Better Sex is focused on helping all couples create and enjoy their best possible sex life. Better Sex is hosted by Jessa Zimmerman who is a couples’ counselor and nationally certified sex therapist.
Each episode will dive into one topic related to sex. Some will be devoted to addressing sexual concerns like sexual dysfunction, differences in sexual desire, and intimacy problems. Some will help you develop realistic and helpful expectations. And some will offer information and approaches that can just make your sex life better.
The information and discussion on the podcast should not be taken as medical advice or as therapy. Please seek out qualified professionals for medical and therapeutic advice.
175: Erotic Touch – Christina Antonyan
Christina Antonyan joins me to offer her perspective on erotic touch and its significance in a relationship. We talk about the primal character of attuned touch and how to access it to enhance your sex life without any pressure of reaching a goal.
What got Christina interested in Erotic Touch?
In a one-week seminar on Tantric and Taoist teachings, Christina connected with the world of erotic touch. The seminar involved the activity of women giving pleasure to men and then switching the next day by receiving. It eliminated the pressure to give back at the moment and lead to open up her sense of pleasure. She points out the importance of touch by hands and fingertips as the most sensitive areas of the body. “Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with,” Christina says quoting Carl Jung. Erotic touch enables the energy to flow through the body and reach the g******s while opening up our senses.
This process of Erotic touch emphasizes the concept of receiving and relaxing into pleasure without an obligation to give back immediately. Christina suggests erotic touch as a way to reconnect with your partner during disagreements and when you don’t feel like having sex.
Why is touch so important to us as humans and its significance in a relationship?
Touch is the first form of communication that we experience as babies. It’s how we connect with people, objects, and textures around us. Parents express their love, care, and nurturing through gentle touch, and we lock our memories of that moment in touch because that’s how we received it. And when we lack that touch, we feel disconnected and our energy blocked. Christina gives an instance where she gets a massage to open up her senses and unblock her energy.
What are some common mistakes people make when touching?
Christina points out not being aware as the most common mistakes people make while touching. This constitutes not being present in the moment, making mindless and mechanical movements, and disconnecting with your partner’s body. Christina compares a bad touch with a bad massage that feels unintentional and alien. A partner can sense when you’re occupied by your thoughts during touching or having sex.
How Do You Define What Makes Touch Erotic?
While slow and sensual is one form of erotic touch, many other forms like caressing, stroking, tickling, squeezing, tapping, soft touch, and frim touch come under the erotic touch. Christina says that erotic touch is defined by its intent and awareness rather than the part of the body it’s performed on. Moving further she points out how we as unique individuals experience differently than one another. Most of the time, for instance, during a massage our g******s are skipped. According to Christina, for most women, a lot of sexual energy is held in our thighs and buttocks and when we experience erotic touch in these areas, our energy flows through the body.
Christina talks about “Lingam massage” (penis massage) where men are blindfolded to avoid the person giving the massage becoming their main source of pleasure. The goal is for them to go in their body and experience sensation and pleasure like never before and it applies to women as well. It’s about experiencing non-visual pleasure.
Ways That People Can Practice This Touch With Their Partners
To practice erotic touch with your partners, Christina offers a three-part video series of breast massage, yoni massage, and penis massage. It reaches various hand movements to give different types of touch and experiencing sensations that go along with it ranging from high to low arousal. Christina advises following your intuition and getting creative once you become comfortable with the movements. It can be done by being present and attuned with your partner’s body and observing their reactions to your touch....
174: How Men Can Talk About Their Sexual Desires – Shana James
In this episode, Shana James shares how men can talk about their desires and their vulnerability toward having a thriving sex life.
Shana’s drive to support and guide people into a healthier relationship stems from her younger self who was confused and wanted to understand what a healthy relationship looked like. Now, Shana’s work on communication extends beyond men and can be applied to all heterosexual relationships.
Communication Breakdowns in a Relationship
According to Shana, the most important part of communication in relationships that people need to improve is respect. Drawing on personal experience, Shana suggests that we reflect on the way we treat our partners. While trust is built on actions, words have the power to shake that foundation. Our emotional responses, like name-calling and blaming, are a part of that communication that needs to be fixed for a healthy relationship.
What Makes a Lower Desire Partner Say No to Sex?
A partner can push their lower-desire partner away from saying yes to sex when their conversation takes a turn into complaining and blaming. Instead, Shana suggests having a conversation filled with passion, excitement, and collaboration. Asking questions about what their desires are and talking about what you want to try is a good way to bring them around the idea of opening up about their wants. Depending on the tone of our conversations, lower desire partners can feel the blame and put off their desires. “Innately, there’s nothing wrong with our desires”, Shana says while urging people to work through their desires and initiate collaboration.
Shame Around Expressing Sexual Desires
Shame is one of the biggest hurdles people feel around their desires that makes them say no to affectionate advances or sex. Their partners can offer them a safe space to express those desires by fulfilling their desires outside the bedroom – to be seen and understood. Shana says it’s a collaborative effort of both partners to connect and form an intimate and emotional bond outside the bedroom. It enforces their trust to be playful and explore each other’s bodies, what they like and need, and what you like and need. It’s an experimentation-style approach of constantly being curious about each other’s desires and your own. It helps face the shame and fears with compassion and love.
How To Make Your Partner Feel Safe to Be Aroused & Sexual
Shana’s advice to make your partner feel safe and comfortable to be sexual is to be vulnerable and honest with your reasons for wanting that experience. Unlike many assume, men do feel the need to have sex to connect and bond on a deeper level or to express the love they feel. It’s a way to leave behind the stresses of the day and focus on being a good partner. Shana also points out that when we assume the best of our partner, we start to understand where they’re coming from and show more compassion towards their needs and our own, that’s how collaboration is possible.
Advice on How to Have Vulnerable Conversations
Having conversations about desires and needs can be difficult for many, and Shana advises people to communicate before having sex. The conversation could be about how we’re treating each other in terms of respect and acknowledging each other’s wants and needs. During the conversation, it’s important to hear what the other person is saying and instead of dismissing an idea, try entertaining the thought. You can brainstorm with your partner about how they can accommodate you in a way you feel safe and comfortable to try this new thing. This is where curiosity comes into play, says Shana. In terms of putting your desires forward, Shana suggests the ABC communication method. When you put an idea forward and get a “B” response from your partner that’s surprising, instead of walking away try asking what caused them
173: Self Love Secrets From a Bra Fitter with Kimmay Caldwell
On this episode we hear from Kimmay Caldwell, an Undergarment Educator and Coach, whose 20-year-old self, working as a bra fitter, was struck by how people viewed themselves in the mirror. The harsh narratives people came up with while trying on a bra made her transform her own relationship with her body. Now, Kimmay supports all those people who struggle with self-love, self-acceptance and body image through her coaching work. Kimmay covers everything about loving yourself and owning your body.
Becoming a self-love coach and an undergarment educator
Kimmay was an independent and struggling full-time student in New York City and became a bra fitter at a bra shop in Soho where she met all kinds of people from different backgrounds. In the pre-Instagram period of hiding cellulite and stretch marks, Kimmay (like many others) struggled with body image and self-acceptance. Being a bra fitter gave her a window into the most vulnerable parts of people’s minds- what they see when they look into the mirror. The negative stories that people came up within that intimate space made Kimmay reflect on her own relationship with her body. It not only inspired her to improve her perception of her body and image but also inspired her to support others in their own journey of acceptance and love.
Kimmay says that breasts and g******s are the most intimate and sacred parts of our body. However they appear – full breasts or a flat chest, it centers our energy. When people feel shame and discomfort with those parts of their body, it can throw their energy off.
How did Kimmay help as a bra fitter and now as a coach?
Working as a bra fitter in retail, Kimmay would encourage people to see something positive when they experience intrusive thoughts like what their bra size means to them. Now as a coach, Kimmay started with bra fitting sessions where she addresses three things – confusion, discomfort and shame, to get people to start liking what they see in the mirror. Confusion is the educational part of the process about bra sizing, what fits and the differences. Discomfort people feel can be addressed by fitting them into their right bra size. One of her thoughts is around how wearing your right bra size is much like fitting into the right size shoes, it’s about being comfortable in what you wear. Shame is tackled by addressing stories around body types, what it means to them. Kimmay explains how shame grows from the stories we tell ourselves and how shame blocks confidence, potential and connection with our bodies.
Kimmay created the “Hurray housekeeping method” where you view yourself as a house, from the foundation up. It serves women who aim to be successful and achieve bigger dreams. She rightly believes that the kind of person you are outside to the world and in your relationships, at the end of the day, you come to yourself, to “your head and heart space” as Kimmay says it. It’s important to feel comfortable and at home in who you are. To make that happen you change how you talk to yourself, the stories you tell yourself.
Inside, outside and underneath – meaning
Kimmay gets into explaining what her tagline “inside, outside and underneath” means. In taking a holistic approach Kimmay supports people by working inside out. The inside part of the process includes a relationship and connection with your inner self. Changing the way you perceive yourself and the way you communicate about your appearance could transform your inner self. She then guides them into the process of addressing concerns underneath your clothing, which is done by educating people about undergarments. In the next step, she looks outside a person including their job, how they present to people, relationships and more. Kimmay emphasizes the need to connect with yourself first before connecting with someone else in a relationship.
172: Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse – Dr. Stephen Braveman
To bring awareness and break the myth around male survivors of childhood sexual abuse, Dr. Stephen Braveman joins me today. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, an early pioneer in working with the population of male sexual abuse survivors as well as women and transgender people. Stephen shares his knowledge on the history of male sexual abuse, the surrounding cultural myths, the impact on the victim, how to receive help and get started on the healing journey.
History of Male Sexual Abuse Awareness and Stephen’s Role
Dr. Braveman gives us an account of the history of male sexual abuse and the progression of its awareness. It started in the 1950s and 60s when sexual abuse of men was just a myth. It progressed through the years with sexual abuse of women coming into light in the 60s and sexual abuse of children, specifically girls coming into light in the 70s and 80s. The perception of viewing them as survivors brought a huge shift in the field however, the talk of male sexual abuse remained minimal. Stephen started the first-ever group for men sexually abused as children in the 1990s. In the two years of running this rare group, Stephen realized there wasn’t much conversation going on about this subject anywhere in the world.
Dr Braveman decided to educate people on the subject by making a documentary, Boyhood Shadows- I Swore I’d Never Tell. This one film, conceptualized and spearheaded by Stephen and the men in his group, was developed while he was working at the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center, has helped thousands of sexual abuse survivors come to grips with the emotionally crippling effects of abuse they suffered at the hands of others.
Myths Around Male Sexual Victimization
Stephen talks about some of the biggest myths surrounding male sexual victimization, including the belief that men/boys cannot be abused because of society’s idea that “men are tough”. In the case of abuse, they are told to “man up” and take it, which is damaging because the impact of abuse lives on. The second myth is that if a boy is molested by a man, the boy must be gay or causes them to become gay. This leads to boys questioning their sexuality for the wrong reasons. The third myth is that if a man molests a boy, the man must be gay. Stephen debunks this idea by giving an example of the Semen Warriors of New Guinea.
Another prominent myth that exists is that men cannot be abused by females. People don’t consider other forms of abuse that cannot be inflicted without an erection, such as fondling, b*****b, or encouraging them to touch inappropriately. Stephen points out that it’s often not believed because of the idea that men overpower women. This is a false idea, as most of the molesters are someone close, and they molest in a loving manner that obstructs a victim from overpowering them. Stephens discusses briefly the myth of abuse by teachers. This is particularly difficult to clarify because it’s often romanticized. This type of abuse leads to expressing symptoms like the belief that these sexual practices that are illegal and morally wrong don’t apply to them, that they’re an exception to the rules.
Stephen talks about Vampire’s syndrome as another myth that people believe – that people who were abused as children grow up to abuse others just like how people who are bitten, in turn, bite others like Dracula.
Pedophile vs Child Molester
While talking about a child molester being gay as a myth, Stephen gives the difference between a child molester and a pedophile. A pedophile views children solely as their sexual orientation and hence most of them have a preference between male and female children. Child molesters are most commonly someone close to the child – their mother, father, a teacher, priest, or a coach. They are sexually attracted to children and the power they could display o
171: God Wants Us to Have Pleasure – Rachel Alba
Our topic today is about getting closer to God through pleasure. I’m talking to Rachel Alba, who is a sex coach for people raised in Christian traditions that are struggling with shame or negativity around sex, and are at a point in their lives where they’re willing to take that on and try to transform that into something positive.
She shares her personal story of her journey around this, and a lot about the idea of faith development. And opening up to new ideas about sex and then how to explore that and reduce the kind of shame response that people can have.
Rachel works as a sex coach specifically for people who are coming from Christian backgrounds. And she got into that specifically because she was raised Roman Catholic and was led to believe sex is a space for us to really come back to the Garden of Eden and very much experience union with each other, union with the divine, even a fuller union with ourselves at the same time. And that’s a really positive viewpoint that Rachel was exposed to in her particular parish, this sense that sex is really good and pleasure is really good. And we can experience God’s grace through those things.
Sex, Pleasure, Shame, and Christianity
Our discussion dives deep into the history of attitudes surrounding sex, pleasure and shame within Christianity. And how so many people come from a place of spirituality. One of the first things Rachel does, is to remind people is that shame is actually a positive thing, which can sound a bit crazy.
But she points out that our initial shame response is actually meant to protect us. So, it’s positive in the sense where it was meant to protect us. And a lot of times what happens is we just didn’t ever actually like grow out of that shame response that we had around sexuality.
God created your body for pleasure.
Rachel says that God didn’t give us nerve endings simply because we need them to be able to like, feel textures on trees. She believes God gave us pleasure and the ability to experience pleasure, because God wants us to experience pleasure.
Rachel is a certified Clinical Sexologist and holds a Masters of Arts in Theology and Ministry from Boston College. She comes to Clinical Sexology (sex coaching) with a decade of experience as a massage therapist and extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology. Her work combines: developmental spirituality, sexology & anatomy, sex-positive theology, and mindful sensuality to help clients from Christian backgrounds let go of any lingering sexual shame, experience more pleasure, grow in their communication and sexual skills, all while deepening their spirituality. Other things I love are: sangria, playing piano and singing, and the 1970’s film version of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Links and Resources:
Instagram – @rachel.alba.coaching
Website – https://www.sexwithspirit.com
[Where you can find a Free Three Keys to Releasing Sexual Shame mini–class]
Sex-Positive Christian Feminists Podcast with Rachel Alba & Lurie Kimmerle – https://podcasts.apple.com/si/podcast/sex-positive-christian-feminists/id1549622305
Training video – https://jessazimmerman.mykajabi.com/video-choice
Sex Health Quiz – https://www.sexhealthquiz.com
The Course – https://www.intimacywitheasemethod.com
The Book – https://www.sexwithoutstress.com
170: Orgasmic Expansion – Serena Haines
Serena Haines joins me on this episode to talk about orgasmic expansion – a hybrid technique developed by fusing techniques she used working as a Somatic Sex Educator and Sexological Body Worker. The goal of orgasmic expansion is to maximize pleasure and experience. It aligns perfectly with the Intimacy With Ease method when couples reach the point of having an enjoyable sex-life but wanting to expand their pleasure.
Definition – Orgasmic Expansion
Orgasmic expansion is a fusion of slow sex techniques, breathing, orgasmic potential, and neo tantric exercises melded into one. Serena states that, unlike what people may assume, it’s a practical and tangible approach to expand one’s potential for pleasure in a safe and connected relationship.
It starts by guiding her clients to practice a few intimacy and neo tantric exercises. These exercises involve eye gazing, touching, sitting back to back, and breathing deeply which allows a deeper connection to form between the couples.
Phase 2 & 3 – Intimate bodywork
Then the couples do guide intimate bodywork on each other which involves erotic massage that isn’t necessarily therapeutic or sexual. The massage is for them to relax and receive pleasure sensations from giving and receiving touch. While the partner receiving the touch focuses on breathwork, the other partner focuses on the sensation of the touch.
Genital Mapping and Genital Massage
Then they move down to genital mapping, genital massage, and end with pleasure. Genital mapping is where the partner who is receiving the touch is focused on their feelings, sensations, and erotic responses of their body, disregarding the expectation to reciprocate afterward. The giver is guided into exploring their partner’s body and focused on the sensation, feeling of the partner’s different parts of the body, even the color and visual of the vulva. While the receiver enjoys pleasure, the giver enjoys the erotic visual which is extremely important.
Physiological Changes and Responses
The next step after making sure they both feel the pleasure is to guide the partner to notice and observe the physiological changes and responses in their partner’s body. Serena gives an example of looking at how the labia swells and changes colors and the time it takes. Serena points out that for most partner’s it’s uncomfortable to let these changes happen with their partner observing. However, this process allows the other partner to explain and talk through
the changes they’re observing. This encourages the receiver to express what feels good and tell the partner to do that. The goal of genital mapping is for the partner to understand the physiological responses happening in their partner’s body and for the other partner to relax and let the time be taken for the energy to flow through their body.
Serena then guides the process to go up to the clitoris and apply slow sex techniques like orgasmic meditation. Orgasmic meditation is working with the clitoris to map out the pleasure points. The partner goes through these points like clockwork while receiving and giving feedback until they find the most sensitive spot. Serena explains the process to be followed to reach an orgasmic point. She guides the partner to let the orgasmic potential move through the breath and expand the heat generated in the g******s through her body instead of quick orgasm. Serena says. It’s about prolonging and expanding the pleasure potential.
Giving and Receiving Feedback
The partners are guided to speak up about their experiences throughout the session. They are encouraged to give and receive feedback and it’s prompted by Serena’s questions such as, “How does it feel, how does it look?”. It allows the conversation to flow that creates a medium where they feel comfortable to tell each other if something feels...
Finally…open conversations about Sex
Jessa Zimmerman is clear that everyone wants to talk about sex…but so rarely is it done in a candid and transparent way. The reality is that there is no ‘normal.’ This is a diverse subject as there are relationships. Jessa navigates it with ease and is connected and genuinely interested. Great information to get perspective through the murky ideas about what is ‘normal.’ Enjoy.
Fantastic information in most of these podcasts, especially the one from Michael Castleman. People are sexual as long a they live and he had a lot to say about that.Dr Jessa is a great interviewer.
Love this podcast about sexuality
I love that Jessa normalizes issues about sexuality. She discusses so many topics and reminds us that sexuality is so much more than just a physical act.