#54 Building Sexual Confidence and Enhancing Intimacy With Dr. Alison Ash


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What does it really mean to be confident in the bedroom? On this episode, we are joined by Dr. Alison Ash, a trained, Trauma-Informed Intimacy Coach and Educator. Dr. Aly helped pioneer research into the orgasm gap and has written books and articles on topics ranging from pleasure in heterosexual dynamics to queer identities and experiences.

Join us for an insightful conversation that touches on many different aspects of sexual relationships. From self-discovery and the co-creation process, to dealing with shame and distinguishing it from guilt, our conversation is a deep dive into the fundamental elements of healthy, fulfilling sexual experiences. Dr. Aly demystifies the complex world of intimacy and the factors that all too often stand in its way. Thanks for listening!

Side note: If you are currently struggling to orgasm during sex or masturbation, then you may want to learn about the Easy Orgasm Solution. It will teach you how to have multiple vaginal and full body orgasms during sex and masturbation. It works even if you currently struggle to orgasm during sex or when masturbating. You can find out more here.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Introducing Dr. Alison Ash, Intimacy Coach and Educator.
  • Her career journey which began in sociology before she found her true passion in education.
  • The constant process of self-inquiry and self-discovery necessary for fulfilling sexual experiences. 
  • What it means to have the confidence to co-create your sexual experiences.
  • How shame can damage our relationship to sex and our bodies.
  • Empathy, reassurance, and normalization.
  • Differentiating between guilt and shame. 
  • Three attributes of sex positivity.
  • Components that make up sexual consent.
  • Defining boundaries according to capacity. 
  • Tips for affirming a romantic partner. 
  • The role of self-deprecation in preventing intimacy. 
  • How communication can enhance emotional connection during sex.
  • Tips for creating safety to share with your partner.
  • What lies at the core of any sexual fantasy.
  • Dr. Aly’s work and different options she offers for coaching and workshops.

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AA: I think that there are some fantasies we want to do in real life, some fantasies we don’t, but just want to live in our fantasy mind. There’s fantasies that we want to share and fantasies that we don’t want to share. All of that is normal and okay. If you have a fantasy that you want to share, it’s important to know, do you want to share it, because you want to do it in real life or do you want to share it, because you think it’s hot? You want to share something that you think is hot. Maybe you two can fantasize about it together.”


[0:00:31] SJ: This is The Bad Girls Bible Podcast. I’m your host Sean Jameson, and this is the place where I interview experts and professionals and everyone in between to teach you how to dramatically improve your relationships and have more enjoyable sex, more often. If you’re not already subscribed to The Bad Girls Bible Podcast, you just need to open your podcasts app, search for Bad Girls Bible and hit that subscribe button, so you get the latest episodes delivered straight to you the moment they are released. 


[0:01:03] SJ: Today, I’m talking to Dr. Alice Ash, aka Dr. Aly. She’s a trained trauma-informed intimacy coach and educator. Dr. Ash helped pioneer research into the orgasm gap and has written books, and articles on topics ranging from pleasure in heterosexual dynamics to queer identities and experiences. Dr. Aly teaches sexual and emotional intimacy skills at Stanford University. Dr. Aly, thanks so much for coming on the show. 

[0:01:36] AA: Thanks for having me. Delighted to be here. 

[0:01:39] SJ: I’d love to start off every episode with a little bit about you, your background and how you came to do what you do. 

[0:01:46] AA: I have a PhD in sociology. I focused my studies on sex and gender. How folks relate to their gender identity and experience, their sexual orientation, and their sexual preferences, and desires. While I was getting my PhD, I did a lot of research on the college hookup culture. My dissertation was on trans and gender discrimination in the workplace. While I really enjoyed the research I was doing, for me the passion what lights me up the most is the education. The taking the findings from years of research and finding real-world applications that help people feel more empowered and happier. 

I think that intimacy is for so many of us really hard to figure out. It’s not something we’re taught in our school systems, or in our family systems. Society at large is pretty bad at templating healthy intimacy skills, but it is a skill, like any skill, something we can get better at with proper instruction and practice. It became very clear to me that I wanted to dedicate my life to helping people learn these skills, so that they could feel the fulfilling and nourishing byproduct of having intimate relationships. 

[0:03:09] SJ: You raise a good point as well where there’s certainly research done on sexuality intimacy, but sometimes turning that from theory into practice or implementing that in an educational setting is difficult or it just doesn’t happen. 

[0:03:26] AA: Well, I think that the reality of academia is the old adage publish or perish is still alive and well. I think that most folks in academia are really concerned about creating the next research that’s going to move things along and move things forward, and that’s important. I’m so glad that we have people that are dedicated to doing that, but that doesn’t necessarily leave the time and the space and the energetic resources to think about what do we do with these findings? How do we implement them to create the real-world change that I think so many of us want to see? 

[0:03:59] SJ: Absolutely. With practice in mind, I’d like to talk about building confidence. So, for listeners that feel maybe a little bit on unconfident, asserting themselves when it comes to sex with a partner, trying something new with them, expressing what they want or don’t want. Do you have any advice you could give them? 

[0:04:23] AA: Oh sure, buckets. Lots of advice. Let’s see. Well, one of the first things I tell folks is that sexual empowerment comes from knowing yourself. You have to have some sense of self awareness, and then self-expression to be able to share what’s going on in your own internal landscape. When I say internal landscape, I mean your feelings, the sensations in your body, your wants, and needs, and desires. Also, your limits, and capacities, and boundaries. We are ever evolving, so it’s not we’re a static target where you figure that out and then you’ve got it clear for the rest of your life. We always need to be in this process of self-inquiry and self-discovery. 

I think that one of the things that’s important when I think about confidence is that you don’t have to have all the answers to be confident. On one hand, it could be very confident to say, “I know exactly what I like, let me show you.” But it would also be confident to say, “I’m still in this process of self-discovery and I would love to explore with you. Can we explore together?” I think that that’s hot. It’s really erotic to have somebody say to you, I want to explore with you. Can you help me discover? People then – 

[0:05:36] SJ: It opens the door. 

[0:05:37] AA: It opens the door. Yeah. I think that some of the best sex comes from having a mutual shared orientation towards exploring and not having to have all the answers. 

[0:05:48] SJ: Absolutely. I think, sometimes as well, people confuse confidence with just knowing what to do as supposed to being comfortable, maybe not knowing what to do and being relaxed in that feeling. 

[0:06:03] AA: I also think confidence comes from being able to own what you like and what you want. In that process of exploration, to be able to say, “Yes, more of this.” Or, “No, let’s not do that.” I think that in part, because of the ways that slut shaming has been perpetuated, I think especially for hetero women in their teens and twenties. They have this belief system that if they really enjoy it or if they take a more active role, then they’re going to get slut shamed. 

I think that there is a turning point culturally where that changes, but oftentimes that conditioning is so ingrained that it’s hard to realize that in hetero dynamics, a lot of men really want to be told what it is that you like and to have some direction and to have the confidence to co-create your sexual experiences. 

[0:07:05] SJ: You’re making point point about slut shaming and that you can, I guess, almost logically understand everything that’s wrong with it, but maybe still feel implicitly from society that, well, this is a thing, it exists. Maybe you should feel it as well, even though you shouldn’t. 

[0:07:27] AA: Shame is such a damaging component to most people’s experiences and the things that have formulated the way that they relate to sex, and their bodies, and their relationships of folks of all genders and sexual orientations. The clients who come into my office, we are oftentimes working with shame. Shame is a fear of rejection at its core. It’s a belief that something is wrong with me and that thing that is wrong with me is going to cause me to be rejected. 

Humans are interdependent beings, we need each other to survive, and that feeling of rejection and shame is physically excruciating. We want to avoid it at all costs. It’s traumatizing in a lot of ways. Humans aren’t actually born with the voice of our inner critic, we develop it in response to very early experiences of being shamed, because it’s so uncomfortable to be shamed, we would rather shame ourselves first, keep ourselves in line so that we don’t risk the experience of being shamed by others. 

I think what happens for most people is that voice of the inner critic takes the microphone in our dialogue and it hogs it, and it goes way overboard. I think that so much of feeling confident, and sexually liberated, and having fulfilling sex and relationships is about uncovering the things that we feel ashamed about and moving through it. 

One of the trickiest things about this is because we don’t want to be rejected, we hide the things that we feel ashamed about, but the way that we move through shame is by sharing it with people that we trust to see us in our wholeness, offer us acceptance, empathy, reassurance, normalize these feelings and experiences. That’s what helps us release the shame. 

[0:09:23] SJ: You touched on some of the things, but do you have any other advice for a partner who wants to be supportive that has a partner that feels sexually ashamed, they want to overcome it? Do you have any practical things they can do? For me, I think all listening and try to be accepting that comes to mind for me, but is there anything else you’d advise. 

[0:09:45] AA: I think empathy is the most important antidote to shame. The reality is, is that most of us know what empathy is, but few of us know how to do it well. When most of us try and empathize, we will relate. “Oh, me too.” Which can be helpful, but that’s not empathy. We can do at least statements, well, at least a silver lining, which doesn’t help, or we try to fix it. We offer some solution, but what empathy is, is it’s understanding how somebody is feeling, connecting with that feeling in yourself. 

Even if the experience that they’re having wouldn’t have you feel how they’re feeling, you still can relate to that emotional experience. I think this is why being in touch with your own emotional experiences is really helpful, because then you know what despair, and sadness, and grief, and fear, and regret, and all of these challenging emotions feel like. Then you understand the impact of how they’re feeling. Then you express that you care. 

If somebody’s experiencing shame, because of experiences they’ve had or experiences they haven’t had, right? You could say, let’s say it’s experiences that they’ve had. Maybe you could say something to be effective. I really get that you are feeling, or I really imagine that you’re feeling some fear that if I know or other people know about these experiences you’ve had that you will be judged and that you will be criticized, and people might think less of you, because of these experiences. 

I can really get how that would feel so isolating, like you have to wear a mask. The effort that goes into, having to maintain that mask and how much that creates such a hollow experience of belonging, because people aren’t getting to see the full you. I know you’re so much more than the experiences that you’ve had. I don’t judge you at all. So, then I’m moving from empathy to reassurance. I don’t judge you at all, because we all have a history and a past and you wouldn’t be who you are today if it weren’t for the experiences that you’ve had. I love who you are today. 

I have my own past and the things that I’ve experienced that I don’t feel great about. I think that’s just part of the human experience. Then I’m moving from reassurance into a little bit of normalization, like not trying to invalidate the challenge that they’re experiencing, but wanting to contextualize it. 

[0:12:18] SJ: That’s fantastic. I kind of feel a little bit reassured myself right there. One question on shame. Is it normal to feel or is it healthy to feel even a little bit? Do you think? Just an opinion? 

[0:12:32] AA: Good question.

[0:12:33] SJ: I don’t want to put you in the spot. 

[0:12:36] AA: No. I’m happy to answer it. I really love Brene Brown’s work on Shame. She is just one of the most important shame researchers in my opinion. One of the things that she says that I think is so valuable is the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is I’ve done something wrong. Shame is I am wrong. Shame is an internalization that there’s something wrong with me, not just that I messed up in some way. I’m not proud of. Guilt is healthy. 

Guilt helps us change our behavior, so we can act more in accordance with our values and our morals and to be able to learn when we hurt somebody or when we do something we’re not proud of, how we can then change our behavior so that we can feel better about who we are and treat the people in our lives better. Shame on the other hand is correlated with all sorts of detrimental things, including addiction, and depression, and anxiety. 

Shame gets us stuck in unhealthy behaviors and it damages self-esteem. I think that this is one of the challenging shifts that we need to have in our society is a lot of institutions try to teach through shame. I think it’s way less effective and problematic as supposed to holding somebody with love and compassion, but still accountability for mistakes. 

[0:14:07] SJ: Could sex positivity be the opposite of feeling sexual shame? 

[0:14:12] AA: Yeah. Sex positivity is a attitude towards non-judgment and acceptance of a wide range of experiences related to sex. Then sometimes also gender and sexual orientation, things like that. I think of sex positivity having three main attributes, consenting experiences, pleasurable experiences, and experiences that aren’t negatively affecting the well-being of those involved. 

If you have an encounter where all the parties have consented, where it feels good, even if it’s a BDSM context and there’s pain involved, that it’s still a positive good experience. It’s not negatively affecting the well-being of those involved. Not like the next day having a big shame over. Sometimes these things happen, but then I think from a sex positive perspective, being able to explore that and get some support around that so that we can continue to make decisions that aren’t negatively affecting our well-being. 

[0:15:15] SJ: Sex positivity, it’s exploring something pleasurable, consenting to it in a way that avoids negativity. Could you give like examples of what’s consent isn’t? Obviously saying, no, I don’t consent, is clearly not giving consent, but is there a gray area that people should be aware of the things can get, just bad communication, but it also leads to bad outcomes? Could you give examples maybe of those kinds of situations? 

[0:15:50] AA: For something to be truly consensual, it needs to have a couple of components. Clear and specific. This is a way that consent can go wrong. If I say like, “Do you want to Netflix and chill?” That’s not actually consent for having sex, right? Because there’s ways in which if we’re not being clear and specific, then the other person doesn’t know what they’re consenting to. It needs to be unpressured, so if there’s a lot of pressure, that could be simply, because somebody’s saying, “Oh, come on. Please, please. I really want to. If you love me, you would.” But also, if there’s a power dynamic. 

[0:16:25] SJ: That sounds very sexy. 

[0:16:27] AA: I know. It’s the best. Sarcasm, very clearly shared there, but also, if there’s a power dynamic, right? This is why it’s not appropriate for teachers and students or different kinds of power dynamics. It doesn’t really allow for clear consent. Then it has to be ongoing, so people can revoke consent at any – when these things aren’t in place, then things can get really murky. It doesn’t lead to very clear consent. 

Now, when I was in college way back in the day, we operated in a no means no paradigm, which is the absence of a no is a yes. Thankfully, nowadays we operate in a yes means yes paradigm, which means you have to have the presence of a yes for it to be a yes. I think that that’s a really important shift. Maybe, I think that what’s important when you can have specific unpressured and ongoing consent, it actually creates a safer space to be able to explore maybe, because I know that if my maybe becomes a no, that that would be okay. That would be welcomed. 

I think learning how to hear and say no and stay in connection and welcome no’s is an important skill I’m often teaching people, because it creates safety and trust and a lot of permission to explore the maybes, which I think is part of where some really fun and hot sexual experiences that can happen. Now, the one other thing I’ll say about consent is you might have heard the phrase enthusiastic consent, which is this idea that in the absence of a very enthusiastic yes, it’s a no. 

I think that in some situations, this is a really good benchmark, but this is not required for something to be consensual. I might be really tired or a yes, but I’m doing it mostly, because I want to feel connected to my partner, but I’m feeling a little bit of pressure or self-imposed pressure, or maybe I’m a sex worker and this is my job and I’m consenting, but I’m maybe not enthusiastic about it. I think in certain situations, it’s a really good standard to have for yourself, but I think it’s important to note that it’s not a requirement for something to be consensual. 

[0:18:42] SJ: Is there part of us between maybes and maybe pushing someone’s boundaries in a BDSM context? Are they two completely separate things? 

[0:18:51] AA: Okay, well, boundaries can get pushed in any kind of context. I think that when we think about boundaries, right, boundaries are the delineating line between capacity and lack of capacity. It is the constraints that we impose to keep ourselves within our capacity. We don’t necessarily want to push on boundaries, because that’s going to create maybe a lack of trust, or a lack of safety, or when we’re really past our capacity, we show up as dysregulated, and patient, and frustrated, and irritated. It doesn’t necessarily promote healthy intimacy.

I think that when we feel that somebody is curious about our boundaries and wants to respect our boundaries, then we feel inclined to want to move closer to them. I think when we’re talking about a BDSM context, oftentimes what we’re talking about is pushing people’s edges, but we still need to know what their boundaries are. In any good BDSM arrangement, there’s some negotiation happening where we understand what are your hard no’s? What are the things that you’re open to doing? If somebody tells me, these are my hard no’s, I don’t want to push and try to do those hard no’s, because those are their boundaries. 

[0:20:13] SJ: Okay, that’s very clear. Compliments and showing appreciation for a partner. Do you have any tips for complimenting, showing your appreciation and affirming someone in a romantic relationship? 

[0:20:27] AA: I sure do. 

[0:20:28] SJ: I’m also asking this in the context of maybe some people, they don’t feel confident, like we talked about before expressing it. Do you have tips for that? 

[0:20:38] AA: I think that if you grew up in a family system where there weren’t a lot of affirmations given, it probably doesn’t feel as intuitive and easy to give them to other people. I think it is really important and not just for romantic relationships, but in your family dynamics, with your kids, or other family members, with friends, even with work colleagues, to know how to give good affirmations. It helps people know what it is that you’re appreciating and how that thing impacts you. 

I often say that an affirmation is a compliment on steroids, because it’s way more powerful. a compliment is nice eyes, you’re so generous, you’re so sexy, or you have such a kind heart, right? It’s like an appreciation about a characteristic of somebody, but an affirmation takes it a level deeper. it’s that thing that you appreciate and how that thing that you appreciate impacts you. I think what’s so important about an affirmation is many people have a hard time receiving compliments. 

If I say, “You have a beautiful smile.” You might think about how your braces didn’t really work, or you haven’t whitened your teeth in a while or whatever inner critic feedback you might think, but if I say, “You have an amazing smile and when you smile at me, I get butterflies in my stomach and I feel I’m 16 again.” It’s hard for you to say, “No, you don’t.” Because then you’re arguing with my own personal experience. It has that affirmation feel really individualized and tailor made and specific. We all want to know how we impact people. 

When I share how impacted by you, and then I also tell folks how to receive affirmations, which is to notice how it impacts you to receive it and share the impact rather than falling back right away or deflecting or denying. Then what’s happening is, is we’re getting – 

[0:22:33] SJ: Sorry to interrupt, but as an Irish person, just going straight for self-deprecation. 

[0:22:37] AA: Yeah. That’s the reality. In our society, we get validated for being self-deprecating, we get shamed for being prideful. It sets us up to be that way, but if I tell you something that’s a true affirmation, it’s vulnerable, because I’m sharing about impact. If I say you are so generous and your generosity has truly inspired me to think about ways that I can be more generous. Sometimes I feel intimidated, but often I feel really motivated. I think what would Sean do in these situations? 

I’ve noticed it pushes me to just giving a little bit more. I’m so grateful for that, like that’s a deeply vulnerable affirmation that I just gave. You could say, “I know, I’m not generous.” The reality is, is that you and other people oftentimes think that if I’m not 100% something, 100% of the time, it doesn’t count. Nobody’s 100% anything, 100% of the time. Anybody in that position will probably think about times they were less generous than they wanted to be, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not a generous human. 

If you can think about, okay, maybe part of my inner critic is coming up that’s telling me I’m not generous enough, maybe there’s another part of me that’s thinking, “Wow, it’s so helpful to see me through your eyes. I feel so touched and a little emotional to know that I’ve inspired you to be more generous, that just really warms my heart.” Then to be able to share that. Now, we’ve just created a lot of intimacy through this exchange of getting vulnerable and talking about shared impact. 

[0:24:09] SJ: Can men struggle sometimes to create intimacy, maybe true self-deprecation in relationships and sexual situations due to the pressure, maybe socially they feel from society and that leads them to put on a show to be the “man” instead of truly connecting with their partner and then being vulnerable, being honest, being their true selves?

[0:24:36] AA: Well, I think folks of all genders can be self-deprecating, right? I think what you’re touching on is certainly this idea that in a lot of patriarchal societies, well, let’s take a step back and just say that I think patriarchy is a disservice to everybody of all genders, because part of the ways that it socializes boys and men is to believe that vulnerability is weakness and that you need to be strong and tough. If you’re too sensitive or too emotional, then you’re some derogatory term and you’re less of a man. 

It defines masculinity as not feminine and not gay. That is certainly at the root of sexism and homophobia, but then attributes that are considered feminine, like being nurturing, being emotional, being vulnerable, are ashamed when men express that. I think that the reality is everybody is emotional and everybody is sensitive. I just think some people are not very tuned into that and they don’t necessarily have the literacy to understand their sensitivities or their emotions. Of course, there’s a range, some people are more, some people are less, but it’s not a gendered split. 

When we think about intimacy, intimacy is created through mutual shared vulnerability. Emotional intimacy is created through understanding your own internal landscape and being able to share with the people that you want to be close with and having them reciprocate. Sexual intimacy happens from being able to explore and to talk about desires and preferences to be in the vulnerable state of sharing in a sexual encounter. You can share in a sexual encounter in a way that’s not vulnerable at all, performative even. 

You can also do it in a way where it feels, like really, and I often talk about this experience of being emotionally naked when you’re also physically naked and what that looks like. For this reason, emotional, physical, sexual intimacy are distinct, but they also mutually reinforce each other. So, when men or anybody has a hard time being vulnerable, it’s a wall. It’s a barrier that serves to keep people outside of their innermost world, which is a defense mechanism. It’s a coping strategy against being shamed for being emotional and being vulnerable, but it also creates disconnection and isolation. 

[0:27:07] SJ: Speaking of being more intimate, do you have any practical tips couples could use for connecting more deeply and more emotionally deeper during sex? 

[0:27:19] AA: Sure. I think opening up lines of communication is really important. Checking in, asking what feels good. One of the games that I teach a lot of my clients is called the this or that game. The way that the this or that game works is you offer one kind of touch. Maybe it’s a stroking touch with the hand or a scratching touch with the nails, or some massaging touch, or you can use your mouth. Maybe you’re kissing, or licking, or nibbling, whatever it is. When you take that one kind of touch and you vary it on one of three variables. The three variables are intensity, so how hard versus how soft pace, how slow versus how fast, and location. 

I would start with either pace or intensity. Let’s say I’m doing a bit of a scratching touch with my nails and let’s say I’m doing it on your arm. I would say, “Do you like it like this? Which is maybe a softer scratch or do you like it like that, which is a harder scratch?” You would tell me, “Oh, I like softer.” So then, I would say, “Okay, I’ll do softer and even softer.” I’ll calibrate what intensity you like. Then once I figured out the intensity, maybe I’ll try one that’s slow and one that’s fast. Then you tell me what your preference is. I continue to calibrate till I figure out the ideal intensity and ideal preference for you. Then maybe we can explore how that would feel in different locations. 

I think it’s really helpful to play the this or that game as a game where I’ll going to do this to you for 10, 15 minutes. You tell me what parts of your body are in bounds versus out of bounds. Then we switch. What this does is it helps the receiver get into their body, because in order to evaluate two different kinds of touch, you have to be in your body to be able to discern what like you better. Often times if I ask somebody what they want, and it feels like deer in the headlights. It’s too broad of a question. They don’t know how to answer that, but it’s really empowering to be able to make a decision between A or B. 

It often opens up lines of communication. It’s not uncommon then for the receiver to start to say things like, “Oh, I wonder what it would feel like if you did this.” That’s amazing. That’s a win, because you want to open up those lines of communication. Then during normal sexual encounters, when you’re not playing the full game, you can still sprinkle a couple in. Do you like it like this or do you like it like that? That’s a way of getting ongoing feedback and encouraging open dialogue. I think that’s so important to be able to have somebody feel like their preferences matter, that they get to co-create the sexual encounter. 

[0:29:54] SJ: I think again, it also comes back to this idea of perhaps someone putting on a show that instead of just in an confident way, either assuming you know best or hoping you know best, just ask your partner. Does it feel good? 

[0:30:11] AA: I think even when I’m working with long term couples, they oftentimes do have a sense of what their partner loves, but our desires are fluid. They change over time. Even if you know my go-to favorites, there’s probably a lot of other things that on the periphery that we’re not doing that would create more variety and more diversity and help us discover new things. So, I really to encourage both new couples as well as long term couples to embrace the attitude of exploration and to discover the tools that help them do that. 

[0:30:45] SJ: With exploration in mind, do you have advice on how listeners can share their own desires, wants, their own fantasies with a partner when their partner isn’t prompting them? 

[0:30:59] AA: Yes. I would name the elephant in the room. I think oftentimes that’s a really helpful way to create safety. It might be something like, “I would love to explore with you a little bit more.” Or, “I’ve been exploring my own desires and I would love to share them with you or I’d love to show them to you.” Maybe sometimes it’s asking them about their desires and that can create an opening for you to share about your own. 

With regards to fantasies, I think that there are some fantasies we want to do in real life, some fantasies we don’t that just want to live in our fantasy mind. There’s fantasies that we want to share and fantasies that we don’t want to share. All of that is normal and okay. If you have a fantasy that you want to share, it’s important to know, do you want to share it, because you want to do it in real life, or do you want to share it, because you think it’s hot and you want to share something that you think is hot? Maybe you two can fantasize about it together. At the core of any fantasy is an emotion. 

Maybe this fantasy has you feel powerful, or competent, or used, and naughty, and dirty, or fought over, or worshiped, or spiritual, or emerged, or attractive, or alive, or free, whatever it is. If you can identify the emotion or emotions that your fantasies, how do you feel? Whether or not it’s the actions, or the relationships, or the environment or what it is about the fantasy that generates that emotional experience for you. 

I think that that’s really helpful, because then what I can do is I could say, “Hey Sean, I have a fantasy I want to share with you. I don’t know if I want to do it in real life or I would love to do it in real life, if you’re open to it. Even if you’re not, I want to share it with you, because I think it’s hot and I want to be vulnerable and bring you in and my desires.” What I know about this fantasy is that I imagine it would have me feel worshiped and really desired and that’s a craving of mine. 

So, even if you don’t want to do this fantasy, A, it would be really hot if you could still celebrate that I think it’s hot. B, maybe we can discover other things together that you are open to that could create that feeling state for me. That creates permission. I think that’s so important when you’re sharing a fantasy. It’s giving the other person permission to not have to do it, giving them information about what are the things that we could explore together that could work for you. Also, the reminder of can you still celebrate that I think it’s hot, because that’s really going to be what de-shamifies it even if the other person doesn’t want to do it. 

[0:33:38] SJ: I think that’s great information. I think also, I almost heard it was like four things, fantasies you want to share, fantasies you don’t want to share, fantasies you want to actually explore in real life, and fantasies that you want to just keep in your head, but share with your partner, because I think sometimes one partner in a couple of things, “Oh, I feel like you’re not sharing everything with me. It’s normal to have some of your own private thoughts. 

[0:34:03] AA: That’s right. I think it’s important that we embrace that kind of experience of mental liberation. 

[0:34:10] SJ: Dr. Aly, this has been great. If people want to find out more about you, your work, your coaching, where can they go? What would you advise them to do? 

[0:34:20] AA: Well, I work with folks across the globe, which is really such a wonderful, I think, byproduct of the pandemic is it really broke down some barriers of people searching – locally, so I do work with folks in person if they’re local in the Bay Area of California, but I also work with folks virtually. I do coaching sessions with individuals, and couples, and homogamous groups, helping them learn the skills so that they can have the intimacy that they want and to be able to integrate them. 

I also offer a wide range of workshops and courses that I teach both in person, as well as live virtually, as well as on-demand rentals. I have about 20 individual short workshops that are about a couple hours long. Then I also, have two more in-depth courses, my Sexual and Emotional Intimacy Skills course, which I do teach at Stanford. I also teach outside of Stanford. It’s an eight-week course that I teach live virtually in January through March of every year, but I also have it as an on-demand rental throughout the rest of the year. 

Then I have a course for couples called Sustainable Intimacy: Reignite the Flame for the Long Game, which teaches couples how to find the spark in their relationship or how to nurture the spark if they already have it. It’s really helpful, I think, for folks in long-term relationships where maybe the sexual intimacy has dissipated. We talk a lot about what are the intimacy blockers, the things that get in the way of you feeling your sexual desire and libido. 

Then what are the things, the practices, the really experiential tools that you can start to employ to help you find your desire, cultivate the intimacy with your partner, and create it in a way that’s going to be sustainable for the long run. That’s also available. I teach it live a few times a year, and it’s available as an on-demand rental. 

[0:36:11] SJ: Those courses are available on your website? 

[0:36:14] AA: That’s right. if you go to my website there’s a coaching tab where you can learn more about my coaching methodology, and then there’s a workshops tab where you can find all of my on-demand workshops, and then there’s a separate tab for Sustainable Intimacy and Sexual Intimacy Skills. Then you can also find all the podcasts that I’ve done and a bunch of other helpful resources there as well. 

[0:36:35] SJ: Awesome. Dr. Aly, thanks for coming on the show. 

[0:36:38] AA: I really enjoyed it. You were a wonderful host. This was so lovely, and I hope to be back and share more with your audience sometime soon. 

[0:36:44] SJ: Absolutely. We’d love to have you back. 

[0:36:46] AA: Thanks so much. 

[0:36:48] SJ: One last thing before you go, if you want to hear more podcasts, just like this one, open your podcast app. Search for Bad Girls Bible and hit that subscribe button.


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