Show Transcript for Episode 56: Anal Sex—Why Are We Talking About It?

Listen to Episode 56: Anal Sex—Why Are We Talking About It?

Laurie Watson:
Hello again and welcome to foreplay radio sex therapy. I’m your host certified sex therapist Laurie Watson, author of Wanting Sex Again and blogger at Psychology Today in Web MD. And I have with me Dr. Adam Mathews my co host, who’s a couples therapist, psychotherapist and president of NCAA MFT. Foreplay is dedicated to helping couples keep it hot. Each episode we cover an aspect of sex that impacts your sex life and something that you can relate to. So if you find our discussions helpful, please give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher. We would love it if you would tell a friend about us. You can find us on the web at foreplayrst.com, and if you have a comment or a topic that you’d like us to talk about, we’d love to hear from you. Please send them to us at info@foreplay.rst.com. Thanks for listening now on to today’s topic. Okay, it’s Today’s episode we are going to talk about anal sex.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Really, Laurie, are we gonna have this? Are we gonna have this conversation?

Laurie Watson:
We are gonna have this conversation, Adam.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Oh, okay. All right, I am just gonna get it out of the way. Now, I’m a little uncomfortable having this conversation. But I will follow you into this mindfield and all the emails that we are going to get. But we’ve already gotten emails.

Laurie Watson:
We get emails about this all the time, right? We thought we really need to address it. And I mean

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Or get it out of the way.

Laurie Watson:
So to speak, or partly, I mean, I think there’s a lot of people who are listening are like, why are people why is everybody talking about, you know, sex these days? Because it’s a huge topic. You see all kinds of articles on it. I mean, it’s everywhere. So why is it different now than, you know, 25 years ago, nobody talked anal sex 25 years ago.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
You know, I mean, this may be an unpopular opinion. But I think it’s because of porn. Yeah, I think porn has introduced the idea of anal sex into our culture in a way that men have really latched on to.

Laurie Watson:
Yeah, right. I think you’re right. I mean, that’s not just your thinking. That is what has happened. Yeah. I mean, the porn industry has basically shows anal sex as part of an integrated part of a heterosexual experience. It used to be, you know, homosexual porn showed that but heterosexual porn did not. But, now it does. Almost every single porn film introduces anal sex as part of the whole routine.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah. And it’s also showing women enjoying anal sex, right? In a way that right? I mean, in a way that any man would want their partner to respond to sex.

Laurie Watson:
And crazily showing women having orgasms with anal sex. Which, by the way, doesn’t happen.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah, I mean, there’s there’s some myths around that. I mean, In your blog post, you talk about that. I mean, tell what are the, what are the stats about that?

Laurie Watson:
So really only about 2% of women actually enjoy anal sex. And there are some women out there who do and a lot more women enjoy anal touching, because there is erotic nerve endings around her anus that she might enjoy being touched there. But that doesn’t mean she wants anal sex. Only about 2% really enjoy, although maybe about 30 plus percent have tried it. And a lot of men tell me, you know, and I hear this all the time from men. Well, she just doesn’t like it because she hasn’t tried it. I gotta tell you guys, she knows if she wants to try.

Laurie Watson:
And she really knows if she doesn’t want to try it.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
You know, what you’re saying is this is not a rejection of the man or rejection of him. It’s just it’s a preference. Right. And it’s one that I think needs to be really respected.

Laurie Watson:
It is a preference and if they’ve seen porn they’ve been led to believe that it’s her preference, and it’s so hot for her. Yeah, you know, the men think it’s so hot for her and that she just needs to, you know, expand her boundaries. And then she would really know about this great thing because he’s seeing all this stuff on porn that says she really really likes it. And those are actresses. Yes. By the way, they are actresses. Yeah.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
It’s dangerous when we base what we think sex is supposed to be like, on porn. I think it’s something that I think we all can agree with, like even even men that are involved in porn, I think could agree with that statement with their head. But it gets I think it gets in, it just creeps in and slowly like we begin to believe that that is what is supposed to be in a healthy sexual relationship. So we impose that expectation on our partner. And it’s just it’s just really dangerous and really faulty.

Laurie Watson:
To impose the expectation. We’re not saying anal sex is dangerous and faulty.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Right, right. Right, right.

Laurie Watson:
I mean, we know some people really like it. Some people really think it is ads to them, and that’s fine. And we would like to maybe help you. Let’s see Say you do have a partner who wants to receive anal sex. First of all, it’s not a night event. It’s not a one night thing. It’s like several months before a woman could receive that comfortably. So it’s, I mean, you have to really, I’m going to say some really specific things here, but you have to work with her sphincter, to get her to relax. And that takes months of introduction to this. What you see in the movies, or in the porn films is a total lie. It just doesn’t happen in one night.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Right away.

Laurie Watson:
No, no.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
So it’s, it’s a slow introduction. So if it is something that that she would like, and something that she thinks she would enjoy, it has to be done slowly and over time,

Laurie Watson:
Right, and I think the reality is the woman’s rectum has a crook in it. So it’s a little turned. And that’s part of what makes it really painful for her, let alone the stretch. It’s the little crook and men do not have that. That’s partly why and men in homosexual sex to have a prostate gland and that’s partly why it’s enjoyable. It’s Straight, they have a prostate gland that does actually produce orgasms when it’s stimulated. So we’re talking about two wildly different things. Yeah. And I know men who are listening who are straight, some of them like you didn’t need to tell us that part. But, but you know, that is

Dr. Adam Mathews:
That is important to know because it’s not the same thing.

Laurie Watson:
Right. It’s not. It’s not analogous. Yeah. You know, what, what a man feels and what a woman feels is not analogous. It’s something totally different. So, okay, so if you want it, and the other thing in porn is that these women are set up well, so oftentimes, they have had an enema, so that there’s no fecal matter that’s going to show and real women, you know, often don’t have enemas before they have sex.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
So what you’re saying is, it can be a messy experience.

Laurie Watson:
Yes, it can be very messy.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah.

Laurie Watson:
And so I mean, be prepared for that and make sure she’s prepared for that. And also, make sure anything that touches the anus. Anything that goes in, the anus never goes in the vagina and basically is washed off before it touches any other part of her vulva, because you’re going to cross contaminate with bacteria. So that that is dirty.

Dr. Adam Mathews: Yeah.

Laurie Watson:
That is something that really needs to be addressed, you know, any kind of sex toy that’s touching both places. It can’t, it can only go one direction. You know, it can ever come back into the vagina, or near the urethra, which is how women get bladder infections. You know, with cross contamination.

There’s a lot of thought that needs to go that go into that. And I think that’s what we’re saying is one of the major differences in what porn shows and what happens in real life is that you have to you have to have conversation about this. It has to be it has to be intentional. It’s not something you just jump into.

Laurie Watson:
You have to have permission.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
You have to have permission.

Laurie Watson:
You absolutely have to have permission. This is not a slip up. Adam Mathews:Yeah. Laurie Watson: Like oops, wrong, wrong place. Yeah, that can never happen. Yeah, you know, because women would feel so violated and I have talked to women whose husbands or boyfriends or whoever have done the oops, thing, you know, and I mean, that that is tantamount to rape. Really, you know.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Well, even bringing it up after you’ve, you’ve initiated sex, right? That’s not the time to bring it up now, right? You need to this is something that you need to bring up beforehand, you’ll need to have long conversations about it. Talk about what it means what you have to do

Laurie Watson:
Unless you’re both totally agreed.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Right.

Laurie Watson:
And even if you’re totally agreed, you need to recognize the difference between what you might have seen somewhere or what you imagined it’s gonna be like and what it’s like in real life. Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah. I think that i think that that that.

Laurie Watson:
Go ahead spit it out. Anal sex.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
I’ve said it several times, haven’t I?

Laurie Watson:
I don’t know. Go ahead, what were you going to say?

Dr. Adam Mathews:
I don’t know now. I think it seems like one of those things that needs you know, when you said both partners agree even in that. I think that there’s conversations, there’s conversations to have, even when both of you agree because of all the things you just talk about the time that’s required, the thought that needs to be put into it to be clean, and be safe.

Laurie Watson:
And more than likely, it’s a conversation with one person, you know, the man often wanting to try and the woman not because of her fear. And I think we should, you know, talk about why, why do men want to try this? Like what’s so exciting? Okay, first of all, they see it on porn. We know that. And they see women really enjoying it. And they, they think it’s it’s variety. Right?

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah, yeah, I it think again, it’s a misplaced sense of what is going to bring pleasure, right. But there’s also a sense that it is taboo. Right? I mean, there’s a there is still a taboo nature, even if it’s made its way more into mainstream, I guess, mainstream porn, if you want to say that. But there is an element of it. That is you’re not supposed to talk about it. Right. And like to witness my whole demeanor in this conversation today. You know, like, and so there is something that’s attractive about something that is taboo.

Laurie Watson:
Yeah, anything that’s a little illicit, that’s a little taboo or forbidden I mean, that heightens our excitement about it, right. We’re getting away with something, we’re doing something that’s naughty we’re doing something that I think that there’s that childlike part of us that says, ooh, you know, something, something is off limits about that. And I’m sneaking into it and so so there’s kind of heightened adrenaline and there’s, and that often brings excitement. Yeah, the taboo is just woohoo!

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah. The idea too that it is going to be more pleasurable than vaginal intercourse. Laurie Watson: Yeah, I think for men, right. Adam: Mathews: There’s like is that a fantasy? Is that is that reality?

Laurie Watson:
I would say men often tell me they want to do it because they think it’ll be tighter than the vagina.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah.

Laurie Watson:
And so that they will experience more pleasure. Well, I’m not a guy. So on this one, I’m not nobody has really said to me, yet. Yeah, it’s way more pleasurable for me as a man to do anal sex than vaginal sex. I’ve never heard that.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
You’ve never heard that. I haven’t either. So

Laurie Watson:
I think the thrill is the taboo.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
I’m inlicned to say…

Laurie Watson:
In the sense that she’s letting him go everywhere.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
I’m inclined to say that that’s a fantasy that it’s something again that that can stem from porn that it’s going to be more pleasurable. Does that mean I think possibly there’s the idea that it might take your sex life to another level right that there’s this level of of where you have reached you know that you’ve, that you’ve reached.

Laurie Watson:
Okay, we got to come right back because Adam is like best enough here. You’re listening to foreplay radio sex therapy with the sex therapists Laurie Watson and couples therapist Dr. Adam Mathews We’ll be right back talking more about anal sex.

Announcer:
Wanting Sex Again. How to rediscover desire and heal a sexless marriage by certified sex therapist Laurie Watson.

Laurie Watson:
Each chapter is designed to fix one of the problems that cause low libido from early marriage through the childbearing years, even all the way through menopause. I’ve also had men read it and tell me that for them, it was the most helpful thing they read about resolving sexual problems.
Announcer: Look for Wanting Sex Again on amazon.com. You can also talk to Laurie Watson for therapy in person or via Skype,

Laurie Watson:
I offer couples counseling and sex therapy and I think about both aspects of the relationship; emotional intimacy and sexual technique and that combination together helps marriages be happy

Announcer:
Weekend couples intensives are also offered. Improve your sex and improve your relationship with awakening center for couples and intimacy. Find out more at awaken loving sex calm, awaken what’s possible.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
It is one of my great joys in life to be able to really help individuals and couples find strength in their relationships and really find hope again.

Announcer:
Licensed Marriage and Family therapist Dr. Adam Mathews for Matthews counseling.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
I work with a wide variety of issues including depression and anxiety, marital issues, issues with adolescence. I believe that therapy should be designed around you that it should be personalized to who you are and to your unique situation.

Announcer:
Therapy is available in Office, Online, and by phone.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
I want therapy to be comfortable for everyone at our office, you’ll find that we sit around a fireplace and deep, comfortable chairs, look at the problem differently and offer practical solutions for you to take home and utilize outside of the therapy room. Schedule today and rediscover hope. You can find me on the web at Mathewscounseling.net. Mathews with one t you can contact us through email or phone and find a lot of resources on our website Mathewscounseling.net

Laurie Watson:
Okay, so we’re back with foreplay radio sex therapy. Today, we’re talking about anal sex. And Adam is enjoying our episodes, immensely.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
It’s not stretching me at all.

Laurie Watson:
So to speak.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah, so to speak.

Laurie Watson:
Now we’re really not talking about anal sex for men.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Right.

Laurie Watson:
We are not going to.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Okay. This is this has never happened to us by the way, this is like we have not devolved this much on it or regress this much on any other topic but this one but it’s just so many people.

Laurie Watson:
It’s uncomfortable even for you to talk about.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
It’s uncomfortable and so many people have asked about it, you know, I feel like we it does feel like it needs to be addressed because people so many people have asked about it

Laurie Watson:
Right. There’s whole books written about that too.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah, and it’s a conversation that tends to happen behind closed doors right with with couples, if at all, they have the conversation at all. They generally don’t talk about it with their friends. So I mean, we’re, where we’re going. We’re making it happen.

Laurie Watson:
And we again, we support the people out there who want it and enjoy it. And that’s, you know, fabulous. We don’t think that there’s anything wrong with it. But we probably deal with as sex therapists and couples therapists, and maybe our own inhibition, about people who have more resistance to it. And that’s kind of where we want to help you go, like, let’s say one of you really wants to try it. Yeah. And the other one is like, No, no, not interested in trying it.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah. How do you begin to navigate that difference? Because that’s, I think one of the things that why it comes up in couples therapy and in sex therapy so much is because it’s such a big split, right?

Laurie Watson:
Yeah.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Like it’s even more of a split between that and if one member wants oral sex and the other doesn’t want to give it right. I mean, it’s it’s more of a it seems to be more people dig their heels in.

Laurie Watson:
It’s a wider difference.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah, absolutely.

Laurie Watson:
Yeah. Like, I mean, I know I had a friend whose partner always wanted to try it. And she was just like, no way, no how this was somebody who, you know, when we were kids together, you know, you never walked in on her in the bathroom and that door was locked, you know, and just the whole thing was a total no. I mean, not going to do it and I think it became, like a point of contention. They had a really relatively great sex life. But he just was enamored with this idea, you know, just let’s just try it. And he pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed. And I thought, you know, you’re ruining something. Because you you have a great sex life. She was open, she was playful. She wanted sex. She likes sex. This was just an absolute no. And I think that before you have to have the discussions, or before you have the second discussion, let’s say that, you know, if you really get from your partner, this is a clear off limits. I’m never gonna want to do it. I mean, they do have a right to say no.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah.

Laurie Watson:
And I think hounding wanting your partner about something that they really said no about can be damaging to your sex life.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
I think you said something that’s really key as well, as you said, the second conversation. Like I think if, if you’re not having a conversation about the other aspects of sex, like to jump into the anal sex request is a little weird. Well, you’re jumping, you’re just skipping a bunch of steps.

Laurie Watson:
Yes.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Right. If you’re not talking about the other things that your partner wants, if you’re not talking about other things that you need beside other requests that you have If that’s not already there for you, as a couple, it’s going to be a more automatic no, like your partner is not even going to consider it. If this is the request right out the gate if you’re not having conversation around other parts of your sex life.

Laurie Watson:
And I think one thing that I hear from people is one person is pressing for more more intensity, more sex, and and sometimes that person is not sort of sensitive to the fact that every conversation turns into, but I want more of something else.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Hmm.

Laurie Watson:
You know, it’s like they don’t have conversations where they decide things where they feel settled on things where there’s an exchange of feelings without that person pressuring to go to the next level now. It may be anal sex and maybe something, you know, wild and crazy, whatever, but they’re always pushing and that’s the other partner who’s usually the sexually avoidant partner or the distancer just often feels like it’s never enough for that person, you know, they’re never satisfied. So certainly if you are the sexual pursuer, you want to convey, you know, this was a great time and then zip it you know, you want to you want to say this was good. And make sure you catch the moments that are great and your partner knows your satisfaction.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah, I think is if you’re saying that anal sex is the only way you’re going to be satisfied with sex and everything else is, is just as satisfaction and disappointment.

Laurie Watson:
Right? If it’s always this disappointment, we didn’t do it. And, you know, you think couples do it routinely. For the record? couples don’t do this routinely. Yeah, they really don’t that is fantasy, and that’s a porn manufactured idea. You know, yeah, you’re gonna be disappointed if you know this is sort of Nirvana. I know it’s tough, but…

Dr. Adam Mathews:
It’s a tough conversation to have, but if there’s enjoyment in other areas of your sex life, it seems like this should be an addition, not something that’s going to bring your sex life to completion or take it to another level or be the thing that’s going to actually make it enjoyable. I think those those things sound dangerous to me.
Laurie Watson: It might be those ideas sound dangerous, I think it might be. I mean, for some people, they want to try it once and they go, woohoo, we did it. And, you know, then they decide about it. And if you I mean, how would you begin that conversation if let’s say, you were the partner who wanted it, and you’re, your partner didn’t want that.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
I think one of the things that I think men need to be honest with themselves about and we’ve been talking about it a little bit is is if this is a porn fantasy for them, or if it’s something that they really want in their sexual relationship. If they are, if they are starting from the basis if it’s and they’ve got to be honest about the influence that that porn has had, if it’s coming from that place, it’s gonna be really hard for it to be what they’re envisioning, and they’re going to, it seems like they’re going to be dissatisfied. That’s true of sex in general. Right?

Laurie Watson:
I mean, I think one of the problems with porn is right, we are seeing things that are unrealistic, and there is creating sort of an ideal, that sex is always just like breathless, and really, really passionate, and there and people are always doing these crazy things. And they’re switching positions. And they’re, you know, I mean, I mean, a lot of people have a very satisfactory sex life. You know, the couple that we talked about last who had sex every day, they were actually not swinging from the chandelier. You know, they were rolling over in bed in the morning and having sex, you know, and that, you know, and there was something pleasant and lovely and intimate about that, but I think porn produces this ideal that is not attainable.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Yeah.

Laurie Watson:
Not in an average life. And I, you know, I have people who say, but I want our sex to be really passionate. Every single time I’m like, Okay, well, you know, I hate to break it to you, but most people have sex that is also ordinary.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Well, you have to have that right. You have to be able to have extraordinary sex, you have to have ordinary sex.

Laurie Watson:
But they feel so disappointed. It’s like, well, I had an orgasm, but that wasn’t really what I wanted. I wanted this adventure. And it’s like, I’m support you. We support you. Dr. We’re all about helping you. But not every single time. And I think that anal sex is probably a one off experience. And so if you’re talking to your partner, maybe you say, you know, I’d like to try it. Yeah, I like to try it once.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
But you’re coming from a place of reality, not a place of myth and fantasy.

Laurie Watson:
Yes.

Adam Mathews:
Right. And when you’re coming from a place of reality, you know, what are what are some things that you can say? How do you lead into conversation if it’s if it’s grounded in, in a real in a real place.

Laurie Watson:
So definitely he needs to say, you know, that’s something I’d like to try. How do you feel about it? And let’s say she says, you know, I don’t feel good about it. I don’t want it. I mean, one thing she could say in order to not shut the conversation down completely is, can you tell me why you want it? What do you imagine it would be like? And maybe he also asked her, can you tell me why you don’t want it? Yeah. What are the things that come up in your mind? That would say, this is something I don’t want? Can you tell me those feelings? And really be open to it. So it’s not a that’s disgusting i’m never gonna do that kind of conversation.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
You’re not shutting your partner down. You’re being curious. Both sides are being curious about each other. And that’s just good communication skill anyway to have. But when you’re curious about the other person’s position, you’re going to learn a lot more, and you’re going to get a lot further right.

Laurie Watson:
And tone is everything right? I mean, you have to ask, can you tell me about Your feelings against it. And with an open heart, right? You know, even though you might be very disappointed that your partner doesn’t want to do it, an open heart says, I care about you, I care about your reasons. And if they say, you know, ew no it’s dirty, you know, you feed it back, you say, okay, it’s dirty, you feel like it would, it would literally be dirty and maybe you feel like it would be morally dirty or, or, or some some other kind of dirty. That doesn’t feel like you. Can you tell me about those feelings? I mean, I think there’s such a childhood taboo, right? We’ve been taught by our parents, that that area of the body is literally dirty, don’t touch there. You know, and so we come into adulthood, knowing that this is, this is the area that you know, dirty things come from and so there is this childhood taboo about it and working past that, you know, could be very difficult to introduce it into the sexual life.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
And I think if if you get to a place where it’s not a hard no, but it’s a I don’t really think so. It’s something that you can possibly continue to talk about, like one of the things you could do is just to say, can we keep talking about this? Is this something that we can keep we can keep talking about, but not we’re not going to do it until both people agree.

Laurie Watson:
Yeah, don’t pester. Don’t keep at it. Like, thinking you’ll wear that person down.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Laurie Watson:
All your good sense about it, and how it’s really going to be great for them. Trust me. A woman has a right to say no in this. She really knows whether or not she’s going to enjoy it. I mean, she she has a deep sense about it if she’s open, and she’s more curious, great. But if she sat down and says no, I mean, I just…

Dr. Adam Mathews:
But men can ask the question in a good way. Laurie Watson: Yeah. Adam Mathews: Right. It’s not something that you have to necessarily be fearful of or not be able to talk about, but you need to be able to ask it in a good way and not make it a demand for your sex life.

Laurie Watson:
Yeah, a curious way. Okay talking about anal sex.

Dr. Adam Mathews:
All right, we’re done. We did it. We got we got through it. If we can talk about it. You can talk about.

Laurie Watson:
Okay Foreplay Radio Sex Therapy with sex therapist Laurie Watson couples therapist Dr. Adam Mathews. Thanks for listening. Hey, help us stay on top here at foreplay. love it if you would subscribe and share it with your friends. Please take one sec and rate and review us thanks so much.