Alice,

When I perform oral sex, or real sex, to my boyfriend, I notice that he doesn't make any sounds at all, not even when he ejaculates, but I know that he likes it. He tells his friends that it is rather enjoyable, and I can tell during it, usually from his body motions, but he doesn't make a peep. What does this mean? Is he really not enjoying it?

— no sound from boyfriend

Dear no sound from boyfriend,

Not everyone makes a commotion at climax; some people remain silent while stimulated, including at the time of orgasm. Although he may not express himself verbally, your boyfriend may be panting, moaning, and yelling your name on the inside, but keeping his mouth shut for fear of letting anyone within earshot in on what's going down. Many people — especially when young — are taught that sexual activities (e.g., masturbation, oral sex, intercourse, etc.) are best kept secret. This belief remains with many adults long after mom or dad would ever "catch" them in a sex act, but is powerful enough to keep them quiet for a long time. His stillness and apparent lack of reaction could also come from feeling nervous, tense, or uncomfortable with part or all of what's going on. A few more ideas:

  • Consider what your partner is like at parties or during conversations. Is he normally on the quieter or more reserved side?
  • You may try mentioning to him that you wouldn't mind hearing him express his pleasure.
  • You could also try setting an example for him by expressing your own pleasure (hopefully you have reason to do so).

It's definitely nice to know how your partner is feeling during sex, so how might you turn up the volume during your intimate times? You could ask him and talk about all this together, rather than rely on news updates from his friends. If you approach this subject with him in a calm, supportive way (perhaps outside of the bedroom), he might see that it's okay, and even hot and helpful, to talk about this personal stuff with you. Such talk may not produce more audible and observable pleasure, but you might gain a bit of insight.

One more thought for now: you mentioned that you might consider oral sex different from "real sex." Although some consider anything other than heterosexual penis-in-vagina-to-orgasm-sex to not be "real" sex, other types of sex can be just as pleasurable, serious, meaningful, commitment-making, or "risky" (practicing safer sex methods during oral sex is also advised to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections). And, lots of people consider oral, anal, and other sexual activities (including those that are non-penetrative) to be "real" sex as well. Increasing the significance of other types of pleasurable activities in your relationship could make them more enjoyable and worth shaking and shouting about. These are just some considerations that may shed light on your peep-free partner situation and help you to communicate better about both of your needs and desires.

Alice!

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