Editor’s note: Sex and relationship advice columnist Yana Tallon-Hicks is currently on maternity leave. While she’s gone, we’re reprinting some of her best columns of the past several years, and are looking forward to her return in September. This column was originally published August 29, 2016.
I’m a straight 20-something lady and have been with my boyfriend for two years. We have a great sex life and we’re totally in love! He doesn’t seem to have much of an interest in my vagina — and my vagina, in my mind, is kinda the main thing that makes me a female sexual being. He likes my breasts and loves my butt, but he (literally) never goes down on me and I get the feeling that he only fingers me because he knows I like it, not because he does. He also prefers anal sex to vaginal sex.
Personally, I’m super into my guy’s penis and I love going down on him; it’s one of our main bedroom activities. The fact that he has zero interest in going down on me makes me feel like he thinks my vagina is gross. I’ve mentioned it to him a few times, sometimes teasing but often serious. Just the other night I said to him, “I wish you liked going down on me. I love going down on you, and it makes me feel hurt and left out that you don’t.”
He actually didn’t say anything … no response, as if I hadn’t said it at all. It hung in the air and now it’s just making me feel terrible. I guess I thought he’d at least deny it. Sometimes I feel like he thinks I’m sexy because of the sexy things we do together, not because I (myself, my body) are sexy to him. It’s not the best feeling. What’s a girl to do?
— Trying to Get Ahead
I’ve been teaching strangers about sex for 10 years now and just celebrated my sixth year as a sex columnist. I’d like to consider myself quick-witted, resourceful — a dame that can get any dick out of a sticky pickle and any vagina more blissed-out than a babe at Burning Man. But damn, this is tough!
You’ve done great work already — telling him how hot you find him, clearly stating your desire (“Cunnilingus, please!”), and then sharing your feelings (“Hurt and left out”). You’ve also got valuable tools to use: you’ve got high self-cuntfidence (so if he confirms “Yes! I hate your vagina!” it seems like you can process this hurtful reveal and bounce back), you’re not afraid to talk about sex, and you’ve got great insight.
Use these tools to get some answers. While he’s entitled to his own body and desires, you do deserve information that impacts your shared sexual and loving relationship. Invite your boyfriend to tell you the truth: tell him why it’s so important for you to know how he feels about your vagina and reassure him that whatever he has to say will likely hurt you less than continuing to receive radio silence.
Don’t set him up to fail by asking “You do like my vagina, right?!” in a way that communicates in tone and delivery that if he doesn’t say “OMG, babe, of course, I love it” that he’s in deep trouble. Instead, ask him blunt, unavoidable yes/no questions in baby-steps: “Do you dislike vaginal sex?” “Do you dislike vaginal sex with me in particular?”.
I find myself wondering about how your boyfriend identifies re: sexuality. I hesitate to say this because I worry that it reinforces harmful stereotypes that automatically connect our body parts to our gender and sexualities. As a firm believer in the spectrum of human experience, I don’t believe that your boyfriend’s lack of interest in your vagina “makes him” gay. He can definitely identify as straight and just honestly not like your vagina that much. Or he can be attracted to you, but just not like that kind of sex. However, the closet is a powerful place to be trapped in that renders many folks speechless, fearful, and avoidant of these tough conversations if they haven’t happened yet.
When asking your boyfriend the questions you have, make sure to include your level of openness to discussions about sexual fluidity and the spectrum of gender, sexuality, and attractions that we all exist within. Just be sure that you’re actually open to these conversations so that you’re not inviting him — and you — into a harmful trap. Good luck!
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a relationship therapist, sex educator, and writer living in the Pioneer Valley. You can find her work and her professional contact information on her website, yanatallonhicks.com.