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Episode 17

You don’t have the exact same sexual preferences for frequency, duration, and time of day as your partner? Welcome to the club! Population: everyone.

No one has the same exact libido. What if we learned from our libido, instead of letting it get in the way?

In the second episode of our two-part interview with Vanessa Marin, she teaches us how to learn from our libido, and how to turn down someone you are intimate with without rejecting them. She also talks about how to cultivate more kindness towards our body — even when it feels like it’s betraying us.

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Sasza Lohrey

One of the first articles I think I read of yours was that somebody else sent to me actually, because they had loved it. It was how to turn your partner down for sex. And it kind of I love how he gives these really specific examples. And it kind of presents it as this opportunity for like, for, for learning a lot about yourself and about your partner and more of actually this kind of not a bonding experience, but this incredibly constructive tool that people can employ rather than creating this space of tension and avoidance and not actually trying to understand what is happening in so many of these cases when one person might not feel like having sex as much as the other considering how, and you talk a lot about mismatched drives, which I’d love to touch on after, but I’d love for you to kind of talk a bit on that article.

Vanessa Marin 

Yeah, I’m so glad that you found that one. Yeah, that was, I think, an article that I wrote for life hacker A while back. Yeah, I mean, I think that, that there’s actually so much opportunity for us to learn from those moments when our partner initiate sex, and we’re just not in the mood or not, you know, into it in that very second. I think, you know, this is obviously one of the most challenging kinds of moments for couples because it feels like oh, my God, my partner wants something that I don’t want at this moment. So I think a lot of us, it turns into a very negative moment for both partners. But again, I think the reality is that there’s so much for us to learn and ways for us to set ourselves up for success in the future. So, you know, a huge part of it is first and foremost, is learning that it’s totally normal for your partner to initiate sex and for you to not be into it in that moment. I mean, it would be a lot weirder. If you ever actually think about it would be a lot weirder for you to be wildly into the idea of having sex every single time, you know, in those exact moments that your partner initiated it and vice versa, like you’re two different people, two different sets of needs two different sex drives, it would just be very strange if you were super, super onboard the second that your partner initiated. So first and foremost, it’s just recognizing that yes, there are going to be probably more times that you’re not into it, than there are times that you are into it in that moment. And again, looping back around to this idea of like, Okay, so what can we learn from that? So I think a big, you know, big example of one thing that we can learn is trying to figure out what are the situations and contexts that make us open to our partner’s initiations, open to connecting with them in that moment, and what are the situations and contexts where we don’t feel as open to that, so looking for patterns throughout it. So if you notice, huh, My partner seems to always initiate sex at the very end of the night when we’re already in bed, I’m already half asleep. That’s a really valuable piece of information that you can share with your partner. You know, hey, I realized that we’re usually saving sex until the very end of the night. At that point. For me, it’s just too big of a hurdle to jump over. What if we tried making some space for earlier in the evening instead, when we both have energy. So that’s just a great example of you know, if you can kind of look for some patterns, that’s really valuable information that you can share with your partner.

Sasza Lohrey 

Right, and I’ve seen even where people have these PDFs, you know, you can download and write in and pick up on patterns throughout the day. And I think people make these huge generalizations about their sex drive or the sex drive or their partner without ever really examining the patterns and because it’s so easy to realize, Oh, well, actually, it’s just that you know, one person is a morning time person and you know, loves having sex anytime in the morning. And the other person, anytime kind of initiated at night is great really late, you know, once they’ve gotten all their work done or the stress of the day is out of the way, but the other person goes to bed really early. So they’re actually already asleep. Yeah.  So you have the passion project, which kind of helps people navigate mismatch sex drive, which I’d love you to kind of speak to exactly how common that is. So maybe people are not, oh, my God, you guys aren’t the only ones who don’t want to have sex 100% at the same time in place, and for amount of time as the other one.

Vanessa Marin 

Yeah, exactly. I think that there are mismatched sex drives in pretty much every relationship. So every couple is going to have to deal with sex drives that are mismatched in some way. And again, it may not even be that the sex drives are mismatched, but it’s just what you guys need. And you know, the different contexts are a little bit mismatched. So it’s super, super common. And definitely something that every couple is going to need to figure out how to navigate. So of course, for some couples, it’s much, much bigger of a difference than it is for others. But the bottom line is that we all have to learn how to navigate these differences in our needs.

Sasza Lohrey 

So I’d love to hear your take on kind of how men are becoming more a part of this conversation. And now you actually even have this course for men and how they perhaps have this whole other need for certain issues that come up in a space to kind of figure out you know, whether it’s how to get out of their own head or how to communicate to their partner about these things and how much overlap there might actually be between kind of the the course that you’ve had for so long for women in this more recent one for men.

Vanessa Marin 

Yeah, this there’s another really interesting story here. So I know that for women having challenges with your orgasm can feel very embarrassing and very shameful. And I can speak from personal experience. And I really felt like there was something wrong with me and horribly broken about me. And it’s very ironic to realize that men are struggling with their own challenges as well. So we all have this tendency to feel like we’re very, very alone in something. But the reality is that pretty much everyone has had this experience of your body not doing what you want it to be doing. So I, you know, after a couple of years created another course called the modern Man’s Guide to conquering performance pressure. And this is specifically for heterosexual men. It’s the only one of my courses that is for heterosexual people only. But I really wanted to speak to some of the particular dynamics that emerged in heterosexual relationships. And so it addresses the three main performance challenges that come up for men which are difficulty getting or staying hard orgasming too quickly or not being able to reach orgasm at all. So it’s you know, it goes through in the same sort of way as finishing school really being, you know, super nitty gritty with details and information and techniques and all of this stuff and turning it into a learning process. And again, with this, this same idea that this is something that we all struggle with, we all understand what it’s like to have our bodies not be cooperating with our brain’s plans. So it’s super important for me to help people recognize that we are so not alone in the challenges that we’re having.

Sasza Lohrey 

Right, right. I love to say that we’re not the only one. We’re just one of everyone.

Vanessa Marin 

Oh, that’s great. I like that.

Sasza Lohrey 

And that’s so much of this to this. This shame is again, learned, and not necessarily inherent, and this is a quote I actually heard you say before and I think it’s about bodies could but could be applied to kind of relationships in general inside or outside of a sexual context, basically, we were not born being ashamed of our bodies we were taught to be. And so kind of, if you could just elaborate a bit on how much of this is socialized and learned and kind of how we can use that to kind of take back power over this situation and create change and kind of not only defenses against that, but trying to eventually ideally change the culture itself is doing that too. 

Vanessa Marin 

Oh, gosh, I think for the first part of the question

Sasza Lohrey 

you know, how can we kind of help people realize that on one hand and kind of use it for their own power?

Vanessa Marin 

Yeah, I mean, I I really believe that the vast majority of the things that we struggle with in our sex lives are things that we have been learned. Sorry, are things that we have been taught to believe. So just exactly like what I said with the quote about body stuff, you know, we’re not born feeling ashamed of our bodies, you don’t see little kids running around, you know, being ashamed of themselves, we learn it at a certain point, and we’re learning at younger and younger and younger, which is really just awful to see. But it’s the same kind of thing with sex. You know, we learn to be afraid of sex, to be ashamed of it to think that it’s something embarrassing and that we need to hide from. So I think it’s, it’s very important for people to recognize Yes, we all have our own individual challenges and struggles and stories, and all of those challenges and struggles and stories are taking place in this pretty much global context of being taught that sex is a dirty word. And so I think that that is a way for us to take back our power that we can recognize. This is not me, you know, this is not how I really feel. This is how I’ve been taught to feel. So I will use that personally, that idea about body shame, you know, with myself, like, I have my own body struggles, I have parts of my body that evoke more, you know, embarrassment or shame for me. And I recognize that my relationship with my body is a process that is constantly evolving, and I’m constantly working on. And so if there are times where some of that shame or self consciousness takes up a bigger space than I would like it to be taking, I remind myself of that, like, this is not how I really feel about my body. This is how I’ve been taught to feel about my body by all these photoshopped ads in magazines, by you know, the seeing the exact same kinds of bodies over and over again, on TV and in the movies and in porn. So I remind myself of that, and then I also like, you know, sometimes there are times where, you know, maybe the self consciousness is pretty strong that day and I’m really struggling with something in particular and even just kind of trying to get fired up for myself isn’t fully doing the trick. Sometimes I try to think about the younger generations, like what would I want to teach? You know, if I think about like a 10 year old girl and 11 year old girl like what I want to teach her about her body, what would I want her to believe about her body, and that gets me really, really fired up. So I think it’s just, you know, putting it in that context and recognizing like, this is something that we are taught to believe, and that all of us are taught to believe in thinking about those younger generations that are, you know, getting these messages right now, and just starting to become self conscious of their bodies and embarrassed about sex for the first time in their lives. Like if we can get ourselves fired up about that, that can really help shift the feeling inside of ourselves.

Sasza Lohrey 

I love that comment about the kind of setting the example because I just last week came across kind of poem of sorts, a young woman I follow who writes some beautiful text pieces. And she in this piece says that she keeps a picture of her when she was 11 years old, around to look at and to remind herself and to ask herself, you know, am I making you proud? Am I, you know, setting a good example for you and what I want you would want you to learn and you know what you would want to be. So I think that’s kind of a cool way to enact exactly what you just touched on.

Vanessa Marin 

Oh, that’s beautiful. Yeah, I really like that. Yeah, I’ve had clients, I’ve asked him to pull up pictures of themselves from, you know, just tender ages in their lives or, you know, kind of any memories that they had is, yeah, you know, of any particular challenging times and sometimes Yeah, the picture can evoke a lot. So that can be a good technique to try.

Sasza Lohrey 

And you actually have an article about, you know, do feel as though your body is your enemy. And that was another article That was sent to me and that one really resonated with me because it was especially in a very long period of time, where I was going through chronic pain due to some ongoing health problems. And so I really just, I loved reading that and I think whether it’s, you know, dealing with chronic pain as you do in that article and I, as I was reading it, but also, in any capacity in terms of confidence, or self esteem, those same kind of reminders can be so important and impactful.

Vanessa Marin 

Yeah, I’m so glad that that resonated with you. That was uh, one of the first very, very personal pieces that I wrote, I come from a psychotherapy background. So all of my training was you know, don’t share things about yourself. It’s supposed to be about the client. I was like, right when I first started kind of changing my business model and realizing, you know, what showing up in this way isn’t really so serving my clients the best way that I think I can. So I’m glad that that one resonated with you. And yes, it is a super practical tip for your listeners I talked about in that article, what for me ended up being one of the most powerful transformations that I made in my relationship with my body. So at that time, I was real and I still am struggling with chronic pain after a very bad car accident where I was rear ended by somebody trying to make a yellow light. And, you know, just the horrible, horrible changes that it brought into my life and what it was like to experience chronic pain for the very first time and really feeling like my body had betrayed me like it was my enemy. And just wanting to, you know, just wanting to leave my own skin like just wishing that I could peel my skin open and leave my entire body behind. So one of the most powerful techniques that really helped me actually to start imagining having a conversation with myself. body. So I’d already sort of been having a conversation in my head with my body for a long time saying horrible things like, you know, why are you doing this to me? And why are you in so much pain? And why don’t you just stop this. But I tried to imagine having a softer and gentler conversation with my body where I sort of told that, you know, I’m sorry that you’ve gone through this awful thing. And I’m sorry that you’re in so much pain. And I’m sorry that I’ve been really mad at you for feeling pain. And it just opened up a completely different relationship with my own body. And so I’ve come back to that basic idea of trying to talk to my body over and over again and a lot of different ways. But I think it’s, it’s just a very beautiful technique to use, where you imagine, you know, having a relationship with your body and it doesn’t need to be that you’re telling your body you know, you’re beautiful and perfect, and I love you every single second of the day, because that’s just not realistic. None of us have that kind of relationship with our bodies. So, you know, but just being honest with it, just from a gentler perspective, like, I’m sorry that I’ve been so hard on you in the past, I’m sorry that we’ve had such a difficult relationship. I want things to be better between the two of us and I’m really going to try so it’s you know, it’s, it’s honest and it’s real. But again, it’s just a very different way of relating to your body that I have personally found to be extremely powerful and a lot of my clients have as well.

Sasza Lohrey 

Right and that kind of mind versus body relationship and also kind of how each one influences together so much and whether or not it’s kind of changing your body versus changing your mind and the way you think about it or in sex to kind of wrap things up one of my favorite questions to people because I just think it’s so important underestimated by a lot of people is how much do you think Sex is about kind of mind versus body.

Vanessa Marin 

My opinion is that it’s pretty evenly split straight down the middle. So it’s definitely a bodily experience. And I think sometimes those opportunities when you can get out of your head and just be fully in your body can be really beautiful and amazing experiences. And at the same time, I think that our, the, you know, the way that we think about sex, the way that we can be mentally present during sex, that all makes a really huge impact as well. So I think, from experience to experience, it can kind of be more in one zone than in the other. But I think to have a really great and consistently wonderful sex life, having a good balance of both is super crucial.

Sasza Lohrey 

Well, thanks so much for taking the time to be with us here today. Looking forward to sharing more of your resources with our listeners. And if you want to, as well tell them where they can find you.

Vanessa Marin

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It’s Really fun. And if people want to learn more, you can find me over at vmtherapy.com I have a lot of different free guides that I share on my website and I have a free weekly newsletter where I talk about many of the same topics we’ve talked about today and I’m really focused on just giving you actionable concrete tips and suggestions that you can use in your daily life.

On this episode, we continue our discussion with Vanessa Marin, a licensed psychotherapist specializing in sex whose mission is to help people stop being embarrassed and ashamed and start having a lot more fun in the bedroom. We talk about mismatched libido, why it’s important to
be more kind to our bodies, and how loving yourself can open you up to experience more love and pleasure with others. Enjoy!

Turning Your Partner Down

It’s normal for you and your partner to desire sex at different times of the day – so it’s totally normal for you to not be in the mood when your partner may initiate sex. There are mismatched libidos in every relationship! It’s in these moments where there is a lot of opportunity to learn.

When these moments happen, it can help you to think about the situations and contexts which open you up to your partner’s initiations… and which contexts and situations turn you off. Vanessa developed The Passion Project to help partners better understand how to navigate these different and varied sex drives within a relationship.

What About Men?

Everyone has had the experience of your body not doing what you want it to do. For heterosexual men, the three most frequent performance challenges are: 1. difficulty getting, or staying, hard, 2.
orgasming too quickly, or 3. not being able to reach orgasm at all.

Socialization of Our Bodies and Sex

We were not being born ashamed of our bodies, we were taught to be.

Many of the struggles we face are because of things we have been taught, or cultured, to believe. Just like shame for our bodies, our culture also shames sex, and we exist in this cultural context which affects our relationships with ourselves and others.

Bodies and Pain

A practical tip for you and your relationship with your body, especially when you may be feeling betrayed by your body: begin to imagine having a conversation with your body. But rather than shaming or being mad at your body, speak with empathy to yourself. Recognize the feeling you have towards your body – hurt, or anger, or pain, or gratitude – and be honest with yourself. And remember to be gentle!

No additional resources found for this episode.

About the Expert

Vanessa Marin

Here to help you take your relationship and sex life from ordinary to extraordinary!

Vanessa Marin is a writer and licensed psychotherapist who specializes in sex therapy.  She created her platform, VMTherapy, to help people bring joy into their relationships and sex lives by inspiring them to obliterate the shame and embarrassment that we have all been taught to have.  Vanessa shares the accurate information and practical, actionable, tools to help people have the best sex they can.

Episode Discussion

Home Forums Episode 16 & 17 – “DON’T Fake It Until You Make It” with Vanessa Marin

  • Episode 16 & 17 – “DON’T Fake It Until You Make It” with Vanessa Marin

  • Valentina 

    September 21, 2020 at 8:39 am
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    • What did you learn about yourself?
    • What did you learn about culture?
    • What was your favorite quote?
    • What surprised you most?
    • What is one way you can enact what you learned in your own life?
    • How can we each help shift the culture and the conversation surrounding this topic?
  • Amy

    September 21, 2020 at 12:08 pm
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    The thing that I learned about myself while listening to these episodes is that faking orgasm is not the way to connect with a future partner during sex. The thing that I learned about culture is that it expects women to connect with someone when they are not being their true selves. No one should have to expect to connect with a partner if their feelings are not true. The thing that surprised me the most was that men and women have mismatched libidos and that we can learn from our libido. The way that I can enact what I learned in my own life is to feel comfortable enough to turn down a future partner without rejecting them. The way that we can help shift the culture and conversation around this topic is to create more kindness towards our bodies even when we feel like it is betraying us.

    • Hope

      September 23, 2020 at 12:30 pm
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      I completely agree, Amy. I also think we should create more kindness towards our bodies! More often than not, I feel as if women don’t truly understand the amazing capabilities our bodies hold. We do so much to try and be “submissive,” in sex, in life, to be considered a nice girl…but we are limiting ourselves so much by doing this. I think it is time to start taking Vanessa Marin’s advice and put ourselves first! We should not be creating environments with partners that will not be putting our needs above and or in line with their own! We need to start nourishing the idea that we too should speak up for what we what and need in bed to actually have enjoyable sex.

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