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Wendy MFT
Wendy MFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 16
Experience:  15 years experience counseling couples, families, and individuals.
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My girlfriend is afraid of kissing (specifically of saliva).

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My girlfriend is afraid of kissing (specifically of open mouth kissing because she's afraid of saliva). We've been dating for 6 months. I really like her, but I don't know what to do about the lack of kissing, because it's important to me, and I wonder how we will have intercourse if we never kiss. We kiss closed-mouth often, but she never wants to do more than that.
Hi there. I was trying to chat, but it appears there may be some technical difficulties. Anyhow…

That is a really tough situation you described. Despite how much you feel for this girl, there is not a whole lot that you, personally, can do to help her with whatever issue is with Saliva. Have the two of you been able to talk about the issue together and if so, does she have any awareness about what it is she doesn't like about it?

One thing I would make you aware of is that one of the greatest pitfalls in relationships is trying to get the other person to change to be how we want them to be. This doesn't usually work out very well. In some ways, it doesn't really matter why she doesn't like it. It's like asking one person why they like broccoli but they don't like ice cream. For whatever reason, that's just their preference. It may seem overly simplistic, but the same often holds true for situations such as the one you're describing.

If it doesn't bother her that she doesn't like kissing, and perhaps other things down the line, such as intercourse, then she is not likely to seek help to change this week in herself. If, on the other hand, it is something that she does not like about herself and wants to change, then perhaps there is hope.

If you have more information or other questions related to this, and you think I might be able to give you additional information, please write back. I'll be happy to continue this conversation with you.

If you're satisfied with my answer, please rate my answer. Thanks!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Well, it's a little more complex than just that. She's said that she thinks she will "get over" her fear of saliva (or at least, of mine specifically) when we have been together longer. If that really happens, then I'll be fine with it. I'm just worried that this isn't the sort of thing that will resolve on its own.


Mainly I want to know what (specific) questions I should ask her to determine what her stance is on overcoming her fear of saliva or not, so I can have one conversation about it instead of asking questions as I think of them, weeks apart, which is probably unsettling for her.


(As for not liking intimacy, she has also told me that she "absolutely intends to have lots of sex [with me]" should we get married, and we've already almost had sex more than once. Once she's turned on enough, she doesn't appear to mind kissing (from what I've read, oxytocin increases (from arousal) reduce amygdalic activity), but the problem is that I don't know how to turn her on to that level without kissing. All of the times where she got turned on enough to not mind kissing were before she told me that she didn't like kissing, and so I was still able to use kissing to turn her on despite her phobia. I know it doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's what I have to work with.)

Hi again! I think your concern that it won't take care of itself over time on its own is probably accurate. One way to know whether or not this may be a possibility is to ask if she has she been with other people where she has had the phobia of the saliva, or is it just you? If she has been with other people, how long has it taken her to get over her phobia with them?

So, since you want to just have one conversation with her, I would first let her know that you don't think that time is going to resolve this issue. Then, as far as which questions to ask her, I guess I would want to know: what steps does she plan to take to overcome her phobia? For instance, Is she planning on seeing someone with expertise to help her develop a plan to overcome her phobia (e.g. A cognitive behavioral therapist)? If she's not planning on doing that, I would ask her what her expectations are of you. Does she just expect you to suck it up?

This is something important to you. It might help her to understand just how important it is to you if you can give it a number on a scale of 1 to 10. So, if this is a "10" for you, then it may be a deal-breaker if she chooses not to deal with it. For her, knowing how important this is to you may impact how willing she is to work on it or not.

Ultimately, if you discover that there is a difference in how the two of you feel about this issue, then it may just not be a match. Both of you are entitled to your feelings and preferences, and it's just better to deal with "what is " than what we wish it would be.

I do hope you're able to have a productive conversation about this, and I hope my answer has helped you. If it has, please don't forget to leave a positive rating for me.

I will try to check back with you in a few days to see how your conversation went. Hang in there!
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Hey there.

Where you able to talk with your girlfriend about this issue? If so, how did she respond?

I'm interested in knowing how it went.