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Laurie Watson 00:02
George. Sometimes people feel criticized by direct sex requests. And we got to talk about this to help them. Yeah. All right. Welcome to foreplay radio couples in sex therapy. I’m Laurie Watson, your sex therapist.
George Faller 00:20
And I’m George Faller, a couples therapist,
Laurie Watson 00:23
and we are passionate about talking about sex and helping you develop a way to talk to each other.
George Faller 00:29
Our mission is to help our audience develop a healthier relationship to sex that integrates the mind, the heart and the body.
Laurie Watson 00:38
Just as we began, please remember to check out Uberlube it really calm is where you can get this great lubricant and help support Foreplay Radio.
George Faller 00:47
No one likes criticism, especially around sex.
Laurie Watson 00:50
Especially in bed. So I had two clients this week and they said something and they were not related to each other, but when was it Woman one was a man. And they gave me sort of like the perfect halves of this conversation. She talked about her experience giving feedback in bed. And he talked about his experience receiving feedback about the bedroom. And they were completely unrelated. But both of them kind of matched. And I thought this was, it was really helpful to hear it in the same week for me. And I asked them specifically, of course, without their names, if I could talk about it on the podcast, because I thought the insight that they gave was really important. Yeah, what
George Faller 01:31
a great topic. So much, what we’re trying to do is to encourage people to give feedback to communicate more that that is for play. There’s so much intimacy in that. But if you see that feedback as a stop sign, we’re trying to see it’s like a detour sign, right? It’s trying to get you to go in a little bit different direction. But so many people if your nervous system reads it as that stop sign, all of a sudden the brakes come on and you know, the whole experience gets ruined. Exactly.
Laurie Watson 01:56
I’ll start with the she’s a female sexual pursuer in general, she’s a sexual pursuer. And she said, You know, I always learned and thought that men really want to know what you want. So, in this new relationship, that was her mindset. And so he they don’t live together, but they meet up on the weekends. It’s really, they’re, they’re dating. And it’s Friday night and Friday night used to be sex night. So she dresses up, you know, in something sexy. He comes in late. And she’s on her laptop looks up and says, you know, hey, and he says, What are you doing? And she says, Well, I’m watching porn, and he goes, Oh, and he kisses her. Hello. Then he goes and gets ready for bed and then crashes and doesn’t lean over and touch her doesn’t do anything. This is true story. And so she thought, okay, I’ve given this incredibly clear signal that I’m ready for sex, wants sex, and he doesn’t do anything. And what she says is that Many times she makes suggestions. And early on, he has said things to her like, you know, you’re kind of being bossy. So then they on Saturday morning, they decide to make love, I guess. And he climaxes first and then he turns to her and asked her, do you want me to get you off? And she’s like, gosh, you know, not the most romantic ask, right? Not like a volunteerism of, hey, I want to do you now. She thinks, okay, but I do want to have an orgasm. So she says, Yeah, yeah, okay, I do. And then he, he starts to kind of complain about many of the things that she has previously asked him about, you know, he says, My hands getting tired. I can’t keep doing this because he has carpal tunnel syndrome, I guess. So as he’s touching her, he gets tired. He says, You know, I can’t put my fingers in your vagina and give you oral sex because I just don’t be that way. And then when he does give her oral sex, the position he gets into apparently He starts to kind of sigh and she gets the picture that his neck is like getting cracked. And she’s like, okay, you know now I absolutely cannot get there. You know, I cannot get off. And she’s confused because these are all the things she’s kind of told him and he’s rejecting her Pat so you’re laughing What are you thinking?
George Faller 04:21
Try to not be judgmental here. Right? It’s people have good reasons for why they do what they do, but just trying to figure out what’s what’s kind of stopping this guy’s engagement
Laurie Watson 04:32
and so what’s the judgment Can I ask you what like, what immediately you feel like? I laughing
George Faller 04:39
I just think there’s so many Ben that that would would love this guy to set up that she’s describing and yet there’s something about it not as engaging for him. Right so what’s that’s by by judgments like wants to be like, really? Come on, buddy? aid? Yes. You know, I I know that there are good reasons he’s not so engaged. If you’re not so engaged and your heads cramping or your necks cramping, you know, you kind of want the other person to get it over, get it over with, right and yet she senses that lack of engagement and now I mean, it’s almost like their roles reversed, which from that common male sexual pursuer with that female which rara who’s just kind of going through the motions, right.
Laurie Watson 05:20
Yep. I mean I think that she would be relieved to hear that I mean that’s that’s her experience with men is that they want to know this is how she learned it how she learned to be sexual with men and then now she has a partner who feel something different that sets him off. You know, I’m not
George Faller 05:39
sure it’s accurate to say men really want a lot of feedback. Okay, they want I think last now, I think men why you’d be engaged in sex, right? But the feedback is not something meant to a lot of if you think about men, if you just code it to sheer number of words they’ve used to describe sex in their whole life, you will see it’s not a lot. And what it is it’s either they’re talking about the locker room that’s kind of plague and there’s really not much talking about it there. Right are they hearing and other settings they shouldn’t be doing? It’s bad. The you know, sex is a negative conversation. But there’s not a lot of healthy I was thinking about this myself is like, if I want to get better at something, I want to be a better therapist. I want to be a better athlete, you name it, whatever it is, I find the mentor somebody that I look up to and say that’s the path you follow. If I think about that for sex, I don’t have one. Right? I don’t they’re not great
Laurie Watson 06:42
mentor. We’re gonna title this George that I’m changing the title. We’re just gonna title this one sex mentor,
George Faller 06:49
sex mentor. I like it. What How sad is that for a culture that most of us I don’t think I’m abnormal with this. I don’t even have an image. I don’t have a target in my head that says That is a great example of what a healthy male sexual relationship would look like. I want to have something like that. Wait,
Laurie Watson 07:07
wait, what a healthy male sexual person would be like,
George Faller 07:11
Yeah, what does it look like? What does he do? I know what a great baseball player does. I don’t want a great therapist can do. I mean, there are measurable skills that I can look at and say that I could emulate I want that. Where is my mentor? Where’s my image from that male sexuality?
Laurie Watson 07:26
Yeah, that’s tough. I offer female sexuality, right? I mean, do you? I mean, are there women out there that experience and say, Yeah, I want to be like, this woman. Not that many. I want to look like this woman, right? They don’t necessarily say I want to be like this woman.
George Faller 07:45
Well, if you look at movies, right, where we get a lot of non conscious kind of just representations of what’s good, what we’re aiming towards, right in the movies. What is sex look like? How do women expect buries sex versus men how another portrayed in movies
Laurie Watson 08:05
suave they know what they’re doing. They’re often in charge.
George Faller 08:11
Juicy a lot of communication and they’re being told no not a little bit left no no a little to the right. Oh you know what? Did you see anything with the crank neck or the Oh your hands cramping up? Do we see any images or what you’re supposed to do with that stuff? Not not usually. Right? So then where are we we’re left alone they can we’re doing something wrong. So I think this, this given feedback, although it’s healthy, and I’m encouraged women, please men need more practice. Don’t give up because they don’t really know what they’re doing with feedback. We need to get better at it. We need to help each other get better at feedback is what makes us better at what we’re doing. If we learn to embrace it, but if we just hear it as criticism that it’s going to lead to those same defensive moves which is disengaging. so depressed Hillary
Laurie Watson 08:58
I No, no, no. I I heard Though this week as well from that man and not not her partner particularly but from this, a similar situation from another patient who was on the receiving end of his wife’s direction. So let’s come back and do a little bit after the break, so that we can kind of see what a man might feel when he’s given these kinds of instructions. I’d love to thank Uber live again for sponsoring us. We are so appreciative this, we just think it’s a really fantastic product. I’ve been giving it out for years to patients and recommending it. It is made up of three types of high grade silicon, so it’s not sticky. It doesn’t have that gooey texture that some lubricants do. It’s really long lasting. And it provides a great glide. I mean, people I think should use it during the beginning of their sexual experience during foreplay as well as during sexual intercourse. It’s scent free. It is Free so you can switch from foreplay to oral sex to intercourse with no problem and it leaves your skin feeling soft and silky, which is awesome. It’s made in the USA which I’m so grateful for and having something fun that makes sex even better. I would love for you to try Uber lube, save 10% when you use the coupon code for play at Uber lube, calm George success and vulnerability calm your new training site, you have a new module.
George Faller 10:29
Yes, so excited about this lorry module to working with secondary emotion, anger, withdrawal, protection, and blocks the way people really, for good reasons, put up these detours in session and most of the time it throws therapists off and therapists start to feel like they’re failing and get really frustrated, judgmental problem solve and they miss the beautiful opportunities blocks to really pivot and become flexible and really, it’s the process telling us where we need to go. We just need to learn how to embrace these blocks. So I’m so excited about this module so please, therapists listening, you want to get better at your craft. Sign up and join us
Laurie Watson 11:07
George’s new module in success and vulnerability comm check it out, talking about secondary emotions and blocks.
George Faller 11:17
Welcome back, Laurie. Let’s get into this second story. And let’s see if we could try to put words to what it’s like for a guy to get this feedback, and how do we help them embrace it, instead of taking it and want it to go away?
Laurie Watson 11:30
Okay, so this this guy that I talked to, I knew this was a problem. His wife was pretty adventurous in bed and wanted a lot of things and the things she wanted the most was him to talk about sex to talk about his sexual experience, his sexual desires, his sexual fantasies. And so I asked him about his upbringing. I did a sexual assessment. And actually, at this point in his life, he’s a low tea guy, which means low testosterone so he doesn’t have a Have for him physiological push towards sex not as much as he used to have. And he says, but I basically tell myself, I’m too old to go through all that he kind of down regulates the stimulation that he might get from seeing a woman, he doesn’t, doesn’t capture that and take it inside and then convert it to the sexual relationship. And he said, prior to this, his wife, really, all his experiences were about his physical initiation. And now this partner is really vocal. And he said, You know, I was trained to keep my mouth shut about sex talking about sex is not proper. His family of origin, never talked about sex. He said, this just wouldn’t have happened. And so when she starts to ask him, tell me about, you know what you think about? He said, I literally went into freeze, first of all, said, My mind went blank, I started to just feel nervous, and absolutely nothing came to mind. You know, he said, I’m not going to tell her that I’ve seen an attractive woman, certainly that day. And I said, No, no, no, it’s that’s not what I was asking him to do. But I wanted him to think about, did he have thoughts? He says, absolutely, I do, but I’ve never, ever, ever thought about sharing them. And so her instructions about what she wanted to do, like I guess she wanted to have accoutrements is what she said and He thought that basically it was a criticism.
George Faller 14:02
It’s not the type of food accoutrements,
Laurie Watson 14:04
now it was toys and all kinds of stuff, but she wanted to do and, and he he basically took it that he was a disappointment to her. And sometimes after making love, she would cry. It was just confusing all these requests and would basically say, you know, you’re not into it, I don’t feel you coming forward. I don’t feel you making suggestions about what toy we should use or that you even want to and, and he basically was saying, you know, I felt so criticized I felt so inadequate. Yeah. So he started to tell himself, okay, you know, sex is not fun. Is this supposed to be fun because it’s not fun. And so he shut down further, couldn’t respond to her requests for what she wanted from him, both in terms of initiating now you know, he didn’t have the physical sort of same sort of pushing did when he was younger. He’s like, whatever I offer her is going to be too vanilla. She’s not going to think it’s very exciting. She clearly doesn’t think I’m exciting, is what he’s telling himself. And then he started to experience EDI, and so he could no longer rely on it on his erection to just work. And I mean, this was just like the, the perfect storm.
George Faller 15:22
That’s way too common Perfect Storm though. Mm hmm. Right. And we have to find a way of breaking the link between words and express and being vocal. And that equaling criticism, right that is so often the quick assumption, you know that men here if you’re going to kind of ask for something or say something that means I’m doing something wrong, and it’s like it’s not even thought about it just immediately lands in the body as criticism words start equaling crying bad things right. So it only increases pressure, which leads to this kind of negative feedback loop. That leads towards EDI and all these other issues. Sure. So how do we, how do we break that? I mean, I’m not sure, during sex is the best time to start these conversations. You know, I think that’s why gone to a sex therapist or you know, have a glass of wine over dinner, but to start kind of retraining the body to see the opportunity in the feedback that this isn’t about doing it wrong. This is about kind of expansion and kind of growing as a couple and getting to know. I mean, we learn more from feedback then if we don’t take the risk for feedback.
Laurie Watson 16:36
So how does he train his body to hear his wife’s offerings, requests and suggestions as something good and exciting and something that she’s maybe being vulnerable about? Because his body is shutting down.
George Faller 16:55
That’s why I’m saying sexually. He needs to get we need to get His buy in before sex, to say, Hey, I actually I get what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to kind of expand what we’re trying to do. All right, bring it off, I need him to say bring it on to even have a chance of being open to it during the act. But if I don’t get his buy in, that wants it, and I have all these years of training, that words mean you’re doing it wrong, then of course, his body’s gonna start shutting down from it. So I think it’s a timing of when you got to really get people to want to engage in that verbal exchange before it actually comes.
Laurie Watson 17:36
So you’re saying he’s got to tell himself Bring it on. Or you’re saying he’s got to tell her Bring it on. They got
George Faller 17:42
to make a decision over dinner, that this is something that could benefit the relationship and help both of them out. I need him to buy in, cognitively to the concept of the importance of doing this differently because his whole life he hasn’t needed this. It’s worked well without it. It’s not a his fault, he’s going to words equal, I’m doing it wrong, he doesn’t see the opportunity. I really need to explain that to him and help him understand that. And if his brain says, Oh, interesting, you know what, actually, that might be fun, then, you know, that might be something worthwhile. Now he has a chance during the act itself to lean into that instead of just running away from it.
Laurie Watson 18:21
He’s in total panic mode. Yeah, total fear. Because he feels like now especially this is a more chronic pattern, right? It isn’t the first time she’s brought it up, she’s brought up over and over and, and thinking like the first woman that he wants to know this, and that he would be excited about her curiosity of what he thinks about too. And so now in the chronic pattern, she’s fixing to leave like they say in the south, fixing is a really good word in the south. And you know what that means, actually. Yeah, that’s it. Good one. So how do we calm his body down? I mean, you’re saying he needs to, I want to know how I withdraw or does it?
George Faller 19:09
And this is the hard part. This is why it’s hard to create change, because both people have to do something differently. This is so hard for the pursuer who’s putting themselves out there and doing everything right to just get so rejected by that. And then when you get rejected, you want to protest, you want to be like, Are you kidding me? You want to let them know all the things they’re not doing? So they can do it differently? Right? So I get that part of it. But what pursuers are not seeing in that moment is exactly what you said, This withdrawal is freezing and fear. And nobody is seeing their emotion. Nobody’s helping them without emotion. The best they can do is just get away from that emotion. So the
Laurie Watson 19:48
more shut down which is more Ed. Right. I mean, literally, his body is responding. I mean, I think ed is complicated. He has low testosterone. So that’s part of it, but Emotionally, his body’s also responding to that anxiety,
George Faller 20:04
just like a woman who doesn’t have desire, because the sex isn’t so great because they’re disconnected, a guy who’s got all this pressure EDS, a kind of part of a solution to that right and helps you not engage. So I totally agree with you trust the symptoms. Right? So I do want to help pursue is when the time is right, and they could calm down to see every time that withdrawal freezes up, that’s a missed opportunity to kind of see them and help them with their feelings to kind of see if they weren’t triggered with their own rejection. And they saw that partners fear and feeling like totally helpless and feel like they’re getting it wrong and feeling discouraged. What do you think they could do?
Laurie Watson 20:49
Well, they could ask right what’s going on for you,
George Faller 20:52
but if it was going on, what would love do in that place? I’m not sure.
Laurie Watson 20:58
I’m a pretty super to help me
George Faller 21:00
Well, I mean, I think that that reassurance that saying, you know what, hey, it’s okay that you feel afraid, right? There’s just a lot of pressure on you, that it’s okay that, you know, I still love you doing you know your great job, you’re doing your best to try and I mean, it’s just that reassurance and comfort and not being alone, which is the antidote to fear. If pursuers don’t even know how to ever reach or withdraw here, that means they’re never going to have success in those places. They’re going to keep needing that move to go away. So I need the witch to pursue it and be part of the solution. Mm hmm. And I’ve never wanted to first couples I saw right after 911 the wife came in, and she was like, non stop. I can’t believe I finally got a chance to talk. This guy will talk no one his family talks. This is just the way it always is. They’re from Germany. Nobody ever talks to Germany. I don’t know if he has, you know, a little bit of autism or maybe he’s Asperger’s. And she’s just relentlessly goes on and on and on. Not fast pace. And her criticism is what? He doesn’t talk. And I’m sitting back say to myself, how could the poor guy Talk you’ve never shut up. But you can’t change that system. He can’t talk more unless she talks a little bit less. Right? That’s that’s seen interdependency that seeing a cycle instead of saying linear thinking. So in this example, we’re getting curious about how do we get this guy to decouple that link between words and criticism, and to see that opportunity and get their buy in. That’s their work, trying to kind of see these places where they feel the pressure, feel like they’re failing, and be able to communicate that the pursue his work is to give the space for that, because when they get so activated, and they’re in such a protest, they take up all the space, there really is no space to see that withdraws world, right? So their work is trying to ground themselves so that they can see and actually instead of just being a helpless victim to this process, they start to become really that empowered to really be the one person I could change that process.
Laurie Watson 23:00
I would say in both these cases, because I see the two couples, they’re separate. Probably what happened earlier in the cycle is she might have been more critical and more upset. Now, at this point in the cycle, these women are pretty soft, they’re encouraging, they are understanding and they still can’t shift the cycle. It’s like something has gotten blocked in these men, and maybe I just can’t shift the cycle, you’re gonna have to help me Gee, but it’s like, there’s there’s this real block because, especially in the second case, the man says, My intention is to come forward this week, you know, I’m going to talk to her about my sexual fantasies. I’m going to try some of these things. I’m going to tell her what I like, the things that she suggested. And he has said some of these things turned me on. But then the next session, he hasn’t done any of those things. He hasn’t come forward in any way.
George Faller 23:59
You No, that’s going to be another podcast. Let’s really talk about what do we do with these pursue is the frustration that’s justified, right that you’ve tried everything you try coming into software, your partner says they’re going to do it, and they’re going to try and then they don’t. Right? We don’t have all the answers here. We’re just trying to kind of start some of these compensations. Right? Which rora, who is not engaging, isn’t winning, by pulling away. They’re just surviving. And we can do better than that. And it’s really frustrating when you’re the partner who knows that and you’re willing to put in the work for that, and your partner won’t engage in that process.
Laurie Watson 24:35
I really think when I think about these men who I, I like, I like all of these people. I mean, they’re nice people. And I appreciate that. The women are coming forward with their ideas and their sexuality because, you know, I would say the bulk of what my work is, is with women who are sexual withdraw hours and so I can appreciate these women, but I think there’s something There is like an internal wall inside these men. They can’t get through it. I mean, intellectually, they’re through it, they’re already through it. But there’s something emotionally that’s really stopping them really blocked. And somehow or another I guess, I their partner, we have to help them get through that blog that says it is okay to be directed it is okay to respond to your partner’s needs. It is okay to have your own needs, and figure out like, how to express those and talk about the inner world. I, I have said this before, but I think the inner world is the most exciting part about sex.
George Faller 25:38
And that’s that’s the big shift, right that we see blocks as doorways that they could turn lead to bridges if people are willing to kind of face them instead of running away from them.
Laurie Watson 25:49
George Faller 25:51
All right, well, let’s keep it hot.
Laurie Watson 25:54
And PS, please tune in to our Patreon page so that you can catch the next exclusive Episode and our next Facebook Live.
George Faller 26:02
We appreciate you joining us to spread this really important message.
calling your questions to the foreplay question voicemail dial 833 my four play that’s 833 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.