Show Transcript for Episode 231: Sharing Your Sexual History – Assessment Part 2

George Faller 00:00
Okay, welcome back to full play radio is a chance for us to continue this conversation with a bit of a twist. Instead of me being in the client answering some of these sexual questions, we’re switching roles and Laurie is going to get a chance to be the client and I’m your sex therapist.

Laurie Watson 00:20
Welcome to foreplay radio couples in sex therapy. I’m Laurie Watson, your sex therapist.

George Faller 00:26
And I’m George Fallon, a couples therapist

Laurie Watson 00:28
and we are passionate about talking about sex and helping you develop a way to talk to each other.

George Faller 00:34
Our mission is to help our audience develop a healthier relationship to sex that integrates the mind, the heart and the body.

Laurie Watson 00:43
Just as we began, please remember to check out Uber lube it really calm is where you can get this great lubricant and help support foreplay radio. Okay, so I’m a

George Faller 00:53
little excited about this, Laurie,

Laurie Watson 00:55
I’m a little anxious about this.

George Faller 00:57
Probably should be Asia, sex stuff. Best.

Laurie Watson 01:02
I can feel what people feel scary. So which part are we going to do? On a sexual assessment?

George Faller 01:08
We’re going to do sexual history, okay? Which is really just trying to get a sense of the good reasons why people have the views around sex that they have. And they suddenly experience that informs those views. So I guess the way we’re going to do this is like how I would typically do it in a session. Okay. So right, Laurie, so

Laurie Watson 01:30
I’m going to probably play somebody else.

George Faller 01:34
All right. I want to ask some questions about your sexual history, and not trying to blame people or things that have happened in the past really, just to get curious with you to understand currently Now, some of these ideas and views you hold around sexuality are often influenced by things that have happened in the past. So that’s the spirit of what we’re trying to do. And if you don’t have the answers to these questions, it’s no big deal. It’s You know, we’re just trying to go back in time and be curious together. Okay. All right. So what are your first memories around? sexuality?

Laurie Watson 02:10
Hmm. I remember hearing a story about something happening in the neighborhood. And my mom got really uptight with me and made me tell my dad this story. And it was clearly something sexual. I think a little girl had been forced or been molested or something. That’s the first thing I remember.

George Faller 02:31
Do you remember how old you are when that I was five? Five years old? Yeah. Well, that’s great that you could remember all the way back then that there was something that happened, but somehow there was some anxiety something kind of something negative tied to something happened around sexuality,

Laurie Watson 02:48
right? Your mind was concerned? Yeah, mom was really concerned. And I remember mom and dad looking at each other. But they didn’t say anything. They didn’t explain it to me. I know now as I recall the memory of what I had heard that it was about Yeah, I guess, another little girl having been.

George Faller 03:05
Okay. So what message is about sex Did you receive growing up?

Laurie Watson 03:11
I heard that mean sex was definitely something for marriage. I heard in church that you weren’t supposed to do it, that you know that it was something good. I heard good messages from the church in terms of it was something that was good for marriage, but there was a lot of prohibition and knows about being sexual, you know, before marriage, so I got a lot of that.

George Faller 03:42
Okay. So it sounds to me, correct me if you’re wrong, that you’ve done some thinking about this. And there’s looking in the past, there’s been some negative messages around sexuality and things that could happen or things you shouldn’t do. But there was also some positive messages around saving yourself for somebody truly loves and kind of how important sex really is and how healthy you can be in the right context. Yeah. Okay, so how do you how do you think those early influence impact your sex life now?

Laurie Watson 04:16
That’s a really good question.

George Faller 04:19
I don’t know. Okay, not to have the answers. I mean, most of us don’t talk about these things. So

04:23
yeah.

Laurie Watson 04:25
I think that I think that part of me still feels, you know, like, I remember becoming sexual and feeling guilty about that. Like, I was doing something wrong. And I mean, I you know, I’m married. I think it’s good intellectually. I think it’s good. There are some moments that just like a lingering feeling happens of guilt about what I’m doing like it. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s weird. Now that you mentioned it. I don’t know that I consciously thought have that but I can kind of feel that.

George Faller 05:02
Okay. So again, pause for a second already I’m gathering this information that this, this early training has put some inhibitions, you know, around sexuality some, some constraints around. Is this right? Was it okay? There’s a lot of anxiety attached to it, there’s a lot of messages of doing the wrong thing or getting into trouble or it being wrong, right, being bad, you know. So, that’s helpful and just moving forward. And how, how can this person be present sexually now, with some of these influences from the past? So, again, it makes so much sense to me, Laurie, we all come from some kind of context that influences what’s happening here. And, you know, even now, you starting to see some of those shadows, some of these kind of these guilty things from the past that just sometimes kind of clicking around sexuality today.

Laurie Watson 06:00
Do I sometimes I think, Well, you know, if I’d save myself for only my husband, then maybe sex will be better or? Yeah. I mean, crazy thoughts sometimes come to my mind, like, maybe the reasons I’ve had some struggle is just, that’s what you get when you break the rules. That kind of stuff goes through my mind, which I know is crazy, but I still feel that

George Faller 06:24
it’s not crazy at all. It’s certainly there, all values are attached to it. And you’ve, you’ve received a lot of these messages that there’s a right way or wrong way to do sex. Right. And sometimes that line isn’t so clear. And sometimes it sounds to me that you have doubts that pop into your head around sexuality and what you’re doing if it’s right or wrong or okay or not. Yeah. Right. So when you think about sex, what two words come to mind or image or like,

Laurie Watson 06:54
Oh my gosh, when I think about sex, what two words come to mind.

George Faller 07:01
Or maybe it’s a feeling that comes up for you or, or an image doesn’t necessarily have to be words, but which is I say the word sex like what do you what do you experience? I feel

Laurie Watson 07:11
like pressure. You know? Okay, so pressure comes to mind. And I feel it’s not just one word, but like I’m a disappointment does doesn’t mean there’s pressure and I’m a disappointment.

George Faller 07:29
You’re doing a great job here. Laurie, I appreciate your openness to just think about or allow yourself to experience things that normally you don’t think about it, you push aside. But there’s something even just the word sex itself brings up this pressure of the sense of disappointment. Some of these, you talked about early on these anxieties that have just been attached to sexuality. Alright, well, again, I appreciate you really, Sharon, if you think about when puberty began, how did you feel about that? How did your family respond to, to you, blossoming into, you know, change it into into an adult woman?

Laurie Watson 08:08
Well, I love the way you just said that blossoming into an adult woman. That was definitely not the message I got from him. I mean, I remember feeling acutely embarrassed, just like starting to develop was the most self conscious conspicuous feeling like breast buds, oh my god, I was just strangely, I wasn’t proud at all. I was humiliated. And I remember riding my bike, and believing that my guy friends I had, I was kind of a tomboy. And I just remember them, like thinking that they could tell I was on my period and just feeling so embarrassed. It was really embarrassing and my family, you know, I don’t think my father even knew and, and I wouldn’t have told him that would have been Totally embarrassing. And I think my mother she kind of made it awkward. She didn’t, you know, like I had to tell her and had to go buy the stuff and it was really an awkward scene. Like she wanted me to do it myself and go pay for it myself and I was just like, oh my god, I didn’t want the clerk to know that I was buying menstrual supplies was really embarrassing. It was like I should somehow or another feel strong and do this and I did not feel that.

George Faller 09:32
Okay. So you can feel the difference between being seen as someone blossoming into something new and celebrating that versus the way your family and I have trusted all families that doing the best they can and you’ve described so many strengths and and and and things that your family did well, but again, around the sexuality this transition to being a woman. A lot of the words that you felt were were negative, awkward, embarrassed, humiliated there. We’re getting These fears and anxiety attached around your body and around sex.

Laurie Watson 10:05
Yeah, I mean that I would definitely wanted my children to feel that blossoming celebration, but Whoa, Whoa, that was not what was happening. Hmm. Yeah,

George Faller 10:18
again, it’s so helpful you give me so much information and a good reasons why you have the relationship to your body into sex the way you do. So how about your first experience of being sexually aroused? Do you can you remember that? Do you remember what it felt like? What happened?

Laurie Watson 10:36
Oh, yeah, I do remember that. And that was by myself. Okay, so I, I definitely remember that. And again, that was something I think my parents were totally upset and anxious about because I think they discovered me or something but I remember there being talked about it and and feeling ashamed about it.

George Faller 11:02
So how old were you?

Laurie Watson 11:04
I don’t know. Very little.

George Faller 11:07
Okay. So you were just doing most little, little kids do and you were being curious and you were kind of touching your body and orgasms. Oh, wow. Okay. So and that was, that was a good feeling like how did you? It got complicated by how your parents responded. I’m just curious what happens now as you start to just replay that see, you know, kind of having an orgasm liking the touching of your own body.

Laurie Watson 11:35
I mean, I think yes, it was a good feeling. But I think that my family’s disapproval of that sort of got mixed in with all of that. The good feeling was complicated by their disapproval they’re upset.

George Faller 11:52
Okay. So again, this this strings always attached to pleasure and sexuality and what’s happening Healthy about it there’s this these mixed feelings and disapproval and embarrassment and just kind of always some strings attached to it. How about your, your first sexual experience with a partner?

Laurie Watson 12:14
So, like first kiss or first full sexual?

George Faller 12:17
Yeah, if it’s first kissed first time you had sex and I again I so love how you’re trying to differentiate because they’re they’re different things and, and landed, they felt very different. Right so they both feel really, really important to me that first kiss.

Laurie Watson 12:39
Yeah. I would say I had an incredible experience on my first kiss. I remember to two times like one was really not with a person that I was dating and another was with a guy I was dating. And both of them were super powerful. Just like I felt super I felt really nervous the first time the second time I was really excited. And I felt arousal both times, like instant arousal. And I think if I hadn’t masturbated I wouldn’t have known what that was that was like, like, holy Toledo. This is what it’s like to be with somebody that was really neat.

George Faller 13:20
And I find it so helpful to understand not just some things that went wrong, or in our sexual past, but the things that went right. That really kind of allowed us to feel these moments of ecstasy and kind of what what was so powerful about that moment to put words to really what did turn you on that really opened you up. Did you understand what that that was what it was that really kind of felt so powerful.

Laurie Watson 13:48
I think it was. I think it was just like such being so flooded with sensation and something I hadn’t ever expected like when I had fantasized about being cast and, and probably fantasized about being touched at that point to like, Never had I expected my body to respond. And it was like boom.

14:15
Amazing.

George Faller 14:17
And it’s it’s interesting as you’re talking about this first kiss that is this the first time you’re talking about sex or attraction, and you’re not talking about messages of where we are, or something wrong or something bad. That seems to be something pure about this kiss that just really leaned into the positive direction.

Laurie Watson 14:37
Yeah, I think you’re right. I I’ve never thought about that. But you’re right. It was very pure. And I mean, when I think about those memories, they’re all good.

George Faller 14:47
Well, good. You’re very wise at how you understand your body and your experiences. I appreciate you letting me enter this place. So I only got two more questions for you just so I’m trying to understand what about that first time having sex? How was that?

Laurie Watson 15:05
That’s a big question. I mean, I would say super anxious. super anxious. excited about it.

15:20
And who was this feeling bad? This is a boyfriend.

George Faller 15:25
And how old were you?

Laurie Watson 15:27
I was in my late teens, early 20s. Somewhere in there. And I felt I felt guilty. A lot of guilt. Because it was wrong. And felt like I was wrong. Yeah, definitely felt like I was wrong. But it was kind of commingled with all this excitement and sensation and all of that.

George Faller 15:54
All right. So again, we’re just looking for these themes that are running throughout your sexual history. Right? There’s, there’s parts of you that can allow yourself to feel good and be in your body and experience the light to let yourself go. There’s also a lot of strings attached to this, that can lead to feeling guilty or embarrassed or bad or disappointed, right? And then we’re just going to try to kind of connect those dots to figure out how you can make more choices in this to to have more of what you want around sexuality instead of having, you know that shadow of the past make a lot of these decisions for you moving forward. So thank you for sharing with me.

16:37
Yeah, that wasn’t too bad.

George Faller 16:40
Yeah, you did. Awesome. All right. So let’s pause. We’ll come back and discuss the case.

Laurie Watson 16:46
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George Faller 18:30
your support means more than you realize, and it keeps this project moving forward. And we’re really hoping to reach great heights

Laurie Watson 18:39
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George Faller 19:02
Okay, welcome back. So that was a quick snapshot into some of the questions behind an attachment history. I’d also want to know a little bit about painful experiences or traumatic experiences around sexuality to assess for that. But it’s already clear in just these couple of questions, a lot of the mixed messages that Laurie has around sexuality, right that she does have some success with positive sexual experiences, which is really good and helpful to know. But there are a lot of those strings attached around feeling guilty or wrong or bad or how her body feels. The word she uses around pressure or distress or embarrassment, humility, humiliation, right, these negative strings attached. So that’s that’s going to be helpful in connecting those dots to how they’re starting to play out in her current sexual relationship. So how was that for you, Laurie as you just kind of experience being a client a little bit and,

Laurie Watson 20:07
you know, I, I think I’ve said that no one has ever really taken a sexual history on me and even though I was just plain patient, I did feel the vulnerability. I think I was waiting for your EFT, question g about something along the lines of, you know, how does this feel to you or were you feeling when you think about this, and maybe you you’re better EFT er than I am, you wouldn’t have gone that deep. But I felt this tension on the back of my shoulders just like talking about this stuff. And even in a pretend mode. There was anxiety but I also felt like it wasn’t as hard as I thought. I think telling a male clinician that stuff you know, I I think I would have imagined it to be a little bit more difficult and it really wasn’t you. You made me feel really safe. Especially when you extrapolated some of my ideas about religion and why there was good things. It’s like you helped put words to what I was thinking and, and it kind of went, yeah, he’s on the same page as me knows that. So that felt good.

George Faller 21:15
I think my main goal in asking those questions is more importantly, that you experience success and sharing the answers. I want your body to start connecting, talking about sex as something helpful and good. So I would have if this was a real session we had the time have gone into even right now, as you say, you think about Tommy 15. And first time having sex, you know, and you talk about that guilty feeling like where do you feel that in your body now as you kind of go back in the past comes into the moment, right when we get those bodily markers, they’re given us a lot of information, right? This is probably where you’re going to store that stress or that guilty feeling. I want us be able to start bringing attention to that place so we can bring healing into that place. Right? It might be like you were talking about the stress in the back of your shoulders, or your neck, if you could put words to that in your partner was in the room, your husband, that maybe him rubbing your neck is your body finally getting responsiveness in places it never does. But most of us don’t want to talk about it. And we don’t want to share it because we don’t want to burden our partner or we don’t want to reveal those parts of ourselves. And then we never get the healing in those places that are really so critically important.

Laurie Watson 22:35
I think to one of the things I realized in the sexual history, you know, you asked about my first experiences, and most people in my experience as, as a sex therapist, have never shared with their partner their first masturbation experiences or the first time they felt arouse or what that was like I mean, isolating it down to the first Kiss. It’s like, did you have sex before you got married? Yeah. You know how many acts? You know, it’s like it’s really generic in terms of the way people share. But I think there’s so much more richness about their experience that when you were asking me the questions, allowing me space to think about it, and and to answer, and then have some sense that you cared about what I said that you took it seriously, that you were interested, it wasn’t just, you know, it was it was a story. It wasn’t. I think, with a partner, oftentimes, partners are asking questions in an anxious way. They have an agenda, they want to know something, they’re, they’re worried about comparison, or they’re worried about numbers or they’re worried about purity. Who knows. I mean, there there are many things that they’re worried about. And so they don’t open up the same sort of space that I felt as a therapist was opening up for me kind of to actually Talk about it.

George Faller 24:01
I agree. And yet I also can feel myself if I was your husband being very interested by some of these questions, right, that you’re, you’re revealing parts of you that you really haven’t even addressed yourself. Right? I felt a vulnerability in some of the answers as you. You like interesting. I really never looked at it that way. It is it is a privilege of being led into that place. Right. And you’re right. Most people we might talk about our first sexual encounter, but we don’t talk about first time masturbating. I mean, there are things that you you answered in those couple of questions that you’ve probably never spoken to before with your partner. Right. So you can see how confronting these these are answering these questions, gives more availability, more things, parts of you to engage with for yourself and for your partner to engage with. While we also have to be careful of you know, the Do they become triggers to the other person that wind up leading to more distance or protection, which, you know, that’s why a therapists help is important in these places.

Laurie Watson 25:10
Yeah, I think, I think what I continue to hear from you, which I thought was really good, was trying to catch the themes that might be both good and bad in her eventual sex life or her present sex life. There was this theme of guilt, there was this theme of excitement, both parts, I felt like you paid attention to both parts. And that was really good because and that’s something that I listen for as a sex therapist or therapist, too is because I’m, I’m looking for injuries and I’m looking for strengths, how am I going to capitalize on the strengths to expand those to help the person have a fuller experience, both emotionally sexually, an arousal in their body, and I’m also looking for Okay, what needs to be repaired? How do we manage these places maybe of misinformation? You said something, as you I think it was, as you were wrapping up, you said, so that you’ll be able to make choices about your experiences, you know, which kind of was very helpful. It was like, you were leading her to a way that maybe how particularly the guilt themes that she wasn’t necessarily going to be stuck there, nor were you necessarily going to say, Well, that’s all okay. Why should you? Why should you feel guilty about that? It was like, it was a process that kind of was pulling me toward hope, I thought,

George Faller 26:40
absolutely. The idea of making the implicit explicit, to help empower everyone listening, that the answers to some of these questions. There’s more vitality and energy in it. If all of this weight and all You are very different person when you describe that first kiss, versus describing that first time masturbating or that first sexual encounter, your body was in two radically different places. And you really haven’t been given the space to make sense of those differences. Right? So the more that you’re able to really see, I mean, don’t take my word for it, the therapist isn’t fixing the problem. They’re just trying to help increase your awareness. When you can see the difference between that kiss, which is free of all the inhibitions and the guilt and the negativity and those other sexual experiences which are loaded with them. You’re a very different sexual being. And the more that I can hold up that mirror in a loving way, that says, Can you notice the difference between door one and door two? And once you start to understand why they’re so different, you can make better choices to say Do I want more of that loving kiss in my sexual life,

Laurie Watson 27:56
huh? Yeah, that’s beautiful. I agree. And it’s not just choices, though that I mean, it’s not just my cognitive choice. Okay, more I want more of that. I think there is something special in processing it that allows that to happen. Right with another person’s acceptance, wondering, questioning and caring. It’s within that process that we can we can make the choice. I think people try sometimes cognitively, to just say, Well, I just am going to think that this is healthy. And I know that was all crazy what my family told me, but it, they can’t do it. They can’t let go of it in their body. The guilt still lingers, because they haven’t processed it. And I think what you were doing was working me through that process, which is powerful. And I think I mean, obviously our listeners, we’re not just pitching therapy. We’re saying that with an open heart, with gentle Soft, slow questioning and curiosity. You can free each other. I mean, you can. I agree. I mean, I personally think it’s, it’s incredible to talk to people about this place in their life. Most of the people I talked to have never told anybody about it. I did a sexual assessment on a gentleman this week. And he told the most incredible experience of his first arousal and there was like joy and, and just pleasure and he’d never told his wife this. And I just thought, oh, wow, I so want him to do that. And then we’ll work toward that but because it was, it was like you said it was so pure, you know, and so beautiful. To see him uninhibited talking about it in a in a wonderful way.

George Faller 29:53
And I saw that purity, even in embedded in some of the stories you were telling around growing up in And your faith that certainly we could notice some of the stress and the disappointment that the awkwardness, but there was also something around those values of, of it being really special. And and and it being a way of surrendering and become part of something bigger than yourself. There was beauty attached to it too. So it’s the perfect word was mixed messages. You have a ton of mixed messages around sexuality. And the more that you look at those messages and you kind of work with them, it just gets easier and easier to send more direct messages.

Laurie Watson 30:38
Right. That’s good. All right.

George Faller 30:42
Well, thanks for listening for play radio, keep it hot.

Laurie Watson 30:47
For those of you who are listening today, we are also going to send out some free over libs. Those of you who sponsor us on our Patreon page, find a link on foreplay radio sex therapy.com Or foreplay rst calm and we are so thankful for your support and for play family I want you to know we had our highest download day ever thanks to you. Our downloads are just increasing by leaps and bounds. We are so grateful for your sharing thank you again definitely subscribe that helps our rankings in iTunes which is important for us

31:21
calling your questions to the foreplay question voicemail dial 833 my four play that’s a three three, the number four play, and we’ll use the questions for our mailbag episodes. All content is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for therapy by a licensed clinician or as medical advice from a doctor.

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