Tammy is a listener-turned-guest who takes us into strict Jewish culture and how that shaped her early experiences around sex and marriage, and led her into situations that were unhealthy and downright dangerous. She dedicated herself repeatedly to making a better life for herself and her children—a life that hopefully includes serious sexual satisfaction and positive role-modeling for her children.
Tammy is a 33-year-old cisgender female who describes herself as white, Jewish, and has two kids. She and her husband are married by Jewish law but not legally. She is currently monogamous, but may be open to exploring other options in the future. She describes her body as an hourglass figure with a few extra pounds.
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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT (CLICK TO OPEN)
LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I am sex and intimacy coach, Leah Carey, and this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!
LEAH: Hey friends. Today’s guest is Tammy and she has experienced a lot in her 33 years. And I’m not going to tell you much in advance because I want you to experience her story as it unfolds just like I did. Now if you’re a regular listener, you know that I occasionally break in when someone is speaking to correct misinformation or give a little coaching where it seems appropriate. But there are many times when I let things go by because I don’t want to interrupt the person’s story or their train of thought.
And that’s what happened with Tammy. Her story was so intense that I didn’t think it would be helpful to get in the way when she brought up the topic of sex and porn addiction. So, instead I’m going to break into this episode partway through to offer some alternative perspectives on the idea of porn and sex addiction.
And one more thing before we jump in, if you haven’t yet don’t forget to join my email list, so you can be reading chapters of my book as I finish writing them. People on my list are the only ones who gets to read my book as it’s being written and long before it’s released to the public. Okay. With business done, let’s get started.
Tammy is a 33-year-old cisgender female who describes herself as white, Jewish, and has two children. She and her husband are married by Jewish law, but not legally. She’s currently monogamous, but maybe open to exploring other options in the future and she describes her body as an hourglass figure with a few extra pounds. I’m so pleased to introduce Tammy!
I am so thrilled to be talking with you. As everybody knows, I love it when people who are listeners contact me to say they want to be on the show and that’s exactly what you did. So, thank you.
TAMMY: Thank you. I’m very excited.
LEAH: Excellent. Well, let’s start this conversation where I start every conversation which is what’s your first memory of sexual desire?
TAMMY: I definitely remember sometime maybe around 11 and 12 years old like the typical I’ve heard a lot of people say like, “Oh, in the bathtub.” I definitely remember the shower head. I don’t know what gave me the idea to even try it or how it happened. I really don’t remember, but I remember that being something I’m like, “Oh, that feels good” and doing it one time after the next. I don’t know what age this was, but I do remember finding in my mother’s bathroom some sort of vibrating something or other. And I think I put the two together. Okay. Well, the vibrations and the bathtub and this is a vibrator, let me try this. Yeah.
TAMMY: Definitely around 11, 12, I think.
LEAH: So, your first vibrator was your mom’s vibrator?
TAMMY: Interestingly, grossly enough, yes.
LEAH: Well, actually that’s my story too. It’s just funny, yeah.
LEAH: Because you started with the shower and a vibrator, each of which are external sensations, did you ever figure out that you could use your own fingers or your own body?
TAMMY: No. I don’t think so. It took me a couple of years, but I remember my friends’ whispers and talks of and rumors. I had a friend in about 5th or 6th grade and she would tell me a lot of things and I don’t know where she got it from, but she would share.
LEAH: And so, you said that sex was not something that was talked about. Did you live in a home where there was affection?
TAMMY: So, no. Not very much. We did the air kisses. There was no hugs, no I love you. My father had a very hard time showing emotion or being emotionally present. And my mother definitely had a hard time being present. She was always very overwhelmed and had a hard time giving compliments, more critical.
LEAH: So, there was not affection between your parents and the kids and there was also not affection between your parents themselves?
TAMMY: No. So, my mother was I would say cold. She’s a little bit cold. If my father was to come and give her a hug or tried to show affection, she would playfully, but not so playfully push him away. So, we saw a lot of that. There was definitely not a lot shown to us kids growing up.
LEAH: Did you ever wonder if they were having sex? Do you think that they were having sex?
TAMMY: No. We had an idea that it was non-existent. Yeah. I definitely got the idea. Years later, my parents got divorced and I remember my father saying how my mother, she was not affectionate. Yeah. He overshared.
TAMMY: Yeah. So, I think my mother was a bit withdrawn emotionally and I think she would use sex as a tool. Yeah.
LEAH: It’s interesting because it sounds like from what you were telling me before we started recording that you grew up in a home where Judaism was a big part of your life. I grew up in a non-practicing Jewish home, so I consider myself culturally Jewish, but not religiously Jewish. And I know that it’s considered a mitzvah to have sex once a week. So, that’s an interesting thing to hear that Judaism was really important and yet sex was not really a thing.
TAMMY: Yeah. In my house, we grew up with very controversial, very conflicting ideas of what Judaism is. My mother believed that it was all about the law and my father was just going along with it because my mother would enforce it. And so, we grew up very confused. My mother would always say that she believes that you should send your kids to a more religious school than what you are.
So, even though my family was more of a traditional Jewish family, my mother would send us to these religious Jewish schools. And all my siblings and I, we all had situations where we would be looked at as being the bad ones, the not fitting in. And so, yeah, finally at the end of my parents’ marriage, my father just took this left turn and it was a bit shocking. It was like, “Wow.” But at this point, I’m really I think the only practicing Jewish person left in my family. Yeah.
LEAH: I have so many questions about that, but okay.
LEAH: We can stick to the chronology. So, you’re not having conversations about sex at home. You’re not really seeing affection very much at home. You discover the joys of the shower and the vibrator. At what point did you realize that this was maybe something that you wanted to engage in with another person?
TAMMY: Really not until 9th grade. My mother was super controlling, would not allow me to date or have male friends. And in 9th grade, I had switched from a very religious school to one that was really a mix of kids, religious, not religious. And a lot of my friends were having boyfriends and talking to boys. And so, at that point, I started feeling like, “Hey. I want to have a boyfriend too. I want to talk to a boy” and then, getting that little bit of attention.
Back then, it was the start of chat rooms online and that sort of thing. So, whatever room I can find myself in to talk to somebody my age, I would try. And I didn’t get very far, just a conversation, attempting to meet. But I had made this one friend. We hung out, didn’t get anywhere. My mother found out. That was over until 11th grade. So, I didn’t have much experience really or experimenting or learning or anything like that.
LEAH: At what point did you begin experimenting?
TAMMY: So, in the beginning of 12th grade, I made a decision to leave school. I took a GED exam. That was my first step. I did have plans to go to college, but that’s another story.
TAMMY: But I was very controlled growing up. My mother was very controlling. No boys, where I’m going to go to college, what I’m going to do when I grow up, if I’m going to school or not go to school, everything was her decision. And I had just started talking again to this guy that I had spoken to back in 8th grade. And we’ve really connected and my mother gave me an ultimatum. She says, “Either you stop talking to this boy or you’ve got to move out.”
LEAH: Oh, wow.
TAMMY: Yeah. That was when I was 17.
LEAH: Had you ever met in person or this was just chat room chatting?
TAMMY: No. This guy actually lived local and we had met. We became good friends. And then, at the point when I was 17 is when we started hanging out more and being somewhat of an unofficial boyfriend, girlfriend. She didn’t like him because he wasn’t religious and stood for everything she was not good with me going down. And that was the first time I put my foot down and I said to myself, “I’m standing up for myself.” I had no plan where I’m going, what I’m going to be doing. But I said, “Okay. I’ll leave.” So, yeah, that was the start I feel like to the rest of my life. Yeah. Really young, but yeah.
LEAH: So, where’d you go?
TAMMY: So, for about a week, I was homeless, went from friend to friend. And then, my mother and my grandmother sat down. They said, “Okay. This is not working. This is not working out very well. She’s going to come live with me.” So, I ended up going to my grandparents and I lived there for about a year. But the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree, my mother’s mother.
So, they had a different way of manipulating and controlling. And they sat me down. My grandfather I remember him saying to me, “You want to be religious when you get married.” And I’m 17 at the time. “When you get married, you want to be religious. So, can you really see yourself married to this person?” And I’m 17. What do I know? So, I thought about it. And I’m like, “You know what? He’s right. I think I want to be religious when I grow up and I get married.” So, I broke it off with this guy.
LEAH: How far had the two of you gone?
TAMMY: We definitely fooled around. There might have been shirt off kind of thing, never went all the way. I grew up where being a virgin when you get married is super important. If you had sex, forget it. You’re going to die, so yeah.
LEAH: All right then.
TAMMY: I was afraid to die. Yeah.
LEAH: That’s intense.
LEAH: Did you enjoy the making out that you did with him?
TAMMY: Oh, yeah. Definitely.
LEAH: So, there wasn’t a shame that was keeping you from participating fully?
TAMMY: No. I don’t remember feeling any of that. I definitely enjoyed it. Yeah.
LEAH: So, what happened next?
TAMMY: So, at 17, I’m living with my grandparents and I realized that I’m going to have a very difficult time dating, meeting guys. I was working a full-time job. And I said to myself, “I still have more time on my hands.” So, at that time, they used to have those Yahoo groups. And I posted an ad in a local Yahoo group and I wrote that I was looking for something to do evenings, weekends, volunteer work, whatever it is.
And I remember getting a response from somebody, questions. “What do you enjoy doing? How old are you?” And I was very, very naïve and very sheltered growing up. So, we end up going back and forth and also wanted male companionship. So, I was very naïve. And we started chatting on the phone, texting, chatting, whatever. And he was telling me that he was around my age and he would always give me reasons why he couldn’t meet in person. And so, long story short, he turns out to be a mid to late 30s, married man, didn’t end very well for me.
LEAH: How did you find that out? I assume he didn’t just come out and tell you that.
TAMMY: No. I have to say that I thank God every day I had a best friend that was a lot more worldly than I was, more educated. She had Cosmopolitan magazines. I remember she always used to have it and we’d read them together.
TAMMY: And she said to me, she’s like, “Tammy, there’s two choices here. There’s two variables. Either he’s as he says he is. He can’t meet you because people can’t know that he’s talking to a girl or he’s married.” So, I remember saying to him one day in a joking way, “It could be one of these two.” And he says to me, “Well, I really value our friendship and yes, I am married. I have four kids.” I remember asking his age. He told me he was in his mid to late 30s. I remember feeling very afraid and scared, not really knowing what to do and who to turn to and who to talk to. And I remember telling him I wouldn’t talk to him and I hung up the phone.
But then, shortly thereafter, something in me pulled me back to talk to him. I don’t know if it was him reaching out to me. I don’t really remember. And then, I remember also getting a call from a local rabbi that must have been in communication with my mother. And I don’t know what they knew or didn’t know. I’m guessing not too much. But I remember him yelling at me on the phone and telling me that what I was doing was wrong and I need to stop talking to this person.
LEAH: Oh my goodness.
TAMMY: Yeah. So, I believed that I was doing something wrong.
LEAH: Yeah. Wow. So, you’re still 17, 18 at this point?
TAMMY: I was 17. Yeah. I know I was definitely not 18 yet, but yeah. I ended up meeting up with him again. Yeah, very bad decision.
LEAH: Why? What happened?
TAMMY: So, I don’t really understand what I was thinking and a lot of it is very hazy still. I haven’t really worked through it completely, but I remember him picking me up from my office. I hadn’t told anybody and we met up. And I just remember we had talked about going for a drive or something like that. We’ll meet in person finally.
I remember getting into the car, looking at this person, and panicking because I realized I was a 17-year-old girl. This is a man. This is a grown man, the beard, whatever. And I remember just going into a panic mode where everything around me just fades away and I don’t know what’s going on around me and we just start driving. And I have no idea where he’s taking me. I remember him making a stop at a gas station. And again, I should have jumped out of the car and run away. That would have made sense.
But I just sat there frozen. He comes back with a bag and puts it in the dashboard in front of me and I remember seeing condoms in there. And we continue driving. We go somewhere. He’s telling me all about this office of his and he built it. And I remember hearing that. And after that, everything else is completely forgotten. And then, after that whenever he dropped me off, I just took that memory and threw it away like it never happened. Yeah.
LEAH: Do you think that you had sex with him?
TAMMY: I’m pretty sure we didn’t because I remember being a virgin when I got married. I remember that. I’m not quite sure what really went on. Yeah.
LEAH: Sure. Yeah. I’m really sorry. Those memories that we scroll away are hard. Our brain is doing something to protect us and yet there’s still that gnawing feeling for so many of us of like, “What is it that was so bad that I’ve put it this far away?” kind of question. Yeah. Wow. So, it sounds like your marriage, your husband was your first real sexual experience. Is that true?
TAMMY: My first husband.
LEAH: Oh, your first husband. Okay.
LEAH: All right.
TAMMY: Yeah. When I was 18, I met my first husband and we dated for a short time. I knew he was exactly as far as religion goes what my parents would be accepting of or I thought they would be. He still wasn’t going to be perfect. We got married when we both were 19. And yeah, he was my first.
LEAH: What was it like?
TAMMY: Definitely not what I read in Cosmo.
LEAH: Well, was it his first time as well?
TAMMY: No, it was not.
LEAH: Oh, okay.
TAMMY: No. He had told me had been with two other people. But we did plenty of fooling around before we got married, but never had sex. Yeah. I just remember it being very quick. I was nervous. I don’t know. Yeah, definitely.
LEAH: Did you have any pleasure from it or was it just a thing that happened?
TAMMY: Just a thing that happened, yeah.
LEAH: Yeah. Did it get better over time?
TAMMY: Not especially. I think partially because then me too I had grown up where communication wasn’t something I was taught and learning to say my needs, my wants, what feels good, what makes me happy and it wasn’t part of growing up.
LEAH: Well, it’s one thing to be able to say it, but did you even know that those questions were things you were allowed to ask?
TAMMY: No, not really. Before we got married, at least in my circles growing up before you get married, you go to somebody that teaches you about sex. So, they pretty much assume you don’t know anything. And then, the girls go to a woman and the men go to a man and they teach you about the deeds of sex and then also the religious points and rules. So, I remember my mother choosing this old lady that had actually been a teacher of mine in high school that I was so embarrassed.
TAMMY: So, I was like, “I’m not asking for anything.” So, I didn’t ask any questions. She assumed I knew nothing. I let her believe that and that was it.
LEAH: Do you remember any of the things that she told you?
TAMMY: She wasn’t very graphic. I don’t know what the right word is, but she kept it very innocent and it was mostly to teach me the Jewish laws. So, I definitely got to learn those. And it was a very scary thing too I remember because if you do one thing wrong and you have sex, you are deserving of death. Yeah.
And also, the Jewish thing is that if you are having sex, the real purpose is to conceive and they’re very strict about that like how long you can be on birth control for until you have to go off. We’re talking we’re 19 years old.
LEAH: Really? Wow.
TAMMY: Yeah. So, it was a bit of a nerve-wracking. You’re more nervous than you are comfortable maybe. I think for a lot of people it’s like that.
LEAH: Are you aching to explore new vistas of your sexuality, but you’re not quite sure how to proceed? Are you wondering if your desires are normal? Are you afraid you’ll have to blow up your existing relationship to have the kind of sex you want? Or maybe you’re hearing these conversations every week and thinking, “I understand what she’s talking about. I just don’t know how to do it in my life?” Well, that’s where personalized sex and intimacy coaching comes in.
When you work with me, I promise to help you feel safe exploring your sexuality. I promise that your sexuality is not shameful and together we’ll help you see yourself, your needs, and your desires without judgment. Now I’m not going to tell you what you should do or feed you answers. That’s not what coaching is about. Instead, I’m going to walk with you in the process of discovering what’s right for you in a way that respects your emotional needs, your boundaries, and the pace that’s right for your nervous system. Because going too fast can send you into shutdown while going too slow can be infuriating and exhausting. The goal is to find the right pace for you.
I work with clients who are motivated to explore many different areas of sexuality including things like learning how to talk about your sexual desires with current or future partners, learning to date after a long time out of the dating pool, questioning if you might be queer, challenging body image insecurity in sexual relationships, dipping your toes into BDSM or consensual non-monogamy, exploring sexuality for later in life virgins, recovering from infidelity, and so much more.
I believe this work is deeply important and should be available to every woman regardless of your financial situation. That is why I now offer variable pricing. Whether you’re experiencing financial challenges, are financially stable or have some extra to pay it forward, there’s an option for you. And I give the same level of care and support to you regardless of the pricing level you choose. For more information and to schedule a discovery call, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching. That’s leahcarey.com/coaching. Now, let’s get back to the conversation.
LEAH: You mentioned the Jewish laws around sex. What are they?
TAMMY: So, a few of them are the night before you have sex, you go to a bathhouse and you have a bathing ritual with a blessing. It’s actually a very nice thing. It’s connecting you to a higher power. So, it’s not just a physical connection, but it’s also on some spiritual connection. It gives it a higher purpose as opposed to just the physical. So, there are a lot of beautiful aspects to it.
Another one is that you do not have sex during your period. That’s a big no-no and also five days following. You have to be completely clean. So, you learn a lot about that. This has been a while since I’ve done it, but I think the main reason that those laws are is for conceiving. They want to make sure that the days and month that you’re having sex is when you’re most able to get pregnant. Yeah, most fertile.
LEAH: Yeah, interesting. So, you’re having sex with your husband. It’s not particularly enjoyable. What happens next?
TAMMY: So, three months later, I’m not especially happy. He had grown up in a very physical and emotionally abusive home. So, he had a very hard time emotionally connecting and it was just a very stressful environment for me. Three months in, I should say he decided that, I lost one of my birth control pills, and he’s like, “Maybe it’s a sign from God.”
TAMMY: And I’m just going along with it because growing up. And so, he’s like, “Oh my gosh. One day, I’m going to have a baby and so exciting.” And I’m probably not going to get pregnant anyways because I thought I was so different than anyone else. I didn’t think my body was capable of it. So, I was like, “Okay. Yeah. It makes sense.” And I just threw them out. And lo and behold, I get pregnant right away. Yeah. So, I was pregnant with my daughter. Nine months later, I had my daughter. And about a month after that, we ended up getting separated. It was something that should have happened a long time before. It took a lot of strength for me to do it.
LEAH: So, you’re the one who made the choice?
TAMMY: Yeah. He had always been emotionally and verbally abusive. But when he became physically abusive, I put an end to it.
LEAH: Yeah. And that’s scary with an infant. It’s scary to have violence in the home with an infant and it’s terrifying to leave the home when you’re responsible for an infant. How did you find the strength to do that?
TAMMY: So, I had kept everything that was going on in my relationship very, very quiet and to myself. I didn’t want to tell my mother because she would have been, “Oh, I told you so.” She didn’t want me to marry him. I had told my grandparents during the whole time and my grandmother is very old school. “No matter what your husband does, you still make it work. There’s always hope.”
But when that episode happened, I finally told my mother. And my mother actually was working at the time in a family shelter for domestic violence and she was super strong with all that stuff. So, she told me exactly what I needed to do and I had called the police. I got a restraining order, but I didn’t get divorced. It took me a while to do that.
LEAH: Was that because of the Jewish law or because of the American law?
TAMMY: That was a combination because when I did ask a rabbi about getting a divorce, he says, “Well, we don’t give a divorce unless you work on it, unless you go to therapy, unless we know there’s no hope.” And so, they made us go to therapy for about six months.
LEAH: You were living apart during those six months?
TAMMY: We were living apart technically. He made plenty of visits and I was never strong enough to call the police and say, “Hey. He’s in violation.” But there was that. And then, finally after a year, I think both of us really realized this wasn’t going to go anywhere. That’s when I finally did the legal divorce.
LEAH: Yeah. That’s a lot. And you’re still 20 years old at this point?
TAMMY: Yeah. I finally got divorced when I was 21. I had just turned 21.
LEAH: Wow. That is a lot to have gone through in just a couple of years.
TAMMY: Yeah. It was.
LEAH: So, where did you go? You have this infant. What did you do?
TAMMY: So, I had actually been working full-time during the whole thing. He was super controlling. He made sure that during my entire pregnancy I was working full-time. So, that kept me strong in a way. And because I did have that full-time job and I was used to working, I continued working. And I was on my own and that was okay. I actually had stayed in the apartment that we had lived in. And yeah, I continued working full-time taking care of myself.
LEAH: Wow. When was the next time that you met someone you were interested in?
TAMMY: So, I moved out from the way I was raised and the schools I had gone to and what they taught as far as religion and dating. I did move out a little bit in trying to find my own way. But I was still very stuck more than I really knew. And I thought to myself, “Well, I can’t really meet anyone on my own because that’s not acceptable.” But I can be set up with somebody. So, that’s what I started doing. I was being set up with different people and I did date all different types of people, dating as in those ones set up in the hotel lobby.
LEAH: So, a lot of first dates?
TAMMY: Yes. My problem was that I didn’t know how to say no. I didn’t know how to say that I was not interested or what I wanted or really know what I wanted. I was still so young and I was just looking to get married again. So, there was a guy that I had actually went out maybe one or two times before my first husband that I knew I was not attracted to. And that’s why I didn’t continue with him the first time around. But his name came up after my first divorce. And he had reached out to me and he’s like, “Hey, I’d really like to take you out.”
And in my head, I’m thinking this is a man that my parents would totally accept. Religious-wise, he was totally on the same level even though I knew I was not attracted to him. Well, at the time I had said to him, “Oh, not right now. I’m seeing somebody.” And a couple of weeks later, I bump into the person that set us up, this matchmaker lady. And she was like, “Tammy, you’re nuts. This is a single man, no kids. You have a kid. You have baggage. Go out with him.” That’s what she said to me.
TAMMY: And I’m like, “Wow. I must be an idiot.” So, yeah, I ended up going out with the guy, totally ignoring all the red flags, and everything inside me that said he’s not for you. And yeah, he proposed and I accepted. I was 22.
LEAH: Is this your current husband?
LEAH: Okay. I’m really glad to hear that.
LEAH: So, what happened?
TAMMY: We ended up dating for about six months when he proposed and I said yes because I felt like it was a no-brainer. Right after our engagement party, we had sex for the first time and he got super nervous which didn’t really make much sense to me. He got very nervous and he says, “You have to get a morning after pill.” He insisted. And I was saying to him, “Oh, I don’t think I’m pregnant. Why would I be pregnant anyway ?”
LEAH: Had you used a condom or something?
LEAH: So, was there any birth control being used?
TAMMY: No. I just had this belief inside me that I was different than anybody else. So, it was not possible.
TAMMY: So, fine. I did the morning after pill, but he was still very nervous. And I ended up going I think it was a day or two later to a clinic to be tested to see if I was pregnant and it came up positive. So, he was super nervous. He had a five-year plan and a baby was not in it. And yeah, the rest of the story is a bit crazy. People are like, “What the hell? Really?”
TAMMY: He wanted me to get an abortion. His family was on board with it. I had no idea really what to think or do. I was scared to tell my parents because you don’t get pregnant before you get married. But his sister came to my house and forced me into the car to drive me to an abortion clinic.
LEAH: Oh my goodness.
TAMMY: Yeah. And they wouldn’t take me. They said, “She needs to consent. So, if she’s not on board with it, it’s not going to happen.” And I remember making a call to somebody I was close to, a mentor. And she’s like, “Don’t do anything.” I called a rabbi that I was close to and he says, “Well, if you guys are going to get married anyways, might as well just move up the wedding.”
TAMMY: Yeah. So, it was quite interesting. They moved up the wedding. I was about three months pregnant.
LEAH: Sorry to interrupt, but what had your idea been had you been left to your own devices and allowed to make your own decisions, would you have had the baby? Would you have gotten married? Would you have just continued on as a single mother now with two babies? What would you have done?
TAMMY: I believe if I would have had the time to think about it and not be worried about my parents, I probably would have ended the engagement, had the baby, and been on my own. Yeah.
LEAH: Okay. All right. So, now tell us what actually happened.
TAMMY: So, what happened was we get married and he wanted to go for our honeymoon to Vegas. I was still a very naïve girl at that time. Vegas was like, “Wow. Okay. Yeah. Sure. Interesting. Not my dream, but okay.” In Vegas, at one point we were in a lobby somewhere and he does this 360 looking over at a cocktail waitress. And I remember being like a pregnant woman. Okay. So, I’m like, “What?”
TAMMY: So, I said something to him in a joking way because I was very easygoing. And he just got very defensive and argumentative and started throwing a tantrum in public. And at that point, I was like, “Okay. Something is just not right.” I knew before, but more to it is not right and I called my best friend. I walked away from him and called my best friend. And she was like, “What the hell is going on?”
We were there for about a week. So, two days in, I remember we had had sex and I never enjoyed it. He was very robotic about it and would take a long time and I would just fake it every time because I just wanted it to be over. And I remember him going to the bathroom and being in there a while. And when he came out, I said to him, I was like, “Do you just never finish? You went in there and that’s where you finished.” And he was like, “How did you know?” It was very strange for me. I didn’t get it.
Anyways, on the way back from Vegas, I knew it was over. I was like, “You know what? I did the whole skit. I played it out for everybody. Everyone was happy and I don’t want to be with him.” So, I came back home, yeah, and I annulled the marriage. It was a week in.
LEAH: Wow. How did your family respond to that?
TAMMY: They were okay at this point. I think that they needed me to get married for face. So, they were okay with me enduring that. But then, once that was over, my mother got to put her claws back in. So, this was another opportunity moment for her to be very controlling and involved. So, I was beside myself. I found myself to be a 22-year-old with a toddler and pregnant again and I was scared. So, when she said, “Move back in.” I’m like, “Okay. I’ll move back in.” So, I was there for a couple of months until I think eight months pregnant. And I finally said to myself, “This is not going to be my life. I’m not staying here.” And I got myself an apartment and moved myself out.
LEAH: Wow. Okay. So, now you’re 22 and even more has happened. Goodness gracious.
TAMMY: Yeah. I have a story.
LEAH: You have lived a very eventful life. Okay. So, now you’re in your own apartment. You’ve got two very small children. At this point, were you like, “I’m done, I’m out” or were you still wanting to find someone to be with?
TAMMY: Well, during my pregnancy, I was in a very interesting place. I felt like I’m a single woman, but yet I’m pregnant. But I’m lonely, so can I be with somebody? And I felt like anyone that would be with me would be obviously a quack. Who would want to be with a pregnant woman? That was in my mind. I always looked at it that way, pregnant women as being alienish. For me, I felt like an alien when I was pregnant. I’m carrying a baby inside me. And my first pregnancy was also I felt very alone and definitely not in tune to what was going on with me. After I had the baby, anyone I was involved with while I was pregnant, I was like, “Well, obviously you’re messed up if you were with me. So, no, we’re not going to see each other anymore.” Yeah.
LEAH: Yeah. So, after you had the baby, what happened?
TAMMY: I gave myself some time I remember in the beginning. Sometime I don’t mean six months, maybe I gave myself a couple of weeks.
LEAH: Oh my goodness gracious. You work on a very accelerated timeline.
TAMMY: I did. I worked quickly and I was still so young. I don’t know. I was a single mom. I guess I was also trying to just not really have to look to much at what my situation was and not have to internalize it too much. So, having fun helped me just drop all the seriousness for whatever time that was.
So, my mother would take my son for me every other weekend when my daughter would go to her father and that gave me an opportunity to be a 22-year-old. That was actually the first time I started just doing things that I didn’t get to do as a lot of people get to do in college or even just dating as a teenager. I didn’t get to do any of that. So, yeah, I definitely wanted to check it out and try that out. So, yeah, that’s when I feel like I started and I stopped, but I did try to try some of that out.
LEAH: So, when you were dating, were you fooling around with people? Were you having sex with people? What was that like for you?
TAMMY: Yeah. Some of the people I dated, I did. I have some crazy stories.
TAMMY: But yeah, some of the people I was set up with were on one end of the spectrum like religiously and other ones were not religious at all. And there was even one point where I dated someone that was not Jewish that was like a “Whoa” for me. Yeah.
TAMMY: So, there definitely were mostly sexual relationships, but some of them were just somebody that would tell me he was a rabbi. So, I’d be like, “Okay. We’re not having sex. That would just be weird.” Yeah.
LEAH: And how did that sexual interaction sit for you with the ethics and morals that you had learned?
TAMMY: I kept them very separate. I still do. I look at Judaism for me as being something that it’s about being a good person. It’s about being good to other people. It’s about being true to yourself and focusing on yourself. And that’s how I raise kids.
LEAH: So, you weren’t feeling a lot of guilt about it?
LEAH: I’m glad to hear that.
LEAH: So, at what point did you meet someone who you were interested in being more serious with?
TAMMY: So, yeah. I had a lot of very light relationships where the men always felt like they were a lot more involved and we were a lot more serious than I felt. And I would date them for quite a while and I didn’t have that emotional involvement like they did.
LEAH: Okay. But we’ve already established that you move fast. So, when you say for quite a while, what does that mean to you?
TAMMY: Since I had a hard time stating my boundaries and ending things and confrontation or anything like that, I would date someone I really didn’t like very much for about six months.
LEAH: Oh, wow. That’s a long time.
TAMMY: Yeah. I would not be attracted to them. I would be unhappy. I wouldn’t be interested, but I would be dating them for at least six months.
LEAH: Because you didn’t know how to say no?
LEAH: At the six-month mark or whenever it was in any given relationship, how did you get out?
TAMMY: Either I would wait for the opportunity where I knew they would end it, either something I knew that they really want in the relationship and I would make them understand that that wasn’t going to be me. A lot of the times I was able to pin it on religious beliefs or things like that or like, “Oh, no. I’m not moving there.” So, they would break it off or I would just move on real quick to the next one.
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LEAH: So, I interrupted you in the middle of whatever the next thing was that you were going to say.
TAMMY: Well, I think you asked me what the next meaningful relationship was. Yeah. I was 24 going on 25. I met a guy that was very different than anyone I’ve dated before. He was not religious. He was a little older than me. He was the bad boy motorcycle kind. Yeah.
TAMMY: And I was very attracted to him which was definitely a first for me in a very long time. And we dated for about two and a half years. And again, there was a part of me that was still very protective of myself and wouldn’t let my guard down and that definitely was what ended the relationship. I would become afraid and break up with him. And that happened a few times until he finally said that it’s not going to work. But I think that was the first time where I had been pretty close to feeling like, “Okay. This might be something real. This could be something.”
LEAH: So, what did attraction feel like for you? What felt different?
TAMMY: I can’t say it was completely healthy.
LEAH: I didn’t ask if it was healthy.
TAMMY: Yeah, okay.
TAMMY: It was needing to feel like the man was crazy about me. And if he was crazy about me, that made me feel like I’m into him too. Yeah.
LEAH: Oh, that’s interesting. So, it’s not about his qualities. It’s not about whether he’s physically attractive to you or emotionally attractive to you, it’s about what he’s giving to you in terms of his attraction. Fascinating.
TAMMY: Yeah. I had that a lot with men and dating. It was really about the attention I would get and how crazy about me the guy was. I needed that to fill my tank. So, yeah, that’s what I had with him. Yeah.
LEAH: So, after a couple of years that ended. How old are you now? 25-ish?
LEAH: Okay. So, this was about eight years ago in the timeline. What happened next?
TAMMY: So, I had actually started a Jewish divorced network around that time. And I met a lot of people during that time, just getting other people set up and making events. And after meeting all these different kinds of people, I was like, “Okay. None of these people are for me.” You just know from speaking to them or whatever. And interestingly enough, my now husband, he’s an obstetrician. He was doing some work at a neighbor of my parents. And they were like, “Oh, a divorced man. Oh, and you have a divorced daughter. Let’s set them up.”
TAMMY: So, we started talking online to start and we did that for a while and we just had great conversation. And then, we finally met and he was very different than anyone I dated.
LEAH: In what way?
TAMMY: Well, I said to myself that I’ve been through the really good-looking guys and I’ve been through the very cocky guys and this guy is very different than that. He was very nerdy.
TAMMY: And I’m like, “Maybe that means he’s a good guy.” Quiet, reserved, more to himself, yeah, and took me on different kinds of dates than I was used to. So, I was like, “Okay. A little boring, but maybe that’s a good thing.” So, yeah, we dated for about a year and a half, I think. And then, we got engaged.
LEAH: So, I assume during your dating that you’re having sex?
LEAH: Was it enjoyable?
TAMMY: I was still very closed off emotionally. Honestly, I don’t think I had an orgasm at all, all those years that I was having sex. So, I’m going to say the act itself was because of what I was receiving as far as the attention, but not as far as pleasing me or anything like that. None of that was there.
LEAH: Were you continuing to masturbate through these years?
LEAH: And were you getting pleasure through masturbation?
LEAH: Okay. So, it’s not that there’s some concern that there’s an issue with your body or your system, it’s just that nobody’s doing it for you yet.
TAMMY: Right, yeah.
LEAH: Okay. All right. So, you dated for about a year and a half. And then, you were ready to jump in again.
TAMMY: Yeah. I thought I was. We got engaged. What happened was on our second date actually he was upfront with me and he said, “I just want to let you know that I am a recovering addict and I’ve been sober for eight years.” And I knew nothing about addiction.
LEAH: Good for him for being upfront.
TAMMY: Yes. He was. I didn’t know anything about addiction, but I was like, “Okay. Yeah. He’s sober.” So, you can’t hold someone against their past. And then, we moved forward. And actually, another interesting thing I remember on the first date, I had said to him, “I do not want a man that smokes, goes to strip clubs or watches pornography.” I don’t know why I felt strongly about those things. Maybe it’s supposed to do with the way I was raised, but I said, “These are the three things I don’t want.” And he said, “Yeah. I agree. I don’t smoke. I don’t do those things. We’re all good.”
When we were engaged, I actually had started my own business and I was working out of his parents’ basement and he had lent me his laptop. I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular, but I stumbled upon lots and lots and lots of porn. And I remember feeling very triggered and very shaken up and just running out of the house and going home and like, “What is going on here? Who am I engaged to? He lied to me.”
And I called him up and he outright lied to me like, “What? No. I don’t have anything in my computer.” He didn’t know anything about porn addiction, so he just wanted to uphold this idea that I had of him and he wanted to be the man that I wanted him to be and he wanted that man. So, he had told me that everything was in his past. Whatever I had found was a long time ago. He apologized for not telling me and I chose to move on.
We got married. Things seemed okay. But it was a short time later, things came up again. And at that point, I was just beside myself. I was being told by him all the time that I’m making things up. Things are in my head. I’m making things bigger than they are. So, we ended up being recommended to a therapist. I don’t know what they call themselves, but he was able to tell him that he was an addict, not just in opioids and things like that, but this was another addiction of his. And he pointed us in the direction of 12-step programs. So, that was I think the start at least for me not even to do with my marriage, but that was for me the start of my life changing.
LEAH: Yeah. Can I ask which program you went to?
TAMMY: Yeah. So, I went to what’s called S-Anon.
LEAH: I haven’t heard of that.
TAMMY: Yeah. That’s for families of sex addiction.
TAMMY: And my husband went to SA for a sex addict. I went. I didn’t really like it. I felt like it was all centered around the addiction and I was constantly reminded that I was married to a sex addict and it was very triggering for me.
LEAH: Hey, friends. Here’s the promised break-in to the conversation to talk about addiction. Tammy’s husband’s use of porn has led to numerous breaks in trust in their relationship and that is a problem. However, my red flags always go up when I hear someone use the term porn addiction. Porn addiction is not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or the DSM. AASECT, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, does not recognize porn addiction as a valid diagnosis and there have been studies that show porn does not activate the parts of the brain involved with addiction. Finally, there is a huge variation in how people would even define or quantify “porn addiction.” So, it’s hard to know exactly what they mean when they use it.
For instance, if I had a large collection of photos on my computer of puppies and I had a lot of websites featuring puppies bookmarked in my browser, it’s unlikely anyone would accuse me of having a puppy addiction even if I talked about puppies all the time and my love of puppies became a main feature of my life. But if those same pictures and bookmarks pointed to naked bodies, it is immediately labeled a porn addiction and that has everything to do with the profoundly puritanical and sex negative society we live in. Puppies are subconsciously coded as good, sweet, and wholesome. Naked bodies are coded as taboo and perverted.
So, the problem isn’t the desire to see naked bodies. It’s how that behavior plays out in real life. In Tammy’s case, it has played out as her husband lying, hiding, and repeatedly breaking relationship agreements. And I would argue that this is the problem, not the naked bodies themselves. Lying, hiding and breaking relationship agreements are often a sign of shame. Compulsive behavior whether it’s eating, drinking, sex, shoplifting, even extreme sports is frequently a coping mechanism designed to deal with something that feels overwhelming.
In our culture, we don’t teach healthy coping mechanisms, things that allow us to experience the overwhelm and move through it still feeling whole. So, it’s very common for people to resort to behaviors that mask the issue. It’s easier to drink and forget what’s going on than it is to look it in the face and deal with it. The same is true with compulsive porn usage.
I’m concerned by the rhetoric around porn addiction and sex addiction because it almost always sounds like shaming a person who is already dealing with immense pain and shame. So, let me be clear. I am not suggesting that Tammy’s husband doesn’t have an issue or that she’s wrong for being as upset as she is. But I would suggest that the lying, hiding, broken relationship agreements, and his reasons for doing those things are the issue rather than the porn itself. Okay. Let’s jump back into the conversation.
TAMMY: So, I did stay there for a while because it was the only support I had. But then, somebody told me about another program. They told me about CoDA.
LEAH: Which is for Co-Dependents Anonymous.
TAMMY: Yeah. I went there, but I didn’t really like it so much. Because when I was there, I felt like, “This is my mother.”
TAMMY: But again, it felt a little bit better than S-Anon. So, I stuck with it for a little bit. Around that time, we actually moved out of state. I felt like we needed a fresh start. That was going to be different or something. And somebody else in that program because the group I went to was very, very small. It was maybe around three people at the time. And I’m like, “Okay. Nobody wanted to work the steps. I couldn’t find a sponsor.” Somebody mentioned, “Oh, you know what? You might like ACA.”
LEAH: Which is Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families.
LEAH: Which I’m also extremely familiar with.
TAMMY: I went there. And I’m like, “Oh my god. This is me. This is everything I’m going through, I’ve been through. This is totally it.” And I was finally able to start focusing on myself, which I’ve never done. It took me a long time to take my focus off of my husband and his addictions and his issues to put focus on myself. Yeah.
LEAH: That’s really interesting to hear you talk through that because my journey was very similar. I tried Al-Anon several times in different places at different times in my life because I knew that I wanted that community and help to see things from a new perspective. This is not a jab at Al-Anon. I think it’s fantastic for the people who it works for. It was never for me because I didn’t want to spend that much time focusing on my father. I wanted to focus on me getting better instead on how much he was hurting me. And so, ACA or Adult Children was an absolute gamechanger for me as well.
LEAH: I’m glad you found it. Yeah. So, when you found the porn and you discovered that there was some addictive behavior there, what did that do to your sex life because I imagine that affected your trust?
TAMMY: Oh, for sure. Definitely. I already had body shaming issues ever since I was young. From what I remember, maybe it started around the time I was molested. So, 17 around there, I believe. And so, the porn definitely hit that hard and he wasn’t very expressive or anything about the addiction. I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t understand it. So, to me, it was just like, “Oh, I’m not good enough.” And I went into a shell. Really our sex life was hit more so when I discovered the porn to begin with. The secret was out. He was no longer the person he portrayed and he was ashamed. So, he stopped being interested. It dwindled. It started dwindling a lot more. I would say it went from when we were dating, we had a lot of sex to really it becoming a non-existent.
LEAH: And where is it now?
TAMMY: It’s in the non-existent, yeah.
LEAH: Still. So, it sounds like the discovery of the porn sounds like it was about four or five years ago? Is that right?
TAMMY: Yeah, about five years.
LEAH: Five years ago. So, what has happened in those intervening years?
TAMMY: He’s been in program on and off, sober, not sober.
LEAH: Let’s just be clear when you say sober. You mean sober from porn?
TAMMY: Actually, it was interesting it wasn’t until recently I realized that as much as he was telling me he was sober, he still wasn’t sober from his other addictions. So, he really wasn’t working through whatever he needed to work through. As the time was going on, the stronger I got with my recovery, I think he felt more shame based around it and he would just make excuses why he wouldn’t be interested. He would pin a lot of the blame on me. So, it just really never got better. It became a non-existent.
LEAH: Friends, let’s talk about Patreon. It has been quite an evolution over the last two and a half years. For a long time, I took cuts from the episodes and put them on Patreon for people who financially supported the show. But by mid-2020, that no longer felt right because I was hearing from listeners who said they wanted to hear the Patreon extras because the show was making such a difference in their lives, but they couldn’t afford to donate. It really doesn’t feel appropriate to withhold this material in exchange for monetary support. That’s just not what I’m about.
So, from July 2020 through April 2021, I made all audio extras at Patreon free for everyone and that has worked well. I’ve been pleased to see that my Patreon support didn’t drop when you were supporting the show because you appreciate it rather than paying to get something in exchange. And now, I’m evolving again. Instead of pulling clips out of the show for Patreon and keeping the main episode as close to 50 minutes as possible, I am letting the conversations play out in full in the main episode.
If my work is meaningful to you and you have a few dollars to support it each month, I will gratefully accept your patronage at Patreon. If you have more than a few dollars, consider donating extra in honor of women who need this material, but aren’t in a position to contribute. And I donate 10% of all Patreon contributions to ARC-Southeast, an organization that supports women in the Southeast United States to access reproductive services that are currently being legislated out of existence.
I appreciate every one of you whether you’re a client, a contributor, a social media follower or a silent listener. I trust you to know what’s right for you. Thank you for being here. You can find out more and become a community member at patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex. And if your finances are tight, but you still want to support the show, I would love it if you would take a screenshot of this episode on your phone and post it on Instagram. Tag me in your post and I’ll send you a personal thank you or send your favorite episode to a friend and invite them to chat about it with you. Use this show as a jumping off point to deepen your own conversations around intimacy and sex. Now, let’s get back to the
LEAH: So, how much affection is there between you? Is there cuddling, hugging, that kind of thing?
TAMMY: Not so much anymore. Yeah. He’s moved in and out over the past couple of years a few times the more I learned how to set my boundaries, what was good for me and my children, what’s healthy. And so, he’s been in and out. And I think the connection or whatever we felt was the original connection, it’s not the same for us anymore. It’s not for me anyways. It’s not what it used to be. It’s not the same needs. I don’t have the same needs anymore. Based on what it used to be with needing the attention, let’s say, the codependent attention and attachment is not what I need anymore. It’s needing to be in a relationship, have someone to talk to and a friend and intimacy and all that and he’s just not there emotionally.
LEAH: So, where do you get affection from? Do you have that kind of affectionate relationship with your kids?
TAMMY: Oh, for sure, yeah. Definitely.
LEAH: So, you get some touch there?
TAMMY: Yeah. It’s interesting. I have a friend in the program that one time. We’re very sensitive. We’re not just going to give someone a hug. You always ask first like, “Are you okay if I give you a hug?” And he says to me, “Can I give you a hug?” And I’m like, “Yeah. Sure. You can give me a hug.” And he gives me a hug. And in the beginning, I felt uncomfortable and I wasn’t sure why. Okay. The hug’s over. And he’s like, “Yeah. I felt like maybe you tensed up a little bit.” He’s like, “I had to learn how to give hugs and accept hugs. I can teach you.” And I’m like, “I do it all the time.”
TAMMY: Yeah. So, I’ve definitely discovered that those are hugs that are needed. Yeah.
LEAH: And what about sexual pleasure?
TAMMY: As I’ve told you before the show and through email, when COVID started, I found your podcast and it definitely planted seeds of thought and exploration. And I don’t remember the name of the author, but you had interviewed somebody. And I got her book and I started reading that. And I’m like, “I’m going to start listening to more of these women and rights and body stuff and whatever.” And I started working on that instead of passing a mirror and being like, “Oh, god. I gained so much weight during COVID” and beating myself up. It was more of like, “Whatever. This is who I am and it only matters for me.”
So, I’ve always been somebody that needs to have an emotional connection when at least I know for sure during this marriage. When I felt the lacking, I did reach out and try to form something. And in the beginning, I did feel a little bit of guilt, but I spoke to my husband. And I said like, “This is what I’m lacking in the relationship. Can we work on it?” But he really wasn’t capable. At one point, I actually had said to him, I said, “Would you be okay with having an open relationship? Because you might not need to have sex, but I feel like I need that.” And he said, “No.” He’s not okay with that. So, I have met up with people. I have never had sex with anyone other than my husband, but I don’t feel the guilt. I feel like a human being and I’m normal and I don’t want to lose that part of me. So, yeah. I’m not sure if that answered your question.
LEAH: So, when you say you haven’t had sex, there’s some wiggle room there. Have you had intimate contact with other people that did not involve penetration?
TAMMY: I never was able to get past even a kiss honestly. Something in me just tensed up and I wasn’t able to. I’m not sure what it was. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m married. I’m not quite sure, but it’s not easy. It’s really not easy. But as far as the emotional connection to people, that I’ve been able to have whether it be a friendship or a little bit more than that. Yeah.
LEAH: What do you want for your future?
TAMMY: That is a great one. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking around that. So, I have two amazing children and I want to show them what a healthy relationship could be. So, that’s very important for me. At the same time, I know I still have work to work through and I’m not quite there. So, like I said earlier, ACA, I actually recently discovered their program for love addiction and I do believe that that might hold something for me.
So, I’m looking into that right now because I feel like every time, I do end up trying to get out of this relationship, I have a very hard time. And I’ll call him back even when he’s out. So, as unhealthy as it is, I always ended up bringing him back. So, I definitely know that for my future and I know I’m still young and I can have a happy life. And all those things, I understand them and I know them and I know what I want as far as happiness and for my children and just being healthy and happy. And I’m working hard on getting there.
LEAH: How do you talk to your kids about sex?
TAMMY: I feel because I’m young, I’m 33. My daughter is 13. I’m raising my kids very open as far as religion goes. I don’t have too many rules. So, they know that they can come and talk to me about anything. I don’t push them to talk about anything, but I’ll bring things up. I’ll ask them, “What do you know? Do you have any questions? I’m here if you want to talk.”
I don’t think I really had to have a real discussion yet with my son. But I remember talking to my therapist once and saying to her, “I think I need to talk to my kids about sex. How do I do that?” So, she had told me, “Well, there’s this book. You should get this book. Read it, whatever.” And it was a very graphic child’s book. I don’t remember what it was. And I remember reading it and being like, “Okay. This is something I have to do with my kids.” And my son found it before I got to read it with him.
TAMMY: Yeah. And he was 9 at the time. And I just remember him taking it out and being like, “Mommy, what’s a vagina?”
TAMMY: And I’m like, “Oh, okay. Yeah.” And we went into that a little bit. So, yeah, I’ve talked to my kids about sex. I don’t know. I let them ask me questions.
LEAH: Do you have any questions about sex or about your sex life in particular that are really present for you right now?
TAMMY: I definitely feel like I still have a lot to work through with feeling comfortable in my own skin, to feel comfortable to be with other people. I still do have a lot of that to work through. To me, attraction is based on weight, for me. And it’s something that is taking me years, but I’ll get there.
LEAH: When you say weight, you mean W-E-I-G-H-T?
LEAH: And you think that people will only be attracted to you if you’re at a certain weight? Is that what you mean?
LEAH: And where are you in terms of that weight?
TAMMY: I am overweight. I am very critical of certain aspects of me. Really, it’s just about the weight. It’s the extra weight. So, even at 17, I remember being a size 4 and being on diet pills. I still felt I was fat or not good enough.
LEAH: Yeah. I know I’ve said any number of times during the podcast, but I’m going to say it again. I can absolutely guarantee you that there are people who want to love you exactly the way you look today, exactly the weight you’re at today if you will only allow them to. And the reason that I can say that with such confidence is because of the time that I’ve spent in these crazy nude places.
LEAH: Like going to a sex resort in Jamaica and seeing that there were these women of all shapes and sizes, arthritic, walking with a cane, 350 pounds, anorexic, every size and shape you can imagine and everyone had somebody looking at them with desire. So, I know that that’s something that has to work internally, but I think the more often you hear it, the better. So, I can guarantee you somebody wants to love you exactly as you are today.
TAMMY: Yeah. That’s something I know. Yeah. Like you’ve said, I have to internalize that.
LEAH: It’s one thing to know it in your head. It’s a totally other thing to believe it in your heart.
TAMMY: Exactly. Yeah.
LEAH: And now, it’s time for the Lowdown, the things we’re dying to know, but would usually be too polite to ask any good girl.
LEAH: Do you have sex during your period?
LEAH: And is that still from those old teachings that you’ve got or is this now a conscious choice on your part?
TAMMY: This has nothing to do with me. This has to do with my husband. This is something he’s not comfortable with. The prior relationships I have had and I was okay with it.
LEAH: Okay. What’s the approximate number of sex partners you’ve had?
TAMMY: I’m going to say between 22 and 25, around there.
LEAH: What’s your favorite sex toy?
TAMMY: Oh boy, what is the name? You actually mentioned it on one of your podcasts. And I’m like, “Okay. I’ve got to get this.” It’s this purple rounded thing. Do you know what I’m saying? It has the suction. It does the suction.
LEAH: I’ll find the name of it and put it in. Again, I haven’t tried it yet, but you enjoy it?
TAMMY: I love it. Yeah.
LEAH: Okay. Great. Terrific.
LEAH: What’s your favorite sex position?
TAMMY: I like to be on the bottom only because it gives me more access. Yeah. My partner doesn’t really do much, so I have to be able to bring myself to orgasm. So, I need access. Yeah.
LEAH: Got you. Are you generally more active or more passive during lovemaking?
LEAH: Do you prefer clit stimulation or penetration?
TAMMY: Both. Yeah. I definitely need the clit simulation, but I enjoy it a lot more with penetration.
LEAH: Do you think it’s generally easy or challenging for you to orgasm?
TAMMY: During sex with my husband, it’s difficult because he has a long way to go with his own recovery and sex is part of that. But I’ve been trying to experiment and figure out things out for myself. So, it’s not very difficult at all. So, I know that about myself. I’m okay. I’m normal. Yeah.
LEAH: Excellent. I’m glad that you know that you’re normal.
LEAH: Have you ever faked an orgasm?
TAMMY: Oh, yes. Many of them.
LEAH: Do you still?
TAMMY: No. I will not. No.
LEAH: Can you orgasm from intercourse alone without additional stimulation?
TAMMY: I’ve never tried honestly. I’ve had that on my to-do list to figure out.
TAMMY: Yeah. I definitely want to try it. Yes.
LEAH: Do you prefer the orgasm from masturbating or from sex with another person?
TAMMY: Definitely being with somebody.
LEAH: Yeah. What kind of touch do you enjoy most?
TAMMY: I guess more firm. I just like to feel like whoever I’m with desires me and is into it. I don’t feel like soft touch would really do that for me. But then again, actually I just read a book and it was saying that why do women prefer sometimes to be with older men even though sometimes men they don’t last that long or whatever it is? And it’s because at that age, men are able to in so many factors of intimacy, they’re able to connect with you and build it up with you, so yeah.
LEAH: Yeah. It’s not all about the actual pumping of the intercourse. There is so much more. Yeah.
TAMMY: Exactly, yeah.
LEAH: How do you feel about your partner masturbating without you in the room?
TAMMY: Well, for me, it’s a bit more complicated because my husband is a sex addict. So, if he is doing that, then he’s not sober, which in turn turns into a lot of other unhealthy behaviors. So, it’s not something I’m comfortable with right now.
LEAH: if you were in a relationship with someone who did not have those addictive behaviors, how would you feel about them masturbating without you?
TAMMY: I think that if and hopefully I will be one day in a healthier place with all of those and heal, I think I would be completely fine especially if I’m in a relationship with somebody that I know is healthy and we’re in a healthy place. I think it’s completely normal.
LEAH: Do you have hair down there or are you bare?
TAMMY: It really depends on my mood, mostly bare.
TAMMY: Actually during COVID, I was all like women’s rights and I went through a time where I was like,
“That’s it. I’m growing it back because I want to know if I’m doing this for me or I am doing this because this is something that I’ve just always done.” And I did try it. It’s not really for me. I feel like I just naturally go back to getting rid of it. But you know what? I’m also totally cool with growing it back too because it’s totally natural and normal and nothing wrong with it. So, it’s my mood. Yeah.
LEAH: Have you ever had a threesome or more?
TAMMY: No, but I’ve wanted to. Yeah.
LEAH: Yeah. What would the makeup of your threesome be in terms of the genders of the people involved?
TAMMY: I would like it to be with two men. Yeah.
LEAH: Okay. Do you enjoy giving blow jobs?
TAMMY: It’s been a while. I did used to a lot generally because it made me feel good to know that they’re enjoying and that was me. They’re enjoying me, but it’s been a while.
LEAH: Do you enjoy receiving oral sex?
TAMMY: Definitely, yes.
LEAH: Do you ever worry about how you smell or taste?
TAMMY: Not anymore, no. I think coming to realize I’m a completely normal human being and not different than any other woman out there.
TAMMY: You talk about it all the time. I am normal. I don’t think I smell like anything crazy, so yeah.
LEAH: Yeah. Do you enjoy having your breasts played with?
TAMMY: Not especially, no.
LEAH: How do you feel about receiving ass play?
TAMMY: I haven’t had that in a long time. I remember liking it a little bit. Yeah.
LEAH: How do you feel about giving ass play?
TAMMY: I’ve never done that. It’s never been a request.
LEAH: Is it something that intrigues you or just like, “Meh?”
TAMMY: I’m totally open at this point of my life. I want to try everything and see what I like.
LEAH: Yeah. What do you consider the kinkiest thing you enjoy?
TAMMY: That’s a great question. I am not sure. I haven’t really done anything too kinky. No. I don’t know.
LEAH: Do you enjoy dirty talk during sexual encounters?
TAMMY: I do. I enjoy hearing what the person’s feeling, what they’re doing, what they want to do. I like hearing that.
LEAH: Do you enjoy laughter during sexual encounters?
TAMMY: To a degree. I like to keep it focused because if you’re going to go off about the supermarket or the weather, my mind’s there and we’ve got to start over.
LEAH: Have you ever felt a sexual urge that confused you?
TAMMY: Yeah. I remember when my son was born, I became very good friends with a woman around my age and I know that she was trying to figure out. She wasn’t sure if she was bisexual and she was wanting to explore. I remember her telling me that I should come along with her because maybe I am also. I’m not sure really what made her think maybe I was. I definitely had a strong connection with her and that confused me. I never thought I was into women at all. But until today, I notice women before I will notice a man. I notice if they’re pretty, if they’re attractive. I don’t generally look at men like that, which is interesting to me.
LEAH: So, are you interested in exploring that or is it just a curiosity that is there?
TAMMY: I might be. It makes me a little bit nervous. Yeah.
LEAH: What about it makes you nervous?
TAMMY: I really wouldn’t know how to go about that. I don’t generally pick up cues very well. Yeah.
TAMMY: I would be afraid of crossing someone’s boundaries or not. I’ve never taken on the role of hitting on somebody. So, I’ve always been the one that’s been pursued, but it’s been a thought. Yeah.
LEAH: You can still be pursued even in a same sex relationship. You just put yourself in queer spaces. People will notice you.
TAMMY: That’s an idea.
LEAH: What is your favorite part of your body?
TAMMY: I like anything from my shoulders up. I like my shoulders and up. I like my neck and my fingers. Yeah.
LEAH: I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say their fingers before. I like that.
LEAH: What is your least favorite part of your body?
TAMMY: I’m going to say my stomach. I never felt very confident when I was pregnant in the changes to my body. So, yeah, when I was pregnant I remember going through the changes and my husband would tease me, so he was a little immature. And when I started to be like, “Oh, stretch marks.” He’s like, “Haha.” And that was it. So, yeah, it’s one of those places that you need to just rip off the band aid, so I’m comfortable. Otherwise, I’m very self-conscious.
LEAH: What is something about your current sex life that isn’t as satisfying as you’d like it to be?
LEAH: I knew that was the answer. Yeah.
TAMMY: To sum it up, everything.
LEAH: I’m sorry that that’s the answer and I want more for you.
TAMMY: Thank you.
LEAH: Yeah. Is there something you fantasize about, but have never asked for in real life?
TAMMY: Well, definitely like I said about being with two males. I’ve been very interested in that. I think because and I don’t know if I need to really be with two males, but I do like the double penetration feeling. So, that’s something that I’ve always enjoyed.
LEAH: What belief did you have about sex as a child or teenager that you wish you could go back and correct her on now?
TAMMY: That if you have sex, you’re going to die.
LEAH: Yeah. That’s a good one.
TAMMY: Yeah. That’s a pretty big one.
TAMMY: Yeah. We grew up where sex was something that you don’t talk about and you definitely don’t have it until you’re married. So, there was a lot of fear around it. And even when you’re married, there’s so many rules around it. So, if you have sex, but you didn’t go to the ritual house, then that’s really bad too. So, I just want to go back and tell my little girl like, “You’re not going to die. You’re going to be okay and God’s not going to punish you. You’re going to live. You’ll be just fine.”
LEAH: Yeah. Tammy, thank you so much for having this conversation. I just really appreciate how willing you’ve been to be vulnerable and to show up in all of the complexity of your life. So, thank you.
TAMMY: Thank you. Yeah. This was great. I liked it. It was fun.
LEAH: That’s it for today. Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced by me, Leah Carey, and edited by Gretchen Kilby. I have additional administrative support from Lara O’Connor and Maria Franco. Transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo.
And I’m incredibly grateful for the financial support from Good Girls Talk About Sex community members at Patreon. If you’d like to support me in telling these stories and answering your questions, head over to www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex. You can find Show Notes and Show Transcripts at www.goodgirlstalk.com. To ask a question about your sex life, your desires or anything to do with female sexuality, call and leave a message at 720-GOOD-SEX.
And before we go, I want to remind you that the things you’ve probably heard about your sexuality are not true. You are worthy. You are desirable. You are not broken. I work with women just like you to reflect their true sexual nature back to them without the judgment, shame or fear that can get in the way of us seeing it for ourselves. As a coach and PJ party hostess, I will guide you in embracing the sexuality that is innately yours no matter what it looks like. I am here to help you sink so deeply into your true sexuality that the version of yourself that was scared to speak up for her own needs feels like a mirage from another lifetime.
Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!
- 3:20 – Tammy shares her first memory of sexual desire, playing with the showerhead at around age 11-12 and finding her mother’s vibrator. She did not witness affection between her parents.
- 6:50 – She talks about how growing up in a Jewish family impacted her views on sexuality.
- 10:18 – Tammy decides to leave school and get her GED to get out from under her controlling mother. She goes to live with her grandparents who aren’t much better, and she turns to Yahoo groups to get access to dating and boys. You guessed it: catfish.
- 17:00 – She gives in and sees the guy, then goes into a panic when she realizes how in over her head she is. The incident turns into a memory blackout.
- 19:18 – Tammy talks about her first husband, and how her community taught (or not) young virgin wives about sex and its place within Jewish law.
- 27:18 – She opens up about the first time her husband displayed violent tendencies, and she chose to leave with her infant daughter.
- 31:35 – She tries to find her way into more mainstream culture for dating. She meets a guy she knows is wrong. A honeymoon in Vegas ends in annulment and another baby.
- 40:00 – Tammy talks about dating while pregnant, and then as a young mother.
- 47:30 – Tammy meets someone different, and she gets her first taste of bad boy attraction. It ends, and she finds herself running a divorcee dating network. She meets someone different again, this time “nerdy.” He seems like a good guy and they get engaged, but there’s a porn addiction.
- 55:30 – They both start 12-step meetings. Leah talks about porn use vs porn addiction.
- 1:02:00 – Tammy shares how her body image was negatively impacted by the porn, how her withdrawal and her husband’s waning interest stalled their sex life, and how he failed to stay off porn.
- 1:09:44 – She started listening to this podcast and thinking maybe there could be more, her hopes for the future, and how she wants to raise her kids to be open and have positive models.
- 1:17:15 – The Lowdown – Tammy answers questions about sex on her period, partners, toys, positions, clit stimulation vs penetration, achieving and/or faking orgasm, touch, building up pleasure, older men, masturbation, hair vs bare, 3-ways, blowjobs, receiving oral, smell and taste, breast play, ass play, dirty talk, laughter, confusing sexual urges, body parts, fantasies, and more.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
Tracy’s Dog – Tammy’s favorite toy! https://www.tracysdog.com/collections/best-sellers/products/2-in-1-g-spot-vibrator-with-clitoral-sucking
Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) – https://coda.org
Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACoA) – https://adultchildren.org
Creating this show isn’t free, so if you’d like to support the work I do, I am grateful for your contributions at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.
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WORK WITH LEAH:
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Host / Producer – Leah Carey (email)
Audio Editor – Gretchen Kilby
Administrative Support – Lara O’Connor, Maria Franco
Music – Nazar Rybak