Behind Closed Doors: Miss Manners should always be present in the bedroom

Let’s talk about etiquette. Put forks on the left of the plate, hold the door for the person behind you and say please and thank you when asking for oral sex. Wait, what?

Miss Manners hasn’t yet written about the proper way to handle oral sex. If you want it, do you ask for it? Do you try to hint at it? Or do you wait for your partner to want to perform it? It can be a point of pretty serious contention. A friend of mine was in a new, whirlwind relationship, but she quickly put on the brakes when her partner asked her for head. When I asked her why, she said it was just such a turn-off that he would ask and then expect her to do that for him, especially after such a short time.

I’ve been lucky because I have never been with a person who expected oral sex from me, nor with anyone who treated it like something to be bartered. This is especially important to me, because, truth be told, I don’t love giving head.

It’s been said before: When I first started hooking up, I thought genitalia were gross. I didn’t particularly like my own, but I was downright terrified of penises. They change size, shape and color, they’re hairy, and they can have a pretty distinct smell. The first time someone broached the subject of oral sex with me, I stopped him immediately. I was nervous, I was curious, but mostly, I was not ready to reciprocate. He knew about my acute penis aversion. I told him, “You don’t have to do it back.” He replied, “But I want to. Is that okay?” Bless him for saying that. And bless him for eating me out for months afterward without reciprocation of any kind.

Eventually, I did get past my penis fear — shocking, I know. Maybe part of it was mere exposure. Maybe part of it was the guilt I still kind of felt. Maybe part of it was the societal pressure from my girlfriends who all proclaimed to love giving head. It turned into this weird competition of who could get their partner off the fastest. I personally don’t find stopwatches sexy, but that might just be me.

But even now, I have lukewarm feelings on the topic. I still think some of the same things about penises; after all, they do change color and shape and size. They are hairy, and they can smell funny. I found that giving head can sometimes feel a little impersonal because the rest of your body is far away from the action. Pelvic thrusting can be a hit or miss move, and it’s more miss than hit when the object thrusting is right at eye level. And God help you if you try to move my head with your hand — I’m liable to bite. Those things aside, I’m also secretly a little afraid of doing it wrong. No one wants to be that person who botched a blow job. And so, instead of following organic clues during oral, I think a lot about what I’m doing, and it can end up feeling a little like a choreographed performance — tongue swish here, hand stroke there, moan at the deepest part. My internal dialogue takes the sexiness right out of it for me.

So, what’s to be done? If my partner wants his whistle wet, should he ask for it? On one hand, I’m all about sexual openness: How will your bed buddies ever know what you want if you don’t tell them?  On the other hand, only one person’s needs are fulfilled. I think I’ve learned to compromise. My own brain gets in the way of my pleasure a lot less if the action is reciprocated simultaneously, so the 69 position means we both get what we want. And so long as you don’t put your elbows on the table, I think Miss Manners would approve.

Tyna is a Behind Closed Doors columnist and always has polished manners in every situation ­­— even the most personal ones.


  1. Is this really appropriate for any newspaper? I wouldn’t want my parents reading anything about something like this, especially in this much detail. Probably won’t be reading the Flat Hat again.

    • Agreed. Your parents have no idea what blow jobs are, and it should stay that way. I mean, my stars! Sex amongst parents? The very people who most likely had sex for you to exist? APPALLING.

  2. I’m a 50-year-old single mother of two teenage sons. PLEASE keep giving advice in forums such as this for all those teens who don’t have someone to ask or are too embarrassed to bring up the subject with anyone. Knowledge is power! (Ignorance breeds disease, pestilence, children, etc.)


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