World Leading Sex Therapist: How To Avoid Having Bad Sex: Kate Moyle | E73 | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "World Leading Sex Therapist: How To Avoid Having Bad Sex: Kate Moyle | E73".
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- Oh, it's the question everyone wants to answer to. It's. - What is the single biggest killer of relationships in the modern age? Let's talk about sex. Today's podcast is very, very different, but incredibly, incredibly important. Today I'm sitting down with Kate Moyle, who is a sex therapist and a relationship therapist to talk about some of the taboo topics which we don't normally discuss. Things like erectile dysfunction, sexual inadequacies, issues we all have in our relationships and sex lives. The single biggest killer of relationships in 2021, sexual anxiety, how to keep a sexual relationship exciting and everything in between. I'm gonna share some very personal sexual stories that I've never shared before, some of the things that have gone well and some of the problems that I've had that have caused relationships that have meant the world to me to end. This is a very, very honest, open podcast today. This is why this is called The Diary of a CEO and Kate is the perfect person to put them to. So I think you're gonna enjoy this conversation. I certainly did. I feel very vulnerable sharing some of these stories with you, but as I always say, just keep it to yourself. So without further ado, this is The Diary of a CEO. I hope nobody's listening, but if you are, then please keep this to yourself. Sex. I think it's fair to say that everybody has some kind of challenge with sex, at least at some point within their life.
Understanding Sexual Desire And Relationships
My sex partner did not like sex (01:34)
And I am no different. In fact, my last relationship, which was a very, I thought, generally at one point thought that was gonna be my wife, the reason that relationship broke down was because of a sexual issue. And a sexual issue that showed up about seven or eight months into the relationship. And long story short, I know this isn't a therapy session, but it kind of is as well. At some point, seven, eight months into our relationship, she told me that she didn't like having sex. And I didn't know what that meant. And as a guy that's never experienced that in my life, I read into it probably in the wrong way, but it definitely made me insecure. I was like, "What, you don't like having sex? How's that possible?" And I thought that was some kind of condemnation on me. I thought that was something negative towards me or something that I was doing wrong. And I tried various things. I tried to be a bit more and just listen, listen a little bit more to what she wanted and how she wanted it. And then it progressively got to a point where I was getting in bed and I was shitting myself because you don't wanna, once you get rejected, I've never been like, I've never gone to have sex with someone in my life and been rejected in that way. And so you get in bed and you don't wanna even ask them for sex because you might take an L and you don't wanna take that L. And then how the hell am I meant to get an erection as a guy when I'm that fucking scared of rejection? And eventually, long story short, we're away one time and the same issue happened and we were having sex and I was looking at her thinking she clearly isn't enjoying this at all. And we stopped, she started crying, she said, I've got a problem, she said like, I just don't enjoy sex, I need to address it. I said to her, do you wanna talk about it? She said, I'm not comfortable talking about sex with you even though we've been in a relationship for a year and I left and then I broke up with her. And I do regret breaking up with her because I did so maybe too flippantly and I didn't understand it and I didn't think it was fixable and I didn't know how to fix it and yeah, sorry for my brain, you know, my dumping that on you but good place to start. - No, I think, and you know, so much of what you've just said, there's so many points there that, you know, I hear all the time so difficulties with desire, struggles with communication, struggles with knowing like where to start in terms of talking about it, anxiety, you know, all of these points which can kind of get in the bedroom with us or be in bed with us and we just don't know how we're meant to address them. We don't know what we're meant to do about them and we all feel that sense of what am I doing wrong here or what's wrong with me? Do I have a problem? Am I broken? You know, all of these phrases and actually working with all of the information that you've just given me, you know, as an example, we can kind of target or work with each of those problems in an individual way which isn't terrifying for people which doesn't create more anxiety which doesn't damage self esteem but we don't have those conversations in a bigger, more normalizing way. And I think one of the biggest things that I talk about is this idea that sex like everything else across our lives has good days, bad days, average days, variability but we expect there to be this constant and we expect it to be protected from everything else that we have going on in our lives and that just isn't the case but... - And somewhat automatically, right? Like we kind of expected to take care of itself. - Yeah. And relationships as well, we kind of expect that, you know, once they're good, they're always good, that they shouldn't falter, that we shouldn't have to work at them, that they shouldn't struggle. And I think that there's such a problem with that as a basic foundation message around sex and relationships. - How do you refrain that then? How do I reframe my thinking in order to make sure that I'm... I guess that is a reframing of my thinking. If I think that this thing isn't gonna take care of itself and it needs to be worked on like everything else in my life, I guess that's the answer to keeping it exciting. - Yeah, I mean, I think that was just a normalizing of the fact that our sex lives and our relationships are in the context of us. They're not isolated, they're not protected. They don't have their own kind of special area where they aren't impacted by how we feel about ourselves, stress, anxiety, our health, our mental health, you know, physically what's going on for us, psychologically what's going on for us. But why don't we just give ourselves a break? And like, do you know what? We're not perfect or good or great at everything else we do all the time. So why would we be here? I don't think, you know, I think as professionals we often talk about like, why aren't we applying the logic that we apply everywhere else in our lives to this part of our lives? - And in that particular case with me and my, this particular person, she turned to me, I remember we were away one time and she said to me, you know, there's loads of people that are like me that don't have like a high libido or whatever. And I have just never encountered these people in my experiences. So I thought, oh, that's rubbish. Was she right? - Yes. - Yeah. - And how right is she? - Very right. And you know, we understand that, you know, this is a huge part of the conversation around sex lives at the moment and sexual wellness at the moment is this idea about desire. Desire is not a fixed concept that we're born with. We're not kind of given or holding a set amount. It's not like we kind of have an amount and we like use it up. It is context dependent, it's responsive and we understand that it changes but actually how we can change that within kind of take power of our own, I suppose, or change that within the context that we're in, how we can feel in control of that is based in almost how we define it or how we understand it ourselves. And there's a huge problem with just thinking, okay, well, I had it. Now I don't have it in the same way anymore. So what's wrong with me or what's broken or what changed or what's not working here rather than if I reframe my understanding and my thinking about this, it makes a lot more sense and it takes the pressure off and when the pressure's off, then I can work with this in a more pleasure focused, enjoyable way rather than an anxiety, provoking and stressful way. - What should I have done? So the first time she turns to me, she says, "Steve, I'm just not that into it." 'Cause what it was is we were in bed and we're away on holiday and I like, you know, just I don't know what I do, whatever I do to let someone know that when I have sex, I don't know, stroke their arm or whatever, I did whatever I do and she was just like, "Nah, and what should I have done then?" 'Cause, you know, I think a lot of people would take that as a bit of an L and I certainly did, I was like, "What?" And I was angry as well, not like visibly angry, not like, you know, hitting with a pillar or anything, but I was like, I turn, I remember turning away and thinking, "Oh fuck." You know, like, 'cause I'd never experienced that before. I'd never experienced that, like, it is a form of rejection, it's like a form of, it's a kick in the self-esteem. What should I have done? - Well, I think, you know, I can't talk to what was going on for you two, like, kind of in that moment then, but, you know, the biggest problem that couples in situations like that have is assumption. So, as you said, like, this is a kick in the teeth for me, like, that hurts, I feel rejected. So, we internalize and actually the best way for us to deal with something like that is to try and explain, to try and move away from assumption, to explanation, to understanding, because actually, if we can have a conversation which opens it up and, you know, you hear sex and relationship experts talk about communication being, you know, the kind of biggest pillar of sexual wellness or sexual wellbeing. And assumption, kind of, and the gap between expectations and reality is actually the biggest place that we have a lot of these problems. And I think that it feels like, you know, that's a good example of that happening. - Fast forward four months, the same sort of issue happened and she turned to me, and this is when I thought it was completely over, is she said to me, I'm not comfortable with talking to you about sex, right? And we've been together for a year. And I thought, well, if we can't talk about it and I don't really understand the issue and you're not willing to talk about it, then we are fucked. And I thought, and that's when I left, I left that country soon after. And I broke up with her, maybe like, I don't know, two, three weeks later, because I thought if we can't talk about it, then how do we fix the situation? - But I do regret it because I think, I reflect and I think I don't want to be the type of guy, generally, that when they care about someone, we'll walk away from it so easily. And I think I should have made a more active effort to try and support, as you say, and understand, maybe. - But I would say sometimes the hardest person to talk to about sex is the person we're having it with. - Yeah. - Because of, it's so loaded, it's so like intimate, it's so vulnerable, and also the fear of getting it wrong or making it worse, or leading our partners on, or going in the wrong direction, or us not being able to unhere what we've heard, or unsay what we've said. So actually, that natural human response to feeling anxiety around something is avoidance. We don't tend to approach the source of the viral anxiety unless we're trying really hard to hone in on it or focus on it. Our most natural instinct is, I don't want to go there. It's just easier to keep the status quo, even if that status quo isn't working. And so it's about thinking about how do we help people to approach that source of anxiety or feel empowered to change their conversation around sex? Because it's really hard. It's like talking in a language that we've not been taught. We're not taught how to have these conversations, we're not taught to be comfortable about these conversations, we're not taught that sex is normalized as a topic. And then we're expected to all be experts, and that our partners are going to be experts, and we're all expecting that from each other. And then when it doesn't work, we have no solutions or ways of knowing how to deal with it. Now some of us muggle through, we kind of work it out. We're like, okay, well, let's try this, or think about this, or take expert advice, or listen to a podcast, or read a book, or get the information, and we can kind of work our way through it. But for a lot of us, that's way too intimidating. You know, sex feels like an off the record, or do you know, off the table topic. - How do you bring it on the table? And I'm presuming that couples that are successful in the bedroom, are those that bring it on the table to some degree? Is that a fair assumption or? - Yeah, I think that's definitely a fair assumption. I think that it takes the courage to do it. It takes the kind of sitting in the uncomfortable. It might be quite anxiety-broken. Obviously some people kind of seek out therapy, or external advice, or someone that can help them manage those conversations, or they might do it in their own way. So it might be kind of reading a book, and sharing that with each other, or listening to a TED talk, and then sharing that with each other, and using that as a springboard to have that conversation. But I would say it's talking about it outside of the bedroom, is the biggest way to put it on the table. - And is it possible to be just like sexually incompatible with someone? - Yeah, I think it is. In the way it's impossible to be incompatible with anything else. But what we can also do is when we have different interests for different preferences in other areas of our lives, we can work together to negotiate that, to manage that, to work to each other's preferences, and switch that around, or manage that relational bit, that kind of bit in between. - And it is possible to do that with sex, but also for some people, they might have deal breakers, and they might not be able to meet those for each other. - This is, I don't know if this is too much information, but I don't think I care. I remember one day as well, I tried to introduce, 'cause I typically, when I have sex, I typically use a lot of additional apparatus. So I'll use all kinds of stuff, I don't care, like I'll use handcuffs, and all kinds of ropes, and toys, and whatever else. And I remember trying to introduce something like that, 'cause I thought maybe it would make it a bit more interesting for her, and she was absolutely not. She said to me that she thought, I think it was a vibrator, she thought a vibrator was for old people. And I'm already up against it here, lad, so I'm trying to do something to help. And when she said that, I just thought maybe we are just sexually incompatible, maybe we just speak two different languages here. So, don't know if them. - But you know, sometimes one part, I mean, what I would say is it's actually more common for couples to not be perfectly sexually matched, than it is for them to be like, perfectly sexually matched in every way. And for some people, they are more ready to try something, or they might be the one that leads something, and then the other partner kind of catches up, or it's really about also kind of like, how we perceive what our partner is suggesting, or what we think that means. Because one of the things about sex is, we have this idea as humans about like, medical cognition, like we think about our thoughts, we think about what that our thoughts mean. And I think it's really, really apparent when it comes to sex and relationships, because we're trying to constantly analyze what's happening, or as you said, kind of looking out for like, the risk of rejection, or the fear of rejection, we're trying to understand what that means about us, or what that means about them, or what it means about our relationship, and so we're always trying to, I suppose, think about like what's going on, and the wider context or meaning of that. Now when it comes to sex, we're already in a culture in a society where it's a bit to do, where it's quite stigmatized, where we don't necessarily want to kind of step outside the norms or the expectations, because what does that mean about us as a person? - I, you know, since that whole event, I, you know, we spoke a little bit after we broke up, and she told me, that was actually the first time she told me that she had like a low libido, and I actually didn't really understand what that meant, so I googled it. But then I started talking to some friends about it, specifically some male friends, and I had another male friend say to me, one of my best friends said to me that he also had the same problem, where he just lost his sexual desire, you know, when he got to a certain age, which I was shocked about, because people don't have these conversations, so you don't think it happens. So when we encounter it, whether it's in the bedroom or wherever else, yeah, it really feels like a real anomaly, but how common is low libido? And also, what are the typical causes of someone having a low libido?
How common is low libido? And what are the causes? (16:51)
- I think really common, and I think, you know, like so much of the stuff, we don't have huge and huge amounts of, at least up to date, like sex research, so, you know, it's something that people are really trying to kind of develop in this space. But what we understand when we think about desire, so we've got desire and we've got arousal, so arousal, the body's physical ability to kind of prepare for sex, the desire, the want to be sexual. And what we understand is that it typically changes across relationships, and what feels really difficult about it is that at the start of relationships, when everything is new and exciting, we're getting to know each other, we're exploring, it feels like desire is very high, we're kind of leaning into that, because it's a way of getting to know each other, a way of connecting with that person. And it's kind of what we understand as it's triggered, I suppose, a lot, because a lot of the situations we find ourselves in are novel, are kind of tuning into the area of our brain that likes the new things, that likes the excitement. And we have that sense of wanting to get closer to that person, wanting to get to know them. Now, also what we see, particularly this is the relationship focus, is there's exchange of novelty, newness, the unknown, exploration for routine security, safety, getting to know someone. So we kind of see these things switching out almost. And so, it's just actually that, as we get kind of more used to each other, there are the less of those kind of triggering, like exciting moments, which are where desire can tend to thrive. And what we need to do is, perhaps just slightly more consciously, or with a bit more of an effort, put in the time to create those spaces. Now, chuck in, I mean, the year we found ourselves in, where no one's had any kind of personal space, or independence, or ability to go away and come back together, kind of change of context. But technology, the kind of, well, third and fourth, if there's two people in the relationship wheels, that are constantly taking our attention, kind of demanding us, distracting us. So we're missing signals from our partners, we're missing those kind of, I suppose, quality time moments. We're constantly notified, we're distracted. And actually, then it's harder for us to give each other our full attention, to kind of sit down and focus on each other, to have the things that promote connection, eye contact, touch. We're constantly kind of looking around and connecting, I suppose, with everyone apart from the person, actually, that we're in, it creates a barrier. And so how do, you get five, 10, 15, 20 years into relationship? And you've started to get secure and things are predictable. How do you, this is probably the most popular question I'm sure you get, which is like, how do you keep it fresh?
How do we keep our sex lives exciting and interesting? (19:46)
What advice would you give me to keep my sex life with a partner I've been with for X amount of years? Still fresh, exciting, and, yeah, exploratory. - Yeah, I think it's always a big question everyone wants to know today. - You're right. - It is about, first thing, acknowledging that it might be different to how it used to be. So again, one of the biggest hurdles people can get kind of tripped over on is, it's not the same as it used to be or it changed. Now, why does that mean it's worse? You know, actually, perhaps, the quality of the sex that people might be having might be better, because they know each other better, they understand each other's body's better, they feel more in tune with each other. So, it's understanding that you might be in a different phase or stage, and that's okay. It doesn't have to be, you know, that famous phrase, the honeymoon period that kind of everybody quotes or goes back to. So I think that is one thing, and I think actually kind of carving out the time and the space and the effort and not seeing that as a bad thing, not seeing that as problematic that we have to be a bit more conscious of that part of our relationships is a huge, huge factor, because what the kind of common narrative we see in society, I suppose, is if I have to make an effort for this, then there must be something wrong with that, because sex should be spontaneous, should be something that just happens. - That's what it says in the movies. - Which is part of the problem, right? Because that's one of the most easily accessible, visual versions of sex that we have. We don't see into other people's sex lives in the same way. Now what we do see is social media or pictures of couples or images of couples, and we make assumptions about them. We make assumptions about they look happy, but they have great sex. - Yeah, in point, it's just like the gardener's like outside, and then you like comes in and the husband's away, and then like it's just kind of boom, perfect. Last an hour, everyone looks like they're having a great time. But one of the best phrases that I heard, and you know, is trying to learn about sex from porn is like learning to drive from watching the Fast and the Furious. And it's one of the things that I go back to, I wish I knew who said it, and if you know, please tell me, so you can claim it. But porn wasn't designed as an educational tool, but a lot of people have used it as one, and that's again. - Oh, I mean like every man ever. I'm also a woman to be fair. Like I think men have this bias that we think women don't watch porn, but then you ask a woman, you know, and I've asked several of my ex-girlfriends if they've watched porn, and they'll, yeah, they do. Some of them do. But I'd say, and this is a general, and I'd love you to correct me here, 'cause I'd love to not be, I'd love to be corrected on things like this where I'm so naive. I tend to believe that like 90% of my male friends watch porn, and then I think it's probably like 50% of my female friends. Do you know the numbers, is that? - I don't know the numbers, but I, you know, we know that women watch porn, we know that there are also a huge rise of like female-friendly, female-focused pornography platforms kind of coming forward. And I think that a lot of those ideas, again, tie into these old stereotypes and narratives about like male sexuality and female sexuality. And then, you know, we're trying to change the conversation around this, and I think that it's also about recognizing that they're not these kind of like two like so separate entities, and actually that we can understand that we're all sexual creatures, or we all have our own versions of sexuality, and what that doesn't mean is that it has to again, kind of line up with the narratives that have always been there, which is like, men do this, women do this. - But are there distinctions between sexual appetite and the type of representation of sex that men and women typically want to see? I was gonna ask you a question, which kind of alludes to the same answer, but it's like if you were to create a porn, 'cause you said there's now sites emerging, which are like female friendly, I'm like, what's the difference? What's, how do they... - I suppose one of the things that a lot of these sites they're creating is a focus on kind of female pleasure in a way which is, so what we know for example, is that the majority of women, or like the most common way of bringing women to orgasm is through direct cultural stimulation. But for example, in not necessarily porn, but in the movies, we never see that. And so then everyone is gonna replicate what they see in the movies, and no wonder it's not quite working. So I think that there's also educational elements starting to kind of come forward in a lot of that kind of content as well. - I guess that makes sense. If the demand for pornography has been mepsquued male, then what you're seeing in the pornography would also be catered to what a male likes to believe is, you know, men, as you like alluded to there, men typically get their arousal from like, what do they call it, vaginal penetration? I guess that's the type of... - Or intercourse, yeah. - Intercourse, whatever, but women would typically get, reach like an orgasm via clitoral stimulation. So porn tends to reflect the former. So has porn been a positive or negative impact on our perceptions and images of what our own sexual relationships should be like, do you think? - That's such a big question. Is it again, it's the one that everyone wants to know the answer to it? I think that the problem that we've seen is when people have used it as an educational resource, and that's not how it was designed. Now, what it has offered is people who are exploring their sexuality and feel that it doesn't fit, for example, the norm or expected norm, you know, however you want, whatever terminology you want to use for that, it's offered those people a sense of community or safety in exploring or belonging or knowing that they're not alone, not isolated in their experience. And so there are, you know, like everything in life, there's gonna be huge pros and cons, and like anything in life, it's how people use anything. But I think for me, you know, working with people with sexual problems and relationship problems, isolation or feeling alone in your experience is probably the biggest side effect or negative side effect on mental health or on the problem itself of what they're experiencing, of what they're struggling with. And so combating that, which in a way is where therapy helps, you know, we're kind of sharing that conversation, we know that shame thrives in silence, we're starting to externalize, we're starting to talk about these things, is making people feel they're not alone is massive. - One of the things you said, I read that you'd said before, which I thought was really good advice, especially as it relates to keeping sex, like fresh and exciting, was just to change one thing every time. And I wanted to for you to tell me why you think that's important and how that helps. It goes back to some of the themes you've talked about, but it was one of the things that I thought I could immediately do in my own sex life to keep things continually fresh. And what are those small things that you're referring to when you say? - I suppose what I like about that is it's actionable. So it's this idea that we can all be like empowered and in control to do something in our sex lives. And one of the phrases we hear kind of all the time is that mixing it up, spicing it up. And what I think people get intimidated by is the idea that they have to do something massive to do that, that they have to go out by a whole new wardrobe. - Yeah, exactly. Or try something that they've never done before or buy 25 sex stories or try everything. That in itself then becomes a barrier to people trying it because they're like, "Oh god, that sounds scary." - You're just Spencer, isn't it? - But you know, it's that, God, how am I gonna do that? There's no stepping stones to that. It's a whole bridge, a whole jump. And that puts people off. So again, we're back to that avoidance thing. Do you know what? I'll just stay in my safe zone. I'll stay in my comfort zone. I'll stay where I am. The idea of trying that and it not working or trying that and it failing feels way scarier than where we're at right now. And so I think that idea of changing one thing every time is it's also that routine doesn't kind of help or promote or kind of encourage desire 'cause we're like, "Oh, I know what's coming. "I know how this is gonna go." And what we're then doing is we're more likely to kind of let our thoughts wander or be distracted. And we see that with people. You know, they're like, "I know it's gonna go." So actually, I wasn't really noticing what was happening in my body or that experience. I was thinking about everything I need to do tomorrow. And so what it does is it works as a way of encouraging breaking up routine. Now these are small things like having the lights on or having the lights off, starting with your clothes on or your clothes off, keeping your underwear on or underwear off, using lube or not, you know, taking intercourse off the table for that evening and just focusing on non-penetricative sex, trying a sex toy or, you know, putting even something simple that I talk about is putting like your pillows on the other end of your bed so your room feels different. Like lighting candles, changing a smell, having a shower or not, you know. - Doing it in the street. - Right. You can get arrested for that. But, you know, it's that idea of these are all accessible within range, non-intimidating things that we can try to create shifts and changes. - My journey with Huel has intensified a lot over the last six to 12 months. The untold story of a healthy diet and a nutritionally complete diet is how you feel. And really, that's a much more important thing because actually how you feel is the sort of precursor to you having the motivation, the discipline and the state of mind that will help you go to the gym and follow through on your goals. And I feel amazing. I don't think I've ever felt better. I've never had more energy. I've been sleeping amazingly well. My sort of mental cognition has been sharper than it ever has before. But I just feel good, right? And you often just get to see the physical effects that having a nutritionally complete diet could have. But there are all of these other impacts and other effects which are so much more important. And as I said, are the precursor to the positive physical effects you see. So yeah, you know, it's one thing, having a podcast sponsor that pays you money, but it's another thing, having a podcast sponsor who you genuinely believe can help people change their lives for the better. Is it possible for some, you know, 'cause I've got this one friend and I'm sorry if just rinse one of my friends here.
What is asexual? (30:56)
- I've got this one friend. - This is a problem with being friends with me. You always appear in the podcast if you've got any slight like peculiarity about you. And like, I feel like all of my friends have been mentioned in this podcast at least once. They just don't know where they're being mentioned. But I've got this one friend who is a guy and he, I've known him maybe 10 years and I don't think he's ever had sex and he's maybe 27, 28 years old, whatever. And I don't believe he's ever had sex. I've never seen him in a relationship. He doesn't talk to girls at all, or guys for that matter. And I don't, it's just so unusual because in our friendship group, we talk about sex a lot. So we're always talking about, you know, who we sleep in with in various things. And we've basically just learned to just not have the conversation with him or when he's there. You know, if we're just like joking with each other as friends, we will never joke with him because it's just this big question mark and none of us know the answer. And I think my conclusion has become being, maybe he's just asexual, if that's the thing. - Yeah, that's the thing. - And what is that thing? And what, and if you, I'm sure you've heard about this before, right? What is, what's going on? - Well, I mean, like we don't know what's going on for that person, but you know, asexuality is, is some, is an identity, you know, like people who don't experience sexual attraction. And what that also doesn't mean. So we have asexuality and aromanticism. So those are two different concepts. So what we can see is that people can have successful relationships and be asexual 'cause they can have connection and friendship and intimacy. And we can see that people who are, so we can understand that it's not, I kind of like pairing necessarily. And something I also talk about is we can have intimacy with our sex and sex with our intimacy. Now, what a group that I've also worked with is lots of people who have such bad sexual anxiety. And this is in no way me saying what's going on for your friend, but that, that limits them in sexually exploring or taking their sex life to where they want to go or dating or seeing people. Because what it can feel a bit like is if we get on the ladder of, for example, meeting someone or dating, then we get closer towards the source of our anxiety, which might be sex. And I think that people who haven't had sexual experiences and I suppose bear in mind, you're only viewing this from your perspective rather than speaking to the person you've been speaking to, is that kind of, it can feel like a snowball effect of something that I talk a lot about in therapy with people that I'm working with. This snowball effect of, okay, well, the older I get, the more I feel that this is a worry or the more I feel other people will judge me or the more I feel that I won't match up to what's expected of me, or that I will get kind of found out. And I think that these anxieties around sex are also because what we assume is sexuality in people. So we kind of assume everyone's sexually active. It goes back to that point about feeling isolated or alone in our experience. Everybody else is doing it. So what's wrong with me? And the problem we have when it comes to sex is we can't know with people until we check it out. We can't know until we, we're judging someone's inside world based on what we see from the outside. And actually what we know with sex is that they don't always match up. There's no way of really knowing until we, for example, sit down with a therapist and unpack it or sit down with a friend or a family member or whoever that is we share a partner that conversation with. - I think there's also, like, I was just thinking there about there's also this wider philosophical question of like, what is the purpose of sex? Because if you see sex as being, you know, just ejaculate then, you know, you might encounter a bunch of issues there because the role that sex is playing for your partner might be a completely different one. So I guess at first you have to understand what role sex plays in relationships to your partner but also to yourself. Like, is that, how would you define the purpose or the role of sex?
What are the motivations for sex? (35:10)
What is it? Why do we do it and what's it for? - We're gonna make a special therapist of you yet. - Here we go. - We're having my job in a minute. - Yeah, I know. You'll see tomorrow, we'll just now pay just sex with Steve. It's just everything you've said. I'm just not gonna be selling it. - So one of my favorite pieces of research and anyone who's listened to my podcast or any of the interviews and stuff I know is gonna be so bored of hearing me bang on about this is a paper called Why Humans Have Sex. And it was done in 2007 and it identified 237 reasons for why humans have sex. - We have that kind of time unfortunately. - Next question, please. - So, it's just this understanding of like the motivations for why people have sex and that is such a wide breadth of those and that might be, you know, my favorite one from that study is because I was cold because I wanted to get warm. But we can understand that, you know, it might be because I want an orgasm because my partner looked hot because I wanted to feel close to them because I wanted to show them I loved them because because because because because. So the meaning of sex goes beyond the what of what we're doing, but we are so focused on the what all the time. And then we get so tangled up in everything that's kind of psychologically going on for us. And I think that, you know, sometimes we're thinking about the why, you know, what does it represent in our relationship if we're in a relationship? What does it represent to us if we're single? What does it represent to us if actually the sexual relationship we have is just with ourselves. You know, I think that thinking about that is such a big part of us understanding ourselves sexually. - There's definitely emotional elements, but there's also like a physical, pre-historic, maybe evolutionary role that sex plays, right? And has that been somewhat lost upon us now? Like, 'cause my body, you know, the chemicals in my body will start tickling me and telling me that I'm horny. And then, you know, that'll drive me into action. You know, I feel like the role, the sort of pre-historic, evolutionary role of sex has been lost upon us a little bit, especially now that, you know, we have all this contraception and we can swerve having kids. So I think it's become a bit of a sport for many people. - What sex is about pleasure, isn't it? - Do you know who you tell me? - Well, you know, I think, you know, well, what we see is that the majority of the reasons that people have sex are not to do with procreation. - Yeah. - And also the problem is, I think, something you kind of said earlier, was it's so, it can be so goal-orientated. Now, again, this is where so many people struggle with sex because if sex is goal-orientated, and as you said, it's like the goal is to orgasm or to ejaculate or to finish, then what happens if that doesn't happen? We feel like we've failed. - Yeah. - And so what it creates then is this goal-orientated kind of pass or fail model for sex. Now, the complete irony of that is if we're struggling and we're focused on where we need to get to as a goal, the act of focusing on where we need to get to is actually the thing that is most likely to not get us there because it's preventative, because if we are in the moment, enjoying what we're doing, experiencing kind of pleasure and sensations and able to enjoy it, then that's actually the thing that's probably most likely to get us there. But if we're so distracted by the negative thoughts that are going on in our heads, we're so distracted by our concerns, our worries, that is going to break down that kind of process of us getting there. - 'Cause I know a lot of people, all the every sentence I say sounds so strange. I can say, I know a lot of people that struggle with orgasms, but I've spoken to some of my girlfriends and I've asked them if they've orgasms. And in fact, one of my ex-girlfriends, she said to me that she had basically never had an orgasm in her life, which obviously as a guy, you find quite, well, not obviously, but as a guy that has never had that problem, I found that quite peculiar. And I wondered why some people can orgasm so easily and then some people find it a lot more difficult. In this particular case, my suspicions were that it was an emotional thing. In fact, what you've just described there about worry, this is one of the people that I know that's very, very tense about the topic of sex. And I just thought, you know, my suspicion against Super naive was that they're not, knowing this person, they would probably not be able to relax in bed. And then when they became a sexual partner of mine, I thought, yeah, they're just like not relaxed at all. But I wanted to get your take on why some people find it so easy to orgasm and then some people just can't at all. - Well, I think it also goes back to almost like the first time, you know, early messages about this stuff as well, you know, early messages about what it's like to have these experiences, what it's like to be sexual, you know, is it something that's never been talked about? Is it something that's shrouded in shame? Is it something that we think that we shouldn't be doing or we think about ourselves a certain way for doing? And so there's so many components to this as a conversation, you know, probably too many, you know, longer than we have time for. But there's the idea of how we again, think about what we're doing, how we know and learn about our bodies, what we know and learn about our bodies, how we discover what works for us and our preferences. So there's the physical element, you know, we talk about an orgasm as a peak pleasure experience, but also how we feel about it. Because if we're feeling shame or embarrassment or that we shouldn't be doing this, that is going to be something which again, gets in the way of us being able to fully let go and enjoy ourselves or giving ourselves, in therapy we talk a lot about the study of giving ourselves permission to be sexual or to let go or to enjoy ourselves or to experience pleasure. - Again, this is super naive, but an orgasm is a pretty natural thing, isn't it? It's like a natural physiological reaction to stimulation. So again, super naive, I would just disclaimer from here on out that everything I say is largely naive and I'll stop disclamoring every sentence. But so one would assume that if we're struggling to orgasm, then there's something maybe emotional, maybe even physical that's going unmet. - There might be something physical going on, but there's probably something emotional going on, but it's also about, have we learnt to do this? Like, have we learnt to kind of experience pleasure enough to take us there? And also, once we do, then we're like, "Okay, I understand how my body works now, "I understand how that feels." And I think for lots of, the lack of sex education here is a huge part of the problem, you know, pleasure has historically been left out of the conversation. And particularly female pleasure.
Who are your clients seeking advice? (42:19)
- Who are your clients? Who comes to you with the sex issues and challenges the most? - Normal people with normal problems, you know, everyday people for every different-- - Agendas. - Agendas, you know, both men and women, I work with both couples and individuals. I have a lot of younger clients, so a lot of my clients are kind of in that sub-45 age bracket, but I work with a lot of people in the kind of early 20s, and I think that early 20s kind of 30s, but also there's a couple of things that are going on. One is that therapy has become less taboo in itself, and sex is much less taboo, and we have this kind of corner of therapy, which is like a sexual therapy where I think people recognize that it now can be a solution, or that sexual problems aren't just medical, that actually there can be something psychological or emotional going on. And I think that the idea of accessing help for this stuff now has become much more normalized, which is brilliant, I think, you know, and much needed, and there are some amazing, amazing sexual experts and sexual therapists in this country who, you know, I hope are really being, and I know have really been used by people to help them improve this part of their lives. And I think that, again, a part of it is any other aspect of our life, we would go and see a doctor, or go and see a physio, or go and see a nutritionist, or whatever it is, you know, if another part of our body wasn't working, we would access help for it without feeling embarrassed, you know, if we'd injured our knee. We wouldn't feel embarrassed about going to ask someone about that, but why, when it comes to sex, do we feel that we shouldn't access the help? And then the longer we're struggling with that, the more of a problem that becomes, because we don't just have the original problem about how we think and feel about it. - But is there like an age range where people are more likely to go and see a sexual therapist? - No, I don't think there is, and I think that-- - So you think it's evenly distributed from like 20 to 80? - Yeah. - Really? - I mean, and I think, you know, again, it's a bit about life stages, isn't it? You know, what are people looking to explore at different stages we see, for example, people might go after a cancer diagnosis or cancer treatment, or, for example, around menopause, or that there are certain health conditions that impact sexuality, or, you know, common side effect of a lot of anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants are an impact on sex lives. Or it might be that someone is starting their sexual experiences, or they've had a relationship where sex has been a problem, and they don't want to carry that on into their next relationship. I think that it's about understanding like what has brought that person to therapy at that time is a big part of, for me as a therapist anyway, kind of exploring what's going on for that person. What's the trigger for dealing with it now? - Peligamy.
- Do you have a lot of people coming to you with in Peligamy's relationships? - So you mean like polyamory, like multi-part, no kind of. - Multi-partner relationships. And what are the issues typically that you'd see with polyamorous, Peligamy's relationships? - Yeah, I think that it's something that people have a lot of questions about. - Yeah. - It's something that, you know, I've talked about on my podcast because it's what people are curious about. Because it's also a breaking away from our kind of heteronormative, like modernormative model of relationships. And I think the big questions that people have are how do we do this? You know, how do we navigate this? How do we manage it? And that's about working out what the rules are for those people. You know, how do they hold, what are the rules for them that work for them? How do they understand the rules, you know, rules around things like disclosure, rules around things like how much detail are we going to, how do we manage this? But actually communication for lots of those relationships is really good because they have to be really good in order to manage that different style of being. Or, you know, also just the practicalities of their being more than two partners in a relationship. - I've always wondered if it would cause a lot more problems, but I guess you've answered it there. It's about setting clear rules and having effective communication. - My next question again, which I was really excited to ask you was like, what's the, and this is a super hard question. So just, you know. - Get ready.
What are the most common misconceptions about the opposite sex (46:59)
- Yeah. What are the things that men don't, typically don't understand about women when it comes to sex and vice versa? - Oh. - It's a hard question, isn't it? - It is a hard question. - I was just thinking, I was thinking, 'cause I know men are super naive and we watch a set, we're exposed to a certain type of media and content. And then we like rush into the bedroom thinking that, I don't know, our partners want to be, I don't know, tied up or dominated or whatever else. And then from the other perspective, you know, when you speak to a woman about sex and what she's looking for, there's obviously, she's experienced a certain type of media, but she also is, I think typically, again, with being super binary here, typically a woman is, has a slightly different expectation from the man, from my experiences anyway. - I think part of the problem in that is that binary approach is that, if there's something that I would want everyone to understand is that we can be different, but we are also so similar. You know, and like this idea about like performance when it comes to sex is hugely detrimental to everyone. And again, probably like, what is one of the biggest things I want everyone to think about is the assumptions. You know, what are the assumptions that we're making about each other based on gender norms and expectations, based on historical messages? How do we break away from them? And it might be that that's a conversation between those two people, and that's the best way of doing it. But also there's, you know, all of these kind of, so many of these ideas about sex is so steeped in history, but we've never asked them, we've never had them challenged. So an assumption being, you know, a really historical message that we hear all the time, I mean, something I hear all the time when I'm talking to people about like myths, you know, what are the sexual myths or what are the sexual rules that you think are kind of applicable to your sex life? A really common one is that men initiate sex, like men are the initiators, the sex and women are the responders. Now, how does that fit people then when they're like, oh, that's not how it works for us? Or, you know, a, for example, male partner, if we're talking about heterosexual relationships, who is less confident and a female partner who is more confident. And so actually it's the other way around. But then they're thinking, okay, but this isn't what we think everyone else is doing. So maybe there's a problem here when there isn't because that's what's working for them. - And do you see big distinctions between the issues that heterosexual and homosexual relationships have? - I think that what same sex relationships don't battle with as much is the gender assumptions, the gender narratives, the gender norms. That kind of idea of like men do this and women do this. But you know, there are also kind of every relationship struggles in some way with that dynamic of we're two individuals. How do we work on our differences and our similarities together, that inter-relational part, which is what happens between us? You know, what are triggered? What makes us both anxious or what makes us both secure or what makes us both feel closer? And also navigating that, you know, that's really the battle that all couples have. - Again, super naive question, but I'm sure it's one of the most popular questions you get asked, which is like, is there a healthy amount of times for a couple to have sex per week or whatever? - I used five though, once a month, before they became a sponsor on this podcast. And since they've become a sponsor on this podcast, and I've delved into what the site does and how all the services work and the vast array of things that you can achieve on Fiverr, using freelancers around the world. I swear on this dog's life, Pablo, my dog here, who sat on my lap if you can't see, I swear on his life that I've used Fiverr at least once a week for the last three months. We've built so many websites, we've designed so many decks. We've had video clips edited, we've had subtitles produced. If you haven't checked out Fiverr before, hit the link in the bio, Fiverr.com/CEO, go to the website, check it out. And every single time I do this podcast, one person who dMs me with a service from Fiverr that they need doing for their business, for their podcast, for whatever project they're working on, I will pay for that service to be done for you. So find a service on Fiverr that you want done, send me a message, and one person every week will have that service paid for by me. Super naive question, but I'm sure it's one of the most popular questions you get asked, which is like, is there a healthy amount of times for a couple to have sex per week or whatever?
How many times a week should we be having sex (51:41)
And one would assume that changes over time, right? Because I think, I know, just judging by my relationships at start, we start like fucking energize the bunny rabbits and then life happens. But is there, you know, and I hate these questions because they're again, they're so like un-nuanced and so like narrow, but is there an average amount of times that couples? You would, you know, if you had to answer this question and not swerve it in this for the sake of nuance, what would the answer be? - I would like to know what you think the answer is. - I think, again, contact, like I'm gonna go into nuance in here, but context matters, like if you live on opposite sides of the world, then obviously there's barriers, but if you're living in the same house, if you're cohabiting, living in the same house, I'd think like, at least twice a week, you know, once in the weekend, Tuesday, I don't know. - But where, okay, so where do you think that idea of twice a week would come from? - Just looking at my schedule. - Wait, isn't it? - Well, look, where can I find time? Probably like once in the week, and then I'm on the weekends, I have a bit more time, so yeah. But I mean, it obviously changes over time. I feel like I'd probably have sex every night, but if I, you know, but just energy levels and, yeah. What's the answer then? - So someone I interviewed talked about the amount of sex we have as the red herring. So the kind of regularity of sex doesn't determine like the satisfaction of it, or the kind of pleasure of it, or the enjoyment of it. And I think what it feels like we've been trying to do is find an objective way of measuring sex. So it's this idea of, okay, we're all trying to find the answer to sex, like how to be good at sex, like what that looks like, how to know where we pitch ourselves against everyone else. And regularity is one of the only kind of objective measures we have of that. So it's the one that we kind of will lean into or we want to know the answer to. Whereas what I would say is, I don't think we do have an idea of, I don't know what kind of modern like survey say. There's a big survey that's done kind of every few years, but I haven't actually seen the results of that one yet. But. - What about the monkeys? How often do they do? I feel like they, we're like, - I haven't asked them. - So what are the orangutans doing? - I haven't got a clue. - I can't get me to find out. - We'll be your next guest. - Yeah. - It's all legit or something. - But I think that the thing is, is working out again and what we're looking for is a measure of like how we're doing by knowing that answer. And I think one of the things is for some couples, it might be, as you said, they might kind of work in different countries. It might be every time they see each other, they have great sex and that's enough. That's works for them. For other couples, it might be we have sex once a month and it's really good. We're both enjoying ourselves and we feel like I need to met great. For other people, it might be once a week. I think it's about determining what your normal is or what is right for you. But again, the worries and anxieties and stresses come from A, we're not having enough sex. Why is that? Is it because my partner's no longer attracted to me? That tends to be the first thing people go to. What's going on? Is it because our relationship isn't working? When we don't have a clear kind of obvious answer, like we've just had a baby, for example. So there's the assumptions that go with that. Why has sex changed? What's going on? But also the, well, everyone else is having sex once a week and we're having sex once a month. So that we must have a problem. There must be something wrong with us. Speaking of my ex-girlfriends, I feel like I've slightly thrown several of them under the bus, but I had another relationship. This goes back a little bit further where I just fell in love with this girl in every other aspect, non-sexual, so intellectually in every other way. And then when it came time to have sex, which is actually quite a little bit later than it usually is in the relationships that I have, like three, four months into knowing this person. There was, I don't know how to say this 'cause it just sounds, I'll just go for it. I just think, especially when it comes to vaginal penetration, that it's like a hand and a glove.
Practicalities of sex (56:27)
And the hand and the glove didn't match. And again, I genuinely thought that I could have spent the rest of my life with this person, but I saw that as a insurmountable object. Like my penis didn't suit her vagina. And I thought we can, I can't change this. Yeah. Is this something that people come to you about often? They talk about like the... Practicalities? The practicalities. Like the hand and the glove. Yeah, I think it is. And there are, for example, like conditions that mean that people can't have sex for numerous reasons. So like sexual dysfunctions, or particularly for women, there is a condition called vaginismus, which is where there's an involuntary contracting of the PC muscles, the pelvic floor muscles, where they're unable to have sex. And that we think affects about one in 500 women in no way am I saying that's necessarily what was happening here. But, you know, we also know that it's about how we work together as couples, how we work with bodies, what would make things more helpful, how we can look for kind of practical advice. But it's about understanding like, okay, how do we help ourselves here, rather than again, the assumption of like something's going wrong? Because it made me believe in this, like I do, like there's a physical compatibility to sex as well. Not just like a desire compatibility, or like, you know, an experimentation compatibility, but there's like a physical compatibility as well to having like good sex, where you can just like physically not be compatible. But I suppose it's then about how do you, if you want to like explore working around a roadblock, you know, how do you kind of - 'Cause that's so hard to talk about. Like I could never bring my, I could talk about the libido issue with my partner, but I could never tell that partner that I wasn't, that I was basically turned off by our lack of physical compatibility. I could never mention it. So I ended up, the relationships, I tried multiple times to like fix it in various ways, and I just couldn't bring myself to talk about it because I didn't want to hurt the person. I didn't want to say something that might hurt them and stay with them forever. So I ended the relationship on the grounds of something else, but that was fundamentally the issue. I've actually only had two relationships in my life, but like sexual partners in my life that ended purely because of that, but yeah. - And I think it's so hard again, isn't it? Because we just don't know how to tackle these topics. As you say, like, how do we manage talking about something or exploring something that we just have no idea where even to start? - And I don't want to offend the person, which is that must be a huge thing in the work that you do. Like not wanting to offend your partner because as you said, it's such a sensitive topic. And I don't know how I could have approached that situation without offending the person. - And I think that it's the fear of judgment, like the fear of offending, the fear of hurting our partners, the fear of us not being able to go back once we kind of, it feels a bit like Pandora's box for some people like this idea of talking about sex in a relationship. You know, like, if I open this up, like how do we close it? Or I think a lot of people have the fear of, if I open this up, then every time we have sex, we're both going to be thinking about this and we're both going to be completely in our heads. And what we know is when we're completely in our heads when it comes to sex, we're not experiencing what's going on in our bodies. And that is interrupting arousal. You know, the body's process of us kind of enjoying, you know, our body kind of working with us, the kind of sexual arousal process. And so, you know, our thoughts are as distracting as they're kind of being like someone in the room. - Yeah, exactly. - That's not the person we're having sex with, or someone actually like walking in or kind of saying all of that stuff to us. Just because our thoughts are not a physically represented being doesn't mean they're not as distracting as something else. - And you're completely right because from then on, I didn't say anything, but I carried on trying. I thought maybe, you know, one bad experience, whatever, we'll try again, we'll try again. And it got to the point where I was almost avoiding sex because I knew that it was going to be an issue. And I started to overthink. And as a guy, overthinking is not what you want to be doing when you're trying to maintain yourself. So I started having issues keeping my erection up because I was just, I was walking in, I was getting in the bed thinking, "Oh my God, here we fucking go again." And I've got a, you know, like, are you going to be able to get it up? Because you really don't enjoy this. And all of that just became too much. I couldn't tell her because I didn't want to insult her. And I was starting to have problems like, you know, being aroused because it was a big issue. And you're right, it's a snowball. - And performance anxiety is one of the key things that I work with with men because where there is not a physical kind of indicator or reason for why they might be struggling, for example, with erections because getting into your head too much again creates a speed bump for sexual arousal because when you're feeling stressed or you're feeling anxious, you're in that kind of fight, flight, freeze state. Your body is preparing not for you to kind of lie down, have sex and be comfortable and relaxed, but it's preparing for that kind of threat response. And that is not compatible with being sexual in that moment. So in a way, your body's kind of working against you. And so what you have to do then is work on this kind of like frontal bit of your brain, you know, your thoughts, like focusing on that in order to in a way like reprogram because sex has become not fun, exciting, pleasurable, connecting, it's become anxiety provoking, stressful, fearful, you know, don't want to be here, would rather avoid. So in a way, the way I describe it a lot is the meaning of sex has changed, so the way we relate to it has changed. - How does one give their partner good, positive, constructive feedback?
How to give constructive feedback about sex? (01:02:57)
Do you know what I mean? Like is there like a, 'cause I'm sure there's, I was thinking then, I'm sure there's so many people listening to this that are in relationships that would like their sex to be slightly different. And they probably in the same way that I was anxious about approaching it with my XX, XX girlfriend, what is the best way to approach these sensitive, self-esteem attached topics with your partner? - Not in the moment when you're having sex. So not just kind of like in bed like just before, because also what you don't want to do is, you know, kind of create like a sense of like stress or anxiety, like in that sexual space. So what I always talk to people about is like, leading with a positive, you know, like, I really love our relationship, like I'm loving what we're doing, but maybe there's something we can work on here, or how can we do this better? Or so leading with a positive, you know, the affirmation, because if someone comes at you and you know, we're often really sensitive to criticism, also in our intimate relationship. And this isn't good enough, or you're not doing this, or our immediate response is defensive or attacking. We're not open to hearing what they have to say. We're already like shut down before they've even got there. So kind of approaching it without that positive framework, or like connecting framework or open framework. And also let's work on this together. This is a shared venture, something all we want to do together, something for us to think about, like how can we go about this? Because what can also happen is we isolate the problem in one partner, when there are two of us there. - I guess, I guess another sort of attachment that would be just telling them what you like as opposed to what you don't like. So it's just like the same outcome, but different framing. So it's like, oh, I like when you blindfold me, or I don't like when you don't blame, you know what I mean? And just making it, some of my sort of sexual partners that have given me positive feedback in the past, have done so by telling me what they like more of. - 'Cause then we can lean into that a bit more. - Yeah, exactly. - And we all like to be told we're doing a good job. We all like to be affirmed. We all like to be-- - Especially in sex. - Mm-hmm. - Because we don't have a reference point of, you know, are we doing a good job? And we feel, you know, if we think we are bad at sex, that's really personal, isn't it? It's brutal. You know, that's really a difficult thing to hold onto. And then we go into our next sexual situation thinking, I'm bad at this. And actually what we're more likely to do is make us struggle. And actually when people are relaxed and comfortable and calm in those situations, they're able to connect with the other person more. And we're kind of able to, I suppose, follow the pleasure path a bit more, or kind of affirm each other a bit more. And understand that actually if someone says, "Can you touch me here?" It's not because you weren't doing it the right way. It's just because that might be their preference, but we cannot be mind readers. We cannot know what our partners like until we communicate that with them. - That's such a fascinating thing as well, that we never know if we're good at sex. We're just like kind of trusting our part. And especially 'cause you see all these movies and we read these magazines about people faking orgasms. As a guy, I swear to God, the first couple of times someone said that I was like getting better whenever, I thought you're full of shit. I thought you say this to everybody. And then like, I still, I still, and I've heard that a few times, whatever, but I still don't know. And that's crazy that like with everything else, you have a fairly accurate gauge of whether you're good at it. But because we've never seen, like pretty much shit really, we've never like seen anyone doing it in real life or really got to observe it outside of the fakeness of porn. And you don't know how it feels for the other person. And sometimes you don't even know if they're faking it or if it's real. You can't, I thought, well, for me in my mind, I've like kind of float through life assuming you're doing okay until told otherwise. But it also assumes that, here we go again, good at sex, is a formula that you can apply across the board. Like it's, every sexual experience is going to be different between those partners in that time, in that moment, in that context. It is not like a universally applicable formula. Now what we can do is we can. - Ouch, I thought it was good. Sorry, the first of all. - Got my ex-set, I was. - We knew like what we can do is we can feel more informed. We can make, no, I consider a big part of my job to be helping people to make informed choices about their sexual wellness and wellbeing. So that might be, you know, thinking about the narratives that have shaped how they think about sex, thinking about their current definition of sex, thinking about sex education. How can they feel informed about things like anatomy, things like their body, their preferences, their likes, and the communication bit, how do I then communicate that with a partner? And all of that can contribute to better sexual self-confidence. And again, what we know is like sexual self-confidence is in that person, again, it's reflected back to them in situations with other people. But really it's kind of all about that relationship with self, and I know that sounds very therapy and something that all therapists say, but it's really true because we put ourselves in those sexual contexts, in those sexual situations. For some people, they might never struggle with sex. They might have kind of modeled through, you know, like trial and error, worked it out, kind of, and always, and be okay. And they're satisfied and that's great. But for some people, they do struggle. For some people, they have a period of normal sexual functioning and then they start to struggle. And it might be that they've never thought about sex really before until they feel like they have to. So again, there's no kind of one root to all of this. And although there are themes, for example, in the conversations that I have with people, everyone has their own journey, their own story, their own experiences that have shaped that. And some of it can start in, you know, the playground, like playground banter about what sex is like. But at a younger age, when we're quite impressionable, and that sounds really scary, what people are talking about, we can kind of carry that with us. And then it presents further down the line, or we might have had a negative sexual experience early, which means that we then don't want to try again. And so we hold onto that negative experience because we've had no, in a way, like challenging or corrective or other more positive experiences which can go against those ideas. - We're ever evolving, you know, humans and people and we're changing in every way, you know, mentally, physically. I think one of the things that has, I was gonna be honest, 'cause I think that's just the point. I think when I'm honest, I think I resonate with more people. One of the things that I'm slightly concerned about is that at some point in my life, I'll fall in love with somebody and the sex will be great and everything. And then me or them will change in that we could change in a variety of different ways, whether it's our desire, but more so, even like we might not be attracted to each other anymore. I might, you know, deteriorate in some form. And I wonder how much of an issue that like two people changing and falling out of a traction with each other is prevalent in the work that you do and the people that, you know, come to you for therapy and for advice.
Is falling out of attraction with your partner normal (01:10:31)
- I think it is. It's not probably the most prevalent thing I deal with, but also what you're basing that on is an assumption that that's not something that can be worked at. - Yeah. - That people accept when they are in a relationship with each other or that they, you know, I think it goes back to that relationships moving in phases and phases, but as well. And I think there's, that's that fear of like things not always staying the same, whereas actually what I would say is if we accept that things don't always stay the same, then we can change and work with that and accept it and improve it or adapt, you know, as humans we're really, really adaptable, but we want to feel encouraged in that rather than I suppose kind of put off or challenged by the fact that we need to. - In the world we live in now, there's just this incredible like, perception of choice, I'd say. Like more so than when my grandparents are around, I imagine their dating, their sort of circle of possible matches extended to the size of their like street or village. - Don't have Tinder. - Yeah, exactly. They didn't have Tinder or Instagram, but now in my relationships, if it's not going well, I've got apparently a gazillion people right here that are perfect, they're all filtered and I think, you know, 32,000 of them just like my photo. So if I lose attraction with my partner in the world we live in now where we've got this huge sort of perceived amount of choice and accessibility, just one swipe, you know, it must make holding relationships together at times when they hit, you know, rocks more difficult than ever before, no? - Yeah, I think that there are often ideas that like the grass is always greener, but equally we understand that relationships take work. And I think, you know, we've seen a breakdown of norms. We've seen that, you know, divorce rates are at an all time high, but it's not the same stigma that it used to be that kind of people changing their models of relationships or changing relationships is not kind of such a big thing. But also something that I think is important to say is, just because a relationship has ended doesn't mean that in itself it wasn't successful. And I think that's another thing that we need to slight to reframe, you know, people can be in a relationship for 10 years and it ends. That doesn't mean that relationship failed or was a failure. It might have been for that person at that time. - This is part of the issue in my view with marriage because marriage you say till death do us part, but we all know that if there's the only constant is change we're all gonna change. So how can you honestly make a commitment that you're gonna stay with this person? Or why would you want to, until death, knowing that you're both gonna change in various ways that are yet to be seen? - But can't you also change together in a positive way? - You can, like I think people are moving, they can move, if you think about it, it's like two parallel lines. They can go, they could be slightly tilted one degree to the right, which means that in 10 years time they'll be too far apart. Or they could be one degree to the left, which means that in 10 years time they'll be closer together. Or they could be perfectly straight, right? So perfectly parallel, which means that in 10 years time they'll resonate in the same way, they'll be as close, you know, whatever. But you don't know that yet. So I think that that's why I've always been slightly let down by the concept of marriage because I think, you know, you can't predict the future. So why would you want to make something like that so final? And I think like, you know the men in black, have you seen men in black?
Navigating Relationships And Marriage
- Oh, can't a long time ago. - Well, they get the pen and they hold it up and if they press the button on the pen, basically it raises your memory. I sometimes think I think if we held that pen up to the world and it raised everybody's memory, what are the things that would come back? Like science would come back, religion would never come back the same, but we wouldn't come back the same, right? Science would figure all the same things out, same experiments. Marriage, I'm like, no, it wouldn't come back the same. Not in 2021, I don't think that would come back the same. I think we'd have a much more bespoke, open, flexible, form of marriage that would involve less of the law and would involve less of the church. And I probably think would be a little bit more effective. So I guess my question is about marriage. What do you think about marriage? Are you married? - I am married, yeah. - So you're married. So okay, what? - Careful what I say. - What's up now? - You get your own opinion. - I think that it's, what is it off for people? What are people looking for? And I think you've read a lot of people at security. And it's the-- - Is that in security though? I think I'm gonna play devil's advocate here again. - Yeah, I do. - 'Cause I think if you're looking for security from a legal contract, then that for me speaks to a little bit of insecurity somewhere else. - But I think it's also about, I suppose marriage has been the norm, right? Historically, it's always been the norm. It's always been also considered the gold standard or like what we should kind of aspire to be or aim for. And I think that, again, you know, that impact of history, like us doing the things that we've always done, but it is an institution and a lot of people subscribe to that now. What we see now is that people can be married multiple times and be happy in every relationship or it'd be perfect for that stage or for them or for that relationship that people don't need to get married, that people can parent and become parents without being married. That it's, I suppose, the biggest representation of commitment that historically we've always had and people now can find other ways to commit to each other. You know, buying property together that doesn't require it. So I suppose-- - Children. - It's probably the biggest commitment. - But it's also about what those people are looking for. - I think that's, you know, people think I'm really against marriage, it's actually not the truth. And my friend say to me, "Alsteins against marriage, "I've listened to his podcast." I'm like, "No, you didn't listen." What I'm against, what I'm for is a more bespoke tailored approach to how two people come together. I actually had a friend of mine say to me this week that he and he will be listening to his podcast for sure. He said, "He thinks he can only be with someone "for a year at a time." He says, "After a year, I just, I don't think I can, "you know, the relationship can't go on." So he's having these continual one year relationships. And look, I guess the most important macro question is, like, are you happy? - Yeah. - And people's happiness is derived in various ways. I do think marriage is somewhat. Do you know what, I think maybe it's because I tend to have a perspective that convention, conventional solutions aren't always very well equipped to solve any problems. And the worlds we're living in is a very new one. We're living longer than ever before. We're exposed to different types of information. We have much more freedoms than I think our some of our ancestors used to have. So maybe the way that humans commit to each other should not involve the law. It shouldn't take two years to divorce someone, which I think is crazy. - Well, I think it doesn't have to. And I suppose it's about what people are looking for. And I suppose as you, you know, you're asking earlier about like multi-partner relationships or like, you know, consensual non-monogamy, it's about us making informed choices about what works for us and our relationships. And I mean, the structure of conversation I was having with someone just yesterday is how do we feel more informed? You know, how do we explore what that might look like in another way? Because for some people, trying to fit into what they feel they're expected to do might not work for them. It's a system or a model that doesn't work. So how do we then start to open up that conversation for ourselves? But also, we have our fears, you know, we're humans. We like to, I suppose, feel that we fit the normal fit what's expected or, you know, some of us do at least, that what other people think of me if I step outside that. So as humans, we have that balance of like, what do I want, but also what will other people think? - Yeah, which is typically quite awful. - Yeah, but it isn't it one of the biggest things that drives people in a lot of ways. - Drives them where they were like, I think, I just think in every facet of life, it's like, well, your mom wants you to be a doctor, but you really want to be a ballet dancer in Costa Rica. And it's like, you know what's expected of you. You know you're expected to go get married and then become a doctor, but like your intrinsic joy will come from going and being a ballet dancer in Costa Rica and not getting married or whatever and smoking, I don't know, whatever, in the mountains over there. But you know, I tend to believe, and this is probably, there's no, like, I don't have a huge scientific basis for this. I have a couple of like philosophical studies I've read, but that people who abandon like their true selves or that conform to societies, expectations typically have at some point in their lives, some kind of moment of realization where they realize that they've not fulfilled themselves as they could have. - Isn't this back to that point of like expectation versus reality though? - Yeah, I guess so. - Like the gap between what we expect and then where we can find ourselves to be or what we, what that looks like. 'Cause I think again, that's that. And also, you know, it's that idea again, I feel like I talk about gaps a lot, but that idea, that gap between the person I kind of know myself to be in the person I show everybody else that I am. And the bigger that gap, the more space, the struggles or battles or mental health challenges around that. - What is, and this might just be the title of this video 'cause I think it will be. So we'll clickbait this part.
What is the single biggest killer of relationships? (01:20:38)
What is the single biggest killer of relationships in the modern age in 2021 in your view? If you had to say this one thing is the single, the biggest killer of relationships, what would it be? - Unrealistic expectations. One of the big problems, you talked about it earlier, this idea of like what we see in the movies. So we're like, oh, that's what it's like. So then when it's not like that, we're disappointed. Our partner fails us. They haven't met our expectations. They haven't met all of our needs. You know, we talk about this idea, lots of relationship experts talk about this idea of how we shouldn't expect one person, our partner to meet every single one of our needs, but we do. And so they're kind of doomed to fail then in that way. So how do we change that? How do we start to kind of like open that up? How do we, you know, we have other relationships in our lives. We have family, we have friends, we have colleagues. You know, we need to start to think about like how we can do that for ourselves. And then we work with our partners to create something together. - I completely resonate with that. And I think most of my relationships fail because the expectation that my partner has on me goes unmet because I am very selfish and I like to work all the time and to think about my stuff all the time. And I'm like very self-absorbed and when I have free time, I just wanna like, I don't know, do something for me. I've tried over the years to like manage that expectation by making it clear as early as I possibly can that like work is a huge part of my life. And I am very selfish. Selfish sounds like such a negative word, it means that like I'm so consumed with my passions and the things that. - Thank you. - Yeah, like you could say focused, I use selfish 'cause it makes it, 'cause I'm trying to take a little bit of blame, I guess. But I am so consumed with my passions, like I will work all day and then I'll go on YouTube and wanna watch something about SpaceX and Elon Musk taking spaceships to Mars. And then, you know, I just wanna do, and I kinda want them to do their own thing as well. So I try and very early on lay the expectation down, but it just never seems to work because at the start, someone will tell you that they, oh, they're cool with that. They never cool with that, ever. - So it's about that, you know, relationships about that balance of independence and dependence. And so it's where that balance fits. - I want independence. I want them to be independent, me to be independent, and we'll like meet in the middle sometimes. But yeah, I don't know, maybe I'm the problem because I think that compromise is important. I don't think I compromise very often as much as I should. I went through my life, I think pretending that I was just so focused on my work and no one could deal with it. But I probably think that I'm also like, I think selfish is probably the word and unwilling to compromise. And like, I think the negative version of selfish is also the word where like, I prioritize my needs more than someone else's. I think that's caused me a lot of problems. I sit with people in this podcast all the time, that's super successful. And they'll largely struggle in relationships. - Do you think that's 'cause they're primary relationship that is with their work? - Yeah, in themselves. - 'Cause it meets, you know, and we see that, right? You know, people talk about their businesses as their babies. You know, like, that's my first baby or that's my baby. And I think that, you know, are we, for some people, we get our needs met through our businesses, through our passions, through our sport, through our careers. And for some people, they might get enough of their needs for relationships met in those kind of smaller doses or not in those kind of like single, intimate or couple or relational relationships. But they have that met in other ways across the board or in kind of smaller ways. Now, who are we to pathologize that, I suppose? - It's difficult. I was hoping you'd have all the answers. - Sorry, I definitely don't have all the answers. - But compromise is important, right? - Yeah, but in any relationship, you compromise with people you work with. You compromise with friends, you compromise with family members. Like we all, we all have to compromise because relationships are however many people there are. But, you know, if we're talking about couples, two people who are independent, different people trying to work together. And they're not gonna perfectly fit together or be aligned in every single way. So how do we navigate that? - When you're running your own business though and you're the CEO, you don't have to compromise as much. Do you know what I mean? Things tend to go on your schedule, and you get to kind of lay down. So in your, and then transitioning into a personal life, you have to almost perform the opposite behavior, which is like high patience, listening. When you're the CEO, you can, you know, condense things how you want. - You're leaning into your natural way of working. - And things are kind of going at your cadence within your how you want things to happen. Whereas in your personal life, that's maybe where I've struggled, whereas like I've learned one behavior in my professional life, which is about saving time on everything and optimizing everything to be more productive and. - Performance based. - Yeah. And I'm like, I don't want any sentence to be longer than like it needs to be. So then transitioning into my private life where things, you know, you can, shall we go for a walk? - A fucking walk. - Like, I'm like, what are you doing? What a waste of, what, what for? Like, do you know what I mean? And I think I've struggled with that transition because the decision making framework I have whether that I use at work can't be the same decision. - It's an applicable. - Oh my God, it's the worst. And sometimes it may be at seeps over into my personal life. - So they're different, it's almost like different operating systems. - Exactly, exactly. Two different objectives. - Do you think that, if I like kind of push that back onto it, that kind of question of like how relationships work back onto you then, do you think that entrepreneurs or people who then kind of go out on their own and do that are more prone to that different way of relating or more, that's their more natural style? - As in, do I think they're more likely to say, sorry, just to make sure that it's not important. - In terms of you were saying like, you know, as a CEO, you're like the person in charge, you set the agenda, you set the time, like it's more, you're kind of leading that, that in a way that might be a piece of being an entrepreneur is someone who kind of puts their head down and does that. - Yeah, but it's also like heavily learnt. It's like you learn, imagine if you put, I don't know, they say like, you know, how diamonds are made, that it's like the pressure over a million years or whatever, you get pressured over 10 years and you learn a philosophy for your use of time, for how you want things to happen, whatever. And that becomes part of your character, even if it wasn't when you were, you know, 10 years before, when going through that experience, it makes it part of your character where you're like, quiet impatient, things, you know, typically operate in the way you want them to. So you learn that personal philosophy because that's what made you successful. And also that's what's required to succeed from that. - Who's that what's celebrated, right? - Yeah, and I genuinely, think that it's, for me anyway, I mean, of course I've got these crazy hindsight biases, but that's what was required for me to get to where I needed to get to. But if I want to be successful in my relationships, then it's like all these other things, which is like compromise and patience and doing things for the sake of doing them, as opposed to... - Where they're gonna get you? - Yeah, with some kind of outcome. That's what I've struggled with anyway. But anyway, enough about me, you know a lot of stuff, right?
How good are you at implementing the things you know? (01:28:25)
- Questionable bit. - Yeah, you've learnt a lot of stuff. So how easy do you find it to implement all of this stuff that you know into your own life and your own relationships? I always, whenever I have like an expert in a specific topic on, I'm always fascinated by their own abilities to apply their knowledge in their own lives. - I mean, I think, you know, speaking for myself in this space, like I think we can, I can be a hypocrite. I think we can all be hypocrites in our own ways. And you know, that's because we're also all human. You know, we all still have our triggers, our anxieties, our defenses. And I try my best. And I think that, you know, that's the best you can do. But I think that relationships, does an acknowledgement that relationships take work and take nurture? And I think actually, when you talk about the stuff all the time, you actually sometimes need to kind of step back and be like, okay, so what am I doing here? You know, like at home, how do I implement this as a partner, as a parent, as a family member, as a friend? And it's kind of acknowledging that and being thoughtful of it. And I think that there's also that, I do have like how my best, working with or serving people close to me, rather than kind of like everything else I'm going to do for me. It's about pulling away, I suppose, from being a yes man. You know, there was a stage in my kind of life in Korea when I said yes to absolutely everything. And now you have to be a bit more selective, because otherwise then you lose the quality time. And I think that quality time is an important part. And it's actually making sure that it's carved out, protected. So I think for me, that's a big part of it. But yeah, I think, you know, what is the perfect relationship? You know, we're all working at everything all the time. And I don't pretend because I'm someone that works with relationships and sex, I have not to be working at it myself. - I bet all of your friends come to you. So last night, you're like, did you get that a lot? - I think a bit, but you know, I think I feel incredibly fortunate that I have a very, you know, emotionally open, emotionally intelligent group of friends, you know, like I surround myself with the people where we have those open conversations. We are able to go to that difficult pace. It is very mutually supportive. And none of us pretend to have it all worked out or that it's all perfect. You know, I think there's kind of a, almost like a celebration of like the perfectly imperfectness of it all. And also putting our hands up and being like, wow, this week is tough. Or I'm really struggling with this, or, you know, this is going on. And I think that there's something in knowing you can pick up the phone and just say that. That is hugely, hugely important. - Do you ever instruct or advise any of your patients to, this is a fucking rogue question, but I just came to my mind to go and get some kind of like training, sexual training? Is that a thing? I seem in like a documentary. I think it's like a place in Amsterdam. You can go and they'll teach you how to, you know, give someone a hand job or something. - No, I think, you know, I think where we're at now, you know, in the world is that there are online platforms kind of creating, I suppose, that more instructional content. So there's an amazing one. And that was launched by the Kinsey Institute, which is one of the leading kind of sexuality research institutes in the world. And it's a platform called OMG, yes. And it's basically about helping like instructional videos and interviews about like how to create female orgasm or stimulate female pleasure. - Was that what I was saying again? - So I said a job. But I think that, you know, we are now, you know, with sexual wellness and wellbeing, becoming such a big important topic. We're seeing that these platforms are coming up, which are to help instruct or to help offer advice. And that means that the educational content is available to people. And I recommend lots of that stuff, because if people are feeling informed, they feel more confident. And that means that they can have actionable things to work on, to build on. And they're more able to be like, okay, yeah, I understand how this works. Now, whether this is our bodies or someone else's bodies to a certain extent. So that can kind of help set me up for a sexual experience. - And lastly, just to sort of loop around from the start, what are the, if you were to say that they were, there were similarities in couples that do enjoy great sexual relationship, just principles, top line principles.
Key Principles Of A Healthy Sexual Relationship
What are the principles for a great sexual relationship? (01:32:49)
What are those sort of key distilled top line principles? - Ooh, that's such a big question. - Communication, I think. - Communication, yeah, is like top of the tree. And I think it's top of the tree. And I think it's the one that people don't wanna hear because it's less actionable and it's quite scary. Yeah, exactly. It's like, in a way, I think talking about it is the hardest thing to do. And but it is, any relationship kind of expert, any expert in sexual wellbeing, how space will stay to you, like communication is that. And then it's like, okay, but how do I do that? And, you know, we talk about these communication exercises, things like kind of speaking from your own position. So like, I say, so there's a place called the Gottman Institute and they have done so much research on couples, but it's this ownership, like my feelings are, I'm feeling my perspective is because actually what you're not saying to your partner is you. - Yeah, it's not blame. - It's not blame, exactly. So I think that the communication part on like positive communication is a big part of that. But it's that breakaway from assumption. It's like clarification or assumption. Assumption is what trips us up so much of the time because we're mind reading. We think we know what our partner's gonna say before they say it, so we don't even give them a chance. - Yeah, that's true. Well, listen, thank you so much for your time. I feel like it's been a very enlightening conversation. And I appreciate that the fact that you've taken the burden of all of my sexual, my, every sexually show I've ever had is good to get it out of there. I feel like this was therapy for me more than anything else. But where can people find you? And I know you're involved in a bunch of other projects. I know that you've got a sex toy project, which you're involved in as well. So where can people find you and reach you? - Yes, my website is my name, kmworld.credity.uk. I host a podcast called the Sexual Wellness Sessions where we have informative but informal conversations about different areas of sexual wellbeing. So whether that's desire, sexual functioning, kind of sexual mindset, infertility insects. You know, try and cover kind of specific subjects around what people might be struggling with. And then I'm on Instagram at kmworldtherapy, but the sex toy project is on the UK sex expert, Felilo. So luxury sex toy brand, and they do some amazing, amazing products as well. So, and I work with brands kind of creating like sexual kind of wellness focused, I suppose, projects or products. Yeah, and I think brands are really trying to get it right. And I really, really respect that. I think that's amazing. So I actually love that work because it feels like it's taking the learning from inside the therapy room and putting it out into the world. And hopefully then that's creating that social cultural kind of sex positive shift that I think we all need. - Well, thank you so much for coming on today. It's a real pleasure to speak to you. And I was so, I've been so excited about this conversation for a long time, probably because I've been able to unload on my own puzzle issues, but because you're someone that really has a powerful insight on a part of our lives that, as you say, is taboo and often not talked about enough. And that's why I thought that was good to have this as one of the pages in this podcast, a diary. So thank you so much. And I'm sure we'll, I'll be in touch at the end of my other issues every year I'll be in touch. Just wanted to say thank you. Thanks. This is huge news. I finally got to meet my debut book, Happy Sexy Millionaire. It arrived from my publisher last week and it was so surreal seeing this book after about almost three years from the point where we had the idea and I started speaking to publishers about it to the point where it's in my hands has been almost three years. And I traveled the world to produce this book. I stayed in two different jungles on two different opposite sides of the world for 60 days in total, completely alone, completely in isolation to write this book. I've poured so much time, effort, research, studying into it. I've met mental health specialists. I've met some of the most successful people in the world. I've met clinical psychologist, professors, people that are experts on divorce, everything. And I've poured it all into this book mixed it in with my own life experiences. It's without a shadow of a doubt, the single most important thing I've ever produced. And it's crazy because you have to sell a book. That's what fuels the industry, right? That's what gives you a publisher. That's what gets it into shops. That's what gives you distribution. But if I could, if I could click my finger and everybody got it for free and it meant that I made zero, I would click my finger in a heartbeat because I think it's that important. And I just want people to read it. I don't care about the money side of it. It's everything I've ever learned. All of my most important lessons distilled into this small book. And I teamed up with one of the world's leading artists in sort of visualizations. And he produced about 25 images for the book as well. So I know that some people learn through words, some people learn through images. The book is a combination of the two. Happy Sexy Millionaire. You can pre-order it everywhere now. And if you do get that pre-order, please do DM me because I'd love to thank you myself.