I enjoy oral sex – but penetration scares me. Am I letting my partner down? | Sex


I am a 22-year-old woman and a virgin. I’m in a relationship and we have had oral sex, but we have tried and failed to have intercourse. It seems I’m really scared of sex. I like the idea of it, I want to feel the pleasure, but it seems as if my body won’t allow it to happen. I have tried to do it multiple times, but sober or drunk I haven’t been able to let someone penetrate me.

I am really confused and embarrassed at not being able to perform with my partner. We have been dating for a whole year now and I feel bad that he hasn’t had the chance to feel pleasured during this whole time. We have had our good times during oral sex, which has satisfied both of us, but still there is the lack of penetrative sex. My partner, being the sweetest person, doesn’t seem to have a problem waiting for me to be comfortable, but it’s been too long and I am doubting myself. I don’t know if there is some problem with me.

Your body is telling you something your mind doesn’t fully comprehend: you are not ready for penetration. You are putting enormous, unnecessary pressure on yourself. If you convince yourself that you need to “perform” sex you will never experience the pleasure you deserve. Your best course is to set aside your drive to have intercourse for now and focus simply on giving and receiving pleasure. For many women, erotic non-penetrative pleasuring is their favourite part of sex. Don’t seek or encourage any sexual act that scares you. High anxiety will reduce sexual desire, so try to simply engage in relaxed, playful, sensual exploration.

  • Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

  • If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to [email protected] (please don’t send attachments). Each week, Pamela chooses one problem to answer, which will be published online. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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