Find the red flags! – Coaching Sophilia

Why does Sophilia keep ending up in relationships where things don’t feel right, and the entire weight of making it better falls on her?
Good Girls Talk About Sex
Good Girls Talk About Sex
Find the red flags! - Coaching Sophilia
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Episode art "Coaching Sophilia: Find the red flags"

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In this coaching episode, Sophilia asks: why does she keep ending up in relationships where things don’t feel right, and the entire weight of making it better falls on her?

Leah works with Sophilia to:

  • understand the red flags for this type of relationship,
  • the communication skills that will help screen them out,
  • rethink her own experience of being turned on.

Sophilia is a 39-year-old, cisgender woman. She describes herself as queer, single, and multi-racial with a white mother and Black father. In the past she’s been in monogamous relationships, but currently prefers the idea of being in open relationships. She describes her body as curvy and muscular.

Leah offers valuable insights and tools to help Sophilia and all listeners to screen potential partners.

Find the turn-on cycle explanation here: https://www.goodgirlstalk.com/turn-on-cycles/

Become a client:
www.leahcarey.com/coaching

Apply for a free coaching session:
www.goodgirlstalk.com/session 

Support the show:
www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex

In this episode we talk about

  • Toxic relationship history
  • Self-image and sex
  • How childhood parental abuse translates into adult patterns
  • Responsive vs. Spontaneous desire
  • Estrogen and Testosterone turn-on cycles (and the importance of foreplay!)
  • Overcoming sexual expectations
  • Not commenting on people’s bodies

Resources

Tune In To Your Turn Ons: https://courses.leahcarey.com

The Turn-On Cycle: https://www.goodgirlstalk.com/turn-on-cycles/

Jessi Kneeland on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jessikneeland

STARS Conversation:

Learn more about the STARS conversation at https://www.maketimeforthetalk.com

 

 

Full episode text

LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I am sex and intimacy coach, Leah Carey. And this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: Hey, friends. I’m thrilled to be back with another coaching episode. And I think you’ll find this one to be super relatable. My guest, Sophilia, talks about her assumption that when there’s something going wrong in a relationship or in the bedroom, it’s her job to be introspective and figure out what it is so that she can fix it. It’s a pretty common issue for a lot of us who are brought up as little girls. Sophilia and I dive deep into how a woman’s turn-on cycle differs from a man’s and also trouble with commenting on a woman’s body. So, let’s not waste any time. Let’s get into it.

 

Sophilia is a 39-year-old cisgender woman. She describes herself as queer, single, and multi-racial with a white mother and Black father. In the past, she’s been in monogamous relationships but currently prefers the idea of being in open relationships. She describes her body as curvy and muscular. Welcome, Sophilia!

 

Sophilia, I am thrilled that you wrote in and said that you wanted to do a coaching session. You gave me just the tiniest snippet of information. I would love to hear more from you about what’s been going on for you.

 

SOPHILIA: I have been single for a while now. I would say that I’m avoiding interactions with people, especially romantic interactions. Part of that is because I will be relocating to Europe, but part of that is truly just me feeling like people just are so judgmental and critical of others, and I just don’t have a tolerance for it anymore. That has fed into some of my hesitation. But in terms of my relationship history or the background of it, I have unfortunately had a pattern of picking people with very narcissistic personality traits, very ungenerous, very critical, withholding people. So, I have a block now.

 

LEAH: Sure, that makes sense. I just want to ask a couple questions to clarify. Because the word narcissistic gets used in a lot of different ways by different people these days, I want to make sure I understand. Did you have relationships with people who were trying to deny your version of reality?

 

SOPHILIA: Yes.

 

LEAH: And try to make you think that you are crazy?

 

SOPHILIA: Yes. Basically, if you think about narcissistic personality disorder, there are some traits that would fall under that. I’m not here to diagnose anyone. But I’m just saying there are character traits, a pattern of behaviors that make themselves pretty clear once you step back and look at the bigger picture. And that’s been the pattern over and over again, my own personal Groundhog Day.

 

LEAH: I’m so sorry. And I have to say the fact that you said that they have narcissistic traits tells me that you understand the difference between the colloquial use and the actual use, but I just wanted to double-check. And did you grow up with a parent or somebody who had a significant effect on you who had narcissistic traits?

 

SOPHILIA: Sadly, I would say that both of my caregivers had narcissistic traits, both my mom and my stepdad. Quite recently in the past four years, both of them have passed away to the point where we were not really on speaking terms, that cycle of abusive, emotionally abusive behaviors. And my stepdad was pretty creepy. So, there’s that factored in as well.

 

LEAH: Yeah. So, you were bred into this pattern of behavior right from the beginning. It wasn’t like you just out of nowhere started attracting these people.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

SOPHILIA: Yes, unfortunately, I just was raised to have a really high tolerance for poor behavior and focus on what I needed to do better. So, you’re just prime pickings for people.

 

LEAH: Absolutely, yeah. So, you may know from listening to the show, I grew up with a father who also had a lot of narcissistic traits. And so, I’ve done a fair amount of learning in this area. One of the things that is very common, people obviously go a million different ways, there is no one pattern. But one of the things that can happen, especially to girl children, is that we begin to take on the world and say, “Give me enough time and I can fix it.” Is that something that you recognize?

 

SOPHILIA: Yeah. To a certain extent, I think when I was younger, that definitely was my primary mode of operation, especially in romantic relationships. But I think more recently, it’s just been this weird state of freeze, where I recognize that there’s a lot happening that I don’t like, but I still think that it’s my responsibility to change my behavior and be more introspective. And then, the other person will see my effort and put their own effort in. But that’s not how it works.

 

LEAH: Yeah, that’s a nice idea. And in a normal relationship, maybe that would work.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

 

LEAH: Yeah. I don’t want to harp too much on your background. But I do think that it plays into what we’re talking about. So, did you get messages from either or both of your caregivers that it was your job to change and make things better?

 

SOPHILIA: It was almost as if you were just a different person and if you would just be the person that we want you to be, then we wouldn’t have all these problems with you. And really, if you can just change yourself, then we’ll be nicer to you.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Yes. Sophilia, I’m so sorry. That is soul deadening really because it means that you will never be okay. You can never show up as yourself. All you can do is try and gauge who they want you to be on that day in that moment because it will change in two hours, and try to be that. And so, you’re constantly looking for clues in your environment, trying to figure out what the temperature is, react to that, but also shore up anything you can so that if it does change, maybe you’ll be okay, even though you know you won’t. It’s crazy making. Yeah.

 

SOPHILIA: It is. Yeah.

 

LEAH: Okay. All right. So now that we have a basic understanding of that, you said you’ve gotten into a pattern of getting involved with people who have similar traits. What is it that you would like to get out of this conversation today?

 

SOPHILIA:  And so, I’m not exactly sure. But I did want to talk about this thing that happens that I don’t think a lot of people know about, especially women who date men, and that is that people with narcissistic personality traits, they’re not always very sexual, super voracious, sexually voracious people. There is this other side of the spectrum where it’s almost a sexless relationship, and there’s a lot of weird shame and anger and aggressive repellent behavior around sex. So, my understanding of sex and my primary operation in terms of having a relationship is that the person is not attracted to me. There’s a lot of things that they don’t like about me and my appearance. I’ve never really had a relationship with much sex in it, so I don’t even know how it would work. I can’t even envision a healthy functioning relationship where I’m not constantly being rejected and criticized.

 

LEAH: Yeah, I hear that. Okay. So, do you want to talk today about looking for a partner who doesn’t treat you that way, or do you want to talk today about how to deal with your own self-image around sex and what you might actually want?

 

SOPHILIA: Yeah, sorry to be a complicated person.

 

LEAH: No, you’re good. Everybody is complicated.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

SOPHILIA: I think it’s more mindset because I am getting to the point in my development as a human where I frankly don’t care what other people think about me. However, if I ever want to have a functioning relationship with someone, I will have to imagine a future where sex is happening. So, I think that’s where it would make the most sense to focus.

 

LEAH: Okay. So, looking at your ideas about what sex is and how it functions in a relationship.

 

SOPHILIA: Yeah.

 

LEAH: Okay. So, whether it’s in a relationship or outside a committed relationship, have you ever had a good, enjoyable sexual experience?

 

SOPHILIA: Yeah. Yeah, I have.

 

LEAH: Okay. And in that experience, you’ve had pleasure?

 

SOPHILIA: Yes, yeah.

 

LEAH: Okay. Do you feel like you’re able to be fully present in that room with that person?

 

SOPHILIA: No.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Okay. So, where does your brain go?

 

SOPHILIA: It’s going to the place, so maybe I don’t know, but I have evidence that that person isn’t completely invested in the relationship or the experience or my body isn’t doing what they want it to be doing. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience with men, but the fault for a lot of men, and maybe it gets better as we age, but they just expect you to have a spontaneous orgasm within five minutes and to be screaming your head off. So, if that’s not happening, I have just been like, I need to figure out how to make this happen so that I’m not getting the criticism or the questions about why it’s not happening and how it’s happened for all the other partners that they’ve been with, and why am I so different, that sort of thing.

 

LEAH: Yeah. Okay. Hold on. There are a bunch of different thoughts. I want to organize them properly. So, when you say that you have evidence that this is what they’re thinking or feeling, do you mean that you have evidence that the person who you are currently in the room with feels this way, or you have evidence of past people who have said and done these things, and you’re bringing that forward?

 

SOPHILIA: It’s a bit of both usually. But, yeah, it’s a pretty consistent thing that’s come up.

 

LEAH: Yeah. Okay. Are you familiar with the idea of responsive desire? Okay. Hold on. Why do I always forget this word? It’s spontaneous desire versus responsive desire.

 

SOPHILIA: Yes, I am familiar with it. And I’m actually somebody who, for most of my life, since my adolescence, I have had a lot of spontaneous desire. And then, I think at some point, I found a way to make that go away so that I could be comfortable basically.

 

LEAH: Comfortable in what way?

 

SOPHILIA: Because the constant rejection, how do I describe it? After a while, you’re just like, what is the point? My desire has nowhere to go. And it’s being criticized. And it’s too much. And it’s not natural. It’s not normal, whatever dumb things people say. But it sounds stupid on the outside because you’re like, why would you do that to yourself? But if you’re living it, you just want to not constantly feel like you have nowhere for your feelings to go. So, if you make them go away, you don’t have to deal with them anymore.

 

LEAH: Yeah, it doesn’t sound stupid at all. It sounds like a protective mechanism that is born of trying to make yourself okay for everybody else.

 

SOPHILIA: Right.

 

LEAH: And so, where is your desire now? Do you desire sex?

 

SOPHILIA: I don’t know where it is. It went away.

 

LEAH: Yeah. Okay. Can you imagine desiring sex?

 

SOPHILIA: It’s hard for me to get past the idea that someone is going to have a lot of stuff to say about how I’m not performing.

 

LEAH: Do you even want to want sex?

 

SOPHILIA: I think I do. I just have a hard time. If you’ve never seen it function the way it’s supposed to, it’s hard to imagine.

 

LEAH: Absolutely.

 

SOPHILIA: Yeah, it’s hard. It’s a very personal thing. You can watch TV, you watch on TV people having sex, or you can walk past someone on a park bench and see them making out, and you can say, I can see exactly how that functions for you. But for me and the way the world has given me this experience is very different. And so, I don’t get it.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Sure. So, let’s talk for a minute about porn.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Okay. I know this is a drastic left turn. But what I think I heard you say a minute ago was that the expectation is that it’s just going to take you a couple of minutes, and you’re going to be screaming and writhing in pleasure.

 

SOPHILIA: Yes.

 

LEAH: That is an expectation that is created almost exclusively by porn because that’s how women show up in porn. Those of us who are women, who have these estrogen-powered bodies know that that’s not actually the way it works. But let me say it this way. When we go through sex ed in schools, those of us who even had sex ed, because some people didn’t, but it’s very heterocentric, it’s very monogamous-centric, it’s definitely cisgender-centric.

 

It’s focused on the penis because we hear the penis can get erect and have wet dreams and ejaculate and have pleasure. And the woman’s body gets a period once a month, bleeds, and is in suffering. There is rarely any acknowledgement that pleasure is even possible or desirable or anything. Really, the woman’s sex drive is never talked about. The man’s sex drive is talked about in those terms of, hey, they’re horny all the time. And you just have to look at them the right way. And they’ll get hard. There’s all this conversation about how boys are. And the only conversation about how girls are is you’re supposed to stop them. You don’t stop them, you’re a bad girl, etc.

 

But what that leaves is this vacuum of knowledge around how the woman’s body actually works or how the estrogen-powered body works because I have talked with transgender people who are on estrogen who have told me that their body started to work differently when they began hormones. So, this is primarily an estrogen-fueled cycle, I think.

 

So, the male comes in, or the testosterone comes in the room, they immediately get turned on. And so, the assumption is, if this is what I do, then clearly this is what the woman is supposed to do too because they have no understanding that there is anything different, because nobody talked about women having a sex drive. Meanwhile, all they’ve ever seen is women getting instantly horny in porn. So, the assumption is the man immediately gets horny, and therefore a woman who is functioning normally would also get immediately horny and turned on and wet and ready to orgasm.

 

SOPHILIA: Can I take that one step further?

 

LEAH: Yes.

 

SOPHILIA: There’s also this assumption that if he’s not immediately horny, it’s something that you’re doing wrong with you.

 

LEAH: You’re doing something wrong with you. Yes.

 

SOPHILIA: And therefore, you have to also fix it. You fix his sex drive and yours.

 

LEAH: Yes. Oh, my God. Yes, you’re so right. So, this is putting all of this pressure on the woman, on the estrogen-fueled person in the room, to perform something that they’re not actually feeling. And like you said, to make sure also in addition that their partner is okay and having the experience that they should be having and all of this stuff. So, there’s no way for you to show up authentically in that room because you’re showing up as a caregiver, as a performer, as a feeling-soother, as everything except a person who’s there to actually have and enjoy sex.

 

SOPHILIA: Yes. And if you do, if you do dare to try to enjoy yourself and focus on your own pleasure, then you’re being selfish.

 

LEAH: Selfish. Exactly.

 

SOPHILIA: And they’ll tell you that. They’ll say, “Why are you focusing so hard on your orgasm?” And you’re like, “But you also just told me 17 times in the past however months that there’s something wrong with me because I’m not immediately having an orgasm. So, pick a side. I can’t do it all.”

 

LEAH: Yes, exactly.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: Do you wish your brain would stop yapping and making grocery lists, so you could focus on pleasure and even having an orgasm? It’s actually a pretty complaint. We ask a lot of our brains to be efficient, effective, organized, and to never drop any of the zillion balls that we’re carrying. But then, we also expect our brains to automatically switch off when it’s time for pleasure, so they don’t distract us. Unfortunately, for most of us, it doesn’t really work that way. So, whether it’s you’re carrying the mom’s mental load, ADHD, keeping up with the big project that’s due next week, or any of a million other reasons, we need to help our brains learn how to relax into pleasure. We may even need to teach them how to feel pleasure.

 

All of it is possible, and it’s useful to have a guide who can see the bigger picture and help you navigate all the pitfalls that your brain has put in place trying to keep you safe from having to change. I would be honored to be your guide toward a more deeply fulfilling intimate life. I’m queer, kinky, and non-monogamy friendly. And I’d love to talk with you on a free discovery call, so visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching to schedule yours .Again, that’s a free discovery call to find out if we’re a good fit. And you can schedule it at www.leahcarey.com/coaching. That link is in the episode description on the app you’re listening in now. Back to the show!

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: Okay. Now, this is not going to solve the whole issue around the people who you choose. But one place to start is to have this conversation at the very beginning before you get intimate with somebody and say, “I need you to understand how my body works. Because I’ve heard from a lot of people that it doesn’t work the right way and I know that they’re not right, but I also don’t want to hear that from you. And so, here’s a lesson on how my body works. It takes me some time to get turned on. That is the normal.” And you can even show them the charts, I can send you the chart if you’d like. I should actually put that up on Instagram.

 

Like, “Here is the chart of what the testosterone turn-on cycle looks like and what the estrogen turn-on cycle looks like. This is how my body works. I enjoy getting turned on. I enjoy pleasure. And I cannot enjoy it if I’m trying so hard to please you. Is that something that you have patience for? Is that something that you can join me in?”

 

This turn-on time that has been denigrated terribly by this word like it’s foreplay, you just do the foreplay for a few minutes to take care of her stuff, and then we’ll get to the main part. No, foreplay is part of sex. It is the part of sex where the woman’s body gets turned on, where she self-lubricates, where all of this stuff happens when she is feeling taken care of, she’s feeling maybe not the center of attention, but her needs are taken into account, her desire for connection is taken into account. So, if you can have this conversation right at the beginning, you can filter out 75% of the guys who are going to have anything to say about your sex drive.

 

SOPHILIA: Those have a glazed look in their eyes and be like, “That’s too much work.” And you’re like, “I’m just bringing you into reality. This is what’s actually happening. Sorry about all the people who faked it for you.”

 

LEAH: Right, and they will get very offended if you try to suggest anyone has faked it.

 

SOPHILIA: They do.

 

LEAH: When, in fact, probably more than half of their partners have been faking it. So, you can eliminate a lot of guys this way. There will be some who will lie to you. They’ll tell you what they think you want to hear. I don’t know that there’s a way around that, except to just pay really close attention to how their words match up to their actions. Do they show up when they say they’re going to show up? Do they call when they say they’re going to call? Do they give you basically decent communication and basic responsibility? If you see them doing that, then there’s a pretty good chance this is one to actually potentially take a shot on. Does that make sense?

 

SOPHILIA: Yeah, that makes sense. It’s all valid. It’s all good. I think I have to also figure out my own way of keeping the past in the past, which is almost impossible, but because there has been this pattern of people being assholes to me, in this specific way, there is a wound. For new people, men or women or non-binary people, whoever my next partner may be, they would have to be okay with that.

 

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely. Have you listened to any of the episodes featuring the STARS conversation?

 

SOPHILIA: I don’t know if I have.

 

LEAH: I will send you a couple of episodes that feature the conversation that you can have before you become intimate with somebody. And one of the things that you can say during that conversation is, “I’m coming into this with a little bit of baggage.” I think anybody who says they’re coming into things without baggage is lying. And if they say they want somebody without baggage, run because that’s ridiculous.

 

So to just call it upfront, “I’m coming into this with a bit of baggage around sex and being desirable and being an adequate sexual partner. So, I may need some reassurance in that area. Is that okay with you?” And assuming they say yes, “Okay, how can I ask for it in a way that you’ll hear it as, this is my brain being an asshole to me, not you’re doing something wrong, and therefore I feel bad?”

 

So, you can set up that conversation in advance so that they understand the dynamic before it happens, and they know how to handle it before it happens. The places where we tend to go wrong, especially in the bedroom, are when people encounter things they have no idea how to handle. And then, they get all up in their feelings, they feel inadequate, and then they get mad because they feel inadequate, and it becomes a huge mess. But if you can help somebody upfront to know this is a thing that might happen, then they come in with the tools to help you and support you through that.

 

SOPHILIA: Yeah, that makes sense.

 

LEAH: Does that feel like it’s doable?

 

SOPHILIA: Yes, it does feel like it’s doable. Primarily, it just takes a mature partner. So, if that person exists, then it is possible.

 

LEAH: That person absolutely exists and having this conversation upfront is going to show you who that person is.

 

SOPHILIA: Yeah, I think you’re right.

 

LEAH: Because people who can’t handle this conversation cannot handle what you’re asking for, which is to be basically a sensitive person.

 

SOPHILIA: Right, yeah. Even talking about sex, there are men that I’ve been with who just can’t do it. They just malfunction. They get really stressed out. It’s a mess.

 

LEAH: Absolutely. And there are going to be a lot of people listening to this who are like, “That’s my husband, so I can’t just walk away.”

 

SOPHILIA: I’m sorry.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: But I’m going to say that if you are in a position where you are not completely entangled with somebody and they can’t talk about sex and you’re having sexual issues, leave. Just make it easier on yourself. If they cannot or are not willing to talk about it, to me, that’s a deal breaker.

 

SOPHILIA: Right. And for me, because rejection has been part of the relationship, then it means that consent needs to be more explicit for me so that I don’t feel like I’m violating anybody’s boundaries. So, if that person can’t even have a basic conversation with me about what feels good for them or what’s interesting to them or anything, and then they tell me to just do it, just initiate with no conversation, that feels really dangerous to me. So, conversation has to be part of the equation or I can’t function either.

 

LEAH: So, you’re going to love the STARS conversation.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: So, I’ll give you a quick rundown on it. And then, like I said, I’ll refer you to some other episodes. And I’ll also put them in the show notes. STARS stands for five pieces of a conversation. If you cover these five pieces, you will have an excellent foundation on which to have communication and connection around sex. So, the five things are the first S stands for STI status. So, you want to know that somebody is aware of their basic status. And you can do these in any order that you want. I like to start with STI status, because if somebody can’t talk about that with me, that is also a deal breaker. If they can’t communicate about health and safety, thank you very much. You are not the right person for me to get naked with.

 

SOPHILIA: And you also get a good gauge on their STI stigma level. If someone’s like, “I don’t have the herp. Ha ha ha,” then you’re like, “That’s not how we do this. Okay.”

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Yes. I would not necessarily say this is a warning sign because there are so many people who have not thought this through. But if anybody says they’re clean, that’s not great. Because people who have STIs are not dirty. They just have a virus.

 

SOPHILIA: Right. Yeah, For me, it is actually a red flag. I don’t love that.

 

LEAH: Okay. All right. Great. So, you know what your red flag is here. Perfect. So, the first S is for STIs. The T is for your turn-ons. What are the things you enjoy? What makes you happy? What gives you the most pleasure? Then, the A is for avoids. Here are the things that are hard red lines for me. There might be varying degrees. So, I am never interested in piss, poop, and blood. I might be interested in some level of kink at some point when we’re comfortable with each other, and we have a shared language, whatever. It doesn’t have to be absolute yes and absolute no, there can be shades of gray there. Oh, that’s a terrible book.

 

SOPHILIA: No pun intended.

 

LEAH: Sorry, not shades of gray. That book is terrible.

 

SOPHILIA: Speaking of kink.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Yeah. There can be lots of gradations of how you present this, but you’re giving the other person the answer key to how your body works and to what’s going to give you the most pleasure, and then they’re going to tell you the same things so that you can give them the most pleasure, and neither of you is fumbling in the dark wondering if what you’re doing is okay.

 

So, we’ve done S-T-A. R is for relationship expectations. So, you can have this conversation with somebody before a one-night stand, as long as you say, “Hey, I just want you to know, I think you’re super cute, and I really want to do this with you. And also, I’m leaving town in a month. So, don’t get your hopes up about anything long-term.” Yeah?

 

SOPHILIA: Okay. Yeah.

 

LEAH: Yeah. And then, the final S is for safety protocols. That would be birth control methods, barrier methods for health and safety. It might also be like, what do I need in order to feel safe? For you, that might be, I need to know that I can pause and say, “My brain is being an asshole. Can you just give me a little reassurance?” Yeah?

 

SOPHILIA: Yeah. Okay. Yeah, that’s really good because you check all the important things in a nice little acronym there.

 

LEAH: Yes, exactly. It doesn’t mean that you will clear up every potential roadblock. But, like I said, it gives you a really nice solid foundation to build on. And if somebody can hang with you through that whole conversation, they are probably somebody who’s worth investing at least the potential to follow through on it. Let me stop here and ask you, do you have any questions about what we’ve talked about so far?

 

SOPHILIA: No, I don’t think so. I think I’m good.

 

LEAH: Okay. So, you and I both know, having experienced narcissistic abuse, the narcissist will tell you anything to get the outcome that they’re looking for. And they can learn to parrot anything.

 

SOPHILIA: They can. I’ve been through the kink checklist where you agree on everything that you’re going to do what’s good and not good. And they agreed to everything and then ignored it and tried to force me into stuff and all of that. So, as you’re saying, they will say anything.

 

LEAH: Anything. So, we’ve just talked about somebody who can hang with you through this whole conversation is a really good prospect. And also, in your particular situation, because you have this history, and it’s something that is probably going to come up for you, there are other warning flags that you need to be looking out for. Do their actions match their words is a huge one? Do you feel like you’re experiencing love bombing? Is every word out of their mouth exactly what you want to hear? Because if it is, that’s not a great sign. You want them to be human, you want them to have their own thoughts and feelings. If somebody crosses what you feel is a communication or consent boundary, you have my permission to get up and walk away and never speak to them again. You do not have to justify your decision. You are not tied to them in any way. You can just say, “Thank you. I’m done now.” Yeah?

 

SOPHILIA: Yeah. I mean, who knows, because you don’t know for sure until you test these things, but I do believe I’ve finally gotten to the place where I can do that. And hopefully, that is the case. However, it is always good to have someone else’s permission in your head, where they’re like, “No, you can just leave because that does help reinforce your own belief. You can just leave.”

 

LEAH: Yeah, exactly. And this is the kind of thing where you may have to fuck it up a few times before it feels more natural, you may get into the position and be like, “I want to say and do the thing, but I’m, ah.” And that’s why in coaching, I like to actually go through practice conversations with people. So, you have the experience of saying it out loud. I can hear how coherent and verbal you are. You certainly have the skills to do it. And also, if there are times when you fuck it up, it’s okay. You have not lost anything. You haven’t done anything terribly wrong. You haven’t broken anything. You just get to try it again next time.

 

SOPHILIA: Right. And the thing I’ve learned is that you can’t really prevent these people from coming into your life. It’s just a matter of knowing when to get them out of your life, knowing when to step away, being better about doing it sooner rather than later, being less concerned about other people’s feelings because they will get over it.

 

LEAH: Yeah, exactly. And, like you said, you can’t keep them out of your life entirely, but you can significantly shorten the time between seeing the red flags and responding to the red flags.

 

SOPHILIA: Right. Yes, I do believe that. That, I have hope for, for sure.

 

LEAH: Yes.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: I have great hope for you as well.

 

SOPHILIA: Thank you.

 

LEAH: Yeah. Sophilia, are there any dangling questions, anything we haven’t talked about that you want to make sure we do?

 

SOPHILIA: So circling back to the concept of my body, so being someone who can’t find clothes that fit properly and just being athletic but not maybe people seeing it in the way that you usually see athleticism, so low body fats, abs, those sorts of things. I don’t know. I just always say abs because I’ve had people make comments like, “You’re not fit because you don’t have abs.” And just it makes me want to explode because it’s nonsensical. I’m just putting it out there, and it’s nothing that you have to help me with, but I just need to say, and maybe this is for other people too, you can get to the point where people are only allowed to say nice things about your body. And if they say anything else, you’re allowed to have any consequence you want. Obviously, not punching them, but you can just leave.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

SOPHILIA: The relationship can be over, the date can be over. You don’t have to be open to everybody’s interpretation of what they think of you. You’re allowed to just say, “No, this is not open to discussion. You say something nice or you don’t say anything at all.”

 

LEAH: Yeah. I love that. In fact, this is part of my STARS conversation. When I am talking with a new potential lover, one of the things I say is absolutely no commenting on my body unless it is excessively positive.

 

SOPHILIA: And you mean it. You mean it, damn it.

 

LEAH: Yes, and you mean it. And what I mean is excessively positive in the bedroom as in, “Oh, my God,” because I have a larger body, “I love how jiggly your ass is or whatever,” but I do not ever want comments on, “Hey, it looks like you lost five pounds, you look great,” because that then means if I gain those five pounds back, I’m going to be in terror that that person thinks I don’t look good anymore.

 

So, these boundaries around how people talk about your body are so important. If you’re on Instagram, I highly recommend Jessie Kneeland, and I’ll put their information in the notes as well. They’ve been on the podcast several times. They’re a good friend. And they’re assigned female at birth, have a femme body. They are very clear about their boundaries, about how people speak about them and their body on Instagram. And I don’t know that it happens regularly, but periodically, somebody will show up and make a comment about their body, and you will watch them in real time. And then, they’ll put it up in their stories and take you through the whole process of, “This is not okay. Here’s why it’s not okay.” And I think that that’s a really great thing to get reminded of periodically is, “No, you may not comment on my body. No, you may not comment on what I’m eating. No, you may not comment on whatever.” Exactly,

 

SOPHILIA: Exactly, yeah. So, people think that if you get to a certain level of fit, whatever that means to you, take the visuals out of it, but if people think that if you get to a certain level of fit, then you’re not open to comment anymore. But actually, it makes it worse sometimes because people are like, “You’re putting this much effort in, but I don’t see it” or “I don’t see it in the way I thought I would see it” or that sort of thing.

 

And even with coworkers, they meet me, and they’re like, “I thought you would look different,” stuff like that. There is probably a way to deal with those things, and I haven’t come up with it yet, but I do think it would be good to see some examples of how other people do it because just like the constant casual body comments in general, but especially for people who present as female, I think it’s just a level that I find difficult to tolerate. It just makes me really angry. Good or bad comments, the well-meaning, “You lost weight,” I actually didn’t. And it’s weird that you think that I did, that sort of thing. It’s just like, “What is happening? Please stop. Stop noticing me.”

 

LEAH: Exactly. Anytime somebody says to me, “You lost weight, you look great.” And I’m like, in my head, no, I didn’t lose weight. So, does that mean that you thought I was not good before?

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

SOPHILIA: Right. Yeah. Where’s the great coming from? The person saying it probably thinks they’re saying something nice, but you interpret it way differently. People listening, they might be like, “Just take the compliment.” You can take your compliment and just be discerning about how you’re giving people compliments and what actually they would consider a compliment. Think. Use your brain.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Yeah, yes. Excellent. All right. Sophilia, thank you so much for having this conversation with me. I’m really pleased that we were able to talk about this. Any last thoughts before we go?

 

SOPHILIA: Thank you. Thank you for having me. Thank you for walking me through this. I don’t talk about this much, because it’s complex. And people don’t necessarily know what to say. So, it’s great to talk to someone who understands the words that are coming out of my mouth and aren’t confused by them. And I’m just like, I don’t know, I’ve never encountered that. Thank you.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

SOPHILIA: Yeah, thank you for understanding and for being just open and listening, even though, to me, it feels very complex and all messy. So, thank you.

 

LEAH: Yeah. You’re very welcome. And I actually just realized there was one question I didn’t ask you, which is, at the beginning, you said it’s hard for you to imagine even really wanting to be sexual with somebody. Having shifted the framework a little bit around how you choose that person, does it shift for you at all, that feeling of maybe I might want to try this?

 

SOPHILIA: I think so. I think maybe I’m a demisexual person. Maybe it’s going to take a while for me to warm up to them. So, if someone has the patience, then maybe something cool could happen, and we’ll just have to see.

 

LEAH: Yeah, I love that. And that is a nice way to let somebody prove to you that they are who they say they are.

 

SOPHILIA: Right, yeah. That’s true.

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: Here are my takeaways from this conversation. The difference between the estrogen turn-on cycle and the testosterone turn-on cycle is widely misunderstood. And in my experience of working with heterosexual couples, it’s at the base of the huge portion of the problems that they experience in the bedroom. If you expect both of your bodies to respond at the same time in the same way, you are destined for disappointment. But if you both understand how the turn-on cycle works, you can adjust your sexy play so that you both get pleasure, and nobody is left feeling unsatisfied. You can find the graph I mentioned about turn-on cycles in the show notes. And if you’re interested more in this topic, check out my class Tune Into Your Turn-Ons. It’s part of my library of video courses that you can find at www.courses.leahcarey.com.

 

Number two, if you’re willing to talk about your sexual needs with a new partner before your clothes start coming off, two wonderful things can happen. One, the right people will hear you and make sure that you get your needs met. And number two, the wrong people will filter themselves out. When Sophilia talks with potential lovers going forward about her need for foreplay, she can effectively screen out anyone whose eyes glazed over as well as anyone who tries to talk over her or argue her out of those needs. As uncomfortable as you might think it would be to have that conversation, it’s a whole lot less uncomfortable than getting into a sexual encounter you don’t want to be in and not knowing how to get out of it. Plus, the more you have the conversation, the easier it gets. I promise.

 

Number three, let’s stop talking about each other’s bodies, okay? I saw a wonderful meme on Facebook the other day that a friend posted. It said that the best way to give a compliment is to use a word of praise with an attribute the person has control over. Now, they don’t have control over their genetics, so don’t comment on their lips or their eyes or their figure. But they do have control over their clothing and how they style their hair and how they do their makeup or their tattoos, etc. So, comments like, “Your boots are amazing” or “The way you did your eyeshadow is glorious,” they’re pretty universally well-received. Meanwhile, “Have you lost weight?” what seems to be everyone’s favorite compliment is actually the entry point to any number of hornets’ nests. So, let’s stop doing that. Okay. That’s all for today.

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: If you’d like to have a free coaching session like Sophilia did, go to www.goodgirlstalk.com/session, and send me your info. I’d love to have you join me as a podcast client. If you have questions or comments about anything you’ve heard on this show, call and leave a message at 720-GOOD-SEX.

 

Full show notes and transcripts for this episode are at www.goodgirlstalk.com. Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced and edited by me, Leah Carey, and transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo.

 

Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!

 

[MUSIC]

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