How to be happy: Developing trust is key to being open sexually

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The Independent Online

Q. 'I feel embarrassed about giving and receiving oral sex. How can I relax about this? I feel like I'm missing out.' E.

Step 1: Everyone experiences sexual anxiety on some level. Oral sex is optional and we should never feel we have to do anything that makes us feel uncomfortable. Trust, however, creates the opportunity to participate in all manner of sexual intimacy that is fulfilling, exciting and bonding. Once we have developed mutual trust, sexual intimacy becomes a natural extension of the way we relate.

Step 2: Spend time exploring your body in private so your responses feel natural and unforced. Allow your innate curiosity to overcome inhibitions, so you can enjoy what you discover, creating confidence in expressing your unique sensuality. Communication is vital: do not be afraid to discuss how you feel; your partner might even find it a relief, as it will also give him space to talk. Tell him you would like to do it, but feel shy and uncertain. Allowing yourself to appear vulnerable will bring out his masculine desire to protect you. Make the first time you have oral sex special. Set the scene: candle-light, ambient music, a delicious dinner and good conversation are always perfect preludes to love-making.

Step 3: Bathing together creates mutual freshness and gives confidence. Avoid artificial deodorisers, as the natural scents we create when making love are integral to our arousal. To taste sweet, eat melons, grapes and celery, avoiding meat. The more protein a man eats, the thicker his ejaculate and if you don't want to swallow, don't be afraid to say so. Breathing through your nose helps prevent choking and teeth should only be used with caution. Take your time and alternate between using your hands, body and mouth.

Step 4: During and after, talk about what feels good. Reward each other by communicating what works well with your breathing and physical responses. The words "yes" and "more" are always reassuring. If you don't like something, just say so and return to doing what you liked before. Remove the pressurising expectation that you must orgasm: this is an exploratory adventure where the simple aim is to enjoy each other's bodies and learn what pleasures you both.

Cecilia is a psychologist and broadcaster. If you'd like her to answer your problems email her at