Swallow Your Fear: A Deep Dive Into Deepthroating

Author’s note: A few weeks ago, I complained to my Sir that I wished I was better at deepthroating, and he mused, “Maybe I should design a curriculum.” He put together a list of resources (see the end of this post for the list, if you’re curious) and issued me an assignment: “Read, watch, and listen to the following media, and prepare a written reflection on what you learned and how you plan to incorporate these ideas.” What follows is that written reflection. (I got a grade of 90 out of 100, which is an A+, by the way!)

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” –psychologist and self-help author Susan Jeffers

“Jump into the fear; it’s super fun.” –improvisor and improv coach Matt Folliott

“I have learned that there are two things I need in order to comfortably jump into a fear: a supportive, loving, respectful environment, and a little push.” –my journal, 2011

Over and over in my sex life, I have resolved to overcome a fear, pushed through it, and arrived on the other side blushing, grinning, and safe.

Sexual anxiety is a microcosm for anxiety I experience in my life more generally. Each discrete fear has a period of development and simmering, a point at which it reaches its terrifying zenith, and (provided I ever find the nerve) a moment when I face the fear head-on and inevitably learn, once again, that nothing is ever as scary as I initially believe it to be. When I conquer sexual fears in this way, I see afresh that any fear worth conquering can be conquered like this: through incremental efforts and then one big leap.

I’ve long feared deepthroating, despite it being a significant kink of mine for several years. The discomfort of cramming a foreign object into one’s throat, the subsequent panic when one’s gag reflex is tripped, and the sense of failure when it doesn’t go as planned all contribute to my view of deepthroating as more daunting than arousing (and I find it plenty arousing, so that’s saying something). However, in devouring the deepthroating curriculum thoughtfully prepared for me by my Sir, I encountered countless iterations of an idea I already knew but had never really applied to deepthroating before: that sometimes, the way to get over a fear is simply to wade into the intense feelings it brings up, stay there, and sit with those feelings awhile.

Much has been written on the technical skills involved in deepthroating. Many guides recommend isolating and becoming aware of your throat muscles, through methods such as yawning and swallowing, so as to be able to relax them voluntarily. Many also recommend certain positions, like the classic “head hanging upside-down over the edge of the bed” pose, which align the throat with the mouth to minimize gagging. Most also suggest practicing on a dildo, so you get the hang of coordinating throat relaxation with carefully-timed breathing and head-bobbing before bringing a partner into the equation.

But beyond physical tricks, almost all these guides insist that you relax, stay with the discomfort instead of running away from it, and push yourself a little further each time. This advice is easy to dismiss – “Tell me something actually helpful,” I’d often think with an eye-roll while reading these so-called tips for the umpteenth time – but it’s a process you shouldn’t knock until you try it. It’s also the same process I’ve used to face – and successfully overcome – almost every fear I’ve ever vanquished.

This recurrent advice also forced me to realize how much of my deepthroating apprehension relates to what a partner will think of me if I deepthroat him “unsuccessfully” or clumsily. Will I look silly? Will he be disappointed or annoyed? Will he think me sexually unskilled? As with most of my sexual anxieties, these are largely unfounded: most folks are thrilled to receive enthusiastic oral sex, even if it lacks technical finesse. Besides which, sex is best when there is a mutual agreement – whether explicitly stated or implicitly understood – to accept each other as you are, in all your potential silliness and ineptitude, because sex is about your connection, not arbitrary benchmarks you try to hit like sexual athletes.

Part of what appeals to me about other intense sex acts, like spanking and fisting, is the mutual trust and vulnerability involved in one partner consensually pushing the other to their physical and emotional limits. I see no reason I can’t view deepthroating through that same lens: as something I attempt, and may find scary, and may fail at, but will be supported in my fear and my failure by my partner (and, hopefully, myself).

It is okay to be bad at things. It is okay to find things scary. Just push yourself a little further, try a little harder, relax a little deeper, and be a little gentler with yourself. Day by day by day, you will probably improve. And also it’s okay if you don’t.

Deepthroating curriculum as prepared by my Sir:
“What are some good tips for deep throating?” (Quora thread)
iDeepThroat instructional video (starring my fave, Heather Harmon)
“17 people reveal how they learned to deepthroat” (ThoughtCatalog article)
“Learning to deepthroat and relax your gag reflex” (Slut Academy article)
“3 women get super honest about deepthroating” (Cosmopolitan article)
“Adventures in deepthroat” (Girl on the Net guest post)

Terrified to Run Into Your Ex? Here’s How to Deal…

‘Cause I know I am! [Laughs a joyless laugh that eventually peters out into sad awkwardness]

One of the ways my anxiety manifested, in the months after my last break-up, was a near-constant fear that I would run into my ex – on the street, in a store, in a coffee shop. This was exacerbated by the unfortunate fact that I moved into an apartment coincidentally near his, mere weeks after the break-up. Worst.

In working through this anxiety with my therapist, talking to friends about it, and journaling about it, I came up with a bit of wisdom on this. Here are a few questions to ask yourself if the thought of running into your ex terrifies you. It’s not much, but hopefully it’ll help you if you’re going through something similar.

What’s the worst that could happen? One of my best friends is a social worker, so she knows all the smart questions to ask me when I’m spiralling into anxiety – and she asked me this every time I mentioned this fear to her.

Here’s my personal “worst that could happen,” with regards to running into my ex: I could run into him while he’s with a partner of his, and while I’m rumpled/makeupless/depressed-looking, and they could both look at me pityingly and/or attempt to talk to me. This could result in me bursting into tears, which would, of course, make the whole situation even more embarrassing and pathetic.

Stating my “worst-case scenario” makes it clear to me that even if the worst happened, it wouldn’t actually be that bad. I’d get through it. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve cried in front of someone it’s embarrassing to cry in front of, nor would it be the first time I’ve seen a former flame with their achingly gorgeous new paramour. I got through those other times. I didn’t fall into a chasm in the earth from pure and total humiliation. I’m still here. And the same will be true if I run into this ex, too.

Do you really have anything to feel bad about? This is another question my social-worker friend posed to me, and she’s so right. She picked up on my feeling that it would be shameful for me to run into my ex – like I should hide from him, because the end of our relationship was somehow a failing on my part. But the thing is, it wasn’t! He ended the relationship, for reasons personal to him, and it wasn’t my doing or my fault. I have nothing to feel ashamed of. I can reasonably hold my head high if I do encounter him.

Even if you did do something wrong in your relationship, it’s likely by now that you’ve either owned up to it and apologized for it or that enough time has elapsed that both of you have moved on with your lives for the most part. If you feel you still owe your ex an apology, maybe you can reach out and issue that apology. But otherwise – why feel bad if you run into your ex? Why hide your face like you’re a pariah to them? There’s no reason for it!

Could you get away if you needed to? A friend reminded me that even if I did run into my ex and he did try to talk to me, I would always have the recourse of simply ignoring him and walking away. I would not be obligated to enter into that interaction if I didn’t want to.

If escaping your ex is an actual safety concern for you – i.e. if they had/have abusive tendencies and/or you think they’re upset enough with you that they might try something violent if they saw you – you could try using a safety app like bSafe whenever you’re in a neighborhood where your ex might be, and maybe consider some self-defense options if that’s your style. (Pepper spray isn’t legal where I live, and sometimes, when random men follow me down the street late at night, I wish it was…)

What would make you feel stronger? A lot of the cognitive-behavioral therapy I’ve done has focused on the practice of accepting the things I cannot change and changing the things I do have control over. In this case, that means figuring out what would help me feel less freaked out about running into my ex, and putting those measures into place.

I used to wear dark sunglasses and headphones when I had to walk in the direction of my ex’s place, so I could plausibly ignore him if I did see him. I’d put on clothes and makeup that made me feel strong. I’d often text a friend about my situation so I felt emotionally supported in what felt like a brave act. I’d listen to music that made me feel happy and badass. And for the most part, it worked!

Have you ever been afraid to run into an ex? How did you deal with it?

12 Days of Girly Juice 2017: 2 Fears Defeated

In theory, I think we should all face our fears head-on constantly. Every day, we should pick something that makes us nervous and tackle it with full-hearted fury. This would make us better and stronger, day by day by day.

The reality, though, is harder than that. Every fear I confront takes something out of me for a while. It saps me of bravery points. I have to take a beat and let them recharge before I can dive back into the juicy, meaty boldness I ache to embody.

Here are two big fears I conquered this year. There were others, but these were the biggest. They took the most out of me and also gave the most back to me – as conquering your fears is wont to do.

Polyamory. Okay, I’ve been non-monogamous off-and-on for a few years, but this was the first year when it was actually difficult for me. My mid-2016 boyfriend didn’t give me jealousy feelz because I just wasn’t that invested in him; by contrast, I had Primary Partner-level feelings about the dude I dated in mid-2017, and that was not reciprocated. That’s cool – not everybody does the hierarchical poly thing, and I’m not even sure it’s what I want anyway – but it made non-monogamy acutely uncomfortable for me. What had previously felt like a breezy cotton T-shirt now rankled me like an itchy sweater.

I thought, for a long time after the end of that relationship, that maybe its dissolution meant poly wasn’t for me. If I was “meant to be poly,” I reasoned, it wouldn’t have hurt me so badly when my partner pursued another person with the passion of NRE. But in thinking about it more, I’ve come to the conclusion that his way of doing poly wasn’t necessarily the only way or the best way. He started dating someone else two weeks after we met, without even running it by me first, which crushed me and destabilized me before I’d even found my footing in that relationship. I learned from this experience that there are some things I need from my poly relationships, and some things I cannot handle, and those are important things to know.

My current situation is something like what’s known as “solo poly“: maintaining my autonomy, dating several people but not viewing any of them as a “primary partner,” and valuing my own self-care highly. This mental shift has helped me nix most of the jealousy and instability I was feeling earlier this year, because I find that when I don’t view anyone as my main squeeze, I don’t start expecting things from them that they’re unable to give me. The result: a much happier and more balanced dating life, for me and hopefully for my partners as well. Hooray! Here’s to more poly adventures and explorations in 2018.

Polite rejection. Though I’ve been romantically or sexually rejected countless times in my life and it makes me into a teary-eyed mess, I’d rather be the rejectee than the rejector, any day of the week. When someone else did the rejecting, you can blame them, get angry, cry over them, journal about them, rationalize what happened, feel sorry for yourself… but when you’re the one rejecting someone, you only have yourself to blame. It’s not your fault you don’t want to be with them, of course, but it can feel like a deep personal failing sometimes. “Why can’t I just like them?!” you ask yourself in the hollow-hearted dead of night. “Everything would be so much easier if I did!”

The trickiest thing, for me, is turning someone down when they’re completely lovely but I just don’t feel that magical, ineffable chemistry. It feels like punishing a perfectly good person for being perfectly good. it feels like discouraging them from something they should never stop seeking. It feels like the inverse of cruelty I’ve had inflicted on me, and it can be devastating.

This year, however, there were a couple of times I had to put on my Rejector Hat and do the thing. I ultimately came to the conclusion that being upfront and clear is kinder than being wishy-washy and dragging things out. Devising a simple script can help you do what you gotta do; for example: “I’ve really enjoyed our time together, but I’m not really feeling a romantic connection here. I’d still be down to stay friends, though!” If anyone flips out at you for communicating your truth kindly and clearly, that’s on them, not you.

What fears did you face this year, my loves?

Freelance Friday: Finances & Fears

Freelance Friday is my monthly feature where I answer questions about my life as a freelance writer, blogger, copywriter, and scribe-about-town. You can send in questions via email or in the comments!

Q. Is it necessary to have a dayjob as well?

A. I have one part-time dayjob at the moment: I work 8-10 hours a week writing tweets for an adult-industry marketing firm. (I had an additional part-time dayjob until recently, but am no longer working at ye olde sex shoppe – which, frankly, hallelujah, because retail is hard and really not well-suited to how my brain works.)

I make enough money from my more creative work that it isn’t necessary for me to have a dayjob – particularly since, if I didn’t have one, I’d have more time and energy for pitching, writing, and hustlin’ – but I still value my dayjob very much and would encourage writers and other freelance-y types to keep theirs or get one, for a few reasons.

First off: obviously having more money is better. My blogging and freelancing could cover my basic living expenses, but then I’d have very little extra cash for things like meals out, theatre tickets, travel, and gifts for friends – all of which are important to me. I don’t mind working harder to keep my lifestyle at a level where I’m happy with it and don’t feel deprived of anything vital.

Secondly, my dayjob acts as a safety net. Freelancing and blogging, as you may know, can be pretty feast-or-famine endeavors. There are months when I get a few fat freelance cheques and sell a handful of sponsored posts, and there are other months where my email inbox and bank account both remain comparatively barren. My dayjob offers me a flat, dependable monthly income, so that even if I earn absolutely no money elsewhere (which happens rarely but does happen), I will neither starve nor be kicked out of my apartment.

Finally, my dayjob gives me a peace of mind that is honestly crucial to my creativity. When I’m hard-up for cash, I tend to focus on crafting work I think will sell, rather than on what I genuinely want to write, which is more often the quirky, offbeat, original stuff that my readers like better anyway. If not for my dayjob, I’d feel paralyzed by the constant need to earn and earn and earn, and would have no spare energy or space for idle imagination. When the problem of money is more-or-less sorted, there’s more room to play. I am enormously privileged to be in a position where this is true for me.

Even if my career blew up tomorrow and I was suddenly making as much money from blogging and freelancing as I had previously been making in total, I think I would probably keep my dayjob. The security and freedom it gives me is a daily blessing. Plus, writin’ tweets is pretty fun sometimes.

Q. Did you have any fears when you were starting out, or even now that you’re established?

A. For a long time, I feared associating my real-life name and face with my sex blog identity. I worried future potential employers would find out I was a Sex Person and would bar me from their business, thereby denying me employment, money, and security. It was a scary thought, that some irresponsible internet dalliances in my youth could cost me financial stability way into my future.

But the farther I traveled into Sex Writing Land, the more I came to realize that a) making sex-related media is probably the big-picture destiny of my life, b) I can absolutely make a living doing this work (and even moreso if I attach my name and face to it), and c) anyone who would forgo hiring me because of my sex writing background is not someone I would want to work for anyway.

(Worth noting here: being able to be “out” about my identity is a privilege of my financial situation, social standing, geographic location, educational background, and other life circumstances – one that not everyone is afforded, nor should everyone who can be out about their work have to be. It was a personal choice I made for myself and I support folks in this industry who are both out of the closet and in it.)

I also feared I didn’t have anything real or important to say. This was especially true back when I started my blog, because I was in a steady, monogamous, sexually satisfying but unadventurous relationship with the first and only man I’d ever had sex with. I was vanilla back then (or at least, I thought I was), and had hardly any sexual experience to speak of, and feared that would hold me back as a sex writer. That became even more true when that relationship ended in 2014 and I went over a year without dating or having any sex at all.

What I learned about myself, during those monotonous periods, was that I still have eleventy-zillion thoughts and ideas and fantasies and hopes and dreams about sex even when I’m not having sex, or having boring sex. I don’t think someone’s sex life is necessarily a predictor of what kind of sex writer they can be. It’s more about how they approach the topic, the media they consume (or don’t consume) around it, their ideas and beliefs about sex, their kinks and fantasies, the things they allow themselves to want and the things they’re trying not to want.

I still don’t exactly know “what kind of sex writer I am,” what my “niche” is, what people look to me for. But I know that I’ve found my voice and my purpose by pursuing what organically fascinates me. Imitating writers you admire can only take you so far; at some point, you have to follow your heart and all its weird curiosities. It’s there that you’ll find the truest and most original core of what you can do.

On Being a Slut Without Being a Jerk

“Watch out for Scott*,” my new friend Amanda warned me. “He’s kind of a perv.”

I had slightly zoned out of our conversation, but at this, I snapped back to attention. “Wait, what? What do you mean?” Women warning other women about men usually know what they’re talking about, and have an excellent reason for doing so. Joining a new social group often involves revelations of this sort – finding out the behind-the-scenes secrets is a rite of passage in any new social endeavor. It would be an understatement to say I was interested.

She rolled her eyes and breathed a long sigh, trying to choose her words. “I dunno, he just tries to fuck every girl,” she explained. “We slept together when I first met him and then he got weird about it. Just be careful.”

What Amanda didn’t know was that I’d already fucked Scott. The night before, in fact. My heart skidded in my chest.

This warning tripped some old, old detritus in my psychology. See, when I was a teenager and only fucking women, I was terrified of men. They made me nervous whenever I encountered them in romantic or sexual situations, in person or on dating sites like OkCupid and thesexchatsite.com. I worried sex with them would be bad and I’d hate it, I worried I’d be awful at blowjobs and handjobs and they’d judge me, I worried penises would be scary and gross, and – most pervasively and chillingly of all – I worried men only cared about sex. If I gave my heart – and also my hetero virginity – to a man, I worried he wouldn’t give a shit and would peace out as soon as the deed was done, leaving me regretful and alone.

I see now that these fears were ridiculous, for a few reasons. First off, men’s emotional cavalierness is a gendered stereotype, and therefore isn’t universally true. Secondly, there are plenty of women who are emotionally irresponsible about sex in the same ways I feared men would be. But thirdly: what is so bad about wanting to have sex with people?

Throughout my teenage years, a hard knot formed in my stomach any time I considered that a man might only want to fuck me and not date me. It felt like a humiliating betrayal waiting to happen. I got a taste of that betrayal when my first boyfriend broke up with me after only a few weeks of dating and then fucked four girls at a party the following week, to the gossipy amusement of seemingly the entire student body. I felt cast aside in favor of girls who “put out” quicker than I did, and required less emotional investment before they’d spread their legs. My apprehension stopped OkCupid banter and in-person flirtations in their tracks, because any time I developed crush-y feelings for a man, I’d remind myself: He probably only wants sex. And that felt like a good enough reason to cut it off, rather than risk bad sex and an even worse rejection.

Indeed, I’ve endured many such rejections in the intervening years. The casual hookup who broadened my kink horizons and then disappeared from my life without warning. The long-time crush who fucked me all languid and giggly in his cozy bed, and then took me out for a Valentine’s Day dinner a few weeks later to tell me he didn’t think we should date. The fuckbuddy who I spent over a year wishing would ask me to be his girlfriend instead. Of course, he never did, because that was never what he wanted – as he had been telling me all along.

These searing letdowns hurt much more than I could have predicted, but I learned key lessons from them about sex and love and the ways in which those things do and don’t intersect. I learned that sex can be good even if one or both parties have no interest in anything more. I learned that the euphoric highs and romantic cravings for “more” I experience after hookups are mostly illusory, and will pass. I learned that only wanting sex from someone doesn’t have to entail being a dick to them: you can be an emotionally responsible, conscientious slut, by checking in on your partners, making sure they’re okay, talking about any feelings that come up, and being straightforward about your intentions.

There were many times when those old, sexist, scary voices crept back into my head. He only wants you because you have wet holes he can fuck, I’d think, or, No one wants to date you because sex is all you’re good for. These are evil fictions murmured into the hearts of women to make us feel worthless and desperate. Patriarchy and capitalism are in partnership, colluding to destabilize women’s sense of agency and self-determination, so we’ll keep trying and trying to impress men in any way we can. We’re told that if we just work hard enough at being “cool” and “pretty” and “sexy” (but not too sexy!), we’ll be able to interest a man with qualities other than just our sexuality.

Here is the truth, though: some people are only interested in sex – whether that priority, for them, is temporary or lifelong. They may be shaken out of that pattern at some point when they meet someone whose brain and heart clicks with theirs in a beyond-just-sex way, but that type of connection is not something you can force with charm and willpower. It happens, or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, that’s not a reflection on you, or your desirability, or your value as a person.

I know this because, in my journeys as a sex-nerdy and usually-conscientious slut, I’ve encountered my greatest fear from the other side of the coin: I’ve occasionally been the person who only wanted sex. There have been friendly hookups and torrid one-night stands who made perfectly good company for a night, but who I would never, ever want to date. Our interests were incompatible, our senses of humor didn’t jive, we didn’t “click” – or maybe, at those particular times in my life, my priorities were just not romantic. And that’s okay.

I truly don’t think there is anything wrong with being the person who “just wants sex” – as long as you’re not an asshole about it. Pursuing someone with false compliments and thickly laid-on charm, just to get into their pants, is a gross behavior regardless of the genders involved. Pretending to want something you don’t, or lying to someone about your intentions, is emotional fraud and cannot be condoned.

It used to cause me a lot of pain that I couldn’t “read” when men were interested in just sex or something more. But now, years in, I know what to look for. Casual hookups and would-be fuckbuddies will often drop phrases like “hang out,” “low-key,” “just for fun,” as they ask me out for drinks at a dim bar, or even straight-up invite me to their apartment. Folks with more romantic intentions will typically pile on the compliments, pointing out my intelligence or humor instead of just my physical qualities, and will invite me on more date-like dates: dinner, comedy shows, fancy cocktails. They often don’t push for sex as quickly, and I can feel that difference of pace somewhere deep in my brain even if it’s not always consciously evident to me. My “gut feelings” about what men want from me are right more often than they’re wrong, these days.

I’ve also learned how to recognize in myself whether I want to date someone or just fuck them. My favorite litmus test at the moment is to ask myself: am I more interested in making this person laugh, or making them come? True, humor is vital to my attractions, including sexual ones, but this question is always at least a good starting point for me to decipher my feelings. Patriarchal scripts still make me feel like I “should” want to date someone I’ve banged, so sometimes I need to step back and ask myself whether that is actually what I want, or if it’s an illusion I cooked up to justify my own “bad,” “slutty” cravings.

There is nothing inherently wrong with sex – wanting it, pursuing it, having it. There is nothing inherently wrong with no-strings-attached, unromantic sex. These things only become problematic when you go about them in a problematic way.

If you’re gonna be a slut, be a kind, conscientious, empathetic slut. Be upfront about what kind of slut you are, and what that means for your partners. Let them decide for themselves whether they want to enter your orbit.

You might still end up the butt of warnings like “Be careful of that guy; he only wants to fuck you” – but hopefully, if you’ve spelled out your particular brand of sluttiness clearly enough in advance, those warnings will simply be met with, “I know. And that’s fine.”



*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

Heads up: this post was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own.