Many have taken quarantine time to self-reflect, helping pave the way to healthier relationships. Folks are reporting more clarity into what they want in life. Life is short and at the end of the day, relationships are what matters most. Dr. Diana and her guest Dr. Nancy Sutton Pierce had so much to discuss, especially since they both practice what they preach!  Dr. Nancy is a sex and relationship author, podcaster, international speaker, and sensuality educator. She and her husband Mark, an M.D., co-host the Conscious Living Show. On a recent program they spoke of entertaining each other during quarantine and taking full advantage of their time alone. Dr. Diana’s book—Love in the Time of Corona: Advice from a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine—highlights the same message. The docs spoke about playfulness and leaving judgements behind so that sex can be more adventurous! Spice it up!

 

Another Dr. Nancy show is Wild Women with Wine that she co-hosts with Karenlee Poter of Sex Talk With My Mom. Dr. Nancy’s counseling practice includes giving guidance and advice to singles for dating in a socially distanced world. There’s a new normal and the pandemic has rewritten the rules of dating. There may be a much longer courtship conducted over Zoom. Jotting down some conversation topics and questions in advance can help with nervousness: What have you learned about yourself? What would you love to do if there were no constraints? What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you? Finally a couple meets and the first kiss could trigger thoughts of infection rather than infatuation. Or, they could progress to sex faster than usual – these people have already spent considerable time getting to know each other long distance. Dr. Nancy also discussed her Exotic Lifestyle Retreats, an intimacy oasis in Jamaica. Dr. Nancy’s openness, deep knowledge, and sense of fun adventure shines in this interview!

Love, Lust & Laughter’s last show of 2020 concluded on a high note (or should we say buzz?) with guest Hallie Lieberman, author of Buzz: The Stimulating History of the Sex Toy. Hallie’s book provides a fascinating history that tells the story of sex toys from ancient phalluses to 21st century vibrating rabbits. She also discusses the cultural controversies related to sexual pleasure and sexual rights.

Hallie Lieberman began selling sex toys at passion parties, and then got into a graduate program where she studied the history of sex toys. Her book includes profiles of many sex toy pioneers. Betty Dodson (1929-2020) believed that masturbation with a vibrator was liberating for women and essential to knowing their own bodies and responses. (See Dr. Diana’s tribute show to Betty Dodson with Dr. Mark Schoen, November 10, 2020.) Dr. Diana recounted her women’s sexuality groups in the late 80s and early 90s and the journeys women took to understand their sexuality and to reach orgasms after sexual trauma. Many of these women held the overly romantic hope that someday my Prince will come – and so will I!

Hallie and Dr. Diana also talked about Joani Blank (1937-2016) who opened the first Good Vibrations store in San Francisco in 1977, and Dr. Carol Queen who is the staff sexologist, historian, and curator of their Antique Vibrator Museum. (See Dr. Diana’s interview with Dr. Carol Queen, September 15, 2020)  Current trends include the huge increase in sex toys sales during the pandemic, and the recommendation by the New York City Health Department to masturbate as a way to stay safe. The author concludes that sex toys aren’t just about the amazing technology but about the meaning—that sex toys can mean so many things to so many people!

 

How do we make it through an already difficult time of year when many measures we have to take to slow the spread of the coronavirus—including sheltering in place and social distancing—exacerbate feelings of isolation and grief? Besides dealing with pandemic/holiday stresses, how do we safeguard a marriage against divorce? Brad Coates, divorce attorney and author of Divorce with Decency: The Complete How-To Handbook and Survivor’s Guide to the Legal, Emotional, Economic, and Social Issues (5th Edition), joined Dr. Diana to sort out these questions and more.

 

Beginning with COVID and the holidays, it is useful to set realistic expectations, including being flexible about factors beyond your control, and adopting psychological flexibility to help regulate your emotions. Step back and shift your perspective when things do not go the way you expect. Practice self-care by tending to your most basic needs, including sleeping, eating, exercising, and having sex. Yes, sex makes you happier (is a natural anti-depressant), increases immunity, and improves the relationship. (Dr. Diana’s book, Love in the Time of Corona: Advice from a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine, has lots of suggestions for keeping things spicy during lockdown.)

 

We are usually stressed about the holidays because there is too much to do, so try to keep things in perspective. This year there is less busyness, perhaps providing more time for reflection and reminders not to take things for granted. By embracing your feelings, difficult conversations about hard decisions are facilitated, as are setting boundaries, being intentional and mindful.

 

Another important topic: ways to safeguard a marriage against divorce. For one guy it was too late: “My marriage had preexisting conditions, and COVID killed it … We weren’t a partnership, we weren’t working together.” If you want to avoid divorce, being a cheerleader for your spouse, with lots of support and encouragement, really works. So does having sex with your spouse or significant other. We all crave assurance—if not in words, then in body language—that we are still desirable to our partner. We don’t just want a partner who is willing to have sex with us, we want one who wants to have sex with us. If contemplating a divorce, remember that you had what it took to fall in love; it’s entirely possible that you have what it takes to stay there.

A quiet revolution is taking place in bedrooms all across America: couples are discovering (or rediscovering) the pleasures of combining cannabis and sex. Today’s guest is Chelsea Cebara (@ChelseaCebara), a Seattle-based educator and product innovator in this area. Chelsea was the main developer of Velvet Swing, a cannabis-infused personal lubricant launched in 2017. Dr. Diana’s husband Bryan Brewer joined the lively discussion about the pros & cons and dos & don’ts of adding cannabis to your sex life. Now legal as either a recreational or medical product in 33 states, cannabis is helping more and more people enhance their enjoyment of sexual activity. As a sex therapist, Dr. Diana has recommended cannabis to selected clients with positive results.

 

The conversation covered a wide range of topics, including methods of consumption, physiological and psychological effects, practical considerations, and having more fun in bed. Chelsea reminded listeners that practicing informed consent is a critical requirement for engaging in sex under the influence of cannabis. She recommended using a “sex menu” as a light-hearted approach to discussing which activities that a couple could consider. (Download Dr. Diana’s free Sex Menu Exercise worksheet from www.DearDrDiana.com).

 

Chelsea consults with companies on new product development in both the THC and CBD markets. She also offers personal advisory services as a cannabis concierge to help people navigate their initial journey with cannabis use. For complete details, visit www.ChelseaCebara.com.

 

Also available for free download at Dr. Diana’s website is a more detailed overview of the topic, “Cannabis For Couples,” a 20-page bonus chapter of Dr. Diana’s recent book Love in the Time of Corona: Advice from a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine.

Michael Castleman has answered more than 12,000 sex questions throughout his career: on his Great Sex Guidance website, through his “All About Sex” blog on Psychology Today (where he reviewed Dr. Diana’s book Love in the Time of Corona), and during the 1990s on the Playboy Advisor column. Michael and Dr. Diana first discussed the upcoming Thanksgiving—a very different one this year in the midst of the pandemic. Many have recalibrated their plans to keep themselves and their loved ones safe in the midst of all the uncertainty. But crisis can create opportunities. One of the best remedies for COVID stress is massage. Michael calls it a nutrient you get through the skin. If you don’t have a partner, self-massage and solo-sex are helpful. A couple may feel deprived of touching loved ones outside their household (hugging grandchildren comes to mind!). Many partners are turning to each other and getting into massage; some view sex as less about intercourse and more about touch. Shoulder and neck massages relieve tension and promote relaxation.

 

Castleman’s new book Sizzling Sex for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Maximize Erotic Pleasure at Any Age

will be published in January, and is available for pre-order on Amazon. This book, which took three years to write, incorporates source material from 2,500 studies published over the past seventy years. He delves into many social/political/sexual issues. Michael and Dr. Diana discussed two of these: sex education and pornography. Another topic, couples therapy, revealed that the most common presenting problem is a difference in levels of desire. After a while, “sex becomes less like the Fourth of July and more like Thanksgiving.” Library Journal calls Michael Castleman “one of the nation’s top health writers.” Dr. Diana calls him one of her very best radio guests in the last ten years!    

Dr. Diana Wiley and Dr. Mark Schoen paid tribute to Betty Dodson, Ph.D., a sexual revolutionary known as the “Mother of Masturbation.” Betty died on Halloween at the age of 91. Dr. Diana and Dr. Mark knew Betty personally and agree that her promotion of sexual pleasure was a huge part of her legacy. In her radical Bodysex workshops, Betty taught women how to overcome negative body image and pleasure anxiety. These were also spaces where many women had their first orgasms. Through her books, videos and art, millions of women have known orgasmic bliss! 

 

Mark Schoen is a filmmaker who made an award-winning documentary “Betty Dodson: Her Life of Sex and Art.” For a limited time, folks can view this free on Mark’s website www.SexSmartFilms.com. In the documentary Betty reveals her history through the images of her art and teaches as she entertains. Betty had her first one-woman show of erotic art in 1968 in New York City followed by others. She was interviewed on many television shows from the 1970s to the present, and was recently named number 43 of the 100 most important people in sex by Playboy Magazine.

 

In the Epilogue of Betty’s 2010 book My Sexual Revolution she reported that an actual little bird visited to her apartment one night. This was a sacred experience that taught Betty patience to wait until the morning when the bird could have daylight to see her way out. The bird was a “divine visitor” who offered Betty this message: When the time is right, the light will be there to see your way out. October 31st was Betty’s time. The light saw her out … leaving some sensual/sexual light behind for those of us who loved and admired her.

With so many people stressed out and hemmed in, how can we learn more about HEALING—and experience some of the pandemic’s silver linings? Dr. Ava Cadell is the founder of Loveology University, which provides certified online love coaching and relationship programs, empowering people all over the world. Dr. Ava is Dr. Diana’s good friend and colleague of almost twenty years. She spoke about Dr. Ava’s seven-hour Healing Course now available with loving solutions for how to heal from the loss of a loved one, loss of home or health, fear from the coronavirus, toxic relationships, sexual trauma and more. One solution is more laughter, including laughter yoga, a natural stress buster! It’s like a form of internal jogging, and what a nice way to exercise the heart and boost the mood. The Healing Course also covers water therapy, music therapy, meditation, animal therapy, gratitude journaling, and sexual healing. (You can also access Dr. Ava’s free YouTube mediations online.)

 

Dr. Ava points out that sex is our second instinct after survival. With all the coronavirus fear, stress and anxiety, it is hard to surrender to sex. (See Dr. Diana’s recent book—Love in the Time of Corona: Advice from a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine—for lots of guidance about how to strengthen your relationships during the pandemic.) In general, a person has to find new positive ways of relating to sex, revisit and bring resolution to past sexual traumas, develop a better relationship to their body, and change their thoughts about control and loss of control. Yes, a person has to reclaim their authentic sexuality!

Sheri Winston knows how to transform anxiety into excitement! As she explains in her book Succulent Sex Craft, anxiety is just excitement without enough breath. How about deepening and slowing down your breathing? Sheri and Dr. Diana conversed more about BREATHING and then focused on TOUCH. Sheri knows about sacred sexual traditions, ways that a couple can get into the same arousal zone, and a lot about anatomy. Both men and women have erectile tissues. The paired internal vestibular bulbs—which are part of the clitoral system and are located under the outer labia—are the real “buried pleasure!”

 

Sheri ventures there is a “Pandemic of Premature Penetration.” One study found that a couple’s average time for foreplay and intercourse was 12 minutes total. When a couple slows down and spends more time sexually engaged, say 30-45 minutes, tissues are engorged, arousal is high, and they may feel like they’re in a deep erotic trance. Then, penetration can feel amazing!

 

Both Sheri and Dr. Diana suggested seeking professional help if a couple is contemplating divorce. Divorce rates are poised to rise. A Washington D.C. area firm reports a 70% increase in inquiries about divorce representation since March. Don’t be in that group. Read Sheri’s books as well as Dr. Diana’s book, Love in the Time of Corona: Advice from a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine, and really communicate with your partner so that you can go from “Quarantining to Cocooning.” With the pandemic still raging, we need Sheri’s wisdom—dispensed with such an open heart!

Dr. Diana’s return guest, Dr. Ashley Mader, is well versed in differentiation. It is no surprise that differentiation issues are played out in the sexual area. What is differentiation? It involves learning to balance your individuality (separateness) with your emotional connection to someone else (togetherness). Standing on your own two feet—rather than trying to merge with your partner or lose yourself in love—may lead to the best sex you’ve ever had!

 

Dr. Diana and Dr. Ashley are both experts in aging and sexuality. They spoke about Gail Sheehy’s idea—in her book Passages—that sometime around age 50, the man becomes more romantic and the woman becomes more assertive. We must not mistake genital prime for sexual prime! Dr. David Schnarch’s Passionate Marriage focuses on how you don’t work on your marriage; your marriage works on you. Marriage or being in a committed relationship is the ideal arena in which to become clearer about who you are so that you can contribute to and enjoy a better partnership.

 

In addition to conducting her private practice in Amherst, MA, Dr. Ashely is in her third year of graduate school at the Bowen Center at Georgetown University. Dr. Bowen’s philosophy is that we may have unresolved emotional attachment issues with our family of origin. We may have to toggle between our emotional and intellectual selves. Back to Schnarch because this is important: You give up the fantasy that the other person is going to complete you. So your goal changes from getting someone to love you to being someone capable of loving. Dr. Diana’s book Love in the Time of Corona: Advice from a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine is especially timely, and can help with this process.

Sex Gets Complicated During the Pandemic” is the CNN Health headline. The article was posted on Monday September 14, 2020, and features Dr. Diana and her sex advice book Love in the Time of Corona. The wonderful and articulate Dr. Carol Queen joined the program again. She is the Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist and the author of three books. The most recent is The Sex and Pleasure Book. The sex docs discussed non-sexual/sensate focus/full body caressing exercises. Dr. Carol is an expert on erotic talk: what do you want to say? (Narrate the plots of erotic stories; reminisce about a past sexy encounter; make requests to do specific sexual things). Furthermore, how do you want to say it? (Make a list of your preferred terms for erogenous body parts, and sex acts).

 

The CNN article notes that some are having more intimate, fun sex, and pushing boundaries. One way to do this is to introduce new and different sex toys. The sex toy industry reports a 250% spike in sales, selling more than 1 million toys since March! Dr. Diana’s advice for men in heterosexual relationships is to make friends with the toys. Some men are threatened or intimidated: “Why do you want or need a sex toy except to masturbate?” It’s fun to learn how to use different toys, especially in combination with other ways to stimulate her with your mouth, your hands, and your penis. Dr. Carol and Dr. Diana discussed how multiple points of stimulation can enhance the intensity of the orgasm even more! (Google “trigasm.”) These are great ways to reconnect with your partner. This pandemic is a stressful time, but you know what? It doesn’t have to be so stressful on your relationship.

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