Natalie is a 30-year-old, cisgender female who describes herself as monogamous, straight and engaged to be married. She describes her body as petite.

Natalie talks about her experiences with both binge and purge eating behaviors, and how they affected her experience of sex and her body. She also talks about sometimes trading sex for lodging when she didn’t have steady housing.

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 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!

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Hey friends. Welcome back to the next in our series of uncut interviews. As a reminder, I’m taking a couple of months off from making fully produced episodes. As much as I love the regular interview episodes and the between episodes that provide a greater insight into other topics, they take a ton of time and energy to produce. So, for the next several weeks, I’ll be presenting a handful of interviews that I recorded about a year and a half ago.

These episodes fell into a no man’s land in the upheaval of 2020 when it became clear to me that I needed to work much harder to increase the diversity of stories I was telling on the show. Not just racial diversity, but all types, people in different size and shape bodies, people in bodies of different abilities, people of different ages, etc. But this group of interviews are no less interesting and definitely no less worthy than any other story. They just happened to get caught in the middle of shifting priorities.

So, in order to keep giving you new content while also giving myself a much-needed break, I’m releasing these interviews in their unedited form. You’ll get to hear all of the stumbles and unfinished thoughts and speaking over each other that get cut out of a fully produced episode. So, think of this as your behind-the-scenes sneak peek into the interview experience.

Today’s guest is Natalie. Natalie is a 30-year-old, cisgender female, who describes herself as monogamous, straight, and engaged to be married. She describes her body as petite. Natalie talks about her experiences with both binge and purge eating behaviors and how they affected her experience of sex and her body. She also talks about sometimes trading sex for lodging when she didn’t have steady housing. I am so pleased to introduce Natalie!

Natalie, I am so happy to be talking with you. I always love it when there are people who listen to the podcast who reach out to me and say, “I want to do an interview.” So, I was thrilled to hear from you.

NATALIE: Not a problem. I was actually listening to a podcast while I was at the gym. And I was like, “I wonder if I’d be interesting enough.” And lo and behold, I wasn’t expecting a response, but here we are.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Pretty much everybody is interesting enough.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, let me say that to anyone who is listening right now and wondering, are you interesting enough? Yes, you are.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, let’s dive in and the first question I ask everyone is what is your first memory of sexual desire?

NATALIE: Desire. I guess sensibly I can say high school for desire. I’ve always been aware of what sex was. I’m one of seven siblings, so you can’t get away from that without knowing where they come from.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Where are you in the age order?

NATALIE: If you can split seven evenly, which I know you can’t, I’m in the middle. I’m the youngest of the oldest and the oldest of the youngest, so that’s interesting.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: You probably also had older siblings who were dating and getting into those conversations that you could listen to a little bit?

NATALIE: Oh, definitely and the household we grew up in, it was not censored whatsoever. Like I said, I’ve always been aware of what sex was.  We were never kept away from watching certain movies, certain things, very open entertainment field in the house. I have watched everything from as young as I can remember, no sensitivity really at all. So, I’ve always been aware. But desire for myself, I would say around high school.

LEAH: Can you hear those planes and trucks and things?

NATALIE: Very mildly.

LEAH: Okay.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: I’m in Portland, Oregon and there are lot of planes and helicopters around all the time right now because of the rioting.

NATALIE: It’s like I can only imagine how many.

LEAH: It’s a little unnerving.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, okay. Back to the conversation, so in your household, sex was not a closed topic. But how much was it an open topic?

NATALIE: I can’t honestly say it was an open topic. It was never spoken about. I feel like everyone in the house had their own sensitivity to that. I feel like my oldest sibling, my sister, she wasn’t very open or explicit with it. My oldest brother, who’s right before me, he didn’t really talk about it. He would make more jokes. I didn’t go seeking answers for the things. If anything, I was a little embarrassed by things like that.

When it came time where I finally started my cycle, I hid it from my mother because she is the type of person that she’s going to tell everybody and embarrass you unintentionally, but that’s how that stemmed to be, which is interesting because when I did finally have my first sexual incident, I don’t know what word to use for that.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: I actually called her and told her, which was very strange. I don’t know why I found that something I could be like, “Hey. Guess what I did today?” It’s very interesting, but it wasn’t a very open topic. I think I was forcing the conversation.

LEAH: Did you share a bedroom with siblings?

NATALIE: I did up until I was about 13 years old. In my younger years, I shared one with my older sister. And then when she moved out, I would then share one with my brother, a bunk bed situation. And as I got older, I got my own room because it was a small household.

LEAH: Sure. And so, how does masturbation work as a teenager when you’re sharing close quarters like that?

NATALIE: Bathrooms.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: Bathrooms. It’s interesting because I actually moved out of my mother’s house when I was 13 years old. I went and moved in with my grandmother to have access to a better high school. I started fairly young, and then I was the only child in the house. So, things became easier.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Got you. Yeah. So, when did you discover masturbation?

NATALIE: Oh, Lord, probably that year when I had a little bit more freedom, access to life, I guess. Yeah. I would say my freshman year of high school when I was 13 is when I actually allowed those feelings to develop into action.

LEAH: Yeah. And so, you said during high school was when you had your first actual sexual desire, which I think you mean with another person. When did that happen and what happened?

NATALIE: I was 16 years old. It was with my first official boyfriend and I think we came to be because we met on Myspace.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: We had known each other through school, but he moved away and we reconnected on Myspace. And then, he moved back and I spent a lot of months just engaging. So, I was like, “Yeah. This is what this is. Okay.”

LEAH: Yeah. And so, how quickly did you move into that sexual space with each other?

NATALIE: I want to say three months.

LEAH: And during those three months, were you kissing or doing other things?

NATALIE: We were kissing, holding hands, snuggling. And then, it’s interesting because anything outside of those things, I was very uncomfortable with. I was and I find myself still this way, I’m the type of person who’d rather engage in intercourse versus anything that involves my hands. I didn’t know why then. And I can’t say for certain why then I found it really embarrassing and I don’t know why.

LEAH: Embarrassing to touch somebody else with your hands?

NATALIE: Yeah.

LEAH: Fascinating. So, you said it took about three months, what changed at three months?

NATALIE: I guess I just felt ready. I think honestly I was trying to because there was no pressure, no rush on his end of the deal. But I feel like I wanted to be able to provide that for him, but I didn’t want to do anything that involved me physically touching him in other ways because I was like, “Ugh. He’s staring at me. I don’t like that.”

LEAH: So, how did you navigate that once you started having intercourse? Was it just intercourse?

NATALIE: No. It’s mostly that. Some oral stuff, but anything that involved hand jobs. I was like, “This is weird. Why bother with that? Why am I doing this?”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And what about him touching you? Were you okay with that?

NATALIE: I was okay with that.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: No, I was okay with that to an extent. I didn’t like receiving any oral for a very long time in my life. I thought it was weird, not even weird. Everyone else, to each their own, but I felt like I was being watched. I felt like I had to perform. I felt like I didn’t know how to move or what I should be doing like that and it just wasn’t enjoyable, so I was like, “Ah, stay away. Don’t do that.”

LEAH: I think that’s relatively common or at least it’s not at all uncommon, this feeling of being watched, and so I have to do exactly the right thing. But do you have any sense of where that might have developed for you? Is it because you were in a household with so many other kids that were always people watching or what?

NATALIE: Possibly. I’ve always just had this weird overcast sense of embarrassment where I was like, “I need to protect myself from people noticing me” like as middle child syndrome as they can be. I always break it down as there’s a middle child who wants all the attention and the one who wants to stay away, don’t look at me. And I’m the latter, I feel like. So, in any situation where they could be any repercussions of embarrassment, I avoid it and that’s in any aspect of my life. I’m like, “That could be embarrassing or that could be too risky. I’m not going to make that move just because it could end in just embarrassment.”

LEAH: Is that still true for you as an adult?

NATALIE: Sometimes like taking risk for certain things. I’m not an anti-social person, but it takes a lot for me to make the move to be social with anything because I don’t want to be the one everyone’s looking at with confusion. It’s gotten better over the years, but it’s still an underlying thing, I think.

LEAH: Sure. So, how were those first experiences with your boyfriend?

NATALIE: As good as a 16-year-old can have.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: I have no base of comparison. So, I was like, “This is pretty fun.”

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: It was interesting because I had less care about it. Once we got to a rhythm of how we went about doing things, I had no problems. I still had those things I didn’t want to be embarrassed about, but I was very comfortable with what I was doing. I was like, “I’m 16. I’m having sex. This is awesome.” And I had no worries. And it wasn’t until future relationships before current ones where I had any issues when it came to, “Oh I don’t look good. I’m not in shape. I’m not in the best shape I can be.” So, that’s where a lot of image issues started to stem out.

LEAH: Yeah. So, you mentioned when you contacted me that you have a story around body image issues. I want to ask you one more question before we get there, which is with that first boyfriend, were you having orgasms?

NATALIE: I think I thought I was.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Fair.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: This still rings true. I always enjoyed it. I never needed to get to what I thought was climax or what I assumed like when you see movie versions because I was always having a good time. I don’t think I was having actual orgasms.

[LAUGTHER]

LEAH: Okay. So, maybe we can talk a little bit later about what actual orgasms are.

NATALIE: Yes.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: But let’s move forward into the timeline. What was your next experience?

NATALIE: So, my next relationship was right at the end of high school. I had finished being with then boyfriend. It ended tumultuously as did the next one, but just unhealthy. We were young, thought we wanted one thing. Young people talk about always doing this, moving out together, and what have you. Obviously, that didn’t happen. It just ended on a toxic note.

And at one point, when we were still together, we had separated the first time. I was out at my local mall like teenagers do. And then, I walked into a store and met my then next boyfriend, which I didn’t do anything officially with. I can’t even say we texted. I’d purposely go to the store to run into him, and then we had a few exchanges. And then, I eventually did break up with my then boyfriend to be with him. That lasted for two, two and a half years. I moved from one city or one part of the state to another part of my state just to be with him. So, I went from living at home to living with him within a few short months. I want to say three, four months we started dating and I moved in with him.

LEAH: How did your family respond to that?

NATALIE: They didn’t.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: So, I was living with my grandmother really, but I think she was a little upset. And looking back on it, I do regret it. I feel like, “Oh, I left her alone” kind of thing. But the rest of my family, they were fine. They encouraged it. They’re like, “Cool. You found someone you like.” My mom had met him at that point and she really liked him. My dad would meet him later on and they did not get along. It should have been a tell-tale sign, but who knew?

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And so, how was the sexual engagement in that relationship?

NATALIE: That was quick too in my head. I would say two months in is when we started really engaging in things like that. It was all right. It was better than the first time. I certainly learned a little bit more about myself in that as far as how far I liked to go with things, trying new things that I haven’t tried before, incorporating toys and stuff like that. So, just maturing the situation a little bit. It was okay. It was okay.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. And was this around the time that you started developing body issues?

NATALIE: I think I’ve always innately had a self-consciousness and I think that’s where the embarrassment stems from. I’m always very self-aware of myself moving in and out of life. And I’ve had some issues ever since I was a child because I do distinctly remember very young my mom getting me dressed and tapping me on the tummy saying, “Suck it in.” So, there’s always been that in the back of my head, which people should not do to their children. That’s so mean.

LEAH: Agreed.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: But in this relationship, it did definitely take off because I started going to the gym more and that was just because I was like, “Oh, 19-year-olds go to the gym. Let’s just do that.” But then, fat-shaming comments to people or just making jokes about overweight people like he would make these things and I would be in earshot. So, I’m like, “All right.” To gain approval, I don’t know if I consciously thought this, but I guess somewhere in my head, I was like, “To gain consistent approval, I have to maintain this.”

LEAH: So, he wasn’t making the comments to you, but you were hearing them and applying them to yourself within the relationship?

NATALIE: Correct. Yeah. I don’t know.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. It’s so common. We are looking for signs and signals from the people around us all the time. And so, even if they’re not making the comments to us and we go to confront them and they’re like, “I didn’t say that to you.” You’re like, “But it doesn’t matter that you didn’t say it to me.”

NATALIE: Definitely and I still do that a little bit now where I feel like I overanalyze people’s gestures, facial expressions, emotions and stuff, so I do have a tendency to read too far into something or I can just be like, “They’re probably fine. I’m just being overly cautious and I’m looking for something wrong. I look for things to be wrong, so I can either correct myself or fix the problem.”

LEAH: And so, how did those body image issues show up for you?

NATALIE: Oh, boy. So, it got to the point where I was going to the gym far too often. It was a 24-hour access gym and I was going for hours a day. I couldn’t maintain that because it’s crazy. So, in order to cut down on the amount of time I needed to spend at the gym, I began eating less to make up for it. If I eat less, then I won’t have to run as much. And if I don’t have to run as much, I won’t be as tired. So, that just created a spiral because then I’m still doing those things, I’m eating less and still going to the gym even though it’s less. But I’m getting tired more because I’m not replenishing myself. And then, from there, because I couldn’t maintain that lifestyle, I acquired an Adderall prescription somehow through a friend.

LEAH: Yeah. So, before you go on, was your goal during this time to simply maintain the weight you were at or was your goal to become as skinny as possible?

NATALIE: I think my goal became to be as skinny as possible because I’ve always been a small person and I think going through the puberty stage of my life, everyone fluctuates and I really loved chicken nuggets then. So, I was like, “All right. Things are fluctuating.”

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: I used to be small and people would compliment me, “Oh, you’re so small.” How do I maintain that into adulthood? The whole thing becomes a weird spiral. It’s toxic where people start saying, “Oh, you’re too skinny” and you start to think of it as a compliment when they’re actually concerned. Yeah. I don’t know why.

LEAH: So, you mentioned that you got the Adderall prescription and how did that change your lifestyle?

NATALIE: It did actually change a lot. I became sneaky because I had to hide it because my boyfriend didn’t know about it. He would eventually find out about it and he made it quite clear he didn’t like the way I looked when I got to my absolute worst to the point where he learned I hadn’t been eating and I couldn’t any longer at that point get access to that medication. So, I was trying over the counter dietary supplements. He found them and made it quite clear how upset he was about it.

So, then I took those out of my life and started still eating less, but trying to sneak in those things realizing those things didn’t work which made my head feel bad because you spend a lot of time abusing things of that nature, it makes your head just fuzzy. You can’t think straight or anything. So, then, I went back to the restricting of eating and going to the gym. But then, I was asked by my mother actually to stop doing what I was doing because I was very small. It wasn’t pretty. I look back at pictures of me then and I am grossed out by it. I’m like, “That wasn’t cute. I don’t know why I thought it was.”

LEAH: Because something in your brain had shifted at that point. So, I want to ask about how this affected your sex life, your sexual experience and there are two pieces to this. One is how did the changes in your body affect your sexual sensation? And the other is how did what was going on in your brain affect your sexual experience?

NATALIE: In my brain, I felt more comfortable being more sexually active in my relationship doing more things because I equated my confidence being barren, being naked with the thinness. The problem was malnourishment and eventually I got to the point where I had no longer had a cycle. I was that small, so I had no sex drive because there were no hormones happening. So, sex completely came off the table for us unless I had too many glasses of wine. I was like, “Cool!”

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: But that’s how it affected it. It put a toxic strain on my sex drive for a long time.

LEAH: And how did sex feel when you did have it?

NATALIE: It didn’t. It was hard to get to that point because of just the body dehydration. I couldn’t get my body physically prepared to even do it. And when we would, it just felt like something I was obligated to do. And I didn’t mind doing it because again I could always find some idea of enjoyment, but it wasn’t pleasurable.

LEAH: How did that relationship sustain through this fluctuation of your lifestyle around your body and your food and your exercise?

NATALIE: it was very difficult and I do think that’s part of what led to our demise aside from other misdoings on his end of the deal, but I do think that a lot of my unhealthy habits did cause a huge strain on the relationship. And I think it was able to maintain the length that it did because I was living with him and I feel like he didn’t want to kick me out. There were a few instances where he did suggest, “Maybe you should stay here or I move out” and I was like, “Something’s happening” and that was towards the end of our relationship. We broke up because he got a job offer across the country, which ultimately left me doing what I playfully call those years of my life be couch, surf, shuffle.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Okay. So, how long was that relationship in total?

NATALIE: Two, two and a half years.

LEAH: So, you’re in your early 20s now?

NATALIE: At that point, yes. Our relationship ended when I was about to turn 22.

LEAH: Okay. So, during that couch surfing period, how were you maintaining your food, exercise, all of that regimen?

NATALIE: So, I probably really irresponsibly handled that throughout that moment in time because I was trying to find an escape. I had a friend living in New York at the time. He was a mutual friend of both of ours, so I spent some time up there with him. Not having money fuels the not eating because I quit my job. I just went up there to clear my head, and then I would eat sporadically here and there, but it morphed into purging is how that happened. And that was awful. I wasn’t exercising at all though because I was like, “I don’t have a gym membership. Why not?”

LEAH: Yeah. When you say that was awful, what does that mean to you?

NATALIE: It caused more issues in the long run health wise. It does a number on your teeth. Those aren’t fun defects because those are painful. They’re expensive. It’s weird because you get into this brain space wanting to look one way and everything that you’re doing to your body is causing you more physical damage, so then you’re like, “Everything I did was counterintuitive to what my end goal was.” And it’s honestly harder to come back from that than it is anything else as far as that problem goes, I think in my opinion.

LEAH: To come back from the emotional piece of it, is that what you mean?

NATALIE: No. Once you get to the point where you’re actually compulsively eating, and then getting rid of it, that I find is harder to recover from at least in my experience because you’ve already allowed yourself to consume whereas before you’ve been starving your body. So, your body remembers things are delicious, but then the guilt sets in so you do away with it and that’s harder I think to correct.

LEAH: I see. Yeah. Wow.  Your body has been through a lot.

NATALIE: Yes, it has. It has.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: I’m getting back to a point in my life where I’m trying to respect it a little bit more. The lockdown hasn’t really helped because there’s been far too much wine.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: But other than that, I have put my body through a lot.

LEAH: So, that couch surfing period started when you were about 22, you’re now 30. Where are you in that journey of healing from disordered eating?

NATALIE: I’m the best in these past couple of years than I have been ever. It’s not ever something you don’t think about. There are days where it’s better, definitely trying to balance healthy eating, a healthy gym experience, me personally cutting back from cardio, doing more other things that involved less looking at a screen telling me how much calories you’ve burned.

So, I’m the best now that I’ve been and that’s only because in my current relationship, he doesn’t let me slip up in a good way. I’ve never had somebody actually hold me accountable for my own actions. I used to make bad decisions I think in life and bad choices because I was like, “No one’s going to tell me I can’t. No one’s going to hold me accountable and I’m not going to really see the repercussions because I’ll do it, it’ll be done, it’s over.” I’ve never had someone actually hold me accountable for myself and I think I definitely needed that and I think without that then I wouldn’t be what I am today.

LEAH: And what is that?

NATALIE: Sane.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: As normal as I possibly can be, a person, happy, peaceful, cared for.

LEAH: Wow.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, how long have you been in this relationship?

NATALIE: Eight years.

LEAH: Oh, wow.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, was this your next relationship?

NATALIE: Yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: In that time of couch surfing experience, I had a few brief encounters with some fellows, but they weren’t anything I was trying to pursue. It literally was just a means to a place to sleep I think or a way to get fed from hanging out turned into might as well do this kind of thing. And that lasted maybe a couple months. So, me and my ex finished in October and by January, I was not doing that stuff anymore.

LEAH: So, those experiences where you were essentially trading your body and sex for food and a place to say and I say that with absolutely no judgment because sometimes that’s what life brings us and it’s what you have and I think that that is an absolutely viable choice to make if that’s the choice you’ve got. What was that like for you emotionally? Were you having any enjoyment from the sex or was it just literally this is a thing I’m going to do?

NATALIE: I think I had a few encounters of like, “Oh, this isn’t bad.” There was definitely a couple where I’m like, “Why am I here? Why am I doing this? How did I get here? Not my choice.” There was an instance in that where I thought I had feelings for one of the people did not come across mutually. So, that hurt me a little bit, but other than that, I wasn’t looking for anything. I think I’m very good at compartmentalizing things. So, nothing really affected me too badly except for maybe that one encounter because I thought we were talking. Cool.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, you met your now fiancée and it sounds like you were still very much in this toxic relationship with food and exercise and all of that, how did your initial sexual relationship with him develop given that that was still part of your world?

NATALIE: So, our relationship is interesting because I’ve actually known him for 10 years, been together for eight. He was a mutual friend of my ex and I and he had always looked out for me even as a friend. He took care of me. He watched out for me in situations. So, this sounds messed up. We referred to each other in a friendship history as brother and sister, so the fact that we’re here now sounds weird.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: But that’s actually how this level of relationship began because we were both in a tough spot in life at that point, both on the down and outs. We were hanging out one night and as young 20-year-olds do, you have a few drinks and I ended up doing the thing I’d been doing, but this time it didn’t result in me continuing making mistakes. It resulted in a relationship from there. I always joked saying, “I went there to hang out one night and I never left.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Why do you think this one was different?

NATALIE: I think because it was honest. I don’t think either of us went into this thinking it would become something else, but I think in that moment, we both realized like, “Oh, you’re my person.” It’s interesting because I explain it to people now because it’s taken me years because I’ve never found the right words for something. It’s taken me years to actually find the right words for this because we were friends and because we’ve been together for so long, I didn’t feel like it was an initial falling.

I feel like it was more a growing in love and that’s how I describe it to people because from your 20s to my now 30s, people change a lot. And I think just something was different in that moment where I actually felt connected whereas before I’m going through the motions in relationships. This is what I’m expected to do in these relationships. I’ve never felt the connection. I’ve never felt that mutual like “Oh, I do this and you do this” and you know that innately. Yeah.

LEAH: And how is the sex?

NATALIE: It’s fabulous.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yes!

NATALIE: It’s fabulous.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: It’s so funny too, so shortly after the first instance I went to a party that we had both gone to but separately days later. And I pulled a friend of mine aside, one of my girlfriends and I was like, “Hey. I got to tell you something” because I haven’t told but maybe one other person at that point. And I told her I was like, “This is what happened.” She was like, “How was it?” I was like, “It’s really good. I wasn’t expecting that.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: What about it was good for you?

NATALIE: I actually recently told him because we’ve made jokes about stuff all the time. He just gets me like my weird quirks, my idiosyncrasies be it in the bedroom, not in the bedroom, he just gets it. He just gets me. All the things I’m into I never even had to say it, it’s just who he already naturally was and who I already naturally was and I didn’t have to go through that embarrassing, “Just so you know I’m into this, if that bothers you.” No, it doesn’t because he already into that thing that I’m into. I’m like, “This is perfect.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: What kinds of things?

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: So, we are a very, I’m trying to find a nice word for this. We’re a very rough couple. I am a very submissive person and I feel like in previous relationships, the men I was with they liked to be submissive. They wanted to be the ones that got degraded, things like that, because again that puts me on a platform of performing and I don’t want to embarrass myself if I take something too far because that’s just not who I am. I’m a very submissive partner in that way and he is not and it works out well for me.

LEAH: Excellent.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, when you were searching for the word, would you call what you do together kinky? Would you call it BDSM or some piece of that?

NATALIE: I wouldn’t even know what to call it because I think there’s elements of everything. I definitely get tied up sometimes. There’s a good element of slapping. I like to choked a little bit, so a little bit of everything. To me because it’s so normal, I don’t think of it as anything extravagant, but when I go and tell other people, I’m like, “Oh, this is what I’m into.” They look at me like I’m confusing. I’m like, “I don’t think that that’s bad. It’s not like there’s 8 of us in there.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And even if there were, that would be okay too.

NATALIE: Right. To each their own.

LEAH: Exactly. So, when you say slapping, where do you like to be slapped?

NATALIE: I like it almost everywhere. I have this interesting, I don’t know how I figured this out, I like to be slapped in the mouth. I don’t know how I figured that out.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: On my backside. We don’t have an actual whip. I don’t even know what it is. I think it’s an arrow head that we took the things off.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: I like that. I don’t know what it is. I find a point of pride in seeing like the marks afterwards. I’m like, “Oh, yes. I’ve been through it. Awesome.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. That is actually common. You are not alone in that. In fact, I have a friend who will with pride she’ll get eight hickeys and she’ll send us pictures of her eight hickeys because she’s so proud of them. So, there’s people for whom that’s the thing.

NATALIE: They’re like little trophies. And it’s so funny to me that that I’m actually just now connecting this. When I was much younger, when I was in elementary school, there was this dumb game that we all did where you would take a rubber band and you would slap yourself and you could see how many you can get and I was always so proud to be the one that got the most of them. It’s very weird that I’m just now connecting those dots. I’ve always been that way.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Well, that’s interesting because I took a course once. I’m not into real heavy pain play, but I’ve taken some classes so that I can understand it. And I remember a woman saying that the things that show up in your adult life as your kinks very often show up as a kid, just they look a little bit different, but your kinks were with you from the time that you were a child.

NATALIE: That’s so fascinating. Now I’m going to be overanalyzing my childhood all night. What weird stuff did I do?

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, you said you liked to be slapped on the mouth. What about on the cheeks?

NATALIE: It really depends on my mood in the moment because sometimes some of the things I like one day, I’m like, “Not today. I’m not feeling that today.” I don’t mind it. Yeah.

LEAH: As a sub, you feel comfortable saying, “This what I want today and this is what I don’t want today.” Excellent.

NATALIE: Yeah. I have no qualms, even if it’s something in the moment. He does it. I’m like, “No” and that’s fine.

LEAH: Good. And how do you feel about getting marks in places that would be visible to people?

NATALIE: I used to be okay with it. I used to be okay with it, but the nature of what I do for a living, I am a little bit more self-conscious about it just because I’m really close to people’s faces. So, I don’t like anything visible that especially where I currently am employed. It’s a very close-knit team, a very close-knit clientele, people I’ve been dealing with for eight years. And I don’t want them to be like, “Why do you have that bruise on you?” Because I’m very fair. I bruise like a peach and the last thing I want is people to assume I’m going through something that I don’t like. So, I try not to do anything too visible because I just don’t need the questions.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. And this actually can be a concern. I don’t know if it’s something you’ve thought about, but it can be a concern if you have an accident and have to go to the hospital and the hospital workers see that you have bruises. They might make an assumption that you are being non-consensually beaten, abused, so it could be really helpful for you and for everybody else who’s listening to this to make a card to put in your wallet that says, “This is the type of play that I’m into. If you see bruises on my body, it’s okay.” So that you have pre-done, laminated, so it’s not like you’re just saying in the moment, “This is okay.” And then, they have to wonder, “Is she trying to cover up for someone?” It’s not going to stop everything, but at least it’s something to prevent something.

NATALIE: Definitely. If you go through the process of laminating something, you have to be serious about it.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: This was well-thought out. It’s no different than I don’t have it yet, but I plan on doing it because I have this weird fear of being in a car. I don’t like driving very fast. I don’t understand why, but I have two dogs. I’m like, “If something happens, I’m going to have a card that’s in my wallet that says go take care of my dogs” because that’s a thing that you can have on your keychain, saying, just to let them know that there’s a pet alone at home type of thing. So, just have a sex lamination card too.

LEAH: Yeah, exactly.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. Let’s see. When I asked you what you enjoy, you said slapping and what was the other thing that you said? Because I wanted to ask you about that.

NATALIE: I like to be choked.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Right. Okay. So, you said you like choking. What are your safety protocols that you have in place for that?

NATALIE: It’s usually when it’s happening, he can see my face. I think that’s part of the enjoyment of that, I guess. I’ll tap out if it’s too far.

LEAH: By tapping him on the shoulder?

NATALIE: I’ll tap him on the hands.

LEAH: Okay.

NATALIE: And then he knows to loosen up, but I think he can also see it in my eyes like, “Oh, she went somewhere. Come back. Come back.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Do you have a plan in place where something to go wrong and you didn’t tap in time? Do you have a safety protocol about what he needs to do to keep you safe?

NATALIE: I’ve never thought about it honestly. We’ve not had an incident, so it’s actually I’ve never thought about, but I think it will be.

LEAH: Can I encourage you to think about it? Yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And you can find some resources online for that. Choking again no judgment about it. I think there are a lot of people who enjoy it and in terms of low risk to high risk activities, it’s on the far end of high risk activities because you’re dealing with somebody’s windpipe and oxygen to the brain. So, it’s important to have safety protocols in place for that.

NATALIE: Oh, yeah. We’ll definitely be putting into the box of ideas for tonight.

LEAH: Excellent.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Great. So, do you have any things that are questions for you in terms of your sex life now or things that you wonder about?

NATALIE: As far as things right now, I’m not sure. I know in the future it’s something that we’ll address just because of the nature of everything. In the present time, we have a decent sex life. We at one point did have a slight wall to the point where we created a night of the week that if my body allows it that we do engage, that given night of the week, it’s usually a Saturday that we’re committed to doing this.  And that really helped me spark back up my sex drive and it’s been better recently because up until a few weeks, months now, I had body piercings.

From the time I was in my previous relationship, he’s actually the one who took me to get them done. I had both nipples done and I had clitoris piercing and I’ve gotten sick of looking at them, so I just decided to take them out. And ever since those have been gone, my sex drive has been amplified. It was shocking because I know that it can be different for any person. Some people, they get it to amplify it, but I almost feel like it was a little handcuff on my vagina.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: I couldn’t quite get to where I needed to be. Now, I’m experiencing more climaxing from actual touch versus just penetration and it’s been enlightening.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: But as far as the future goes, I think there’s things we’re open to, it’s just getting past the mental thing. I don’t know if I’d ever 100% onboard incorporating a third party in, to each their own. I would like to believe I’d be more open minded in that, but I’m also because I found someone I’m so happy with, I’m very greedy and I don’t want to share.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: I don’t think it’s about open-mindedness. I think it’s about recognizing what you’re comfortable with, what works for your energetic system and being willing to acknowledge that and honor it. Everybody is going to be different and that’s okay. It’s funny when I go through the biographical questions at the beginning of each interview, I’ll ask people, “What’s your racial identity?” and people will be like, “I’m just boring old white.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: “What’s your sexual orientation?” “Well, I’m sorry to say that I’m just heterosexual.” You know what? None of that is bad. It’s all okay. It’s just who you are and we need to get away from this idea that something exciting makes us more interesting. No, you are who you are and I love that you recognize what works for you.

NATALIE: Yeah. I’m not saying no to the future. Current me is just not there yet.

LEAH: Okay. I want to transition into the Q&A unless there’s anything else we haven’t talked about that you’d like to.

NATALIE: Not that I can think of.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: All right. So, I see that you’ve listened. You’re familiar to the basic concept here that these are more rapid fire-ish questions but please feel free to expand on any answers that you want to.

NATALIE: Okay.

LEAH: All right. Do you have sex during your period?

NATALIE: No. I had in previous relationships. Again, they were more submissive, so they liked that idea of getting stuff on them. Current relationship, no and I’m perfectly fine with that because I don’t want to have to do laundry.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: What’s the approximate number of sex partners you’ve had?

NATALIE: I think I counted actually. I think it’s seven or eight. I wrote it down, but I don’t want to reach for the notebook. Let’s say, seven.

LEAH: Okay. What’s your favorite sex toy?

NATALIE: I’ve really been enjoying since I have my newfound freedom and no handcuffs, there’s this lovely little attachment that goes on top of a tiny little vibrator thing. It’s got nodules on it and it’s supposed to be clitoral stimulation. That I enjoy before I had not enjoyed that. That’s been my new favorite. But typically, just the standard g-spot vibrator type thing.

LEAH: G-spot vibrator? The long one with the bulb on the end of it?

NATALIE: Yeah. Those are my go-tos.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: What’s your favorite sex position?

NATALIE: I really like it from behind. It’s funny because now it gets to the point where if I can’t quite get to where I need to be, he’ll just flip me. It’s like, “You know me.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Are you generally more active or more passive during lovemaking?

NATALIE: I’m more passive. I would like to be more active, but I just find the momentum is just not there in my energy levels like the positions where I would have to be in to be more active. I just feel like my legs don’t move that way. So, I’m a more passive person. I’m working on it thought.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: You said something earlier. I don’t remember what it was. I’ll come back if I remember. Do you prefer clit stimulation or penetration?

NATALIE: I can say both now. I would still say penetration is my go-to because I’m still exploring the other one.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Do you think it’s generally easy or challenging for you to orgasm?

NATALIE: It’s hard. It’s difficult because even now everything’s fabulous, I do think too much in the moment. I just cannot get out of my head that performative embarrassing thing I cannot get away from it. It’s better now than it has been, but it’s still I’m being watched.

LEAH: Thank you. That’s exactly what I wanted to go back and pick up was how is that with your current partner? The feeling that you don’t want to touch him and use your hands a lot, the feeling of being watched, how does that show up now?

NATALIE: I have no problems with touching whatsoever. Things that I used to very much not like, disapprove of, I’m more willing to be a receiver of, whereas before like, “Don’t go down on me. Don’t do anything for other people.” Now, I’m fine with it. So, it’s better because he’s more encouraging and he’s never once said a thing about other people that makes me internalize that and he always just says, “Stop it. Ignore it. You’re beautiful. It’s fine.” Very just get over it, move fast, let’s go. I’m like, “Awesome. Okay.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Excellent. Have you ever faked an orgasm?

NATALIE: Oh, yeah. Yeah, definitely.

LEAH: Do you in your current relationship?

NATALIE: No. I don’t have to.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Good. I’m glad to hear it.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: Because it’s very honest. It gets to the point like, “No. I didn’t.” He’s not going to internalize that. He’s just like, “Okay. We’ll do better next time.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. Can you orgasm from intercourse without additional stimulation?

NATALIE: Yeah. I can.

LEAH: Do you prefer the orgasm from masturbating or from sex with another person?

NATALIE: Sex with another person. It’s fine if it’s me, but I like the activity of it. I like the participation trophies.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: What kind of touch do you enjoy most?

NATALIE: There’s something with my neck. I don’t understand what it is, but he does this thing where he’ll just kiss me right on the back of my neck. I’m like, “Ah, yes.” That’s like my go button. But soft touch is fine, just to lead up into that, but my go button.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: What are your hard red lines? Things you absolutely won’t do?

NATALIE: I don’t know. I don’t really have in this one. There are things in the moment I might not want to do. I might not want to do anal one day, but it’s been there, done that. It’s not a hard red line. Right now, I guess it would be entertaining the idea of a third party. That’s just right now I can’t mentally do it.

LEAH: Sure. Are there sexual things you’ve tried in the past that you don’t want to do again?

NATALIE: Yes.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: So, my last serious relationship, he enjoyed being urinated on and that was not something I enjoyed doing because it’s just not my thing. To each their own, it’s not my cup of tea.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Absolutely. How do you feel about your partner masturbating if you’re not around?

NATALIE: I have no problem with it. We have a very honest dialogue about that. I will find stuff, I’m like, “What’d you do today?” or he’ll ask, “What’d you do today?” I’m like, “Yeah. I did do that” or if I’m in the mood and I want to go, he’s like, “I don’t know if I can because I did this earlier.” I’m like, “I see.” I’m perfectly fine with him doing that. We have no problem watching porn or anything like that. That’s all kosher with us. We do see that where it can be a common problem in life, but for us, it’s fine.

LEAH: Okay. Do you have hair down there or are you bare?

NATALIE: I get full waxing.

LEAH: That is brave.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: It’s part of what I do for a living. So, it’s nature of the beast.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Got you. And it sounds like you enjoy some pain as pleasure. So, I wonder does that play into that dynamic?

NATALIE: No, because I’ve experimented with leaving some stuff down there. I prefer to have it all gone just for the cleanliness aspect of it, just for me. Getting my services done does not stimulate anything and my brain can separate this is just service versus this is enticing.

LEAH: Got you. Do you enjoy giving blow jobs?

NATALIE: I do more now than I did back in the day. I like to believe I’m very good at it. A funny thing, I’m like, “This is a job I’m really good at.”

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: Sometimes because what I’ve done with my body and what I’ve done to my dental even though my teeth are fine right now, it caused some jaggedness at some point. So, I, at one point, was very uncomfortable doing it. It was very self-conscious for me. But I do like it, but I have TMJ, so it’s more difficult.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Do you enjoy receiving oral sex?

NATALIE: I do now. I didn’t before.

LEAH: Do you know what the difference is?

NATALIE: I think trusting my partner and also, it’s definitely gotten more in the past maybe year or so, I think being more accepting of that, being openminded to trying new things and I think my body just changed and I took out that piercing, so it felt better.

LEAH: Right. Yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: That makes a difference. Do you ever worry about your smell or taste?

NATALIE: No.

LEAH: How do you feel about receiving ass play?

NATALIE: I’m fine with it. It’s not a regular thing that we do, but it’s something that we do incorporate occasionally.

LEAH: How do you feel about giving ass play?

NATALIE: No. I’ve done it in the past with the same fellow who liked the other thing. I didn’t like doing and it just wasn’t for me.

LEAH: What do you consider the kinkiest thing you enjoy?

NATALIE: I guess it stems off just being choked I think that would probably be the kinkiest on a vanilla standpoint if you’re looking at it. I think that would be the biggest thing, but it’s collectively everything that happens if I’m being choked, slapped, and if I’m tied up in one session, I’m like, “This is a good day.”

LEAH: Yeah. Okay.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Do you enjoy dirty talk during sexual encounters?

NATALIE: No, I can’t do it. It’s not my thing. I can’t.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: He does. I’m like, “Stop talking. Stop talking.”

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: I can’t do it. I don’t find it cute. It’s not my thing.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Do you enjoy laughter during sexual encounters?

NATALIE: Yeah. I do. If something’s funny, I will joke about it because one it takes the attention off of the fact that I think I’m being watched kind of thing. But if it’s funny, it’s funny. I’m going to laugh at it. That’s just who I am.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Sex is weird.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: It’s weird. It’s not cute.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: It’s not cute.

LEAH: What is your favorite part of your body?

NATALIE: I really like my face.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: I love that.

NATALIE: And t’s so funny stemming from the things I always felt uncomfortable with myself, I’ve never had an issue with the way my face looked. I’ve always liked my face.

LEAH: Nice. What is your least favorite part of your body?

NATALIE: I don’t like my stomach. I think that’s just another thing that stems from it. Yeah. I don’t like my stomach. My torso I feel like it’s too long for how short I am.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: And I feel like it’s just never quite as toned as I want to be, but whatever, I’m working on it.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Have you ever had a sexual urge that confused you?

NATALIE: No. not yet. I don’t think so. I’ve listened to the podcast, sometimes I’m like, “Huh. I wonder how I would feel about that.” And then think about that, I’m like, “No, I’m good. I’m good on that.”

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: I like listening to what other people go through. I’m like, “I’ve never even tried that.”

LEAH: That’s part of why I like doing this.

NATALIE: Yeah. It’s a very learned podcast.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: What is something about your current sex life that isn’t quite as satisfying as you’d like it to be?

NATALIE: I don’t even know if it’s necessarily sex life, but I feel like I would like more cuddling. Not that we don’t, I think just because he and I are so independent that feeling, that need to be vulnerable in that capacity is just something we don’t do. More of that, but I think most of the reason we don’t really do that is because he’s just really warm and I get really warm. I’m like, “Get away.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Might I suggest reusable cloth covered ice packs? I use those a lot.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: Do you really?

LEAH: Yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: I mean I just use them a lot in general, but it’s nice when it’s hot and we still want to cuddle. I can cool myself down.

NATALIE: That’s a good idea. I’m going to have to get that.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Is there something you fantasize about but have never asked for in real life?

NATALIE: Probably the concept of I guess just me not having a say like forcing me to do something. Obviously it’s weird because I say that, but then in the moment, I’m like, “Don’t do that.”

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: I say that but I’m like, “Is that really real or not?” But I would have to say that weird element of surprise like me not expecting it and me not having a choice just throwing me down and making me do it.

[LAUGHTER]

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?

NATALIE: I don’t know why I believed this considering I never did tell you that I’m one of seven siblings, but we are from different fathers. I don’t know why I always believed that sex was exclusive for love. I think that was me just trying to project what I would have hoped my childhood would have been like because I’d seen so many rotating men I guess or had just known my mom to be married multiple times.

I think knowing that it’s not exclusive to that, not that I do this 100%, but I think once you have that intimacy with someone, maybe this is just me and how my brain works, you immediately start to think that, “Oh, I must care for this person” or “Oh, I’m supposed to be feeling this way. Why don’t I feel this way?” I think that would have definitely helped me in that interim of my life and I feel like that could have probably given me a better more open-mindedness to other people because I feel like when I was younger and starting the dating scene, I had a tendency to judge people who were so quick to jump and jump. I think I probably would have told myself that. It doesn’t have to be love. It could be just for self-gratification.

LEAH: Sure. Awesome. Natalie, thank you so much for having this conversation with me.

NATALIE: Of course.

LEAH: It’s been so interesting and really a great pleasure to talk with you.

NATALIE: It was lovely to talk with you too.

LEAH: Thank you for getting in touch. And as a reminder to everyone who’s listening, if you want to do this. Please let me know.

[LAUGHTER]

NATALIE: Yes. I was like, “Yeah. I didn’t expect that it would happen, but here I am.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Awesome. Well, Natalie, thank you so much.

NATALIE: Thank you so much.

[MUSIC]

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!

[MUSIC]

BOOKMARK MOMENTS:
  • 4:06 – Natalie shares her first memory of sexual pleasure, in high school. She’s the middle of 7 kids and grew open in a pretty open household, though it’s hard to masturbate in a bunk bed.
  • 8:48 – She loses her virginity to her first “official” boyfriend, whom she connects with on MySpace.
  • 15:50 – She meets her next boyfriend at the mall, and moves in with him. Her body image issues escalate and she begins to work out excessively at the 24-hr gym. She starts eliminating food to cut down on her unsustainable gym schedule; then she starts taking Adderall.
  • 22:00 – Her disordered eating takes a toll on her appearance, and her physical, sexual, and mental health. Sex becomes an obligation.
  • 26:56 – They break up, and she begins a period of couch-surfing. She tries to eat more, and isn’t going to the gym, but she ends up purging and having to endure the associated health difficulties.
  • 30:42 – Natalie talks about how she’s doing in present day with the disordered eating. She credits her improvement and maintenance to her current partner, who holds her accountable for her self-care. They’ve been together 8 years. The sex is fantastic.
  • 39:34 – She and her partner experiment with BDSM. She likes collecting slap marks on her body, but has to hide them at work.
  • 46:34 – Leah and Natalie discuss safety protocols for choking.
  • 48:00 – Natalie recently removed her nipple and clit piercings, and feels renewed sensation. She discusses what’s on the table for her sexual future.

THE LOWDOWN (51:37)

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EPISODE CREDITS:

Host / Producer – Leah Carey (email)
Audio Editor – Gretchen Kilby
Administrative Support – Lara O’Connor, Maria Franco
Music – Nazar Rybak