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!
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.
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),
Polygamy- a form of marriage consisting of more than two people,
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.
Swinging- there are many variations within this definition, but in very broad terms, it involves committed couples consensually exchanging partners specifically for sexual purposes.
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.
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
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.”
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.
More negativity than positivity.
Escalation of negative dialogue.
Turning against: Irritability, emotional disengagement, and withdrawal.
Failure of repair attempts.
Negative sentiment override.
Maintaining vigilance and physiological arousal.
Chronic diffuse physiological arousal.
The failure of men to accept influence from their women.
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.
“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.
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!
Today, we’re talking about a very common problem within relationships, especially ones that have past that infatuation period of “falling” for your partner. The problem we’re talking about is the dreaded happening of “losing yourself” in a relationship, which happens sometime after the roses and butterflies have worn off, maybe shortly after you’ve said I DO or after children have become part of your daily landscape – or, maybe you’ve just been together a long time. The honeymoon phase lasts from roughly 6 months to 2 years, give or take. We all know this lovely stage- you’re in a somewhat constant state of euphoria in relation to your lover. This stage actually has a real name, called limerence – defined as the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship. This period of the relationship is likely when you’re at your best – you’re on your best behavior, you might be looking your best, dressing your best, you might be totally in your element – feeding your mind, body, and soul what it needs to be an amazing human being. This is hot.
Let’s fast forward to what happens after limerence has worn off and now you’ve settled into the bottomless pit of tolerating. What your life now looks like is a collection of choices and decisions over time that have slowly stripped you of a life filled with joy, passion, purpose, and contentment. Everyone wants a life with these things in it, even if they say it’s not a priority it’s probably because they were told at some point in their lives that those things were frivolous, unnecessary, or selfish. You’ve tolerated innumerable things in your life that feel dull, boring, obligatory, and probably very irritating, many of which resulted from mental programming that was passed on to you from your parents, your spiritual/religious beliefs, the cultural script influencing you how to “do” your gender, and many other factors.
It’s not that you’ve made these choices on purpose or with conscious recognition of what you were doing, you just didn’t realize that over time all of these tacit choices would compound and leave you with a feeling of numbness and emptiness inside. Let’s be very clear here – there is a difference in being alive and not being dead. Which one are you?
You might recognize what I mean if I ask you a few questions. How often do you put other people’s needs ahead of your own even when you’re desperately needing something from them? How much and how frequently do you invest in your mind by reading, studying, and learning? How much do you assert yourself when asking for something you want? Do you even ask for your emotional or physical needs to be met in your relationship? Are your requests more practical and functional, like asking for help with the dishes and running errands, or are they self-loving requests, like asking for a massage or time alone for a hot bath. Maybe you’ve been asking for these things, but either you’re not being clear enough in your requests or your partner has dismissed them. It could be both. If that’s the case my dear, do them anyway. I’ll talk more about how to navigate this a little later.
If this sounds all too familiar, but it doesn’t describe you per say, it describes suspictions you have about how your partner is living, I’d like to re-examine your perspective for a quick minute before we move forward. When one person has lost themselves in a relationship, it’s more than likely that the other person has too, to some extent. Oftentimes one has disconnected to a greater degree than the other, but how each person is living has a direct affect on the other because you are both co-creating the circumstances of your relationship. Whoever takes the initiative to get back in alignment with themselves, their best selves, really gives the other person permission to do the same.
So I’m here with my husband, Aaron, we’ve been together just under 10 years. We got married at the 2 year mark while I was finishing my undergrad in gender studies. And you’d better believe that all my studying about race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and similar social structures had an impact on our relationship. Boy did it ever. We had some firey conversations, sometimes verging on arguments, about our differences in worldviews.
But over time, we’ve educated ourselves a whole lot more, and have learned better ways to communicate and listen to each other. He and I came from very different backgrounds so our expectations about married life and couplehood were really different. He came from a very conservative world and I came from a family of straight up heathens; his parents have been married for 40 years, mine got divorced when I was 5 because my dad was a freakin sociopath; his parents raised him in the church, I church hopped because I didn’t feel accepted and had a hard time making sense of certain teachings. And basically he had a pretty stable and predictable life, while we had a lot of instability because my dad was abusive and there was a lot of trauma in my childhood. All these factors influenced our inability to get on the same page and communicate effectively and compassionately. For one thing, he didn’t see value in me wanting to go have adventures and live life. He didn’t understand where I was coming from. As much fucked up stuff as there was in my youth, my mother encouraged us to explore our creative side and enjoy getting lost in our imaginations. I had 4 other siblings that were just like me and understood the value in being weird and playful. But because I had internalized my external circumstances as being an indicator of my self-worth, I had waayyy more flexible boundaries than he did when it came to asserting my wishes and opinions. And because of that, I found a comfortable place living in his shadow and letting him call the shots.
I know all too well about this subject because I lost myself in my marriage more than once and I will be damned if I let it happen again.
It requires regular maintenance once you get it back. Really it has to be a daily practice to stay in tune with yourself, otherwise inch by inch, day by day, you might find yourself drifting especially if your external circumstances change or your internal mental state starts to take a dive.
Absolutely, it’s a process to get back, it really doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, we usually don’t recognize it day to day, but you do in hindsight. We have an innate longing to belong and fit in, and to be a part of a tribe or community even if that tribe is a couple. It’s easier to go along with the inertia of a relationship than to make waves. It feels as though it’s in the benefit of the relationship to go along with what your partner wants, but what’s really happening is the dissolution of a dream.
You get so focused on what the other person is doing- are they happy? Do they look miserable? You start putting so much attention on how the other person is doing that you lose focus on yourself. It starts to feel as though the status and happiness of the relationship is dependent on one person and the other person is constantly trying to fix that and mitigate any factors that might make it worse, as though they’re the one who can fix it when they’re really not. All that effort spent worrying about how they’re doing is exhausting and instead it could be channeled back into you to make yourself happy again.
As the person who had all the spotlight on me for a while, I was thinking, back the fuck off – That’s kind of how it made me feel, like, stop looking to me for signs to gauge whether I’m okay or how happy I am, like, leave me the fuck alone. It’s a lot of pressure because if you have a dip in your emotions or you start to feel shitty or start to feel bad, then the other person comes across as weak and unstable – the person who’s constantly checking in – are you ok? Are you ok? I know this because I used to do that to you, when the roles were reversed. Because I was constantly trying to take the temperature of how our relationship was by checking in and saying, how are you feeling? What’s wrong babe? Following you around the house or whatever after an argument. It really destabilizes things even worse when the other person is doing that. If you could leave the person alone, give them some space, and shift your focus onto how you’re doing then it would really take a lot of pressure off the other person.
That’s where people get confused. They think that being focused on themselves is selfish, worrying about their own happiness is selfish. But I think this is becoming a more common concept with all the famous people talking about it- you know, this idea of self-love, filling your cup before you try to fill someone else’s.
It’s contagious and it starts to rub off. And if the other person isn’t ready to be in a good mood, just give them some distance and they’ll come around. You can be supportive and communicate that you want them to take more time for themselves and feel okay asking for what they want, but ultimately it’s not your responsibility to make someone happy. Those are issues they’re dealing with internally so before external changes can take place, an internal shift needs to take place.
Let’s talk about how this affects a couple’s sex life.
A lot of times a woman loses herself because of the domestic roles she’s taken on- the role of wife, mother, caretaker. These are inherently not sexy roles. It’s not that you don’t find love in these roles. It’s that a woman’s sexual nature resides in her womanhood, in being a lover, not in looking after another person. These are the identities where she gets lost, where she becomes disconnected from herself as a woman. When you’re constantly worried about someone else’s needs, whether they’re fed, if they’re safe, if they’re happy, all these things just take, take, take. They don’t fill her cup back up with a strong, robust sexuality. In its very nature, sexuality demands a healthy sense of entitlement- feeling that you have the right to ask for pleasure for no other reason than just because you want it. And women in this position often oblige their partner’s sexual advances out of a sense of duty, he becomes one more person that she is looking after, this time in the bedroom. She’s not doing it because she wants to, she’s doing it because she’s putting his needs above her own. And many times if she does have an itch to scratch, she doesn’t vocalize it because she knows there’s usually an expectation that she will have to give something in return. If she wants a massage because it will feel good to her body, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she wants to have sex along with it. But unless you’ve both established a precedent saying these 2 events are not necessarily mutually exclusive, she’s going to continue keeping her wishes to herself.
It’s important to have some ruthlessness and a healthy balance of selfishness in sex to give it that spark. The fire of sex comes from a sense of feeling as though you have to have someone, and just as important is being on the receiving end of that.
We want to feel as though our sexual allure is so powerful that this person simply cannot resist us.
When your partner can see that you have a healthy sense of entitlement and can assert yourself enough to where they don’t have to feel 100% responsible for your pleasure and orgasm, then it makes the experience much more enjoyable for both people. It takes the pressure off everyone.
If it’s so off balance that your partner doesn’t even know how to semi-enjoy sex without being so completely in their heads, then you can always check out orgasmic meditation. If you practice this at least for a couple months on a regular basis, then it can start to recondition both of you to stop focusing so much on the man’s orgasm and more on her pleasure- especially because orgasm and outcomes are taken off the table completely with this practice. It’s all about rubbing her clit, seeing how much pressure she likes, and reviving her dulled sexual sensations in her genitals. And ps, it’s fucking hot.
Also, when you start to think that your partner is guaranteed to be yours indefinitely, there’s no sizzle, there’s no bridge to cross, there’s no space to find that person, to seek and to find them. A lot of the sexual appeal from a new relationship comes from not knowing what that person is thinking and what they mean to you. When the other person has enough of a separate life going for them, it’s more interesting to be with them because you get to feel privileged enough to be a part of their world, and that’s sexy.
So if you’re the one who is lost, you are on a long journey my friend, really it’s one that continues for your whole life, but there are things you can do in the immediate future to start navigating back to a better place. For starters, you need to get happy now. Don’t wait until you’ve accomplished a full list of things to feel this way because the reason you’re doing all those things is to be happy. You can be happy now without a 180 in your relationship. Think about 3 easy, simple, cheap ways you can do something nice for yourself now. That could be to make plans with a friend, or go get a massage, or go take a dance class. Ok, those are all my ideas of a good time, but maybe for you it’s just some time alone with yourself. Carve out a little time for yourself every day to do some self-care so that you like what you see in the mirror, whatever makes you feel more comfortable in your own skin. Secondly, talk to a handful of people in your life who love you unconditionally, and ask them what makes you so uniquely you – what do they think are your best qualities and what do they think are your gifts to the world. You’ll probably see some trends in their responses. Then ask yourself, what do you want to be known for – I’m talking about character traits – resilience, thoughtfulness, kindness, fearlessness, accepting, and so on. We could take hours upon hours to go into more detail about how to manage your self-care and self-love practices, but we’ll cover those in more detail another day. But the last couple points I want to touch on are self-exploration and recognizing your limiting beliefs. Most people don’t spend much time getting to know themselves, because well, they think they already do. But that’s where they’re wrong, you have no idea how broad your scope is until you get out of your bubble and start doing shit that scares you. I have seen true courage in the hearts of my fellow improv students and Toastmasters. I’ve met people with severe social anxiety who stood up on stage in front of a crowd of people and gave an improv show or made a speech. It was amazing! It’s probably the equivalent of standing on stage naked. The key is to realize that people don’t give a shit as much as you think they do. I heard Tim Ferris say once that you’re never as good as they say you are, and you’re never as bad as they say you are either. But if you’re not quite there yet, at the very least go do something off your bucket list, or a more tame version of it.
This life is not a dress rehearsal people, this is it, so are you going to make it count? When you’re 70 or 80, don’t you want to look back at your life and have one hell of a story? If someone else read your life story to you, would you want to stick around and listen to it? I mentioned limiting beliefs before because we all have them, they are those little gremlins in your head that give you a reason why your dreams are stupid. Well, it’s time you tell them to shut the fuck up. I’m serious though. What if all the reasons you ever thought you shouldn’t try something were completely arbitrary and that you could change the mental programming in your head? A belief is just a thought we repeat over and over, and our beliefs are malleable. You can pick and choose which thoughts and beliefs are not serving you and replace them with ones that enhance your quality of life. I’m going to replace one of yours right now – I hear people say all the time that marriage is hard work or relationships are hard work. Forget that. Instead, replace it with: I love my partner and that’s why I make intentional efforts to keep it alive and thriving. See the difference there? Major difference. It feels so much better to say that.
Be patient, there is hope, it’s not an overnight fix. It’s a process. But the biggest takeaway is, focus on what you can do for yourself to get yourself more in touch with you, to make sure that you have more to offer for your partner. And secondly, do as much as you can to take off what’s putting on their sexual brakes.
That’s it for today everyone, let me know if you have any questions about the episode. DM me on Instagram, and stay tuned for next episode which is going to be our sexy story of the week.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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).
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 email@example.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).