Love & Sex Magazine

Constructive Criticism

By Maggiemcneill @Maggie_McNeill

I have a great relationship with my girlfriend, but her fellatio has never been satisfying to me.  Is there a loving, respectful way to discuss sexual performance with a partner so that it becomes more satisfying?  She’s wonderful and deliciously devoid of hang ups, but I have to become more skilled at guiding her to what will satisfy me.

WRONG WRONG WRONG!People need feedback in order to improve their techniques at anything, and sex is not an exception.  However, since most people tend to be shy (to one degree or another) about sexual talk, it’s entirely possible for a person to make it well into adulthood without ever having received any kind of helpful feedback about sexual technique.  This is bad for two reasons:  first, the person may continue in some bad habit that could easily have been corrected if discovered in the teens or early twenties; and second, the person may well assume that because his or her technique has never been criticized, the one who finally does so is simply hard to please or being insulting.  Also, while men nearly always think of sex as a performance, a lot of women never do; they’ve been told (especially by neofeminists and other anti-sex types) that men just want passive collections of orifices, and are surprised and unsure of how to react when a man tells them otherwise (from what you’ve told me your partner is not like that, but it still bears mentioning as part of the bigger picture).

The best way to criticize anyone, especially a person with whom one has a personal relationship, is to emphasize the positive rather than dwelling on the negative:  “I really like it when you do such-and-such” tends to be accepted much more readily than “I don’t like it when you do this other thing.”  Since she isn’t hung up she will almost certainly do more of whatever you praised, and over time you can gently guide her to doing it exactly the way you like it without hurting her feelings.  If you’re lucky, even mentioning it in the first place may open a dialog; she may ask “what else do I do that you really like?” or even “is there anything I do that you don’t like?”  If the latter question comes up, answer honestly but don’t insult or harp; not “Oh, God, I really hate when you use your teeth!” but rather, “Well, sometimes it hurts when you use your teeth.”  And remember, criticism tends to be more palatable when sandwiched between thick slices of praise.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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