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Episode 20: “Pleasure Is The Measure” (1/2)

In the first episode of our two-part interview with Dr. Emily Nagoski, she explains amazing fact that male and female anatomy is actually made of up the exact same parts, she helps us understand that we’re all “normal,” and teaches us how we can learn to listen to (or tune out) our internal voice — with compassion. Dr. Emily Nagoski is the author of the New York Times best-selling book “Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life.” **Please remember to rate and leave a review for our podcast! Give us your feedback Follow us on Instagram! Facebook BBXX website Sign up for our digital “book” club — a twice-weekly curation of the best digital content about identity, sexuality, intimacy, and relationships!
The transcript wasn’t added for this episode.

Continuing the conversation with Emily Nagoski, Ph.D, sexuality educator, and author, we discuss how to better understand our accelerators and brakes when it comes to desire, why it’s important to stop worrying about sex while you’re having it, the different kinds of desire, and why pleasure is the measure! We hope you enjoy and are able to find more pleasure in your life and enjoy the sex you’re already having!

There’s No Right Way

We often feel that there’s a right way to have sex due to the sexual scripts that we’ve all become accustomed to. However, as life circumstances change, the same sexual behaviors can elicit very different reactions. Context matters! It’s rarely that something to do with you – but more
likely to be something in your environment, or context.

Accelerators and Brakes

Arousal is a dual process of turning on the “ons” and turning off the “offs”. As we go through life, we accumulate more things that turn us off. So it’s important to know those things that turn you on and hit your accelerator, and those things that turn you off and hit your brakes. An example of a common brake: cold feet! So put on some socks and warm those feet up so
that you aren’t distracted by your cold feet and you can free up your accelerator.

Sexual Performance

What does it mean for you? Worrying about sex while you’re having it is a sure way to pump the brakes. Practicing mindfulness – or paying attention to sensations in a non-judgmental way – helps with all aspects of your sexuality. Lori Brotto, who we’ve spoken about before, has a great book that can help with being more mindful during sex.

Physical Activity

Understanding the body’s stress response cycle is incredibly valuable information. Physical activity can be a kind of endorphin therapy once you reach that threshold of activity. Because our emotions are biological events that happen in our bodies, physical activity can be a form of therapy to help release those emotions and feelings.

Stress is the most common factor that hits the brakes.

Sex and Attachment

Sex is a social behavior – it links us together – and social connection is a biological process. John Gottman researched victims of domestic violence and found that many women reported some of the most passionate sexual experiences after episodes of violence. This can be attributed to attachment theory and how the violence threatened the attachment, and because sex is a social behavior, it becomes a way to reconnect to repair the threat to the relationship and attachment. Attachment is a survival mechanism for humans.

Wanting v Liking

When people are clear about the difference between wanting and liking, the better you can communicate with your partner about what works for you so that you can access more pleasure. It is possible to like something that not want it; to want something and not like it; to like something and want it; and to not like something and not want it.

Why Desire Matters

Masters and Johnson, as well as Kinsey, researched the sexual response cycle, which didn’t really need to include desire. However, desire really matters in a sexual relationship. And we know now that desire is the single most common reason a couple seeks sex therapy. Based on the research
initially conducted by Helen Singer Kaplan, we know that there are two different ways that people can get to desire:

  • Spontaneous Desire – when it appears out of the blue in anticipation of pleasure (like a lightning bolt to the genitals)
  • Responsive Desire – beginning with pleasure, and your body begins to experience sensations that feel good, and then the desire comes.

It’s like being invited to a party – you may not want to go, but when you get ready and arrive, chances are you end up having fun – and if you’re having fun, then you’re doing it right!

Pleasure is the measure.

Advice

  1. Pay attention to your partner
  2. Take orgasm off the table and focus on pleasure instead
  3. Enjoy the sex you are having – even if it’s only with yourself.

If you’re having fun at the party, you’re doing it right!

About the Expert

Emily Nagoski

Emily Nagoski

A gifted and engaging speaker, Emily is an expert on women's sexual wellbeing, healthy relationships, and the prevention of sexual violence and harassment. People bring Emily, because Emily "brings the science."

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