Welcome to Episode 24 of F*ck Like a Woman. Today’s show is a story about an affair. Marco, a successful businessman, finds himself unexpectedly in the throws of an affair, and is left conflicted about the dilemmas facing his marriage. (Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.)

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I met Marco on a business trip to the East coast while waiting for my flight. He was alone at the airport bar having a drink when I sat down next to him. Our heads turned toward each other and nodded as a courteous acknowledgement of the other. When I looked in his eyes I could see a kind and gentle soul looking back at me through soft, green eyes with an inviting smile. He was a strikingly handsome man in his mid 40s, well dressed and polished with a sophisticated yet modern air. We exchanged pleasantries and somehow quickly wandered into the kind of conversation you only share with a close friend. As distant travelers passing through the exact same moment in time and space, we were able to share a window into each other’s most private emotions and personal stories. I was touched to be entrusted with such an honor.

Marco was the owner of a highly successful real estate firm in Miami. He was married to his wife of nearly 20 years and they had three children together. But under the surface, his marriage had been in disrepair for over a year in the aftermath of an affair. They had recently gotten back together after a brief separation and were trying to make it work for their children’s sake. To Marco, the thought of separating their family and having his beautiful children grow up without a father living under the same roof together killed him. He couldn’t bear the thought of splitting up their family as the price he would pay to gain freedom, even if it would liberate him to live his truest self unshackled by his experience of marital constraints.

Their downfall began a couple of years ago at dinner, when his mother, after having had too much to drink at dinner, confessed secrets from their family’s past that had spent the last few decades seeking asylum. There was always some distant recollection from his childhood that he never could put his finger on and now he learned why. His father, the principal of a private school, had molested a 14 year old girl from the school he was overseeing, and not only that, but his father was extremely violent to his mother and him as a child.

As one can imagine, Marco was devastated. A flood of memories rushed back to him the more it all sank in. It made sense now why there were always emotional shadows lurking that continued to elude him. When he went to his wife, a Cuban woman raised in a very traditional household, to tell her about the disturbing news, she said, “What are you going to do, sit and cry about it? Be a man.” Marco was crushed. In that instant, he felt as though the person he should have been able to confide in with complete support had shut him down and boarded up her walls.

In the aftermath of processing this kind of emotional devastation, Marco sought the comfort and healing he was needing from an attractive woman he ran into frequently at networking events. Jennifer was fun, spontaneous, and receptive. Marco hadn’t started out with the intention of an affair – all he was looking for in the beginning was just a compassionate ear to listen to all that he was going through. He wanted someone to hear him, to see him, to validate the twists and turns he was experiencing, and more than anything to make him not feel like he was alone. In moments like these that bring us to our knees, we default to our most basic human needs to ground us back to what we know. We go through a grueling process of painfully negating the story we once thought was real, and then mentally reconstructing the entire past in light of a new unsettling truth.

Marco and Jennifer’s affair lasted several months and was possibly the most connected Marco had ever felt physically, and perhaps emotionally, to another person in his whole life. He was able to experience sharing himself with another through sexual intimacy at an extremely deep level, and it was a way to escape his pain of the past and his problems at home. Being with Jennifer brought him back to life.

She was adventurous, curious, and inviting. Jennifer did things with and for Marco sexually that his wife would never even allow a conversation about, let alone actually do them. For the first time since he had been with his wife, Marco experienced the most exquisite blow job. Jennifer loved going down on him and got off on pleasing him. She would kiss and lick him as though he was a dessert to be savored – passionate and sensual, yet wild and adventurous.

The difference in his experience with his wife and Jennifer was that Jennifer wanted sex just as badly as Marco did, and unlike his wife, Jennifer didn’t treat sex as obligatory or as though she was fulfilling her “duty” to him. Marco found acceptance from Jennifer and she indulged his sexual fantasies, which included sex play in bathrooms, at parties, and secretly at work events. Most importantly, it made him feel special that a woman was so entranced by his dick that she couldn’t get enough of it. It was the kind of attention and recognition of his sexuality at its most quintessential level that his wife had always ignored and put to shame.

To Marco, it was nurturing a part of himself that had long been neglected by his wife and restored a sense of self that he desperately needed to feel wanted and longed for. Marco wanted to be with a woman who didn’t just lie on the bed like a manikin in their usual missionary position – remaining uninterested, distant, and waiting for her time to be up. What he wanted was a woman who would come to life when he touched her, someone who couldn’t get enough of him and made him feel vibrant and on fire. Jennifer made him feel alive.

Marco eventually came to a point where he knew this affair had to end. Not only did he end his relationship with Jennifer, but he confessed to his wife. He described his wife’s response to the whole ordeal with just a few words, “As long as you didn’t get her pregnant,” she responded. Her reaction was both relieving and painful, further driving the knife in his wound – deepening his feeling that she didn’t care enough about him to even become jealous or express heartbreak. Thankfully this time he didn’t run back to his lover because he knew that he wanted his family together for his children’s sake more than he wanted a lover.

Marco and I touch base every now and again and I’m happy to hear that he hasn’t engaged in any more extramarital affairs, but it certainly doesn’t prove that his marriage is any better off. His wife continues to refuse going to therapy, and Marco continues to crave the connection of another. My mind conjures questions that I dare not ask him, though I can’t help but wonder – has he considered seeking professional help for his own sake? Has he studied his wife to know what gentle seeds he could plant that would soften her and allow for some open conversation over a period of time? Does he know how satisfied she is in their marriage? What is it that she truly longs for that she’s not getting? How does she self-define her role as mother and wife? What was it that attracted her to him in the beginning, and him to her? Has he tried recreating that in various scenarios? There are countless other questions I want to ask, but the truth is that none of these questions matter if he has mentally passed the point of reconciliation. Although he is still wearing the role of husband and father, he has long been departed from their marriage.

While we will never know the other side to this story and there is much left untold, Marco’s wife certainly deserves the respect and courtesy of acknowledging that she did not deserve to be on the receiving end of his affair. But it certainly doesn’t make her an innocent party either. So too did she break her wedding vows to Marco with the years of neglect, emotional stonewalling, avoiding therapy, and not even being willing to discuss the state of their relationship. And who says she alone gets to control the sexual and emotional intimacy that affects two people, not just one? Hurt and suffering come in many forms in a relationship, and the kind that happens gradually and spanning several years or even decades is oftentimes no less worthy of repentance than the gutting experience of uncovering an affair.

Ultimately, it all comes down to this: the only person in any given situation we have some form of control over is ourselves. And usually, when we change ourselves, we change the other, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes there are forces so great existing outside our control, that in the end, we are left with difficult choices ahead of us.

A relationship is like an ongoing negotiation that is always in flux, subject to addendums and alterations. It will ebb and flow as its creators continue to evolve in life and love. It should also be said that every couple has autonomy to decide what kind of bargain they will strike with their partner, and from the outside that bargain might not always make sense. But we can hope that those living within it can find some sort of balance of happiness and satisfaction that works for whatever stage of life they find themselves in, and above all, that they continue seeking the courage to be honest with themselves and their partner about what ingredients they need to live their best life and truest self.

 

 

 

(WATCH THE VIDEO HERE)

Welcome to Episode 18 of F*ck Like a Woman. Today I’m talking with singer/songwriter, Albert Angarita, about how sexuality, relationships, dating, and marriage is changing in the millennial age with more access to information, educational tools, and historical archives that allow us to make better decisions in life and love. We discuss power, privilege, and expanding our consciousness to become more evolved as human beings. My guest Albert Angarita is an incredibly talented bilingual Spanish singer/songwriter, entrepreneur, writer, poet, public speaker, and martial arts/taekwondo champion. Watch the video of our conversation on my YouTube channel by clicking here. The audio recording can also be streamed via your favorite app. 

These are some of the ideas we cover:

  • Let’s talk about destigmatizing sexuality as a culture compared to some of the other countries that have better sexual health outcomes and how this relates to raising children and educating them early on about sex, anatomy, and relationships.
  • Do you think millennials have grown up with more sex-positivity and acceptance of sex as a spectrum compared with earlier generations? (LGBTQ, sex openness)
  • Do you think millennials use less derogatory terms, like “fag”?
  • And what about with gender roles and egalitarianism?
  • What sex practices do you think millennials consider “normal” these days?
  • Do you think for millennial women there is a heavy emphasis on “performance” during sex (ie knowingly or unknowingly trying to recreate what’s see in porn – because what feels good doesn’t always look good/what looks good doesn’t always feel good)
  • How do you think guys tell the difference between a woman’s “performative” orgasm and a real orgasm?
  • Do you think millennials struggle with loneliness?
  • The power of education, access to podcasts and books, and the globalization of information to understand different models of living and loving around the world

This isn’t mean to be a comprehensive conversation, but hopefully it will encourage you to have conversations like this with people in your life. Check out the video conversation – it’s much more interesting to watch than to hear!

 

 

Welcome to Episode 14 of F*ck Like a Woman. Today’s show gives you a first-hand peek inside the bedroom, and the minds, of a couple who has successfully navigated an open relationship.  

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Today’s episode is about an open, consensual non-monogamous couple who shares their story about ending their dying marriages, finding new love in an exciting and sometimes unnerving journey of sexual openness, and what they’ve learned from transitioning from serial monogamy to an open relationship. I recommend listening all the way through no matter what relationship style you’re in because there are nuggets in this episode we can all take away from their story about how to respect your partner’s wishes, how to communicate what you want, and finding excitement in planning your sex play. And after our conversation, I’ll give you my closing thoughts on non-monogamy.

But first, I want to make sure everyone listening has a clear idea of the variations within non-monogamy. I’ll quickly go over 6 different kinds of non-monogamy.

  1. Cheating – this is where both partners have not consented (side note: there are a million different definitions of what actually constitutes cheating these days and as of yet there is no universally agreed upon definition),
  2. Polygamy- a form of marriage consisting of more than two people,
  3. Open relationships- which is really an umbrella term for consensual non-monogamous relationships, which includes a primary committed relationship with secondary relationships; the primary couple either plays all together with the secondary playmates or separately as individuals, or both. The primary couple always remains a priority even if they engage with their secondary companions. There are usually specific rules, expectations, and communication between everyone involved, and open relationships come in lots of varieties and may evolve over time to meet the needs of the people involved. Examples of open relationships could be: swinging, monogamish, polyamorous, and anarchistic relationships.
  4. Swinging- there are many variations within this definition, but in very broad terms, it involves committed couples consensually exchanging partners specifically for sexual purposes.
  5. Monogamish- is a term popularized by Dan Savage to describe couples who are primarily monogamous, but allows varying degrees of sexual contact with others, which vary per couple. Examples of this could be agreements like, one night stands are okay, or kissing and groping with clothes on is okay, or sexting is okay but no real sex, or sex on business trips is okay to name a few.
  6. Polyamory and Polyfidelity- Polyamory is a relationship style that allows people to openly conduct multiple sexual and/or romantic relationships simultaneously, ideally with the knowledge and consent of all involved in or affected by the relationships. Polyfidelity is similar, except that it is a closed relationship style that requires sexual and emotional fidelity to an intimate group that is larger than two.

These are the topics we discuss:

  • How they transitioned from serial monogamy to an open relationship (consensual non-monogamy)
  • How they communicated their wants/needs to the other when beginning the relationship
  • Their experiences having sex with others separately to having sex with others together
  • What recommendations they have for couples looking to open discussions with their partner
  • Respecting your partner- their desires, their wishes, and their sexual fantasies
  • My thoughts on monogamy & ethical non-monogamy, and what we can take away from this intimate conversation

Resources Mentioned: FEELD, 3FUN, Cafe Desire & Cassidy

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My Closing Thoughts:

When I listened to James and Ellen, what stood out was their mutual sense of respect for each other and their deep consideration for the other person’s feelings. They put more intentionality and pre-meditated planning into their love lives than most “by-default” monogamous couples. And I would argue that they have even more communication and emotional intimacy than just about every monogamous couple I’ve ever known. And it makes me think, when lovers stop taking sexual exclusivity for granted, they see that their partners don’t really belong to them at all. Yes, they have entered into some sort of romantic arrangement and committed themselves to each other, whether it be an implicit or explicit agreement, married or not married, but there is a deeper awareness that their partner’s sexual desires aren’t simply confined to them. The interesting part to me is that even in open, non-monogamous couples, there are still aspects that mirror monogamy, such as the exclusivity of the heart. But one difference that stands out to me, is the conscious and deliberate act of choosing one another time and time again, which tells me that they are staying awake in their relationship. They’re not becoming complacent and drifting asleep on auto-pilot. There is a symbolic renewal of the relationship after each encounter with other playmates. I think this is something that most “by-default” monogamous couples don’t give enough thought to, which often leads to a slow deterioration of their sexual and emotional glue that once bonded them together.

Now this doesn’t mean that because we’ve talked with one open couple that they represent how all open couples are, but it certainly speaks to the degree to which an open couple must delve deeper into their emotions and expectations so as to not break a level of trust and bondedness that is no longer under a false guise of being guaranteed as it is portrayed in monogamy. The beautiful thing with all of these discussions of non-monogamy is that we’re now seeing more examples of how others have tailor-made their relationship agreements from the ground up to suit their individual needs based on where they are in their life journey, how much and what type of sex they want, and finding the right amount of sexual freedom and emotional stability that best fits their life.

There is a simple fact of life that monogamous couples usually want to deny and ignore, and that is, the presence of the 3rd. This represents the presence of all other sexually appealing others, I say others because it’s not confined to just humans anymore – it includes robots, sex toys, digital screens of porn, and sexualized cartoons. The 3rd represents an outside force or person that exists and lurks all around us, appealing to our sexual interests regardless of how much we sometimes wish it didn’t. When we acknowledge its presence, we are in a way, taking control of how we let it direct our emotions and insecurities, thereby using it as a tool to elicit more passion and connectedness rather than letting it consume us with jealousy and fear.

Relationship agreements are living agreements. Partners must continually be engaged in each chapter of writing their own story, adding and removing according to their wishes and needs, otherwise relationships and even love, can and often do die. If fear is what’s holding you back from having the conversations that your relationship necessitates in order to survive and thrive, like inviting the presence of the 3rd, then I encourage you first to think about how healthy is your relationship. Be as honest with yourself as you can. If the dynamics between you and your partner are not already strong and stable, then adding other lovers into your sex life is only going to fuck up your relationship even more, especially when you get to the part about outlining boundaries, because once you cross a line you didn’t know you wanted crossed, then you’re really in deep shit because there’s no undoing that deed.

But if you’re in a stable and committed relationship with 2 emotionally mature and emancipated individuals, think about the conversation as a process, possibly a slow process, one that requires patience, discussion, listening, and speaking from the heart. Your partner and you should be granted the opportunity to take it in bite size pieces if needed, let it sink in, and then have a discussion about it. Understand that some people need more stability and some people need more freedom. And that can be a delicate contract to negotiate, but having empathy for where they’re coming from is key. There are an infinite amount of shades of grey when it comes to playing with the idea of an outsider, whether it be going to a bar and seeing how many people hit on your lover while still choosing to go home with your own, or teasing your partner that someone hit on you at the gym, or browsing an online dating app together to imagine what kind of lovers you think would be fun to invite home even if you don’t go through with any of it. Get creative, because you might find that you don’t need a full execution to ignite more passion and eroticism into your sex life. Sometimes just the idea is enough. I hope this was helpful and if someone you know might enjoy this, feel free to share it with them. Have a great week, everyone.

 

 

 

Welcome to Episode 10 of F*ck Like a Woman. Today we’re talking about the 9 predictors of divorce. “By using these 9 predictors, researchers could tell with 85% accuracy in the first few minutes if a couple was going to make it or not.”

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I’m here with my husband, Aaron, and we’re going to be discussing the 9 predictors of divorce. The interesting part about this discussion is that it’s scientifically based with 20 years of couples research to back it up.

Thanks to author and couples therapist John Gottman, who is one of the most renowned researchers on couples relationships, we now know many fascinating insights into the perplexing world of relationship longevity and happiness. He studies real interactions between couples across all racial groups, income levels, social classes, and sexual orientations. Documented in his book, The Science of Trust, Gottman explains his theory about couples known as the ‘‘Sound Relationship House”, which he developed from 20 years of couples research.

The reason I wanted Aaron and I to discuss this topic is that we have been both the unhappy couple and now we are the happy couple. We spent about 8 years being that miserable couple.

Before we get into the 9 indicators of divorce, let’s talk briefly about what Gottman’s research has found.

  • All unhappy families are the same in their miseries, but all happy families are different. What this means is there is more rigidity in distressed families than in happy families. In happiness there is the possibility for much greater diversity and randomness. It turns out that all unhappy couples have the same general dysfunctions.
  • The research evidence does indeed suggest that all relationships, happy or unhappy, seem to have to deal with the same “tasks” of being in a lasting relationship, and that these tasks change with life-span development. For example, it is well known that the severity of problems across happy and unhappy couples is the same, and people in all kinds of relationships argue about essentially the same stuff. Even predictors of divorce occur in relationships that are stable and happy; except for contempt, they just occur less often. So there really may be a set of “tasks” or milestones that all relationships have to deal with, particularly in their early stages. As we will see, most of these issues have to do with establishing trust.
  • The therapy Gottman uses with his couples focuses heavily on repair. Every couple, in their daily life together, messes up communication, and every relationship has a potential “dark side.” It is a misconception that communication ought to be the norm in relationships. What may matter most is the ability of couples to repair things when they go wrong.

Let’s get deeper into Gottman’s research, and talk about the 9 Predictors of Divorce (or perpetual misery), these are signs of dysfunction in a relationship.

  1. More negativity than positivity.
  2. Escalation of negative dialogue.
  3. Turning away.
  4. Turning against: Irritability, emotional disengagement, and withdrawal.
  5. Failure of repair attempts.
  6. Negative sentiment override.
  7. Maintaining vigilance and physiological arousal.
  8. Chronic diffuse physiological arousal.
  9. The failure of men to accept influence from their women.

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That wraps up our show for today everyone. Next time, I interview an online dating connoisseur, who recounts some fascinating insights about how dating apps have revolutionized sexual fantasies – one fantasy in particular, younger men and older women. It’s going to be good.

 

 

 

Welcome to Episode 9 of F*ck Like a Woman. Today I’ve got your erotic story about a couple’s first experience at a swinger’s club.

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“How long can you be with someone and still want them?” That was the question racing around Annette’s head as she looked at her husband, Mark, of twenty years, the father of her two children. They had gotten married shortly after turning 20 and had grown up together as high school sweethearts.

Both their sons had headed off to college in the last couple of years, and at first, Annette had been certain it would be a chance for the two of them to give themselves over to some of the passion that she knew they had been stemming since the boys had come along. She was hoping they would fall back into bed, back in love, like it was nothing.

 

Inside, Annette didn’t feel like she was about to turn 40. She had kept herself fit and lively while the boys were growing up, but she wondered if her husband felt the same way. But the raw passion they’d shared in their twenties wasn’t as forthcoming now that they’d lived through so many life stages together, and now they started to feel the emptiness in their house encroaching upon them. The necessities of being a wife and mother had kept Annette from feeling as though she had much to offer sexually.

She found herself looking at her husband anew, wondering who was this man with whom she’d shared the better part of her life with, but at the same time, had grown to be an emotional stranger, withholding parts of himself that she knew had to still be inside him – parts that longed to experience passion and adventure with their newfound freedom.

Annette noticed the peppered grey hairs sprinked throughout his hair, and for the first time, she realized just how sexy it was. The crease of his smile as he asked how her day was – it was familiar yet charming, a sign of a man with years of experience under his belt.

With so much loneliness and uncertainty about this new chapter, Annette decided to seek comfort in her best friend, Elena. Elena was the kind of friend who always walked the line. And truthfully, Annette had wished for years that she had the kind of raw courage that Elena made look so easy. When Annette told her how much her sex life with Mark had deteriorated over the last 5 years, Elena grinned at her as though she’d been waiting for this opening for as long as she could remember.

“Here,” Elena pushed a discreet card with a phone number on it across the table towards Annette. “This’ll help, trust me.”

Annette sat puzzled, “What is it? Couples counselling?”

“Sort of, we had a similar problem, Mac and I, and this…this was the best way we found to address it.”

She shrugged, took the card, and stuck it in her purse, but on her way home, she figured out what the number was for. A swingers club. And suddenly she got a flutter in her stomach.  

When Annette got home, she confided in Mark about how badly she wanted to break the routine and she didn’t know what they could do to make it better…except for one recommendation she found through a friend. She pulled out the card and handed it to Mark.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said. “No way we can do something like that.” Annette was a little discouraged watching him vehemently shaking his head.

And truthfully, at first, part of her agreed with him, but as weeks passed on and their sex life failed to improve, she knew that desperate measures had to be taken to keep what remained of their sex life alive. Mark took some convincing, but eventually he came around.

“Just once, just to see.”

“Just once,” she agreed, and she felt a flutter of excitement as she realized what they were agreeing to.

After figuring out what exactly to wear to a swinger’s club, they nervously headed out together, holding each other’s hands tightly as they got out of the car. Annette was anxious, more anxious than she thought she’d be. She hesitated for a moment outside the door, but Mark pushed it open and strode inside, clearly wanting to get this over with. But when he saw what was waiting for him on the other side, he changed his tune.

“Wow”, she thought as she followed him in. Everywhere they looked, there were people spread out on couches, grinding on each other without a drop of shame. She saw couples making out and fooling around, and a stairway that led up to another floor. Annette watched one couple as they flashed flirty eyes at each other and headed up stairs.

Annette felt drawn to them for reasons she couldn’t put into words, and decided to follow them. She was surprised that Mark seemed happy to go along. Like Annette, he was busy trying to take it all in, take in the sheer weight of the sexy vibes in this place and how much they both wanted to be a part of it.

They followed the couple upstairs and down a hallway, and found them already locked in an intense embrace on a large bed in the center of one of the private rooms. Annette’s eyes widened, and she went to back away – but before she could, the woman spotted her and reached her hand out inviting her to come join them.

The woman glanced between Mark and Annette playfully. And Annette didn’t need telling twice.

What followed was perhaps the most exciting thing Annette and Mark had ever done together. They started slow at first, Annette kissing and touching the other woman while the men watched, but she was soon drawn to the man; she was nervous at the thought of letting him put his hands on her, but Mark gave her a look reassuring her it was okay – that tonight was about adventure and pleasure. Before long, Mark was sitting back and watching as his wife was pleasured by this new couple, both of them using mouths, hands and tongues to stimulate her in any way they could. And seeing her like that, being devoured so sensually by this couple, sparked something in him.

Soon the woman turned toward Mark, and began to undress him as the other man mounted Annette on the bed. Mark couldn’t take his eyes off his wife, how wanted she was, how hot she looked as another man began to fuck her. The woman dipped her head down to take his straining erection into her mouth and began to blow him, her mouth fresh and new on his cock.

Annette glanced over at Mark, and felt a matching swell of lust for this man who she thought she had seen in nearly every light, but the jealousy at watching another woman suck his cock was enough to spark something that had been missing for a long time between them.

Eventually, the strain in his dick was too much for him to take, and he pulled the woman from his cock and lay her down on the bed, spread her legs open, and ate her pussy. She handed him a condom, wanting him to fuck her. He sheathed himself and looked over at his wife, lost in a powerful rush of ecstasy at watching his wife riding this other man. And as Mark began to slide his way inside her for the first time, he reached out to his wife, and curled his finger around hers, letting her know without words, that no matter what happened tonight, it was her he wanted. It was her he wanted now and forever. Annette squeezed his hand, silently replying that after all this time, she knew beyond all certainly that she wanted him, too.

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That’s it for today everyone. Stay tuned for an upcoming episode, where we’ll be talking about the 9 predictors of divorce that allow researchers to tell within a few minutes if a couple is going to make it long-term or not. See you next time!

 


Welcome everyone to F*ck Like a Woman, episode 5. Today we’ll be talking about your sexual brain, specifically something called our sexual accelerators and brakes, which basically determine how and why you get horny as fuck sometimes and other times not so much.

Have you ever wanted an explanation as to why you aren’t as horny as other girls, or maybe in your case, why you’re so much more horny than they are? Or have you ever been so incredibly turned on and really enjoying sex, but you just can’t quite orgasm? Or did you used to have such great sex with your man before your kids came along, but you almost never do now and yet you still really love him?

Well, I came across a very interesting and well researched theory to explain these disturbing phenomena when I was reading Emily Nagoski’s New York Times best seller book, Come As You Are, which I’m adding to my recommended reading list for you all (buy the book here). In the book, Nagoski explains what is called the Dual Control Model for sexual arousal, which was theorized in the 90s by Erick Janssen and John Bancroft at the Kinsey Institute. Okay, let’s skip to the part we actually care about.

The Dual Control Model is one of those concepts that is a game-changer if you want to understand why you do the things that you do, especially if you’re proactive like me and want to live life to the fullest. What you might not have known is that your central nervous system is made up of 2 regulating systems called your sexual accelerator and your sexual brakes, which control how and when you respond to sexual stimuli, so basically they control your sexual response. Not just that, but we’ll discuss how there are individual differences from person to person, which impact how we respond to the sexual world. These 2 systems relate to your mood and your environment a great deal, which complicate things even more. But don’t worry, because, spoiler alert, you just have to figure out how to turn on your accelerator and turn off your brakes, which we’ll talk about today.

As Nagoski explains in her book, Come As You Are, the central nervous system which is made up of your brain and spinal cord possesses a pairing of systems working together that she refers to as the accelerator and brakes. These 2 parts are your sexual excitation system, shortened to SES or ses, and the sexual inhibition system, shortened to SIS or sis.

As you probably imagine, the excitation system or SES, is what accelerates your sexual response and constantly scans your environment all day every day for anything sexually relevant like yummy cologne smells, the sexy way he looks when he’s lifting weights at the gym, the tingly touch of his hand as he plays with your hair, and of course anything else our senses pick up, including our imagination. The inhibition system, or SIS is what what tells you oh, no, don’t even go there! And it’s also scanning for the same environmental information to tell you what’s a threat and unwanted stimuli. Your SIS is like the gremlin on your shoulder giving you reasons not to be aroused. But it serves a purpose because it also prevents you from being turned on during less appropriate scenarios like say, when you’re making that sales pitch to a client. And it also brings everything to a screeching halt if something unwanted happens, like your kids walk in on you fooling around. In the inhibition system there are actually 2 brakes, one has higher intensity and fears higher level concerns like getting pregnant or STDs, whereas the other is less intense and worries more about low level concerns like body image and not being able to orgasm. Emily explains that most people struggling with arousal or desire think that it’s an issue of needing more accelerator, but in fact, it’s that they have too much brake.

Let’s talk arousability. This is simply switching on your accelerator and switching off your brakes. Your arousability depends on how sensitive they are to sexual stimulation, so how much intensity to your accelerator and how little intensity to your brakes. Your SES and SIS are traits that are pretty constant over your lifetime, but don’t worry because the good news is you can change your learned response to sexual stimulation to have more triggers that appeal to your accelerator, and you can also decrease the amount of things that put on your brakes. You can even change how you feel about the things that are currently putting on your brakes. As I mentioned before, every person has different sensitivities like, someone could have high excitation and high inhibition where all they need to do is remove what’s pushing the brakes to have a super great sex life. Or someone could have low excitation and high brakes, which would mean that if you took away all the potential brakes it would still probably take them a while to rev their engine up and get in the mood; 1-4% of women fall here with low desire and interest in sex, making it hard for them to get aroused and especially orgasm. For someone who has high excitation and low brakes, they might have a hard time preventing arousal, which could lead to compulsive sexual behavior; 2-6% of women fall here as highly motivated by sex. But most people, men and women, fall somewhere in the middle of the bell curve. Nagoski reaffirms that all combinations of SIS and SES are completely normal, even the ones on the higher and lower range. Even more interesting is that no matter your accelerator, sensitive brakes are the most accurate predictor of sexual problems of any kind.

If you want to know where you fall on the spectrum, Emily Nagoski has posted the Sexual Temperament Questionnaire on her website that anyone can download. I’ll make sure to put links to her website on the show’s synopsis. Nagoski advises that this is not actual science, but rather an approximation.  

The questionnaire helps you find where you fall in terms of both your brakes and your accelerator, so you’ll have 2 scores for each. Let’s go through some examples of the different combinations of people and where you might find yourself.

In terms of how intense your brakes are, you might be either low, medium, or high.

If you have low intensity brakes, then you’re the kind of person who doesn’t really have a lot holding you back from having sex. You probably aren’t concerned with body image or being in your head too much; you don’t find many reasons why you shouldn’t have sex, and when you’re in the heat of the moment, you’re ALL IN. Sometimes you might find it hard to think of a reason not to have sex so it might be a challenge to keep it in your pants. Nagoski says about 15% of the women she’s asked, fall here.

If you have medium intensity brakes, then you share this trait with about 50% of women. You’re the kind of person who can get horny if the context is right. You’re more likely to be able to let go if you’re in a familiar context where you know your partner and can predict how it’s gonna go down. If you have a new partner or new risky situation, you’re probably going to put on the brakes. And if your mood or stress levels go up, like if you’re anxious or depressed, your interest in sex goes down and so does your ability to focus on it while you’re having it. You basically close your doors for business.

If you have high intensity brakes, then you’re with about 25% of women, Nagoski says. You are closed for business almost all year round. You need lots of trust and familiarity to be turned on. And you really don’t want to feel pressured or rushed, that just makes it worse. You probably have a hard time staying focused on sex. If this is you, Nagoski has a sexy context worksheet that I’ll link to in the show notes.

Let’s move on to the intensity of your accelerator, which will be either low, medium, or high.

If you have a low sensitive accelerator, then you probably don’t get sexually aroused out of the blue. More than likely, you have to be very intentional with how you choose to focus your energy on things that get your wheels turning, in fact, you might identify a little with asexuality. Much like having a highly sensitive brake, you need lots of familiarity in your sexual scenarios, and actually you need higher intensity stimulus to ignite your dulled accelerator. You need to turbo charge your sexual stimuli. Nagoski says these women could benefit from using a vibrator and daily attention put toward your sensual side, kind of like exercising a muscle. If this is you, you’re part of 8% of women.

If you have a medium sensitive accelerator, you fall in with roughly 70% of women. Just like with a medium brake, you’re most likely going to be sexually interested if you have the right context, which is a pretty reasonable fix. But with a medium accelerator, you’d be ready to ride if the romance and eroticism was on point. If not, then sex probably isn’t on your radar at all. These women just need a little fuel and it can pretty easily turn into a bonfire.  You just need to increase how many sexy contextS you put yourself in and then you’re livin the good life!

If you have a highly sensitive accelerator, look out! You might put your silky bathrobe on after a shower and be ready to get frisky! You probably have a highly erotic appreciation for all things naughty, like things that most people would never even associate with sex. And this does NOT make you a slut. You also likely get a lot of satisfaction out of making your partner orgasm because you’re so sensitive to arousal. Let’s hope your partner can appreciate this quality in you. 🙂 You probably have a wide range of scenarios that are sexually interesting to you, and might even use it as a way to de-stress. The only thing is that sometimes this comes along with sexual compulsivity so if it’s become unbalanced and you’re starting to notice you’re regretting some of those decisions you made while in the heat of the moment, then consider other physical alternatives to getting the stress out like working out. Nagoski says about 16% of women fall here with a super sensitive radar for any and all things sexual.

So what does all this mean? If you scored somewhere in the middle, you’re in the same boat as about half the population. If you were in the high or low range, you’re in a much smaller pool so you might be one of those women who has had a harder time relating to others. This is perfectly normal. Now you get to figure out how and what to put more attention on depending on where you are if you find it to be problematic.

So here’s the part where you might be like, ya I could have guessed that. Across the whole population, men have more sensitive accelerators and women have more sensitive brakes, but the interesting thing is that within the male population and within the female population there is much more variation within each group than a difference from men to women. Basically women vary more from each other than they vary from men as a whole, and have a much wider range of responses to questions like, how often would you like to have sex? And the same goes for men. So turns out, we’re more similar with men than we might have thought.

Interestingly enough, 10-20% of men and women experience more sexual interest when they’re depressed or anxious. In this scenario, the man has a less sensitive brake and the woman has a more sensitive accelerator. Which, the fact that someone is more interested in sex during stressful times, implies that these 2 systems are very much impacted by other motivations systems in the brain, like stress response. So your mood and anxiety levels have a lot more to do with your arousability than whether you’re a man or woman.

Okay so now we get to my favorite part, what turns you on? I’m about to blow your mind with the most interesting part about this whole topic: almost nothing is innately sexually arousing. Yup, isn’t that crazy?  

People aren’t born knowing what’s sexy. Your brain has to figure out what are sexually relevant stimuli versus what are threats. It’s actually a process of learning that information, just like other culturally-specific information, like learning a language or developing an accent. Depending on what environment you’re in as you’re learning, you’re going to learn different things with different tastes, different taboos, and different threats. We learn what’s sexually relevant through experience and association. You teach your excitation and inhibition systems what you like and don’t like. This explains why the things that we were gross and disgusting as little girls and boys are now the things we fantasize about as adults. Or why if you take your sexual tastes at 20 years old and fast forward to age 45, they will be different, probably a little kinkier. Your appetite and tastes evolve as you engage in different sexual activities and through association, or as I call it, cultural osmosis. There are more pieces to this puzzle that explain how our preferences evolve and strengthen, such as what’s going on with our brain chemistry and hormonal cocktails as we click on increasingly taboo porn videos, but it’s a good start.  

There are lots of different theories out there that attempt to explain the differences between the sexual programming between boys and girls. Nagoski’s book explains the one that makes the most sense to her as a sex educator and researcher. In this theory, when a little boy has an erection as a very small child, because there is a physically visible change to his body that he can actually see happening, he attributes the erection to both something in his external environment and the pleasurable feelings that come with it. But because girls don’t have a visible physiological change to look at and make associations to learn what caused it, they look to the social context of their environment to link what caused their arousal. Little girls don’t even know there’s a whole physiological change happening in their genitalia, so when they feel pleasure and arousal they look to the person in their environment to figure out what’s sexually relevant.

Also, as girls start their menstrual cycle, depending on where they are in that cycle, their brain will either be more or be less primed to link the external prompts of potential sexual stimuli to her internal arousal. Because girls have more variation in their hormones than boys whose hormones don’t fluctuate, it usually takes girls longer to learn what’s sexually relevant and when they do, it’s more connected to the social context and they’re more prone to experience a mismatch between what their genitals are doing and their arousal level.

This is all so fascinating to me. Now, you might be wondering, how much can I alter my excitation and inhibition systems? It’s a good question. Evidence suggests there’s very little we can do to change the propensity of your excitation and inhibition systems, but you can change what these systems respond to to a certain degree. This is great news. You can change what your brakes think is threatening and you can also change the amount of threats in your environment. For example, if your sexual brakes think that a well lit room is a threat, you have a couple choices here: you can either retrain your mind to be okay having sex in broad daylight (which might be a little harder to do), or you can minimize the threat itself by just turning off all the lights or having sex by candlelight. Other common threats to your brakes would be things like having your kids sleeping in bed with you, having doors that don’t lock, having thin walls, worrying about STDs or pregnancy, worrying about your sexual reputation if you sleep with this person, struggling with self-esteem and body image, or being really stressed out.

And even better news is that you can apply the same logic to your sexual accelerator! Just increase the sexually relevant stimuli by changing the context to something more conducive to getting you in the mood. To do this thoroughly, you’ll need to sit down with a pen and paper and actually go through both some of your not so good and really good sexual experiences from your past and clearly articulate what was it, specifically, that made it either not good or good. You’re trying to extract the elements from each context that vibed or didn’t vibe with you. I’ll put a link to Nagoski’s worksheets in this episode’s synopsis. And my recommendation for expanding your scope of sexual stimuli is by doing some fun exploration with your partner. Kind of like what you did when you were in high school and fooling around with your boyfriend. You didn’t know where it was going to lead, there was no script to follow, you just tried things and had fun exploring and playing. It was much less outcome driven then and more about playful pleasure.

 

Well, I hope you all learned some good info about your sexual accelerator and sexual brakes that will hopefully help you tweak your sex life and your romantic life in the direction that you want it to be. Remember that almost nothing we find sexually appealing was innate in us at birth, we had to learn those things. So the good news is that even though we don’t know enough yet on how to change our excitation and inhibition systems themselves, we do know that we can affect how much sexual stimuli we bring forth into our lives and that with deliberate and focused attention, we even have the potential to change how we respond to our environment to neutralize threats and transform non-sexual stimuli into sexual stimuli with mental programming. Pretty amazing, right?

Well, this wraps up today’s show. Stay tuned for the next episode of F*ck Like a Woman, featuring our sexy story of the week about an unexpected attraction between a conservative accountant and a tattooed bartender.

Thanks for listening to, F*ck Like a Woman. If you have a juicy sex story that you want featured anonymously on the podcast, email it to orgasmicgenius@gmail.com. And if you like this podcast and want to show some love, leave a review on iTunes and make sure to subscribe to the show to stay current on new episodes. For more information, visit fcklikeawoman.com (that’s F-C-K like a woman dot com).