Emily Nagoski, sexologist: “Yes, please, talk to each other about your sex life” | health and wellness

Starting an interview by asking a complete stranger how her sex life is going is awkward to say the least. But Emily Nagoski fits in very well. “Don’t worry! It’s 100% reasonable to ask in this case,” he replies in the exchange of messages. “And I can say that lately I’m doing pretty well. Following my own advice. While doing so, things are better than before. When they got worse, Nagoski wrote a book explaining it. He called eat together (A play on words that refers to a song by The Beatles and can be translated as “come together”, a double-meaning verb that can refer to orgasm). This display of intimacy could be a problem for anyone, but it may be even more of a problem for someone like Nagoski, who for years has been considered a sex guru of sorts, or as she defines herself. Is, “a sex nerd.” I already had a first book, come as you Are, Another musical pun, in this case the reference is to a Nirvana song, and the translation would be something like “Let’s be ourselves.” and a podcast, a NewsletterA TED Talk viewed three and a half million times… But while she was creating all this content and breaking taboos about female sexuality, Nagoski was quietly dealing with a crisis with her boyfriend of 13 years.

“The irony is that the process of thinking, reading, and writing about sex every day left me so stressed that I had no interest in having sex,” he explains in his book. First, Nagoski did what anyone would do: Discuss it with his therapist and his friends. But then he did something else. “I approached my sexual difficulties in a slightly prosaic way: I went straight to peer-reviewed research,” he recalls.

What she found there contradicts all the widespread narratives about “keeping the spark alive”, an expression she dislikes for perpetuating an outdated idea about sex. “Desire barely makes the top ten characteristics of good sex. “When people worry about the spark, it’s a distraction from what really matters, which is happiness,” he says. She explains in her book that it’s not about how excited you are spontaneously and improvisationally, but about actively seeking time and intimacy; Getting into bed with your partner and letting your body respond. “Spontaneous desire arises in anticipation of pleasure. A reactive desire for pleasure arises. And both experiences of desire are normal,” says the sexologist. For many couples, time and energy are limited, so “the best way to have sex may be to plan it, to schedule it on a calendar.”

Emily Nagoski doesn’t do scientific research, but she’s good at finding and explaining it, eliminating excessive loftiness and bringing studies down to earth. He popularized the idea that libido is like a car with an accelerator that detects erotic stimuli and a brake that is pressed on everything that distracts us from sex. When women have problems with arousal and pleasure, he told come as you Are, This is not necessary because they are not stepping on the accelerator. Usually, this happens because something (stress, work, parenthood, parenting…) causes them to put on the brakes. The idea is simple but powerful, and many women saw themselves reflected in it.

Another metaphor that caught on (and to which he returns in his new book) was one in which he presented sexuality as a garden. Its soil is especially fertile when we are children. Soon, ideas about body, sex, gender, pleasure and love begin to proliferate in the family, society and cultural context which emerge like invasive species. “The seeds of myths about the ideal sexual man, about standards of beauty, are blown by the wind and ropes of vines, which spread like poison ivy under the fence and over the garden wall,” he explains. eat together, There are lucky ones without any trauma who can limit themselves to periodic pruning, cutting and bringing in a new plant. But most people will have to do weeding throughout their life. “Your sexuality is not a problem that you have to solve or a disorder that has to be treated. Your sexuality is a garden you can grow,” claims the author. But we are all better gardeners in solitude than when we enter a shared park, where we have to water and prune our own and other people’s plants.

Cover of the book ‘Let’s Come Together’

eat together Spans 300 pages, but in the first lines, Nagoski creates a pervert And move forward. There are three distinctive characteristics of couples with strong sexual relationships. First, they are friends, they trust each other and admire each other. Furthermore, they prioritize sex and put it before commitments and routines. And finally, instead of accepting other people’s opinions about how they should have sex, they “prioritize what’s really true for them and what works in their unique relationship.” No two gardens are alike and what grows strongly in one may not take root in another, or may even become a weed.

Despite defending the idea with militant zeal, Nagoski recognizes that, in practice, sex is a social behavior. We start with an instinct, but we also learn by watching and listening to others. Pornography, whether you like it or not, is part of this learning. The problem, he explains, is that having sex through porn is like watching Formula One and thinking you already know how to drive. He reflects, “They’re professionals on a closed circuit with a pit crew, trying to achieve something completely unrelated to what we do in the real world.” “If people have access to pornography and don’t have access to sex education or conversations about sex, it’s very easy for them to believe that sex in real life is like pornography.” And it is not so.

That is why he assures that books like his are necessary. To improve our public conversation about sex (which he considers “basically bullshit”). And use science to better understand what happens to us. “However, we should not try to understand our lives from any individual study,” he explains. That’s why, beyond porn, beyond the science and beyond what works for each individual, Nagoski defends something so simple it seems revolutionary: talking about sex with friends. “Oh yes, please talk to each other about your sex lives and tell each other things you’re learning!” she shouts. “Telling personal stories helps others see their sex lives more clearly.” She may be right after writing a 300-page book explaining why she stopped having sex with her boyfriend.

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