Sometimes all it takes is a simple adjustment to create a much deeper connection with another person. Today I'll offer you some obvious-but-not-so-obvious ways to foster intimacy - whether you're cooped up with another, or connecting digitally. In this episode I'm also sharing some of the ways that I create deep presence when I'm using video chat to communicate. Strategies you can always use that will come in handy as we social distance to slow the coronavirus pandemic. Simple stuff, with big results.
This week's episode is a follow-up to last week's episode about how to stay connected to yourself and others amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!
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FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets
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Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)
Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive.
This is your host, Neil Sattin.
I know, I know I said in last week's episode, that this week, there was gonna be an interview with a friend of mine who's a romance writer, and that interview is coming, but just not this week, so sorry to those of you who are excited for that interview. It will be coming.
I just decided that as a follow-up to last week's episode, Love in the Time of Coronavirus where I talked about some strategies for helping you take care of yourself, helping you take care of your relationship and if you're single, helping you date safely.
During the present moment - I wanted to follow up with a few quick tips for you to help you create intimate space no matter what your situation is. So if you are cooped up with your partner day in day out, because you're on lockdown, and on a strict social distancing regimen with everyone, except your immediate family or if you are dating and communicating digitally through apps and texting, and video chat, I wanted to give you a few hints to help you actually create intimacy no matter which of those settings you're dealing with, so that you can best get that sense of being connected with other people. And I know, I often say This is gonna be a really quick episode, or the other day, I sent an email out and I said This is gonna be a quick email. It ended up being a longer email.
I'm gonna do my best to make this fairly quick because, Hey, there's a lot going on in our lives right now and I'm gonna do my best to honor that for you.
However, before I dive into the meat or the tofu, of the episode, I want to do important things like first just to thank you if you have been contributing to relationship alive to help keep us going, I'm so appreciative of your support. This is a labor of love about love to hopefully help you have the most successful relationship or relationships that you can have, and so if you're finding the podcast to be beneficial for you on your journey or for people that you know and love, please consider a donation to keep us going.
Every little bit counts, and you can choose something that feels right for you if you visit neilsattin.com/support and you can also text the word "support" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. And this week I'd like to thank Angie, David, Sylvia, Elyse, Drew, Marilyn, Lydia, Valerie, and Keerthi, thank you all so much for your contributions to relationship alive and Angie - Sorry, well we'll do the romance novel one soon... Okay, so... Also, I do have a free offering for you along with this podcast. If you're looking for ways to improve your communication with your partner or with people who are important to you, then download my guide, my free guide to the top three relationship communication, secrets - these are things that are fairly easy to put into practice and can really be a huge transforming factor when you're trying to talk about things that are challenging, when you're trying to communicate about something that's important, when you're feeling vulnerable - these action items will help you do that successfully to help you stay connected, no matter how challenging the topic. To download that, just visit neilsattin.com/relate or text the word "relate" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.
And before we dive in, we do have a free Facebook group. The relationship alive community, where you can come and join others who listen to the show in a safe space to talk about relationships and get some support for yourself, so or support others. So hopefully I'll see you there, in the relationship alive community on Facebook.
If you're on my email list, which you will be if you've downloaded any of the show guides to the show or if you download the relationship communication tips that I just mentioned, you may see that I recently announced that I created some spots in my calendar to do one-off coaching. This isn't something that I do very frequently, but there's so much going on right now that I wanted to make myself available, so I'm offering it on a sliding scale, and I'll be sending out another reminder soon, so just hop on my list and you can get more information about that. If you need a little extra support, right now, I totally get it. Hey, I need a little extra support right now and I have been reaching out to the people that I count on: a therapist, close friends to get that little extra bit of support when I need it, 'cause none of us should be alone. So, if there isn't anyone in your life that you can count on, then consider signing up for a session 'cause I would love to be there to help support you.
Okay, all right, let's dive in. I'm just like, I have this image of just running for the water and taking a big dive in and that would feel really good right now, except I live in Maine, and it is cold and while I have some friends that I've seen jumping in the ocean on Facebook - I guess that is theoretically good for your immune system to take the cold plunge - I'm not gonna do that right now.
No, in fact I'm still recovering from the cold that I got a little over a week ago, which you may have heard me talk about briefly on the last episode of the show. So far, so good, everything seems okay. Of course, I cannot get tested because they're just aren't enough tests and thankfully, what I'm experiencing isn't severe enough to warrant a test, the way that they are doling them out right now, so I'm doing all right. I'm getting rest, drinking lots of water and I'm gonna be okay, and hopefully we all band together and we'll all get through this. Even though it's kind of a weird challenging time, let's just be honest. It is unlike anything any of us has ever probably dealt with before.
So that's just the reality, and I think that's why this felt so important to give you a few extra hints because we're all in the soup right now, and so it's super important to have as many little tricks as you can to stay connected and to be able to experience intimacy even if you have to keep your distance.
So the first thing that I wanted to talk about has to do with if you are in fact spending a lot of time cooped up with your partner, so you're in our relationship or this could be true even if it's not a love relationship, maybe it's your roommates or if you live with your family. There are a couple of possibilities, one is that it's so easy to be around each other all the time and still kind of be missing each other - to not really have those moments where you feel like you're really dropping in and connecting.
And on the flip side, maybe you're so busy that you're not taking the time to truly connect or maybe you're in each other's business all the time, but not in ways that are particularly connecting.
So here's the hint for those kinds of situations. The hint is to make a date with each other, to actually put time on the calendar and you might wanna do this on a daily basis to have a little check-in if that feels appropriate, or every other day, you gotta go with whatever feels right for you, but I invite you to designate a specific time where you will come together and just check in with a "Hey! How are you doing?"
And to give each other permission to be however you are. Maybe amidst all of this, you're doing totally fine. And if that's true, that's great. Relish that, that things are going a little crazy in the world, and I'm actually doing okay and having that strength or resilience that comes in handy when times get tough.
So the goal here is to celebrate whatever is, and if it's not something that you feel like celebrating exactly - like for instance, if you're NOT doing so great, well, take the word with a grain of salt, you don't have to "celebrate" it, but you can honor it - honor the challenge, honor the fear, honor the sadness or the heart break, honor the rage, and the anger, or honor the okay-ness - honor those moments of exhilaration where you feel like... "Wow, this... Maybe this is all we got, so let's enjoy it." I know yesterday I went out on a couple of really long walks in the sunshine. It's not sunny today, but it was yesterday, and I actually had moments of joy where I felt like I was just seeing the world so clearly, noticing the people around me and saying, "hello" from a safe distance of six feet and just appreciating life, so that those were really good moments for me.
And then I've had moments where I've been scared, I'm scared of what might happen to people that I care about, moreso that than myself, but honestly, I wanna keep living.
You know, I wanna get through this in one piece. So, yeah you gotta just deal with what is and check in with each other. If you're solo or single at this time, make an appointment to check in with yourself, maybe a couple of times during the day to just kind of step back from social media, from the news, from whatever it is you're doing and just check in with your body with your own state of being. This is something that I talked about in the last episode. Make it intentional though. And that way, if you're feeling, on the other side of those things, you were feeling like you're kind of obsessive about how you're feeling, then that's another advantage of setting a time. You have that dedicated time to check-in about your feelings, and then you can get on with your day.
So that's my hint for self and for being in relationship - to carve out time to be intentiona, l to honor each other, to really listen and acknowledge each other, and just to acknowledge if it's good. Awesome, that's good. If it's hard, Okay, it's hard - I hear you.
I'm gonna do a quick message from our sponsor for days episode and then I'm going to offer you some hints on digital intimacy so staying connected, and feeling like you're creating a good container of intimacy in digital communications, whether that be texting or using Zoom or Skype, or something like that, to do video chats.
But today's sponsor has been supporting the podcast for a little while now, I'm so appreciative.
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Alright, I'm gonna keep my promise to you that this is gonna be quick. So let's talk about digital intimacy.
We'll start with texting.
When I was talking before about carving out time to communicate, I think that can be helpful for texting, as well so that you are not just texting off and on throughout your day or texting a bunch of people at once too... Sometimes texting works that way, where it's designed to be asynchronous - meaning you send a message to someone and they may or may not reply to you right away - so I get it, that's how it sometimes works. So this isn't a strict rule but if you get the sense that someone is there on the other end, and ready and willing to text with you then carve at that time, carve out five minutes, 10 minutes, and just focus your energy on texting with your friends and while you are waiting for the other person to text you back instead of checking social media, or going online, or to a your favorite blog or whatever it is, I invite you to just stay present, stay present, with the waiting, waiting, for their communication - breathe, get in touch with what's happening in your body and do your best to just stay focused on that communication with that person.
It makes a difference in not only feeling connected, but in their feeling your presence - especially if you're able to respond back really quickly, because you are giving that other person your full attention via text. That's my hint for texting.
Now, when it comes to video chats, there are a couple of things that I've found that are really helpful and I actually use these tips when I am doing sessions with people, 'cause at this point, almost all the sessions that I do are over Zoom or Skype.
And as you can imagine, it's really important for my clients to feel my presence to feel like we are creating an intimate space for those sessions to occur.
So there are a couple of ways that I like to do that that seemed to work well for me. And I invite you to experiment with them and see what works well for you.
The first thing is to close all your other apps, on your computer or on your phone. I guess if you're doing it on your phone, it's less of an issue because if you switch over to another app, they're gonna know. If you're in your computer, closing your browser closing everything else that's going so that you can give the other person your full attention. If you have a way of turning off your notifications on your computer or on your phone, that's good too, so that you're in a do-not-disturb mode, and you don't have little notifications popping up to disrupt your concentration or your presence. If you're on your computer, you might turn your phone over so that it's face down so that you don't have things on your phone lighting up your phone and distracting you. And the goal is for you to be as present as possible. Another thing I like to do is I like to keep my computer- I do most of my zooming via my computer - and I like to keep it in right in front of me, so whether it's on my desk, or it's on my lap on a board or something, I keep it in front of me, and I actually put my arms out and I put my arms on either side of the computer, almost like I'm holding whatever, whoever is on the other end. I'm holding the image of them on my computer screen, and I do that to create a physical container in the best way possible. That would be like if we were in-person, it would be like the same as us sitting directly opposite each other and me facing you squarely with my body, and giving you my full presence and eye contact, and you knowing that you have my full attention. So one way that I help myself do that and stay focused is by reaching my arms out in a natural way... And having them on either side of my computer as if I'm holding the person that I'm talking to.
Another thing that I like to do - I've been using full screen a little bit more lately. It seems like it's working okay, but a lot of the time, what I'll do is I'll actually switch to minimizing the view of the other person - not minimizing it, so it's off the screen, but getting the little mini version so that instead of their face taking up the whole screen, that's actually like a little tiny version, of them. And then I'll move that right up to under the camera or the webcam on my computer.
And that is one way that seems to be really helpful for the other person feeling like when I'm looking at them, that I'm actually looking at them. 'Cause of course this is all happening in a virtual space, right, I'm not really looking at them, I'm looking at a screen I'm looking at a picture of them and likewise, they're looking at a picture of me, but if I am looking right at where the camera is then that's the best chance that I've got of being able to make eye contact and being able to help the other person feel the presence of my gaze, and my attentiveness, as they're talking. So that's another little trick that I use from time to time and it's been really helpful. And lastly, when you're talking to another person, especially via video chat, I think it's really helpful to pay attention to your breathing. So how you are breathing and whether your breath is shallow, or whether it's deep - just noticing what's happening in you and then also noticing the breathing in the other person. So when does the person that you're talking to, take breaths, when do they exhale, when do they sigh. Paying attention to their breath also helps you just tune in to everything else that's going on with them, in general, with their body.
So you notice when the color of their skin changes, or when tension appears or disappears on their face.
There's something about tuning into the breath that really, I think, synchronizes us with another human in general. So I'm not saying that you should do that in a creepy way, where you're just mimicking another person's breathing pattern. But noticing it, I think does tend to bring us at least into some form of synchrony with the other person, and I think it creates a certain level of intimacy. It seems to work.
So those are the tricks. Other than that, you gotta just pay attention and be receptive and acknowledge what other people are saying. Acknowledge its impact on you. Notice where it lands in your body, and tell them about it. You wanna just follow good practices for presencing yourself as you show up there in virtual digital intimacy with the other person.
Okay, so those are my quick hits for the week. I have kept this under 30 minutes, we're at 26 minutes right now. I appreciate your being here with me this week and it's always good to share time and space with you, and I'm looking forward to being with you next week when I think it's gonna be my interview with my friend, Mara Wells, the romance writer, pretty sure. And I do look forward to being with you. And in the meantime, take care stay healthy, take this seriously and we'll all get through this, we'll get through it by sticking together and helping each other out.
So please let me know how I can support you.
You can always write to me. My email address is neilius at neilsattin.com.
Or if you have a question for the show, just record yourself, asking it and email that to questions at a relationship alive.com - Sending you so much love, and blessings, and I will be with again soon. Take care.
How is coronavirus (COVID-19) impacting you? What are the implications of "social distancing" on your relationship - especially if you're cooped up together for weeks at a time? Or if you're single, how can you still enjoy dating while staying safe? In this week's episode, you'll get some strategies for taking care of yourself amidst the epidemic, with practical advice for staying calm - connected - and HEALTHY - while we weather the storm...together. Plus a few (mostly relevant) thoughts on "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Sending so much love to you!
As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!
This episode is sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeodorant.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.
I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey
FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets
Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner’s Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE)
Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)
Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters
Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive.
This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today, we're going to talk about a topic that's been on my mind lately and perhaps it's been on yours. We're gonna talk about how the coronavirus Covid-19... How that is impacting us in our own lives and in our relationships. So whether you are solo or dating or in a relationship, or just looking for a better way to take care of yourself, we're gonna talk about the impact of what is happening in our world, today on us.
And how do you stay centered and grounded and connected through all of that?
So that is what is in store for today. I had something else planned. But sometimes you gotta just go with what is right there in front of you, and if this isn't in front of you already, it probably will be soon hopefully, and not hopefully not in a dire way, but let's be real. This is a serious issue that we're facing here in our world today, and I wanna be here to help support you through that.
Now, you might be able to hear that my voice is a little congested I've been fighting a cold.
I'm pretty sure that it is not the novel Coronavirus. So fingers crossed, but I don't have all the symptoms so my healthcare provider tells me that I should just drink lots of fluids, get some rest and stay the course. So, well, of course, keep you posted on that one, on and I'm just gonna start by sending some love and care to you, today, hoping that this virus doesn't impact you, and that it also doesn't impact people that you love.
And of course, all in all. I don't want it to impact anyone, and it is going to, on some level, so we're confronted with a situation that's not unlike other things that come up in life, where there's a reality in front of us and we get to decide how we are going to respond to it, and how we're gonna let it impact us, and also it gives us a chance to discover yet, again, what is in our control and what is not, and to make the best of what is in our control.
So today I'll be discussing specific strategies with you to help you get through love in this time of coronavirus. Okay, first things first, if you find yourself in close quarters with people that you love and care about, because you're going through some proactive social distancing.
Or in some sort of quarantine situation then it is extremely helpful to know how to communicate well and how to stay connected, even if you're communicating about things that are challenging.
And I've put together my top three ways to do that and a free guide for you called my relationship communication secrets.
And you can download that by just visiting neilsattin.com/relate or by texting the word "relate" to the number 33444 and following the instructions and the guide is free.
So I definitely suggest that you grab it, that you put those things into practice, and I, we will be having the final version of my secrets of relationship communication course that's going to be coming out again very soon. So keep an eye out for that and you will get notified if you download the free guide.
Just so you know.
Also, it takes a village, in so many ways and it takes a village to keep relationship alive going and I've really appreciated your generous support of relationship alive - the podcast, our mission. This is an offering for you to help you have the most successful, amazing relationships possible and if you're finding the show to be having a positive impact in your life, please consider a donation to help ensure that we can continue. You can choose anything that feels right for you and every little bit counts.
So this week, I would like to thank Sarah Dave Kendra Michael Michele Joseph Rana Holly Marie Timothy and Kona thank you all so much for your generous, in most of those cases ongoing, support of Relationship Alive.
And if you would like to make a contribution, all you have to do is visit neilsattin.com/support or text the word support to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.
And speaking of support if you are looking for another way to expand the web of support that you have in your life, you can come join the relationship alive community on Facebook. It's free, and we are endeavoring to create a safe space for you to talk about your relationships, personal development and anything that impacts the ways that we connect with each other, the successes that we experience and the challenges as well.
So that's the relationship alive community on Facebook.
Okay, so let's dive in. And I'm being a little tongue-in-cheek with calling this episode, Love in the Time of Corona. It's obviously a reference to the novel Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And I read that book, way back in college.
Tell you the truth. I don't remember a lot about it, but I do remember that it covers the complexities of love and relationship, and long-term relationship, and there's a comparison between love and sickness. So there's this sense that we have that life is complicated and it's gonna be complicated no matter what. And the things that we sometimes think are true or easy or that we take for granted aren't always - Things are not always as they seem. And I think that was a central theme in the book, that there are things that you assume to be true, that actually end up not being true. And of course, it's a romantic novel that covers decades and decades of the lives of the two main protagonists. And the reason that I wanted to refer to it here is because we are in this position where we can't escape what is happening around us.
Whether you think it's all something that's being blown out of proportion or whether you think that it is something that may seriously impact you and the people that you love or whether you're just watching everything unfold, and waiting to see what is actually gonna happen, there's almost no way at this point that you can avoid the impacts of covid 19, the new Coronavirus on your life.
Big events are being cancelled, or postponed. At least, this has been a consideration for me because I'm working on doing my live show and bringing it to a major metropolitan area near you. And it's a little challenging to think about planning something like that, when there's so much uncertainty at the moment, about whether these large events are actually going to be happening.
So life is interesting right now and I have two young kids in school, I have a mother with a compromised immune system, I have a 97-year-old grandmother. So as I look at the landscape of life, there's a lot of ponder. And so, let's just cover some of the basics. This portion of the show is gonna be my public service announcement.
Essentially what we want to do is something that has been called flattening the curve. So maybe you've heard of that, and you know what I'm talking about, if you don't let me just tell you that what we are trying to do is slow the spread of this virus, by employing some measures that I'll be talking about in a moment, and the idea of slowing it is to, one, prevent our healthcare systems from being overwhelmed, like, is already happening in some parts of the world.
So, as much as possible, if we slow the spread of Corona then we are doing our part to help overall, the healthcare system, keep up with whatever demand this illness puts upon it, and of course also as long as we're able to delay the spread than our chances improve of a vaccine or a really effective treatment being discovered to help more people get through it.
So there are real practical reasons for doing this and it's important for all of us because even if you yourself feel like your immune system is fairly robust, and you're not worried about it, odds are that there are people, if not in your life, in the lives of people who are close to you who are at risk or could be impacted.
And so this really is one of those situations where it falls upon each of us to do our part for the greater good, so to not be cavalier about taking precautions and instead to do your part to flatten the curve to slow things down and to keep the coronavirus from reaching - if not yourself, or people you love, other people who are loved by people you know. So let's all pull together for this. That is my wish for you as you're listening.
And the things that we can do right now that we know of are relatively simple.
We can avoid really crowded spaces.
This is known as social distancing. So to spend more time, either in small groups or alone, if you have any signs of illness, to keep yourself away from other people until you know that you're in the clear... And of course, if things feel serious at all or like you are at risk, then definitely contact your doctor, and find a way to get tested, so that you can know what is going on and so you can take an appropriate course of action.
It's helpful to have a little stockpile of food and things so that you don't have to leave your house, if you can avoid it, and you don't wanna go overboard because we wanna make sure that there's enough to go around and it's likely that no matter what happens, grocery stores will be open and all of that. So the goal here is just to have enough to make sure that you're gonna be okay in your home and that you will have to leave as little as possible. And the purpose of doing that again is to slow the spread because sadly we can actually be carriers of Covid-19 without knowing it, without having any symptoms.
So if you're able to stay away from other people, for a couple of weeks, and that prevents you from catching something, or from inadvertently spreading something, then that is going to go a long way to helping our world beat this thing.
And then you've also probably heard, some of the basics. washing your hands frequently and not touching your face. Because the Covid-19 virus, it needs to get to your lungs and the way it does that is through your eyes, your nose or your mouth.
So if you keep your hands away for your face, and you wash your hands frequently, then you should be just fine or you will at least be doing the best that you can to prevent the spread of this illness. And at the moment we do not believe that wearing a mask is a very effective way of preventing yourself from getting the virus.
And people stockpiling masks is actually creating a problem in the health care industry because our doctors and nurses and first responders, don't have the masks that they need. So maybe you wanna have a couple on hand just in case but other than that, probably better to ensure that masks can get to where they're needed most with the people on the front lines of fighting this thing.
They do recommend that people who have the flu or have coronavirus that they wear a mask, and that is mainly to prevent or cut down on the chances of spreading the illness to other people. So, masks aren't a terribly effective way to keep yourself from getting it as far as we know, but they are a good way of not spreading it to other people.
Of course, if you are being diagnosed with this, then you are probably gonna be getting much more thorough advice than you're getting from me, and I'm not a doctor. So let me just be upfront that anything that I say here, I would love for you to take it with a grain of salt.
Please do your own research online if you need to. I've been doing a lot of reading on this topic, so I feel pretty confident in the recommendations that I'm making but I'm not a doctor.
So if you have any concerns at all, I recommend that you check with a doctor or check with the latest recommendations from your local health service, and hopefully all of our health services all over the world are being really proactive in getting that information out. Okay, so that's the public service announcement part but now let's get into the nitty gritty of why we're here, which is three-fold, really. One is how to help yourself with what is going on in the world and how to deal with potentially the anxiety or worry or fear that you're experiencing, if you are experiencing it or if you are in blissful ignorance. Maybe we should talk about that for just a moment or two more. So that's the first part. The second part is, I wanna talk about when you are in a close relationship with someone, so if you are home more or less, working from home or in self-quarantine or social distancing. With your partner, and your kids, 'cause potentially, they are home from school.
So then odds are, you are gonna be around each other a lot more than you are used to. And so we'll talk about some special considerations for that.
And finally, I want to talk about those few or those of us who are dating and who are not necessarily in a single love relationship, and the implications of what is going on on finding love, and developing love. So those are the three main bases, that I wanna cover today.
As usual we'll start with the self and self-care because that is so important for keeping your feet on the ground, keeping your wits about you and keeping your heart centered as you move through this time.
So I'm not gonna make any assumptions about what this has been like for you. I'll just say that for me, it's been noticeable. I told you a little bit about a few moments ago that my mother has a compromised immune system, my grandmother is 97. they are in groups that are statistically at very high risk for not only getting the coronavirus, but also it potentially killing them.
And that's scary for me, and I've spent a lot of time - the way that I tend to deal with uncertainty is through research, so reading and reading and reading, and that's partly how this podcast came to be because I had my own struggles in relationships that I had witnessed in my own relationships, and so I dove into the details, because that's what I do and I... My hope is that that is a benefit for you, but that doesn't mean that you have to do it, you may have your own way of coping. And I think the first thing is just to acknowledge that it's very possible that whatever your experience is, that you are, below at all, experiencing some stress, so whether that stress is anxiety and worry and fear or anger at people for blowing this way out of proportion or whatever it is, no matter how stressed you are, that stress is something worth confronting and doing something about, because stress suppresses our immune system for one thing. So the more that you you can confront your stress and bring yourself into balance, the better off you will be when it comes to just having a system that can fight whatever is going on in the world around you, whether that just be a cold or Coronavirus and it also is gonna help you show up better for other people in your life.
There's nothing like trying to interact with the world, or trying to move through a stressful situation or conflict with another person when you yourself are stressed and dysregulated, so there's never been a better time for you to establish a routine of checking in with yourself, how are you doing? And you could start with something with a broad strokes, like maybe every time you brush your teeth, which is perhaps two or three times a day you use that as an opportunity, a reminder that you should check in with yourself, and ask "How am I doing, what am I feeling right now, where do I notice that in my body?"
"Does it make sense? Does it make sense with everything that's going on in my life?" To start doing this as a way of regularly taking your emotional pulse so that you can have a sense of what's really happening with you, and what if anything needs to be addressed. If you notice that you are feeling something in particular - anxiety, fear, sadness, confusion, then it's worth taking an extra step in asking yourself "What is that the root of that?"
And is there something I can do like "what aspect of this can I control and what aspects of this can I not control?"
And of the aspects that you can control, then you might ask yourself, "Well, what can I do to improve that thing?"
So if you're feeling uncertain, then maybe there are things you can do to get more certainty. If you're feeling disconnected or you're alone, then what can you do to reach out and connect? If you're feeling nervous for another person in your life, then what can you do to reach out to them and tell them that you care about them?
Right? These are all just simple ways of being proactive around noticing your emotional state and taking care of yourself to hopefully bring yourself back into balance: noticing your breathing, noticing your physical state, your physiological state and letting that also indicate for you how you're doing, and if there's something that needs to be addressed.
So you might think that you're totally fine but if you check in with your body, you notice like, "Oh my heart's pounding or... Oh, I'm kinda sweaty."
Well, those might be signs of stress or something going on and if you do notice those things, then what can you do?
So can you just take a moment to breathe? Can you fix yourself a cup of tea?
Can you call a friend, someone that you care about and who cares about you?
Can you spend a little time with a pet, and just pet your dog or your cat or... My daughter really wants me to get her a little pigmy bunny. So I'm thinking about that. If you have a pigmy maybe spend a little time with your bunny just petting the bunny. I gotta think that that soft little bunny might help you calm down a little bit if you need that, and if you're feeling angry at whatever is happening in the world, then this is also a great time for you to look within and ask yourself, "What is it about this that's making you angry?"
What are the places where you feel like your power is being taken from you? Your system is responding with intelligence to that - your system is responding and saying "No. Take that power back. I'm angry."
Again, there will be aspects of this that you can impact and there will be things that you cannot impact but no matter what, getting to know yourself better, getting to know what's going on within you better and figuring out where you can be proactive to keep yourself regulated to move through and out of your stress, those are things that will help you, yourself in whatever is going on in the world and it will help you show up for the world and the other people around you, so that is taking care of yourself, also. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, take Elderberry, vitamin C, just whatever you can do to keep your immune system bolstered and ready along with keeping yourself calm.
So I do want to change gears a little bit and talk about the impact of Corona on our relationships and on our dating life.
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Okay, so let's get back to the next step in our conversation, which is about how Coronavirus is potentially gonna impact us in our relationships.
And there are few obvious ways when I mentioned already, which is the potential to be cooped up with people for a long period of time and just to be aware that in and of itself can cause stress and tension and then potentially, if anyone, you know, or as close to you get sick or if you get sick then that is another way that this could impact you.
So let's talk a little bit about just the stress of being cooped up with other people more than anything. I think our mantra today should be to be kind and generous with each other to be compassionate and understanding.
So if you find that someone else is getting snappy with you to remind yourself that they are probably going through some stress right now and to not take it personally as much as possible, and if you, yourself, are feeling irritable, or challenged by something that someone else is doing then you might even speak it out loud, just like, "Hey I just want you to know that I'm really stressed or I'm exhausted or this is really challenging for me, and so I know I'm being unpleasant" or "I know I'm being argumentative, or I know I'm snapping back at you, and I just want you to know that it's not personal, it's what's happening with me."
So as much as you can take responsibility for your state of mind and state of heart and state of being with the other people around you, that is one way to really help them feel connected to you and to your experience.
And you might check in with the others too like "Hey how are you doing? It's been five minutes since we've talked to each other."
"Can I just check in with you and see how you are?"
And if you are with loved ones and relatively safe and isolated then... And you've washed your hands, then it's probably totally fine for you to give each other back rubs or foot rubs and to be loving with each other as much as you can.
And if you've been going through a challenging time in your relationship, then this could be extra stressful for you. That seems obvious to me right now. There are those miraculous moments where times get tough and we band together and it helps us get past things that seem like a big deal, but when it comes right down to it, you realize that it's not such a big deal. So potentially, there are those kinds of things that are going on in your relationship, that are creating challenge and this helps you kinda put everything in perspective. That could be a good thing, and... this could also exacerbate things. So I invite you to just one to acknowledge that that is a possibility, if that is something that you're going through to recognize - Okay, things have been challenging, it might get more challenging and then you can develop a strategy for yourself - a plan around how to best safeguard yourself from it getting more challenging.
So if there are things that you know are particular triggers for you with this other person or ways that you trigger them, then you might take special care to not trigger the other person and to create safe boundaries around yourself, to keep your tender spots from being poked at and triggered as well.
You might also with your significant other, say something like, "Hey let's just acknowledge that things have been challenging between us and maybe we could agree to just put all of that aside right now and just band together for this, for what's happening in our world right now" - it's another possibility.
Generally, the best thing is for you to be open about your experience, and what concerns you. In fact, you might even say something to your partner, like "hey, things have been to tough with us, recently. I'm a little nervous about us being in the same space a lot because of what's going on in the world. Are you nervous about that?"
"Are there things do you think that we could do to help keep things light and spacious with us to help us be positive through all of this, and not make things worse?"
If you can enlist the other person and speak to the truth of what is, then that also increases your chances of getting through with flying colors, and I encourage you to do that as well and in the end, if you need to, I encourage you to take space and this can be a very useful strategy for everyone who is sharing space together: if you are sharing space to work out a system for when anyone can say, "Hey I need a time out for myself," and where that time out and space is granted so that you or the other person can have some moments alone to recharge.
And so, yeah, I encourage you to work those things out ahead of time, if possible, so that you're heading it off at the pass and you're being proactive, and that way those conversations will have happened so that you can make space for other more important conversations that may come up during all of this time.
Now, if you are single or solo let's move along, I guess. And of course, if you have specific questions around this stuff, you can always record yourself asking the question, and send it to me - the email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, if you're single, or solo or dating like what do you do in your circumstances? Well, here, a few things that come to mind. The first is that there's potential for you to be extremely isolated, and that isn't necessarily healthy either. Being completely isolated will theoretically prevent you from getting the coronavirus. But it might be really psychologically challenging to be that isolated. So this is a time where I would encourage you to find ways to stay connected. There are great freeways... to drive your car on. But what I really mean is, there are great free... ways that you can stay connected with other people. If you have internet access or a phone, you can do a Google Hangout or FaceTime or Skype calls. I really love the video conferencing technologies. In fact, most of my clients that I see, and I see clients all over the world, we do that using Zoom or Skype, and I'm so used to it now that it really feels as though we are in the same room with each other. And so I encourage you to reach out to other people, to not just get isolated in your home, but to find ways to reach out and connect using technology, using whatever technology is available to you.
And if you don't have a phone and you don't have a computer, then of course I'm wondering how you're listening to this podcast, but you could always sit on your stoop outside - and if you're out in the fresh air or the odds are pretty good that you're not going to catch Coronavirus and that someone walking by would not catch it, from you or give it to you and you could just say "hello" to people who are walking by. Just be friendly and just ask people how they're doing, and you can point out.
"I don't wanna shake your hand, or give you a hug, but I just wanted to check in with people in the world and see how you are doing" and you may be surprised you might make someone's day, by simply saying, "Hey how are you? This is all pretty weird, isn't it, that we're going through?" Because most of us have never had to go through something like this in our lives, not all of us. So if you have gone through this, perhaps you even have expertise that you can lend to those of us who... For whom this is new and scary and confusing? This is a good time for you to speak up and lend your expertise to the occasion.
So, that's combating social isolation - even though we want to be doing social distancing. In order to flatten the curve.
Now, what about actual dating? Could you or should you be going out on dates in the current climate?
You know I'm inclined to say probably not right now, at least not until we really have a better sense of what is happening and really how Covid-19 spreads and we have consistent testing so that we really know for sure whether or not we are a carrier, someone else that we are going on on a date with... is a carrier.
It's not too unlike the conversations that you need to have around STDS before you have sex with someone. Hopefully, you are having a conversation that goes over your risk factors. "Have you been tested? Have you had anything before?"
"When was the last time you were tested? Have you had any risky behaviors?"
So when you go out on a date with someone and they say, "Oh well, I went to the whatever concert last night." Well, that might be a risk factor. So, the beautiful thing about this is that whatever you're doing to date, and I'm assuming that you're using technology of some sort at this point 'cause it's almost unavoidable in the modern dating landscape, then this becomes a great way to slow things down and really get to know other people.
So spending a little bit more time with your texting or chatting back and forth, your IMing, having a virtual date so you can use FaceTime, and make yourself a cup of tea and have the other person make themselves a cup of tea and you can sit down and sip tea and get to know each other just as if you were there in the coffee shop and I... One thing that's especially interesting about this is, with practice you can learn to really tune in to the other person, even though you're not there in the same space with them, you can really tune in and get a sense for who they are as a person.
And on top of that, even if you're not there in person with each other - think of all the times that when you've been in relationship if you have been in a relationship, how important it is to be able to communicate when you're not together, so whether that be through texting or talking on the phone or Skyping or whatever, it's actually helpful to know that that's a medium that you can operate in with your potential partner and what better way to know than by actually doing it, and doing it a lot and getting some good practice at it. So you may be having a little less sex than you used to, if you're a single person and you're out and about... But I think that overall, that is probably worth it, for your safety and your prospective partner's safety, unless you are absolutely positively sure that neither of you is that risk - in which case meet up and have fun. But I do encourage you to take advantage of the virtual spaces, and to take some risks around talking or hopping on a video call of some sort so that you can get to know someone more deeply without necessarily having to do it face-to-face, either at the coffee shop or in the bedroom. There will be a time for that, for sure.
And no matter what, taking the time to really get to know a person will help you make better choices than if you're going by chemistry alone because when you meet up with someone, and it feels really good and you connect with them right away, that doesn't always go so well, because you may not have done the due diligence required to ensure that someone is actually an appropriate partner for you. And gauging whether or not someone is appropriate for you to be dating is usually a much longer process that involves finding out a lot more about who they are and how they respond to you and how you respond to them.
And when you have all that dopamine and oxytocin flowing because you're just going to town in the bedroom, then it can seriously cloud your perception and your judgment.
So this is going to be a boon. I predict that there are gonna be all kinds of really strong relationships that emerge from this period of time when we were forced to spend a little bit more time apart and get to know each other a little better.
As always, I could talk about this for a long, long time, but I hope that whether you're single or in a relationship, or just thinking about how to maintain your own self-care during this time, that you've found something valuable in today's episode, and one thing you might wanna do is catch up on other podcast episodes or do some reading. And next week, we're gonna have a really fun interview with someone who's an old friend of mine actually, who is a romance author.
We're gonna talk about what we can learn from romance novels about love and relationships, and desire - and it may not surprise you to know that we can learn an awful lot!
So we have that conversation coming up next week, with Mara Wells. In the meantime, I am sending so much love and care and courage and calmness and health your way and just know that I am thinking of you and that we will all get through this, we will and I'm here for you... So thank you for spending this time with me today, and I look forward to you being with you again next week.
And be safe.
What turns you on, and what turns you off? How do you get past the messages about sex that have been handed to you by others - to discover your own personal sexuality that emerges from within? How do you own your deepest desires - and then communicate them to your partner in a way that stands the best chance of having them be realized? In today’s episode, we’re having a return visit from Dr. Alexandra Solomon, author of the new book Taking Sexy Back: How to Own Your Sexuality and Create the Relationships You Want. Our conversation will help you take your intimacy to a whole new level, so that your relationships can be satisfying in and out of the bedroom.
And, as always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you.
Join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!
Also - check out our first episode with Alexandra Solomon about her first book, Loving Bravely (Episode 142).
Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.
Check out Alexandra Solomon's website
Read Alexandra Solomon’s latest book: Taking Sexy Back
Read Alexandra Solomon’s other book, Loving Bravely: 20 Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide
Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE)
www.neilsattin.com/sexy Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Alexandra Solomon.
Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out
Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Let's talk some more about sex today, and I think it's really important, if for no other reason than the statistic that I'm pulling out of the book written by today's guest, that when you have a successful sex life with your partner, that accounts for say 15-20% of your overall happiness quotient. I'm sure I'm not using the exact term there, but when you have a dissatisfying sexual life with your partner, that can account for 50-75% of your dissatisfaction in your marriage, if I got that statistic right.
Neil Sattin: So, just think about that for a minute. If you're unhappy in the way that you're connecting sexually with your partner, or with your partners, then that's going to cause potentially a lot of distress for you. And what's at the root often of our dissatisfaction is the very foundation that we have, the way that we see ourselves as sexual beings, the way we operate in the world, the scripts that have been handed us and that we're enacting either consciously or unconsciously, or that we're trying to live up to, that can so often be a source of, not only unhappiness, but the sense of disconnection from who you actually are as a sexual being in the world, and that brings with it a whole host of things like shame or even just questions, self-judgment, and ultimately, potentially dissatisfaction in terms of your relationships.
Neil Sattin: So, let's tackle this head on and talk about how to reclaim and restructure who you are as a sexual being with today's esteemed guest. She's been with us on the show before, her name is Dr Alexandra Solomon, she's a professor at Northwestern and also a clinical psychologist who works with individuals and couples. Last time she was here, she was talking about her book, Loving Bravely, and if you wanna hear that episode, you can visit www.neilsattin.com/bravely and it is episode number 142, if you're just flipping through your podcast app. And she's here today to talk about her new book, which is called Taking Sexy Back: How to Own Your Sexuality and Create the Relationships You Want. It's a book written primarily for women and, at the same time, it has so much valuable stuff in it in terms of no matter where you are on the gender spectrum to reframe how you think about your sexuality and how you reclaim it for yourself.
Neil Sattin: As usual, we will have a transcript for today's episode. You can download it by visiting www.neilsattin.com/sexy. That one's not gonna be hard to remember. And as always, you can text the word passion to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. So let's dive right in, Alexandra Solomon. It's such a treat to have you back with us here on Relationship Alive.
Alexandra Solomon: It's so nice to be with you, thank you.
Neil Sattin: Yeah, let's talk... Let's just first unearth, there's something unusual about Taking Sexy Back, which is that you've taken the word sexy and you've made it a noun, and I'm wondering if you can explain what I'm even talking about and maybe explain your choice around that so that it will make sense as we move through this conversation.
Alexandra Solomon: Yes, so one of the first central ideas in this book is that there is a world of difference between being sexy and being sexual, so women have been taught and trained to either be sexy or to be afraid of being sexy, of being too sexy, not sexy enough, and that for women that word is oftentimes a question. Do you find me sexy? It's a question posed in the gaze of another, and when that is the lens through which one experiences one's sexuality, then sex becomes a performance, a sort of earning of that sense that you find me worthy, adequate, good, and it's different than being sexual. Sexual is a cultivation from the inside of my own connection with the erotic that I generate within me and then share with a partner. And so, in this book, we are taking sexy back, we're taking back the idea of sexy, and it becomes, as you said, a noun. So this book really is couple's therapy between the reader and her sexy, her sexuality, her sexual self. And the questions are: How well do you know that aspect of you? Do even know that is an aspect of you? What is that aspect of you wanting, yearning, in what ways is it hurting, and what needs to be kind of unearthed and processed? So, throughout the book, it is about really understanding and listening from within to that part of self that I think women are typically told really isn't theirs or shouldn't be looked at; good girls don't look at that. So, it's a reframing, and as you're saying, it's a reclamation, a taking back.
Neil Sattin: Right, and you talk about that being torn. And this is probably familiar for a lot of people who are listening, that you can be torn between wanting to really own your sexuality, but if you do that too much, then that also creates a shift potentially in how people see you, and so there's this burden of like how do you own your sexuality without it stigmatizing you?
Alexandra Solomon: Exactly, right. That sort of razor-thin line between being perceived as prudish and being, God forbid, slutty. So this sort of razor-thin line that, again, keeps a woman from connecting with herself. It becomes this sort of question of how am I being perceived. And the moment that's the focus, it cuts us off from being able to experience pleasure, experience mindfulness, articulate a boundary that is really from a place of truth rather than fear, and so then the entire possibility of cultivating a sex life that is healing, rewarding, connecting, uplifting, life-affirming is impossible 'cause there's no foundation to start from.
Neil Sattin: Right. Can you just talk for a minute about where this book was born from? And maybe the ways that you've seen women confront problems in terms of being disconnected from their sexuality? From their sexy? And what that process of reclamation looks like for them?
Alexandra Solomon: This book was born from a number of places. It was born from, I think, the way in which in my training as a licensed clinical psychologist and a couples therapist, I think the models that I was taught, were that when you're sitting with a couple, help them talk more nicely to each other, help them argue less, and then the sex will follow. You don't have to directly talk about sex. And there's a way in which that paradigm reinforced, I think, a message that I carried within me for a long time, that sex is not a polite topic. It really shouldn't be talked about or looked at, and if you're curious about it, something is wrong with you. So I think there were ways in which that message from my field kind of reinforced what I had done to myself my whole life, of just feeling like I'm feeling simultaneously fascinated by this entire world and topic, and then feeling like that wasn't really polite [chuckle] to be interested in or fascinated about. And so my own evolution of wanting to integrate love and sex within the work I do with couples, within my own life, and then just the work that I've done at Northwestern with graduate students and undergraduate students and being smacked again and again with my awareness of how inadequate sex education in our country is.
Alexandra Solomon: And how my students are sitting in front of me and I would give a lecture in my Marriage 101 course about sex, and basically invite them into this idea that sex is simultaneously a behavior, it's a thing that we do, instead of erotically-charged behaviors, and it's also this really powerful gateway into some of the most profound longings and questions that we have as humans. And just even that notion was radical to many of my students who had only ever talked about sex as something that is dangerous, dirty, forbidden, fearful, or titillating, and really central, but not this sort of whole-hearted aspect of self and aspect of relationship, and so all of that kind of created this. And I think, also, the fact that we are living through this massive upheaval around gender and power with the Me Too Movement. And so I think it was this coming together of all of this where this book basically wouldn't leave me alone. [chuckle] Like, I felt like I chose to write Loving Bravely, and I felt like this book was like, "Are you ready now? Can we go now? Can you just... " And it became easier to just sit down and create the table of contents than it was to just keep forestalling it.
Neil Sattin: Right, right, but yeah...
Alexandra Solomon: It felt really urgent. It felt really urgent to me.
Neil Sattin: Yeah. And I think that's so true. I'm so glad your book was birthed and is... And by the time you're listening to this interview, it will be out. It's coming out February 2nd, Groundhog's Day of 2020. So you'll be able to get it. And yeah, it is such an important conversation because those scripts that have been handed to us around sexuality and the ways that our lack of education has gotten in the way, perhaps, of really getting in touch with who we are sexually, and not having a culturally accepted way of just exploring together 'cause so much sexuality has to happen behind closed doors and often in secret. We pretend it's not happening, but it's obviously happening. And so inviting the conversation into the public space, and one thing that I really love about your book, Taking Sexy Back, is that you explore all of these different dimensions of connecting into who you are as a sexual being. And each of those is a great gateway into understanding yourself in a new way, and then stepping forward into sexual connection with others with that new knowledge.
Alexandra Solomon: Yes, exactly, exactly. And it's not about, like there is... In the book we really are looking at, as you're saying, these scripts and these highly gendered scripts. And it's not about blaming or finger pointing or, God forbid, male bashing or any of that. It's not that at all. The ways in which we're given these gendered messages cut all of us off from living wholeheartedly and fully. I just couldn't tackle all of it in one book, but you could speak to this like as a boy and a man. Boys and men are given horrific messages around their own sexuality. And it's what drives me crazy about these dress code laws that schools are... Rules that schools will do. This idea that girls' shorts have to be this length and girls' tank tops straps have to be this width.
Alexandra Solomon: And one of the things it does is it reinforces this idea, this message to boys, that your sexuality is so dangerous and so out of control that the world has to be protected from you or from the power of your sexual energy, versus teaching boys that they, sure, erotic energy courses through you but here's how you ground it and here's how you harness it, and here's how you boundary it, and here's how you treat it with respect. And if those were the tools that we gave to boys... I think that's just... I don't know. I haven't grown up in this lifetime in the masculine, so I didn't have those messages, but I don't know what that does. And that was the early messages that you were given, was this fear of being perceived as creepy or dangerous. I just think it's all problematic and it keeps people coming... Whether it's male bodies or female bodies or one of each coming together, it keeps those bodies from coming together in a way where each person can feel integrated and ready to step into that space of intimacy and closeness.
Neil Sattin: Yeah, I mean that's why I think your book is a valuable resource for whoever on the... Wherever you are on the spectrum. I did find myself reading it and nodding for each chapter and being like, "Yeah, guys need this just as much." And that's been definitely a journey for me as an adult has been reclaiming my own desires, my end, and where those things emerge at different places on the spectrum as well. In what you were just describing, I was just thinking about, yeah, how men in many cases need to learn how to be in touch with their bodies and with receptivity in sex and really being attuned and because they're so conditioned to be pursuers and achievers throughout life, but definitely in the sexual realm as well. And for women, I think part of that reclaiming is also being willing to engage in seizing your desire and owning it and being willing to do that just like any guy would. And we're wrestling, of course, with what's culturally acceptable, back to the very first thing we were talking about. But how beautiful it can be when two people come together and each person owns who they are, what they want, what their fears are, what their desires are, what feels good, what doesn't feel good, and when they can do it in a way that doesn't judge the other. I mean, we all need that when we're in the bedroom.
Alexandra Solomon: That's right, that's right, that's right. And it makes sense that we have gotten stuck because the information has gotten stuck. One of the things that was so interesting in the research for the book was to look at this book couldn't have been written 20 years ago because we've had a burgeoning of science around female sexuality. So we, for years, remain willfully ignorant about female sexual anatomy even. So medical anatomy textbooks would blur out the clitoris and it wasn't fully mapped, fully imaged until really, really recently, like 20 years ago recently. So it was the clitoris was thought of as this little button when, in fact, it's this larger structure that extends deep into the body and the potential for pleasure is incredible. In fact, that's the only job that the clitoris has is pleasure. And so, what might be different if a woman came into her sexuality knowing that and honoring it, and what if then sexual scripts were built to really honor that part of a woman's body in a way that the traditional heterosexual script, which we as a culture have really held up one particular sex act, we've held up penetrative sex as the most sex in sort of this hierarchy of sex acts.
Alexandra Solomon: We learn it on the playground in elementary school, first base and second base and third base and home run. So this whole kind of script around how far you're trying to get and how far you're going with this goal being penetrative sex, which the research shows tends to not be the most orgasm producing part of the realm of sexual behaviors because it's not the most... It doesn't maximize clitoral stimulation potentially. For some women it does, for others it doesn't. But just this idea that if we only have one story line, what are we limiting for any of the bodies in the bedroom? As you're saying, men exploring receptivity and not having to be in charge and not having to perform and having their own... Being not so limited by the ideas of what they ought to be doing in the bedroom and... So just the opportunity to deconstruct all of that and challenge it and push back a little bit is really important and really healing.
Alexandra Solomon: And that's what we found. I had this amazing team of graduate students and undergraduate students with me as we were researching and writing, and we moved through a lot of sadness, a lot of anger at the limits that have been put on people's experiences. And then to connect the loop back to what you said in the beginning, that it affects our relationships. If we can't cultivate erotic connection in our intimate relationships, they're going to suffer. Having a really fun sex life kind of buffers a couple against the storms and the annoyances and the irritations of partnership.
Neil Sattin: Right, right. Just one thing that came up for me about that question of anatomy and how we've learned that. I did wanna mention for you listening, that way back, this is one of my earliest episodes, episode 23, we had Sheri Winston on the show, she wrote Women's Anatomy of Arousal. So that's another great doorway into this question of how does feminine sexuality work and also what is literally happening, like what parts are there to work with and to enjoy? So it's so important to increase your awareness of what's there and how it operates and to not be driven by old stories, like the love button, or what you see in porn, which is, again, occasionally informative, but it's not designed to be informative generally. So there are some genres of porn that are probably better for what we're talking about here. But that's probably not the majority of them at this moment. You'd have to seek it out, I would think. The feminist porn and...
Alexandra Solomon: Exactly, exactly. Right. At the back of the book, there's a resource guide and we did include some feminist, ethical, carefully curated erotic places for erotic materials. 'Cause, right. You're right. You can't paint it with a broad brush. But it's a very different era of erotic materials. We're living in free streaming 24/7 porn. And a lot of it isn't, as you're saying, created with intentionality in mind and really honoring the science of women's bodies, the realities of women's bodies. And that can be another then force of restriction, that it looks like I should like this behavior and I don't like this behavior. How do I reconcile that? And often times the way we reconcile it is thinking something's wrong with us. Feeling ashamed.
Neil Sattin: Right. You mentioned someone in your book that you were working with who really wanted to like hook-up culture. And she came to you with this mission of there's something going on. Like this culture surrounds me, and maybe would it be helpful if you explain what you mean by hook-up culture versus conscious, casual sex culture or all the different possibilities there. But you talk about how she was really unhappy and came to you wanting to figure out if there was a way to be happy in that world. So let's start there maybe.
Alexandra Solomon: Sure. So hook-up culture is a term that we associate oftentimes with college campuses and the idea that oftentimes physical intimacy, sexual intimacy comes first and then emotional intimacy is retrofitted, so that people are finding each other sexually. Oftentimes, hook-ups are alcohol-fueled, not a ton of communication. And there's a sense, there's sort of an aura or a sense or a feeling that you should like it. You should like that and you kinda have to like it. And in fact, it's the only pathway into intimate relationship. And so the student was... In the first book, we work with a name, connect, chose, process. So she's trying so hard to use this change process to make herself go from hating hook-ups. In fact, she would hook up with a guy at a party and then go home and wash her lips or anywhere he had touched her.
Alexandra Solomon: Just felt really dirty and awful. And so she was trying so hard to move, what she thought she needed to do is move through the discomfort, so she'd get good at this thing that in her mind, and I think in the minds of lots of young people, you should be good at, like you should be able to do this. The idea is that it is sexual liberation or it just is necessary, it's what you have to do. What I wanted her to do really was honor the wisdom of her body. Her body was communicating to her so clearly; feeling her lips were numb afterwards. The data could not be clearer that she was really overriding something powerful inside of her body. And in fact, the research around hook-up culture shows that young people are tolerating it, but not really reveling in it, not really deeply, deeply enjoying it. It just feels like it's a necessary pathway.
Alexandra Solomon: But I do make a distinction between hooking up and then conscious, casual sex, 'cause there are times in a person's life where that really might be a beautiful, healing, necessary time. But what it has to be founded with... Create a foundation of an understanding of where are our boundaries, what are we both interested in, what are we each available for. So a really lovely, conscious, casual, sexual experience needs to have that kind of co-created understanding of what's the space that we're entering into. And so we spend a lot of time in the book helping people just feel entitled to understanding their own motivation and distinguishing that and the choice of fear versus love. "I choose to hook up 'cause I'm afraid there's nothing else for me," or "I'm afraid I am weird if I don't like hooking up," versus love, "Choosing something 'cause I really want it. It feels great to me. It's a space of learning and healing and play and escape."
Neil Sattin: Right, right. I've enjoyed your framing of it in the book. At first it kinda jarred me. I was like, "Oh, no. You're taking a stand for love. Like sex has to be about love? What are you talking about, Alexandra?"
Neil Sattin: But then, what you just explained, that if we're talking about the paradigm that we operate from and are we choosing things because we're afraid that if we say no to sex with this person in this moment, we're gonna suffer some consequence, versus being in a more love-centered place where you're focused on what brings you joy in the world and what enlivens you. Yeah, I would love for every single person to have those kinds of experiences be the foundation of how they connect with other people sexually.
Alexandra Solomon: Right, right.
Neil Sattin: Yeah.
Alexandra Solomon: And sometimes we don't know until we know. So in the book, we also talk about FGOs, which I call these fucking growth opportunities, where it's just like, "Oh, that is not my best pathway". Sometimes we have to do it in a way that leaves us feel... That's just... And so I think around sexuality, around this unfolding story of who we are sexually, there has to be a ton of self-compassion. Just a lot of gentleness about, "Okay, so that didn't work for me. What do I wanna learn from that and what do I want to know going forward?"
Neil Sattin: Right, right. Yeah, can we just give everyone in this moment the permission to make mistakes? And I'm making the little quotey things around "mistakes" because I think what you're pointing to is that most of these things aren't actual mistakes, they are opportunities that we have to learn about ourselves. And there is that aspect of sexuality where there are some things that you're only gonna learn relationally, you're only gonna learn it when you're with another person and experiencing something. It can't all happen... A lot can happen in the privacy of your room. But not all... Not all of it.
Alexandra Solomon: That's right. That's right.
Neil Sattin: So that being said, let's dive in a little bit to what can we do on our own? What are some of those gateways that we were talking about earlier? And physical, developmental, emotional, mental. So, I'm thinking of those pathways in so that everyone listening can have a sense of like, "Alright, how do I enter into this way of reclaiming who I am sexually?" What are some places to start?
Alexandra Solomon: Right. I think, so the reason that I organized the book the way that I did, with these seven different realms, is that we have different... We all have different journeys, we all have different places where we get locked up, so our work is to find areas where we feel blocked, constrained, where shame lives, where inhibition lives, where fear lives. And it might be different for different people, like on my team. So, one of the seven realms is spirituality. For some people, their early religious training, they receive shame loaded messages that can really, really get in the way of feeling permission to just be who you are, as you are. And so, for one member of my team, the work on that chapter was very, very powerful for her. She identified a lot of ways in which she was felt hurt by her early religious training, how it created shame inside of her. And for another gal, who grew up in China without any religion, it really didn't speak to her. She could kind of resonate with this idea of sex as being a spiritual experience, and being something that is sort of transcendent and can tap us into those big feelings of whatever, one-ness, and...
Neil Sattin: Yeah, union.
Alexandra Solomon: Connection to... Yeah, but that was... For her, that was more about nature rather than anything we had to do with a spirituality or a religion. So, but another chapter for her was really where she identified that her shame loaded stories lived. And so, there are these seven different realms where we may find some work that we need to do to kind of identify a block and then heal it. So, that was why we organized the book the way the way that we do, 'cause we're just... There's so much diversity in how we show up sexually and what's challenging for us. And I think for a lot of us, the chapter about physical was important because what's clear is sometimes body image stuff can get in the way. We're in, we've got a great partner, we have a partner who is ready to connect with us and create experiences that are pleasurable, and we end up locked in our own heads because we are very, very, very self-critical about our bodies. And that makes sense because there are entire industries that I built on selling us the idea that we are not thin enough, fit enough, whatever enough, and those messages come with us into the bedroom, especially when we're naked and exposed and feeling vulnerable. And so, that can... Those scripts in our... The tapes that play in our head about our hips, or our stomach, whatever it is, sort of body image ones can be a source of inhibition and can really block a sense that we're entitled to feeling good in the bodies that we live in.
Neil Sattin: So, let's just assume that almost everyone has something about their body that is like that for them. Where would we start? What kinds of questions would we ask? Or how would we get to the heart of the ways that we feel shame about our physical bodies and take some new steps around that?
Alexandra Solomon: I think it can be helpful to develop that kind of a critical eye towards realizing that these messages about our bodies are designed to make us feel insecure so that we buy a product or do a thing that we sort of then, when we just mind mindlessly internalize that message, we are perpetuating that whole cycle. So, there's a way in which a sort of a feminist consciousness can inoculate us against those messages so that when the thought comes up in our heads, we can let it go and come back to something that is more self-compassionate. I think mindfulness... So, the researcher who wrote the forward to the book, Dr. Lori Brotto was based in Canada, and she was really troubled by this finding that almost half of women, especially partnered women, struggle with low sexual desire, and she created a mindfulness training program. She simply taught women mindfulness skills and then invited them to use those skills in the bedroom. So, sometimes it's as simple as noticing the thought come up. "How do my hips look right now?" for example. And then just knowing, "Oh, that's a thought. That's a thought." And sort of letting it pass over and then coming back to sensation. So, mindfulness can be a really powerful tool towards helping us notice a troubling thought, and then let it go and come back to, "I'm entitled to this. I'm entitled to feeling good. I'm allowed to feel good in this body that I live in". And that can be a helpful shift.
Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah and you're pointing to a degree of presence in the bedroom. I love how we keep talking about the bedroom, 'cause it could be the kitchen or the living room or a public park. Take precautions if there are cops around, be careful. But you have to be able to stay within you and to notice what's actually happening for you in a moment like that. So, maybe some of these things around body image are even easier, at least initially, privately, just in front of a mirror, which I think for some of us can also be challenging, to stand in front of a mirror naked and look at yourself and take in the whole picture.
Alexandra Solomon: Right, right. Yeah. And just... There's a way in which I think it's really helpful to grieve, to grieve that I have been doing this around my body for so many years. Or to feel really... Let ourselves feel really sad that the only way... There's a beautiful poem in the book by Holly Holden that is just basically an invitation to just being really gentle with our body, really honoring it as this physical home, the source of delight, of sensation, of connection, and I think that's a practice. My gosh, I think that's a practice and I don't think we're ever done. I think those old stories about how we should look, and then whatever we think we've figured out, we get a little older and the body changes. It's like this constant journey towards self love isn't done, but I think we can get... We can start to get savvier about noticing that I'm doing that to myself again.
Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah, I have an interesting story about that. Something that happened with me recently, that's actually not about sex at all, but realizing a place where I had internalized some beliefs. I've spoken a bit on the show, off and on, about my own tendencies to be a little chaotic in terms of how I keep house. And I had this realization that every time I saw a pile of something, that I would have an internal message that would say, "There's something wrong with you." Just that pile means there's something wrong with you that you cannot keep your... And it might be a pile all of amazing books that I'm reading for the podcast, but the fact that it's there and these books aren't in my bookshelf or whatever it is. And what a difference it has made to me since realizing that, of seeing a pile and simply saying, "There's nothing wrong with you." Like, this pile doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. And in fact, and I think this is the turn towards self-compassion, it's like, in fact, there's nothing wrong with you. Look at all these amazing books that you have to read, just to use that example.
Neil Sattin: So, being able to look in the mirror and look and see your hips, or whatever part of your body it is, and say, "Oh wow, I'm looking at this part of me and thinking there's something wrong with me." What is it like to just be like, "There's nothing wrong with you," and, "What is there to celebrate about this?" or "How can I embrace the part of me that's judging me, and offer that part some tenderness?" Like, oh, maybe there's even some grieving there. Not just in how we do it to ourselves, but this is who I am, and I'm not that person that I see on TV, or in the porn movie, or walking... My next door neighbor, whoever we're judging ourselves against. To be able to be like, "Okay, that's not me. And now, how do I turn to celebrate who I am and what I have to offer?"
Alexandra Solomon: Yeah, yep, yep. And this illusion that I will feel more, I will feel more X, I will feel more desirable, I will feel more competent if I lose five more pounds, if I have five fewer piles. This idea, we end up putting this idea that I'm gonna feel okay once I do that thing that's out there, and it's a road to nowhere. Every time I have held up one of those ideas for myself, I'm gonna feel better once this thing happens, I get there and it doesn't happen. I just come up with a new thing. It's a hamster wheel. And so, that is really radical and revolutionary, to just find a sense of wholeness right now, with the pile, with the curvy hips, [chuckle] whatever the thing is. It's just, find that sense of I am worthy as I am right now, because that's the only place, to circle back to sex, that's the only place from which we can feel entitled to pleasure. I can only feel entitled to pleasure if I... Allowing myself to feel okay is what then opens me to say, "Okay, I can be with my partner, and let my partner help me feel really good." Or put myself out there to find a partner that I can do that with. I can only... That's... And it's not... I don't know, it's not... It's just a practice, it's coming back to... I find it helpful to say, "That's my trauma, not my truth." When that stuff comes up, that's my trauma, that's my trauma telling me that I'm awful at this, or this is not enough, or this is... And then coming back, it's trauma, it's not truth.
Neil Sattin: Right, and those are glorious moments, really, when you see it happening. And so, when you've witnessed that for yourself, those are the golden opportunities. Maybe they're FGGOs, the fucking golden growth opportunities, like where it's happening right there and you get to see like, "Oh, I carry this with me." Or, "This is how I judge myself." Or, "This is how I choose partners who reinforce this negative belief system instead of partners who celebrate me." 'Cause how often does that happen, where we choose people who are unconsciously, probably, reinforcing the ways that we judge ourselves?
Alexandra Solomon: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's maybe an important piece, too, I think for women who are partnered with men, I think that men have... Men didn't... Any individual man didn't create these wounds. Hopefully, I think. In abusive relationships, certainly that does happen, but I think a man can be such a powerful ally to a woman, and so, I think that there is a piece about around some of this body image stuff or just that kind of affirmation of, "I'm just... I don't view you that way. I don't want... When I'm making love to you, I'm not... Just so you know that you may be doing this to yourself, but I'm not doing that to you." And that can be lovely. It can't be the whole thing, 'cause shame is about my relationship to me, but having a partner who is affirmative or who just even acknowledges, "That doesn't even cross my mind. I don't think about your body in that way when we're together," can just be a little icing on the cake. It can't be the whole thing. A man can't, any partner can't out-love, can't love us out of our shame, but a partner can certainly be with us and say, "Okay, I hear that you're doing that to yourself, but I don't do that to you, I don't treat you that way.
Alexandra Solomon: And there's something very powerful when it is in a heterosexual dyad, men who are willing to kind of bear witness to that. That's why I wrote a chapter at the end for an open letter to men whose partners have read this book, whether that's maybe male allies of or male partners, intimate partners, just about... It's hard, I think it's hard, as we kind of reset the balance around this painful historical patriarchal old stuff, as we try to heal that and reset the balance, there's a beautiful opportunity for men to step in as allies. They can't fix this, but they could certainly be allies.
Neil Sattin: Yeah, that chapter I think is a beautiful invitation to how to be curious, how to... And how to show up as an ally, instead of doing things unwittingly that are detrimental when you're faced with vulnerability. And I also like that it's an invitation, that chapter, to the kind of thing that we've been naming, which is that everyone probably has a place where they can come to understand themselves a little bit better in this way as well and to question what's been handed to them. So interesting, so much of this really is shame reduction in some ways, like unearthing those places and going through the process of getting rid of it. I wanna name... I was reminded of this when you were talking about religious perspectives on sex, and one thing that you mentioned in your book is a study that someone did. Justin, I don't know how you pronounce his last name, Lehmiller, is that?
Alexandra Solomon: Yes.
Neil Sattin: Yeah. About the kinds of fantasies that people tend to have. And these are fantasies that people have no matter what their upbringing is though as I name them it will be obvious like why they might cause some conflicts for people, but I wanna name these so that you know that other people are thinking about this kind of thing, so you don't have to feel bad.
Alexandra Solomon: 95%, sorry. 95% of people. So he found... The first thing he found is that 95% of people had sexual fantasies. So it is normal to have sexual fantasies. Okay, go.
Neil Sattin: Okay. So the first one is multi-partner sex, like threesomes and orgies. The second is power, control and rough sex. The third is novelty, adventure, and variety, like things you've never tried, unique settings, having sex in public. The fourth is taboo and forbidden sex, like watching people have sex, licking someone's feet, having people watch you. The fifth is sharing partners and non-monogamous relationships. These are the top five. It took us all the way to number six to get passion and romance fantasy. So that's down toward the bottom of the list, and then we have erotic flexibility, like gender-bending and cross-dressing. And this is no matter who you are, that people are having fantasies like this. So I hope in hearing this list you realize like, "Oh my God, there's so much that we are not talking about," and why I think it's so important to have this space to talk about these things. Yeah, go ahead.
Alexandra Solomon: And just to kind of... There's this both and of our erotic imaginations are potentially really wild, broad, deep, expansive and we may in our lives not inhabit all that breadth and width. So those are two... That's a both and. That we can be expansive and show up with one partner. So maybe our fantasies become things we translate into real life and maybe not. But just the ability to tolerate, "Wow, my sexuality is really big and wide and curious." That's a piece of healing, rather than shutting it down, 'cause the moment we start to shut things down and quarantine them off, that's when things get scary. That's when we're more at risk of acting out if we can't tolerate our own complexity, we are far more likely to act out.
Neil Sattin: Right. So you're talking about creating a space where having those fantasies is okay. Like where and even if so... There's a difference, I think, in talking to your partner, let's say, and saying, "Oh I have this fantasy about someone else being in the bedroom with us." There's a difference between saying that and being like... And having your partner say like, "Oh really, tell me more about that, and what might that be like, and let's explore that." and to be received in a very non-judgmental way versus coming to your partner and saying, "I have this fantasy about having someone else with us in the bedroom, and his name is Raul, and I have his phone number, and I'm expecting him to come over tonight." So there, which in itself may not be a bad thing, but I'm just trying to point out here that there's a whole spectrum of what's possible in terms of how we accept each other, we accept ourselves then accept each other relationally, and create a space for those things to be alive because just naming something like that might fuel your completely monogamous sexual relationship with your long-term partner, where there's never gonna be a third person involved, but the fact that you've been accepted in that way, that your fantasy has been accepted, will be potentially so energizing for you rather than feeling like you have to keep things in the shadows.
Alexandra Solomon: Beautiful. Yeah, I think that's a great example...
Neil Sattin: Or that the fact that you have it is somehow gonna threaten the connection that you have, which is, I think, another piece of how you communicate about fantasies in ways that are non-threatening to each other.
Alexandra Solomon: Well, even just the example that you gave, the Raul example, it confronts... Sometimes we talk about toxic monogamy. This idea that we have monogamy has certainly been put... Sexual monogamy has been put out there as the norm. And sort of again in a hierarchical way, as the best way to love and be loved. And sometimes it goes so far that it's like any attraction, any fantasy that doesn't involve your partner is a slight against your partner. Then there's a way in which that paradigm is so narrow it makes all this stuff feel so dangerous and so threatening versus just a bit of expansiveness as you're saying. Just saying, this energizes me. Okay, then who knows where it goes from there, but just naming it and having a partner who doesn't need to go into that toxic monogamy space of like, "Oh my God, if my partner has any erotic energy that isn't directed solely to me all of the time, it means we are doomed. It means I suck, it means we're broken, it means we are doomed." That's just way too much pressure.
Neil Sattin: Oh my God, I wanna do a whole episode on toxic monogamy. But in lieu of doing that, what would you suggest for partners where that is happening, where they're unable to broach that topic without it igniting some sort of rupture in their connection.
Alexandra Solomon: Right. In the book, I talk about some ways that couples can... And I think talking about sex can be really hard. And if you've been together, especially if you've been together for a long time and you haven't talked about it, it can be really hard to find a way in, and I think that's a lot of couples' struggle. So it's really, it's normal. And given our conversation today, it's understandable. How would we ever know how to talk about sex? We certainly aren't taught that in school and we're... Anyway, so it makes sense why a couple may struggle talk about sex, but there may be some scaffolding. So, I give a list of examples I have collected over the years. I met a couple who talks about sex by putting puppets on their hands and the puppets talk about sex, so they put a bit of space between themselves and this conversation by using puppets. Or something like a book or a sexy scene in a movie, can be maybe a starting point. I'm always happy to have people put this on me. I don't know, I'm reading this book or listening to this podcast, and they were talking about this. And that can be nice, sort of a neutral sort of third-party way in. And to just have it be framed as starting with, "I love us. I love us. I love what we're about. I love who we are. I love what we're going. I'm all in on this mission and I want... And I'm interested in this because I love us, because I'm excited to expand us."
Alexandra Solomon: So, that really... So, foregrounding the positivity and the commitment and the excitement, I think is also really helpful. And then, just being able to name when we're on the receiving end, like, "Ooh, ouch, okay, I have this urge to get defensive. I have this urge to tell myself a story that you're really saying that you're not happy with me and that I'm not enough for you." And just sometimes just naming that can be like, "Okay, good, I hear you're doing that. Let's put that off to the side. Can we put that in the corner and just keep going, 'cause I'm not saying that?" And sometimes it has to happen in a therapist's office. Sometimes, and I think that's a really legit reason to go to therapy. When I have a couple that's coming in after years and years of erotic neglect, I often think to myself, "I wish they had felt able to come in sooner and unpack this sooner." 'Cause that's a really legitimate question. It's really legitimate to say that long-term sexual monogamy is challenging. Long-term... Just being sexual is challenging. Long-term sexual monogamy is challenging, and it makes sense that there can be dry spells and breakdowns and miscommunication, and sometimes having somebody else there for the conversation is helpful.
Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah. So, totally agree with you there. And then just to circle back on that. So, there's naming and owning the importance of the connection. So, if you're the person who wants to bring something to your partner, saying, "You're important to me, and I'm bringing this to you because we are important to me." And then, you also named for a partner who's feeling reactive, to be able to name that and to recognize, "Wow, I'm hearing this and I'm being reactive." And so, that will... Hopefully, the act of bringing attention to it, hopefully that can also be held non-judgementally too. Like, it's okay that you are... That this is edgy for you to hear about this. There's something in that, "It's okay." You're okay for having this fantasy. I'm okay for having this reaction. We're gonna be okay. We're gonna navigate this together with this assumption that we'll get through, we'll be okay. There may be work for the reactive partner in examining their own self-worth issues, and doing that dance between being able to hear something like that without it going to the core of who they are or whether they feel like they're being accepted or loved by their partner. So much there.
Alexandra Solomon: There's so much there. And with the thinking about the example of if the question is around, this idea of bringing in a third person or somebody who watches, it may... An interesting place to go is to ask what is it about that that's so stimulating for you? What's so intriguing about that? So that's interesting, that's a more interesting question than when will it happen or who should it be. And maybe it happens and maybe it never happens, but to start way, way, way back at the beginning, about tell me more, like we said. Tell me more about how that stimulates you. What's so exciting about that? What is the kind of juice there within that narrative? Who do you get to be in that story? Who am I in that story? Understanding and being curious about the charge, the yearning, just that curiosity may be enough to kind of satisfy it and play with that energy, versus actually bringing in a third person. And who knows? We can separate the outcome from the process, and the process may be one that's very enlivening and engaging, separate and apart from whatever happens in real life with the actual fantasy.
Neil Sattin: Right, right. The purpose of a fantasy isn't necessarily that it has to happen.
Alexandra Solomon: Right, right.
Neil Sattin: There's something that just crossed my mind that I'm hoping you can shed some light on, 'cause it jumped out at me when I was... And it was back in this part about fantasies. I love the puppets thing, by the way. There was something you named there, which was couples talking about themselves in the third person. That was one I hadn't heard before, but I really... She really enjoys it when you do this, and he feels really vulnerable in this moment, just as a way of getting that enough of that distance, but it also feels like it could be really fun and cool to be narrating what's happening as it's happening. Yeah, I don't know, I like that.
Alexandra Solomon: Totally, absolutely. Right, right, right.
Neil Sattin: So, the fantasy thing was... 'Cause we're talking about reclaiming your sexuality and that an important piece of that is reclaiming it so that it comes from the inside out, as you named at the very beginning, so that your sexuality isn't developing in relation to how other people see you and how other people think of you, and I lost the page, so I'm not gonna be able to read it exactly, but there was this category of fantasy that was about being seen and appreciated and... Right, oh, here it is. Object of desire's self-consiousness, and I'm interested in this, the dance between it actually is really compelling to be the object of someone's desire, which in a way is about how you're being seen and noticing that you're being seen, but without having your desirability be based on how people see you. Do you see where it's...
Alexandra Solomon: It's so complicated.
Neil Sattin: Yeah.
Alexandra Solomon: Yeah, so the object of desire is this idea that... And the research has found that this is something that is more compelling, more stimulating for women than for men, but the idea that somebody sees me as desirable spikes my desire. Being wanted spikes my desire. And it helps me... It is about helping me tap into me. I just did an IGTV video about this. So last weekend, I was heading home from the gym, and I texted my husband and I said, "Will you go shopping with me today?" And it was so clear to me what I was wanting. So, this book launch, I want a couple of new dresses, and I know how I want to feel at these upcoming events. And so, I certainly could have gone shopping myself, obviously, and I have. But the idea of him being in the dressing room, down the hall, I go try something on, I come down the hall and show him. And it's not even about him saying thumbs up or thumbs down or him saying, "You look beautiful." It's about him holding space while I feel beautiful.
Alexandra Solomon: It's a subtle but important difference. What I was saying is, "Can you be the bass note? Can you hold a steady bass note while I do this thing that I do," where I play in different colors, different textures. And I find pathways into my own sense of my own experience of my beauty, my aliveness, but will you be with me while that happens. It's a really subtle difference. And it's an important pathway for me, and for a lot of women as the research shows, to connection to the erotic is this idea that, basically, you're watching me feel into my own erotic self, my own alive self. I think sometimes it could feel transactional. I'm asking for him to do something for me, but it's not transactional, it's just an invitation to connection. This is for me, what I know about me is this for me is powerfully connecting. Will you join me in that?
Neil Sattin: Yeah, so there's something in there of really how you know yourself and you know that this is gonna be something that's going to really feel good, that will bring you pleasure and... Yeah, so knowing yourself in that way, being able to communicate it. What are you gonna say? I saw you.
Alexandra Solomon: Well, just that it's been this way... Todd and I've been together forever, but I have memories of... I love to dance. Dance is a humongous part of me, and he hates it. So, there would be times at parties where literally I'd be like "Can you just stand on the dance floor?" I would use him like a prop. He would just stand there, and I would dance around him. I'm just "I just need you with me while I do this thing." It really is good for both of us. It's good for both of us because I get to feel the way that I know I want to feel to show up with you, to feel close to you. It's just fun. It's just such a part of our... And I think that's part of it, too, is that now in year whatever of our relationship, these kinds of things, him going shopping with me, also has that circular sense that it reminds me and reminds us of how we used to be and who we used to be. We used to shop together a lot when I was from a suburb in Detroit and he lived in Chicago, and I would come visit him, and we would go shopping on Michigan Avenue. I'd never been to Chicago, so it also had this element of reminiscing, which is also really good for couples, to tap into who they used to be. That's very connecting and intimacy provoking, inspiring.
Neil Sattin: Well, Alexandra, one of the many things that I appreciate about you and your work is how well you bring together so many different writers and thinkers and put it all together in a way that's really practical. And just like Loving Bravely was a very practical book, Taking Sexy Back is another great example of how you pull all these things together, and it becomes a very useful manual for diving in. So, I hope that you listening that you've gotten a taste of that and just how much practical information is here along with ways of talking about sexuality that illuminate the challenges that we face. So much of that is seeing like, "Oh, right, this is a challenge. This is shame that I carry with me, this is a story that I carry with me, this is how my partner and I are missing each other." Having awareness of that. You do such a great job of illuminating that for the reader. Something I really appreciated. And in what you were just talking about, I was thinking about how we identify what we like and what we don't like. And you bring up Emily Nagoski's work around the dual... What's it again, the Dual?
Alexandra Solomon: The Dual Control Model.
Neil Sattin: Right. So, there are those things that excite us. Go ahead.
Alexandra Solomon: Yeah, just that. That our sexual desire functions with an accelerator and a break. So as you were gonna say, things that excite us and things that shut us down.
Neil Sattin: Yeah, so what you were just offering is, I think, a great example of that, or at least that's how it showed up for me, like, "Oh, right, this is Alexandra knowing this gets me going," and inviting Todd your husband into the dance with you.
Alexandra Solomon: That's right. Versus playing yahtzee which is gonna just slam my break real hard.
Alexandra Solomon: Playing yahtzee, doing anything that's competitive with him really, really shuts me down. Now, for another person, that might be incredibly connecting and gets them going, to be competitive, to be... I just know for myself, no. Hard no.
Neil Sattin: Yeah, so interesting.
Alexandra Solomon: It's so idiosyncratic and that's why the whole thing about sexual self-awareness, really understanding ourselves, is so vital and so valuable.
Neil Sattin: Well, Alexandra Solomon, thank you so much for being with us here today. Your book, Taking Sexy Back: How to Own Your Sexuality and Create the Relationships You Want, is a valuable addition to anyone's self-growth or relationship growth library. And if you want a transcript of today's episode, there's so much that we've talked about, you can visit neilsattin.com/sexy or text the word PASSION to the number 33444. And also, if you wanna find out more about Alexandra and her work, you can visit dralexandrasolomon.com, where you can find out all about her, what she's doing, where she's speaking. Yeah. And it sounds like you're on Instagram as well. What's your Instagram handle?
Alexandra Solomon: Dr.alexandra.solomon.
Neil Sattin: Okay, great. I haven't really figured out how to play in that world, so I'm glad you are doing it.
Alexandra Solomon: Oh, it is a world.
Alexandra Solomon: It's a world.
Neil Sattin: Thank you so much for being here with me today, Alexandra.
Alexandra Solomon: Thank you, Neil.
Neil Sattin: Okay.