Intersection of oral pleasure and shame
For you, for someone else, for a partner
You might have absolutely no shame around oral sex. But you might encounter a partner or a friend or family member who does live with shame. Let’s go through this knowing that within our culture, shame regarding sex is a huge thing that might or might not affect you personally but for sure, it affects someone you know or will know.
Also, if there is shame in another part of your life, such as something like past or current substance abuse, financial failure, relationship discord, eating habits, these ideas and skills can translate to other areas so it’s likely relevant for everyone.
What are some things that might make it hard to “let go” during oral?
Lack of knowledge
What do all these things have in common? They are all indicators of a deeper feeling, shame.
What is shame?
Here’s what I think of as a definition of shame, as opposed to guilt:
Shame is feeling bad about who we are, guilt is feeling bad about what we do.
See how shame is not a useful emotion? We can change actions, and therefore not do harm, but feeling badly about who we are just leads to low self-esteem and then can put horrible self-talk into our heads and make us do awful things.
Do a gut check as you think about these two statements:
I made a mistake.
I am a mistake.
Which one felt worse? What other feelings did it bring up?
(helplessness, inadequacy, sadness, hopelessness. . . )
What are some of the origins of shame, especially around sex? Think about that for a second before you continue reading. . . . .
Religion, culture, family of origin, past experiences, peers, partner, trauma, media
Let’s take a minute to examine these. Consider if you will, a religious statement or sentiment that might cause shame in a person during oral sex.
Let’s see if individually that actually checks out in your religion and if you have a strongly held belief about it. When do you remember hearing it? Who said it? What level of respect do you have for them? What might their intentions have been when they delivered that message? Were they trying to discourage sexual behavior for fear of an unintended pregnancy? A scandal? Preserving virginity? Where do these ideas live in you today? Is the remembered message still relevant? If not, perhaps replacing it could be an effective step to reducing shame.
Use this example statement to practice these steps:
I’m not supposed to enjoy sex.
Ask the questions about where the message came from, who said it, what was the intention, is it still relevant, do you agree with it now? If not, let’s replace that idea. Then let’s create some statements to combat this shameful, negative statement.
How can shame show up during sex?
Fear of rejection
Likes or dislikes
Performance issues (erection, lubrication, orgasm)
Lack of education
Time of excitement vs. orgasm
Time for an analogy. Bear with me while I lay this out.
What does it take to grow mold or bacteria? Warm, wet, dark, and in a dish, right? What does it take for shame to grow? Secrecy, silence and judgment. So, the cure for shame is the opposite of those: letting someone in, talking about it, and feeling OK with our stuff, not judged. What might the dish be it needs to live in? Vulnerability. When we allow vulnerability, shame disappears.
So, what’s a shameful message a person might tell themselves about oral sex?
I’m not good at this.
My stuff tastes bad.
My stuff looks weird.
It’s too small/too big.
My mouth is dry.
I feel exposed and open and I’m not sexy enough to do this.
I don’t look like the people do in porn.
I make funny noises.
I don’t really like doing it and I’m afraid I can’t hide it. (Ask yourself why? If your preference is not rooted in shame, then we get to say we don’t like it and examine whether we have shame around THAT!)
Let’s work the formula:
Identify a person with whom to share, such as a trusted friend, partner, sibling.
Describe what you are worried about. This can be any shame related feeling or statement that resonates.
Create an affirmative statement and check in if it’s OK with you.
Example: My stuff tastes bad.
Share with: partner
Description of shame: “I’m worried that when you go down on me, I taste bad.”
Check in for acceptance: “I don’t really know what I’m supposed to taste like, and it’s hard for me to compare, and I feel like I’m ok, but would you tell me if I didn’t?”
This only happens if we take a position of vulnerability. It might be scary, but then we stay rooted in shame and make no progress and we’re back to the beginning. If we want a different outcome, we must do different things.
Give it a shot and let me know how it worked out for you on the Dr. Shameless Facebook page, or in a message or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org!