Episode 23: "How to have Love Last Over Time" with Intimacy Expert and Workshop leader Chip August
Intimacy Expert and Workshop leader Chip August speaks about “How to have Love Last Over Time”
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Alissa Kriteman: Welcome to "Just For Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex." I'm your host, Alissa Kriteman. This show is dedicated to bringing you the most useful and insightful information available today, from today's top experts in the areas of love, intimacy, sex, connection, and how to have love last over time. [music]
Chip August: It's really true. Men want to have sex, women are looking for security. It's really true. That's what our DNA wants.
How you make love stay is, somewhere early in this relationship you start talking at a level of honesty about feelings and sensations and emotions, instead of hiding them, pushing them away, or just hoping the other person can figure it out.
The problem with the "Did you come? Did you come? Did you come?" is that is makes the focus of the sexuality coming. I'm not sure that that's the best focus of sexuality. What about the part of orgasm where it feels like you leave your body. What about the part of orgasm where it feels like you have a feeling of bliss or ecstasy or delight that starts with at toes and kind of goes up to the top of your head.
Alissa Kriteman: Today on the show, I'm excited to welcome back Chip August, who's been a guest on our show in the past. Chip is such a fount of information that I wanted to have him back so we could go a little deeper on some of the topics we talked about before. So Chip, welcome back to the show! Thank you, thank you so much for being here again.
Chip August: Oh, I love… I love talking to you. We have such great conversations. I'm really happy to be back.
Alissa Kriteman: In our last conversation, we talked about some of the myths around men. I think it's really important for women, myself included, to understand the given ideas that we've been really just served up about men. How they might not necessarily be true, and what are some of the new ideas we need to understand as women in how to be effective with men.
So one of the things we talked about before is that men just want to have sex. So let's talk about that. How is that not necessarily true, and what is sex?
Chip August: Well first, I want to say that all things are true and not true. So I think we wouldn't have -- I think as a species, we would've died out if it weren't true for the fact that human beings want to have sex. So let's just start there, the part of sex which is procreation.
There's a whole school psychology these days that's called Darwinian psychology, and
I'm a big fan of Darwinian psychology. This is trying to understand human behavior by imagining that really, all our human bodies are designed to do is make sure that the DNA keeps reproducing, okay? And so, if we just reevaluate all human behavior on the basis of this, we will understand why we do what we do simply on the basis of our DNA. c
So, men. Men have DNA in their sperm, in their seed, and one of the things that keeps DNA reproducing and healthy, over generations after generations after generations, is if you can mix a male's DNA with a lot of different female's DNA.
Alissa Kriteman: So it's built in that men have to spread their seed. I think we know that.
Chip August: Yeah. Okay. And then one of the things that women's DNA wants is, they want to make sure that if the woman gets pregnant, the male sticks around long enough to give her enough food, to help her with the work, to make sure that the baby gets cared for so the women are -- the women's DNA is basically looking for male parental investment. Okay. So in that sense, it's really true. Men want to have sex, women are looking for security. It's really true, that's what our DNA wants.
Yeah, but that falls so far short of what's going on in our psyche, in our soul, in our imagination, in our dreams, that it really really misleads us into this idea that all a man wants to do is find a place to plant his penis and shoot his seed, and all a woman wants to do is trap a man into staying. We all know that's not true. That's just not true.
So the first thing is, you have to recognize that when we're talking about what our DNA wants, we're talking about procreation. We're talking about regeneration of the race, of the species. We're talking about… The race being the human race here. I understand the word race gets charged. I mean the human race. All right? We're talking about the biology of how a species survives, and I want to talk about the psychology of how individuals get their needs met, okay?
And for that, we really have to ask the question, "What is sex?" Is sex just the biology? Now, you know, you think this is a really stupid question. Everybody knows what sex is, any adult. Ask any… If I walk up to a hundred different women, and just say "Will you have sex with me?" Every one of those women is going to have some image of what I'm asking for. If I walk up to 100 different men and say "Will you have sex with me," every one of those men is going to have an image of what… And my experience is, when people aren't too embarrassed and you ask them what that image is, if you ask "Will you have sex with me," we're talking about a piece of skin and a piece of skin, wiggle wiggle wiggle pop, have a cigarette, go have a nap. You know? I mean, that's what sex is. Sex is this biological… It's about our genitals, it's about orgasm, it's about release. Where did we learn that? Where did we get the idea that sex and procreation are the same thing?
Alissa Kriteman: [laughs] I know, I just had this flash, this thought of all the magazines today that talk about the different positions in which… That seems to be the hot thing right now. And I wish for the life of me I could -- like, the jackhammer! And the rabbit! And like… There's all these different positions, and what you're saying is intercourse. That's what you're talking about, the thumbprint of sex. But now what we're talking about today here
with you are different and new ideas about what sex actually is. It's not the positioning of intercourse.
Chip August: I'm a big fan of studying the kama sutra, of learning different positions and different ways to have -- to bring pleasure to the body -- but that's not what we're talking about today. And that's not actually what I teach in my workshops. I'm not -- I consider myself a connoisseur of sexual technique, but not a teacher of sexual technique. I mean, I like to play, so… But that's not what I teach, okay? Because that part of sex, it's true you can get books, you can go to workshops, there's lots of places to learn the technique. I don't know. You, listener, as you think about this, if you had a choice, okay? You're stuck on a desert island, and you get one of two companions. You either get a companion who's really knowledgable about all the techniques of sexuality or you get a companion who is genuinely caring and concerning, has really good communication, really honors feelings, his own and yours, really is a nice person that you really care about and really cares about you. You tell me which one are you going to pick to spend the rest of your life on a desert island with. I don't think you're going to go for the technique.
I know, yeah, some people will. But I think most of us are going to say, "You know what? We can learn technique together. The thing that I want is I want connection and companionship." What I notice is: sex. Who taught us about sex? Where did we learn? Well mostly we learned sex from people who don't know anything about sex. Right? You think about who you learned sex from!
Alissa Kriteman: It's so true!
Chip August: You learned sex from your parents, from school teachers. You learned sex from your, from when you were an adolescent, from what your friends taught you. Did any of those people have the sex life you want to be having today? You know? Like, we learn sex from people… So we got to start from that point of view. Like, what is sex, and who told you?
Alissa Kriteman: Yes.
Chip August: And what makes you think they know anything. So I start from the premise that I had flawed teaching. You know? The people who taught me about sex, they really didn't know about the kind of sex life I want to have. They didn't lead it, they didn't have it, they didn't know it was possible in many cases, right? It's not -- they weren't bad people. But the sex life I want to have involves that mix of intimacy and love and communication and trust and innocence and playfulness that I just notice isn't all that common in the population. And…
Alissa Kriteman: You know, it makes me think about what you're talking about is being vulnerable, and I think in our society people view vulnerability as weakness, and no one wants to go there. And that's why people aren't really aware of the kinds of sex they can have, and that there is even something outside of the technical kind of positioning and all of that. So…
Chip August: The word vulnerability is really interested for me. I, uh… I do this thing with my clients sometimes, where I ask them… Because we're trying to understand our own thoughts, and what we believe and what we think. So I ask people for opposites, like "What's the opposite of strength?" Most people say weakness. You know, "What's the opposite of hot?" Most people say cold. "What's the opposite of sad?" Most people say happy. Right? And then I ask them what's the opposite of vulnerability? Now obviously, "invulnerability," but I mean, a different word, or that doesn't use "vulnerability." It's really hard to think, what is the opposite of vulner-- what are we when we're not vulnerable? Are we insensitive? Are we closed? Are we -- because I think that word vulnerability is a little misleading.
Alissa Kriteman: Uh huh.
Chip August: Anybody who's done martial arts, at some point in your martial arts training, your sensei, your teacher, has taught you that the path to power is vulnerability, not invulnerability. The path to power isn't about trying to be stronger than everybody. It isn't about… It's about knowing your own weaknesses and knowing your own softnesses and being able to use those as a part of your power.
So I want to say, that word "vulnerability" -- what does it mean? I think what I'm talking about is trust, compassion. I think what I'm talking about is respect and dignity. I think what I'm talking about is communication and openness. I think what I'm talking about is kindness. And yeah, the word vulnerability fits in all those things, but I don't -- I kind of stay away from that word a little bit, because like I said, I think a lot of us… We don't really know, what does that mean? Does that mean I… Does that mean I’m setting myself up to get hurt? No, I… Yeah, I do think love requires risking getting hurt, but no, I don't think that's the key component. You know?
Okay. So what am I talking about? Well, let's start with the idea of what sex could be. What if sex -- what if sex is the…is that act which has it feel like our bodies and our minds and our hearts have joined, maybe for an instant, maybe for longer than an instant. What if sex is that moment of ecstasy when we feel like the thing that our bodies are doing has created an energy between us which has us both feel out of body, almost like a vibration that puts us in touch with the universe. What is sex -- what if sex has something to do with deep, fundamental, profound connection. What if that's what sex is?
So sometimes, sex happens with the genitals. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes sex happens -- you know, we knew this when we were pre-teens or teenagers, but we forgot. When you were… The first time you ever held hands with someone that you really had a crush on, that somebody you were really crazy about, you can't tell me that holding hands wasn't sexy. It was sex! That moment -- just the connection of the hands felt like your heart, through your arms, through your hands, some deep, profound feeling of connection happened that affected your loins, and affected your mind, and affected your heart… That's sex.
Alissa Kriteman: Uh huh.
Chip August: Or the first time that you kissed. Maybe not even open-mouth kissed. The first time you just kissed somebody you really, really, really cared about. What that felt like in your body, and what that felt like in your soul, and what that felt like in your mind. Maybe that was sex.
Maybe it turns out that you don't actually need genitals for sex. Maybe… It's not that genitals are bad. Genitals added to sex are really wonderful, but maybe it turns out you don't actually need genitals for sex. Maybe sexuality is about communication and connection and love and intimacy and openness. And if we take that as our definition of sex -- whoa, what's possible!
Alissa Kriteman: Right. You know, I think about marriage and -- I mean, the divorce rate we know is so high, and I think what's happening now is people are starting to look at how to have love in their life, the role that sex does play in it. And here we are redefining what sex really can be, because I think many times we're so conditioned to think -- even unconsciously, I think we do this -- we have to go for the sex. Like you have to know, "Well, is our sex on?" Because that is going to be a big indicator of whether or not I can actually be with this person.
And so there's many things you're talking about here. We're talking about sex as it relates to dating, sex as it relates to marriage… So there's many ways to keep going in this conversation, but I really like where we're going, where we're dispelling what sex actually is, and how… Maybe we don't even need to have genitals. Maybe there's something we've missed or forgotten about that really the interaction between two human beings, what that can be like.
So let's talk a little bit about sex and dating, and how quickly maybe we tend to want to go there?
Chip August: I want to talk about sex and dating, but I want to say one thing to the thing you just said. I don't want to give up the genital aspect of sexuality. I like the feeling in my penis. My partner likes the feeling in her vagina and vulva, we like…. You know, we like the bodily sensations. I'm not saying "instead of." I'm saying, "in addition to." And I… You know, I just think the world… There are times when sex takes 10 minutes, and it's… It's wild and it's fast, and it's just furious, and it's some built up, pent up thing that's very physical and animal, and that's lovely. But if that's all sex is, I can tell you right now, you're not going to be able to sustain a lifetime of that. No one can. You know?
There's the sex that comes out of infatuation. That's a real… Infatuation is so hot. It's really great. And by and large, infatuation fades in 6 to 18 months. There's… It's very hard to maintain infatuation for longer than 6 to 18 months. So if you've confused love with infatuation, everything starts to slow down. All of a sudden, a year and a half, two years into it, it's all just kind of gone away, and you don't know how to make it come back. Okay?
So, I just… I want to honor that the genitals are a great part of it, but if all sex is is your genitals, it's all gonna fall apart.
Alissa Kriteman: I think Rod Stewart sang about that.
Chip August: [laughs] Yeah. It's true. It's true. Okay, now. Sex and dating.
I watch what happens. This is really interesting. In this day of computer dating, and people meeting each other -- people really don't know how to meet each other. So a lot of people meet each other online, or through a service. Well the thing about that is, is that you put a lot of personal information into the service -- into the online thing. There's a lot of… You fill out forms, and you've got preferences, and…. So when you're meeting somebody, there's a whole life history of information that you already know about this person. You already know what their hobbies are, and what they like to do on their first date, and you already know what their… You know, you know a lot of things. And what I watch people do is they make, like, two decisions really fast. The first decision you make over that first cup of coffee. There's a certain -- just a compatibility decision you make right away. I actually think that's a good thing. I think we do have an inner knowingness. Yes I want to spend more time with this person, no I do not want to spend more time with this person. My grandmother used to say, "For every pot there's a lid." You know? I think if you've been having an experience that people don't want to spend more time with you, maybe there's something in that description you've put online that isn't attracting the person that's going to want to spend more time with you. I'd love to work with you on that, but I don't think it's a bad thing that many of those first meetings result in a No, I don't think I want to spend more time with you.
Now we're in the realm of, "I already know I want to spend more time with you." Yeah, but I watch how fast that becomes, "…so we have to have sex. So we immediately need to get naked, we need to get in bed, we need to put our genitals together. Because if we're not sexually compatible, what's the point?" Oof. Wow. Well… I'm sorry, but I think -- I think most of the people that are I know, who are single or who are between marriages, most of them had sex, had intercourse, had got naked and put their genitals together, sooner than I would have, and sooner than I think probably serves them.
It turns out, sexual technique can be learned. I can… I can teach somebody how to pleasure me. And my partner can teach me how to pleasure my partner. That's a learned skill. Are there some people who can't learn it? Yeah, yeah… But that's not the… That's not the vast majority of people, you know, like… It's really true. It can be learned.
Here's what can't be learned. What can't be learned is genuine sensitivity to each other, is
letting down my need to look good, to reveal some of my deepest, darkest truths. To…
Alissa Kriteman: That can't be learned?
Chip August: Well, it's harder to learn. Let's say… "Can't be learned" -- there's probably nothing that can't be learned, but harder to learn. That -- to me, that's what dating is about. What dating's about… I want to find out who this person is. Not who they are on the piece of paper. Now whether they like the Giants or they like the A's, not whether they like the Niners or, like, the Raiders. I want to… I want to know… I want to know what their heart is about. And I don't think I'm going to find that naked finding out if our sexual techniques are compatibile.
Alissa Kriteman: Well, let's talk about this for a second. There's two things. One is, I want to know about that timeframe that you mentioned, that you didn't really put a quantifier on. And then the other thing I want to talk about is the phases of desire that people go through. I mean sometimes, you just want to go and have sex with someone. And sometimes, you want to -- maybe after a breakup, there might be a phase where you're like, "I'm just going to date. And if I want to have sex with this person, I'm going to do that. So, again, yeah, I think it all depends. What is the context in which we're talking about sex, and also -- there's so much to say here. Like the ramifications of having sex with a lot of people in a short amount of time, the ramifications of giving your heart to someone waiting x amount of time, and knowing -- is this person on board or not? You know what I'm saying?
All right, so let's start with the quantifying the timeframe, and then we'll get into the other one.
Chip August: Well, okay. I'm not a big one for one-size-fits-all answers, so…
Alissa Kriteman: Right, right, right.
Chip August: Okay. I don't know that there is a timeframe that works for everybody. What I believe is, when we have sex because we think we should, we think… Some part of our brain is telling us, "It's time. I'm…" You know, "I ought to. I'll lose this person if I don't," you know. I don't think those are ever good reasons to actually create sexual experiences. I think -- I think what happens in a relationship is… I think different things, but I think over time. How much time? Three dates, four dates, five dates, six dates.
Alissa Kriteman: Today it's the third date, right?
Chip August: Yeah, that's the rule, but I encourage people to extend it. I don't think third --
I think third date is the minimum, is the bare minimum, okay? Um… Over those first few dates, what we're determine is: do I like this person, and is there a kind of sexual spark, a frisson, a little sexual interest. Do I want -- do I want to risk being really, really vulnerable with this person, because there's something about them I find really compelling?
And mostly I encourage people to listen to their own inner knowing. If you're having sex because you think you should, probably that's not the person to have sex with. On the other hand, if your heart is just… If there's just some part of your desire that's just completely out of control, and it's like "I just want to get naked and be with you!" I actually encourage people to follow those feelings. To follow those feelings.
And people ask me for a guideline, and I… You know, I give this guideline to… I talk to teens a lot, and… I go teach sex education in a couple high schools in my area, and kids want to know -- they ask it different ways, but the question they really want to know is, "How do I know if I'm ready to have sex?" Like how do I… You know, how do I…
My boyfriend wants it, or my girlfriend wants it, and -- how do I know? And the thing I invite kids to look at -- I invite you to look at, first, consent and coercion.
Are you both doing this because you choose this, you want this, or is there some kind of coercion going on. Are you doing it because you're afraid if you don't do it, the person's going to think you're frigid, or they're going to think you're gay. Or they're going to think… Or they're going to think you're a freak, or they're going to think you're…there's something wrong with you. Are you doing this because all your friends did it? Are you doing this because your family keeps asking you, "How's this relationship going, and now you're embarrassed?" Are you doing this because -- are you doing this because you can? You know, you just think "Well, I can, so I should!" Are you do -- you know, like, why are you doing this? Why are you doing this?
I think it's a really important question to ask, because I think there's a lot of coercion in sexuality. I think there's a lot of, "I do it because if I don't do it, my boyfriend says he'll leave," or, you know, "If I don't do it, they're going to tell rumors about me in school." Or "If I don't do it, my boyfriend's going to make me do it." You know? I think there's a lot of coercion. I think there's a lot of coercion in sex. So the first thing we gotta do, is we've got to be in that area of choice versus coercion. We gotta be -- we gotta be actually having consent. Those are great 'C' words, right? Choice, coercion, consent. Okay…
Then I think there's an element of commitment. People say to me, "But can't you just have like meaningless sex?" I don't think sex is ever meaningless. So the commitment isn't always the same commitment, but I don't think sex is ever meaningless. Okay… I need to know the person's, first, committed to my health and well-being. I can't be sexual with somebody who's not committed to my health and well-being. I can't be sexual with somebody who, um… What if we somehow transmit a sexually transmitted disease or infection? What if we make an unwanted child? What if feelings come up after the sexuality that none of us really thought -- neither of us thought were going to come up before the sexuality? I need somebody who's committed enough to me that these things can be talked about, they can be… That I don't feel like I'm just going to, someone's going to be sexual with and run away.
Alissa Kriteman: Mmm.
Chip August: Because I can't anticipate what's going to happen as a result of the sexuality. I can control a lot of it, but there's feelings and things that can happen that are out of my control.
Alissa Kriteman: It's interesting, because you're talking about -- you were -- young adults, which really… You're talking about consciousness in adults. I mean, all these commitment, consent, and coercion and all of that, but you can see where, as teenagers, it all starts. Where we go unconscious, and we're, you know, conforming to norms, that actually just change. You know? And then we get into our twenties and thirties, and it's like "Oh! We're on the third date. We should have sex!" And is this person… I mean, but the… The stakes get a lot higher. You know? And the emotions, the unconscious motivators, I'll say, that have people have sex or want to stay in relationships. I mean, it's… It really starts at these very young ages, but just kind of morphs.
You know what? We're going to take a break. We're going to come right back. We could talk about this forever. This is Alissa Kriteman, I'm you're host of "Just For Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex." And we're having another juicy conversation with Chip August, and we'll be right back. [music] [ad] [music]
Alissa Kriteman: Welcome back to "Just For Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex." I'm you're host, Alissa Kriteman. We're here having a fantastic conversations with Chip August about what sex is? How did we learn about sex. How do we know if the sex is something we're just doing from an unconscious pattern, or if it's something we really, really want.
In this segment, we're going to talk a little bit more about sex, and then move into a deeper question of how do we have love last over time? And I think, Chip, as you were talking about before, once we start to really inquire about the kind of sex that we're having, why we're having sex, maybe waiting longer to have sex -- that that is actually a key to having love last over time. So what do you have to say about that?
Chip August: I… I notice, um… [laughs] Making love last. Making love stay. It feels like it's the… It's the question that every novelist, every playwright, every movie screenwriter at some point addresses. There's actually a really beautiful chapter in Tom Robbins' "Still Life With Woodpecker" novel that he wrote in the 70s, I guess, where… Chapter -- I think it's chapter two of "Still Life With Woodpecker." It's just a one-page question, really, that he asks twenty or thirty different ways, which is: how to make love stay. You know? And it is the question. How do you make love stay?
Now it's pretty interesting to me. I'm a guitarist. I'm an amateur guitarist. I don't play very well, but I like to play, and I enjoy -- I just enjoy making music. And I'm very blessed. My wife has picked up the guitar, and so she likes to play with me, and my daughter's now picking it up, so it's kind of fun.
Now, what I know about my guitar playing is, if I don't practice, I get pretty rusty. I… You know, some songs I know so well I could play forever, but I don't really improve, I don't get better, I don't… And, you know, you start playing the same songs over and over again, and at some point it kind of gets boring. And so the way to keep myself interested in guitar is I have to keep practicing. I have to keep playing, and I have to keep learning new things, and I have to listen to new songs, and learn new songs, and, and… And practice. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that, I don't think there's anything odd about that.
I like to hike. But I notice I don't want to take the same hike every single day. Now, I don't stop hiking. I just find new places to walk, and new -- you know, new, new sights, new, new… And I don't have to make them more strenuous. There doesn't have to be a goal of hiking up Everest, you know? But I notice that part of hiking is hiking new trails, and doing… Okay.
Now I look at intimacy in my long-term relationship, and I notice I apply this whole different set of rules. Somehow or other, I have this story -- and I don't know where this story came from, but I notice almost everybody has this story -- that if we had all that infatuation and passion and stuff at the beginning, it should somehow just sustain for a lifetime. Right? You know, "We used to -- sex was so good. It used to be so good. Why isn't it any good any more? You don't love me any more, that's why it's no good."
You're tired of me, you're bored… Hello? I notice with the guitar, I actually have to learn something, practice, and invest some time in it. I notice with my hiking, I got to invest some time in it. I notice people don't invest very much time in their sexuality. They don't get that it's true -- sexuality, sexual feelings, change over time. It's not true that they go away, and you can't get them back. It's kind of like guitar. Yeah, don't play your guitar for a while, guess what? Next time you pick it up, you're not going to be very good at it.
Alissa Kriteman: Mmm hmm.
Chip August: Is that a reason to stop playing? Not for me! Now, okay. So what I notice with my partner -- and I know, this my third marriage, and it's gone on for 12 years. We've been together now, uh 11 years. We've been living together 11 years, and we've been seeing each other for, like, 12 years. Okay? And so in some ways it's short, you know? Like I know people who are in 50-year and 60-year relationships. And what I notice is that at 12 years of seeing each other, there's a lot different feelings than there were in the first year.
You know, there's a lot… It's not -- it doesn't quite have the same spark. It doesn't quite have the… Yes, but I also noticed that we both recognize that, and work at it. I recognize, it's going to be a little more challenging for me to be sexy in my partner's eyes, because she knows me really well now. You know? She's seen me ill, she's seen me when I'm not in any way, shape, or form sexy. You know? She's seen me sad, she's seen me at times when I feel weak. These are not necessarily things that really come across as sexy. I'm going to have to work at this a little bit.
All right. How will I work at this? I will try anything I'm willing to try, and so will my partner. And that's pretty much the rule -- so what will we do? Sometimes we go and buy books! Sometimes in Borders, we go over to the Human Sexuality section, and we just notice what book catches our attention and see, is there an idea in a book? We'll listen to these podcasts! We'll listen… We'll listen to Alissa's podcast, we'll listen to… If you, uh… There's a podcast on the Personal Life Media Network from the One Taste people, right? From talking about sex and sexuality… We'll listen to podcasts and see if we get any new ideas.
We'll go to a workshop once in a while! We'll go to a workshop and see, is there… And each time we read something, or we try something new, or we try a workshop, we'll see, is there one idea that we could add to our practice? Is there one thing we could do different and see what that does. And what I notice is… We do make love stay. What I notice is, we teach ourselves to be the lovers we need to be for ourselves now, in these circumstances. And what I see a lot of people do is trash their relationship because they just didn't practice their guitar -- you know? They just didn't… They… Their fantasy was, if I buy a new guitar -- right? I go get a new relationship…
Alissa Kriteman: Right.
Chip August: …that'll solve the problem. And in a way it works. It works for like 6 months to 18 months, while that infatuation is there and everything's new. And you never learn the skill of, "How do we be great lovers to each other 20 years into it?" How do we… Yeah?
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah, it's interesting. So it sounds like what you're saying is that, what do we do when the obstacles arise? What do we do when there's a bump? You know? And when -- and it's true, it's like playing guitar! You either put it down, and it gets dusty and out of tune, and you never get another guitar! Or you do get one, but you still haven't learned how to play it such that it produces great music. And that is where -- I love what you're saying, as I think happens to people when they go straight for the divorce. Because somewhere along the line, they forgot to practice, or didn't know that it's okay not to know.
Chip August: Right, exactly. It's that "It's okay not to know." We believe -- you know, I get why we believe it. Somehow or other, we always think somebody else got the manual. Somebody else got the rule book, you know? And so you hook up with somebody, and you think "Well they know! They know!" You know, like the guy's supposed to know. The guy's supposed to know about sex. Women aren't supposed to know, because women who know about sex are sluts. I don't -- first of all, I don't think this is true, but I notice this is pretty deep in our conversation, right? Women who know about sex must be sluts. But men who know about sex -- well men are supposed to know about sex. Well right away, that's nonsense. That's just total nonsense. Men don't know anything more about sex than women do. Most men don't know very much about their own sexuality -- you know? We don't -- it's not like we stop and think about, "Well I like to be touched in this way, and I noticed that this feels better than that…" Most men, this is part of what… This is -- see, to me, this is part of how you make love stay. How you make love stay is, somewhere early in this relationship you start talking at a level of honesty about feelings and sensations and emotions, instead of hiding them, pushing them away, or just hoping the other person can figure it out, so that there's a common language you develop over time, so that you can deepen intimacy.
Yeah, but right away -- I'm sorry, there's no media that shows you that. When you watch the movies, what do they do when they make love? They stop talking, and the music comes up. This is wrong!
Alissa Kriteman: And then the lights go out!
Chip August: This is wrong! You know, like… I'm sorry, but when I'm going to be my most intimate with you, probably we're going to need some conversation. We're going to need to stop periodically, I'm going to need to ask you, "Does this feel good?" I'm going to need to say to you, "Oh honey, that feels really nice. And it would feel really nice if you did this…" You know, there's a lot of words that… I need to say to you the times my mind drifts. I know, this is really taboo, and people don't like to admit this, but… And anybody who's had sex with the same partner for a year or two years, there are times when your mind drifts. You stop being present. And we hide it. We pretend it's not true. I think exactly the opposite needs to happen. That's a moment to stop, and just say, "You know, one minute I was there with you, and wow -- I just went away." And then stop! Stop being sexual in that moment, and talk about going away, and talk about getting back, and, I think… One of the things nobody every tells anybody -- a great thing to do when you're being sexual with somebody is take a break. Stop right in the middle, and go have fruit. Go, go, you know…really! Go sit in the hot tub. Go take a shower together -- not at the beginning. In the middle. Go… You know, like, there's a wonder in stopping and starting and stopping and starting that…magic happens!
I think there's a rule. I have a rule, okay? It's sex if it feels like sex to me. And it's sex if it feels like sex to you. I don't have a rule that I have to have an orgasm, I don't even have to… I don't have to have an erection. Sometimes, I'm sorry, I… This is sad to admit, but every so often, my erection does not cooperate with me. And I want to be hard, it would be really nice if I was hard. It would be really great for my partner if I was hard, and guess what? It's just not happening. I know, this is not a really manly thing to admit… But you know what? That doesn't stop me from being a sexual being. That doesn't stop me from making love. That doesn't stop… And in fact, I have a partner who says, "You know, I don't want that to be all the time…" But that's not really a problem for her, either. It's not -- it's okay. We can be different, in each different moment.
I… My partner, I'm… Any woman knows this is true. You don't lubricate every time you think you should, right? Your mind is willing, you think you're willing, and your body just isn't cooperating in that way. That's okay. None of those things need to be obstacles. All those things need to be talked about, communicated, dealt with with commitment and concern, dealt with with compassion…
And all of that is what makes love stay. All of that is what makes a foundation for being sexual into your seventies, and into your eighties, and into your nineties. Because you've really created a foundation of communication and trust.
Alissa Kriteman: Mmm. I love that. I love that. I'm going to ask you a little bit deeper question, but I just want to recap here. So you're saying, no hiding, especially in those vulnerable moments where, you know -- yeah! You're going to drift off. You're gonna -- something's going to happen where you're not totally present, and being present is actually what you're saying makes sex greater and great and greater, and sustainable over time. Talk to each other -- you know?
I think also, too, in the interruption, is the building. You know, it's like, instead of going so fast for this -- I like how you say wiggle wiggle pop -- you know, it's like, building that orgasm over time. Being vulnerable enough -- and I know you don't like that word so much, but [laughs] -- to really share what's going on for you. So do you notice that when you stop and talk with your partner, that will clear out any obstacles? And what happens -- because I know people are not doing that. So what happens over time when we're not talking to each other, when we're not taking breaks.
Chip August: So, first -- do I notice over a time. Um… With my own partner, what I notice is… And this is, like, people have to embrace this. Stopping sometimes means, we will not actually go back to being sexual with each other. There are times when we're being sexual, I've drifted away or she's drifted away. In our conversation about being honest about that, we actually really get that maybe this isn't the best moment to be having our genitals joined. And those actually are really profound and powerful moments also.
Those are -- it's like, what I love is that not all sex is about orgasm.
Alissa Kriteman: That's exactly….
Chip August: There's no goal, there's no place we have to get to. Okay. Uh, what was the other thing you asked me about. I lost it.
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah, I know, no, because what you brought up is really important. I think a lot of us have sex because we think that orgasm is the goal, the end-all, be-all. And men often ask, "Well, did you come? Did you come?" What do you think about that? What do you think about men who don't know whether or not a woman has come or not?
Chip August: Well, first I don't think we… Okay, so I… I would like it to be that we all knew just instinctively what was happening in our partner's bodies, and we don't know. And I also want to say, I've met many women -- now women, you gotta be honest about this. I have met many women who actually aren't sure whether they came or not.
Alissa Kriteman: Got it.
Chip August: You know, not all the time, not always, but I've met many women who've had that experience of -- well maybe they came, maybe they'd didn't come, it's…not quite sure.
So if you're not quite sure, it's reasonable that your partner's not quite sure.
The problem with the "Did you come? Did you come? Did you come?" is that is makes the focus of the sexuality coming. And I'm not sure that that's the best focus of sexuality.
I can guarantee I can come almost every time. All I need for a partner is my hand. I know how to pleasure me, and so if that's the only goal, the best thing I could do is just not involve another person, okay? Because then -- you know? If it's just me and my hand, I'm pretty sure I could work it out for… No! The reason I have another person there isn't -- isn't just the actual goal of orgasm. I have another person there because
in our sexual exchange, there's a lot of things happening at a lot of levels.
What I notice is we focus so much on just the orgasm part, that we miss all those other things that are happening at all those other levels. So… So, yeah, I'm not particularly orgasm-focussed, but I'm not orgasm-opposed.
The other thing is is that I think good sex, most of the time, takes time. And what I notice is, it's hard to find the time. It's hard to make the time. And I want to honor that it is hard to make the time. You know, I got two kids, and I've got a career, my wife's got a career, and -- you know, time is really of the essence. Time… And we notice, we have to schedule sex. We have to set aside time in our busy life and say, "We are going to be sexual at this time." That means that sometimes my body's not going to cooperate. Right? Because now I'm having sex because it's the time in the calendar when I'm supposed to have sex. That's not the most romantic and…you know. Okay.
What we agree -- my wife and I, my partner and I -- we agree that intimate time is critical to our relationship, whether or not it leads to erections and orgasms. It's critical. Our bodies want to be holding each other, want to be naked with each other, want to be feeling each other against each other, regardless of whether or not my penis gets erect, regardless of whether… And we really have a deep commitment to make the time for that. What we notice is, when we take away the pressure of, it doesn't really matter whether you feel sexy right now -- this is a really important thing for our relationship that we be together, without the barrier of clothing, without the kids bothering us, without jobs, talking, connecting… We notice most of the time, after a while, our bodies want to physically connect also.
Alissa Kriteman: Makes sense. So basically, take the time. And it goes back to what you were saying about having a practice. You know? Like, having the consciousness, if you're going to practice you're guitar, you've got to make time for it. If you're going to practice having a great relationship that's going to last over time, you gotta make time for it!
So two things I want to go a little bit deeper on that you touched upon -- a woman knowing whether or not she had an orgasm. Women taking their sexuality seriously! I think that's happening a lot now. There's all kinds of things happening. And then the other thing -- coming versus orgasm.
Okay, so let's start with women taking their sexuality serious, and really knowing whether they had an orgasm or not.
Chip August: Actually, I think it's funny, because I don't think it's just women. I think it's women and men. I notice -- most men think orgasm and ejaculation are the same thing. So a guy knows if he came, because he ejaculated! And I'm not clear that those two things are actually the same thing. You know?
Alissa Kriteman: Well, and the whole Buddhist sort of -- there's tantra, where you can have an ejaculation… No, you can have an orgasm without ejaculation.
Chip August: But it's also true you can have ejaculation without an orgasm. So I want to make a distinction between our bodies physically climaxing… Okay, so for a guy, your ejaculation is a physical pumping of the prostate gland, which forces fluid -- basically, your prostate gland spasms, which forces ejaculate fluid through your penis. As that ejaculate fluid passes over the ends of the vas deferens, which come up over the testicles, it mixes sperm in with the ejaculate fluid and your body ejects this -- it ejaculates this.
That's a biological function. What about the part of orgasm where it feels like you leave your body. What about the part of orgasm where it feels like you have a feeling of bliss or ecstasy or delight that starts at your toes and kind of goes up to the top of your head. What about the indescribable, emotional part of orgasm? Well, any guy will tell you, they can ejaculate pretty much any time. Getting that feeling, for some guys, they never have that in their life. There are men, I think, who never orgasm. They ejaculate, but I don't think they ever actually have the experience of what I would describe as an orgasm.
So I'd say the same thing about women. There are women who -- yeah, their body shudders. They have a crea -- they have a body reaction. But they've never really had that moment of ecstasy. Or they don't get that moment of ecstasy very much.
All right, where does that come from? Well, I think orgasm's a really complex thing. Okay? I think orgasm is a mix of spirit and emotion and mind and body. It's our soul and our body, at a connection place. It's a moment of heaven, for those that believe in heaven. It's a moment of heaven that we get in the human body. I think orgasm's pretty complicated. I don't… I think ejaculation is pretty easy. I think orgasm's pretty complicated.
I think -- I meet women in workshops all the time who aren't sure. They haven't had an out-of-body experience. They haven't had an experience where it felt like they were just -- they were taken over by the feelings that were occasioned by the sexuality. And so one of the things I try to teach people, one of the things I want people to do is experience that, and it turns out, this is… Okay, so this is what I like about tantra. When you take classes -- courses -- in tantra, one of the things you learn is that there is sexual energy in your body all the time. The tantras call it kundalini energy, the yogis call it kundalini energy, okay? But the word is sexual energy. Okay? And it's there all the time. And what a lot of tantric yoga is about is moving sexual energy, is learning how to feel it, and then move it, in your body. Feel it in your heart, feel it in your loins, feel it in your mind, feel it… okay. And.. [laughs] That exercise of learning to feel your sexual energy and move it around in your body, is great exercises to learn how to have orgasm. It's really great ex-- And it turns out, you can have orgasms from breathing! You can have orgasms from a rhythmic set of movements in your body that aren't about actually playing with your genitals. It turns out, orgasm isn't actually confined to your genitals!
And when we learn that, then we get freed from that whole cycle of, Does it matter whether I have an erection or not? Does it matter whether you lubricate? We get freed from that whole cycle of… So, what is orgasm? Well, I don't know if I have words to describe it, but I think it's a lot bigger than jus the spasm that our body does.
Now, just a moment about the women's spasm, just so you know. The man's spasm is the thing that forces ejaculate to mix with sperm and actually shoot seed. Women -- I don't know, many women have never seen photography of this, but there's actual beautiful snorkel photography of what happens to a woman's body when a woman has that -- the physical, the muscular reaction. And women, when your body has the physical sensation -- now I'm not talking emotion here, but the spasm that you have -- you're… the end of your uterus, the cervix, actually dips a little bit into a well in your vaginal canal so if there is seminal fluid there, the cervix will dip down a little bit and touch where the seminal fluid is to help the creation of babies. And so when you watch the actual physics, the physical… Okay, what's happening for a man is he's shooting seed, and what's happening for a woman is, her cervix is dropping a little bit to be more receptive to the seed finding its way up into the fallopian tubes, into the ovaries.
That's the physics of it. I'm not sure that's orgasm. You know?
Alissa Kriteman: [laughs] This is why I love talking to you. Because now we've just sort of unraveled what is sex, and what is orgasm. And I love that you said that. I hadn't really thought so intricately about the kinds and levels of orgasm, that there is physical orgasm, that there's spiritual, emotional… There's breath. So it really is. It's like -- I, I feel very grateful that we can have these kinds of conversations, to help people understand, you know, it isn't a 10-minute physical journey. Sex can be so much more than that!
And really, helping people understand the kinds of lovemaking that are available, the kinds of orgasm that are available, and women, if you're not sure about, you know, are you having an orgasm or not, how to come, there are so many resources available, just on our network alone! So as we wrap up here, I think it's a great time to let people know how to find us. Chip, you can find more about him at chipaugust.com.
And also, HAI -- right? The Human Awareness Institute-- .org. Do you want to say anything about that?
Chip August: I lead workshops called "Love, Intimacy, and Sexuality" workshops. They were founded by a guy named Stan Dale, back in 1968. Stan just passed away last month, and I miss him very much. And we have a web site, it's called HAI.org -- Hai.org -- where you can learn more about our web site -- where you can learn more about my weekend workshops. Very powerful weekend residential workshops on all the stuff we're talking about.
Also want to say that you can find both Alissa and I at PersonalLifeMedia.com, and do come listen to our podcasts. Mine's called "Sex, Love, and Intimacy," and yours is called "Just For Women!"
Alissa Kriteman: You know, it's so funny. It sounds like "Okay, here! We're going to plug our stuff." But really, actually, this is what we've dedicated our lives to. You know? And so, email us… I'd love to know what people want to know more about, you know? And -- I don't know, maybe we're creating something here, Chip, where people can actually write in and we can talk a little bit deeper about orgasm, sexuality, intimacy, love, devotion, fearless loving… All of it!
And so, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I've also written a book that you can find at meetthedreamer.com, and I coach women in living their most empowered lives. And sexuality is definitely a piece of it, and so my book is all about living your dreams, whatever that is for you. I have tools, tips, techniques… We really look at how to be the most enlivened woman that you can possibly be.
So, again, thank you so much. You're listening to "Just For Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex." I'm here with Chip August, host of "Sex, Love, and Intimacy," and we really look forward to hearing from you and offering more great content for you in the future. For text and transcripts of this show and other shows on the Personal Life Media network, please visit our web site at PersonalLifeMedia.com. We also have blogs on the shows, so please feel free to read our blogs, give us comments, give us feedback. That's what we're here for. We want to hear from you.
So have a great day, and we'll be with you soon.
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