Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

Not all men have their down side
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The Independent Online

This was the second time that we had been naked together, and while I was happy to pay him plenty of lip service, it soon became obvious that he was deliberately avoiding taking the downtown bus. "I don't mean to sound weird," I said gently, "but do you have a problem with going down on girls?"

He looked as if I had just suggested a spot of dogging with a caravan full of transsexuals watching. "I can't believe that you just brought that up now," he spluttered, which was pretty ironic given how physical things were getting.

So I put on my jeans, boiled the kettle and tried to initiate conversation. Had he had a bad experience? Was it a hygiene issue? Or was it, in fact, just me? He said no to all three. "I'm sorry," he said, taking my hand. "I really like you, but I just don't do that. Anyway, sex isn't all about having orgasms... Whatever happened to intimacy?"

Now, I'm all for going into a sexual encounter with an open mind. But shouldn't allowing someone to get you off obligate one to satisfy - or at least offer to satisfy - them in return? It seems to me that it's the person who hasn't come who should be able to demur, not the other way around.

While oral sex may have been considered an unspeakable perversion three generations ago, today it is a standard feature that most sexually active adults take for granted and enjoy. So, for me, having a boyfriend who refuses to reciprocate is like buying a car with no brakes.

I was also a bit fascinated, since this had never happened to me, so finding a man with this anachronistic attitude was like discovering a unicorn. "Dump him," declared my girlfriend, Victoria.

My friend Michael also admitted that he recently binned a girlfriend because she was less than enthusiastic about oral sex. "She was happy to lie back and have orgasm after orgasm, but didn't give me anything in return," he said. "After a while, it seemed pretty selfish." As a stop-gap measure, he suggested that I try "negotiating" sexual favours with my new beau. But the idea of treating sex like a game of poker doesn't appeal.

I'm just glad I have what some would refer to as "questionable morals", the ones that allow me to jump into bed earlier rather than later. What if I had waited six months, only to realise that John's package was not all-inclusive?

A few days later, John invited me back to his flat to say that he had given our tête-à-tête some serious consideration. "I really like being with you, but you have to accept that you can't always get what you want," he said.

Slightly annoyed at having my sexual satisfaction relegated to a Rolling Stones lyric, I realised he was right. I may never realise my ultimate fantasy of Gabriel Byrne carrying me back to his beach house to give me an erotic massage, but, for me, the absence of oral sex is a definite deal breaker.

Things are, however, looking up: last week, for the first time in ages, I met someone whom I clicked with immediately and spent the night in his hotel room. He begged to head south - unfortunately, I was too tired and hung over from my bender with Victoria to appreciate his efforts properly. But I'm looking forward to round two.

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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