Yonit has plenty of sex, all of it good – why does this feel like such an unusual story? She grew up in Israel and got a late but hot start on her sexual journey. She met her husband young, but the adventure didn’t stop there. On the flip side of all her sexual joy, however, she has struggled with anxiety, depression, and severe post-partum depression. She also opens up about the impact of perimenopause.
Yonit is a 48-year-old cisgender female. She describes herself as a white Israeli, straight, married, monogamous, “loosely Jewish,” and perimenopausal. She describes her body shape and size as “average.”
EPISODE TRANSCRIPT (CLICK TO OPEN)
LEAH: Hey friends. A quick note before we get started – today’s guest, Yonit, grew up in Israel. Like all citizens, she did compulsory service in the Israeli army. In this episode, she mentions that period of her life several times with fondness.
That would not normally be of note, but given recent news, I want to highlight that this episode was recorded a year ago, long before the current escalation in the Israel/Palestine conflict.
With that bit of logistics out of the way, I also want to make it perfectly clear where I stand on the topic. I grew up in a Jewish family where Israel as a concept was revered. Every Passover we recited the line, “Next year in Jerusalem.”
But Israel as a conceptual homeland where Jews can be safe from millennia of oppression is very different than Israel as a political state. I have a lot of Jewish friends who believe that any word said against Israel the state constitutes anti-Semitism. I vehemently disagree.
All people deserve respect, dignity, and a safe place to live. That includes both Jews and Palestinians – and every other individual person on this planet.
With that said, let’s get into the episode.
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 it 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. It’s the next in our series of uncut real and raw interviews. And there is a ton in today’s conversation, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on preface and introduction. Yonit grew up in Israel and came to the United States in her early 20s. She is a 48-year-old cisgender female. She describes herself as a white Israeli, straight, married, monogamous, loosely Jewish, and perimenopausal. She describes her body shape and size as average. I am so pleased to introduce Yonit!
I am so pleased to have you here with me. I especially love that as we were just doing the little biographical conversation at the beginning, you were brought up loosely Jewish, which is very similar to me. I’ve never heard exactly that phrase, but I think I’m going to adopt it now.
So, thank you for being here with me.
YONIT: It’s such a pleasure to be with you.
LEAH: Awesome. So, the first question I ask everyone is what is your first memory of sexual desire?
YONIT: I think that my first memory of sexual anything was actually not desire and didn’t register as sexual at first. But I think I had an accidental masturbation experience when climbing a pole. I probably was 9 or 10 or something like that and we learned to climb poles in PE and all of a sudden it felt really good.
YONIT: I was fully dressed. I didn’t know what it was. I just enjoyed climbing the pole.
LEAH: Do you think that it was a pleasure from stimulation or do you think you actually reached something you would call an orgasm?
YONIT: I don’t know. It was the right kind of friction, I guess.
LEAH: Yeah. I’ve actually heard this story several times from people whether it’s the knot at the bottom of the rope swing or climbing on the monkey bars and shimmying around.
YONIT: Yeah. It was exactly it. So, I grew up in Israel and back then this is early 70s or mid-70s, part of the playground included this pole that you could shimmy up.
YONIT: It turned out I liked doing that.
YONIT: And I didn’t know that that was sexual stimulation until quite a while later and I actually don’t remember making that connection. I know that I didn’t know at first that it was a sexual thing. And then, at some point, I did know and it became how I masturbated where I would put my arm between my legs and squeeze my thighs around. I’d be fully dressed and I usually would be lying down when doing it. It became a way to fall asleep.
LEAH: Yeah. So, you’re mimicking that pole.
YONIT: Yeah, with my arm.
LEAH: That’s fascinating.
YONIT: I know. Isn’t that weird?
LEAH: So, before you realized that this was something that you could mimic for yourself, did you have a lot of experiences of being, “I don’t know why, but I want to climb that pole?”
YONIT: It was normal. I could do it during the school break at recess.
LEAH: Nobody needed to know anything.
YONIT: Everybody was all around. People were on the monkey bars and there I was having probably orgasms. Who knows? I don’t remember them as such.
YONIT: I just remember it feeling good, so weird, in a good way weird.
LEAH: No. I love it.
YONIT: Not what I would expect. My childhood relationship to sex is different from most people that I met and I consider myself very lucky to have had the way that worked because A) discovering this pleasure before having any sort of guilt associated with it or stigma or anything and being able to have that kind of pleasure in an incognito way. For other people, it just looked like I was good at sports or something.
YONIT: That was the first component, but I didn’t know that that was sex at all. And then, later on when sex was a topic and my family was just really straightforward about it and there was no bullshit around sex at all. It was something that grownups did when they loved each other. It was something that feels good. It was something you can get pregnant doing and you can get sick doing if you didn’t protect yourself, but let’s create the situations in which you are protected. So, as soon as I wanted to, my mom would take me to her gynecologist as soon as I wanted to, to set me up with protection. It was very clear to me that until I absolutely loved someone, there would be no sex.
LEAH: That was part of the messaging from your parents?
YONIT: Absolutely, yeah. Sex equals love. Why would you want to have anyone touch you intimately unless you absolutely love and trust them? My parents also had I think a healthy relationship to nudity where they had a big bathroom attached to their bedroom. Sometimes in the morning, the whole family, somebody would be brushing their teeth. Somebody would be taking a shower. Somebody would be taking a dump.
YONIT: It was just bodies were bodies. There was no embarrassment when I was a child. At some point, we stopped. At some point, my dad would not walk around naked with us. He would have boxer shorts.
YONIT: But my mom and I would still take a shower in the same room, not at the same time. Bodies were great. Sometimes they were fat. Sometimes they were hairy and there was no issues with that and my parents, I knew they were having sex. I didn’t actually hear them or I did not ever accidentally walk into the room. I don’t have that experience.
YONIT: But I knew that they must have had sex and I knew that they liked sex, but it wasn’t a crazy embarrassing thing. There was a moment that was hilarious when I was 16 or 17 and by then some of my friends were having sex and I wasn’t because I was a late bloomer romantically. In the social hierarchy and social order of my group, I was the person who was the confidante of people. I was not the desired girl. I was the girl who was friends with the desired girls. So, boys would often confide in me and we would brainstorm what are the things my best friend likes and it was never in a manipulative way. I was just helpful.
YONIT: Nice people, let’s see. So, I was a bit in the matchmaking world a little bit and it was interesting because sex was such an open thing in my family. It didn’t feel like a forbidden fruit and I did not fall in love or I probably had some unrequited crushes at the time, but there was no reciprocal with anyone, so I didn’t touch anyone. I didn’t kiss. I didn’t fondle. There was no sex and I ended up being the last person in my cohort to have my first kiss.
I was 17 and my first sexual experience was at 19, which for my peer group, that was pretty late. 15, 16, 17 was not uncommon and I’m sure there’s people didn’t have sex at the time, but it was more for lack of opportunity. They didn’t have the relationship with whom you would have sex as opposed to thinking they were too young.
LEAH: Yeah. I want to go back and pick up some things from your childhood before I move on. You mentioned you grew up in Israel. Do you think that that was a cultural thing or do you think that that was specific to your family?
YONIT: In Israel, there’s so many cultures that it’s both. I think that my family was probably more on the edge of sexuality being a healthy sexuality. You want more people to feel that comfortable with bodies and with sex and it’s not unheard of, but it’s probably towards the end of the normal at the bottom of bell curve if you will. But in Israel, some of my friends, their parents would kill them if they knew they had sex or would say they would kill them, probably wouldn’t actually kill them.
YONIT: Some people were not allowed to have boyfriends at all and they had sex anyway. When kids want to have sex, they’ll find a way to do it. Yeah. So, the funny story was that when I was 17, I had a girlfriend that was the most beautiful girl around and she had a boyfriend and she was already having sex. And then, one time we’re having dinner and I was in a bad mood. My dad says something like, “Oh, come on. Just get laid already. So, your mood will improve.”
YONIT: And it’s a total joke. He said that to get a rise out of us and he did. We were like, “Oh my god.” We were totally riled up in a funny way. My friend knew him. She’d known him for years. So, we both knew that it was a joke and that he was trying to get a rise out of us. But she still reminds him when I go visit Israel, when I see her, which is not nearly as often as would be lovely, that joke would come back.
LEAH: Yeah. So, you mentioned that at some point your dad stopped being nude around you. Do you think that happened at a point when you’ve developed into a more sexual being as a teenager?
YONIT: I’m sure it was. So, I don’t actually remember the change taking place. I just remember that there were times where him being naked was a complete non-issue. And then, at some point there was no more seeing him naked where I continued to see my mom naked.
LEAH: Were you comfortable being naked in front of him even after he wasn’t with you?
YONIT: I think that I wasn’t and I don’t remember. But there wasn’t anything traumatic to remember about it. It was just one of those things that just disappeared on its own. And now as a mother, the same thing is showing up because I have a 16-year-old and an 11-year-old and we started with loving to take baths together. We live in tick-infested areas, so tick checks are nightly and I do not tick check my 16-year-old anymore. That’s dad’s job and my 11-year-old is still comfortable getting tick checks from me. And at some point, he will let us know when he’s done getting tick checks from mom, which would be great because I hate tick checks.
YONIT: So, the dad, my husband, has to do all of them, more power to them. But also, I think that the last shower with my 11-year-old has already happened and I just didn’t know it was the last one or I would have lingered on that slippery wet hug.
LEAH: Yeah. How long ago do you think that happened? Do you have an idea?
YONIT: Probably about a year ago or something like that. Yeah. It’s very poignant. Parenting has firsts and we savor those, but we don’t always know when the last of something happens and we don’t have the capacity to savor it quite that way. So, that’s one of the losses of parenting. Actually one of the things that are really strong in my life these days is I’m calling it pre-parting depression and I’ve had really awful postpartum depression with both of my boys, so that was postpartum depression unlocked, survived that, I’m fine. Nobody prepares you to how depressing it is when it seems like your children are becoming fledglings that will fledge. Oh my god, that is so painful.
YONIT: The richness of it, just emotional experiences, these days the strongest where I’m most emotionally present is actually noticing my children’s growth and how that affects me and the grief that I never expected to have with that.
LEAH: Yeah. That’s interesting. So, you’ve gotten us up to your first kiss at age 17, how did that come about?
YONIT: It was interesting because it wasn’t someone from my social group. It’s almost like in my social group, I was an asexual creature on some level. It was someone that was visiting from a village that was out of town and he had friends in my high school and we met and we dated a couple times. I remember the first kiss happened. We were outdoors. We were next to his car. There were probably other people in the vicinity, but they weren’t pointing at us. We kissed and I was waiting for a kiss. People around me were having sex. I haven’t kissed yet. I wanted to be kissed and it was sweet. I remember it being really sweet.
Yeah. But I acutely should tell a different story that is related. I had such a comfortable relationship with my naked body and also I was a very late bloomer. I did not get my period until I was 14 and a half and I was literally questioning whether it will ever come. I was flat chested forever. I was a very thin, very skinny girl. Where is that now?
YONIT: So, I grew up in a very hot country and in school functions and in other social situations as soon as it gets hot, back then I don’t know if it’s still the case, but boys would take off their shirts and girls were not supposed to. But I did because I was hot and if shirt taking off was a thing, I was flat chested like most boys and there were some boys that had more breasts than I had. Nobody minded that they took off their shirts and everybody was like, “Oh my goodness.” At school, we would have in recess or sometimes we would have outdoor activities that were half a day. It was called sports day or something like that. And the girls were supposed to stay fully clothed when the boys were not. I was a little feminist already then. I didn’t know it was called feminism or whatnot.
YONIT: There was this particular child who had breasts, a boy who had breasts and I was like, “If he could take off his shirt, I should be able to take off my shirt.” And they’re like, “He’s a boy. You’re a girl. You don’t get to do that.” And they sent me home because I refused to put my shirt back on for that. They called my parents and they sent me home. Thank goodness my parents were like, “Look. You’re causing a problem for yourself, for your principal. Are you okay with the consequence of your insistence?” I was like, “Yeah.” They’re like, “Okay. Fine. Stay home.” They did not try to make me put a shirt on. They were just like, “You’re having a conflict. How do you want to navigate this conflict?” That’s pretty remarkable.
LEAH: That’s incredible.
YONIT: My parents are awesome.
YONIT: I should state that I was extremely lucky in the parents’ department. I know you don’t believe in trigger warnings when it comes to sexual discussions, but when it comes to mental health, as a mental health advocate, I like to start with a trigger warning. So, here, breathe. Everything turns out okay for me.
But I should say that my mom, the person that I’m referring to as my mom right now is my stepmother. I had lost my birth mom when I was six because of postpartum depression, her own. I didn’t know that she had tried to take her own life multiple times and she succeeded when I was six. She wasn’t caught in time.
LEAH: I’m sorry.
YONIT: Yeah. My only memories of her is her crying on the couch and having to be quiet while she was trying to sleep in the other room. So, initially, my childhood had a lot of pain in it because my mom was very sick and there was just no support structure for her. People just didn’t know how to take care of her. And then, my dad remarried less than a year after my mom passed because we had a family friend who was actually extended family, but extended enough that it’s okay to be intimate with.
So, she lost her husband in the 1973 War in Israel and she was the only widow that my father who just got widowed knew. That’s not true actually. In Israel, you know widows sadly. They knew each other since they were kids. Anyway, she started coming over just to support him and they fell in love and me and my brother fell in love with her immediately. We just loved onto her as if we had suckers like octopi.
YONIT: She was awesome. We recognized awesome when we saw it and we loved on her and she loved us. I asked her to marry my dad before he did. She still has that little note that I wrote.
LEAH: How sweet.
YONIT: So sweet. So, I ended up growing with amazing parents that really worked and they worked for each other. I was so loved and taken care of. So, where was I going with that?
LEAH: So, I have a question. We’re skipping around in the timeline here a bit, but you said your mom passed from postpartum depression as a result of it, and then you had pretty significant postpartum depression. How did that affect you? Having that background, did that make it even harder for you to acknowledge and deal with postpartum depression?
YONIT: No. So, I had children later in life. I was 32 when I had my first child. I was 36 when I had my second, close to 37. There’s almost a 5-year gap between my boys. I’ve actually had depression in the years before. Depression and anxiety were just part of my life, and so it wasn’t surprising that I also had postpartum depression. We were expecting it and I had a therapist and I had a psychiatrist and I was actually taking antidepressants.
It did not prevent the postpartum depression because we just had a situation where my baby had a failure to thrive. He couldn’t nurse. He couldn’t eat. It turned out he had a swallowing problem. He just couldn’t consume enough food to stay asleep for more than 45 minutes straight. He was a very cute baby, but he didn’t gain weight for a while year and there was just lots of reasons why, sleep deprivation and stress, I got more and more depressed.
We couldn’t figure out how to not be depressed. And then, what happened is that it got really dangerous for a while because as a child, my story was that, well, first of all I should state that I didn’t know that my mother killed herself until I was 14. So, my dad decided to lie to me and it was a huge gift because you should not tell a six-year-old that her mom killed herself. Just don’t ever. So, they said she had a heart attack. Excellent cover story. At 14, I figured it out actually. They meant to tell me at some point, but at 14, a bunch of puzzle pieces just clicked and I was like, “Oh, okay. That explains things.”
But then, the story that I have lived with is that my mom was sick and she died. From heaven, she looked for the best stepmother who could take care of us and she sent her to us. That was my story. That’s the story that as a child told myself. There was no reason for anyone to dispute that story. Okay. My stepmom was a gift from my birth mom. No reason to mess with this story for the child if it’s working for her.
Then here I am in my early 30s, I have a child who I love. I have a husband who I love. I am depressed as can be and I’m hating on myself. I’m loving on them. My story became, “Oh, it’s my turn.” It felt almost like a math problem. A + B = I have to do C, so D can happen. Yeah. So, I overdosed on sleep meds and I woke up in the hospital and I was fine. That was the beginning of the getting better.
LEAH: Those stories are so powerful.
YONIT: Exactly. And in my mind, my birth mom was waiting for me up there at the gate and she was like, “No. You’re not done down there. Go back. Take care of yourself.”
YONIT: Yeah. And I did get better. We finally found, for me, it was cognitive behavioral therapy in some specific format. There’s something like Recovery International. It’s an organization that holds support groups that started decades before behavioral therapy was a thing, but they actually work in the same way in a way that to me was far more accessible. So, I started going to these things regularly and I found a better therapist for me. We found the right medication cocktail that actually lifted me up.
So, I did great after about a year. I was back to being myself. It took another 3 and a half years to feel like I’m ready to have another child. And then, with him, the first year was pretty good. And then, the month leading to his first birthday, I just deteriorated again. It’s hard to say if it was postpartum depression or just depression, but it was definitely related to him teething and not sleeping and other things that were happening in my life.
And this time, I was able to tell people in my life, “I’m suicidal. Don’t leave me alone.” And I went back on medication. It was actually the day of his birthday, his first birthday, that was I went back to medications that you shouldn’t nurse on. That was actually one of those lasts that you don’t know that they’re last because I nursed him that morning and went to see a doctor. The doctor suggested a medication that you shouldn’t nurse him on. On the way home, we stopped, we got the medication. I drank it without thinking, “Oh, I probably should go home, nurse first, do the goodbye nursing.”
YONIT: That was the last time I nursed. We started with formula and my baby took to the bottle so quickly. He still got all the cuddles he needed. So, it was interesting because it was a big loss for me, but it really wasn’t a huge loss for him and I needed to be on medications. I needed to stop nursing because nursing was part of the inability to sleep which to me is the precursor to all mental breakdowns. First, I get anxious, then I lose the capacity to sleep. When I’m not sleeping for a few weeks, I’m a basket case.
YONIT: So, we don’t let that happen anymore.
LEAH: So, we’re going to need to go back and pick up some of the earlier stories. But as long as we’re here, I want to ask you. So, you had three pretty major shifts or four. You got pregnant, you go through the pregnancy and that changes with your body and your hormones. You give birth and how that changes your body and your hormones. You go through postpartum depression, and then you go onto medication which can have a significant effect on your hormones and your sexuality. How did your experience of sex change through each of those stages?
YONIT: Yeah. I love being pregnant. Sex part was awesome. I should say that I have a really good relationship with sex. So, for me, not being able to have sex is something that I want to have end. So, with both children I think I went back to having sex not quite at the six-week marks, but soon after and it was not just my husband waiting in the wings. There was none of that.
I think I was interested to get back to sex maybe not quite as much as he was, but enough. For me, not having sex actually messes with my self-esteem, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have long periods when I don’t want to have sex, usually because of hormonal reasons. During those periods, it’s a problem for me, not just for him. It’s not just his lack of something he wants. I have a problem with not having it. So, in the periods when these things happen, we are proactive about it. We talk about it and it’s not in the take one for the team approach which I cannot stand it.
As a person who works with moms, I’m the founder of an international support network for moms. I talk to moms about a lot of things including when you don’t want to have sex and how motherhood especially early motherhood can get in the way of wanting to be touched. And so, it’s so common for women to actually be in the position where they’re asked outright to just take one for the team and have sex, which is important.
YONIT: But, oh my god, yeah. So, I’m super grateful that for me that I wanted to get back to having sex even when I didn’t want to have sex.
YONIT: I wanted to get back to wanting to have sex and I recognize that when it’s not happening, it’s my loss just as much as it’s his loss because sex is awesome.
YONIT: I think that good sex is the best thing ever and bad sex is the worst thing ever and therefore there’s a lot to navigate. But I’m grateful that I’ve had some incredible moments through sex to always want to go back to bring myself back. Now, with perimenopause, that has its own challenges, which we’ll get to.
LEAH: Yeah. So, how did starting on antidepressant medications change your experience of sex?
YONIT: For me, antidepressants helped me get back to sex. I know for a lot of people they dampen sexual experiences. For me, that wasn’t the case. It made me go back to feeling like myself and when I’m myself, I want to be sexual, so thank goodness I didn’t have to choose between wellbeing and sexuality.
LEAH: Yeah. I’ve been on an antidepressant for a bunch of years because it helps me to be functional and my thought has always been, “Would I like to get off it? Sure. I would. It would be nice to not have that damper on my sexual sensation and experience.” However, the tradeoff for that is that I am not functional and I would far rather be functional and have a little less sexual sensation than the other way around.
YONIT: Yeah. I don’t understand how come it never was an issue. Of course, I believe everyone who will tell me that they have this as a side effect, but I’m just grateful that I don’t.
LEAH: Yeah. Excellent. Okay. So, let’s go back and pick up some of the things that we skipped right over. You’re 17. You’ve met this boy whose not part of your friend group and you’re macking on each other. Did that turn into a sexual relationship?
YONIT: No. So, he was sweet and he was good looking, but we didn’t actually float each other’s boat. So, that relationship didn’t last very long. And then I had a really sweet boyfriend that loved me very much and I didn’t quite love him. I appreciated him. He was a darling. For me, my feelings were more friendship and I still to this day I really value him. For the last 28 years, I lived on the other side of the world, we’re not in a relationship. We haven’t maintained the friendship, but what a darling he was.
LEAH: That’s interesting. Given that you learned from your parents that sex only happens when you are in love with someone.
YONIT: But when I’m in lust with someone and with this kid, I loved him. I didn’t lust after him.
LEAH: Was there any part of your brain that was trying to convince you that you were, so that you could experience having sex?
YONIT: So, I think a lot of this is fuzzy. I don’t remember all of it, but we were kissing and necking and that sort of thing, but he was, thank goodness, super respectful and didn’t expect that he had a right to anything. And it was clear to him that I wasn’t terribly attracted to him. We worked through the sadness of that as opposed to trying to make something that wasn’t there. How sweet of him because we were in compromising positions in his room as kids. If he was someone that wanted to overpower me physically, he could. He never did, thank goodness.
Yeah. So, then, I’ve had a few other relationships, but didn’t mean a whole lot. There was this whole other person that we were attracted to each other. We did not get along really great and we were pre-sexual. We got to touch various parts of each other’s bodies, but we didn’t have actual sex.
LEAH: Meaning you didn’t have penis in vagina insertion?
YONIT: We didn’t have penis and vagina much.
LEAH: So, no genitals involved, but other touching?
YONIT: Clothes. There was clothes friction. Yeah.
LEAH: Okay. Good description.
YONIT: There was definitely torso happiness.
YONIT: But I did not feel like I wanted more than that. Again, thank goodness, he was respectful of that. We knew where we were at with each other. This was an on again off again boyfriend. And here I am at 19. By then, I’m serving in the Israeli military. I did not have a combat role and I would be home for the weekend. I’d be in the military base during the week and I remember spending the day with this guy, and then in the evening. There was definitely touching. There was fun touching. There was a lot of fun kissing, whatever. But then he was hinting at having sex and I was like, “No.” He was fine by that and by then, funny enough this was probably November or December. For September, September is my birthday and one of my birthday gifts was my best friend gave me a package of 10 sponge. Is he sponge worthy? Yes.
YONIT: So, I am not yet sexually active, but I have a thing that can allow me to be sexually active. This is pre-AIDS. You’re worried about not getting pregnant, not about life-threatening diseases. And so, it was one of those gag gifts. Everybody knew that I had this package of 10. People in my close friend group knew about this. I should say because of the taking off my shirt in public as a 10-year-old, when it was time to find the put down name for each of us, mine was the Hebrew word for slut because if you show your body, that was one way of putting me in my place.
LEAH: Even though you were completely non-sexual?
YONIT: Not sexual at all, but slut was a shaming and it still actually grades on me. I am not actually prepared to repeat that word right now because they slurred it, so it was clear that the word meant slut but it wasn’t pronounced as such. The Hebrew word doesn’t sound anything like slut. It has multiple syllables, so you could say it with a stress somewhere else and it would be clear that when they said that, that had only one meaning. It was the way to refer to me in a way that was supposed to hurt my feelings. Because with every child, they’ll find a way and that was the way they made fun of me. And then, fast forward to 17 and 18, everybody in my social group has been having sex for a few years and I’m the only virgin. I believe that virginity is probably the worst toxic concept in the history of humanity.
YONIT: Yeah. I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about and we can talk about that if you’d like but, in this case, they started making fun of me by calling me the iron maiden. Isn’t that hilarious?
LEAH: From one end to the other.
YONIT: Exactly and not only that, there are bets. People are placing bets about who will be the first one to pluck me. And this is all joking, but I grew up in this interesting social group where the kids were on one hand, great kids and on the other one, there were some toxic social dynamics that it was so good to get away from.
YONIT: It was just so awful looking back, so much putdown. So, there I am at 19, there’s people who know me are betting. And then at that time, so I grew up in a small town in the Mediterranean. It’s called Ashkelon. It’s the Southernmost town in Israel. Ten miles down is Gaza. But it’s got beautiful beaches. It’s a gorgeous little town except sometimes rockets fall from the sky because the Middle East is crazy. But there were no rockets at the time when I was growing up. That started a couple decades later.
So, there was a pub on the beach and it was just this gorgeous place that we would hang out when everybody my age is home for the weekend, gone for the week. Some people only come home every third weekend or something like that. But on the weekend, you go to the pub, you see everybody in the social, three years below you, three years above you, all of these people show up at this beautiful sweet place that was just this huge roof over the beach and the surf and the salt.
Nobody gets super drank back then. Where I was growing up, alcohol was really not a thing. Now it’s different. There’s a lot more alcohol and the problems that go with it, but you would have one beer when you were old enough. If you were not old enough, you wouldn’t. So, I went to this place with this guy, my on again off again. We’re not in love. We like each other. We lust for each other, but we’re not in love. We went to this thing together and we did not go home together. At some point, some of his friends came and he went with them and some of my girlfriends were there. One of my friends, her boyfriend, when we were freshman, he was a senior. So, freshman senior, for me always seemed like the most sexy.
YONIT: When you’re a freshman, you lust after the seniors. This guy had this really sweet social group that I always thought were lovely people. And so, at some point, I was hanging out with them and they all decided to go somewhere else that was also on the beach, different part of town. They were bringing musical instruments and we were going to have a bonfire. And so, I just left this evening with this group of people that did not include on and off again boyfriend. We were just like, “Bye, see you, whatever.” This is not a parting, which is normal. You go with your friends. I go with mine.
This bonfire by the beach turns out to be we’re still there 8 AM with this group and I started having an attraction with this guy that was part of that group. I always thought he was nice. He had a girlfriend for years. I knew his girlfriend. I thought they were lovely people. They broke up probably a year earlier or something. I know where he lives. We’re practically neighbors. I always thought he was a sweetheart, but that there became a connection and it was really strong. It was immediate. We spent the whole night with the group of people, but touching each other in a socially acceptable way, kissing.
YONIT: And then we spent the whole day together. I think afterwards we went over to my place and just went to sleep. And my parents are okay with it. They don’t have a problem with him going up with me to my room. And we spent the whole day together. We went back to his house. I’m supposed to go back to the army the next morning and I’ll be gone for another week. I’ll be back next weekend. He at the time was post his own military service. He is 22.
It’s very common for people in Israel to finish their 4 years or 3 years of military service, then work for a year in various odd jobs, collect enough money to go away for a trip around the world, backpacking in South America or whatnot. He was saving money to go on a surfing trip with a small group of friends. So anyway, he knows that he is very close to having enough money so he could go on usually this 6-month to a year trip. So, at some point that evening we say goodbye. I’m going to the military the next day and I go home. He stays at his house, and then he calls me at 9:30 PM. He’s like, “I miss you. Can I come over?” I’m like, “Sure.”
YONIT: So, he comes up over. He knocks on my window. I let him in, so he doesn’t wake my parents, whatever.
YONIT: We snuggle and we go to sleep and then at 2 AM, I wake. I’m like, “Okay. I want to have sex with this guy.”
YONIT: So, I wake him up and I tell him. I’m like, “I think I want to have sex with you.”
LEAH: Were you sponges available?
YONIT: Exactly. And he’s like, “Are you sure?” And he’s like, “I didn’t bring condoms or anything.” And I was like, “Okay. We have the sponge. You’re sponge worthy.”
YONIT: Yeah. So, we had sex 24 hours after we started kissing.
LEAH: Was it good? Was it enjoyable?
YONIT: It was awesome. I don’t think I orgasmed. I probably didn’t. But it was great. It was beautiful. It was delicious.
LEAH: And did the two of you continue seeing each other?
YONIT: Yes. This was big love. This was oh my god, we were so love in each other. It was a little bit tragic because him and his friends they were all about ready to go. He was supposed to fly away a month later or something like that and here we are having this combustible love, spending every moment that I’m away in the military base basically attached at the hip. And he decided that he’s going to postpone his trip and his friends left and he stayed.
But of course, that wasn’t right. So, after a couple of months, I was like “Go. Ho meet your friends. I’ll be here.” So, he went. They were in Hawaii at the time, so he flew to Hawaii. Two weeks into it, he’s like, “I can’t. I want to come home.” I’m like, “Okay. Come home. Great.” He’s like, “We’re just going to this one place. And then it’s another week and a half and then I’ll be home.” And then, anyway it took five months before he came.
YONIT: And, of course, I was like by then, “Don’t come back. Just have your trip. Enjoy your time. Don’t come back.” But by this point, some trust was broken. “Don’t come back. Call me when you get back. I’ll be happy to see you then and we’ll see where we’re at.” So, he got on the flight the next day or something. And then, he came back and I haven’t seen him for seven months and his hair is super long. He hasn’t cut his hair or shaved the entire time.
YONIT: And I’m like, “Who is this person?” And it didn’t work. It was awful. We tried to stay together for another couple of months and it was really, really bad.
LEAH: What had changed between you? Was it broken trust?
YONIT: I don’t know. So, there was a combination of broken trust and he didn’t trust me that I didn’t see other people when he was gone. I had a really close friend in my military base that we were platonic, but we loved each other platonically or turns out he was in love with me. I had my emotional capacity was with my boyfriend. And he was just a good friend letting it be, maybe waiting in the wings, but didn’t do anything about it. But my boyfriend because he heard of it because he was close friends. I have more girlfriends now than I did as a young person. My men were my friends. My girlfriends were men at the time.
So, my boyfriend thought that I was cheating on him and I wasn’t. And then when we broke up, I did end up hooking up with my friend that was just waiting for me to look his way and we had a sweet relationship for a while. But the relationship with my returning boyfriend ended up really painfully. He was so mad. Of course, he was and I was like, “What do you want? I can’t help you.” Because it was so gorgeous and magical in the four months or so that we were together before he left. It was just unbelievably gorgeous. It was movie awesome and he was a great first lover. We were very happy.
And so, the funny thing that happened is that because we had such a good sexual connection, we were having sex in my house. We were having sex in his house and both his room and my room are on the edge of the house, so other people in the house won’t necessarily hear us. But it just so happened that his window was very close to another window of the next house over in which the kid that lived in that window was in the loose large circle, I think he was a year younger than him, two years older than me but everybody knows everyone. This is a small town. And all of a sudden, there are stories of the noises that Yonit makes when she cums.
YONIT: I went back to slut land because God forbid a woman should be heard having orgasms. And so, there was the same put down again. Oh gosh, fuck you all. No, not fuck you. You don’t deserve to get fucked by me. Assholes.
LEAH: So, how is your experience of your own sexuality growing and developing through these relationships?
YONIT: So, I think I had only positive sexual experiences and nobody has ever tried to force themselves on me. It turns out during the Me Too movement, I was trying to search memories because I know often people repress the negative sexual experiences. I did remember something that happened that could have been awful. It didn’t become awful and it didn’t feel awful. I did remember.
I was probably about 5 years old when this person who was working at a five and dime store where I was so close to where I lived that I could go there on my own to get candy. So, he was probably a teenager and he followed me to the bathroom or something and he didn’t touch me at all. He just masturbated in front of me, but I didn’t even know what he was doing. And it didn’t register to me that I was in danger and he let me go.
LEAH: I think there’s a real blessing to that there are times where we can have experiences that are not okay, but because of our own mindset or what we know or naivety, they don’t register.
YONIT: Exactly. It’s beautiful. I didn’t know I was in danger. It was weird and he didn’t try to pursue me or anything afterwards. I was so lucky. This could have gone so wrong. I was so lucky.
LEAH: I think that the danger that we have is that sometimes we try to turn things in our adult mind into trauma experiences that weren’t actually traumas at the time so that we can fit into the narrative that’s playing right now and that becomes its own problem. So, I’m not glad that it happened. I’m glad that your experience was what it was and you haven’t tried to turn it into something else.
YONIT: Yeah. When I remember all I could feel was just relief at just how lucky I was and gratitude because he did not touch me at all. He did something to himself. I didn’t realize what he was doing and I left.
LEAH: Yeah. It sounds like after you’ve had these couple of relationships, you’re probably in your early to mid-20s.
YONIT: I’m in my very, very early 20s. I’ve had a very interesting sexual trajectory as in nothing until I was 19, and then I met the man who became my husband when I was 21. In between, I had fun with sex. I think what was interesting for me is that because there were no bad connotations with sex and there was a great path to pleasure because I didn’t have any trauma, so it was just a playground to see, “Does this feel good? Great. Let’s keep doing that. Does this not feel good? No, let’s not do that.” I enjoyed making sounds. My sounds were appreciated. There was playfulness and what I found interesting is that after many years of not wanting to have sex, getting to a place where if I want to kiss you, I probably want to fuck you.
YONIT: Because having your tongue in my mouth can be just as intimate. So, then what happened was that actually except for the guy that I knew for a long time while I had a different boyfriend and we didn’t get sexual or romantic at all until that other relationship was over, with everyone else I’ve had sex, it was actually pretty quick. For me, there was no waiting period. If I’m attracted to you and I want you to touch me, then let’s take it where it’s fun.
LEAH: Did you know at the beginning that the man who would become your husband was different?
YONIT: He’s quite a spectacular human.
YONIT: So, we have the cutest meet ever. So, I’m 21 and a bit. I’m working as a flight attendant for the El Al Israel Airlines and I’m in New York City with a group of other flight attendants and people have breakfast together. Aladdin by Disney was just coming out and a group of people was planning on going to see that movie. Somehow it ended up just being me and one other girl. It turns out we have the same first name. My last name is her middle name. I don’t have a middle name. She has it. My name is Yael Dafna at the time. Dafna was my maiden name. And her name is Yael Dafna Cohen and we get each other’s company mail. We know who the other person is. We just have never met.
So, we ended up going to this movie together, ended up spending the whole day together. We’re in the same hotel, different hotel rooms. This is at Times Square. And we’re talking about the early 90s Times Square. She calls me in the evening and she’s like, “Hey. I want to jump in the shower and I’m expecting this guy to come here.” She was telling me about him. “He’s a childhood friend. I have a package from his mom. He was supposed to get here already. We were all going to go out together later. She’s like, “Just come to into my room. Just be here so if he knocks on the door when I’m in the shower.” She knew what she was doing. This woman ended up having at least three people that got married that she introduced.
YONIT: But in comes this guy and he’s such a sweetheart and he’s good-looking. He is good-looking like a sweet boy. He’s a very, very good-looking sweet boy. For me, Jeremy Irons is my type or Sting from Dune that dates me.
YONIT: Skinny but bad boys, but he was cute enough and delightful enough for me not to care that he’s not my type.
YONIT: And there I was living in Israel meeting this guy that was from New York. He was Israeli, but he was living in New York and we went out for drinks. I thought he was lovely and the next time I came to New York, we went out to a jazz club. That jazz club has closed. We still are together.
YONIT: It was called Visions and it was in Greenwich Village. Later, the same location became our favorite restaurant in New York, Blue Hill. Anyway, we go to this jazz club. We’re having fun, but nothing. I live in Israel. He lives in New York City. No point there. And then, the next time I came to New York was New Year’s Eve. And so, I arrived in the morning and I called him like, “Is there a party?” Of course, there was.
YONIT: So, we went to this party and at midnight, we kissed. He’s a good kisser and because I don’t have too many hang-ups, I spend the night at his place and because we’re lucky, he was working full time and going to school full time, so at most times, this would have been a one-night stand, which would be fine. For me, there was no problem with that idea. For him, probably not either. But it was the Jewish holidays and the American holidays lined up such that he had off from school and for work for five days and I was in a long layover because most of the times I would be back on the plane to go to back to Israel 48 hours later. We had five days in New York City when he was free and I was free. And we spent the whole time at his place. Basically, it was a week of having sex, going to museums and going to fabulous restaurants where we discovered we would see this menu with 100 things on it and we would want exactly the same two things over and over again.
YONIT: By the end of this week, I was so in love. I was done for.
LEAH: And was the sex good right away?
YONIT: Yeah. It was. I don’t have the experience of bad sex really. I had a few one-night stands in the short period between the relationships, the early relationships and then meeting Gideon, he’s the best.
YONIT: One-night stands can be awkward and goofy and not necessarily orgasmic, but I don’t think that I’ve had any like, “Oh, that was awful sex” with anyone of them. It wasn’t the sex that made those things not continue. Yeah.
LEAH: You mentioned earlier that you’ve gone through periods during your marriage where you have had less interest in sex. Can you talk about what that experience has been and what you think the cause has been?
YONIT: Well, because I’ve had a genetic propensity for depression and anxiety in periods when depression or anxiety are higher, sorry, not interested, don’t touch me.
YONIT: Well, that’s really not true actually. There are different periods. There isn’t a book. There isn’t an instructional manual for us because everything changes all the time. So, there were periods in which I was depressed and did not want to be touched at all and there were periods in which I was depressed and sex was one of the few things that could get through to me. So, why this and not that? Who the fuck knows?
So, there were definitely periods through motherhood when I was over touched and didn’t want to have sex. My first couple of bouts of depression, I didn’t want to have sex, and then later on it was more recent experiences with depression. This is when even after postpartum depression is behind that there was a period that I had it’s probably the last time that I’m really depressed. This is six years ago at least.
So, I’ve been good for a much longer time now and I believe that my days of being overrun by depression and anxiety are behind me because I have gathered the emotional skills that I need to recognize when I’m going down the rabbit hole and do what I need emotionally and physically to not escalate below a dip. So, I get dips and then I’m like, “Okay. I need to be proactive so I don’t get fully depressed.” I no longer get depressed or at least six years now. I’ve been depression free and also mostly anxiety free, so I’ve really gotten good at taking care of myself.
It’s not that I don’t experience hardship like of course right now everything is so fucking hard and old me would have totally been depressed right now, but I have the right for me tools and I know how to talk to myself and know how to take care of myself now that hardship does not become depression, which is dysfunction hardship. When you’re depressed, everything is outside of your control, so while hardship is not behind me and it doesn’t come with being human, there’s no side of humanity where hardships are gone. It’s a thing of a past. Everything’s easy, but it’s so different when through the hardship, when I can go through hardship without self-loathing, which is to me the difference. Hardship with self-loathing, self-judgment, guilt and shame, that’s depression and that’s the stuff I end up on the bathroom floor not even able to pick myself up to pee. Crying like I don’t even know what, but just curled in the bottom of the shower crying under the hot water for hours. No. That doesn’t happen anymore, thank goodness. Do I have bad days? Of course, all the time. Yesterday was pretty bad, but not even the same animal, not the same universe.
LEAH: So, how has your sexual relationship with your husband grown and changed through the years?
YONIT: It really has changed. One of the things that was interesting for me because of the way that I learned to masturbate, fully clothed without articulation. Is this the clit? It’s just this general friction.
YONIT: I had an interesting relationship to outside stimulation, stimulation by someone else in general and I learned pretty early on that actually my favorite way to experience sex and orgasm was through penetration and g-spot, cervix, happy places. Whereas my clit is not interested in being stimulated directly, too much. It felt like an electric, not a good electric thing. So, for many years, I wasn’t interested in that and he was okay with that. He has always been really into exploring my body. Yay!
YONIT: But because he’s ticklish, there was not a lot of exploring his body.
YONIT: Yeah. And also, there’s no blow jobs in our relationship because I didn’t really have a lot of experience with blow jobs before him. Nobody’s ever shoved a penis in my face and expected me to do much with it. Thank goodness because I don’t find the whole idea super attractive and at least I didn’t. And so, most of our sexual experiences were about finding pleasure through penetration for both of us.
For me, for a long time, it actually felt like I was getting more than I’m giving and I would try to initiate exploration of his body and it didn’t feel great for him. It felt too ticklish and not interested. Whereas for me, I consider myself extremely lucky that also my breasts are extremely sensitive and I love nipple stimulation can make me very happy and very horny. I don’t quite cum from nipple stimulation, but I definitely need nipple stimulation to cum. So, the combination of making my nipples happy while having satisfying penetration, that’s where the fireworks are. So, there were many years in which we were in a good place, but there wasn’t a whole lot of exploration.
LEAH: I know you have a hard out in about 15 minutes.
YONIT: Yes. There’s a couple more things that I also want to make sure that we cover.
LEAH: Okay. Well, then go ahead.
YONIT: Okay. So, one thing that is happening that is interesting these days is that because of perimenopause, my sensation of my own body keeps changing. The way sensations are happening in my body is changing. So, things that used to feel good, ways of caresses that used to feel good, now are super ticklish. Some people maybe like to be tickled as part of sex. For me, that’s a turnoff. It’s just ugh. It’s grading. It’s like fingernails on chalkboard.
So, what we have had to figure out is ways to bypass that. And this is where I’m very grateful that I have had so much good sex prior to that because I know that getting through that hurdle beyond that is a treasure. It’s worth it. And I’m certain that if I didn’t have such a desire to feel that, I would have dropped sex. I would be like, “I’m done. Let’s have hand jobs.” So, we have found ways to basically get through to penetrative sex quickly.
Foreplay is now not at all the best part of it and it’s almost like getting my body to settle. That happens through weight like covering my entire body with his body, holding me down, using flat strong touch and then thank goodness, my nipples are very happy and just nipple stimulation that gets my core to start dripping. Also, yay for extra virgin coconut oil that doesn’t smell like coconut because I don’t like that scent. And so, lubricant is our friend. And then, I’m so grateful for my vulva for just being very happy to have a penis in it, to have this penis in it, this penis that really knows what he’s doing. I’ve been doing stand up comedy in the last couple of years, oh, penis and vagina standup comedy, that’s a nice transition.
YONIT: But the first time I went to an open mic, which is of course nerve wracking, somebody from the crowd said something about I don’t even remember what he said, but the appropriate response for me as the comic was to say something about, “No, no, I’m spoken for. I’m married. Not happening.” And then, the joke was I’ve been with the same guy for 28 years. He can play me like a violin.
YONIT: Do you know how hard it is to learn how to play the violin?
YONIT: Nobody gets to touch my body that hasn’t practiced it for years.
LEAH: How often do the two of you have sex usually?
YONIT: Yeah. So, I think there’s a pattern. There’s about a week to two weeks of the month in which it’s very often and then there’s a couple of weeks where I’m not feeling sexual at all. It’s definitely hormonal and again I feel very grateful that we know that when I’m hot, I’m going to be a hot for a few days and we’re going to have several days of consecutive sex, which usually I initiate. Both of us initiate but I’m into it. And then in the days that I am not into having sex, it is so easy to for it to not be a problem. Thank goodness. Well, first of all, he gets to be disappointed when he’s asking for sex and I’m not into it. It’s just like, “Oh, do we have any chocolate? No, we’re all out of chocolate. Bummer!”
YONIT: But there’s no resentment about it because we know. The other piece of it is that it’s very hormonal driven and we just recognize that some things are better not resisted. This is the rollercoaster we’re on. We should do things with gravity, not against it. So, I’m really glad that a lot of things have been established between us sexually by the time my body started changing.
But the other thing that’s new is that because thank God, he does not quit trying things. In the last few months even, all of a sudden, we found ways that he can stimulate my clit and my vaginal outer area in ways that make me very happy. But that has to happen only after penetration has happened, so during penetration or after. We will have had the sexual experience and there were orgasms on both ends, both sides. And then sometimes we just feel like going some more, but the penis is done.
YONIT: But my body can keep going for as long as we’re both interested and we found that I can actually have amazing clitoral orgasms now, mostly fingers. I don’t necessarily love tongue on clit and also what I find interesting is that for me, nothing can be fast. It’s about slow steady pressure. The instruction that I give the most is slower or stop moving, just steady pressure that doesn’t even have to have movement, just find the right spots and give them weight rather than movement. And then, he would provide the weight, and then I would provide the movement myself, just very minute adjustments. Let my pelvis do the back and forth. Your fingers shouldn’t move right now. That has been fascinating.
And then, while all of that is happening, I’ve also recognized that all of a sudden, I’m actually fascinated by his penis and I’m interested in trying things. I’m interested in trying blow jobs. We tried them and he didn’t like them because I guess there was a process of getting good at it and I don’t know how to keep my teeth out of the way yet.
YONIT: And he doesn’t feel safe there. So, this was an interesting period. I should also mention that I find that during periods when I don’t feel sexual, my secret sauce is erotica. And because most male female erotica that I know of is bullshit, I find that the best erotica for me is actually gay romance. They’re such excellent writers writing gay romance in which there’s no the male wants and the woman gets wanted. The dynamics are about sovereignty and about solving. There are all kinds of problems that gay people have to solve in order to be together and those are fascinating stories. There are some amazing authors that write excellent stories with super hot sex.
LEAH: So, who are a couple of your favorites?
YONIT: Hands down, K.J. Charles writes historical gay fiction that is scathing political commentary. Amazing. There are several series, the Society of Gentlemen, which has the worst book covers and it seems like it’s going to be totally inane is incredible.
YONIT: My favorite book there is called A Seditious Affair. Brilliant stuff. But every single one of her books, she just blows my world with how she talks about real social political issues through the stories of gay men in England throughout the years. So, her first stories are in the 1800s and then the stories she’s writing now are in the 1920s.
LEAH: Yeah. You just reminded me. I have also read some gay erotica over the years and found it really, really hot. I tend to enjoy gay erotica written by women. It’s a whole genre. It’s fascinating.
YONIT: It’s a huge genre.
YONIT: And then, I should also mention, Roan Parrish and her In The Middle of Somewhere series and also she writes contemporary romance. It’s all about sovereignty and choice and consent and how to heal your own scratches in various ways. Beautiful work. And then, I should also mention Alexis Hall who is a man writing amazing books and he has a series that is How To Bang A Billionaire.
YONIT: That’s the first book and it’s a trilogy where he is taking a lot of the tropes from the Fifty Shades of Grey in terms of they’re a similar plot line but the story goes, it’s an exploration of sovereignty and who you are and how to be who you truly are through your own sexuality. I could not recommend them more. It’s the Arden St. Ives trilogy and it starts with How To Bang A Billionaire. Reading gay erotica, you start being interested with the penis and then people make blow jobs sound pretty awesome to the giver, not just the receiver.
YONIT: Yeah. So, I was like, “Oh, I’m interested in trying that.” And it’s actually not really working. We are not finding blow job heaven after almost 30 years together.
YONIT: He’s not actually, “Oh, finally my wife wants to give me blow jobs.” This is actually not happening, which is interesting, right?
LEAH: Well, it’s good to know that this cultural idea that we have that every man or every person with a penis feels like blow jobs are a requirement. It’s just not true. Like most things that we think around sex that everyone wants or no one wants, it’s not true. So, it’s good to hear that. Thank you so much for having this conversation with me.
YONIT: One more thing.
LEAH: I’m just aware of the time.
YONIT: Yeah. It’s okay. I actually just texted my family and we can go until 10 after.
YONIT: So, one more thing that I want to say is that in the last few months I actually got comfortable with the issue of for years I felt not guilty or missing something about the fact that so much of our sexual contact, it feels like he’s doing me as opposed to me doing him. But we had talked about it more and the bottom line is that both of us enjoy the penetration the most. He really enjoys finding where my buttons are during penetration or after and he is getting everything he needs while I’m being super pleasured.
YONIT: Lucky me, super, super lucky me, but I was still holding onto this story that I wasn’t doing enough and/or that I’m missing out on something. And I held both guilt and some resentment and it was actually cool to drop it. These days, I feel really we are where we need to be. We are both getting what we need from the sex. We are both looking forward to it. Nobody has to do anything that they’re not comfortable with. Nobody needs to explore things they don’t feel like and I’m super proud of our capacity to get through the discomfort of the ticklishness and all that. It turns out that this feminist needs no foreplay.
LEAH: And that’s okay and that doesn’t make you any less of a feminist.
YONIT: Exactly, which brings in a way full circle to there’s just a lot to be grateful for in this relationship. For a long, long time, I felt the gratitude tinged with guilt that somehow yes, it’s great that it’s like this, but I wish that I was more a contributor to our finances and I wish I was more of a contributor to the pleasure, contribution looked a different way than it was looking and it turns out that what we have is meeting everybody’s needs. It’s actually working. So, untangling what things should look like has been really helpful. I’m going to be 48 in a month and a half, so it’s about time finding ease with what is, is welcome.
LEAH: Yeah. It’s really lovely to have a conversation with somebody who doesn’t have a lot of sexual trauma in her past, who has found a partner who I serially good for her and is a good match. This is not a conversation that I get to have very often. It’s good to know that it exists in the world.
YONIT: Yes. And that is why I wanted to make sure to have this conversation with you. I’m so well-aware of how rare this is, so on some level, it’s not something that I’m comfortable talking about with a lot of people because in the motherhood sphere it would be like telling your friends your babies sleep through the night since they were born, which is like, “No. Shut up.”
YONIT: “We don’t need to know this about you.” But on the other hand, I felt that it was important to include the part about some women just get orgasmic this way and not that way. And also, that it is a possibility. I really do believe that the way my parents handled talking about sexuality set me up to have a really healthy relationship with sex and now I believe that we are setting up my kids to have that. My 16-year-old has had the same girlfriend for the past two years and I just don’t want to disclose too much about him, but they have the right ideas and they are safe and they are good for each other. It’s beautiful. They have a gorgeous relationship and they’re also gorgeous the two of them. They are so beautiful. It hurts, both of them.
YONIT: Just looking at them is interesting. They’re so gorgeous and my relationship with beauty is also a little warped because growing up, I was always the girlfriend of the pretty girls. I never thought of myself as a beautiful girl and nobody thought of me was one of the pretty girls. Nobody thought that I was ugly either, but I was the psychologist, not the girl that people wanted.
And then, looking back at childhood pictures and I’m standing with my girlfriends, we’re all beautiful. There are two in particular, they were considered super hot and I look at the pictures about a decade ago, I looked at the pictures. I look and I’m like, “Wait a minute. I’m nowhere near less pretty than they are.” If anything, just looking at these pictures now, I’m like, “Oh my god. I was stunning. I was happy in my body and my geometry wasn’t bad at all.” But I didn’t think of myself as beautiful at all at the time and looking back at that, I find this really interesting. At least two of the girls that were considered super hot, I look at the pictures and I’m like, “The geometry isn’t that stunning.” And, of course, they were beautiful because also in pictures, you don’t capture the animating force behind and they were delightful. They were lovely. I totally get why people thought that they were hot, but I don’t understand looking back at this beautiful girl at 15, 16, 17. I look at the pictures, “How come I was the last one to be kissed? I don’t know.” And a lot of it could possibly be because I was this, “You don’t want to lust after your psychologist.”
YONIT: Your therapist is not someone you want to see if they’re hot. So, who knows? But my relationship to my own beauty has been circuitous and these days I like what I see in the mirror, but also, I’m aging. This is the time when all of a sudden, you start seeing your sagging skin that was probably there for quite some time. But you haven’t noticed it because when we look in the mirror, we make our face be a certain way. But then, when you’re on all of these Zoom conversations, you all of a sudden see yourself.
LEAH: The bottom of your chin. Yeah.
YONIT: What are these wrinkles that I haven’t seen before? So, it’s really interesting and then being in the place where my skin starts to sag and my gray hair start to come in and my child, who is stunning gorgeous, of course, I think and then his girlfriend is stunningly gorgeous everyone thinks and having that be in my house all the time. Oh my god, this girl is the most beautiful girl you can imagine and so it’s interesting to feel my own loss of youth. I love her. She’s awesome. She’s wonderful. They’re good for each other. She’s a lovely person to have around in our home. If she’s in the sofa or if she’s in the kitchen with me, it’s delightful. But I’m still jealous. I’m jealous of that beauty. I was never this gorgeous and also the youth.
YONIT: So, it’s really interesting to see my reaction to beauty around me in my own “fleeting” beauty and it’s not the beauty itself that is fleeting it’s just a certain shape of it. It’s time for it to go away even though I would prefer that it wouldn’t leave.
YONIT: Something else is coming and of course I’m happier with myself than I ever was with the way I handle my own thoughts makes a much kinder and a better ally to myself, so I can handle the loss of my own youth and the grief over various changes.
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’m here to help you sink so deeply you’re your true sexuality that the version of yourself that was scared to speak for her own needs feels like a mirage from another lifetime.
Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!
- (2:24) Yonit shares her first memory of sexual awareness; she discovered a sensation while climbing a pole as a 9 or 10-yr-old child in PE. The pole trick translates into an unknowing masturbation for comfort with her arm.
- (6:20) Her family was straightforward and progressive about sex, though they tied sex to love. Bodies were normal and not shamed or hidden. She still holds back compared to her peers, though.
- (15:30) Yonit names her sadness around parental transitions, which she calls “pre-parting depression.”
- (17:10) Yonit talks about her first kiss, and about school age gender differences. This leads to talking about her parents, and she opens up about her birth mother’s mental illness and suicide.
- (23:43) Leah and Yonit discuss post-partum depression. Yonit winds up in crisis during the first year after the birth of her first child, but is able to receive and benefit from help.
- (31:21) Yonit enjoyed sex during and after pregnancy. She now offers mental health support to other moms, and she talks about how new moms often feel over-touched and don’t want to jump right back in. She also mentions anti-depressants and sex.
- (38:00) She talks about another early relationship, reminiscing about her stint in the Israeli military and the youth culture at the time and sharing stories about her early sexcapades.
- (55:17) Yonit reflects on her good luck with having largely positive experiences through these early sexual explorations, despite one minor incident.
- (1:00:00) Yonit tells us how she met her husband, at the age 21, via a showering neighbor and well-timed package delivery. New York City and magic (and sex) ensue.
- (1:06:00) She talks about her experiences with anxiety and depression, and how they have impacted her journey sexually, both in terms of fluctuating levels of desire and varying sensitivities around erogenous zones.
- (1:13:31) Perimenopause has notably changed how Yonit feels in her body and what she wants sexually, particularly with regard to touch.
- (1:26:04) She brings us up to date on where she and her husband are sexually now, and how her relationship with beauty is changing as she ages.
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All Good Girls Talk About Sex audio extras are FREE! They can be accessed at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.
I’ve done this because not everyone has the means to pay for access, and I know this additional material can be deeply important for some listeners. But 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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Music – Nazar Rybak