Sex Ed for Singles (Part 1) with Carli Blau | S2, Ep. 6


Welcome to another episode of the exEXPERTS DIVORCE etc… Podcast where we give you all kinds of information and tips on everything divorce. Why? We’ve lived it, so we get it! We’re T.H. & Jessica. 

T.H.: Welcome, everybody. Today’s podcast is with Carli Blau, she is a dynamo. First of all, she’s a dynamo, she has awesome energy, and we’re going to talk about sex with her. I had a talk with her before this podcast, so I’m really excited for you guys to hear and experience her energy and knowledge. Welcome to our show. 

Carli: Thank you so much for having me. I’m Carli Blau, and I’m a sex therapist. I’m a regular psychotherapist, like your basic bitch psychotherapist to say that, and I say that in jest. You know what, people say to me all the time, do you do sex? Relationships? What do you do? I say I’m your classically trained therapist. I can do anything under the sun, and I can do it well. On top of that, I’m finishing my PhD in clinical sex therapy, I have a master’s in sex education, and I’ve been in this field now for about 10 years in really studying sex. So when it comes to sex and relationships, that’s really my forte.

Jessica: Which is what we’re so excited about because we’ve been talking for a while about just the idea–I mean, listen, it’s relevant for everybody since most adults hopefully are having sex, but the idea of having been in a long term marriage, even a short term marriage, where then you come out and you have to be out again, starting to meet new people, and going through those phases of getting to know people. Maybe it’s a totally different age range now than it was when you first entered into your marriage, and the whole idea of reclaiming your sexual identity.

We really wanted to talk about almost Sex 101 for recently divorced people. [I love that] Because the truth is sex, especially at our age, for people who’ve been married 20 years, 25 years, sex today is not what they thought it was when they got married at 25. Now they’re 50 and have hopefully only had sex with one person all that time. There’s a lot to learn.

Carli: 100%. Go ahead.

T.H.: I’m glad you’re saying they and not us when you’re referring to 50-year-olds. I’m just putting that out there. But yes, every generation definitely has their own perception of what sex should be for them in their relationship. But I think that Jessica and I can definitely agree that post-separation even, it’s fantastic.

Carli: There’s some newness, right, of any new relationship. I say this all the time, I think this is one of those pieces where–one of the things that I love to say and that I specialize in and really helping people with because I understand it is this concept of redefining sex.

Jessica, you made a really great point of you can go from being married for 5, 10, 15, 20 years, you get divorced, you’re now with a new partner, and it’s like, holy shit.

This is the most amazing thing ever where I feel so redefined. But I want to also make note that in any relationship, and this should be discussed amongst divorcees and things like that, that in any relationship you get into, you’re going to get into the state of monotony again where things are going to go from being really hot and fiery and passionate to leveling out and plateauing. I mean, it’s the cycle of how life happens, right? We get into these places where there’s a climax, and then you plateau, and then there’s a climax, and you decline, and there’s a plateau, and we get into this whole cycle. We need to be mindful that this happens in all relationships. And so the key is, how do you keep communication alive? How do you keep the fire alive and keep it burning, so that you don’t end up in a second situation where you feel unfulfilled by something sexually again? I think that’s a really great thing to talk about too.

Jessica: I think you’re so right. And it’s interesting, I think everybody who has been married, divorced, and then started dating again has obviously different experiences. For me personally, after my first marriage divorce, I feel I really learned what sex was after that because I think we were just really young. We got together in college. It was what it was, but afterward, as an adult, I think I really realized what it could be. That changed everything I think in terms of all future relationships.

But I’m starting to understand that being with a partner who can’t talk about the sex, give a post mortem of that session, and what did you like, what didn’t you like, in general, what do you like, and if someone can’t have that conversation, I think that’s a red flag.

Carli: I think that it could be a red flag. I think there’s always an opportunity for someone to give a space of safety to say, hey, listen, we’re not talking about the kind of sex we’re having. This is what I like, and this is what I don’t like, and we’ve never had that conversation. I’ve been with my husband on and off now for 20 years. We literally started dating in camp when we were kids, we dated again as students in high school, we dated again after college, and we’ve been together ever since. I think me being a sex therapist helps the fact that I’m still married because I understand how he’s become a different person, and I’ve become a different person.

We’ve had to redefine our marriage many times with many different things that have happened in our lives, to redefine the sex, redefine the connection, and redefine who we are. To this whole piece of having this conversation of being a red flag, we’ve been together now married five, together eight, and only a year ago did we sit down at a date night and we had a conversation of what do you want in the bedroom now? Because what we wanted in the bedroom at 17, 18, 24, and 25 is not what we want in the bedroom now.

Also, to this piece of it being a red flag, let’s be mindful that it takes a lot of time and safety in ourselves first to feel comfortable enough to a) know what we like, to know what we need to orgasm, can we orgasm, can we orgasm from vaginal pleasure internally, externally for clitoral stimulation, anal stimulation, oral sex fingering, and what are the things that we need? It takes time to learn that about ourselves as people.

T.H.: Let’s back up. Let’s back up.

Carli: I know I threw a lot of stuff out.

T.H.: And I want to get into all that. But you’ve just ended a relationship, I know that if I’m mentally not comfortable with myself, I’m not really going to get the kind of pleasure that I might want. Or it might just be sex, right? It’s not like intimacy and warranting even that conversation. I feel once I separated, I was just looking for someone to tell me I was pretty, and be attracted to me, and wanted to have at that time–it seemed like hot sex. It was like TV sex, ripping off your clothes and all this stuff and you just had to have each other. But there was nothing–it didn’t warrant a conversation. It was almost like basic human needs. Let’s talk about when you first have this experience when you haven’t had it probably for many years, even while you were still technically married until you were ready for this again. You have the skills to evaluate emotional needs as well.

How do you even do a self-evaluation to figure out am I ready for this? Or do you just put yourself out there and be like, that sucked. I’m not ready. What do you do?

Carli: That’s a great question. There was a situation years ago, I knew a guy who was very unhappily married, very unhappily married. He ended up having an emotional affair with someone that turned into just making out and whatnot. He came to me afterward and was like, I feel so lost. He was probably I think in his 40s. He was like, I feel so lost. I haven’t made out with my wife in years. We haven’t made out. Here you are. You have a 41-year-old man who was married, they had sex, okay, but sex didn’t include making out or being intimate. It was literally, excuse my French, just fucking in the sense of a penis in the vagina, and that was it.

There are also same-sex couples and whatnot, so there are all these pieces of how people define sex. I want to open that and make that something that we talk about too, that people sometimes switch what kind of sex they want to be having and with whom they want to be having sex. To go back to this guy, he’s 41 and hadn’t made out, and it came to me. He’s like, I’m 41, and I feel so weird because I don’t know how to make out with a woman. I forgot how to do this.

And so that’s something we talked about in sex therapy. I was like, alright, so you feel uncomfortable and you feel insecure. It’s happened to your young self again, what do you do? I tell people all the time, the only way out is through, and you’ve got to be uncomfortable sometimes.

Coming out of a divorce of years where you hadn’t had sex, or the sex you were having was unenjoyable, or you felt like a shell of a person like you were in the experience, but you weren’t in the experience in your heart and your mind and your soul, sometimes it takes feeling new again.

You’ve got to rebuild confidence and rebuild yourself as someone who’s new in the field. Don’t expect that just because you were married and having sex for X amount of years that you’re just going to now get divorced and now be the sex expert of the world. Give yourself permission that you might just be beginning again and have to learn all over again. And you learn with a new partner.

Jessica: Well, that’s what I was going to say. What’s also so interesting I think is that people might think that they’re great, because they were easily able to satisfy whoever their partner was for an extended period of time, but it’s so obvious, I think, as someone who’s divorced, when you have experiences with the different people as you’re dating, how different everybody is based on what they think is going to make you happy, and then learning how to be able to express to somebody well that’s not how I like it. That’s a really tricky conversation to have.

But I think that you’re right, that you have to be comfortable with yourself and feel safe to be able to have that conversation with a new partner. But I do feel even fairly early on, if you’re getting to the point where you’re being sexually active with them, there has to be some element where you can feel that you can say that works for me, or that doesn’t work for me, and be able to expect the same from them. I still maintain I think that is somewhat of a red flag if someone isn’t able to say that to you. Then I feel on what foundation are you able to continue to build anything?

T.H.: Well, but if you’re willing to start the conversation, then it makes it probably easier I would imagine than just expecting him to come out with it. But also, people don’t want to mess stuff up. What if I say something he’s not going to like or she’s not going to like, and then it’s going to mess it up?

Jessica: But if you’re not satisfied in bed, nothing you say is going to mess it up worse than being unsatisfied every time.

T.H.: But there could be other signs other than having or not having that conversation. If their response is whatever you like is good for me, that in my mind is a red flag because he’s not going to be satisfied if he’s only–you know what I mean? It’s a partnership. You date each other.

Carli: For sure. I think that this is a really great point because the piece we’re talking about here is how there’s got to be an open and honest conversation period of what it is that you like in the bedroom.

In each couple, I think there’s somebody who might be a little bit more comfortable bringing sex up. I can see Jessica, to your point, you bring up what you like in the bedroom, and the other person is not willing to have that conversation with you, yeah, sure, that might be a red flag. The piece where we bring this to a deeper level is do we address the red flag? And how do we do that? So it’s like, hey, sex is important to me, and I really like you. I like where this relationship’s going, but I’m not sure if we’re on the same page sexually, and I’d love to tell you what I like in bed. The number one thing I tell people all the time is if we start talking in “you”, like, what do you like in bed? What do you want to do? What do you like about what I do? That’s going to put somebody on the defensive no matter how nice your inflection is. If you say, I really want to talk about what I like in bed, and what I need to be able to orgasm, and I’d like to show you how you can touch me because I know what it feels like, and I know how to make myself cum, so I want to teach you, then all of a sudden, it doesn’t make somebody feel like they don’t know what they’re doing.

Jessica: That’s a really good point.

Carli: It’s really a matter of, hey, me and my body need X, Y and Z to be able to feel pleasure. Can I give you the privilege of teaching you so that we can go there in this relationship?

T.H.: What about in the dating world? Let’s say you’re not in a relationship, you’re out on a few dates with a guy, and you’re attracted to him, and you think you might have sex with him or with her. What are the top three things that you should think about? Because it takes a while before you’re really in a relationship with someone, coming out of a breakup or divorce or separation.

If you’re going in and we’re preparing people for this first sexual encounter or your first kiss, what are the three things that they should be prepared for in their mind for that?

Carli: I want to back up one second. Let’s go back to the actual separation and divorce, and now you’re on your own. Regardless of whether a man, woman, or however you identify, in that space, there’s an ability for you to take a look at what you didn’t get in your previous marriage sexually and what you yearn for. What is your burning desire for?

For me, making out is super important, and kissing and feeling affectionate with one another are super important. If that were to be a situation hypothetically, I would know moving forward, my husband and I talk about that, but if I was playing the role that I was divorced and I was now single, and I’m now saying to myself this is really important to me, that’s something where if I’m dating and I really like a man, but he’s not very affectionate with me, fuck up once, shame on you, fuck up twice, shame on me. At that point, you’re a grown adult. At this point, you need to understand what it is you need.

If you’re going to start putting on blinders, my mentor calls it chosen blindness, if you’re going to choose to go blind to what you know you like and need sexually because it’s satisfying something else, that’s on you.

Don’t make the same mistake you made the first time of expecting that just because you really like each other, or just because the sex might be really good, because maybe you had sex and it was fiery and you really liked it, don’t let that now all of a sudden make you blind to what is missing. The second time around–

T.H.: That’s huge. That is huge because people don’t want to take responsibility and it’s hard to grow and even be brave enough to have a voice, even in your own head. Just remember that, everybody. You’d have no one to blame. It is part of the growth process. You might make some mistakes and still allow this to happen, but recognize that that’s a mistake.

Carli: Yeah, and you have the power to change that, right? There’s a reason people say, ‘Be the change you wish to see in your world’, right? I mean, sure it’s cliché and la-la foo-foo in some regard, but let’s get real here. You are the only one in control of your life. You’re the only one who can control what you do today, and what you do the rest of the day, and what you do with your life. If you’re continuing to date people and choosing to be blind to what it is you really need, maybe you don’t know what you really need. 

Jessica: Right. I also think though that in the very beginning, what you are getting and what that experience is like isn’t necessarily representative of what it’s going to end up actually looking like. Because in the beginning, there’s so much passion and excitement and it is all so new. You could be making out for hours on end in the beginning just because of the fact that you maybe haven’t had sex yet. You think, oh my god, this is someone who loves making out as much as I do. But then once you have sex, your make-out sessions might be getting shorter and shorter. That initial first month or whatever may not really be an accurate look at what things are going to be once you actually are sexually active with them. Do you know what I mean?

T.H.: But that’s why communication is so important. You have to be comfortable definitely talking about it and be like, I miss our make-out sesh. We have to bring it back. It’s hard to trust yourself and trust someone else that you’re not going to lose them or screw it up, which is whatever, so then they weren’t right for you. You’re not screwing it up. They’re just not right for you, but you’re discovering what you need. But if you don’t talk about it, that’s hard. 

Carli: I was going to say, I think it’s really interesting to throw a fact out there for us right now.

The average couple waits about five years from the time a problem begins to when they seek out therapy to try and fix the problem.

To go to your point, Jessica, you’re making out and you guys are having these hot makeup sessions. Then it starts to get less and less as you are having more and more sex and being more intimate with each other. You’re now dating, it’s not within the first two months of dating, you’ve now been dating maybe six months, and you’ve slept together a couple of times. The relationship’s taking off, but now the things that were happening at the beginning of the relationship aren’t continuing. They’ve stopped. This is where you have to have that difficult conversation of hey, I really liked how much we were making out at the beginning of this, and I really liked how you played with my hair when we watched TV. I really liked how you would spank my ass or whatever joking around, and you don’t do that stuff anymore. Is that something that you like doing? Or did you think maybe I liked it so you’re doing it? That’s something I’m really into. Can you continue that? Hold yourself accountable, again, within you and not blame somebody else, to speak up for what you need. Because the difference between this time around and last time around, last time around, most people and their first time doing anything in life, we all make mistakes. Nobody got on a bike and knew how to ride it. You fell off a bunch of times, and you kept getting back on till you learned how to really ride a bike. And that’s like being in a relationship. It’s like having sex; you’ve got to do it enough times. You’ve got to give yourself permission to mess up, but you’ve also got to take yourself on of how you’re going to do it differently. So now, instead of letting a year go by and then start complaining, when you notice something, find the courage to speak up. If you find yourself yet again in another relationship going silent and choosing to go blind, find someone like me to help you gain the confidence, seriously, to speak up and deal with–like you said T.H, there might be rejection. You may be told I can’t give you what you need, or that was what it was like, but I’m not like that anymore. For someone who’s been divorced, there’s the trauma of you’ve been divorced, and there’s trauma in that and challenge, so you might not want to go through that again. But if you don’t really advocate for yourself and what you want in a relationship, you may never get it.

Jessica: The communication, no question hands down, is key and probably one of the most important things. I think though that moving forward in terms of the whole Sex Ed, for someone who’s newly divorced, what are the important things for people to be thinking about and to know in order to feel comfortable? Listen, everyone’s got their body image issues, everybody has the parts that they don’t like, so it’s not digging into that hole right now, but just overall wanting to have great, enjoyable sex that’s fulfilling and satisfying, what do you think are maybe some unrealistic expectations that people have or myths that they should move past? And what are realistic expectations that people should have in order to help them have fulfilling sex lives?

Carli: That’s a great question and a loaded question. First and foremost, the one thing that I want to make sure I say as a sexual health educator and as a sex therapist, you’re now new on the dating scene so go and get tested. Know what your baseline is. Know what you’re dealing with. There’s no shame, I know it’s a lot easier said than done around that, but know what you’re working with. Because it’s funny, but the world of Singleton, like single people in late 30s, 40s, 50s, and onward, and even 20 year olds who are divorced who I know, there’s this assumption if you’re single post-divorce, nothing’s going happen. It doesn’t work that way. Sex is still sex, and the body is still a body, and sexual health doesn’t discriminate. It’s an umbrella that we all fall under, no matter how old we are, no matter what our ages, or how young we are, or whatever our age is. I think it’s important that you get tested.

Jessica: I couldn’t agree more. I have to say, this is a conversation T.H. and I have had ad nauseam for the past year, because I always say, everyone is talking about COVID testing all the time. I’m like, okay, when was the last time you were tested for any STDs? What are you doing to have safe sex?

I know it’s always been a difficult conversation to have, and it’s always been for some people taboo to have that, but I’m flat out like, hey, by the way, when was the last time you were tested? And how many people are you currently sleeping with? I think you have to have those conversations, because nobody wants to have them.

Carli: Correct. 100%. The other thing is I love the excuse all the guys in college used to use of I can’t keep an erection if I have to use a condom. Well, I’m really sorry then. You need to go to CVS, you have to buy a couple different brands, and you’ve got to put them on your dick until you find one that you can keep an erection with, because my vagina is not taking risks with your penis just because you don’t want to use a condom. Or you’re going to be in a committed monogamous relationship in which I’m on birth control to help me from not getting pregnant. Okay, that’s my choice. You are going to commit to not sleeping with somebody else, and we are not going to have unprotected sex until we’ve both been tested and I see your paper that says that there’s a negative result and mine is negative. Or if there is something positive, I’m being transparent with you about it so you know, and you have the right to say hey, I’m either comfortable with that, or I’m not comfortable with that. Like herpes, a lot of people have herpes.

Jessica: It’s the thing these days.

Carli: It is. It’s been a thing. It’s been a thing, but–

Jessica: We’re a little more transparent about it these days. I literally see profiles on dating sites, and honestly, kudos to them, because it must be hard to put it out there. But I have seen dating profiles where the guys have said right on there that they’re herpes positive. I’m sure there are a lot of people that are swiping away, but I know some girls who have dated men that have herpes, and I know some women who have it themselves. I feel like that’s wonderful that they are being that open about it because there is a match for everyone.

Carli: Correct. This is something so important to hear. If you meet someone who’s really wonderful, and then they tell you that they have genital herpes or oral herpes, a lot of people don’t know this, oral herpes-like cold sores can be transmitted genitally. So if you’re getting a cold sore, or you have a cold sore and you give a blowjob or you give oral sex, you can give that person herpes in their genital region. It’ll transfer if the virus is present. It’s a little complicated to talk about, well, what if I don’t have an active cold sore, but I have the virus. I have clients where it’s very important that there are medications that you could be taking on a daily basis to really reduce your viral load so your chances of transmission are very low if you’re not using a condom during oral sex because I love how we talk about using condoms for blow jobs. I mean, strawberry lube is still strawberry lube and it doesn’t really taste that great. Maybe that’s something I could do eventually.

T.H.: You’re going to numb your entire mouth.

Carli: Right, like your whole face just tastes like latex. But the thing is you can have sex with someone who is herpes positive and not contract the virus. It’s just a matter of having an open and honest conversation, being in touch with your medical provider, making sure you’re on the right medication to reduce the viral load, and being transparent about it. Don’t be afraid to ask someone hey, before they go down on you, do you get cold sores?

Jessica: I have never thought to ask that. I have a friend who–

T.H.: But they might lie.

Jessica: Maybe. But wait, I have a friend back in college who, I’m not even kidding you, was fooling around with a guy and he had a strep throat. He went down on her and she got strep crotch from that.

Carli: What, your vagina?

Jessica: Yeah.

Carli: It’s just bacteria, right? So these are the things where I could talk for hours about all the infections and the bacteria that exist.

T.H.: That’ll be another podcast.

Jessica: But wait, so everybody listening, listen, it’s not even just about have you been tested by your doctor? Now there’s an additional question to ask, are you a person that gets cold sores?

Carli: And don’t panic about this, right? It’s easier said than done. This is not something to panic about but to be mindful of. I mean, you have no idea how many people I see that come to me and they say I don’t know what to do. I was hooking up with somebody, we used a condom, and I don’t know how I got herpes. When they got it tested, it was HSV-1, which is most typically seen orally. There’s HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is typically oral herpes and HSV-2 is typically genital herpes. The difference between the two strains is that HSV-2 presents more aggressively so there are more sores, whereas HSV-1 there’s typically one sore on your lip or one sore around your nose, or somewhere where the virus is not as aggressive and it doesn’t show. There are not as many pustules and sores. The difference is somebody who has HSV-1 genitally, may have one or two sores genitally versus HSV-2, which may present as a more aggressive outbreak.

Jessica: I have a question. I think really this is for people out there because this is a conversation that I’d had with someone that I know who did test positive. Could you contract it and then it laid dormant for however long and then you get tested, and the truth is you don’t know who gave it to you not because you’re sleeping with a million guys, but the truth is you could have gotten it in college, or you could have gotten it after college before you got married, and you for whatever reason never had a test before? I don’t know so…and you’re saying yes. Just because that’s the last guy or woman you slept with does not mean that’s the person who you could have contracted it from?

Carli: Correct. This is why it’s so important that between sexual partners, keep getting tested. When you go get tested, you have to ask for a full panel. You want the whole shebang. When you go and get an STI test nowadays, they will most likely only test you for gonorrhea and chlamydia, and do a culture. You want a whole panel. You want HIV, HPV, herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis, all these different STIs. You don’t have to ask for all this, but you tell your doctor that you want a full panel, that you’re sexually active, and you’d like to make sure you’re starting with the baseline that you’re aware of in between partners. You can say this to a partner. You can say, I just got tested, and I’m negative. Or this is–and I hate using, ‘I’m clean’ because–

Jessica: Because it doesn’t mean you’re dirty.

Carli: You have an STI, okay? There are many, many people who do, and it doesn’t make you dirty. Some of them are treatable, some are not. We want to be mindful that we’re really educating ourselves about this and we’re combating the shame, because herpes does come with a lot of shame, unfortunately. It doesn’t make you unlovable. It doesn’t make you not worthy of dating. It doesn’t mean you have to lower your standards, because something is positive. There are plenty of people with herpes, both genitally and orally, one or the other. You can take medication and use protection and really reduce your chances of transmission significantly and enjoy a very fruitful sex life. I want to make sure that everyone listening to this understands that. If you’re divorced, and let’s say there are people that got married and they didn’t have herpes and their partner that they got married to did, and they were in love, and now they both have it potentially. Now you get divorced, and it’s like shit, what am I going to do?

Jessica: Well, not only that, but you could get married–I remember when I was going in to have I don’t remember which kid it was, and right before the birth, literally going into the delivery room or whatever, my doctor was like, okay, we’re doing an STD or like an HIV test or whatever. I was like, what do you mean? I was tested however long ago, and I’ve only been with him. They were like, okay, but this is a standard procedure. And PS, he had not only been with me. My tests came back fine, but it’s like you could be married and you could have been tested at some point, and now the truth is maybe your partner was not faithful to you. You have no idea that you have something, because why would you have gotten tested when you were married and when you thought you were in a monogamous relationship?

T.H.: This is really important. I went to my gynecologist for my annual checkup after I separated. I told him what was going on, and I told him that my husband was not faithful. He goes, whoa, we have to do a full panel on you.

Carli: Correct.

T.H.: You have no idea of what you might have. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean you don’t have it.

Carli: 80% of symptoms don’t show.

Jessica: What did you say?

Carli: Sorry. 80% of people don’t show symptoms of STIs. Chlamydia and gonorrhea very often don’t show symptoms, or the symptoms might be that of a yeast infection, or a urinary tract infection, or some cramping. I mean, you ignore it long enough some of them can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. If you’re still an age where maybe you didn’t have children in your first marriage, or you had children in your first marriage, but you’d like to continue having a family with somebody else in your future, you want to make sure that you’re looking out for your sexual health so you don’t damage your opportunity for reproduction.

T.H.: Right. I mean, it’s your overall health. It’s your annual checkup. Just do that for yourself whether you’re planning to be out there dating or not, or having sex or not. Just know where you are. That’s number one, and we’ll definitely do another podcast where we really dig in deeper about this. But what are some other things that you would tell people to not do?

Carli: Not do as far as dating and whatnot?

T.H.: Dating and starting in with someone sexually. What are some things that you should tell people to stay away from? What are some red flags?

Carli: Okay, two things come to mind. Boundaries, like safety boundaries. Being new in the sex world, meaning you’ve got divorced, separated, and now you’re new and into things, don’t engage in stuff for the sake of being liked, if it doesn’t make you feel safe. Things might get kinky and people are into all different things, choking, spanking, sexting, whatever, I’m just naming a few, roleplay, swinging, all these different things. And as we get older, we open our minds to how do we keep things alive and maybe we get a little bit more creative, but it’s also okay for you to not want that. Just because you’re craving feeling loved again and you’re craving a connection, don’t put yourself into a position where you’re making yourself available to things that you don’t really feel comfortable with.

Jessica: That’s a good point.

Carli: There are a lot of times where someone’s like, oh, can I choke you? I’m really into that. You don’t have to say yes right away.

Jessica: You don’t have to say yes ever.

Carli: Correct. You’re right. My father-in-law taught me a great line for business and it presents in sex and relationships too.

If you want an answer right now, the answer is no. If you want to give me some time to think about it, I might give you a yes.

Jessica: That is a great answer.

Carli: Right?

Jessica: I think that people also have to be comfortable with there might be certain things that are just a hard no.

Carli: Correct!

Jessica: It might be always no, and that’s okay.

Carli: Correct. You don’t have to be into anything and everything just because somebody else is. You’re entitled to say no. Excuse me we’re entitled to be ‘vanilla’. I don’t care if you just want to have sex, and sex to you means let’s just go with your classic heterosexual penis in vagina, making out, a little bit of foreplay here and there if that, and we just get into penetrative intercourse and it’s nothing crazy. It’s just very, I don’t even want to say simple because what’s to say–

Jessica: No, but sometimes traditional missionary can be a really intimate moment anyway. Vanilla doesn’t even have to be vanilla.

Carli: Correct. That’s the whole thing. Be open to defining these things however you as an individual listening to this want to define it. Let that be what you like. Then advocate creating that in your next relationship. No one is here, not me, not any of the three of us, no expert is here to tell you what you should like or want in a relationship. That’s what you need to figure out for yourself. What I find to be most empowering about sex therapy is I see a lot of people who are divorced and single who don’t know what the hell they like. They don’t know want they want. They know what they don’t want, but they don’t know what they do want.

T.H.: That’s for everything. That line, again, Jessica and I talk about it all the time. In a relationship, what we want for ourselves, our career, our kids, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Carli: Correct.

T.H.: If you keep an open mind and you’re smart about it in terms of protecting yourself and your boundaries, you will figure it out slowly but surely. It’s not an overnight thing.

But when you do start figuring out things that you like, they’re awesome. I never had what I have now in my relationship, but I also didn’t know that this existed. I knew what it looked like. My parents are happy, they argue a lot, but whatever. I’ve seen it, but I haven’t seen it the way that works for me, until now. Just like Carli said, protect yourself. You come first. You’re your only advocate. If he or she is going to dismiss your needs and your boundaries, then bye-bye! That’s not going to work. There are tons of people out there who will respect you and love you and care for you in a way that works.

Carli: You just hit the nail on the head, the boundaries piece. The number one thing I tell people all the time is boundaries are important for safety. We need to have boundaries as individuals in the world so that we don’t get hurt. By instilling and implementing boundaries, people are not going to like it. That’s the whole point of them. They’re going to protect you. You create your own boundaries. Be prepared that when you put boundaries in play, most people are not going to like them. If you’re in a monogamous relationship or yearning for a monogamous relationship, you’re not going to like everybody you date. Not everyone’s going to be okay with your boundaries and your rules of what works for you. Don’t be afraid to advocate for them. Be willing to maybe compromise or change things if you’re comfortable with it to do things a bit differently, but you don’t have to negate what makes you feel safe to be loved.

Jessica: It’s so important. We are going to stop here, but we are going to have a part two that’s going to continue on with what some of the red flags are for people to look out for. And also, just some things that people can be able to do and learn for themselves to be comfortable in this whole post-divorce new sex world that we all enter into after being in a divorce situation. Thank you so much for your time, Carli. This is such an eye-opening and enlightening conversation. I know I already can’t wait for the next one. I hope everybody listening feels the same way. No seriously, because it’s so refreshing to be able to have such an open conversation about sex. Obviously, it’s easier amongst friends than when you’re actually faced with it that in that situation with a potential partner. But just thanks for everything, and we’ll see you next time.

T.H.: Thank you.

Carli: For sure, yeah, I would love that. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you all for listening. And be mindful that everything we talked about today and that you heard today is not finite. It doesn’t mean if you disagreed with something if something didn’t sit well with you, if something resonated with you, tap into that. Look at it, explore it. Don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know. Then in part two, we can always address your concerns or your thoughts or your questions we’d love to hear. Thank you so much for having me.

Goodbye: For everyone out there listening, if you know anyone at all who would benefit from what we talked about today please share this episode and everything exExperts.  Be sure and click to subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts and please follow us on social media @exEXPERTS Divorce etc… on Instagram and Facebook and YouTube and our website at  Thanks for listening!

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