Orgasm gap: the real reason why I don’t like getting head

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

It’s odd that I’ve never written directly about the orgasm gap, let’s rectify that shall we! Here is a conversation that I’ve had more than once:

Me: I don’t like getting head.

Guy: Oh, but you’ve never had it from me!

This confident assertion is usually accompanied by a filthy grin, which I know is meant to be temptingly charming but is more often kinda frustrating. The implication of that statement is that the reason I don’t like getting head is because I’ve never been with someone who knew how to perform the physical actions properly – who understood exactly how to tongue my clit and bring me to new heights of as-yet-unexperienced head-driven pleasure. Beyond that is the implication that I am some sort of sexual ingenue who has no idea how to even begin directing a lover to stimulate my clit in ways that I like.

It’s weird to have to explain to lovers that they probably don’t know my body and mind better than I do, so I thought I’d try to suggest something far more helpful to say if you ever find yourself in this situation, as well as an explanation as to why – if you want to give me head – it’s not the physical process of tonguing that you need to focus on.

What to say if someone says they don’t like getting head

Them: I don’t like getting head.

You: Oh really? What do you like instead?

Rarely has anyone ever said this to me, although I am not too bad at the old sex comms so when they wheel out the standard ‘oh but you’ve never had head from ME’ line, I usually offer some alternative activities (gimme a hand job with these specific toys, let me suck your dick, fuck me like I’m in trouble, etc). It surprises me that so few people ever respond to ‘I don’t like getting head’ with ‘what would you prefer?’, because unless you have a specific and direct kink for eating cunt, the chances are the reason you want to eat me out is because you want to provide pleasure. You might even directly be thinking about the orgasm gap and hoping you don’t fall into the category of ‘guys who don’t care if the women they’re shagging get off.’ Society might have taught you that the best way to go about getting me off is to lick my clit, but when you’re sitting here in front of me it feels weird for you to trust ‘society’ when it comes to my needs rather than… you know… me.

I don’t like getting head. I would strongly prefer for any sexual activity we partake in to be one in which you get pleasure. Either ‘as well as’ or ‘instead of’ me. And although sometimes I can frame ‘getting head’ in my mind as ‘giving a guy the pleasure of putting his face in my crotch’ there are still residual icks about it placed there by a culture that has told me most men really don’t like doing it. I’m not sure I’ve ever articulated this directly, but here it is: I hate being ‘given’ pleasure during sex. I cannot bear any one-sided stimulation. It feels awkward and selfish and uncomfortable. I know it shouldn’t be any of those things, but that is how it feels, and that’s why I don’t like it.

Why I don’t like getting head

There are a few reasons why I don’t like getting head which I have articulated before. Firstly, I am instinctively very submissive, and it’s hard for someone to give me head unless they’re doing it in a domly ‘I’m gonna pin your legs apart and bury my face in your cunt, you little bitch’ way. Secondly, I had some bad experiences when I was younger thanks to guys performing head with a grudging ‘let’s get this over with’ tone and it has made me distrustful of men who say that they genuinely like it.

The thing I’ve not really put into words before, though, is this: there’s a powerful inner monologue in my head that urges me, always, to try not to be any trouble. I become extremely nervous if men make any specific effort to try and get me to come, because I’m ruining sex by having needs that mean they’ll have to… for want of a better word… ‘bother.’ It is not that I don’t want to come, although I genuinely am relatively unbothered about experiencing orgasm during partnered sex – I have an extensive collection of sex toys and a mighty wanking technique so if I need it enough I’ll finish myself off once you’ve left. I really and truly and genuinely panic at the idea that I would receive without giving.

No matter how much I love sucking dick (and I really really do), I still struggle to believe the men who tell me they’re up for eating me out. Not the dominant ones who might pin my thighs apart, nor the subby ones who beg me to sit on their faces. My subconscious can’t bring itself to believe them enough to relax.

Lucky fucker that I am, I am fortunate enough to have met many men who really adored giving head. Ones who looked at me with sad puppydog eyes when I told them I didn’t like it. Ones who tried asking, wheedling, begging and sometimes just taking: pinning me down and lapping at my clit in a variety of fabulous ways. I have enjoyed some of these moments very much – even though I don’t like getting head I do like feeling desired. Feeling like the person I’m with is not just laser-focused on my pleasure but genuinely eager to devour me. That’s a lovely feeling in and of itself.

[Note: I do not have time to go into the details of someone ‘just taking’ head from me – these were people with whom I had established trust and connection and the kind of dynamic where I would have felt comfortable saying no, and very much enjoyed them pushing my limits in various areas. Don’t take this as carte blanche to force head upon anyone you’re with. Like everything I do in bed, it’s one tiny part of a tapestry we weave together which includes consent and negotiation]

But the actual head itself has rarely made me come. This is not the fault of the valiant fuckers who’ve tried, although I do hope that this information will be a source of great pride to the few who have genuinely managed it (including this one who dropped by years ago to share his technique). There are often great sensations going on down there, but when someone’s face is buried in my cunt and I’m not really feeling it, the problem is not what they’re doing to my clit: the problem is inside my head.

The orgasm gap

The ‘orgasm gap‘ is a phrase coined to discuss the significant difference in reported pleasure during heterosexual partnerships. From Wikipedia:

A 1994 study by Laumann et al. of sexual practices in the United States found that 75.0% of men and 28.6% of women always had orgasms with their spouse, while 40.2% of men and 79.7% of women thought their spouse always orgasmed during sex. These rates were different in non-marital straight relationships (cohabitational, long-term and short-term heterosexual relationships), with rates increasing to 80.5% for men and 43.0% for women orgasming during sex with their short-term partners, and 69.3% for men and 82.6% for women thinking their short-term partners always orgasmed.

Women in partnerships with other women tend to report much higher rates of orgasm, so the problem here seems to be with heterosexual pairings. The research focused on cisgender couples, and most of the discourse focuses on cis women – I’m talking here about my experience, and I’m a straight cis woman. And I’m talking here about my frustration with the way ‘orgasm gap’ discourse is framed: predominantly as a problem which individual straight men can solve on their own.

When we talk about the orgasm gap, there are two different solutions offered: improved tools and techniques to educate straight men, and a radical change in the discourse surrounding orgasm – challenging the idea that orgasm should always be the primary goal of sex.

In terms of techniques there’s been plenty of material published: books like ‘She Comes First‘ give detailed explanations on technique, and a few men have told me this book really helped in terms of the practical aspects of eating someone out. Tools include a treasure trove of articles and op-eds encouraging more men to give head in the name of orgasm equality. If you believe the orgasm gap is a result of straight men who either don’t know how to please women or don’t care, then these things are really helpful.

And yet. They’re not enough for me. They’re not enough for the friend with whom I had a conversation about this recently, in which each of us admitted in a hushed voice that the main reason we didn’t like getting head was that we suspected that the men were getting bored. We were worried about ‘making’ them stay down there for more than about five minutes because – you guessed it! – we didn’t want to be any trouble. I have a hunch that we’re not the only ones who are often met with eager, head-giving men who end up so tense that we push them away after a token few minutes. Sorry lads. Even sorrier when I tell you that I don’t think your valiant individual actions (“Oh but you’ve never had head from ME!”) will ever be enough to solve the problem.

Orgasm gap: it’s not you, it’s me (lol also society obviously)

A long time ago, a baby 27-year-old me asked in a comment “I know more women who enjoy giving head than men do. Why is this? I would genuinely love to know.” Well, 38-year-old me now reckons she knows, and it’s because of layers of societal conditioning which tell women our needs are a burden that we shouldn’t place on men. We are taught that our worth is in giving, and that by extension receiving is unconscionably selfish. We are taught that our vaginas smell gross. That we are disgusting. That men find giving head either abhorrent or boring. That those who do give us head aren’t doing so out of genuine desire, but because they are kind-hearted feminists grimacing and eating their greens because they feel like they owe us a favour.

In recent times I do find myself occasionally managing to enjoy head before the Bad Thoughts pour in to remind me that vaginas are gross and men generally do not want to eat them. That this particular guy must only be doing this out of a begrudging sense of duty – a sense of duty that’s now been magnified by all this discussion of the Orgasm Gap and how he simply must eat me out if he wants to be a good feminist. My cunt is disgusting because I don’t douche with Femfresh every day, and I don’t fully wax it bald either. Looking up at me from that angle cannot possibly be hot, because I look nothing like the women in porn. What’s more, because I’m always up front with men about not liking head, if I do experience any genuine pleasure from what he’s doing, he’ll immediately write it off as ‘faking just to make him feel good’. And I can’t actually fake it, because then I’m actively contributing to the problem of the Orgasm Gap by not being honest about what does and doesn’t get me off.

I am not blaming men I fuck for the thoughts that my traumatised subconscious spits out, by the way – this is unequivocally a problem caused by a society which consistently and ruthlessly sidelines women’s perspectives, including our pleasure. Making us feel like we’re selfish for having needs, let alone desires, and encouraging us to focus hard on not being any trouble. And though we can all help change society, on an individual level my discomfort when getting head is a ‘me’ problem to solve. Recent conversations with lovers in which they’ve visibly deflated after trying to give me head have made me realise that if I don’t want to routinely hurt men I care about, it’s a problem that I probably need to tackle with some urgency.

Ironic, by the way, that the only way my brain will acknowledge this as a problem that needs fixing is when it starts to impact men. Do I actually care about this issue? Not sure. I could happily go through the rest of my life never getting head at all, just enjoying the kind of sex I like. But, you know, men want to give me head, and I don’t want to be any trouble, and pleasing men is soul-crushingly close to my raison d’être, so I’ll try.

Making me horny is easy, making me whole is hard

It’s not an actively horrible sensation, obviously. Occasionally I can enjoy it. I can sense the physical stirrings of enjoyment in my crotch. But unfortunately, the blanket diktat issued by my brain that men do not want to waste their time with their head between my legs when they could instead be pounding me is so strong that I struggle to overcome it for long enough to even get close to coming.

When I tell men that I don’t like getting head, and they say ‘oh but you’ve never had it from ME’, they’re making a fundamental error: assuming that the reason I don’t like it is that no one I’ve slept with has mastered the right techniques. Confident that their own skillz are top-notch, new guys seek to reassure me that they’ll definitely press the right buttons. But the problem isn’t that no one’s been pressing the right buttons, it’s that my brain isn’t running the right software. Press all the buttons you like, but if the screen’s already gone blue you won’t get useful output.

As I say, only I can solve this problem for myself. I need to work on pushing back against the reason that screen’s turning blue: the decades of societal conditioning that says getting head is a selfish thing for which men I like will resent me. And I fully understand the despair of men who have responded to news of the orgasm gap by doubling down on their technique only to find that their tongue action leaves me feeling awkward and panicked, like I’ve forgotten to tell them I don’t eat seafood and they’ve served me prawns for dinner which I then proceed to chew my way through while smiling and trying not to gag.

If you really want to help someone out who doesn’t like head, I think the only way to achieve that is to copy the men who are kind enough to lay their fuck upon me: offer buckets and buckets of reassurance. I’m not saying this actually works, at least it hasn’t fully worked for me yet. But it’s certainly been a useful step on the road to eventual self-acceptance, and I’m grateful to the people who have helped me on my way. If you plan on shagging someone for a long time, and you really do want to give them head (ignore what the rubbish Orgasm Gap articles say about ‘tit for tat’ – please never give head begrudgingly), then gentle and repeated reassurance – over and over and over and over and over and over and over until you’re blue in the face that you hope to bury in their crotch – is one of the best tools in your arsenal.

In the short term, though, when someone says they don’t like getting head, please don’t say ‘oh you’ve never had it from ME!’. You may think you’re conveying confidence in your technique, but in doing so you’re ignoring everything that person already knows about their own body and mind. You’re assuming that you know them not just better than every single one of their past lovers, but better even than they know themselves.

Unless you are personally capable of pulling off a tongue-twisting triumph so utterly mind-blowing that you erase insecurities that I’ve fought for the last two decades, insecurities which have been planted there by toxic sexual scripts that have been honed over fucking centuries, you’re probably best off just asking what I’d prefer.




  • Brad says:

    It’s interesting because my response to that statement has always been, “Do you mind if I do for a bit? I’m a total pussy-slut.” Or something else that conveys how much I do genuinely love getting my face down there. Ditto having my head grabbed and pushed into my partner’s cunt. Face sitting? Absolutely but it’s not really about the submission, it’s about tasting her pussy. I think maybe the first steps to solving this problem (societal if not personally) is for those of us that do to start showing we like doing it because we think it’s hot.

    And if someone doesn’t believe me they can always watch me get off using just their panties.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Absolutely red-hot final line there, kudos!

      I have had some people say this to me, or similar, and it’s definitely better than the former, for sure. I think perhaps v dependent on context, as it does still make me very uncomfortable if it’s someone I’ve only just met. If I’ve known someone a while, then they’d probably know a little bit about the stuff I write above and so at that point that would fall under ‘reassurance’ and definitely be a request I’d be happy for them to make, or a discomfort I’d be happy for them to (very gently) challenge by giving that kind of reassurance. But on a first date, or very early doors in any relationship, there’s something quite stark about ‘I don’t like X’… ‘I love X, can I do it anyway?’ – swap X for any other sex act (eg anal) and you can probably see why I am still cautious.

  • fuzzy says:

    i do have a specific and direct kink for eating cunt, and yet i can’t imagine saying anything except “what DO you prefer?” mostly because of my ” ‘satiable curtiosity”.

    And no matter how much I love it, it’s not easy or trivial to convey how much i do get off on it, especially with a new lover. It takes time and patience (patience yeah how long does *that* take?).

    I had a lover decades ago whose opinion was a close parallel to your own in this regard; we solved it for ourselves (once we got comfortable with fucking and cuddling and exploring kink) by having me tie her up so she could not *move* in this slinglike affair where her whole groin was exposed and she was comfortable enough that she could have napped if she wanted to, and then I would sit below her and eat out her cunt and ass as long as I wanted to, as much as I wanted to, and however I wanted to while she blushed and wriggled and begged me to stop until I gagged her. It turned her on that I topped her in this way at the very least, and *sometimes* her mind would give up during the process and she’d have thrashing convulsive full body orgasms. Other times I’d finish her off with the wahl we had, or a good railing but a good time was generally had by all.

    I remember an early meme that tried to explain the orgasm gap by showing the cockpit of an F111 titled “women” and a huge panel with a single red button titled “men”. It is *not* simply a matter of lack of skills/training of ignorant people (though there are plenty of them) or purely some physiological basis (though there is plenty of that too), but ultimately our largest sexual organ is the Mind, and your post is spot on.

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    I’m not going to pretend this is very helpful, but the survey mentioned in that Wikipedia article makes me wonder if you’ve ever tried getting head from another woman, and if that was more successful… presumably at least then the intrusive thoughts of ‘he’d rather be boning me’ wouldn’t apply. I realise that doesn’t help one bit in finding ways to enjoy it more with the men in your life, though!

  • Purple Rain says:

    I don’t feel like you do about receiving head, but I love this line, it resonates otherwhere.

    “But the problem isn’t that no one’s been pressing the right buttons, it’s that my brain isn’t running the right software“

  • Brad says:

    I will take that kudos as a badge of honor!

    I totally get what you’re saying about that in the context of a first date. And I suppose how I meant it was in a discussion of things each other enjoys. I suppose my wording of the response made it seem more like a “can I do it anyway” kind of comment. I just think expressing a love of giving head for the sheer enjoyment of it is a great way to get over those societal hurdles.

    Really that discussion in an earlier date scenario should always be a “Oh you don’t like that, ok. I do really like it myself are there are any things close to it you do like or should we avoid it altogether.” Which you pretty much say in the post.

  • ftandhubby says:

    Believe the men who tell you they’re up for eating you out……..

    Fair or not your orgasm is up to you to get. My wanting to put my face their (at least for me) is to satisfy my own desire.
    Some men love womans cunts….all of it, and some men like them even more if they have recently been fucked.

    That said…I’m unlikely to ever orgasm from head…..but I’m still happy to have my cock sucked by someone that enjoys it.

    Give your partners the pleasure of being able to go down on you. Thanks for sharing how you feel.

  • Alfridus Goddfreed says:

    Forgive me for asking, but do you often get the answer you’ve never had from me ?

  • A says:

    Thank you so much for this post :-) I’m sort of in this camp. It’s not something I ask for or want until my partner wants to give it to me but even when he does, it can take a while for me to relax, for me to find it pleasurable (nothing to do with his technique, all to do with me relaxing and getting in the right headspace/out of my head). If you want to go down on me, fine, but don’t expect me to get any pleasure from it

  • tlm says:

    Good post. My basic reason for not wanting head that much is that it means a sexual partner can’t talk to me while they get me off! And I can’t even see their face very well. It can feel pretty good and if I’m horny I can definitely come from it just fine (noises help), but it mostly just feels like a physical thing, and that isn’t very interesting to me, most of the time. If I’m not into it enough, and someone still wants to do it for their pleasure, it generally becomes quite dissociative for me.

    I’d be curious to hear why receiving a hand job doesn’t have the same issues with receiving pleasure for you, if you’d be up for sharing.

    • Girl on the net says:

      “I’d be curious to hear why receiving a hand job doesn’t have the same issues with receiving pleasure for you, if you’d be up for sharing.”

      Ooh I hadn’t really considered this in detail before, so thanks for asking. My immediate thoughts are…
      1. Kissing, and other close contact, are more possible during a hand job, and therefore it can feel like more of a mutual thing. I can also use my own hands on someone else at the same time, whereas during something like a 69 I feel less able to do that.
      2. The toys I’d use (for instance clit stim toys like Zumio, HO Amo or Doxy bullet) are powerful enough that often they’ll override my brain. For example, I will often find my mind wandering during solo wanks while I’m stressed, and these toys are powerful enough that I can come even when thinking about spreadsheets or to-do lists, so they are also often powerful enough that they’ll make me come when I’m worried about ‘being too much trouble’ too.
      3. It doesn’t trip the ‘eww my vagina is gross’ switch that is tripped when a guy has his face down there. This is (I think?) a very specific hangup that was planted during an incident when I was young, which I can’t remember if I’ve ever told the blog, but I’ll do a search and have a crack at telling the story sometime if I haven’t already. It’s almost certainly reinforced by the sheer number of men who insist on being very loud about the fact that they don’t like eating cunt/find it boring/gross etc (and as I say above, subsequent discussion of Orgasm Gap which makes me feel like some men are pretending in order to seem like good feminists). I know not all men feel this way, and my rational self tells me to trust the men who tell me they like it, but my subconscious is not so easily persuaded.

      Edit – sorry, sent before I’d finished. Thank you for adding that detail on why you don’t like head – I totally see what you mean re: someone not being able to talk to you/not being able to see their face too. I reckon that may be part of why I’m not a fan as well. I like *noises* during sex, and if someone makes noise while they’re eating me out I know that’s not directly related to specific physical pleasure so it doesn’t feel the same (far better when they grunt/moan while they’re pounding me, etc). Thank you for articulating this so well, it’s given me a lot to think about!

  • Max says:

    No, I don’t “genuinely like it”. My admiration for the vulva is so immense that there’s nothing more overwhelming for me than being as close as a possible to the pussy in front of me, which is when I’m licking it, burying my face into the ocean of sweet juices. Me and partners who felt about cunnilingus like you have tried to make it happen in a way where I just take what I want, but we didn’t really find the right vibe. Reading you thoughts and feelings about it made me rethink… Thank you!

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