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158. Liberating Non-Monogamous Play and Your Birthright to Sexual Pleasure with Kristen Thomas

Nicole: Welcome to Modern Anarchy, the podcast exploring sex, relationships, and liberation. I'm your host, Nicole.

On today's episode, we have Kristen Thomas. Join us for a conversation about our cultural shift. Towards more expansive pleasure. Together, we talk about unpacking why you might be nervous at your first play party. Telling your mom about your first threesome, and embracing the fluidity of our sexuality. Hello, dear listener, and welcome back to Modern Anarchy.

I am so excited to see a world where we are having more options. To assume that Billions of people are all going to fit into one relationship structure is absurd. So we are stepping into a world where more options are available. And part of that, though, is deconstructing the scripts of what we've been told around sexuality and gender.

and relationships. But it's so exciting to see younger generations doing this, all of the literature that is out there. And for me, I just got to go to my first poly wedding in my community this weekend and saw such a beautiful ceremony where other partners were incorporated into the experience. I mean, it's just so exciting to see that we are creating space for more.

options in terms of our relationships so that we all can find the relationship practice that brings us the most pleasure. And it's really interesting, when I do look at the data, across the board generally when you look at monogamy and non monogamy, Relationship satisfaction is about the same, so we are rewriting the cultural scripts to understand that both relationship structures are going to produce satisfying relationships.

The one part that is different is that non monogamous folks often report higher levels of sexual satisfaction than monogamous folks. And the data doesn't stop there. What gets even more interesting is that non monogamy is an umbrella, right? There are different types of non monogamy. You could be a swinger, you could have an open relationship, you could be poly, right?

So let's break down the data. So swingers had higher levels of sexual satisfaction than monogamous folks, but swingers overall relationship satisfaction was similar to monogamous folks. Now, open relationships, their sexual satisfaction was similar to monogamy. Very interesting, right? And open relationships overall, their relationship satisfaction was lower than monogamous folks.

Now, polyamorous folks, they actually reported higher levels of sexual satisfaction and higher levels of relationship satisfaction. Dear listener, it is so exciting to have this research. Obviously, as someone who practices polyamory and relationship anarchy, I'm definitely delighted in my bias to hear that polyamorous folks are reporting higher levels of sexual satisfaction and overall relationship satisfaction, the monogamy, right?

That's really justifying to say that See, as someone who is constantly moving through the world where people are presuming that my relationship structures never work, that we have attachment issues, I mean, the list goes on. So it's so validating to see this research. And I think it's also just so exciting to see that it's not as simple of a question of monogamy or non monogamy.

It's actually about the types of non monogamy that we practice. So, I'm just really excited as a researcher. I feel like this is the bubblings of so much research that is about to happen, right? Where are my relationship anarchists on here? Are they reporting higher levels of sexual and relationship satisfaction?

I'm definitely curious, and I think it's really important that regardless of which relationship model you choose to practice, follow your pleasure, dear listener. Again, overall satisfaction, generally the same. And we're all going to choose our own paths with sexuality and what is important to us and what we want to unpack in a lifetime.

Amen. Not everyone has to take the psychedelic. There are beautiful ways to live life without ever touching the psychedelic. And so I just hope that you feel inspired to really think critically about the culture that you've been in. I hope you can look at data, like the study that I mentioned and linked in the show notes and find more data, follow your pleasure.

Dear listener, create the relationship structures that bring you joy.

It's so exciting to be here with you, dear listener, and to get to spend my life examining the research and bringing it to you and having these really fun, meaningful conversations like I did with today's guest. And with that, please know that I am sending you all of my love and let's tune in to today's episode.

So then the first question I like to ask each guest is, how would you introduce yourself to the listeners?

Kirsten: Well, my name is Kristen. I am a certified sex coach based in Kansas city, Missouri. I work with the singles. I work with couples. I do workshops and I'm also doing my best on tick tock to educate the masses without being censored.

Nicole: Sure. I hear that. I'd hear that. Well, welcome to the show. Happy to have you here today. Thanks Thank you. Mm hmm. Yeah. So let me know a little bit about your personal journey. How did you get into this work or what, you know, what sparked the passion?

Kirsten: Well, it actually started long before I thought I would be a sex coach.

Um, I thought I was going to be a marriage and family therapist one day. I did not get into the graduate school that I wanted. So then I thought, well, I'll do that one day. And then in the 2000s, grad school got. Very, very expensive. And I ended up working at a weight loss company, R. I. P. Jenny Craig. They don't exist anymore.

They just went out of business this year, but there I learned that I actually wanted to be a coach and not a therapist. I just, I wanted to work on the other side of the coin with helping people, which was much more action oriented. It was less about diagnosis. I think that therapy is wonderful. Everyone probably needs a bit therapy in their life at some point, but coaching is just sort of, I feel that next step.

Like once people have figured out what their baggage is, then they can carry it, move forward, you know, get into more exploration. So that's what I like doing. And you know, when you're helping women lose weight, you're talking a lot about their sex lives. Mmm, they start. Little whispers of, you know, I'm not really comfortable getting undressed with the lights on.

You know, I don't remember the last time I actually wanted my spouse to see my body. And stuff like that. So then as I'm helping them change other aspects and their confidence is coming back and they're feeling themselves again and they're talking about, we're having sex again, we're having great sex again.

So that was a lot more fun to help women with that aspect than helping them follow some weight loss program. So

Nicole: there you go. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah. I mean, and it's so exciting to be able to help people fall with their pleasure, right? In whatever capacity that that takes. Yeah. Which is very different, obviously, than a lot of therapeutic work, right?

As someone who's in that space, it's, I mean, it's, it's similar, but it's so different. Kind of like you said, in terms of, you know, like when you've unpacked a lot and maybe you don't have a mental illness, if we even use that frame anymore, like, where do you go for support? Right. When you're looking for that sort of additional help, that's kind of beyond therapy.

Therapeutic lens of training. I think that's where coaching comes in. Right?

Kirsten: Yeah. I get to do some like more fun stuff. Like I can meet my clients at a shop and help them pick out their first sex toy and just ask them questions, show them examples. Then. Guide them through that choice. I've met people at the dungeons, but that, you know, they're comfortable their very first time where I'm introducing them to people that are in lifestyles, gone to the, you know, munches and things like that with clients, their first time.

And I do get to do some stuff that's. very outside of the box that therapists just can't.

Nicole: Which is needed, right? Like that transition into the community can be so difficult for a lot of people.

Kirsten: Yeah, absolutely. They, you know, and it's different based on wherever you may be located. Um, but within every community, there's, there's probably some kinky folks out there.

You just have to know where to find them.

Nicole: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. What are the majority of the you know, presenting issues or things that people come to you about?

Kirsten: A lot of people, I mean, I'm in the Midwest, so I do get a lot of people who came from a very religious background.

And if some of them do understand that that religious upbringing is having an influence over, you know, How accepting they can be of, of their desires and a pleasure.

And sometimes they have no clue that there's a connection between the two. Like they've logic their way out of church and religion. So they think, Oh, I'm fine now. I don't, I don't believe those things. So I'm good. But they don't understand that then when they're trying to have solo sex and they have feelings of shame and guilt, they're not wanting to get undressed in front of their partner.

They think that there's certain acts that are just. A no go because of messages that they've received. So I like helping people make that tie and work through a bit more of the deconstruction. A lot of, yeah, a lot of that purity culture stuff. There's also like a lot of mismatched libidos.

I just did a TikTok video talking about stuff with Thanksgiving and it was a bit of a joke, but it has started a lot of discourse about the mental load and how willing, especially in heterosexual relationships, women are to get a little sexy and get a little naughty when they see their spouse.

Doing the things around the holidays that they don't need to be asked to do like they're just participating in making holiday magic. They're participating in Ken keeping they, you know, plan without us delegating. That's really hot. Okay. So in heterosexual couples trying to. Sort of get her to chill a little, get him to step up so that they can see that the reason she doesn't want to have sex with you, dude, is cause you don't do enough and she's just overwhelmed.

She has no mental space or capacity for intimacy left after all the other things she has done on her checklist for the day. The last thing she wants to do is suck your dick.

Nicole: Yeah. That's so hard for me, though, because that feels like the bare minimum, right? Like that, I don't know, like,

Kirsten: I know, I know. I'm with you.

I'm with you. It's like, no, no marriage is ever saved by doing more dishes. Yeah, you know, I'm 100 percent will say that. And yet. Marriages, where there is more equity, where it's not that she's in charge of the domestic and he's in charge of the, the financial, when there is equitable, and that can look different from couple to couple, when there is equitable splitting of taking care of your homes and your lives, those couples have more sex, plain and simple.

Nicole: Yeah, totally. Yeah, which is good. I've heard it's also done the opposite to right where it like in some sort of ways because of the like social conditioning around like men who they are when you start to equal it out. It can also like decrease the libido though, because we're no longer playing into these cultural scripts that have been so conditioned into us right when you start to take that away.

It can, I think it's great. Right. So obviously get more equitable, but at the same time, it's like the same ways that, um, it's good to see men cry. Right. But then when you do, you have to also deconstruct how like, Oh, that still makes them a strong, powerful man. Right. All that sort of stuff that is like deep in the unconscious.

So I work with a lot of people that come from purity culture too, that step into non monogamy and it's that same sort of thing of like deconstructing all this. So I think. It's sometimes it's hard for me to put myself back into that space because like, you know, when you're non monogamous and you have multiple partners and like multiple men that make you dinner and I'm like sitting back and they don't get any blowjobs for that.

Like it's really hard for me to hear. I'm like, Oh, this is the paradigm that people are still in. Like it's, it's, it's pretty radically different when I think about that.

Kirsten: Absolutely. Absolutely. And, and yes, there, there was a study out there in like 2013 that showed when he does more of her quote, unquote, exactly.

And that's exactly how all of that was framed. When he does her chores, he's he'll have sex. Like 3. 8 times per month versus 4. 5 times per month when he does what are traditionally masculine. Yeah. Um, I wouldn't say traditionally masculine. I hate using that phrase. What our modern society has deemed as masculine because mowing the lawn has not always been a masculine trait because lawns once upon a time did not exist.

Um, and also hunter gatherers, it's shown that actually it was more women that went and hunted. We're, we are examining some of those things. But anyway, that study came out in 2013, and I think a lot of it had to do with the framework around it. Again, it was the, if he is demasculated, if he's made to wash the dishes, or child care is a big thing too, then he has less sex.

Well, hmm. I don't know. I think as I've looked at that 2013 study, I think that there was a lot of flaws and that there's been more modern studies since even in 2015, that a study in 2015, I cannot remember who wrote it, but I did read it recently again. Said that when there is equitable splitting of household duties, he has more sex than men who don't.

So there's a lot of, there is a lot of mixed stuff out there. I think. You know, when we get into, again, this deconstruction stuff around church, we also kind of deconstruct a lot of the patriarchy and what masculinity really means. And that doesn't just affect men. As you mentioned, seeing your husband cry or seeing a man cry, if as a woman, you're observing a man cry and like, that was what you wanted, but then you have some weird about it.

Most likely that's because you've got some internalized patriarchy with you that's giving you messages about what a real man does. So it's, it's all tied in.

Nicole: I know. That's the wild part too, is like, I think the unconscious nature of all of it, right? Where like, you, you fight for the world where young men can totally cry, and then you have that first one that cries in front of you, and you're like, wow.

And you know, and that, that shattering and the ways that you still have to like, realize that like, even if your value system is to act in this, Way. We live in a culture where things are so, you know, deeply ingrained. The patriarchy is so around us that you can have a values driven desire and still have a reaction because you're in the society and still need to deconstruct it, which is so hard.

Kirsten: Yes. I think even just recognizing those moments of like, Ooh, that felt not like I wanted it to. Um, I need to think about that for a moment. So I must don't even take that time to go like, what, why am I feeling the way that I'm feeling?

Nicole: Yeah. Which is like, I think a hundred percent a part of the psychedelic experience of reconnecting to your, uh, pleasure sexually in a puritanical culture.

I don't know how I would be here without that level of like, okay, wait, why am I panicking the first time I go to a sex. Party. Why am I panicking here? Like, what is that? Right? All of that has been such good, like, exploration to unpack these unconscious things that are just sitting there. Mm hmm.

Kirsten: I'm a big fan of using psychedelics to unpack.

Nicole: Yeah, you want to say more?

Kirsten: I have said to my husband that I feel like there is only before psychedelics and after psychedelics. And that oftentimes in my office, I can tell a difference between those who have partaken and those who haven't.

Nicole: Yeah, it makes you think a lot, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I do, um, clinical work with psychedelic assisted psychotherapy again, depending on where you're at, right.

More trauma based, other sorts of thing processing, but there's also that other side of using them for exploration and healing and all that sort of stuff. So, I mean, you know, there's so much there that I feel like a lot of my work with relationships, I keep thinking that like relationships in and of themselves are like a psychedelic experience.

It sounds cheesy again, but like, When we're melding consciousness of different perspectives and worlds and stories, it's impossible to not be changed by that.

Kirsten: Yes. Yes.

Nicole: Yeah.

Kirsten: You can't undo it. You can't undo the experience. That imprint is on you.

Nicole: Right.

Kirsten: Right.

Nicole: Which I think when you're having sex with different types of people, that's kind of like a space where you learn and get to have that sort of experience to, to have different ways of play and the ways that that shapes you.

It just seems such like a crucial part of that experience for me. Mm hmm. Yes. Yes.

Kirsten: There's so much to be learned about yourself when you're having especially open sexual experiences with other people and you, within like the open community, cause ethical non monogamous community, I think that's one of the more beautiful aspects of what the people get from it.

Yeah. Just the, I hadn't had someone. Touch me like this, or I hadn't had someone approach me in this manner and ask me these things and really try to understand my body and what pleasure means to me and how I move and how to really like get those erotic juices flowing. If only the monogamous people would give it a try.

I mean, like they might see, they might see like the rest of experiences that, that are available out there. But there's ways to get some great stuff into your marriage, no matter what. Totally. I know the monogamous people always think that I'm trying to convince them to open their marriage. I'm like, no, I'm not, I'm not, I'm really not.

I like what Esther Perel says about the shadow of the third in mating captivity. And it's not that you have to have AIDS. Third or fourth or fifth or 10th person in the relationship with you. But how do you play with this idea of newness or, you know, trying to role play in some way to bring in that new relationship energy that you, you had that spark at the beginning, you know, that just felt like all tingly and fun.

I think one of the cool things that my ethically non monogamous clients report, especially ones who have been in it very long term, you know, 10, 15, 20 years is like, They truly feel they're getting like this newer version of their partner constantly. And I think it relates back to what you talked about that when each of us have experiences with somebody that leaves a little bit ingrained in us, we are new every single day because of all these different experiences.

And I admire how much ethical non monogamous clients and friends. really try to like keep so present that they are seeing that newness in their partner all the time.

Nicole: It's beautiful. Totally. Yeah. It's like having a friend, right? You have a best friend and then you go to lunch with a new friend and you're like, wow, this new friend is really great.

Best friends also really great because they're different, right? Like just being able to have that contrast in that space. If we look at like the science, you know, like sex at dawn, all that sort of stuff, the evolution, like if we're talking about real wiring, right? We're talking about something that's like truly wired to be non monogamous or like, um, property based situations.

That's when we're getting into this space where people are experiencing monogamy. And even monogamy, right? It was always this, like, sort of space where you would have it, but then you had your extramarital affairs, right? And it wasn't that romance. It reminds me of the book, um, How Love Conquered Marriage.

So then if we, like, add that, and then we look at, like, the statistical desires, right, that drop off so dradically in these, like, sexually monogamous situations, it's interesting because it's almost as if, like, The data would suggest that like sexually falling off is a part of the inevitability of this structure.

Right. I just think it's really interesting if we think about it from like a cultural lens, it's almost, you know, these different situations, depending on your society and your culture, make one seem so prevalent versus the other. Like when I was Christian, like this was the only world I could be. And if someone told me that non monogamy was an answer, I would have fought them.

I would have yelled at them. When my first non monogamous partner came to me and said, like, I'm polyamorous, I said, if you actually loved me, then you would love just me, you know, and I totally, and I fought, I fought him, you know, and then I realized I was like, Oh, I've had crushes on multiple people all the time.

Like, ah, you know, I just, I really do think it's like a cultural thing as much as, you know,

Kirsten: I think that you're right. It is a valid conversation to say how much of that is, because that is just. Who they are and how they feel, um, what's right for them versus how much of that is all of that stuff that's been put into the brains by church, society, politician, hearing.

Nicole: And it runs deep, right? Because especially if we look at the sexuality data, right, it's like, you know, When this obviously not too long ago, 1970s, we still had the homosexuality and the diagnosis of, uh, statistical disorders, you know, the DSM. So, oh, so if we just think a hundred years ago, or sorry, 50 years ago, it was a disorder to be gay, right?

And so as we've shifted, what we've noticed is that the people identifying as queer. Has risen significantly. Right. And I guess it's just interesting to think about how many, you know, especially if you've worked in a lot of, um, evangelist or like Christian religious spaces, like the amount of people that grew up all their life being taught, you know, sex is with a man and a woman deconstruct Christianity and get out and go, Oh my god, I'm actually queer as well.

The late in life lesbian. Totally, like, like all of that. The late in life bisexual, yes. Right, so then you ask deeper questions, right, of like, okay, interesting, so you can go through your whole life thinking, I am this way, I am this way, and then when you turn around, Deconstruct the system that's been above you.

Then you're like, Oh, actually I'm not this way. I thought I was, this is really interesting. Um, so I think it's interesting when we see the rates of like people, more identifying as queer, the rates of people, more identifying as craving a non monogamous relationship, shifting as much as the like cultural phenomena around these topics are shifting, it makes me ask questions, but my God, if someone would have came to me when I was like a straight person and told me like, you like women, I would have.

You know what I mean? So it's never the right move to do that.

Kirsten: No, I'm the same way. I

It's like, oh

God. When I look back I don't know how old you may have been when you I don't know if you identified as bisexual or pan or whatnot.

Nicole: Queer, yeah.

Kirsten: Queer, yeah. I kind of think queer because it's a good catch all.

I tried, I'm trying less than less to say bisexual because there's some people who are not binary and people who are like of trans experience, different things. And I'm like, Oh, well, I do. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, there it is. Yep. Um, but I first came out as bisexual. Really? It wasn't until 2017 when I went to my first SAR.

Have you been to a SAR? No, what's that? Um, sexual re adjustment. Okay. I've heard of it. Sexual re adjustment, re assessment. Yeah. Um, because it really is just bombarding you with images, stories, panels, people with different experiences. Yeah. And it's our, it's your job when you're in a SAR, which is led by sex coaches, sex therapists, sex therapists.

Clinicians stuff like that. Their job is to challenge you and to see like, what makes you feel like, Oh, I don't, I don't like that. And you lean back, you know, where you turn away, you close your eyes, you look down versus what do you go like, Oh, okay. Like you lean forward or you're taking notes or you have questions because you should not be working with populations that are doing the things that you see.

If you have like a fundamental ick with it.

So it is more of like. Also, check in with that ick. Where does that ick come from? What's it stemming from? And it was there that I was just like, you know, I'm not straight. I'm not straight. I am not straight. I need to go home and I need to be transparent. About this.

I've never been with a woman. I've thought about it. I've fantasized about it. Watch a lot of lesbian porn, but I had still been like, it's just, I'm not watching lesbian porn because of the lesbians. I'm just watching it because, um, I like to, you know, get eaten out like the way they do it versus the way they show a lot of men doing it.

Nicole: Totally. I

Kirsten: am into that. Right? Anyway, but yeah, I came home in 2017 and had to start, you know, changing how I presented, changing how I identified. Although I, oh shit, I found out just about six months ago and talking to my mom that what I thought was my coming out story to her, she thought I was just kidding.

Nicole: What? What happened?

Kirsten: I played a podcast for her where I was talking about planning my first threesome. Yeah. And I talk about it. I'm like, I'm driving the car. Mom's trapped in it. I put the podcast on. It's that section and I'm just kind of like looking at her waiting for her reaction and she's just being very chill about it.

And all of a sudden she reaches over and she hits the power button. She's like, I have a question. She's like, so you and him had before I was like, yes, I had been with him before he's now married. She'd been with women before I had not. So it was a great opportunity. She's like, so you and her, I'm like, yeah.

She's like, yeah. Okay. And then she pushed the power button and just started listening again. And I'm like, what, what, what? She's like, I thought you were just doing it for the podcast. I was like,

Nicole: it's hard for her to comprehend. Huh?

Kirsten: Yeah. And I was like, no, mom, I like girls. She's not the only girl I've been with.

In fact, I had coffee with her a couple of weeks ago. She's doing great. We're not like looking to hook up or anything. She's just a friend now. She's like, okay. Yeah, I have multiple former lovers that I am friends with, right? I think most if I ran for office, most of my former lovers would probably vote for me.

Nicole: Right. Yeah, it's so hard when she comes from a whole different generation though, right? We're like anything of that caliber was truly thought of as like you should be sent to an asylum. For that desire, like, you know, so our parents have a real hard time here in that, you know, which is, which is, I think, pointing back to what these questions are asking about, like, wired and stuff, you know, we got to ask deeper questions about how many people were gay before and didn't know it because of the conditioning.

When we look at the children that are coming out at, like, 12 being like, yeah, I'm queer and I'm this, you know, they don't have any of the context that that older generation had to even have this shame and the stigma. And I think that's why we're also seeing such a rise in non monogamous desires. Like the rates are really high for younger folks.

So I think we're in the middle of this large cultural shift, which like, Let's just think about the fact that, like, I was watching a, um, Dan Savage and Esther Perel talk about non monogamy and monogamy seven years ago, and, you know, they did their Q& A, and some people were like, Is porn cheating? Mm. Mm hmm.

Which, like, fair question. Maybe seven years ago, I think this Yeah. And, and, and it obviously is within certain cultures, right? I think that's the biggest thing I always try to remember is that like sex is a hundred percent cultural. In some cultures, porn is a hundred percent cheating in a lot of people who have stepped away from like religious and other sort of cultural frameworks like that.

But porn is mental health. And so like, it's an interesting question to think about, like how in a world, you know, where previously if you saw someone naked, it was. It's just your married partner compared to now, like you want to see that here you go. Here's Google here and the like just sitting in how that affects our frame of sexuality and multiple relationships and sex with other people.

I mean, I think we're at a really interesting cultural revolution point.

Kirsten: I totally agree with you too. And like prop two. I, I don't know what is it? Gen X has been the ones to, you know, normalize being gay to normalize ethical non-monogamy, more like, uh, I think that they started a lot of the conversations.

Um, but yeah, these, these 12 year olds who are able to be themselves, it is absolutely a hundred percent because what they see in the media is things like love is love. They get this over these overwhelming messages of be who you are that. You know, when I was a teen, what I heard was stories like Matthew Shepard being murdered, you know, um, Boys Don't Cry with Hilary Swank.

That kind of stuff was what was very prevalent. It was talking about, you know, gay people get murdered. You're, you're not gonna be happy. You're gonna have mental issues if you try to go down this route. Right. And I am so thankful that the messaging has shifted.

Nicole: Have you read the All or Nothing Marriage?

Mm mm. Ugh, yeah. It's a I don't know. I mean, I got a lot from it. It's from this researcher at Northwestern that did a lot of, like, data on marriage and happiness and stuff, which was really fascinating. There's a lot to glean from that. Mostly what I took away from it was also just that, like, you know, we have that marriage rate of, uh, divorce rate of 50%, but it varies so drastically based on your socioeconomic status, right, and education and all of that.

But, you know, you have this whole like 300 page book, whatever, and none of it talks about sex, except for a s I know, right? Cause apparently that's not an important part of the marriage. A whole book about marriage and no talking about sex! I know! Okay! I was like, okay, uh, and then once I did get into it, it was, um, there was a little bit where it was like, your marriage is great, you've gone to therapy, you've done all the things, and sex still boring.

Do you live a life of celibacy? Do you just deal with subpar sex? And then it kept going. It was like some people who quote unquote, do not have moral or religious obligations, explore non monogamy. It can bring up, I know, right? I, I, I dropped my jaw at it too. I was like, Whoa. And then it was like. It brings up unbearable experiences of emotion and difficulty with jealousy, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Kind of like that same paradigm of the gay, right? Oh, they're miserable, all that. And I'm like, you know what? It has brought up difficult feelings of jealousy, but like, where's the discussion of my pleasure? That is huge. You know what I mean?

Kirsten: I'm like, wow. Well, and also, It's not that jealousy doesn't exist in monogamous relationships.

It's not that ethically non monogamous or open relationships are the only ones that experience jealousy. In fact, studies show that monogamous people have higher levels of jealousy.

Nicole: Yes, it does. Yes, it does.

Kirsten: So yeah, and the whole moral compass thing, like that just also goes back to the root of religious people believe that if you don't have religion in your life, you have.

No moral compass. There's like, what could you possibly draw your, your moral compass from if it's not from a book, one book, their book.

Nicole: Yeah. Deep breath on that one.

Kirsten: I know. So I've always really looked at the intersection of religion, politics, and human sexuality as I've been in this. And so I am writing a book about the intersection of those three and about how well meaning white Christian parents can really fuck us up.

Oh yeah. Because they're putting all these messages into us about your damaged goods if you have sex before you're married. Right? Like how many girls went through the tape, the duct tape experiment, or the chewed gum conversation?

Nicole: Yeah, I did. Yep.

Kirsten: Huh? Yep. Oh man, my purity pledge night was kind of traumatic.

Ah! Um, and then like, don't date outside of your race is often a big one too. And the asterisk on that is They're usually okay with it if they're white adjacent, but heaven forbid, a black boy dating white girl.

Nicole: Mm hmm.

Kirsten: Right? Um, what my parents used to say is, well, their families aren't usually okay with that.

I'm like, that just means more families aren't okay with it, but alright. Yeah. I'm like, I married an Arab man, so I had to have that conversation with my parents about like, are y'all okay with this? Cause I don't really give a fuck if you're not, I just want to know how to move forward with you too. If you're not.

Nicole: Yeah.

Kirsten: So my mom was like, what do you mean? I'm like, well, it definitely made me feel like I shouldn't bring home a boy that wasn't white. She's like, well, he's not black. And I'm like, Oh Jesus, mom, that's not reality of that culture. Yeah, it's reality of that culture. Um, and then the last one is don't be gay in any way, shape, or form.

Nicole: Yep.

Kirsten: Right. Um, so I had like three things that I was super afraid to even like, give a hint of to my parents. I was super afraid for them to not know that I had had sex before marriage, but then I ended up living with my first husband before we got married. So, you know, they figured it out, but they didn't know how many partners I had had before him.

If they've listened to this podcast, they might listen to my podcast, I should say. And then I actually did not date outside my race. Before my second husband, because I was afraid of the consequences, uh, more of like, I was afraid of, I didn't want to be ostracized. I didn't want to deal with all the bullshit that would have come along with dating someone that wasn't white, or at least my perception of what I would have to deal with.

Of course, those are, some of those could totally be stories that I was telling myself. Um, but they were stories I was telling myself because of the context that I saw from them. When my cousin. Older cousin dated a Mexican guy and I heard the things that my Nana and my uncles said about her. They were horrible.

I just wanted to avoid it. Um, and I certainly did not reveal until I, God, I was 37 before I even figured out for myself. But then I was like 38 before I revealed it to my parents. So. Again, I think it's funny. My mom thought it was a joke, but yeah, I think they have figured it out now.

Nicole: Right? Yeah. Yeah. It's so sad.

Right. It's horrific. Right. And it's just so sad that there's still people living in that space. And, um, that, you know, that's an important reason why your book will speak to the people in that space. Right. I, um, yeah. I released an episode with Dr. Rachel Smith, who runs a lot of purity culture recovery groups, and she was talking to me just about, yeah, the ways that, you know, purity culture, like, you know, we, we danced around the word of like, grooms you for sexual violence, right?

Just because of, Yeah. The ways that you don't get conversations about your autonomy and communication, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And yeah, he was talking about how some of the research showed that people who have experienced purity culture, uh, show the same symptoms of children who have experienced childhood sexual abuse.

Right. And so I think it's an interesting, I know, right. And so like someone who's a therapist, right, then the question of working with people in that. Because, you know, a lot of my work then is to not make sure that I don't step over cultural boundaries, right? And respect everybody's cultural space, particularly within that power dynamic.

But it's so fascinating how, you know, when you hear about some of these cultural dynamics, like some of the ones you were just talking about, or this and that. piece here and you show how it is racist, how it causes direct harm and trauma, it gets really hard to just sit there and be like, okay, that's fine.

But obviously the reality is that even, even if it is wrong, you know, working with those people or supporting those people, it isn't coming up to them and being like, Hey, I'm Hey, you're this, right? Like, that's not how we change hearts and minds. So it's like,

Kirsten: we ask a lot of questions, provide a lot of resources.

We channel, but like, have you seen shiny, happy people?

Nicole: I think so. I think I have. Is that the Duggars?

Kirsten: Yes.

Nicole: Fuck. Jesus.

Kirsten: So, you know, you were talking about that with Rachel's, but I'm thinking about, I am not excusing what Josh Duggar did to his siblings or to any other girls out there. I 100 percent say that it's because of the context he was raised in with purity culture.

Because. That young man and his siblings were not given any information about, you know, these are our bodies. One day here's what you'll like when there's an absence of information or simply told, wait till you're married, wait till you're married. Like kids explore bodies. That's just what they do. It's like three years old.

Yep. And when they're not given context about safety, boundaries, consent, all that stuff. Then how can they say no to something that they don't know what they're saying no to? How can they go tell an adult about something that's happening when they don't understand what's happening?

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, yeah, the patriarchy hurts everybody, right?

The people who cause, you know, sexual violence and rape, you know, they're hurting under the system and causing further perpetuation of that harm. Right. So, I mean, yeah, all of that is important conversations here, which I can imagine then was part of maybe what made. Talking about the threesome. Tricky with your mom.

Was she more open to the threesome dynamic than the queerness dynamic?

Kirsten: You know, I I think that she was probably because there is there is also Especially in this kind of american culture There is I think a view for most people not most people but a lot of people That a threesome is just sort of like a fun time, but it doesn't modify your sexual identity You know, or your orientation.

Straight girls can participate in threesomes, you know, stuff like that. And I think that plays out too in the idea of husbands are often okay with a threesome with two women, but the idea of a threesome with a woman and another man, they're not okay with. They wouldn't want to share their wife with another man, but they're fine sharing themselves or their wives with another woman because they don't view having sex with a woman as real sex when it's girl on girl.

Nicole: Yeah. Not threatening to their possession.

Kirsten: It's, it's only threatening to their position when another penis is put into that.

Nicole: Yeah, because I own my wife and her sexuality,

Kirsten: and that other woman is not a threat to them, right? It's not a threat to the structure of their relationship or anything. So, yeah, I, I'm sure that, that, I'm sure that I even subconsciously viewed it at the time as, well, this is just kind of like, Dipping my, my foot in the pond, you know, barely getting in there and I'm just showing like, look, look, I'm just, I don't know, part of it is I'm a little mischievous.

I'm an only child and I am a little bit of a mischief maker. So I think my mom thought I was just trying to like kick the hornet's nest and get a reaction. Yeah, for sure. I do like to poke the bear sometimes. So I don't blame her for thinking that that's all I was doing. But, I say what I mean, and I mean what I say, even when I am poking her.

Nicole: Totally, totally. And it takes a lot to deconstruct how purity culture affected that, right? When you grow up in this world where you're gonna have sex with one person for your entire life. Okay, maybe we disagree with that. Now we're like, okay, I'm gonna have sex with one partner at a time for the rest of my life.

Okay. And then you do that. And then you're like, what if there's another, but that takes a whole level of deconstruction. Like, Oh, I could actually have sex with two people. Okay. Well, maybe I could just have sex and it's just sex and it's just play. And now we're swinging and that's fine. Fine. But wait, what if I loved two people?

Oh, dear God, you know, like every step of this journey, you know, and then it's like, okay, well, what if there's a whole orgy of people, you know, and then it's like, it's like every part is a deconstruction. You're just like, damn, this is difficult, you know, and I think that is particularly in my own experience, why they, I, Like, the like, you know, identity piece of it has been so hard to claim with non monogamy because for me, it, it doesn't feel like an identity.

It feels like a deconstruction in the same way I had to deconstruct purity culture to get where I'm at. Like I had to deconstruct all these different things and that's felt so difficult and uncomfortable and rewarding at the same time. Just like getting out of class. Christianity felt so difficult, but really rewarding to get to the other side where now I can have my Sundays free and not feel like a heathen because I'm not going to church, right?

Like, oh my God!

Kirsten: Yeah. Hard. How old were you when you stopped going to church?

Nicole: Um, like 21.

Kirsten: Mm hmm. I was, I was I was like 18, 19, and it was mostly because of the way the people in the church, like, behaved. I might have found another church as a young adult, I just never did. And then my college courses got to me.

Nicole: Sure, the liberal agenda,

Kirsten: the left agenda up in here. But really, actually, what made me stop going was I felt like, okay, well, I have sex. I'm having premarital sex, so they, they don't want me because of that. Um, I'm okay with gay people, so they don't want me because of that. Right. Um, so I felt like I wasn't gonna be welcome.

Like, who, how am I gonna show up to church and be my authentic self? And be accepted. Like, they'll just chase me off, was my, my viewpoint.

Nicole: Mm.

Kirsten: So, it was less because I felt like I was in the wrong, and it was more like, they're not gonna like me for who I am.

Nicole: Good, and I'm glad you knew who you were, and like, felt that security enough to be like, nope, not for me, walking away.

Kirsten: Yeah. Yeah. Dating the preacher's son in high school made me very aware of the people in the church and how they behave because I definitely had a lens, a microscope on me all throughout high school when I was dating him. So yeah, I was just very aware of how other people felt about me. In the church and how they would react to me and who I am.

Nicole: Which is so hard and difficult some of my closest friends from that period of my time also married pastors, you know, and we've grown apart over the years, I think, just because we have such radically different views culturally on the world that it's hard to connect, but that's so much pressure right to be the Madonna or the.

Yeah. To be the Madonna of the herd, you know, and I can only imagine how that makes it difficult to play with other things in the bedroom, right. When you're so, and I think that's also a lot of what we see with people who are mothers, right. Is this a difficulty with being, you know, the loving, soft, kind mother, and then in the bedroom, dungeon, outdoors, wherever being like, you know, the vixen or the powerful dominatrix, right.

Like it's really hard to straddle those, both, both those lines for a lot of people.

Kirsten: Absolutely. I think something that can be helpful in those times is trying to, like, really get into a persona mindset. Understanding that, like, you contain multitudes. Oh, yes, you do. Right? You, you can be The person at work, and then this other person at home, and then this other person in the bedroom, and this other person with your friends, it's not that you're being fake, you can still show up as yourself, you're just going to show up as like modified versions of yourself, sort of like roleplaying, you're still that person, but you're going to roleplay just a smidge, and especially for mothers.

Like at the end of the day, that is a huge struggle for a lot of them of like, let me leave my mom cap outside the bedroom and now let me go be a dirty little girl or whatever you may like to be called that shift of what do you need to do for like five to 10 minutes to try to compartmentalize a bit?

What are the things, the systems you need to put in place? Like, Oh my God. Nicole, the number of times I have talked to parents who they're like, well, my kids interrupt us. And I'm like, cool. Where's the lock on your door? And they're like, lock the door.

I'm like, yeah, lock the door. They're like, but, but, but, uh, I'm like, lock the fucking door.

It's like, If you need to have a conversation with your seven year old about like, Hey, I know that you like to come in a mom and dad's room. And there's absolutely times where you can do that. But there are also times where mom and dad just need some mom and dad time or mom and mom or dad and dad, whatever it may be, parents need parents time.

Sure. So guess what? Little guy, the door is going to be locked sometimes. And when it's locked, that means, you know, like come back in like 30 minutes, come back in 20 minutes. If it's an emergency, you can certainly knock whatever. Bye. I get that parents are also afraid of giving their kids too much information or grossing their kids out or scarring them for life.

I'm sure you've seen this in your practice too. The kids who grew up to be adults. that knew that their parents had a sexual connection. They saw physical intimacy, whether that was hand holding hugs. Yes, they like to say like, oh, it was so gross, but those people have way healthier attitudes towards their own sexuality, other people's sexuality.

Um, it's the ones who are like my parents, I don't, we didn't talk about sex. I don't think that my parents ever had sex except to make me. Those are the ones that seem to really struggle. Do you notice that too?

Nicole: I mean, it's the same. Let's, let's go to the purity culture, right? Don't talk about it. Don't do it.

Don't do that. What happens when you get to that frame, you know, and again, like we were talking about just the trauma symptoms of something like that, right? So it's all that, that question of, yeah, like what does age appropriate developmental education look like, you know, and we just, in our country particularly have never had that conversation, you know, there's a lot of good.

But, but yes, 100%. And I think when we're talking about these things, it's so hard for me to not also think about the larger, like scale version of this, where it's like, oh yeah, like living in, you know, monogamy do it great. But living in a nuclear family where you don't have. The whole community to say, Hey, watch my kids for 30 minutes so we can go have pleasure.

Like part of this is also the structures, right? Of living in these like deep silos where we're asking people to parent, run this whole household and multiple jobs to be able to feed and have insurance to survive. Cause, you know, provided healthcare would be too absurd in this country. You know, so, you know, so you're just like, you're like, Oh, okay.

So part of it's not even monogamy, right? Like part of it is just like this larger structure where like raising kids is not meant to be this way. It is not meant to be a single person household and how I just can't even imagine if we could have, these are research. Things I'd love to see, like monogamous couples where kids are spread out in community, right?

Like, how would that change their sex life?

Kirsten: Like, grandma and grandpa live next door, or aunt and uncle live across the street, or Yeah? Yes, absolutely. Data, I want. I'm with ya, I'm with ya on that. I also think of A story I found out about my grandparents. Mm. Interesting. Um, my grand, my mom's parents, they, they had five children.

My mom being the oldest, my aunt told me last year that she started joking about the Sunday afternoon nap time. Oh. And I was like, what are you talking about? Apparently you, after church, they'd had the family meal and then they'd put all the kids down for an after, like they'd wear 'em out at church, you know, running around Sunday school and stuff.

They get 'em home, put 'em down for a nap. And that was grandma and grandpa's time to go bang.

Nicole: Mm-Hmm. .

Kirsten: So they at minimum had their Sunday afternoon ritual. My grandparents. We're happy as shit.

My grandparents loved each other. They both lived into their nineties. They hit their 69th wedding anniversary before my grandma passed.

I still recall seeing them hold hands well into their eighties as they're walking along. You know, he always helped her into the car first and then got in the car. There were just a lot of little gestures that I saw they had built up through the years, but like they made eye contact. They talk to each other.

They laughed with one another and. I bet it's because they kept that Sunday afternoon

ritual for as long as they could. Um, but yeah, I think that's hilarious that like the kids, as they got older, they figured out what Sunday afternoon ritual.

Nicole: Totally. Totally. I wonder what it was like to, is it like, Oh, like we're meeting for God and the.

the procreation of God and his sanctity of our marriage. You know, and it reminds me a lot then of like, even like kink rituals of like, here we are, we're meeting for this. I'm going to collar you and I'm going to do it this way. Like all these different things.

Kirsten: I wish I had the chance to ask them questions about that once I was a sexologist.

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I started this in 2017. We're like, I go in 2018 and she, she passed in 2018, but she was proud of me for starting this business. Like, are you going to tell people I'm becoming a sex coach? She was like, yeah. Yeah, sure. She was a farmer. My grandparents were farmers. So they, you know, they, they were very open about like the cycle of life and you know, sex is normal.

And my grandma made more sex jokes than any old lady I'd ever like met in my life. Yeah. I think that's just so freaking adorable that they had their Sunday afternoon thing. And I, I do know my grandparents saw themselves as a bit of heathens in their, in their Baptist church because they played cards and they'd go dancing.

Nicole: Whoa. That's so bad. So naughty. Oh, no. Even the naughty. That's what the Sunday afternoon ritual was working out. Yeah. That's funny. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. But I think all of this is just like, the more I get into it, I'm sure you feel this too, is the more you get into learning about, the more you're like, Oh, it's so cultural.

It's so cultural. It's like, yeah. What scripts are you taught about this? What meaning making? And all of that paints your whole life and how you see the whole future out. You know, my view of the future is very different than someone who's married to a pastor. And the meaning making of the act of being touched has a very different meaning than it does to that person.

And so, and, and if you're someone who came from that culture and then trying is trying to switch into other cultures, it is a trip and a half. To deconstruct that and relearn that for yourself.

Kirsten: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And that's why people like us. exists to sort of guide people through that.

Nicole: Yeah. What would have been nice if I had someone guiding me through.

Kirsten: I know it. I know often times why a lot of us end up in this because like we wish we'd had someone help us with all of our shit, you know, earlier, or maybe we had someone that was totally great, but didn't quite understand this aspect. Like I've had some great therapists. Um, I had one that was like, meh, but.

Just like anything else, you got to shop for your therapist, right? Totally. Um, but none of them really wanted to, even the one that was there, I was there to talk about, should I stay or should I go with my marriage? I mean, she wasn't, she wasn't trying to help me with anything with my sex life. All, the best, the only advice she really gave me was, if you're not having sex, you don't really have a marriage.

You're just, you're roommates. But there was no like, Have you tried this? What if you did this? If you want to reconnect, here's some options. Like, there's no guidance in helping me fix it. It was just, no matter of fact, you're like, well, sounds like you know how much of a marriage. And I was like, well, you're kind of right.

But I mean, I knew that when I came here, I was coming here for solutions, not just statements of fact.

Nicole: Yeah. And even like, what about asexual marriages? What about like, getting off the relationship escalator and marrying a friend? Right? Like, that therapist came in to tell you a truth where I'd be like, Marriage takes on very different forms.

It's a legal commitment that you've taken on. It doesn't always mean love. It doesn't have to be like, it's just like, Whoa, like, do you see, like she came in to tell you what is what? I think that's my frustration at this point is the amount of therapists who come in to tell truth. And so it's so easy to pathologize.

Particularly. I did my, um, dissertation on, uh, relationship anarchy. Right. So, you know, as someone who practices that myself, right. Say I have like Two really great partners right now. They're seven days in a week. So I spent two days with one, two days with the other, okay, that leaves me three days. I meet someone new, okay, maybe I can offer you one day a week.

That person or that therapist, the therapist of that person would be like, Wow. That relationship anarchist is only offering you one day. They clearly have an avoidant attachment. Something is wrong with them. They don't really know what love is. They should come see me cause they probably have trauma. And it's like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

You don't understand how deeply connected I am actually through multiple people. But because that therapist comes from a lens where they've never even maybe heard the word relationship anarchy because it doesn't fit into that mononormative lens, they're immediately like diagnosis. Oh my God, I'm gonna die in this field.

Kirsten: Yeah, I've had that thought too about like, God, if my husband and I ever ended up in therapy, we would absolutely have to find a therapist that really gets all this. And there are more and more therapists out there that understand this, absolutely. But you do have to ask some questions. Like, if you are an ethically non monogamous person, you do have to ask some questions of your therapist to find out.

Yeah, absolutely. Okay, they may be sex positive in some regards, but again, are there signs that their culture and their context are going to lead to some very biased conversations? It was funny, I've, I've had clients who were like, Oh, well, you just think everyone should be ethically non monogamous and others were like, you just think everyone should be monogamous.

I'm like, um, I love that you each think the same thing, but like dig a little deeper. I just think that you got to do what's right for you.

Nicole: Totally.

Kirsten: And. I've had people come into my office who are trying to decide, should we do an open relationship?

Nicole: Yeah. Tough question.

Kirsten: It is a tough question. And I kind of remember one couple who was just like, at the end of the session, the first session, what do you think our chances are of, you know, getting through this and making it out and still being a couple?

And I was like, Okay. I think that's a question you need to ask yourselves, not me. One, I don't have, I thought it didn't even enter my mind. Like I wasn't judging at the end of the session, you know, I think these two are gonna make it or I think these two are gonna break up. That's, that's not the question.

Take a second to sit back and go, are you willing to be open enough to the conversations that are really going to happen in here? Because the reality is at the end of this, you may not be a couple.

You may, you may decide that one of you wants one thing and one of you wants something else. And those things just aren't compatible for remaining in a relationship.

You may figure things out and say like, yeah, we're, we are on the same page, but like, this is an open ended process. And this process is about exploring how you feel and what you think. And so, like, I'm not going into this thinking about that question at all.

Nicole: Mm hmm. Yeah, totally. And there's going to be grief either way.

That's usually what I say to people, right? It's like, if you go down this path, there'll be grief of not knowing the other. And if you choose the other path, there'll be grief of not knowing the other. So there's going to be grief and like, my God, you're going to change. You're going to be a whole different person because When you, you know, say that couple does go out and do that, you incorporate other people.

The second you have another sexual romantic lover, you now have two and your world of possibilities of what you can do, how you can play is now in a space of two or three or four. And immediately that person now has a sense of identity that is not as dyadic focused. And when that changes you, it changes you.

There is no getting away from that. I mean, For me, I always talk about it like a, a psychedelic, like it is a psychedelic experience. Your reality is going to shift. Not everyone needs to take acid. Okay. Lots of people live really great lives. Never having taken acid and have pleasurable, great experiences.

A lot of us have taken it and been like, wow, that's really great. I want more. There was a challenging part there, but I think I learned a lot, and I think I'm going to keep taking, you know, so it's like, but like, no matter which way you go, it's a whole different path, and you'll experience joy on both sides, just very different experiences of it all, right?

Kirsten: It's just, uh.

Yeah. Absolutely. I used to be a karate student back like in my college days. Cool. And of course, Bruce Lee was, um, someone that my instructor idolized and that I grew to admire as well. And his daughter, Shannon Lee wrote be water, my friend, which is like musings on his philosophies, accepting the is ness of the universe and not trying to push Your life in one direction.

I'm not saying not have goals. I'm just saying, you know, the philosophy of be like water is that water can crash and water can flow, but water will look for the path that it needs to take. It will still get there. That path may wind that path may like drop and you may have to build up to like get over the next pass, but If you're like water and you simply accept this is what it is, and I'm going to get through it, and I'm going to figure this out.

But without knowing the answer ahead of time, that can be challenging for people. I think that is what is necessary for people. You've got to accept the is ness of the situation and be open to what

comes. Mm hmm. Yeah, I think there could be a lot of benefit from incorporating that, right? When I was younger, I was like, here's the stone, I am straight, I am monogamous, and I am this, right?

And it was so written in stone, and I know that, and I think, you know, the whole journey has been one of water, right? Where it's like, okay, well, maybe I feel in this thing. Season a little bit of that. Maybe I feel in this season a little bit of that. And I think that if we were to get to a space of relating and sexuality where we could feel that, right?

Like, Hey, I go through different seasons. It ebbs and flows and be more like water of listening to what's my pleasure rather than trying to define a specific, like I'm in this concrete box here, I think there'd be a lot more spaciousness to experience the ways that life pulls us and takes us in different directions.

I could not agree more. Absolutely. I've seen that time and again with people who are like, I am this thing. And then they have this other experience like, Oh, but I like that too, but that doesn't fit into my like little box.

Nicole: Yeah, exactly.

Kirsten: Well, it's because pleasure is so expansive and there's so many things that you can do out there.

And you may have tried something in your early twenties with your partner. That you did not like, and then maybe you do it again in your thirties or forties. And you're like, Oh, Oh, that was fun. I really liked that. So there's that possibility to upset and setting, and you're a different person, your context of whatever judgments or attitudes you had in your twenties.

Probably had an impact on what you thought about that.

Nicole: Absolutely. It's always changing. I think continuing to invite people to connect deeper to that pleasure. Like, I feel like we always have a little bit of an internal sense that's kind of guiding us towards, and sometimes we get a little worried about it.

We're like, Oh, what if it's strange that I have this, you know, but the more that we listen to that and allow space for it, I think it leads us to a lot of beautiful exploration.

Kirsten: Absolutely. Of my favorite questions ask clients when they start getting down that path is go like, well, who defines strange?

Yeah. Who defines weird? Who defined weird for you? Mm. Who told you that was weird? And they're like, um, oh, okay. Well, you know, this teacher, or I've just heard it. Or, oh, so are, are they the moral authority on your life? And they're like, no. like, okay, cool. Like let's cool. So like, that's the thing that you'll start asking yourself.

Yeah. When you start having that question up of like, oh, is this weird? Everybody's a little weird. What is weird? Like just ask yourself the question. What does that mean? What does weird mean? And then you'll start working past that. And the more and more that question comes up in the moment of, Oh, that's weird.

Well, what's weird? Who says what's weird? You just work past it. And eventually you'll stop asking yourself, is this weird for me to like this?

Nicole: Mm hmm. And I appreciate the ways you talk about that coming up again and again, because I think some people think like, oh, cool. I've unlocked this knowledge that it's, it's not me.

It's the systems, right? But, oh, it keeps coming up. I do this and then it comes up again. Oh, I do this and it comes, you know, but like mindfulness, the more that you create space with that, the longer those feelings last. Thoughts, you know, it starts to spread out so that, you know, maybe you start to go weeks or months without feeling any sort of internal judgment about yourself, but those first couple of days, first couple, maybe even years of not monogamy, I mean, like, like that thought comes up a lot.

So it's, it's a journey of practice, right? Yeah, it is. Yep. Absolutely. Yeah. I want to ask two questions. Sure. First question is, if you could take a moment to try and connect back to your, you know, straight monogamous self, I'd be curious what you'd want to say to her. Hmm.

Kirsten: You are more queer than you think and that's okay.

There's still a partner for you out there that's going to love you for who you are. Sure. Sure. No matter what you think you want to do in the bedroom or who you want to do in the bedroom or outside of the bedroom. Yeah. And I mean, I think I opera, I definitely operated in that timeframe based on, I can't lose my parents.

I can't have them not love me. And I was so afraid of losing 20 something just based on My sex life. Yeah. And, and I think I probably would have told her like, they're actually not as judgmental as I thought they were.

I think that they were repeating a lot of stuff that they were told. But I mean, every single thing I have lobbed at my parents, like my mom still loves me.

My, my dad and I have issues, but my dad does love me in his way. So I think I would have said like, it's, it's all going to, everything's going to be all right. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. Mm. Sending that big hug to that person that's still in that space and worried about that is a lot to hold. Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. And before I guide us towards our closing question, I do like to hold a little bit of space, you know, feel free to share any last words you'd want to share with the listeners.

Kirsten: I would say if there was anyone listening who. Heard something that resonated that made them go like, maybe I do need to take a look at some of my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs because maybe they're not actually my own, you again, live in a beautiful information age where there are so many resources out there, whether it's podcasts like this.

There are books, there are thought leaders, there are so many ways to get out there and access information to challenge yourself and stretch yourself a little bit. Cause if you're even like, if that door is open, just a little tiny bit, keep getting more information and start asking yourself some of those tough questions, especially like.

Is this something I truly believe? Is this my value? Or is this someone else's value that has been put upon me? Is this someone else's moral code that's been dictated to me and imprinted upon me? But like, I don't actually believe this. I don't align with this any longer. I'm only doing it out of fear of repercussions or loss or scarcity.

You mentioned sex at dawn more than two is also a fabulous book. If you're looking at this, I think looking at resources like will want, won't lift to expand your mind and think about all the acts that are possibly out there. Um, There's little online quizzes like, um, bdsm. org. You can get a little assessment of where you fall for submission, domination, little play, all the things.

And there's also forums out there, whether it's Reddit, you can get on that life. You can ask people questions. You can also get out there and watch explore voyeur. You don't have to do anything. You can watch a lot of stuff. Porn is okay. Like get out there and immerse yourself in stuff that has to do with sex and pleasure and desire and just see what bubbles up to the surface for you.

Nicole: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Some really good journal prompts in there. Some good resources, right? Welcome to the rabbit hole of pleasure.

Kirsten: Yeah. Pleasure is your birthright. Yes, it is. So get out there and claim it. .

Nicole: Mm-Hmm. . So if you feel good, then I feel like that was a great closing message for the listeners. I'll guide us towards our closing question.

Okay. Great. Well then the one question that I ask each guest on the show is, what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal? Hmm.

Kirsten: For one of the first things that I go to, because I talk about this all the time with folks, is booty play. Men, your sexuality is not in question if you enjoy having your butt played with.

We all have an anus. All of us can derive some form of pleasure from it. Doesn't mean all of us will. But it just, gosh, a lot of times helping people overcome the messaging, the stigma that comes with it. Anal play, um, especially for men when they're like, I think, you know, I'm going to be accused of being gay, or I actually have had clients sit in office and say, my ex thought that I was gay because I wanted to try pegging.

So, I think that there's 2 things there, right? We've got to, especially in heterosexual relationships with that, we've got to challenge, you know, men, it doesn't say anything about you, but also women. It does not mean that your spouse is gay if they like anal play.

Nicole: And what if they did? Whoa! And what if they did?

Kirsten: And what if they did? Right? Right? Exactly. So, I think that I would try to normalize all of us have an anus, all of us have a lot of nerve endings around there, all of us can experience pleasure, and it has nothing to do with our orientation.

 I feel like that hits on maybe the running theme of our conversation is like the multiple ways that society, the various narratives construct what we're able to play with and enjoy or not, right?

If you do, but play, it means X, Y, Z. It's like, Whoa. Right. Who said that? Who said that?

And then like, let's also look at that. Like, why would it be okay for women? To experience anal pleasure, but it's not okay for men to experience anal pleasure. Like it just make it make sense.

Nicole: Which is why your work is so powerful conversations like this, right. Where we can talk about like normalizing that people enjoy anus play. Wow. What an idea. You know what I mean? But like, truly, I, I believe in the like political work of this in that, like, You know, all of that mental time. For something that feels good to be up in here going, Oh, my God.

Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. You're right. Like if we could just take away that shame. Do you know what kind of emotional and mental space that creates for other things in the world? A lot. Bingo. Yes. You got it. Yeah. It was such a pleasure to have you on the podcast today. Thank you.

Thank you so much for having me. Where do you want to plug for people who want to learn from you, connect with you and yeah, where do you want to send them?

Kirsten: My coaching business is called open the doors coaching. So you can find me at open the doors, coaching. com. Uh, my biggest. Social media platform at this time is TikTok, which you can find me at Coach Kristin, which is K R I S T E N.

And I also have a podcast called Keep Them Coming. And I also have a monthly sex and relationship column in The Pitch. It's our local alternative newspaper here in Kansas City. And it's also called Keep Them Coming.

Nicole: Cool. Well, it was such a pleasure to have you on the show today, so thank you for joining us.

Thank you so much.

Kirsten: Yeah. And thank you for hosting the show. I, I, I admire, you know, fellow sexologists, people who are out there trying to do this great work of educating people and de stigmatizing pleasure, so

Nicole: If you enjoyed today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast, and head on over to to modernanarchypodcast.

com to get resources and learn more about all the things we talked about on today's episode. I want to thank you for tuning in and I will see you all next week.

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