Erectile dysfunction is more than a physical experience – it is an emotional and psychological experience with far reaching impact.
On past episodes, we covered Performance Anxiety and performance pressure. Performance based erectile dysfunction is a very common sexual experience – but often leads to emotional responses that can slip into downward spirals, sometimes even ending relationships.
Erectile dysfunction is deeply emotional for ALL partners involved – and our reactions sometimes bring out the very worst parts of ourselves. Women respond with rage, anger, jealousy or resentful caretaking. Men respond with anger, sadness, humiliation and despair. There HAS to be another way to respond to such a common and predictable sexual event!
Sex therapist Tiffany Anton offers us profound wisdom and actionable strategies to respond to erectile issues with compassion, humor and maturity. She invites us into a new definition of sexual success that is both supportive of generating erections AND creating sexually fulfilling experiences for both partners whether or not an organic erection is present!
Learn more about sex therapist Tiffany Anton at NewOrleansSexTherapy.com
Love the show? Go deeper with us!
If you are a man struggling with erectile dysfunction, we HIGHLY recommend sex therapist Vanessa Marin’s course on The Modern Man’s Guide To Conquering Performance Pressure
Transcript of Interview with Tiffany Anton
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[00:00:00.27] – Chris Maxwell Rose
Hi. Welcome to Speaking of Sex with the Pleasure Mechanics. This is Chris from PleasureMechanics.com and on today’s episode we are joined by an amazing sex therapist, Tiffany Anton of NewOrleansSexTherapy.com. Tiffany is one of my favorite sex therapists. She brings so much wisdom and experience to the table, but also a joy and exuberance about sexuality. So recently I have been in beautiful conversations with several of you dear podcast listeners and patrons supporters, about the emotional experience of Erectile Dysfunction from both sides of it, both having the experience of performance based erectile dysfunction and also being the partner of someone with this experience. We’ve been exploring a lot of the downward cycles that can get started with the very common physiological experience of not having an erection when you want to have one, and not having an erection that is reliable or consistent with your experience of arousal. So, you feel turned on, you want to be in the present moment of the sexual connection but your genitals do not respond with an erection. What happens then? And for so many of us what happens then is moments of feeling rejected, feeling humiliated, feeling emasculated, feelings of anger, but also coddling, of caretaking, come up. So I really wanted to talk about this emotional experience of Erectile Dysfunction, and when I saw Tiffany Anton’s newsletter about the topic, I knew that she was the one I wanted to speak with. So this is the first of what I hope will be many episodes with my new friend Tiffany Anton. She has her own podcast and we will link up to all of her resources and a very timely opportunity to learn more with her, that is coming up right as this podcast comes out. So stay tuned for that- check the show notes page for all of Tiffany’s amazing resources. We love her, we are so glad to have connected with her and more to come. Come on over to PleasureMechanics.com for the complete podcast archive. We have over 300 episodes awaiting you, all sorted in our Sex Index. So if you go to PleasureMechanics.com and go to the Sex Index you will quickly be able to find the subjects that most interest you! And if you love this show and want to support what we are doing, please come over to Patreon.com/pleasuremechanics . That’s Patreon.com/pleasuremechanics and support the show for as little as a dollar a month, or three, or five dollars a month, whatever you can afford. Step up and support this show. We would love to get a few hundred more listeners onboard with a sustaining monthly donation so we don’t have to run sponsorships anymore, we don’t have to do ads anymore, and we can just focus on having these meaningful conversations and bringing you free sex education resources week in and week out. If that is of value to you in your life, come over to Patreon.com/pleasuremechanics and show your support for as much or as little as you can afford to stand with us and say that this is an important resource in your life, yeah? Patreon.com/pleasuremechanics. We love to hear from you. And here is our conversation with Tiffany Anton about the emotional experience of Erectile Dysfunction. Enjoy.
[00:04:11.79] – Tiffany Anton
Good morning Chris. I’m very excited to be on your show today. I’m a big fan of Speaking of Sex and recommended it to many of my clients.
[00:04:21.23] – Chris Maxwell Rose
Oh thank you. I’m a big fan of yours. I really wanted to speak with you especially about this topic after getting your newsletter, which is so beautifully written. Can you introduce yourself and the work you do to our audience?
[00:04:34.67] – Tiffany Anton
My name is Tiffany Anton and I’m a psychotherapist specializing in sex and relationships. Currently I’m living in the north shore suburbs, just outside of New Orleans, and my website is NewOrleansSexTherapy.com.
[00:04:53.42] – Chris Maxwell Rose
How did you become a sex therapist? What is the brief origin story?
[00:04:57.20] – Tiffany Anton
That is one of my most frequent questions- I have two most frequent, and the first one is “Am I Normal?” (laughs) Right? And I answer that consistently with: “Adult, consensual, respectful to all parties involved, there is a vast array of healthy, appropriate, sexual behavior.” And the second one is “How did you get into this field and become a Sex Therapist?” My answer is in 1990, when I started my undergrad I thought I would be a Criminal Psychologist or Forensic Psychologist. I started in a psychology program in Criminal Justice. I felt a little out of sorts with my long skirts and Birkenstocks (chuckles) as the hippie dress was kind of having a rejuvenation. And then I took a Women and Gender Studies course. It changed my life. I went over to Social Work because I really wanted the person and environment focus, I minored in Women and Gender Studies, and I decided that sex was so much more interesting than crime. (chuckles) Luckily, in my undergrad program there were a variety of sexually oriented classes from Biology and Sociology and Psychology that I was able to get a good baseline, and then I attended Loyola University in Chicago, and that’s where I received my Masters of Social Work and at Loyola, at the time, was the Loyola Sexual Dysfunction Clinic at the hospital in Maywood, Illinois. And it was led by the wonderful, esteemed, Dr. Domeena Renshaw. In that program they take psychotherapists and match them with med students. So the med students take this as an elective and then they would pair up. The goal was to pair up opposite sex couples to work with the clients. And I was able to do that for three years on a volunteer basis, but the training and information I received there was just wonderful. And since then I’ve been receiving continuing education, training, based upon a variety of sexual and relational topics. And in my work now, I tend to focus on a handful of areas and that is women with Pelvic Pain Disorder, (and I collaborate with some local “OBGYNies”) Erectile Dysfunction, looking at “Sexless Marriages,” which is surprisingly high, happening right now in the lifestyle and Kink community as well as mixed oriented marriages. So that tends to be my primary clients that I’m seeing right now and have been seeing for some time. I’ve been working for 18 years in this field, and I absolutely love it! I often say I can’t believe I get paid to do something that is so fulfilling to me because it just… despite some of the difficult parts of therapy, I work with amazing clients! And we’re able to work on the hard stuff as well as having a fair amount of humor, because I believe looking at things in a relaxed, humorous way really allows clients to get comfortable in their own bodies and to change up the way that they’re interacting in the bedroom. So many times it gets so serious in the bedroom, I mean it’s almost like a business meeting. There’s a lot of critiquing and there’s absolutely no fun and no play and I help them shift that up as well as changing their thinking, linking them to optimism as to the variety of treatments that are out there. Most of us as therapists know that individuals and couples are often struggling for three years before they present to us and in working with Erectile Dysfunction they’ll say “You know, I’ve been working on this, nothing has helped.” and I say “Really? Cause you are just beginning.” So optimism and hope is really important for me to instill in the couples that I work with.
[00:09:59.84] – Chris Maxwell Rose
I love that so much, and you mentioned humor, and you also bring so much compassion to your work. And this was- I’ve been really wanting to talk about this emotional experience of erectile dysfunction and when I got your email that talked about it through a lens of compassion, I knew that you are the one to talk to. So thank you for having this conversation with me! So can you take us in? How do you define Erectile Dysfunction, and how do you begin the process of sorting [00:10:31.81] through what the roots are, and determining “Is this a Medical Issue?” Or more of a “bio- psycho- social issue?” How do you start that process with each individual?
[00:10:42.59] – Tiffany Anton
Well one of my main differentials is not so much “How is your erection in the bedroom with your partner?” It is “how is your erection when you’re masturbating?” And I would say… I don’t know, maybe 30 – 40% would say that their masturbation, you know, completely alone in their own fantasy without any pressure, they’re able to achieve an erection that is mostly satisfactory to them. And then when you get into the bedroom there’s a completely different dynamic. So that is my biggest differential between psychogenic and organic causes. If you have a gentleman that is relaxed and masturbating and doesn’t notice any increased blood flow, we’re really looking more toward the organic causes. And at that time we’re looking at physical health, heart disease, diabetes, the medication that they’re taking, obesity, substance use and abuse… So there are a variety of factors that come into play, you know, vascular issues, neurological concerns, like with Parkinson’s. Of course, if you’ve had prostate cancer- unfortunately that’s a near guarantee for organic based E.D. and the fortunate part to that is so many treatment options that they can utilize to regain the erection that’s satisfactory to them. I really work to value (despite being a woman) to really value the importance of an erection. It is part of their self identity. So it’s not just, you know, (casual) “hey how’s your erection doing?” It is a sense of their whole masculinity, and one of the kind of brusque… (laughs) or humorous statements that I make is “Many men define themselves through the Two C’s: their cocks and their careers.” So when I’m working with retired men, it can be a real identity crisis when they’re no longer working in their field and their penis is no longer representing their sense of manhood. You know, cause again, the penis is how it’s defined as to whether or not it’s good sex for men, frequently. They define it as “erection, intercourse, and orgasm.” And that’s then “sex” to them. So we definitely change that up. It isn’t mandatory that you have penetration or an erection. So even though I really want to value the importance of their erection, in my TED talk from Vermillion street that’s titled “I Love Pleasure,” I even use an example of a NASA space shuttle in the background. This is how important your erection is! It is the NASA space shuttle that has to go off and we don’t want to call Houston with a problem. So valuing that in them and providing a lot of compassion as to what it’s like for them to not have that erection. What we see often happens is, if I speak in the male perspective, “If I don’t have a hard-on, then I’m not sexual. Then I’m not pleasing my partner.” And there’s the high rate of just shutting down. So they stop all erotic touch because of the anxiety, the insecurity, the self judgment that occurs, and they’re wanting to naturally avoid those feelings. So if they can’t feel manly, they have the false belief that they can’t please their partner, then it’s a shut down and both of them really, really suffer. You know, both of the partners suffer if either one of them shuts down. So I do a lot of reframing, as I mentioned, you know, a handful of times already the importance of their erection, yet how they can maintain a strong sex life whether they have a hard on or not. So sometimes I say, you know, “I want you guys to have erotic touch, and I don’t want you to get a hard on. Like, you’re not allowed. So if it comes up you have to ignore it.” (laughs) And they’ll laugh and say “What?! I have to ignore it?” “Yes! Because we’re avoiding all pressure and we’re changing up what you thought sex used to be, because we’re going to create a new normal where you feel good in your body, connected to your partner, that isn’t reliant so much on your genitals. Barry McCarthy has been a big influence in my training and he talks about the importance of “kicking out” the “erection, intercourse, and orgasm,” and introducing a new concept. I change that concept up a bit in my own treatment approach and I look at successful sex in a different light and hope that my clients accept that and implement it, which frequently occurs, and that is eagerness to share yourself erotically. And that eagerness doesn’t mean “I’m horny.” Because when you’re even if you’re like thirty five years old and you’ve been in a monogamous relationship for 15 years that horniness may not naturally come up for you. This is more relevant a little bit in females, but males as well because we have the old script that “I have sex -or I have sex because I’m horny first and then I act on it.” And eagerness is really about an experience of desire. And horniness is more of that physiological, “So I’m having these thoughts, I notice I’m getting a little bit of blood flow and wanting to come home and share my body with someone, let’s get it on.” Whereas desire is the conscious prioritization of intimacy in their life and in their relationship. I am eager to share myself with my partner. I’m eager to prioritize intimacy. And in that mindset, Chris, you can see how that doesn’t require an erection.
[00:17:50.76] – Chris Maxwell Rose
[00:17:50.76] – Tiffany Anton
It is that joint sharing of erotic energy. And then I shift into the enjoyment piece. “Do you enjoy giving the touch? Are you enjoying receiving the touch?” It can be really pleasurable to watch your partner experience pleasure. Oh, I mean I just love it! I think that it’s just a fun part of the experience is being such a giver of pleasure and how that is fulfilling to us. So it’s a dual aspect, the giving and the receiving role. They can experience pleasure, full body pleasure, with their lips and hands and chest and legs and back and face and even on their penis, despite being flaccid. Since an orgasm is a different part of our spinal cord than the erection, men are even able to experience an orgasm. So despite my statement of “let’s kick out orgasm,” I just want men to know that that is still possible- that it isn’t erection-based. It is pleasure and sensation based. And the last piece of it is about enjoyment! Are you enjoying this experience with your partner on both a physical level and an emotional level? You know, we can have fun romps. We can, we can have some one night stands, but when we’re interested in an intimate close relationship, it is about the connectedness piece that really gives us pleasure. You know, I say “I bet you’ve had sex before where you’ve had a hard on, you’ve had intercourse or penetration and you had the orgasm and it’s not the best sex.” You know? And having the best sex in my clinical opinion is the eagerness to share the enjoyment of the experience and the emotional connectedness and sensation of pleasure.
[00:20:10.01] – Chris Maxwell Rose
Mhm! We are indeed cut from the same cloth. (both laugh)I love this so much. But to be in that enjoyment, to be in that zone of pleasure, we have to feel safe. We have to feel a sense of belonging. And so let’s zoom in to this moment of Erectile Dysfunction for men and the emotional response that often happens doesn’t make men feel safe. It doesn’t give them that sense of like, expansive open enjoyment. So what are some of the reactions and responses from partners? What are the patterns you see? Because I’ve heard everything from you know, anger and rage about the lack of an erection, to more of like a maternal, pitying, caretaking, and a lot of other patterns, like, how do partners receive this? What are the patterns we see now and then what are some other options?
[00:21:07.31] – Tiffany Anton
Yeah, there’s is a big shift in the thinking process of both males and their partners to make this a successful sex life, you know in the way that I had recently defined it.
[00:21:22.31] – Chris Maxwell Rose
[00:21:22.31] – Tiffany Anton
What I notice, so often of course as you know that anger and rage, but it is I think a relatively understandable experience is if we have our partner shut down erotically, and not initiating, or not responding to our own initiation, we ask ourself, “Am I not attractive? Does my partner not want me? Am I a good enough lover? Does my partner want somebody else?” The insecurity is just so high in their partners, and it’s important to validate that experience and to talk about, in their male partners, that their head and their penis (even though we think it’s aligned) isn’t always aligned. And the importance of the male to share what’s happening in their mind to their partner. So providing that reinsurance, “I find you sexy, I love you. I want to hold you. You’re important to me. I am really struggling with what’s happening, you know, with my penis.” And getting that validation from the male partner can really help to shift that level of insecurity and anger and starting the erotic touch again. So we’re avoiding the shut down or having the men utilize their words as well as some erotic touch to reaffirm the importance of their partner. I say that their penis is like a rebellious 16-year-old. I definitely have a rebellious 15 year old right now! (laughs) Now if you tell the penis “Don’t come! Don’t come!” Well you know what? That penis is just going to come!” (laughs) If you tell the penis “please come! please come!”…”No… I think I’ll just hold out.”
[00:23:23.53] – Chris Maxwell Rose
And do you think so much of this is women are taught that their sexual worth is defined by being desirable? And if they’re desirable men will automatically get hard? Like, we’ve simplified this equation too much culturally and so we’re all a little bit deluded?
[00:23:40.61] – Tiffany Anton
Yes! OK, If you have a partner that’s 50 years old and they’re looking at me nude, “Why aren’t you hard.?” Well again, It’s that brain-penis differential. I’m looking at you and I find you very sexy and you’re really hot. That doesn’t mean I’m going to have an erection right away. Particularly over the age of 50. So if you want an erection and you’re not even struggling with Erectile Dysfunction, you need erotic touch. You need touch to your genitals, to your face, you know, to the rest of your body to warm yourself up, you know? And when Viagra came out, it’s like, well, men just used to sit there waiting for a hard-on. No, you need to touch yourself. Your partner needs to touch yourself. And you’re right. As a female, when your partner doesn’t have a hard-on, that is very hard for us to accept. And we do have that view, that “If you want me, you’re just going to naturally become erect.” And providing that education to those partners is vital to restructure the way that they’re thinking and approaching sex. So neither of them feel rejected or less than.
[00:24:59.98] – Chris Maxwell Rose
Can you talk about avoiding the caretaking and the pity piece that a lot of men find that very anti-erotic if they’re made into a problem? So how do we explore the idea of being compassionate and loving without starting to get into kind of a maternal, caretaking vibe?
[00:25:20.12] – Tiffany Anton
I do some presentations in the cancer community. And working with couples that have experienced prostate cancer or other cancers that are interfering with sexual function, that caretaking role takes over. And so in my presentations I talk about even though there might need to be a caretaking role, there also needs to be the eroticism to occur. When you’re having- so outside of the cancer experience, unfortunately, if you’re like, let’s say that you’re married to a man that has diabetes, that is impotent at 50, you can say “Oh it’s ok honey, we don’t need to be sexual anymore.” And as a caretaker, then we almost get in that parent-child role. And if we’re in the parent-child role, we are distinctly not eroticizing our partner. (chuckles) We are opposed to eroticism with our children! So that is an unconscious process. You know even when we use the word “Dad” to our husband, like, “Hey Dad we’re gonna go do this.” That de-eroticizes our male partner. Because again we don’t want to be sexual with Dad.
[00:26:46.85] – Chris Maxwell Rose
So in caretaking, we’re kind of soothing, babying, the person and minimizing their masculinity. And so helping the partners understand that you know, we mutually care about the other and we have a variety of caretaking roles in our partnership, that caretaking is the opposite of compassion and connection. And so I talk to them about how they can continue erotic touch and prioritize it in their life, so they get out of the mother role or the parent role. Because that does, that just emasculates the man struggling with this situation. And providing more of that compassion piece for both partners, because you may be a partner that loves penetration, you know, that could be your favorite sexual activity. And there is a grieving process in that if they have organic-based ED, and let’s say that a penile implant- they’ve gotten to that point- which is kind of, if you have the one through five steps, that’s on the step five and it still didn’t work, is shifting their mindset to: Eroticism still exists. So maybe that might answer some of your questions, because we’re validating the grieving of both partners as well as reinforcing the continuance of the sexual relationship.
Yeah and there’s a piece of grieving and then getting creative around the new reality.
So going to like a hand-held dildo that you can be fucked with and you can get bigger sizes and get creative there. But that has to get over this emotional downward spiral that a lot of couples get into. So, so much of this is kind of about that deliberate, intentional, conversational shift that despite our new reality, despite what’s happening now with our bodies, what do we have to work with? What do we want to create together? And that is such a big piece, I think. Do people do that in your office? Or how do you navigate those conversations?
OK. Well in regards of my office, there is of course no physical behavior. So it is conversational, psycho-educational piece, and we talk about the variety of options. Particularly with toys- you know, men use toys even with regular erections. One just for fun play, but let’s talk about men with micro penises, men that have very kind of thin style penises- and their partner would like more of a full experience and so they can add on some of those adjunctive, I don’t know that the word would be, penile prostheses? or a toy?
[00:30:01.61] – Chris Maxwell Rose
Like a sleeve or a hollow dildo that can rest right over, or a strap-on, or… are people shocked by these options?
[00:30:10.58] – Tiffany Anton
Yes! (laughs) You know, working in this community- the shock is more so when you’re working with couples over 50. I’m hoping that in taking the approach of kindness and playfulness and normalization- you know we’re changing them into a new normal. And so I have a variety of toys in the office. I have them in a drawer and I let them know that I’d like to get out some of these toys and show them and I check in with them about their comfort or discomfort, because you know, we’re kind of pushing some limits in therapy, right? Because we want to help them change their thinking and their behavior and their feelings of hope and competence. And so getting out some of these toys and having them feel the toys, you know we have a lot of giggles. We have a lot of, kind of, tightening of the body. And I discuss when there is some tightening in the body, I discuss you know- what does what does that mean to you? Where do you feel it in your body? What message is it sending you? So we can reframe it if needed.
[00:31:35.91] – Chris Maxwell Rose
So that’s a great moment of somatic awareness- of bringing their mindful attention to their body. Do you work with mindfulness exercises/practices around Erectile Dysfunction, is that a tool in your toolkit?
Yeah that’s part of it. Now it isn’t predominant portion of my practice, but looking at- more so about the self-compassion piece. More aware of what’s going on with our body and, oh! Perfect example would be psychologically, you know, that “performance pressure” piece. You know when men are saying “I can’t perform” I usually make a joke: Are you in the circus? You know you. “Tell me about this performance that you’re engaging in.” Getting them into their body and being mindful of their breath, intentional with their touch, being aware of the negative thoughts that might come in, and instead of saying “oh, I’m not supposed to have those thoughts,” just acknowledging and allowing those thoughts to come in and to come out- that the thoughts don’t have the power over the individual over the activity. I have them, a lot of times, tap in to not only breathing, but what is their body doing right at that moment? So let’s say that they’re having some anxiety, and they’re having some of these negative thoughts and we’re working with them to help them flow through without them kind of, grabbing on to it and giving that thought a lot of power, is I want them to focus on what is happening in that moment. Where is their hands? Where is their lips? Where are their legs touching? Where are their arms touching? Where is their chest touching? So bringing them back into the current moment. I hope that answers, you know, a little bit of the question with mindfulness, but the self-compassion piece about the negative thoughts that come up! I tell them they’re coming up! You know, just acknowledge, “yep, I expected you, hello.” And you’re moving along, “oh you’re visiting me again? Hello! This is where my breath is, this is where my hand is touching. This is where my partner is touching me in this moment.
[00:34:05.85] – Chris Maxwell Rose
And that piece can be so important because a lot of the guys we talk to, the origin stories of their own “not-enough-ness,” their own emasculation, their own humiliation… Can start on like, the childhood playground or being bullied for being short or you know, having the wrong kind of body in some way and so it’s all in the past. Not this present moment with this lover who’s desiring them as is! Ugh, it’s so profound. So what are some of the transformations you see? Like, as people start to shift their paradigms with you, what are some of the outcomes? What are some of the patterns of kind of, personal liberation and within the couples?
[00:34:53.59] – Tiffany Anton
I saw a couple just recently, and within three sessions… (chuckles) I mean, I was just like a cheerleader! By session three, it was like amazing progress! Oh, It’s so exciting. Well I get excited for my clients. The woman came in enraged, as you talked about before. “He shuts down. He doesn’t want me. I will not have a sexless relationship. I will leave this if he doesn’t fix his problem…” That’s another key term on it- instead of looking at it as “our challenge together.” So talk about feeling “less-than” as a man! I mean it’s distinct fingerpointing. Fix his problem, and by providing psycho-education focusing on that understanding compassionate piece, changing their thinking. I also “kicked out” the erection in the bedroom, as the example I gave you before, you’re not allowed to get a hard-on. Who got a hard-on, like, three months later? (laughs) And the female in the relationship, I think I just needed to learn, you know, the basis of what happens in a man’s mind and in a man’s body, and how by having the male partner provide a lot of reassurance and re-engage in the erotic touch, her self-esteem was improved, her sense of worth. His sense of worth and his ability to maintain eroticism in this relationship that came back in session two- because usually I don’t see clients every week. They need to be more at a crisis level for that. Because I want you to go home and try things out! Give you some time to do some of this work and then come back and let’s check in with what was workable for you or not. And not so much what was successful or not, but is that something that you want to continue working on? So they came back for the second session and both of them were smiling which was a drastic decrease from the beginning. She was sitting forward, leaning forward on the sofa. You could just sense her anger, but underlying that of course we see often hurt. And he was sitting in the corner of the sofa leaning on the opposite side with his head, you know, kind of veering down, his vision veering down, you know. This dynamic, you could just sense the pain that was occurring despite their mutual love and commitment to each other. So in session two, it was so exciting to see how that mind shift and the shift in their literal sexual behavior was drastically improved. Now, I let them know that because we’re humans things move up and down, you know? We tend to have sexual experiences that have a lot of enjoyment and we’re going to have some sexual experiences that are kind of like a mess. You know that’s just real life. When they came back for the third session, (so this is now a month and a half) They were very grateful, hadn’t had even one experience without an erection. And again like I said, you know, sometimes you’re not going to have that erection. So I could hopefully reinforce that this isn’t you know, like the blue ribbon guarantee! Like you’ve been given the certification stamp! But just letting them know what wonderful work that they have done. Reiterating that need for the thought change, the behavior change, you know, communicating on a different level, maintaining that erotic touch. You know, they were just full of joy. And she was saying that her hesitancy of marrying him was gone because she realized that sex would be the part of her relationship. And I see them again in a month. So we’re going to do a little check in in a month and see how that that goes. Now there are other circumstances where one of the partners remains shut down, because it can be really hard to get vulnerable, and I mean that’s for all of us! You know, even if our bodies are working in the way that we want to work. Vulnerability can be a bitch! You know, in decent relationships, we have to keep working on creating emotional safety with each other. And with Erectile Dysfunction or other sexual concerns, helping them to realize that they can be safe with their partner. Now let’s say their partner is stuck. And they’re stuck in their anger. Then that is self-sabotage. And I bring that to the table and I challenge that. You know, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Is this what you want? So, you know, I’m a pretty vocal therapist. (chuckles) I’m a straight shooter.
[00:40:34.59] – Chris Maxwell Rose
[00:40:34.98] – Tiffany Anton
You might not hear what you want to hear, but I’m hoping that they hear things that are really going to be workable for them, are really going to shift things up, to achieve the goal of which they set coming into therapy. You know I always ask, “What does it look like for you individually, and for the two of you as a couple if therapy is a success?” You know, “what does that look like? What do you want out of it? How can I help you to make the changes that you need to get the life and particularly the sex life that you both want and deserve?” And that looks different for different couples of course.
[00:41:16.95] – Chris Maxwell Rose
Yeah, I love that and I want to dwell there for a moment because we didn’t say it explicitly at the beginning, but with erections with sexual frequency. This is on your own terms. We’re not measuring how long you’re staying erect based on you know, a database of the normal guy, right? This is so much about what you find fulfilling and satisfying and knowing that that is the shifting target over time, right? So that is so important to really personalize it and reflect on what is fulfilling to you and what do you want to create more of.
[00:41:55.85] – Tiffany Anton
I hear too many statements about magazines. Female oriented magazines that have unrealistic bodies on the front with tips on how to have “three hour sex! Three hour orgasms!” When they come in with these statistics. “We’re supposed to be having this much sex.” And I discuss the unrealistic images that are not only in magazines but in particularly pornography. Because again pornography is fantasy. It’s not education, it’s not reality, it’s for us to get off on and not comparing ourselves to the Smiths (you know, our neighbors) you know, or the Joneses. That’s the word people use, not comparing ourselves to the Joneses…creating a sex life that works for them. And sometimes that looks like one time a month. Sometimes that looks like three times a week. And I helped them define what is the fit for them. And that’s often an exploratory process. And you know even without Erectile Dysfunction, I work with that frequently in the discrepancies in libido differences. So we’ll have, you know, the sexless marriages which is sex less than 10 times per year. And we’ll have the- I’ve had experiences of one partner says they want sex seven times a week. And the second partner- or the partner- sorry, says I want to have sex three times a week. So there is a vast difference in what comes into my office and how they want to work on balancing their libidos.
[00:43:41.95] – Chris Maxwell Rose
I would love to do a whole episode with you some time about this. It is such a common question and it can be surprising, the female can be the high libido partner and that can be just as distressing. So let’s dive deep on that sometime, shall we?
[00:43:57.51] – Tiffany Anton
OK. (laughs) We’ll do that some other time. Or do you want me to discuss it now and the females with the higher libido partners?
[00:44:04.09] – Chris Maxwell Rose
I think we’re gonna have to devote an episode to it. This has been such a rich conversation. Tiffany I love your work so much. And you know it’s so- I love- we’re finding this network of people doing this work from this perspective of not only sex positivity but pleasure positive. And with a neurodiversity perspective in mind. I’m so thrilled to be connected to you. Thank you so much for the work you’re doing.
[00:44:32.48] – Tiffany Anton
Well thanks Chris. It was a pleasure and I appreciate the listeners out there. You know, this is the way that we get out real information challenging these fake societal standards that we believe that we need to implement into our own bedroom or to define us as “masculine” as “feminine” as “virile” as “sexy” and “hot.” So it is this education that gets out there and it helps people know how normal they are! How lovable and worthy they are! Just as is! The challenge isn’t worked out in the way that maybe they perceived or hope.
[00:45:21.40] – Chris Maxwell Rose
Do you want to share about your upcoming webinar series?
[00:45:25.62] – Tiffany Anton
Yes! So I have a Facebook group that’s called “From Low to Go.” And it targets women 30 and over that are struggling with low libido. I’m having a free training series that’s coming up actually this Sunday, and after which I will have a seven-week full program that they’ll be able to access online anytime they wish. But we will be having coaching calls weekly to see how things are progressing on their end, while having the realization that often things don’t move that fast. I’m hoping in the future to do a similar program for males.
[00:46:09.33] – Chris Maxwell Rose
Perfect. So we will link up to all of your resources in the show notes page of this podcast episode, and you can be found at NewOrleansSexTherapy.com. All right, we hope you enjoyed this conversation with Tiffany Anton. As we said at the end, there are so many topics that we could do a wonderful deep dive with our sex therapist friends, and so we hope to have Tiffany back on soon for another conversation perhaps about mismatched libido! For our complete podcast archive, come on over to pleasuremechanics.com. You will find over 300 episodes of this podcast awaiting you, and they are all sorted by topic in our Sex Index, so check that out for easy navigation. And to support the show, come on over to patreon.com/pleasuremechanics. That’s p a t r e o n patreon.com/pleasuremechanics and stand with us with a monthly pledge for as little as a dollar a month. Join us, join our community conversations, and show your support for the show. All right, we will be back with you next week with another episode of Speaking of Sex with the Pleasure Mechanics. I’m Chris from pleasuremechanics.com wishing you a lifetime of pleasure. Cheers.