Shocking the world in August 1991, American hip hop trio Salt-N-Pepa released their highly controversial song, “Let’s Talk About Sex.” The following is an excerpt from their globally chart-topping, Grammy-nominated hit.
“Let’s talk about sex, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Ladies, all the ladies,
Louder now, help me out
Come on, all the ladies
Let’s talk about sex, all right
Yo, Pep, I don’t think they’re gonna play this on the radio
And why not? Everybody havin’ sex…”
Here we are, 31 years later, and talking about it — especially the kind between long-term couples — still remains taboo. I won’t lie – it took everything in me to get over my own shyness and commit to breaking that silence. This is me keeping my promise of straight-talk on all of life’s transitions, and our sexual lives are part of that, right? So… WELCOME to an uncensored, scorching two-part series all about sex and connection.
There is NO WAY I am going to do this alone, so this week I’m beyond grateful to be flanked by certified sex and intimacy coach Irene Fehr as she warms us up by talking about the basics. A specialist in women’s libido and sexual desire in long-term relationships, Irene’s work has been featured in multiple big-name publications.
Irene has gone through a sexless marriage and understands the immense shadow lack of intimacy casts over a relationship. Today, Irene joins us to debunk myths, reinforce benefits, and share juicy sex coach secrets to (re)activate our sexual appetites and create deeper connection.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- The dangers of faking your orgasms
- Setting expectations up for the long haul
- The three types of sex & two kinds of orgasms
- Unpacking the baggage behind rejection
- Diminishing returns of attraction
Listen to the Full Episode
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Our gift to you. Is there a burning sex question you want to ask Irene? Get it answered right here — no cost, no judgment, no limits.
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- Free Video Series: How To Want Sex Again
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Full Episode Transcript:
Hello, It is 10:00 am in New York, 4:00 pm in Johannesburg, and 9:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to IN TRANSIT with Sundae Bean. I am an intercultural strategist, transformation facilitator, and solution-oriented coach, and I am on a mission to help you adapt & succeed through ANY life transition.
So if you’ve been a longtime listener, you might remember back in episode 105: Tiny Moves, Big Impact where I talked about my undergarments and I turned red. And again today, I probably will turn red, because guess what? We’re going to spend the next two episodes talking about sex and I hope I don’t die. Why this even freaks me out is reason enough for us to talk about sex. Why is this a taboo? Why is this something that isn’t part of our integrated conversations? We are sexual beings and it’s normal how we express ourselves sexually and how we enjoy ourselves sexually will also change over time. And if you know my work, you know my work is centered on our lives IN TRANSIT and we’re constantly going rough some transformation whether it’s internal, external, or performance led. And if that doesn’t connect to sex, I don’t know what does.
So I’m not gonna have this conversation by myself today. I have brought in an expert and she will help us understand the many ways our lives are IN TRANSIT and how that impacts our sex lives. What it takes to transform our sexual relationship with ourselves, or with our partner or partners. And perhaps give us some fresh insight on how you can redefine, ambitious, when it comes to your own sexual transformation. Irene Fehr, thank you for joining us on IN TRANSIT today.
Irene: Thank you so much for having me.
Sundae: So let me tell you a little bit about Irene for those who are not familiar with her work, she is a sex and intimacy coach and she specializes in women’s libido and sexual desire in long-term relationships. She’s also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) and her work is deeply rooted in evidence based practices, including the Gottman Method Couples Therapy and it’s also informed by Somatic Experiencing®, just to name a few. She also understands what our clients go through as she personally had gone through a sexless marriage and has since transformed her life. Irene has been featured in Thought Catalog, Shape, Cosmopolitan, Scary Mommy, and many many more. So, Irene, I am so excited to have you here today.
Irene: I’m excited for this very potentially, really juicy conversation we’re about to have.
Sundae: *laughter* You knew what was going to happen before we started because I sent you an email and I’m like, “I am so uncomfortable, talking about sex. This is going to be a great interview.”
Irene: Exactly. It’s like when it’s uncomfortable, is the thing that we most need to do, and thank you for doing this, for having me.
Sundae: Well, I was thinking about this independently and then you and I hopped on a call in advance and we decided this is going to be a two-part series. So today, we’re going to kick off with talking about straight talk, straight talk about sex, and what’s really happening in our lives that maybe people are afraid to talk about. And I think, why don’t we just start with some of the basics, Irene? What are some things that we need to know about sex that either is a common misperception or we don’t talk about?
Irene: Well, I think there’s so much out there these days in the world about sex when you’re single. So there’s obviously in the media, movies portray women who are single, like Sex and the City, there’s a lot of talk about liberating womens’ sexual desire and so in a way, we’ve come a long way in sex in that area. But what I’m most interested about is sex in a long-term relationship. And to this day, this area is incredibly taboo. Incredibly secretive, with very little information. So, I want to lay out some basics around what happens to sex in a long-term relationship. Because we’ve all heard this joke, almost this truism that when you get married expect sex to die out. And unfortunately, that is the experience of many couples. So there’s almost evidence for the truism.
And I wanted to debunk some myths and I want to layout, like you said, the basics, the expectations around this because what I find is that couples go into relationships with idealistic thoughts or thoughts that the way they are sexually, in the beginning, is going to last and they get disappointed and heartbroken. And oftentimes it breaks up relationships. So again, my goal is to debunk some myths and set realistic expectations, and also kind of translate what’s actually happening.
Sundae: Right? So we say if sex fades, then maybe our connection has faded, like we make it mean something.
Irene: Absolutely, we question ourselves, “Are we good enough?” We questioned each other, “Is my partner good enough for me?” We question our love for each other. Really, like, “Is this love real? Because why isn’t it pulling us through this challenge?”
So let me lay this out so it makes sense, how couples get to that place. And so, when we think about dating usually for most people, sex is really easy in the beginning because it’s coming from this strong draw to each other. We can’t keep our hands off each other. We’re thinking about each other. We are touching each other when we’re together. It’s almost like we are high on drugs and these drugs are moving us towards our partner and there is a lot of truth to that. When we meet someone and we click, there’s this emotional connection, like, “Wow, this person gets me!” Or, “Wow, we’re having fun together.” And there’s of course physical connection, “Wow, I’m really attracted to this person. I’m thinking about them. My body is aroused,” All these things are happening. And there is a biological urge behind this and that is around procreation at a very primary basic level.
And so that urge is wanting us to connect to hook up, and to make a baby, whether or not you want to, but that’s what those hormones are doing. And it’s a very powerful cocktail of hormones drawing us to each other. So in that, sex is easy. Sexual desire is plenty to come by and especially when it comes to women’s libido and the beginning of a relationship that usually looks as high as a man’s. She also wants to engage, she’s ready. And this is one of those deceptive things that couples really misunderstand later on, but let me get there in a moment. So sex, in the beginning, is what I call; Friction Sex. Again, lots of desire –
Sundae: *laughter* Get that out there. That’s what’s going on.
Sundae: Just a quick caveat. I want to make sure that in this conversation, people know that we’re talking about heterosexual couples and same-sex couples. So whatever we talk about, this should be seen not just through a heterosexual lens. So friction, I guess goes for all of the above.
Irene: Exactly. And that is really like, you have actually a lot of friction in your own body, a lot of tension and that tension is removed through friction like rubbing each other’s bodies against each other. And yeah, so I’m being very literal when I say friction and absolutely applies to everyone. And that hormonal draw is so primal in us in whatever configuration of a relationship you have.
And what’s also specific to friction sex is that it’s what I call “good weather sex” because everything is usually really easy in the beginning. It’s all about having fun and having an amazing moment together, but the drawback to that is that we don’t like to welcome those two vulnerable moments. Or moments where we have to kind of stop and address some kind of issue. So in a way, we avoid those.
Sundae: And are you talking specifically about during sex or something in the relationship?
Irene: Actually both. This is a stage where a lot of people will not mention what they really want, whether it’s been outside of sex or in sex because they don’t want to quote unquote, ruin the moment. Or they don’t want to expose something vulnerable about themselves. So they hold back because you really want to impress each other. And of course, they don’t want to be rejected. But the problem with that is that this is again why it becomes good weather sex, it’s just sex when things are perfect. And we don’t make space for the real things, things that we experience. And a lot of people see the natural diminishing returns of this. So sex may be hot and passionate for the first couple of months, but then it starts to get less and less passionate because the physical aspect is not enough to carry sex and sexual desire through time. You need the emotional component. Like openness and actually being vulnerable with each other and without that, again couple, see diminishing returns and they start to question their attraction. “Well, maybe we’re just not that attracted to each other anymore.” But that actually isn’t true. Because again, there isn’t space for that vulnerability.
Sundae: So it’s kind of sounds like you’re talking about connection and vulnerability is a way to go beyond our primal physical needs.
Irene: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Sundae: That like, “I physically, haven’t had sex in x amount of time. Now, my body wants to have sex,” versus, “We haven’t had sex in a while, and we need to infuse vulnerability and connection to almost create desire before that physical level is met.” If that makes sense.
Irene: Absolutely. You put it beautifully. It’s the difference between, “I,” and the biological urges and, “We,” as in sex as the connective element in a couple.
And so in friction sex, it’s all based on “I” and “me” and my urges and my desire for my partner. And the “we” part is part of actually the third type of sex which is Connection Sex, which is really the one that’s sustainable and that gets created over time.
And so this is why friction sex and then the next type of sex that I’m about to share, they naturally die out. They naturally have a shelf life that doesn’t make them sustainable
Sundae: And it’s actually the sex, it’s not about them. It’s about you.
Sundae: I’m ovulating or I haven’t had sex in two weeks. So, friction sex is actually about you and not about the relationship or the partnership.
Irene: Exactly. It’s even when you desire your partner, it’s really about you. I have such a strong desire. I need to get this desire out or get it fulfilled.
Irene: Yeah. So there’s a lot of passion at this stage. So don’t get me wrong. It can be incredibly pleasurable. It can be really fun and you can feel very close to a partner because wow, you’re having these really passionate fun experiences together. But without the connecting piece, they start to die out. And couples will start to look for toys or new positions. Try to do really crazy stuff like hanging off ceilings or twisting themselves into pretzels, all of that. They try to get back that passion, but that’s not a substitute for it. It’s gone because again, it’s driven by hormones and it’s driven by these biological urges. Okay, so that’s friction sex.
And a lot of couples will break up at the end of the stage because again, they just make it all about sexual attraction instead of understanding that the connection is missing. But the next type of sex is what happens when couples fall in love, so they may go from friction sex to falling in love without friction sex completely dying out.
And the next stage is what I call; Validation Sex and this is actually also driven by biology. But in this case, the biology of love, so we start to develop feelings for each other. We start to care for each other and there’s a lot of passion that comes out of that too. Now you are receiving and giving sex to a partner as a sign of love and care and maybe even commitment. So it can be a very again passionate, kind of warm-encompassing kind of sex. You feel like you’re wrapped in this warm blanket when it happens. It’s kind of the quintessential making love to each other. Super powerful, super passionate. But the flip side is that two things:
- When we are in love with each other, we get into attachment patterns. And attachment patterns, I can spend hours on that but I’ll summarize. Attachment patterns is what we’ve developed with our parents, with our caretakers. And these attachment patterns are about attachment to those who we depend on and whom we love and receive love from. So we start to repeat the same patterns that we grew up with. And we end up falling into patterns where we tie attachment and signs of attachment to sex. So what that looks like is if our partner wants us, that means we’re being validated, we are enough for them. We are amazing for them. We are lovable. We are deserving and desirable and all these amazing things.
- But the thing is that over time, there are going to be more and more reasons when your partner doesn’t want to have sex with you. They’re exhausted. They just had a baby. There’s work stress. They’re sick. Or they just don’t want to. Maybe they really want to focus on something else in that moment when you want to have sex with them. And what happens is that we start to equate, “No,” with, “I’m not enough. I’m not desirable. I’m not worthy,” and all these things. So this is what in short attachment patterns look like or how they play out. And so we tie sex to validation. And whenever there is a demand placed on sex –
Sundae: It’s about skill? *laughter*
Irene: Thank you. It is about skill.
Sundae: Right? So I have to I know we could spend this entire time talking about attachment styles and sex but I’m curious, how does that work if you have a different attachment style? If someone has a secure attachment. The other person is dismissive-avoidant or what is the other one?
Irene: It’s avoidant or anxious.
Sundae: Or anxious. Exactly. Because people come back come into their relationship with backgrounds of trauma and different attachment. How does that play out when you have a different attachment style in lovemaking?
Irene: Well, we pretty much all have a different attachment style because there’s virtually no one in the world who has secure attachment, 100. Plus attachment, there’s a primary type, but it also switches because it’s in relationship to the other person. So I would not necessarily think about, “Well, I’m a different type from my partner,” as much as we want to think about what in the relationship creates secure attachment or secure relating? So we’re never going to rewire our attachment fully. When we’re stressed we default back into it. But what we can do is we create a relationship where it’s safe to open up. It’s safe to say, “No.” It’s safe to ask for what you want. And with that, we create a securely relating relationship. We’re relating in a secure way. Even if we fall back into our primal, attachment patterns.
Sundae: This may be a cliche. It might be a gender stereotype. Or a biological assigned sex stereotype, this idea of you need a connection to have sex or you need sex to feel a connection. For me, it’s like a chicken or the egg situation. If you’re not feeling connected, you might not be motivated to have sex, but having sex will actually help you feel connected.
So, how do you solve that chicken or egg problem? Actually, that’s a “how” question, we have to wait for part two for that. But maybe you can speak about the biology behind that with connection and sex.
Irene: Sure. So this is certainly true for most men and most women. And it’s also very applicable to same-gender couples because usually we’re attracted to our opposites. That’s true in attachment patterns, and it’s true with the type of sexual desire that we have. So someone who needs connection first and then are able to go into the sexual place have; Responsive Sexual Desire. Their sexual desire responds to connection, it responds to stimulation, it responds to a slew of things preceding it. So it’s at the tail-end of these other things, including connection.
And someone who can just go into sexual activity, like, straight up, touching genitals, getting off, going into penetration usually have what’s called; Spontaneous Sexual Desire. Literally, they can spontaneously get ready for that and be ready for it physically. And also they can do it, they don’t need some kind of transition period. They can get naked. They can again touch genitals right there in the middle of the day without anything else preceding it.
Sundae: Sorry. I have like so many things I need to say right now. Because first of all, I love that there’s a name for that, right? Which legitimizes it. And there’s no judgment around that. Because I’ve heard so many things that can put judgment on that. So there’s two things are coming up. I remember, I think it was Oprah, she was talking about, “For women, foreplay is all day. And for men, it’s five minutes.” And of course, she was being playful but the idea of if you said something sly to me at dinner, oh hell no. That poor guy has no chance. But if you’re coming from a spontaneous sexual desire and the other person, what is the name that you called it the other way of warming up?
Sundae: Responsive. if one is responsive, the other one is spontaneous. You do really speak two different languages and one isn’t better than the other. They’re just very, very different operating systems.
Irene: Yes. There are very different operating systems, obviously, very different requirements. And again, I want to turn away from this approach of what my partner is a different type and therefore we’re not compatible because two people with responsive sexual desires are going to have a very hard time to getting started. They may just never get started at all. Or it’s usually the people who are opposite of us have something we don’t have, and it’s much easier for them than it is for us and we want it. Like, “Wow. You already have what I’m wishing I could have.” And so, that’s the attraction.
And we want to capitalize on that because there’s a lot there. A lot of benefit to each person. So I want to get turned away from using it as a handicap and look for the gifts. And this is what we’re going to spend the next episode on. But I want to just give a preview of this distinction between looking at again differences in biology, differences in attachment styles, differences in sexual desire. And differences in hormones, estrogen versus testosterone, and think about; How do you intentionally create sexual desire? Like I said, how do you capitalize and each other’s differences to actually get benefit from them. How do you create practices where both people get their needs met? Where the spontaneous desire person gets their sexual touch that’s not connected to anything else that just like goes right into it. And – and this is big, not a but, but an AND– how does the response of sexual desire person get their needs met so that they’re not being forced to just, “Okay, fine. Okay. I’m going to forego my needs. I’m going to close my eyes. I’m going to take a deep breath, and just do it to get it over with.”
Sundae: Which is so awful. Honestly, when I think about the historical context of women being forced into sex, it triggers something that has nothing to do with a relationship. This is the unfortunate piece about this when it’s an intimate trusting relationship. It can trigger historical trauma.
Sundae: And that is why it’s so important, I think to have these conversations because then the person can say, this isn’t about historical something and the partner can feel validated. “That’s not what I’m trying to do,” right? That’s so complex. And this is like, when you look at sex, you look at Geopolitics, right? Everything is so connected.
Irene: Absolutely. And there’s also naturally so much anger that comes up. Because you’re being forced to do something that women have been forced to do for thousands and thousands of years –
Sundae: But it’s not about the partner trying to force, right? That’s the whole thing.
Irene: Exactly. Yeah. We just bring all of that trauma in from generations and generations behind us. And so, this is, again, this is where it’s really important to distinguish all these things. Distinguish them from also our partners and they are also bringing their trauma and then start to step back and start to think about this intentionally. And that’s where that third type of sex. I mentioned comes in where Friction Sex and Validation Sex naturally die out because really, they’re biologically based, they’re kind of done almost like with momentum because your relationship is making you do it. It’s just evolving on its own.
And with Connection Sex, you become intentional. Like I said, you separate these things and you start to understand yourself, you start to understand your partner, and you start to design intentional practices that would serve each and both of you. And that’s the kind of sex that is sustainable that survives and actually thrives with the evolution of your relationship and all the different transitions and transformations that you go through, from young love to having children, to raising children, to middle age to empty, nests, to anything and everything that shows up, to elderly parents, to death, to loss. All these things, is that when you are intentional about your relationship and you put in the effort, and again, the intentionality like the looking at it and not just doing things by default, then it starts to serve you. Then it starts to be this thing that lubricates your life.
Sundae: *laughter* I’ve been waiting for the references. Honestly, as soon as you said the word. Yeah, I won’t even go there. I’m going to make some really dirty jokes right now, I digress. But yes, thank you for making a reference because I’ve been dying the whole time.
Irene: Yeah, always gotta squeeze that one in.
Sundae: *laughter*. Listen, so there’s so much of the HOW I want to talk about but we’re going to talk about that more in episode 2. This is really helping clarify the WHAT. Responsive versus spontaneous, friction sex, validation sex, connection sex. Can you tell us a little bit more about biologically what’s going on? And I’m going to take a heterosexual lens for a second of the male orgasm versus a female orgasm. How is that different? Because when you think about, even if you’re attempting to have connection sex, there are biological differences at play.
Irene: Yes, there absolutely are. And in terms of basics, to the difference between men and women, I’ll follow the heterosexual twist, is that men peak in the mornings, their sexual desire peaks in the mornings. And women’s sexual desire peaks at ovulation. So you have a daily cycle and you have a monthly cycle.
Sundae: *laughter* That is so cruel.
Irene: Yes. So from the biology perspective, there are differences, just straight-up sexual desire. And generally, speaking for men, they need just a couple of minutes of stimulation to be able to orgasm. So their sexual curve is not even a curve. It’s a very steep linear run up to orgasm. And then a drop down into the refractory period, where they need to take a nap.
And so their access to orgasm is much easier, much faster. The biology allows for that, their body again, they can get, on average, they can get hard just within anything from 20 seconds to 2 minutes and be ready to either have penetration and have orgasm or to have some kind of hand or oral stimulation and have an orgasm.
But it’s very different from women again at a biological level because our cycles does that are designed to peak monthly. We are designed to actually have build up to orgasm. Now, a lot of women will not resonate with this and say, “Well it just takes me three minutes to orgasm too,” and here I want to differentiate two types of orgasms. So one is the kind of the traditional type of orgasm that we know which comes from tension, built up tension. It could be tension from life stress, anxiety. It could certainly be sexual tension. And in the way to release that tension is through friction, through stimulating the clitoris, and basically submitting it into an orgasm. Stimulating and stimulating until it’s overstimulated and then it releases into an orgasm. And that’s a powerful way to release that tension. But a lot of women will also report that they actually feel empty afterwards rather than filled up. They feel lethargic and not particularly happy. Even though the tension was released, it didn’t actually leave them particularly filled up.
And so this is where the second type of orgasm comes in, which is what I call an overflow orgasm, where you build up your energy, you build up and build up and build up from a flow of stimulation. It’s connection and play and certainly physical stimulation, its central stimulation. It’s it has pauses and it has brakes and it has steep climbs, and then downs and peaks and valleys. It seems you’re on a journey.
Sundae: Okay, I have to pause. That sounds amazing. Yeah, people don’t have time for this all the time. What do we do about the time factor? *laughter*
Irene: I know I’m teasing here because the big answer will come in the next episode. So this is part of that buildup, right?
Sundae: But how long does this go on for? What do we do biologically? How long can we allow this to go on? The pauses and the brakes and the climbs and all this overflow? What are we talking about here?
Irene: Well, what I’m talking about is every day, having some kind of emotional connection, physical connection, not necessarily sexual but touching, being naked with each other, dancing, having the body activated of the woman. And then, ideally, one time a week, having a three to four hour sex date.
Irene: Where you do not rush anywhere. The tension is on you and your body and you let this cup get fuller and fuller and fuller and overflow. I know, and this is the thing, this is unrealistic in the lives that we lead, the way would lead them today.
Sundae: And also just from a concept, right? We were not taught that this is a thing.
Irene: Exactly. Right.
Sundae: To be honest. I’m gonna be really transparent here in this, what you and I talked about in kind of our pre-call. There is also something inherent of like sex needs or sexual needs to lead to orgasm. If you’re naked next to a woman that you have a relationship with how would it not lead to an orgasm? Like, this idea of it’s just it’s reimagining what being sexual with each other could be.
Irene: Exactly. Yeah. And there’s a historical reason too of why most women don’t know about this. We’ve never ever tried this and it doesn’t exist in most people’s lives, and that’s because, for thousands and thousands of years, men have led sex and sexual experiences. And so men are not automatically preconditioned to be sensual. Again, they have so much sexual tension in their bodies, which peak in the mornings. They want to release it, so to build up sexual energy is not really necessary for them. They just want to release. They just want to have that quick orgasm. So they lead orgasm in heterosexual relationships as opposed to sensuality and filling up with sexual energy. Connection for most men, they get connection after having sex, after expressing that spontaneous sexual desire.
Sundae: Before the hormones kick in and they fall asleep? Like in those two minutes?
Irene: Well, maybe not even then. Yes, there’s that too. So, the right connection doesn’t happen. They’re not leading with that. There are not leading with expanded orgasm, which is when I said overflowing orgasm, that’s what I mean. A full body. Your whole body shaking with pleasure. Your whole nervous system resetting. They can’t experience that if they’re just getting off for a few seconds. And so when men are leading our sexual experiences, we’ll get three minutes of foreplay, two minutes of penetration, orgasm, falling asleep. Okay, you’re done. And then go on with life, which does not, not only serve women because it feels shitty, but that it also makes our sexual desire die out because who wants more of that?
Sundae: But it’s like who decided that that sex ends with the male orgasm? Where was that meeting? Who had that meeting?
Irene: Exactly who sent that memo out? Yeah.
Sundae: So, how do we? Yeah, that’s what, yeah. I have so many questions right now. And can you tell me about the percentage? How did what does it look like? I know I’ve read statistics about the percentage of men who have orgasms in sex versus women. It’s like much much more men in sex with orgasm versus women. Do you know the stats on that?
Irene: Yes, it’s something around 80% of the time that men have sex, they have an orgasm. And it’s something between 40 to 50 percent for women in heterosexual relationships. It goes up to 60, 70 percent in same-sex/lesbian relationships. So kind of the data points to the variable between these two, which is sex with women vs. sex with men.
Sundae: And I think it’s a paradigm that we just don’t talk about. Even the idea of penetration is very male-centric, right? This is my joke. This was me taking a feminist class in college where we talked about vaginal engulfment, why is it called penetration?
Irene: Well, this is why I’m going to differ from a lot of other sex therapist and sex coaches, that there is this slant of well penetration is male focused and that is very true when – and this is true for actually most women having sex in 2022 in the world, is the man gets off, but the woman gets nothing and that’s because her body is actually not aroused to the levels where she can have something happened with inside of her. So it takes the the scenario that I painted before, so daily sexual and physical connection, plus these extended sexual sessions for her arousal levels to be so high so that she can actually have a vaginal orgasm and or a cervical orgasm, which is a very deep deeply seated orgasm that creates a full body experience.
Without that women can last three minutes, five minutes without pain and then it just starts to rub, like it starts to go back to friction. And so for most women, it is true. Why have that? What’s the point?
Sundae: It is so sad, but I think about there’s this huge spectrum of like painful sex, and like heaven-sent sex. It is a huge spectrum and it feels like we’re only playing the piano on one side of the keyboard.
Irene: Or I think of it too is like, we’re playing with breadcrumbs. We’re choosing, “Which breadcrumb do I want? Do I want a breadcrumb from a cake? Or do I want a breadcrumb from a savory bread.” But we’re choosing breadcrumbs. But yes, there’s this whole cake that’s available to us. And when we focus on a first understanding women’s libido and women’s sexuality, and then we intentionally design our lives to support that, we can have not only ecstatic experiences. That’s fun of course and not just fun. For me, those experiences were meeting God through sex, like being transported into a realm where I did not care if I had a body, I didn’t even know I had a body anymore. I was in this other space of timelessness and weightlessness and pure ecstasy. And wait, I lost my train of thought because I got transported there.
Sundae: You should have seen my face while you’re talking about it. That sounds pretty good. *laughter*
Irene: Seriously, what was I talking about before. I’m getting red here. *laughter*
Sundae: We were talking about the spectrum of what you can have. For me, this what I meant about paradigm shifting. If we were having conversations, this is also part of why I do my intergenerational women stuff. It’s like if we were having conversations early on about the whole spectrum of what’s possible. And even men, this is not against man. This is not slamming them. It’s not stereotyping. It’s just saying we have all drunk the Kool-Aid, and the savvy men who are out there learning about women’s bodies and asking their partners about women’s bodies are the ones who are are also benefiting and discovering. So I, this is not like a –
Irene: Not male-bashing.
Sundae: Absolutely not. But it’s about why don’t we have these conversations earlier and more openly? And because this is a paradigm shift for a lot of people, I think.
Irene: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s also what I wanted to say when I digressed, is that there is the ecstatic part, but it’s also that there’s so many health benefits from this for women, physical, physiological and also emotional, because when you can go to that space, you come out reset, the nervous system, resets when you can go into such high levels of arousal. Your body feels rested, you might have your own refractory period or you need to rest, but you come out refreshed and refilled and it does wonders to our emotional state. So many couples report that not only is their relationship easier, and the relating is easier, but things don’t bother them anymore. They’re not annoyed. Everything’s just easier. And my own experience is that after ecstatic sex, I’m unstoppable, that nothing fazes me. That there is this power that comes on the inside where I am confident and I am again, unstoppable. Nothing will get in the way. Everything is solvable. That’s a Marie Forleo quote, “Everything is figureoutable.” It comes from this inner confidence and a full cup, a sexually full cup where again, there’s so much emotional and physiological benefit from that. We need it. It’s a nutrient that we as women need and that we get to miss out on when we pick breadcrumbs.
Sundae: Right? And this is not, like we were saying before, it’s not because someone is being bad. It’s more, we also need to empower ourselves and use our voice and do our research, and bring that to the conversation. I think it’s fascinating. Right now, I’m talking about these wild times that we’re living through and what I’m saying is we need to go to completely new solutions for old problems. And when I hear you talk about the physical impact, the emotional impact, the relational impact, that this isn’t a new way to create resilience and connection, and talk therapy is great, date night is great. But there are other ways to to transform your own self confidence and energy and relationship. It sounds fascinating.
Irene: Yeah, and two quick things about that. One is using our voice to do that. But even before that is committing to that. Because one of the things that I did for myself and I teach my clients is that, it’s about commitment to living on that level, committing to yourself that this is really important and that you’re not going to accept breadcrumbs anymore. And not to do it out of spite or out of anger. But just this deep commitment to, “This is how I want to live. I have X years left, and this is how I want to spend them. And this is what my partner deserves, as well.”
Irene: And this is what my kids deserve, because I’m a different person when I have that. And when we commit to that, then it’s about using your voice. And, you know, this is where women, we’ve colluded with men to set them up for failure by faking it, by pretending, “No, no, everything’s fine. You just keep doing what you’re doing,” while we’re rolling our eyes and and resenting what he’s doing. And again faking is just provoking and promoting this, prolonging this ignorance around this.
Sundae: No, it’s awful and it sets men up to such an impossible situation. Right? When within a loving partnership, they do want to please, that feels amazing to also give sexual pleasure. So what you are setting someone up to fail.
You mentioned finite years left and I want to talk about sex and aging. And I know we don’t have a ton of time left but I was recently listening to, this is one of my favorite books right now: This Chair Rocks.
She talks about aging and she really transformed – Ashton Applewhite. She transformed the way I thought about sex and aging, she said that it is viable to have a healthy sex life into your mid 70s or mid 80s, and I was like, “Well, that sounds great. I can’t wait.”
Irene: Yeah, absolutely.
Sundae: So what does it take? I also think it’s a paradigm shift that if you grew up in a household where you watched your parents become roommates, and stop being lovers, you also might not even come to the idea to have sex into your 80s.
Irene: Absolutely and again, it’s the difference of thinking about sex and sexual desire from a biological perspective versus this intentional conscious connection perspective. And so biologically, of course, your body and sex that you’re having is going to be different at 70 than when you were 17. Your body changes. Your pace changes. A lot of things.
Sundae: You could break a hip.
Irene: Exactly. So, of course things change and again sexual desire changes for women, it can drastically change with menopause where their sexual urges disappear and or for some women, they appear like crazy, and they become so excited for sex that they never had that before. So the the range is huge. The span is huge.
But the point is, we don’t want to rely purely on the biology. And when we think about connection and sensuality and thinking of orgasm as the building of sexual energy than just releasing it, you can have sex until whatever, 115, because it will shift and change with who you are. But sexual connection, to say that we cannot have sexual connection when we are elderly is to say that we cannot feel in our bodies and that’s not true. You can feel in your body for however long you are alive because that’s what aliveness is. You feel aliveness in your body. And if you know how to cultivate it you have until the last days whenever they are
Sundae: To your last breath. That’s gorgeous. Oh my gosh, there’s so much more to talk about. We gotta wrap up this episode. Wow, this is exciting. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to take questions from the audience as well. So if you’re listening to this episode and you want to ask an anonymous question, we will put in a TypeForm where you can anonymously post your question that I will bring into part two of this episode. Part two is also going to be where we shift from the WHAT to the HOW. Like, how do we turn things around or how do we light things up? So this has been amazing. I cannot wait until our next session. In the meantime, where can people find you?
Irene: My website is my name irenefehr.com and there’s lots of free resources such as the free video series called: How To Want Sex Again. There are hundreds of blog posts. And of course, you can find contact information to reach out to me there as well. irenefehr.com.
Sundae:I can’t wait, we will put in the show notes. It’s been amazing. Thank you so much. I can’t wait till part two. Everyone, I mean, hello, basically salivating during this entire episode. This is such fun. And so impactful in terms of what could be different and what could be better, not just personally, for someone’s relationship, but for the couple and also from a gender equality perspective, I think it’s really cool. And the good news is that everybody will benefit.
You’ve been listening to IN TRANSIT with Sundae Bean. Thank you for listening. I will leave you with the words from Joy McMillan: “Sexual energy is just that, it’s energy. And where we choose to expend that energy makes all the difference in the world.”
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