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Hey, everyone, today's guests are actress and producer Demi Moore and writer director producer Shawna First, I really enjoyed spending time with these two incredibly talented women.
Check out their new podcast, Dirty Diana, which is an erotic take on connection and intimacy. I'm also excited to welcome Dr. Alex Caractacus, who joins me at the end of the episode to help answer your questions. Dr. Alex is the clinical director of the Center for Healthy Sex in Los Angeles, a regular contributor to Psychology Today and the Huffington Post and author of multiple books on erotic intelligence and healthy sexuality.
You can hear more from Dr. Alex on the Alex Karakus podcast. I really hope you enjoy this episode.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are listening to Unqualified with your host ionospheric. How are you? I'm great, how are you guys good. I'm just currently hiding from my children. I feel like I've I've successfully gotten all of them out. I haven't gotten all the animals out. So you might hear from them.
But doing my best. Yes, you'll definitely hear animals in mine.
Are you guys, you know, I guess dealing with the anxiety and the boredom and the like peacefulness? I don't know. That's sort of been my journey. But I mean, all of those things like concentrated.
Yeah, it seems like it's like almost just as we're starting to get into a comfort zone where it feels like, yeah, we can manage this much time, it's not ending. And then that kind of starts the whole cycle over again.
I think you're completely right. I think it first, back in March, I was spending a lot of time actually talking to some of my friends that I hadn't talked to. I'm kind of past that now. Now it's like there's a little bit of a feeling of like what is there to say? And like checking the news obsessively, which seems to go nowhere as well.
So, yeah, I was in a weird thing where I was checking the numbers every day, you know, like all the percentages. And they are going up by like point one zero, you know?
And I'm like, oh, that was it. Not what I recommend for any anybody.
Well, I found some great comfort in watching this program called the toughest prisons in the World, OK, because then it really brings it into perspective.
I mean, some of these are just so off the charts, you know, with this guy who served 12 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, who is hosting this and going in these prisons for seven days as a prisoner.
So if you need a little something to take you out, jump in. I do. I do need that.
Thank you. And that's valuable. Yes.
So I was listening this morning to Dirty Diana. Man, it is fucking great and so steamy. Great. Will you tell us a little bit about how you conceived of it and the idea of being vocal about female sexuality?
Yeah, you know, the podcast came from a pretty vulnerable, honest place because it came from a period in my life where I had literally stopped having sex with my husband and we hadn't had sex in almost a year. And we had been married two and a half years at that point.
And I remember feeling, I think one of the worst feelings you can feel in a marriage, and that was I felt really lonely and I didn't know how to get it back and I just wanted to run.
I was just like, I'm done, I'm out. This is too hard. It's gone. I don't think I can ever be with this person intimately. And we just kind of stopped talking. And the biggest thing we stopped talking about was sex, because I was not raised to talk about sex at all. I wasn't raised to talk about, you know, having an orgasm I didn't even like.
I literally stumbled upon an orgasm when I was like twenty three. And I'm like, what's this? Oh, my God.
And it was this thing of a lifetime of feeling shame over my own desire.
And it affected my marriage in a way that my husband and I actually separated and I had a boyfriend and he had a girlfriend. And for a year and a half we still went to therapy. We were still talking because there was something inside both of us. What we knew because we used to meet at these restaurants every week because we shared animals so we would exchange a dog or a cat or whatever we were exchanging. And every time we would go to a restaurant, we would cry restaurants all over Los Angeles.
We would cry in every single one. And so I knew there was something still there that we hadn't figured out. But it was like a really scary journey to go on to talk about sex and our lack of communication.
And I was craving a show that you could watch that could kind of get those juices flowing again or, you know, a show about connection and intimacy, the kind of show that I wanted to watch because traditional porn is such a male gaze thing. Right. It just doesn't really do anything for me, especially as a director, because I'm thinking, oh, it's the wrong location, wrong lens, wrong actor, wrong script.
And I thought, what if I created something incredibly elevated that talked really authentically about, you know, the problems in a marriage all from a female lens, from a female point of view. So that's how the the show started, the idea behind it.
And then to me, how did you become involved? You know, this was sent to me just for consideration. And it's one of those pieces of material where it's just I couldn't not say yes, there was, you know, something that felt so important to explore.
You know, what Shauna brought together, it's isn't just about. Sex, but it is combining this exploration of a fractured relationship that actually finds its way back and in it a woman who has a complete lack of acceptance of who she is, like shame and judgment attached to who she is, who slowly comes to accept herself. There was something so important about those themes. You know, what's amazing is that we met at the end of last year and had already decided to do this.
And then when covid hit. It was this, you know, kind of little gem of a gift that we were able to do it during this whole quarantine and with actors all over the world, which created like a deeper intimacy to explore something that does have so much shame and judgment attached to it.
To me, your voice is incredibly it's hard to beat them. But the vocal distinction and I was thinking an interesting voice, I wonder if that is a quality that is underappreciated. Perhaps it's a really interesting point. I was listening to some of your stuff on it and I was like, wow, your voice takes on a whole other person. Thank you.
I love an actor who can create a character using their voice because it is it's a specific skill. And I, I admire people who can do it and I love doing vocal voice work. But short of back to your idea about. Porn and like for me, growing up, I was the same way. We never spoke about it. I was it was even though I grew up in a very liberal, non-religious family, sex was the biggest stigma of all, I guess, which is probably very common for a lot of people, whether they grew up in religious households or not for women especially.
But I found erotic literature that was my outlet. Anything visual felt like you said male gaze. It felt a little crude, very guilt inducing as well. And so my avenue with sexuality and discovering it, I think was through erotic literature. And I think the dirty Diana provides the same idea that you really can let your imagination sort of form these characters and imagine what they're doing.
Yeah, imagination is so much more powerful. Probably what's in your head is so much sexier than anything that I could direct or show on the screen. And I was the same way I remember reading those books. Do you remember Flowers in the Attic to this book?
I remember like sneaking in the back of my dad's pickup truck, he had like a cover on it and my sister and I would be reading and it was gross, like it was like about like an incestuous relationship or something. But my sister and I were like flipping every page, like, so into it.
And I mean, I wish my parents had been more open about sex. And I, I didn't even see my parents naked. Like that was like, no way. No, I still have issues with my own, like, body shame.
I think because of that, because, you know, I try my boys. It's so funny because I have two boys that are older, you know, five and seven and a daughter and my boys, you know, we've been raising them very open, but they are almost too open. And I think they just think their penis is hilarious and they love to whip it out and show everyone. And it's like this endless joke. But my daughter doesn't do the same thing.
And I'm I don't know.
I'm not like I need to figure out why, but I do wonder, like, that is something that she already at three years old is like, no, keep your underwear on. That's not what I do.
Or my boys are like, look at me. Look at this cool thing.
You know, I do think early on kids pick up very much on a gender difference in terms of fear. And I think inadvertently, whether it's parents or society, the combination, I only have my son, so I don't know. But I was always very encouraging. I never wanted him to identify as shy. I wanted him to be able to, you know, communicate with a stranger, say hello or whatever to somebody in an elevator. I mean, I was proud when he would, but then recognizing what I feel the same way if I was raising a daughter, would I encourage that same level of friendliness?
I would love to think that I would.
But inadvertently, would I be more accepting of sheltering her and instilling kind of fear of strangers that eventually, like, you know, does get wrapped up into your sexuality? Like how many more times is like a young woman taught about bathing suit areas as opposed to boys and how we internalized that whole idea of like, don't let anybody touch your bathing suit area.
I am so involved in my daughters. So I'm so curious what you have to say about this, because I now I'm following them all on Instagram.
And, you know, I watch women on Dancing with the Stars. And I was just like, whoa. I mean, like, I hope my daughters are as cool as yours. Like, they write beautifully. They're incredibly sensitive and artistic and they're all doing these interesting things. So how did you navigate this?
You know, look, I can't say that I did as well as I even would have liked. I certainly tried to open the discussion far more than it had ever been for me because my mom just kind of left for me to figure it out, you know, just in my own, like, exploration of trying to understand what happens. That also creates this vulnerability for us and China. We've talked about, you know, there is this moment like kids are equal where you would probably be the same with your boys and your girls.
But then there is a moment where the energy changes. And as a girl, you start to experience getting attention because you're a girl.
And it's different and it's exciting. And it. Feels like something that you want more of, so you start to kind of go into the direction of what is it that is creating that? And it's all from this sexual place. And I think that's where this major misunderstanding comes into play, which is confusing being desired with having desire. Mm hmm. And I know that because I really felt at a disadvantage from no one explaining or talking to me about orgasm.
And so thereby I attach something to it that gave it a meaning that it was, you know, something that's secretive and not good or nasty or that something was wrong with it.
So I really wanted to encourage them to know the power and importance of acknowledging and getting to know your own body so that you can come to the table knowing like what the exchanges as opposed to what especially young people are seeing today, which is just about servicing the man. But look, I have come to realize that. No matter what I said or shared with my girls, how I related to myself, how I held it is what they've actually carried on.
So the shame that I have, they picked up, even though there may be a little step above.
So part of why I wanted to do this was also to keep opening up this relationship, this representation to normalize it. Like I keep thinking, an orgasm is like the closest we might come to an understanding of God in our physical experience.
Would you say, I don't know?
Yeah, look, I just think, you know, being able to voice so much of my sexual interactions in my 20s were like, what do you like?
Like, let me figure out what you like so that you can have a great time. And you call me the next day and you say you had a wonderful time and a good date and it was a great sexual experience. But for me, dirty Diana is women saying this is what I like. And it's really important, you know, this is what I fantasize about. And a lot of it is centered around an orgasm. And for some women, how hard that is to achieve for some women, how easy it is and how far off or how you have to fight for it and all the different ways.
But like, let's talk about it, because we need to we need to.
It's really important. And I think what you had said before to me about like your self-worth, you know, so much of dating in my 20s was about the man's experience and me coming second and not even thinking about that for myself. And if I had thought about that for myself, you know, maybe I would have chosen different people.
You know, maybe I was in relationships that I might not have been in because they were kind of selfish relationships that didn't really think about me.
I don't know. I wish I had had the confidence and I wish I had the confidence and knowledge of my own body.
I would have dated differently in my 20s when I was 19, my college roommate caught me masturbating and she told everybody on our floor. And then I was like secretly known as like the masturbator or whatever.
Oh, I'm so sorry. You know, I love the episode. I believe it's two or three with Melanie Griffith when her fantasy is going down on men and giving pleasure. And then to me, I believe you ask her character what her sexual pleasure is getting out of it. There's no judgment if her fantasy is pleasing. I mean, because I think they can be all things I have fantasies where I'm more powerful than my partner and then I have fantasies probably more frequently where I'm less powerful than my partner.
But I think the complication is great and it's fine. I like to play different characters.
I mean. Right, but that's the nature of a fantasy. I think fantasy is probably better left as fantasy and not brought in necessarily to reality.
It doesn't have to be overanalysed. Some things can be like, well, yeah, I love Cherrie's more than whatever strawberries. I mean, I think as long as people feel safe and good, of course that should always be the goal. I don't think that sexuality should be judged in in that way. And I think that the younger generation seems to be doing a much better job of embracing these ideas.
I think you're right. There is definitely a baseline that has improved. But I think there's an undercurrent in our conditioning in the silent space that still holds a lot of fear and judgment.
You're so right. And, you know, we are also so conditioned to tie our value to our fertility completely.
And so that's the other thing that has to change. And biologically, it doesn't come. It comes from, you know, it being the childbearing years, making you desirable, sought after for this procreation, and that when we are older, thereby we are less desired. And it can feel, especially if we've been riding the wave of the drug train of attention, if that becomes your juice, that's kind of giving you a sense of value.
Then as you move into the phase that unfortunately things are changing on the outside, but on the inside, you're getting to a place that's so beautiful, where you really are enjoying who you are and valuing yourself. And the outside is perhaps not exactly as pert and perky and plump as you would like it, which then just kind of creates a fear.
I was watching this program about whales yesterday.
Apparently, there's only three species that have menopause, humans, certain kinds of whales, and I can't remember what the other one was, and they attributed it to this idea that there's something they called the grandmother effect, which means the reason that we live on past our childbearing years is so we can take care of the other ones.
And it's like, fuck, that's our value, not just because we're amazing people.
I love that because as you were talking, it was making me think about the like in the tarot cards.
What is the woman? The crone?
I don't it's a card of the croal, which is like this, like decrepit woman. And yet it's meaning is of someone who has deep wisdom and power.
But yes, we attach and go, yeah, no, I want to look like the high priestess thing. I want to power like when it happens for the first time.
And I think about my daughter with this, like when it happens for the first time, it's often the first kind of taste of power that you get as a young girl because you're not feeling it in the classroom or at school or with other parents, like you're not getting acknowledged and feeling powerful, usually in sports or PE. At least I wasn't. That was my real first taste of power.
Oh, if I look like this, if I dress this way, I can feel this power of desire. And, you know, I went to UCLA and I spent a lot of time in school and I never felt any kind of equivalent power other than men's desire.
And so I think that's what needs to change.
I mean, it's really an interesting thing that I feel like I kind of just played and processed within myself about what is this drug that happens to us that really changes us from being these little kids playing, being you know, I certainly remember it like this shift that happened and it was kind of a little scary and at the same time intoxicating to want to then. Seek it out to even understand it, to know what it is to like, play with it, that all of a sudden changes.
I don't know, I guess, changes where we're sitting in ourself in terms of our value or can, it isn't like I want to generalize and having three daughters, I've witnessed it. It's just something that occurs even in our like just our social dynamic.
And then, like the first time you hear a group of boys talk about, like a girl that they hooked up with and they're like laughing. And suddenly I remember those first few times of hearing how boys would speak disparagingly of girls. Oh, yeah. You know, like the slut culture. And that is like then there's that thrown into the mix.
It's so confusing. Right?
I said the story before, but I remember seeing that there's this when I used to rent VHS tapes with my dad in the like 80s, Redondo Beach would go into my favorite VHS like rental store.
And the box cover for this movie was called Angel and it was like split in half and half of it.
The girl was like dressed in like a private school uniform.
And it was like, Angel is a straight-A student during the day.
And then the other half was like Angel and like red lipstick and like a little, you know, Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman outfit. And it was like she's a dirty slut whore by night or whatever.
I don't that wasn't the copy, but it was something just horrible.
And I remember thinking, oh, I was so intrigued by that because I think already I had already felt like there's a choice that you have to make. You can be one side of the box.
But where is the combination? Can you be a woman that is in the middle somewhere? And so, yeah, I so hear you on.
And when you say, yeah, that feeling of being desired by those five boys feels great one day and then the next day when they're talking about it and laughing, it feels so dark, so dark.
And then when you're sitting at the bus stop and you're looking at an ad for a Burger King and a woman is giving you a sandwich, a blowjob, and you're like, oh, OK.
So that's desire. That's male gaze. Should I be like that?
Are you open a women's magazine and it's thirty tips to please your man and how to look great and you feel all this pressure from these external forces in society to look and act a certain way to please a man.
And then when you do all those things, it can completely backfire. And then you're a slut. You've gone too far. So it's this line that you're constantly writing.
And I think, you know, interesting for both of you, because you both have been so desired in your careers. You know, you there are definitely movies that were your it was about your desire and being desired.
And I'm so curious how that feels.
Well, Shauna, as you were describing that, I was thinking it is like a girl coming into her sense of sexuality. It's like a little taste of fame. Mm hmm. It's a little bit of fame concentrated and you don't know what to do with it.
It's like, doesn't this feel illogical on some level? I'm growing up.
You can't control certain things, but look at how the power dynamic with that works and how that affects us later, which is the power we have is in withholding and in giving. Right. So if we give too much, then we're considered loose, slutty by withholding.
We become this kind of super desired, something that very hard to get. And so that can play in the dating chording kind of dynamic. Then you shifted into marriage where there is has been a tendency to withhold if something's not going the way you want in a marriage for a woman. But I just wonder how much of that is conditioned by the fact that we have less of an open discussion about orgasm and our bodies, not just for us as women, but for boys.
Like, I think the best thing that you guys could do in changing this is by educating your boys on knowing a woman's body, because, you know, for me, it's like a young boy. It happens for him whether he likes it or not. And he's like, yeah, I know how I work. They get in these first intimate experiences and then it happens very quick for them. And then we, of course, require so much more finesse.
It's very unique to us as individuals. And if we don't know ourselves, they don't know, then it's kind of like, oh, OK, bye. Yeah, we're left going, wow, that was it.
That's what we've been talking about. And I really feel like that plays into other aspects of our dynamics in relationship on an emotional level and a physical level.
I completely agree.
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OK, are you guys ready for yes, a of questions here. There's more than a couple. What is a quality you dislike in yourself? Hmm, I'm judgmental. I hate that, especially when when I judge other women, and that's sometimes like this like lizard brain thing like this instinct that I do and I'm like, where's that coming from?
And that's one thing that I'd like to work on the most.
I would say mine is fear, like my fear keeping me from trying. My fear of being exposed, just that part that limits me, because that kind of then becomes procrastination, but it's really fear, not lazy. I'm not lazy at all, fear that I'm not good enough. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I'm bored with that. So bored with that story. Yeah, yeah. I have a few of them on my end.
Now I'm going to try to not answer everything as well. I want you to know I want to hear what's yours.
I don't like how inconsiderate I can be. I think which like comes in the form of being flaky or careless with some of my relationships that I really care about. Like I'm notorious for not texting people back or not calling or and a weird part of me is like cultivates that like everybody knows that I'm not going to get back to them.
And I don't like that part. It's like you can't count on me, you know, to pick you up from the airport or to really, really be there.
I haven't proved myself to the people I love all the time. And that's something that I, I really don't care for in myself.
I think my other one is that I can withhold. Like, withhold acknowledgement, withhold affection, like out of a need to protect myself, which then can manifest in, I don't know, just like I feel like I'm a very affectionate person, but then all of a sudden will find that I'm like I keep myself, you know, I spend a lot of time alone I which can seem like I'm tough, critical. That's how it comes out. Yeah.
Yeah. OK, what's a quality you love about yourself? This is a tough one for me. I don't even know how to answer that one yet.
For me, I think that I'm extremely compassionate and not judgmental. Yeah.
I mean, just knowing you for the, I don't know, hour that I've known you, I could think of like a dozen things about you. And like now I've known to me for longer.
So I could think of about five dozen things for me. And so interesting that we have such a hard time to see that in ourselves, you know.
Mm hmm. Yeah. But you know what? We're conditioned again that it's, you know, arrogant and and bad to acknowledge good things.
What's a quality you dislike and others don't.
They always say the quality that you dislike and others is the quality that you dislike in yourself the most, or it's a reflection of something that.
Well, first, what was the thing you guys like you guys both squirted out of that? No, no, no. Well, I'm curious.
I'm really, really curious. And I like that about myself. I love knowing my nice college roommate told me, she said, which I take is such an extreme compliment. She said, Ana, you could talk to anybody about their sock drawer and you'd be interested.
And I feel that way later. I think so, too. And and I think that creative types have to be curious, though, to and I I like learning. I like like about anything about, you know, whales that go through menopause.
But what's so interesting is what a contradiction that is with the thing that you don't like. Because it's like the very nature of, you know, not getting back to people not being available. It's interesting how we have these things that are like, so contradictory.
Mm hmm. What was your Shana, though? You didn't give us yours?
Oh, I feel like I'm incredibly sensitive, but with my work, I'm like Teflon, like The New York Times could say. And they have that my movie was a big ass piece of dog shit and unwatchable.
And I should go back to film school. And I'm like, I think they're wrong.
And I'll write something else or make another movie.
Yeah, I don't know where that came from, but I'm really glad I have had otherwise I'd be like in the fetal position in the corner crying right now.
I wish I had that. That's amazing, though. What an incredible tool to help you get your vision across, you know, to absorb what feels constructive and then to dismiss. Yeah. What is like they just don't get me. Yeah. Yeah. On what occasion do you lie. Oh I lie a lot to spare people's feelings. I can't ever reject anybody so much.
I loved it and I'll just make up some complex, horrible lie about why I'm not going to ultimately go that direction. And then I'll just be like why I'm spiraling in this horrible lie just to save someone's feelings. And I'm sure they're just like, oh gosh, this woman just tell me that I didn't get the job or something.
I feel like I avoid more than lie, right? Yes. Because I really don't want to even little white lies. And when I catch myself, you know, like, oh, I didn't return a call or I didn't respond to a text. And I catch myself wanting to give an excuse. Like in my recent, you know, this recent time period, I really wanted to come at it from a different place, which is that I don't have to explain myself.
I don't have to then make up a lie as to why I was late or why I didn't get back in time.
OK, do you have a favorite book or author? Ms. I think mine is probably the year magical thinking by Joan Didion, just because it is so heartbreaking in her vulnerability of what she was going through. And I think it's just as an artist, you know, it's why I created Dirty Diana and why I was going to answer one of the reasons one of the times I lie is I lie about having an orgasm.
But then I was like, I should and I shouldn't say that on air. Shouldn't admit that. But you just did. I did. But Joan Didion, she's not afraid of judgment.
She just talks so openly about loss and grief and what that looks like in her life. And it's so beautiful that vulnerability, that book is just really inspired me.
Yeah, it's interesting because for me, like one of those books that was really pivotal was To Kill a Mockingbird and Harper Lee.
There was just something that resonated so deeply. Just that aspect of judgment, injustice, I don't know. There was something magical. Maybe it was in, you know. My lack of guidance in my personal life, you know, to see this figure in these kids life like a presence that was judicial and I was like a killer that you could count on, that was of goodness.
Mm hmm. I mean, I read that really young, but I just I loved it.
Let's see what is the best and or worst advice you've been given? Best and worst.
The worst advice I've been given was by my agents, various agents that have told me it's a good opportunity for you, Sharna. This is a good opportunity. And usually when they say it's a good opportunity, that means you should take less money, you should jump at working with these people. And usually it's about doing something out of the box for women like this is a genre movie or this is an action movie. This is a good opportunity for you.
So you should take it. You should take less. And I've always found for it.
I've been like, OK, it's a good opportunity for me. I guess I will do it for a reduced fee or I feel lucky that they chose me.
And the best advice was something Tim McGraw said. And he said they only want to tackle you when you have the ball.
And I thought that was really interesting because so often you forget that you actually have the ball. You know, you don't celebrate that. You have the ball. You just are thinking about what it's like to be tackled publicly.
And that is always a nice reminder that I've gotten to a place where I actually have the ball because most of my life I didn't have the ball.
I could join you on the like it coming through work. I think I have like one time and one time only did I choose to do a project. And I was encouraged to do it because it would get my price up, which I had never worked for money, even what I had nothing. That's never what motivated me. Like it was never about that. And I feel like it ended up being a really damaging experience. But that leads me to what one of the things that I think is one of the most powerful awarenesses or understanding's, which is that everything in life is happening for you, not to you.
And when you can change the lens to see everything, even the most challenging, horrible things is happening for you. Your ability to transform and utilize it and for your highest good is incredible. It's a shift that goes from being a victim to an empowered individual who is back in the driver's seat.
What haven't you taken the time to learn about, like anything that I don't think that I can be amazing and an expert that I stopped myself from learning things I feel like I don't like.
I have a good sense, but I really don't know enough about politics and I feel sometimes a little intimidated. So that finance.
Oh, good one.
I don't think, you know, again, that's another one of those areas where historically men will invest, even though they may not know any more than a woman does. But because we're more cautious and we are conditioned to believe that we know less, I think I would like to know more about my own body.
And I think that's like that's the irony of doing the show, is I think that's like an area of interest that I've wanted to get into. So this is my way of doing as I'm writing this podcast.
But the truth is, it's like, you know, how old it's like I always say, they're crazy ladies, but maybe they're not so crazy that say you, like, get a mirror and look at your own vagina. I have never done that. I have never done that. And I'm also I don't really have a desire to.
But I do. I should. And I. What is it? I think it's kind of hot when I say that with courage. Yeah. That I don't fully have, but it's hot.
So. OK, let's see. What do you consider your greatest professional or personal achievement?
I think personal achievement is just sitting here and being right here where I am because I've been through such extreme challenges. And I think that my greatest achievement is my openness to continue to learn and to grow as a human being. You know, my understanding that I'm a divine being, having a human experience and I feel like I am the Phoenix that has risen from the ashes multiple, multiple times. And it's led me to be right here where I am right now.
That got me a little emotional it. That's a really beautiful answer. Thank you. OK, Shawna, how are you going to get back to that? One thing was buying my first puppy and now I think personal achievement.
I'm proudest that I I fought for a marriage that I knew wasn't over, even though the easiest way for me to go and everything. You know, my father has been married six times, even though I had literally been raised saying that marriages are disposable. And even from when I was a little girl, I would draw a picture of myself with a child.
And I just said, I'm going to be a single mom.
So even though all of that I had told me this is what your life is going to be like, that kind of conditioning, I was like, I'm going to do some really ugly, hard work and I'm going to fight for this marriage.
Now, I have three kids and it was like, you know, sometimes in movies when people drop to their knees and they cry and I'm like, that's such a moving moment.
Like, I remember dropping to my knees and crying during my divorce and I knew I followed that and followed my heart for the first time, even though I was terrified and my husband wanted nothing to do with me and did not want me back at all.
I didn't run from that. And the hardest thing I did is I actually had to let him go. And that was the scariest thing that I had ever done, especially with all my myriad of abandonment issues. I actually let him go so that he could actually come back to me and then professional achievements.
I think actually this podcast is something that I'm incredibly proud of because once again, it was the scariest thing for me to write. You know, something my mom said was going to ruin my reputation.
That's almost silly, right? But for someone who was terrified to talk about sex, to be here on this podcast talking about sex and orgasm, I'm proud of myself for that.
I love that. And I love how personal your answers are. And it made me kind of exam. And I've never answered this question for myself. I think probably my I don't want to say my proudest personal achievement is specifically my son, because I feel like it puts a lot of pressure on him. Yeah.
Like he was going to fuck up a lot.
So he was born at 30 weeks and was in the nick you for five weeks. A friend of mine said, you know, you need to trust in your son and you need to also be strong for him. And she said it in an incredibly gentle way. And then I was you know, there's all kinds of ongoing issues and we witnessed a lot of pain in the neck. You but. I did like it that I didn't sink into it.
Mm hmm. I'm really proud that I, like, went to the NAGU. I scrubbed up every day, would be there for hours and wasn't sobbing. I was like, this is my duty and this is how I'm going to be strong. And I'm proud of that. You showed up. That's beautiful. Yeah.
Gosh, this is awful.
It's wonderful. It's so wonderful.
I can't thank you both enough. This was just amazing for me. I hope it was for you.
Thank you. Thank you so much. It was great. Thank you, guys.
Hi, Dr. Alex, thanks so much for joining us. I and thank you for having me. Our first caller is Amber.
Hello. Hi, Amber. Hi, how are you? I'm great, I'm great. Thanks so much for your letter. I'm here with Dr. Alex Caractacus, who is much, much more qualified than I am.
Amber. Hi, how are you? Amber So what's going on?
Well, lately, my husband and I actually I shouldn't say lately it's been about three years. I have been having trouble with intimacy. So we had a daughter three years ago when she was first born. I actually kind of pulled away because I focused on being a first time mom. But after that, I started trying to reconnect with them. And now it seems he doesn't flirt. He doesn't you know, he doesn't even try to start anything intimate at all.
It's all me. When I confront him about it, he pretty much tells me, well, you need to fix that. You need to fix it. Never. We need to fix it. And so I don't really know how to communicate to him that it's to that make a relationship, not one. And he needs to try just as hard as I do.
So this is not uncommon for women. You know, when they have a baby, especially a first baby, it's a biological directive to fall in love with your baby. And many, many men feel left out like a third wheel. And we don't educate people properly about what that first month, three months, year is going to be like with parenthood and sex and sexuality. So many men feel rejected and they get wounded. And it sounds like your husband has lost himself elsewhere.
So do you know where he's getting his sexual needs met right now?
It's still me. We've been doing better this year than we have in the last two years. But most of the time prior to me, before the baby, we had actually been doing kind of an open relationship. But right now with Kobe and everything, I'm like, yeah, you ain't leaving this house to go anywhere for anything, for safety. But like I think last month we engaged in sexual activity like five times, which really isn't a lot.
But I feel like I was the one that initiated every single one of those encounters.
And so what happens when you initiate?
Usually it takes him a minute to realize what I'm doing, but afterwards he's just fine with it. He goes along with it and it's good and we're both happy. And if not afterwards, we go about our normal day.
So do you initiate everything in the marriage or are you the one who initiates childcare and cleaning the house and taking care of the bills and everything else?
The bills, all that split, everything split right down the middle. Our daughter, she's very much a mommy's girl, so I kind of do the majority with her, but he's absolutely hands on. If I'm like, hey, I need a break, I need five minutes to myself. But I think he misses where we could be spontaneous prior to her being born. And now it's it seems like it's on a schedule. And I don't think he's enjoying.
Well, you got to wait till nap time. You have to wait till bedtime. You know, we can't just sneak off kind of like we used to. And I think he's missing that a little bit. So I try to do some things. You know, I flirt. I send, you know, text messages. When he's in the other room, I try to make it as spontaneous as before. It's just a little bit more difficult.
Well, I think what's difficult is that he is somehow hurt or wounded or angry and he's not being actively engaged with you. He's not talking to you about what his struggles are. So here we are trying to mind read and figure out what's going on with him, which really is kind of a power trip also, I have to say. So it sounds like he does initiate in other areas of your relationship. He's just sitting back now waiting for you to prove that you love him or that you want him or he's upset or angry about something.
Talk to Alex. When you say power trip, will you talk a little bit about that?
Yeah, I mean, in a systems way of thinking and a lot of marital therapists think about family systems that their little ecosystems in and of themselves and the person who has the lowest desire in the system always holds the power. So, you know, if we are in relationship with each other and one of us, let's say, you know, Ana, you want to buy a car and I don't we won't buy a car because you don't want to buy a car and therefore you hold the power in that decision making.
And Ambers case, she wants to have sex. Her husband only does if she initiates. So he's sort of creating parity or balancing the powers in the relationship right now because he feels second fiddle to this baby. His sex life isn't as spontaneous. He doesn't get to do what he wants to do. And so this is one way maybe where he feels like there's some parity, some equality in the relationship.
So, Amber, do you get the feeling that he is? Feeling like he's on restriction, I do, actually, because he actually mentioned to me one time, he's like, it has to be on my time. And I'm like, well, that's kind of unfair. It has to be something that we can both initiate together, make it, you know, kind of make it spontaneous.
Do you think he's abiding by the no contact with anyone outside of the relationship right now?
Absolutely, because we have not left our house since February.
I see. Dr. Alex, what are practical things that Amber can kind of do to feel as though she's an equal partner that's desired?
I think what's really at issue here for you, Amber, is to be able to talk to your husband about this, to say to him, let's go for a walk or I really need to talk to you about this because it's hurting me and expressing what it is that you want to need. And ultimately with everything in life, with that, especially our relationships, that if we're not getting what we want and need at some point, we really have to ask ourselves, why am I torturing myself?
Why am I sitting with someone who's not giving me what I want to need? And I keep badgering them and angry at them. And I feel like a shrew. And you've got to pay attention to the signs and the data that you're getting from the person that you're talking to. So can you imagine having this conversation with him?
Yes, there have been a few days where we've sat down in the conversations have been fairly decent, you know, no anger, no tension. But then there are other days where we might go a long period of time without any sex whatsoever. And he's just angry, like it's my fault that it's not happening. And I try to explain to him, if you're in the mood and you don't tell me and I'm doing something I'm not going to know, I can't read your mind.
I'm not a superhero. As much as I would love to be a moral character, I'm not right.
So it sounds like he's really struggling with the transition into parenthood. Yes. And growing himself up and adapting to this new normal.
I was going to put it a little more bluntly, Doctor. OK, go for it. I was just going to say Amber must be really fucking tough to raise two children.
Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, right. But I think that's really what's going on for him is that he's got to get with and maybe you can help him see that this doesn't mean we can't still have an exciting sex life. But for now you need to kind of man up. You have a child. I am now a mother and we go through these passages and phases of life where we're getting older and things are shifting and changing. And you can't act like a child the rest of your life.
Yeah, absolutely. And I try to communicate that with them. I mean, there's even been things I've tried to change. Obviously, my body is changed, so I can't really do too much about that other than exercising healthy diet, things like that. But I've done haircuts and I've even considered doing hair dyes, trying to peak his interest a little bit more. And, you know, I just I think now, too, since we might be stuck in the house more together, you know, we have so many more things to nit pick out of each other about.
So it's kind of hard to see the desire for each other when you can't really separate at all.
Right, because now your parents and your householder's and you're stuck with each other. So the novelty quotient is lower. But still, it's interesting that we have three women having this conversation trying to figure this guy out right now. And so when is he going to figure himself out? What is he going to say to you? I'm really struggling and I think you have to put that demand on him because I'm worried that you're princeling yourself, you know, working out, dyeing your hair, standing on your head, trying new bras.
It's like at some point I think you should be like, honey, you need to go down on me right fucking now.
He might actually like that. He might. I'm ready. I could take that chance. Yeah, I'm going to have to try that because I'm not going to lie. I hold back a little bit on the dirty talk. I'm just more of a you know, I go writing to it. So maybe if I take charge in the communication prior to I guess with the foreplay aspect, he might actually that might be because I'm just a little bit more.
Why do you hold back on the dirty talk, I guess? I don't know. I hear him do it all the time, but he uses it as a form of joking. And I'm just, you know, I don't find things like that super hilarious. Twenty four, seven. So to me, I guess when he talks and it's more with his friends, you know, when he talks to them, it's just nonstop, nonstop. And I'm like, I don't see how, you know, sex is hilarious.
I don't understand that it's supposed to be fun and engaging or intimate or hell, if you want it to be dirty, you know, just whatever you want. I don't see it as a joke. And, you know, my husband is actually the first person that I've experienced so much with. Honestly, he was my first orgasm and I'd been having sex for years prior. So I guess I've never really considered it too much, I guess I don't know, maybe it's that conservative girl and me still a little bit that doesn't really know how to talk dirty.
Hmm. But I'm definitely going to try it.
I think the more you engage in it, the more you do it, you'll become more comfortable with it. And maybe that you being vocal in that way can help empower you and you can help, like, regain some of your sense of sexuality that's on your terms.
I think maybe instead of changing yourself to tap into whatever you might imagine his fantasy is, I think it's time to maybe to be a little selfish.
I think there are two things here. One is he's got to grow himself up and take his shape as an adult man and as a father and as the lover and husband of a woman who's got a baby. That's the first thing. And secondly is Honore was talking. It struck me that, you know, we're not talking about your sexual pleasure. We're talking about how we can please him. And so where is your sexual pleasure? What turns you on?
You know, dirty talk is incredibly arousing because it goes right into the right brain. It's a visceral excitatory thing. What a bunch of guys are just sitting around talking shit. Women don't find that hot at all. They find it kind of gross or childish. Yeah, but if you as a woman are embodying your feeling of eroticism, your desire, your sexuality, and you're giving language to that and it turns you on, then you should do it and do it for yourself.
Not so much for constantly catering to him and see where that takes you. And he might find it arousing also. But I hope what you're hearing is that this should be a focus more on you and how your sexuality is shifting and changing now. And he either gets on board or he doesn't.
Yeah, for me, after I had my son, it was a long time before I felt sexual. And also my partner was witnessing me being, you know, an unsexy mom, not just sort of like the spit up rags or whatever that stuff, but also being like, you know, hey, you need to go do this, OK? It's time for you to clean up. It's time for it's time. It's time, it's time. And that is exhausting.
And it's a new role. And oftentimes the woman is very much burdened with that. You know, the instructor Auriol parental unit. And a lot of times, you know, this might not be the case for you guys, but oftentimes the male partner gets to be the fun one.
Yes, absolutely. I feel that in my soul. But know that you're not alone. I don't know how to fix that or if it's possible. Dr. Alex, do you have additional thoughts? Yeah.
I mean, I think how do you force a person to grow up?
Yeah, well, I think the way you force them to grow up is that you grow yourself up. And this is again, inherent in the system of what I'll call marriage when two people are living under the same roof together, is it? It forces us to grow and change. And the system of marriage itself puts pressure on people to change just by what you're talking about on the you know, you have to do this. You have to do that.
And all of a sudden the reality is like, oh, I have a responsibility. This is not a dog that we can just leave. I actually have to be here for this child that I decided to have. And so as you start to grow and take your shape as a woman and you know your sexual pleasure because. How old are you, Amber?
I'm thirty. Yeah. So you I haven't even hit your sexual prime yet and hit their sexual prime in their late thirties. And so you're just.
What happened, Dr. Alex? That's what happened. That's right. You know, thirty seven.
Thirty eight. Thirty nine is when women really start to hit their sexuality. So, you know, this is a perfect time for you to have a baby. And he's either going to, as I said, start to shift and change in value you or he's going to stay in this kind of sophomoric state where it's all about sex and all about talking shit with his buddies. And, you know, it has to be spontaneous and it's always somebody new.
There is something that becomes stunted about that.
You men have a sexual problem. Well, usually then sexual crime is like eighteen to twenty one. Well, actually, now we really did not match up in that world.
There are all sorts of design flaws in the hetero world, but that's one of them.
But it may be that he needs a lot of sex because he's afraid of his sex life waning. And, you know, you started out by saying we haven't been intimate, but intimacy is not sex. Sex is sex.
But you cannot hold yourself back to accommodate him. You've got to be true to yourself. Our masterbate, Dr. Alex is saying, masterbate a lot. Oh, I have plenty of toys and they have become my best friend. They even have names.
My husband seems to like it when I get it out.
So I've even bought toys so he can use them on me because that's what he enjoys.
All right. Well, it sounds to me like you've got a pretty great sex life. You're just wanting him to want you more right now. Yes. And, you know, life has its seasons and you're in a season right now that really is focused on your child. Yes. And, you know, as unessential grow and get older and then things will shift and change again.
Yes. There's so many couples dealing with this. We get so many emails from women like I don't know why my sex drive seems so much greater than my boyfriend's or my partners or I feel like the constant pressure to initiate. And that makes me feel bad when I get rejected.
Yeah, that's a position that's really challenging for women to take a more dominant position because we don't like to see ourselves in that way because we get all these messages about, you know, if you do that, you're a bitch or you're demanding or you're this or that. And so it's hard for us to take a more dominant role sexually. We're sort of naturally more inclined towards submission. Just tell me what you want and I'll do it for you.
Yeah. That's again, seems, you know, biological to a certain extent, where we are inclined towards nurturing and nesting and taking care of our children and taking care of our partners. And if he's not going to be communicative with you, then you just tell them what to do, see how that goes for you. And that should unburden you from just tracking him and thinking about this all the time.
I'm going to have to try that, too, because there's been arguments where I told him I was like, I'm not chasing you anymore. If you want to, you come get it because I'm not searching through the house when the baby's asleep to come get some. If you want it, you'll come get it. Because I've been trying and I feel like you're not trying as hard. And so maybe he'll like that. And I'm going to do like but on a side, just maybe one day when the baby's sleeping.
All right. And I'm just going to go in there and be like, don't be a bitch. Just do it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hot dog. Feel empowerment.
Amber, I thank you so much for I know this call is going to help a lot of people.
And let us know if you come up with brilliant solutions. I know our listeners would love to hear them. Absolutely. I sure. Any new information I get. Great. Dr. Alex, do you have any last thoughts?
No. I mean, I just also really appreciate your candor and just your willingness to talk about this so explicitly, because I agree this is going to help a lot of women listening to this. So thank you and good luck to you. Absolutely.
And thank you guys for having me. Thanks, Amber. Bye. OK, bye.
Dr. Alex, thank you so much for doing this today.
Your advice is invaluable and sure is humbling as well, but in the best of ways, and I would love it if you joined us again.
Well, you're welcome. And I really appreciate what you're doing. I think this is enormously helpful, as you said, to a lot of different women. And so these conversations, I think, are super important and need to be had over and over again. So thank you. Thanks again, Dr. Alex. Thank you.