’s interesting to see where people land on whether they consider it to be foreplay — or not. On one hand, a basic definition of foreplay is it’s any kind of sexual stimulation that is a prelude to sexual intercourse. On another, oral sex does have the word “sex” in it, so…yeah…technically, it is a form of sex.
Personally, I think that before oral sex — giving or receiving — starts, there should be some other forms of stimulation going on: lots of kissing, plenty of caressing, maybe a massage…other things to get you warmed up. Otherwise, if oral sex happens right out the gate, it can seem awkward instead of seductive and that can make climaxing more difficult.
So, what if the main issue for you is the foreplay is lacking or not as good as you’d like it to be? At the end of the day, sex is one of the ultimate forms of communication, so make sure to run that by your partner. Well, wait — before you do, read “What If The Sex Is Good...But The Foreplay Isn't?” and also do some sex journaling so that you can figure out what turns you on and what doesn’t…so that you can clearly express your needs and expectations to your partner. After all, it’s not fair to expect him to figure out what you don’t even know. Work on improving foreplay — together.
You Need to Up Your Dirty Talk Game
Maybe it’s because my top love language is words of affirmation. Maybe it’s because I write for a living. Who knows, chile? But when it comes to dirty talk, it’s not really something that I’ve struggled with saying or hearing. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things about sex.
I know we’re not all the same because many of my clients have told me that either they hate dirty talk or they feel semi-ridiculous doing it. I can’t do much for the people who stand behind Door #1 but if you’re someone who’s behind Door #2, my two cents would be to 1) stop overthinking it and 2) focus on telling your partner what pleases you, how much it pleases you when they do “it” and what you’d like to receive more of. The key is to not sound like an anxious drill sergeant and instead like…the main character (Lovely) from the movieGirl 6 (the real ones know).
Yes, dirty talk can consist of a mixture of instructions and affirmations. The good thing about that is, oftentimes, it can help your partner to know how to please you and it can sexually excite you to hear your own self tell him how. Trust me.
You Don’t Enjoy Giving It
Unpopular opinion or not, I’ve always said that I think that men have more to deal with during cunnilingus than we do with fellatio. I mean, unless he’s heavy on the pre-ejaculate, giving oral sex to a guy is basically like sucking on a thumb until the “big moment” at the end. Us though? Folds of skin. Lubrication. Pubic hair. Vaginal scents (when a vagina is healthy, most men fully enjoy our natural “aroma,” by the way). As I said…lots going on.
That’s why, when women give me the “eww” about a penis being in their mouth while also holding the stance that a man not going down on them is a deal-breaker, I find myself rolling my eyes. At the very least, that’s an entitled and selfish approach to the act.
So, what can you do if it’s simply not your cup of tea? Before totally avoiding it, try doing some things that will “distract” you a bit — put a flavored condom on it or apply some flavored lube. Play around with an ice cube that’s made of juice (literally freeze the juice and then put one of the cubes into your mouth). Bring your hands into the act, so that you can control how much of his shaft goes into your mouth. Oh, and before all of this, get into the shower with your partner. Chances are, if you play a direct role in the cleanliness part of the program, it will put your mind more at ease.
You Don’t Enjoy Receiving It
The wife that I mentioned to you earlier? She said that out of all of her sex partners (including her husband and it hasn’t only been a handful), only one guy was able to get cunnilingus right. Problem is, she can’t remember what he actually did “correctly,” so she hasn’t been able to coach anyone else through the process. *le sigh*
It’s not unheard of that some people don’t enjoy cunnilingus and/or fellatio. If you and your partner fall into one of those categories and are fine with that…fine. But if you don’t enjoy receiving oral sex and it’s not for a lack of trying, this is where communication comes into play. Don’t just settle for how your partner does it, get frustrated and quit. If he truly cares about you, he’s going to want to please you. So, light some scented soy candles, play some of your favorite throwback R&B music, put a pillow underneath your backside, and RELAX. Start things off slow. Kindly express what feels good and what doesn’t and don’t look at the experience like a race to the finish.
Also, don’t feel bad if you’re not automatically climbing the walls either. Although clitorises are highly sensitive, “waking them up” requires different techniques for different people. Something that may help (outside of his mouth) is a stimulating type of lube — one that is specifically designed to get your clit up and going (like this one here).
You know what they say — if you build it, they will come. In this case, here’s hoping that you will, sis.
You and Your Partner Don’t Have a Strong Enough ConnectionGiphy
There’s a lot to be said for sexual chemistry when it comes to achieving ultimate sexual pleasure — and that can happen well before you and someone get naked. You’re deeply attracted to each other. The body language is strong. When you do talk about sex, you seem to be on the same page (of interests and desires). If you add to that the feeling of being fully accepted and to that, being able to trust them to just…let go without any hindrance or reservations — that is the perfect foundation for some pretty great oral sex and intercourse.
See, even with all that I just said, it’s not really going to matter much if the two of you don’t have a strong connection — whether it’s physically or (preferably) holistically. So, if all of what I said doesn’t seem to work, take some steps back, so that you and he can get deeper into each other. Go on more dates. Do some more sharing with each other on a mental and emotional level. Kiss — long and passionately — to see if there is some serious stimulation there.
Two people who feel like they can’t get enough of each other before sex happens are two people who have a far greater chance of helping each other “see the mountaintop” once sex does go down. Oral sex included.
Now calm down and have some fun! I mean it.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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