Rethinking Sex, Desire and Intimacy | Spotlight Convo

Intimacy, whether that’s sex, touch, or even deep, vulnerable conversation, is a part of life. And, an important part of a good life. And, yet, for so many, there’s this feeling of being stuck in a cycle without it, feeling disconnected from yourself and your partner. Yearning for a closer, more open and, yes, deeper and more vibrant physical connection. Well, get ready, because my guests today are among the world’s foremost trailblazers obliterating antiquated myths and pioneering a radically new paradigm for intimacy and erotic exploration.

In today’s spotlight conversation, we’ll hear from Vanessa Marin, a licensed psychotherapist and renowned intimacy expert. With a deep well of training in human sexuality from Brown University, Vanessa has made it her life’s work to guide couples in transcending shame and reigniting passion through candid communication about their deepest desires.

We’ll also hear from Emily Nagoski, one of the most respected voices in the field of sexual well-being. After an unexpected detour from her plans to become a clinical neuropsychologist, Emily stumbled into a calling as a sex educator that would reshape her destiny. Today, she’s on a mission to obliterate pernicious myths about gender roles and sexual response, empowering people to embrace pleasure on their own terms.

And finally, we’ll dive into the pioneering research of Nicole Prause, a neuroscientist whose decade-long voyage is exploding outdated beliefs around human sexuality. By harnessing cutting-edge brain stimulation technology, Nicole’s work points to new frontiers for modulating desire, enhancing orgasmic potential, and potentially linking climax to reduced inflammation – with vast implications for health conditions like long COVID.

Whether you’re yearning to reignite an erotic spark, build more profound intimacy with your partner, or experience new vistas of sensual transcendence, this conversation will expand your understanding of sexuality and possibility. 

Episode Transcript

You can find Vanessa at: Website | Instagram | Listen to Our Full-Length Convo with Vanessa

You can find Emily at: Website | Instagram | Listen to Our Full-Length Convo with Emily

You can find Nicole at: Website | TwitterListen to Our Full-Length Convo with Nicole

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photo credit: Paul Specht, Neal Preston


Episode Transcript:

Emily Nagoski: [00:00:00] One of the myths I want very much to eradicate from the face of the earth is the idea that if you have to talk about sex in your relationship, there must be something wrong. The couples who sustain a strong sexual connection over the long term talk about sex all the time. The people who self-identify as having extraordinary sex lives, having magnificent sex. They talk about sex with their sex partners all the time. Because anything that really matters to you, you talk about it with other people, you talk about it with the people you do it with. If you’re involved in theatre, you talk about the theatre. If you’re involved in sports, you talk about the sport. If you are a foodie, you talk about food. If sex matters to you in your relationship, you talk about it.


Jonathan Fields: [00:00:41] So intimacy, whether that’s sex, touch or even deep, vulnerable conversation, is a part of life and an important part of a good life. And yet for so many, there’s this feeling of being stuck in a cycle without it feeling disconnected from yourself and from a partner yearning for closer, more open, and yes, deeper and more vibrant physical connection. So get ready, because my guest today are among the world’s foremost trailblazers, obliterating antiquated myths and pioneering a radically new paradigm for intimacy and erotic exploration. In today’s spotlight conversation, we’ll hear from Vanessa Marin, a licensed psychotherapist and renowned intimacy expert with a deep well of training in human sexuality from Brown University. Vanessa has made it her life’s work to guide couples in transcending shame and reigniting passion through candid communication about their deepest desires. We’ll also hear from Emily Nagoski, one of the most respected voices in the field of sexual well-being. After an unexpected detour from her plans to become a clinical neuropsychologist, Emily stumbled into a calling as a sex educator that would reshape her destiny. Today, she’s on a mission to obliterate pernicious myths about gender roles and sexual response, really empowering people to embrace pleasure on their own terms. And finally, we’ll dive into the pioneering research of Nicole Krauss, a neuroscientist whose decade-long voyage is exploding outdated beliefs around human sexuality by harnessing cutting-edge brain stimulation technology, Nicole’s work points to new frontiers for modulating desire, enhancing orgasmic potential, and potentially linking climax to health benefits like reduced inflammation, with vast implications for overall well-being. Whether you’re yearning to reignite an erotic spark, build more profound intimacy with your partner, or experience new vistas of sexual transcendence, this conversation will expand your understanding of intimacy, sexuality, and possibility. So excited to share this conversation with you! I’m Jonathan Fields and this is Good Life Project.


Jonathan Fields: [00:02:54] Hey, so our first guest today is Vanessa Marin, a licensed psychotherapist specializing in sex therapy with a degree in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University and a master’s in counseling psychology. Vanessa has devoted her career to helping couples transform their love lives through frank discussions about sex. Her book, Sex Talks The Five Conversations That Will Transform Your Love Life, provides a roadmap for couples to have meaningful, shame-free dialogues that can supercharge their connection, reignite desire, and help unlock new levels of pleasure. In this eye-opening conversation, Vanessa shares practical exercises and prompts from her book that make it easier for you and a partner to start having open, judgement. Free talks about your sexual needs, boundaries, and desires. You’ll learn how simply acknowledging sex as a normal part of your relationship can pave the way for deeper exploration and intimate discovery. So get ready to invite more play and curiosity and excitement into the bedroom as Vanessa guides you through her five essential sex conversations. Here’s Vanessa.


Jonathan Fields: [00:04:01] You invite people to have these five sort of core conversations around sex, each one covering a different topic, and I want to kind of walk through the five different ones and some of the ideas that you have around them. The first one you offer up is, is conversation around acknowledgment. What are we actually talking about? When we’re talking about acknowledgment.


Vanessa Marin: [00:04:21] We are literally just talking about acknowledging that sex is a thing and we have it. You would be surprised by how many couples have really never talked about sex very openly in their relationship, or couples who have only ever thought about sex. We only ever bring it up when something is wrong or feeling off. We have a complaint to make. And so in most relationships, sex doesn’t feel like a safe or comfortable topic of conversation. So what we wanted to do with this first conversation, especially knowing that people are going to be nervous, we know it takes some bravery to pick up a book about sex. We really wanted to ease people into it and start with a first step that just felt doable for people. So this is just getting comfortable with sex as a topic of conversation, and one of the very practical exercises that we have in that chapter that anybody can do after you listen to this podcast or when you see your partner tonight. So take a moment of time to think about one of your favorite sexual memories with your partner, and then share that with them later. And that’s all you’re doing is literally just sharing the experience. So you can say something like, you know what just popped into my head randomly today? I was just thinking about that time that we were on that trip and you know, XYZ happened. If you’re feeling really shy about this, you can also just send it to your partner as a text message or even as an email. But what you’re doing in this very simple act is just starting to set the communication foundation that sex can be something that is safe, even kind of fun and flirty to talk about.


Jonathan Fields: [00:05:59] So here’s what popped into my mind as you were saying, that I can see that being a really fun way to step into the conversation. I wonder if there are guardrails to this. Also, if you happen to be somebody, maybe you’re in a newer relationship also, and you don’t have a ton of history with someone. And maybe the first thing that like that would come to your mind would be if you’re like, oh, that thing that I remember that was amazing. It actually wasn’t with the partner that you’re with now, is that a guardrail that you have for clarification? Yeah. Because I imagine there are things that you really have to be careful about in this conversation.


Vanessa Marin: [00:06:30] Yeah. Do not share your favorite memory with your ex.


Jonathan Fields: [00:06:34] That would be bad. 


Vanessa Marin: [00:06:35] Make sure it’s with your current partner. Yeah, just a memory with them.


Jonathan Fields: [00:06:39] Right. So kind of like a basic, you know, understanding. But we hope like I hope that’s clear to everybody. Like make it about like this relationship.


Vanessa Marin: [00:06:47] Yeah. They’ll think like who is this woman? And her terrible advice. My partner was furious and so hurt by hearing about my ex. No, it’s with your current partner.


Jonathan Fields: [00:06:56] The five ways to have Disastrous Conversations.


Nicole Prause: [00:06:58] Exactly. That’s the next book.


Jonathan Fields: [00:07:01] right. So the conversations that you have just casually, the conversations where you have to sort of like get to know each other and talk about the fact that there’s this thing between us, we’re doing it and sharing your ideas and preferences. And then there’s this notion of post-gaming. Um, tell me more about this.


Vanessa Marin: [00:07:17] The post-game is my name for starting to talk about sex after you’ve had sex. So I do recommend at first having more of the conversations that I just mentioned of, like sharing favorite memories. So having talks about sex completely separate for sex from sex, the post-game is the next step. So we’re kind of shortening the window between when we talk about sex and when we have it. So it’s after you’ve had sex. And I think that this can work so well because you’ve just had a really specific example that you can turn to. So when you first start having the post-game. It could literally be as simple as saying, that was fun, or I enjoyed that. Or I feel really close to you right now. You’re just getting comfortable talking about it, acknowledging we just did it. But as you get more comfortable, you can start sharing more details about what you liked about that specific interaction. So maybe there was a way that your partner initiated it. Maybe there was a certain part of your body that they touched that felt so sensitive and good for you, or a certain way that they kissed you, you know? So it gives you some examples to look at. And so it’s good for you getting a better understanding of yourself, what you like, what works for you, and you’re sharing it with your partner. So it just feels like a nice moment to also extend the intimacy between the two of you too. Instead of just immediately grabbing for your phones or hopping up to go to the bathroom like most people do.


Jonathan Fields: [00:08:42] Yeah, I wonder if, do you have any sense for whether there’s a quote appropriate time frame for like a post-gaming? You know, it’s the type of thing where it’s like, is it really nice and great if it happens immediately afterwards versus, you know, like a week later you come back and is it a different experience? Is there a different value proposition there?


Vanessa Marin: [00:09:03] I think any time you want to loop back around to it is fine, and especially in this initial stage of just getting comfortable with it. And the great thing about this too, is, is, you know, you’re sharing positive things with your partner. So there is no expiration date on when we can say kind things to our partners. So just like you might thank your partner a week later for, hey, you were an amazing teammate to me last week. You were so supportive. I felt so connected to you. You know, same thing. You can talk about sex that you had previously, right?


Jonathan Fields: [00:09:32] So post gaming then, similar to what we were talking about before, about sharing a past experience with the same partner that you know, was really enjoyable. I would imagine a guardrail there also is this is not sort of like a checklist of like this went right. This went wrong.


Vanessa Marin: [00:09:47] Exactly.


Jonathan Fields: [00:09:48] This is like again, we’re sort of like we’re focusing more in the positive things, the things that like were pleasureful.


Vanessa Marin: [00:09:55] Yeah. So if you’ve if you’ve seen post-game wrap-ups of sporting games, you know that they do the good, the bad, the ugly. So there is no equivalent here of like right. Jones blew the clutch play in the final seconds of the game. You’re using the post-game just to talk about the positive stuff so that we build up that foundation. And later in sex talks is when we get into sharing feedback with your partner and making requests or asking for different things. But for now, all we’re doing is positive only, right?


Jonathan Fields: [00:10:23] So the second conversation you offer up is around connection. And by the way, before we even dive into this, throughout each of these five conversations in the book, you just have like a mountain of prompts. And so nobody gets left hanging here like you literally like, here’s the thing to do. Here’s what to ask. Just really great guidance. So the second conversation is around the notion of connection. And I would imagine a lot of people will they kind of hear the word connection. They’re like, well, I know what that means. But do they really? So what do you mean? When we’re talking about a conversation around connection here.


Vanessa Marin: [00:10:52] this conversation is all about what we need to feel close to each other. It’s all about emotional intimacy. And I think some people might be surprised to see emotional intimacy leading, you know, so prominently in a book about sex, because most of us have this tendency to compartmentalize sex. We think of it as, oh, well, that’s just that thing that happens in the bedroom with the doors closed at the end of the night with the lights off. And the reality is that we can’t compartmentalize our sex life. The way that we interact with each other throughout the day affects our desire to be intimate with each other, our openness to being intimate with each other. And so I thought it was important to start there. A lot of couples will tell me, you know, it feels like we get into bed at the end of the night, and I look over and it’s like, who is this person crawling into bed with me? And that’s not a great circumstance for feeling a lot of desire and wanting to have this wild, crazy, intimate sex. So we need to work on that level of connection that we feel to each other all throughout the day.


Jonathan Fields: [00:11:55] Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting if you look at it as these are all different elements of a, an unending, fluid conversation, whether it’s it’s sex itself, whether it’s the conversations around it, whether it’s like the subtle nods or the bids, you know, that you notice for affection and tension. It sounds like what you’re saying is it’s all part of like, one big soup of connection. And it all matters. When you think about how to cultivate this, especially at a time where a lot of people feel disconnected from themselves, let alone from other people. One of the things that you invite people to explore is the notion of rituals, like literally building specific rituals around the idea of connection. Take me a bit deeper into this.


Vanessa Marin: [00:12:36] One of my favorite rituals with Xander. So we made this decision a couple of years ago to have a nightly makeout routine. We were realizing, like, we’re just not really making out with each other very often. Really, the only times that we make out is when we have sex and. And so we wanted to do something just like special, a little ritual that we could have between the two of us. And so for me, a ritual is something that we do on a daily basis. Or it could be, you know, a weekly basis. For me, daily is just an easier habit to build, but it’s a little special moment that we can have with our partner. It’s something that feels like a little secret inside joke between the two of us, or just a secret, you know, between the two of us, it’s like shared language that we have almost. I mean, I think that’s one of the reasons that we love getting into relationships is that it feels like something special and unique just between the two of us. And yet it’s so easy. You know, we were talking a lot about how easy it is to just fall into a routine. We can do that in our day-to-day lives, too. A lot of people will say, we feel like we’re just ships passing in the night, or we’re roommates rather than romantic partners. And so I think rituals are a nice way to create something that feels special and unique in your relationship. So the make-out routine, for example, we’ve been doing this for a few years now, and it’s just something that we’ve come to rely on. Like no matter how tough the day has been, no matter how tired we are, we know that we’re going to have that little moment of connection at the end of the night. It’s going to be this nice way to cap off our day, and it’s something that we actually look forward to.


Jonathan Fields: [00:14:12] Have you ever come to the end of the day where you’re like, okay, it’s time for the makeout sesh, but we’re kind of in a thing with each other, you know, like there’s an argument in the air or there’s a strong disagreement that we haven’t resolved yet. And yet it’s that time where we’re supposed to honor the ritual. How do you step into that?


Vanessa Marin: [00:14:30] I am not a believer in the never go to bed angry advice. I think sometimes it is best to go to bed angry, to sleep on it, to wake up in the morning with a different perspective, or at least just feeling more well-rested. So if we are not feeling, you know, good about each other, if we’re in a disagreement, in an argument, we will just skip it. But if it’s more of a subtle thing, like we’re just feeling kind of disconnected or it just feels a little bit off between us, the ritual actually feels like an invitation for us to address it rather than ignore it. So before we did this, you know, there would be plenty of times where we would go to bed just feeling that sense of unease, discomfort of like, something doesn’t feel great, but I just want to go to bed. It’s not a big deal. Like, whatever, we’ll just do it. But now their ritual forces us to say, hey, what’s going on? Let’s just chat about it for a second. And oftentimes, if it’s one of those nuanced moments like that, it can be literally as simple as today. I felt a little bit off, didn’t it? Yeah, I felt a little bit off too. Okay. Let’s let’s try to be more connected tomorrow.


Jonathan Fields: [00:15:36] So this one particular ritual for you also, you’ve gone deeper into this and shared that because a lot of people would hear this ritual and they’d be like, oh, but that leads to dot, dot, dot. And there’s a sort of like a phenomenon that you’ve coined around this, the bristle reaction. Take me there.


Vanessa Marin: [00:15:55] The bristle reaction is the name that I came up with for the experience that you can have when your partner comes up to give you a hug, to touch you, give you a kiss, and you feel your body bristle. So another great way of explaining it is if you’ve ever had a stranger get a little too close to you, you can like you feel them invading your personal space, and there’s this sense of your walls going up, like you just feel your body reacting to it. And yet the bristle reaction is happening with your partner, presumably the person that you love and trust the most in this world. Now, a lot of people, women in particular, but it can happen for people of all genders. A lot of people experience this reaction and they feel like something is horribly wrong with them. Something’s wrong with the relationship. But I like to share that it’s a very normal common reaction. It happens in even the most loving and trusting of relationships, and it boils down to a couple of key dynamics. One is, was what I’ve started talking about a little bit with the makeout routine is that we stop initiating sex so clearly and directly in long-term relationships, and we often initiate by trying a little bit of physical contact and then trying to, like, let it linger or extend it a little bit. And so a lot of us have learned to become very on guard to our partner’s touch. And this can happen, especially if we’re not having a lot of touch or kiss or physical connection. Throughout the day, you become even more hyper-attuned to your partner’s touch because you have the sense that, well, they only really touch me when they want something. So this can be a very challenging dynamic for for couples in the moment. But the good news is that it’s something that we can address and resolve, and the ways of doing it are going to be really beneficial for your relationship, too.


Jonathan Fields: [00:17:40] Yeah, I think just even being aware of like, oh, there’s this phenomenon that’s happening right now, let’s talk about it. Let’s deconstruct it a little bit and work, you know, find our way through it. Yeah. That alone I think is just huge. The third conversation that you offer up as being really important is around desire, and it feels like this is the conversation that so many center as sort of like a a crux point of dysfunction, like unmatched desire or different ways or pathways to desire. Talk to me more about this one.


Vanessa Marin: [00:18:11] Desire is all about what do we need in the moment to feel excited, open, interested in being intimate with each other. And you’re exactly right. This is the number one complaint that I hear. It’s either I feel like I have no sex drive, very low sex drive, or it feels like my partner and I are just wildly mismatched. We’re on completely different pages, and this can feel like one of the most perplexing issues for relationships. Like what happened to that desire. So I do like to start by normalizing everyone in long-term relationships will experience waning of their desire. It’s normal. It’s common. It’s perfectly okay. So I always like to start with the normalization. But a lot of this is is being able to understand how our desire really works. So this is where the conversation about responsive versus spontaneous sex drive can happen. And this is also where I get into another model that I created of this the initiation styles. Understanding what is it that I like from my partner? How do I like sex to be initiated? And it’s very similar to the love languages. If you don’t understand your type or your partner’s type, you’re probably going to be using different types with each other and really missing each other. A key example is one of the classic initiations is like pushing your partner up against the wall and kissing them passionately. For some people, that might sound incredibly sexy. For other people, that could sound downright unsafe. So it’s all about understanding. Like, what is it that I’m actually looking for from my partner? What is it that I need in those moments?


Jonathan Fields: [00:19:49] Desire? I also wonder if you see that this is one of those like powerful should domains like my desire quote should be at this level, or my partner’s desire should be at this level. And if it’s not, there’s something wrong with us, or there’s something wrong with them, or there’s something wrong with me that has to be fixed. Yes. And I would imagine there are scenarios where there are things to really think about. Is there something physiological or psychological that’s actually like affecting desire, but also as you described things, it’s complicated.


Vanessa Marin: [00:20:24] There are a lot of dynamics that can affect desire, but a lot of us don’t recognize that. We think that desire should just be innate. It should just happen. We shouldn’t have to put any sort of effort into it. But there are just countless things that can affect our interest in sex, and they can be all sorts of different things. It could be medical conditions, medications that we’re taking, the shame and embarrassment that we feel around sex. It can be relationship dynamics. Are we feeling close to each other or not? Are we in an argument? Has there been infidelity? So there are just countless numbers of dynamics that can can get into play. And so I say that not to make people feel heavy or burdened like, oh my God, there’s so much that I have to sort through, but just to recognize, like, it’s okay if your desire isn’t what you wish it to be or you feel like it should be, because there are so many different things that might be affecting it. And fortunately, there are a lot of different ways to address that as well. And I think there’s a really interesting invitation here. If desire is truly just falls out of the sky and falls into our laps and we never have to work on it like that, actually there’s never a possibility for us to actually explore our sexuality and explore, well, what is it that actually interests me and excites me? And what kind of energy do I like my partner to approach me with? And what kind of energy do I like to feel? So I know that it can feel frustrating sometimes, but if we look at desire as the thing that we can cultivate, that we can create, that we can work on, like there are actually some beautiful opportunities for growth within that.


Jonathan Fields: [00:22:00] Yeah, I love that. You offer up the notion of creating a what you call a sex menu.


Vanessa Marin: [00:22:04] Yes.


Jonathan Fields: [00:22:05] Which I love the idea. It’s sort of like, you know, like appetizer, entree, dessert. Um, and also like, as I was saying, I’m like, you know, what’s kind of cool about that also is that if you go to your, like, your favorite restaurant, you’re like, the menu changes.


Vanessa Marin: [00:22:20] Mmm.


Jonathan Fields: [00:22:20] You know, so this is like it’s like a dynamic thing that you don’t just lock yourself into at once, but like, you allow it to sort of evolve over time.


Vanessa Marin: [00:22:28] Absolutely. Yeah. Sex menus is probably one of my top three exercises in the entire book. I just think it’s so fun and playful. And I started with this question of, you know, it’s kind of funny that we think of initiation just as this question of, you know, do you want to have sex? Okay. But what does that mean? There are so many different ways that we could have sex, so many different activities that we could do. Orders of activities, kinds of. Energy that we could bring into it. And so this idea of creating those different options, like, not only does it force us to think about, well, what is it that good sex means to me? What are some ways that I want to have good sex? But it brings the element of play back into it, too. You know, we’ve actually been getting pictures from readers of their sex menus. Some people have gotten super creative with this. We’ve had laminated ones, like people have actually put it into a kind of old school restaurant, you know, menu booklet and stuff like that. So couples are having a lot of fun with this exercise, which I think is so delightful.


Jonathan Fields: [00:23:26] Yeah, I love that. The fourth conversation you talk about is conversation around pleasure. And pleasure is one of these things where people have a lot of morality issues with it, you know, because it’s like, am I supposed to feel that? Is it okay to feel that? Is it actually bad for me to feel these different things, especially in the context of being with another person? Tell me more about sort of like how the conversation around pleasure unfolds.


Vanessa Marin: [00:23:54] This conversation is all about understanding what we need to feel good and to have an enjoyable and satisfying experience. And I purposely put this conversation next to the conversation about desire, because that is one of the most important relationships, and it’s one that we really don’t even recognize for a lot of people. One of the top three things that causes low desire is low enjoyment of sex. So if you really think about it, like if the sex that you’re having, if it doesn’t feel pleasurable, if you’re so stuck in all these beliefs about I’m not allowed to have pleasure or pleasure is bad to feel. If you feel like you’re doing it more for your partner than for yourself, like having obligations, sex. If it’s just not enjoyable, why would you crave it? It wouldn’t make any sense to crave it. You never wonder why do I never crave overly steamed mushy broccoli? Nobody ever wonders that it’s not enjoyable, right? But we don’t judge ourselves for that either. Like, what’s wrong with me that I never want overly steamed mushy broccoli? So sex is the same way, and if we’re not experiencing enjoyment out of it, it doesn’t make any sense for us to crave it.


Jonathan Fields: [00:25:00] Yeah. So, I mean, it makes sense to really explore for ourselves, like what actually genuinely gives us pleasure. This is where we kind of circle back to what you shared earlier in our conversation. Um, also around, okay, so maybe there is a time and a place and a way to give feedback during the actual act of sex, because maybe that helps you and your partner home in on what actually is pleasure and what is getting me closer to that experience or pleasure, or what’s taking me farther away from it.


Vanessa Marin: [00:25:34] Yeah, pleasure can feel like yet another unknown. You know, a lot of people, if you ask them, like, what brings you pleasure? There might be a couple of immediate or obvious answers that come to mind, but for most people, it feels like a very difficult question to answer. So I wanted to get very practical. I mean, I’m just I’m all about being practical here and like helping people find ways to discover these types of things. When it comes to feedback, a lot of us get very much in our heads, and we picture having to tell our partner, you are terrible at sex and you need to get better. But I also don’t know how you can get better, but just get better somehow. Please. Obviously, if that’s the way that we share feedback with our partner, that’s going to be a disastrous experience. That’ll be in book two, the disastrous sex conversations. But fortunately, that’s not the only way to give feedback. It’s not the recommended way to give feedback. So one of the exercises that I share in that in that chapter is I call it the eye exam. Test is having our partner stimulate us in two different ways.


Vanessa Marin: [00:26:35] And this can be very simple. Maybe it’s I want you to massage my shoulders, and then I want you to scratch the nape of my neck. So when we are asked the question, what brings you pleasure? Or what do you want? Most of us will freeze up, but if we have two options in front of us, it’s a much easier decision. Yeah. Do I like this better or do I like that better? So this test you can practice with non-sexual touch, like the massage versus the head scratch example that I just gave. But you can also use it with more sexual experiences as well. Like do you like this kind of kiss better or this kind of kiss better? Do you like it when I use this amount of pressure or this amount of pressure? So I think it’s a really beneficial exercise because it helps you just hone in on the moment, on the experience of sensation in your body. And for most of us, we just don’t have very much practice at doing that we don’t really pay attention to. Like, what does it actually feel like in my body when I’m being physical with my partner?


Jonathan Fields: [00:27:31] Yeah. I mean, to that end, if we’re talking about what does it feel like my body when I’m being physical with my partner, it seems like you understanding just on your own, there’s a certain amount of experiments or like play dates that you can run with your partner, but there may be a whole lot more that you can also add to that, you know, on your own. And again, this is where we get into one of those areas where. People feel a certain sense of shame or like awkwardness or like, am I supposed to be doing this or touching myself this way or, or trying these different things? But if it’s in the name of really understanding what makes me feel good? Yeah. I mean, because I would imagine you’ll be able to communicate that to a partner much more easily if you already really understand yourself.


Vanessa Marin: [00:28:11] Absolutely. I think exploring our own bodies is one of the most beautiful experiences that we can have. I mean, it’s it’s our body. This is the shell that we live in for our entire lives. Like, why shouldn’t we explore what brings us pleasure? And I think learning how to bring yourself pleasure is one of the most empowering and exciting experiences you can have. So if you’re listening to this and just starting to sweat already, like, I don’t know if I can go there, you can practice this with non-sexual touch on yourself as well. So even something as simple as take the inside of your forearm and try scratching it, and then try just lightly running a finger across it. Which of those two sensations do you like best? Like go back and forth and compare those two. And doing something like this is also a great exercise that you can do at any random point throughout the day. When you feel like you’re up in your head, it brings you back into your body too. So if you’re somebody who feels like my brain is just always going, I’m never present in the moment. I’m never in tune with my body. Just set a little timer for yourself. Do this at lunchtime, or do this right after you brush your teeth kind of habit, stock it with something else, but take a moment to just tune in with your own body.


Jonathan Fields: [00:29:23] Yeah, and that really brings us pretty seamlessly into the fifth conversation around exploration, this notion that, like, it’s almost like a journey you’re going on, an adventure that’s going to last a really long time.


Vanessa Marin: [00:29:34] Hopefully there’s always something new to explore. So yeah, in this chapter I talk about the advice of keeping it spicy. We’ve all heard this right. It’s in every every magazine, every article online. But it really actually is good advice. Research has shown that our brains love novelty, we love doing new things, and when we do new things with our partner inside or outside of the bedroom, it just allows us to see them in a fresh light. It brings back that excitement, that energy of the early stage of the relationship. Now, the problem with trying new things is that a lot of people go to very extreme places in their head, and they think it means, you know, they have to do all these wildly kinky things, stuff that is so beyond their comfort zone, and you absolutely can do that. But it’s not the only way to explore in the bedroom. So for anybody who’s feeling nervous or embarrassed, a great starting point is actually to bring back some of the things that you used to do during sex that maybe you haven’t done in a while. So most couples in long-term relationships, the longer that we’re together, the more narrow our repertoire becomes. And it gets to the point where most couples can they can script out like, this is what sex looks like between the two of us. This is 99% of the time it unfolds in exactly this way. So think about those earlier stages of the relationship. Was it that you took more time with each other? Was it that there were different acts that you used to do that you haven’t really done in a while? Maybe you were trying out different positions or you had sex in different locations. So that can be a great first step is just bring back the things you’ve already done but have been neglecting.


Jonathan Fields: [00:31:13] Yeah, I love that. It is counterintuitive, right? Because you think, well, the longer we’re together, the the safer. The more comfortable we feel, the more we trust each other, the more open and vulnerable we’ll get. And yet what you’re sharing is like, it’s actually kind of the exact opposite. You know, the less creative, the less open that it just sort of like you fall into a rhythm that, you know, I guess you have to be really intentional about saying, well, maybe we should try breaking out of that rhythm and see what it feels like.


Vanessa Marin: [00:31:42] Mmm.


Jonathan Fields: [00:31:43] Those five conversations are super powerful. So many really cool tools coming full circle. You know, when you zoom the lens out here, this is effectively, like most of your adult life’s work, is working with couples on the level of reconnecting them or helping them reconnect with a sense of sexuality and intimacy, both individually and and as partners. Why do you care so much about this?


Vanessa Marin: [00:32:09] Ha. I have never been asked that question. I honestly don’t know. I guess the right answer is just that I believe so much in love, and I believe so much in intimacy. I know what it feels like to have that kind of connection. I know how special it feels, how magical it feels. I know the impact that it can have on my own life and the way that it just brings so much more energy and vitality and excitement to day to day life. And I want couples to get to experience that. I think that, like I was saying earlier, we have this tendency to compartmentalize sex. But we’ve also most of us have had the experience that when we’re in a good place sexually in our relationship, it feels like everything else in the relationship is also in a good place. And for me, it just keeps coming back to love. I want to bring more love into the world. I want to help people experience deeper and more profound love. And it’s hard to answer this question because it’s like, I. I can’t imagine not having this passion and not feeling so strongly as I do.


Jonathan Fields: [00:33:16] It feels like a good place for us to come full circle in our conversation as well. So in this container of Good Life Project., if I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up?


Vanessa Marin: [00:33:26] Love again. Love comes up for me. It’s just it’s so easy for us to get swept up in day to day responsibilities and chores and tasks and all of that. But just coming back to love, experiencing love with ourselves and with our partners, there’s just no greater joy in life than that for me.


Jonathan Fields: [00:33:46] Mm. Thank you.


Vanessa Marin: [00:33:47] Thank you so much for having me.


Jonathan Fields: [00:33:48] And we’ll be right back after a word from our sponsors. So appreciate Vanessa’s perspective. Her five core sex conversations feel like the perfect blend of vulnerability and playfulness, acknowledging the importance of sexual connection while also inviting more excitement and novelty into the bedroom. So our next guest is Emily Nagoski, a trailblazing sex educator and author who has devoted her career to unraveling the mysteries of human sexuality in her groundbreaking book, Come Together The Science and Art of Creating Lasting Sexual Connections, she reveals how couples, at any age or stage can cultivate profound erotic intimacy. You’ll discover why the conventional wisdom around sexual desire is also so misguided, and how simple shifts in perspective can open up a whole new world of sensual exploration between you and a partner. Get ready to be really surprised and blown away, as Emily shares counterintuitive insights like why chasing sexual pleasure can actually sometimes be the enemy of experiencing it. With a trademark blend of just scientific expertise and refreshing candor, Emily will guide you to embrace your unique erotic blueprint and create the extraordinary sex life you’ve been craving. Here’s Emily. This notion of the accelerator versus the brakes take me deeper into this because it’s such a core and important concept. Yeah.


Emily Nagoski: [00:35:12] So this is the actual neuroscience of how the sexual response mechanism in our brain is structured. And the wild idea this comes from the Kinsey Institute. Eric Johnson and John Bancroft in the late 90s were daring to mess with the idea that the way sex works in our brains is the way basically everything else works in our brains, which is a coupling of an excitatory system and an inhibitory system, which is to say, an accelerator and some brakes. So and it turns out over the last 30 years of research, we have learned that this is actually how human sexuality works in our brains. There’s a sexual accelerator which is notices all the sex-related information in the environment. Doesn’t matter how you feel about it, just whether or not it counts as sex-related. In this context, everything from your exteroceptive senses. That’s everything that you see, hear, smell, touch, taste, everything that you think, believe or imagine and all the sensations in your body. Anything sex-related that goes up to your brain and your brain sends the turn-on signal that many of us are familiar with. It’s functioning at a low level all the time, subconsciously, including right now. The fact that we are talking about sex, even in these general terms, is this tiny little bit sex-related. So is a tiny little bit of turn-on signal happening in everybody’s brain. Fortunately, at the same time, your brakes are noticing all the good reasons not to be turned on right now. Again, it’s everything from your exteroceptive senses. Everything you see, hear, smell, touch, taste, everything that you think, believe, or imagine and all of your internal sensations that your brain codes as a potential threat.


Emily Nagoski: [00:36:53] And the brakes send the turn-off signal. So the process of becoming aroused is the dual process of turning on the ONS. Yes, but also turning off the offs. And when people are struggling, even though we’re used to sex advice, that’s all about like increased stimulation to the accelerator like tribe handcuffs. Try role play, try lingerie, try porn, try fantasy. Those are great. If you like them, go for it. And it turns out when people are struggling, it’s rarely because there’s not enough stimulation to the accelerator. It’s usually because there’s too much stimulation to those brakes. And stress, like I said, is a really common one. Trauma is, alas, a very common one. Body image stuff is another common one, and I would say a fourth common one is the sexual scripts that all of us have been taught from literally the day of our birth, about who we’re supposed to be as sexual people. Like we’re trying really hard to be the sexual person we were taught that we are that we’re supposed to be, instead of trying to be the sexual people we were born to be. And until we let go of that fantasy false image and turn toward who we truly are and are like, actually, the sexual person I truly am is really somebody worth being. Then that fantasy self, our judgment of our self against that fantasy, that lie is going to hit the brakes.


Jonathan Fields: [00:38:15] I want to deep into that last part, because what you’re describing is a gap in who we feel we truly are, and how we are showing up in our world and our relationships, which doesn’t.


Emily Nagoski: [00:38:27] Show up in any other domain of our life.


Jonathan Fields: [00:38:29] Of course.


Emily Nagoski: [00:38:31] For those listening, I was being deeply facetious. It shows up in literally every other domain of our life.


Jonathan Fields: [00:38:36] If you didn’t see the video that, um, what’s the effect of that being a fairly wide gap and that actually sustaining for a long period of time?


Emily Nagoski: [00:38:48] There’s a researcher named Peggy Kleinplatz. She’s a researcher and a therapist up in Ottawa. And. She studies optimal sexual experiences. She’s identified dozens of people who self-identify as having extraordinary sex. And we can talk about what extraordinary sex means. But one of the bits of information she gives in her workshops is, what do you suppose is the typical age at which her research participants had their first experience of optimal sex? Age of first experience. Can you guess?


Jonathan Fields: [00:39:21] First experience of optimal sex? Um, on average, among.


Emily Nagoski: [00:39:27] These research participants who volunteered to participate because they self-identify as having extraordinary, magnificent sex.


Jonathan Fields: [00:39:35] 40’s?


Emily Nagoski: [00:39:37] 55.


Jonathan Fields: [00:39:37] Mm.


Emily Nagoski: [00:39:38] So the people who self-identify as having extraordinary sex often have to go through extensive and long-term unlearning. Unlearning is actually one of the key processes that they go through in order of like, just shedding all these ideas about who they’re supposed to be as the person of their gender identity. They’re supposed to do this or the person of their racial identity, they’re supposed to do this, or the person of their socioeconomic status. They’re supposed to be person of their religion, is supposed to be this kind of sexual person, like taking that plant that got planted in your garden and making a choice. Do I want to keep this? Is this true about me now, or do I want to pull this out to create space for something that’s actually true about the sexual person I am? And that does require opening yourself up to the possibility that the person you truly are is not just as good as the person you were taught you should be, but actually so much more worth being than the person you were taught you should be.


Emily Nagoski: [00:40:43] None of us were born to be the ideal, well-behaved woman or well-behaved man. We were born to be who we are. Like. That is the gift that we bring to the universe from whatever source you think that comes from. And all of us were taught to be somebody else. And so all of us, and it can be really powerful in a relationship to acknowledge together. Like I was taught to be this I was taught to be this. I was taught that you were supposed to be this. Oh, I was taught that you were supposed to be this. And we’ve been imposing those expectations on ourselves and on each other, and it has only obstructed our access to being who we truly are with each other, which means being with each other as we each truly are, which is a really different experience. When people talk about optimal sexual experiences, they talk about authenticity and vulnerability. These are people who keep the lights on and their eyes open, who feel comfortable inside their own skins. They don’t talk much about orgasm, and they talk even less about desire. What they talk about is pleasure.


Jonathan Fields: [00:41:54] What kind of blows my mind also is you’re talking about a group of people who have already self-selected as, quote, being there, you know, like I’ve something’s happened. I figured this out. I’ve done the work, I’ve had the inciting incident, and now I’m at a point where like, yes, I’m having like a fantastic sexual experiences, however that is described and like the average age is 55. So even the people that have self-selected and saying like this is actually finally happening in my life, they’re saying 55. It’s literally I have taken it’s a little bit heartbreaking that probably the better part of a person’s life was.


Emily Nagoski: [00:42:30] To dig yourself out from under somebody else’s opinion about who you’re supposed to be.


Jonathan Fields: [00:42:35] Right. And then what about all of the people who actually didn’t opt into this categorization, which I’m sure like you have the data as this is, is the vast majority of human beings that actually maybe never get to this place. Is this a like a part of why you do what you do?


Emily Nagoski: [00:42:53] So I started training as a sex educator before I ever had sex with a partner, which I consider to be an enormous privilege because I come from a pretty dysfunctional family of origin. My idea of how relationships work was pretty warped when I started having relationships, but fortunately I was being trained in what counts as a healthy relationship and healthy sexuality and protecting my boundaries at the same time that I was beginning my sexual relationships and I was learning so much that contradicted everything I thought was supposed to be true. I mean, when I say everything that our culture teaches people about sex is not just factually incorrect, but wrongheaded and potentially deliberately misleading. I mean, everything I mean, like from the very basics of sperm and egg, we get taught this story of like all the sperm competing with each other in the. Race to get to the egg. And who’s going to get there first? Like the egg is the princess in the castle. And the reality is that that castle and that princess has a whole fleet of guards and a drawbridge and is making an active selection about which sperm it wants to be involved in the process. Why do we get taught Princess in the castle, and not the process that the egg is going through to participate in this election? Why is because we want a narrative that matches the masculine standard onto these biological components. It’s patriarchy. I’ll just say it right there. It’s an unpleasant word. It’s an unpleasant concept. It’s an unpleasant impact it has on our sexuality. But we got lied to about literally everything from sperm and egg meeting all the way up through what orgasm is, because we’ve all been trained to believe that if we do not behave ourselves according to our gender role, then something tragic will happen and nothing tragic will happen. Unless somebody who really believes something tragic is supposed to happen makes something tragic happen to you.


Jonathan Fields: [00:45:02] I want to switch gears a little bit, although not because part of what we’re talking about also is like, really accommodating who we are at any given moment in our lives and a lot of different ways. And one of the accommodations that tends to happen is like our bodies change over time. Sometimes they change in a moment. Maybe there’s an illness or an injury or something. Sometimes just, you know, like we get older and the conversation around, how do we keep a sexual connection or create an entirely new one as our bodies change and all the myriad ways that it will change? I imagine that this and this is something that you write about like, um, but I imagine this has also been a source of conversation with you and with various people over the years. So take me into this conversation a bit.


Emily Nagoski: [00:45:44] So I can actually use myself as an example. I wrote a book about sustaining a sexual connection in a long term relationship based on my own experience writing, Come as You Are, which I was thinking about sex and writing about sex and talking about sex all the time. And I was so stressed out by it that I had no interest in actually having any sex at all. Writing a book is not as bad for my mental health, but also like really good for my mental health, but like bad for my sex life for sure. So when I got done writing Come As You Are, I was like, oh, I’m interested in fixing this. I missed my erotic self. I missed the erotic part of my relationship with my husband. And so I did what anyone would do. I went to Google Scholar and I looked up the peer-reviewed research on how couples sustain a strong sexual connection over the long term. And what I saw there was the opposite of what basically every book about sex and long-term relationships say, because they all say desire and desire is not the answer. Pleasure is the answer. That’s a whole other thing then. So I wrote a book about it and wouldn’t you know it, writing a book about sustaining sexual connection in a long-term relationship totally destroyed any interest I might have. And actually having any sex for, I mean, for months I had nothing available for my long-suffering.


Emily Nagoski: [00:47:02] Wonderful. I have a chef’s kiss, confident hair flip, amazing relationship with a genuinely superior human being. And like I had nothing. So when I finally finished writing this book, I was exhausted from the process. But I also I had this manual of like how to sustain a strong sexual connection. And I had long Covid, like I couldn’t walk to the end of my driveway to get my mail without debilitating pain and fatigue. It was bad, and I had written a whole section on sex and disability or interracial couples. And here I was now in an interracial relationship where, like, I walk with a cane. Now my body is totally different, my energy level is not reliable, and I have been applying all of the ideas in the book to my newly inter abled relationship and like, things are better than they ever have been because I have. The disabling experience of long Covid has been such a force, demanding that I reassess what my body means to me in our relationship. And the whole book is about how center pleasure center, pleasure center pleasure. It’s not desire that matters, it’s sharing pleasure that matters. I have had to put that to work in my relationship in the face of barriers I wouldn’t have anticipated experiencing for another 2030 years. And it it works.


Jonathan Fields: [00:48:31] I don’t know if you saw it a couple of weeks ago in the New York Times, there was this huge sort of like visual interactive piece on created by a friend of mine, Giorgia Lupi, about her nearly four-year journey with long Covid and getting Covid three times in the middle of that, and how just profoundly, at times like physically and emotionally disabling and cognitively disabling it was for. Her, and I know the response to that was so massive. And I feel like so many people are struggling with and maybe it’s not long Covid, but you kind of feel like, okay, so maybe it’s an illness, maybe it’s an injury, maybe it’s your a point of life where you just you don’t have the same physical ability.


Emily Nagoski: [00:49:10] Tiny humans in your house.


Jonathan Fields: [00:49:12] Right. But at the same time, okay. So I get it. Like, like I’m listening to Emily. I’m doing the reading, like. And I want this thing like, I get pleasure really matters. I get sexual relationships, to me at least. And to my partner, they matter to us. Yeah, I want that. I don’t want to just see it, like, go to the wayside. How do I step back into it? How do I sustain it? How do I reclaim it? And I love the fact that, you know, like you really say, okay, so like, let’s acknowledge the fact that it’s not going to be easy and.


Emily Nagoski: [00:49:37] It is not going to look like what the thing you’ve been taught is supposed to look like.


Jonathan Fields: [00:49:42] right? Right.


Emily Nagoski: [00:49:43] It’s not going to look like that.


Jonathan Fields: [00:49:44] Right. And it’s going to be completely unique to you in many ways, yes. Because your moment, your situation, your relationship is like no others. So let’s start by acknowledging that.


Emily Nagoski: [00:49:54] Yeah, that’s so hard for so there are some people who, like, I’m a person whose internal experience will not shut up. Like my internal experience just keeps talking to me. And so like, I’m pretty good at like introspective figuring out what works for me. But there are some people their learning style is very much about, like, tell me a story about somebody else’s experience, and I will recognize myself in that story.


Jonathan Fields: [00:50:19] right? It’s like let me model that.


Emily Nagoski: [00:50:20] Yeah. So one of the stories I tell is a woman who told me that she and her husband and their kids would go on vacation at this very ancient house in the Mediterranean. And they had she and her husband had great vacation sex in this ancient house in the Mediterranean one year. The house they always rented was not available. No problem, they rent another house. For some reason, this different house, the vacation sex was just like man. And the beautiful thing is that instead of thinking, oh, there’s something wrong with me, there’s something wrong with you, there’s something wrong with us. They sat down together and were like, what was different? And they had this realization that in an ancient Mediterranean house, I mean, the houses were so old that the beds were literally built into the wall. So there was no squeaking, no distracting noise, no worrying about waking up the kids and getting rid of that one extra stimulus to the breaks was enough to make the sex, like, super, just extra good. So when they built their own home, they built the bed into the wall. So one reader saw this story and was like, yes, my bed squeaks. And I’m always worried about the kids hearing and interrupting.


Emily Nagoski: [00:51:30] And I never even realized that I was worried about that until I heard someone else’s story. And she said, what else? Tell me every story everyone has ever told you about the things that hit their brakes so that this person could recognize, oh yes, that’s me too. Like, I can’t like, I can’t tell you, like, every story that there is, but there are, there’s like, oh, like every any broccoli in the frozen food aisle can be a thing that hits the brakes. And I really recommend that we all talk to each other about our sex lives so that we can share these stories and recognize ourselves in each other’s stories. Like with the pandemic, I think we need to recognize that literally everybody has been traumatized. We have all been profoundly unsafe in many different ways, in a shared way, and all of our brains have less access to pleasure than they used to. And it would be really easy for us as a culture to go down a dark spiral of not trying to regain access to the pleasure we used to have, and not as a culture centering pleasure as an important way for all of us to stay kind to each other and generous and loving and supportive of each other.


Emily Nagoski: [00:52:45] So talking about our sex lives and sharing these stories of, oh, it turned out it was the squeaky bed. You know what? When I got long Covid and my breath was really short, it turned out that having my partner on top crushed my lungs and I literally would have an asthma attack when I had an orgasm. So we accommodated that. Somebody else can hear that story and be like, oh, maybe it’s not your lungs, maybe it’s the peripheral blood flow that you your feet get really cold because you’ve got these micro clots that are preventing blood from flowing effectively to your feet, and your feet are cold and it’s distracting. You put on socks, my friend. Whatever your story is, there’s a solution. And it like the you know, the only place this solution never lies is in judging yourself as being broken and believing that you shouldn’t be having the experience that you’re having. The experience that you’re having is is the experience that you’re having. And it’s fine. And there’s probably something we can do to create a context that makes it easier for your brain to access pleasure.


Jonathan Fields: [00:53:50] Yeah. And also comes back to the beginning of a conversation and really. 


Emily Nagoski: [00:53:53] Sucks.


Jonathan Fields: [00:53:54] Just a lot of touchpoints along the way. Is that like getting to a point where you actually are able to say to yourself, not only is pleasure good in my life, but pleasure matters to me. Yes, like I actually want to invest in understanding what this is, how it shows up in my life, and what I can do to make more of it show up in my life. Because it’s not just about a momentary satisfaction, which is fine also, but also it’s like it’s a cascade of things that affect every part of me and both in the moment and then over time. And this matters and I want more of it in my life. So what do we do? Yeah. And so much of what you’re writing and talking about and teaching about is, oh, here are things that you can do, like a lot of things you can think about, but here are things you can do also, which I love because you’re making it practical and actionable rather than just leaving it. There’s definitely some individual figuring out to do, sure, but like there’s a lot of great starting points and ideas and also.


Emily Nagoski: [00:54:51] Skills.


Jonathan Fields: [00:54:51] Right? And also normalizing and letting you know, like if you’re feeling X, you’re not alone. And it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re broken either. It’s like a gazillion other people have their version of it.


Emily Nagoski: [00:55:04] It absolutely does not mean you’re broken. You absolutely are not broken. You’re not broken. Right? 100%. I know you’re worried about it. The question I get asked more than any others, this is normal. Or am I broken you? Totally. You’re not broken. You’re not broken. You’re okay.


Jonathan Fields: [00:55:18] Yeah, I love that.


Emily Nagoski: [00:55:18] The fastest way to take a healthy sex life and break it is to judge. It is to decide that there is something wrong with you. My definition of normal sex is, uh, sex, where everybody involved is glad to be there and free to leave with no unwanted consequences. And no one wanted pain. And that’s it. Everything else is gravy. My definition of perfect sex is normal sex. Everyone’s glad to be there, free to leave with no unwanted consequences. And I do mean no unwanted emotional consequences. Also no. Oh come on. Aw, but you said you would. Or. But I thought you loved me. And I’m just now listing things that people have said to me like this is a very common situation. So normal sex is. No one wanted consequences. No one wanted pain. Perfect sex is that. Plus everyone turns toward what’s happening right now with kindness, compassion and confidence and joy. So like if somebody wants an erection and an erection isn’t happening, you turn toward the absence of erection with kindness and compassion and confidence and joy. There are lots of great things you can do with a penis is not a wreck that you can’t do with an erection. What an opportunity. Or you could just do a whole bunch of anything that doesn’t go anywhere near where an erection might be. Like there’s what you don’t do is worry that there’s something tragically wrong with either any of the people involved or with the relationship. Just because the hydraulics of a human organ are not functioning the way you expect them to turn toward it with kindness and compassion.


Jonathan Fields: [00:56:50] I love that, and it feels like a good place for us to come full circle in our conversation as well. So in this container of Good Life Project., I was literally about to say it’s container of holding.


Emily Nagoski: [00:56:59] Right!


Jonathan Fields: [00:57:00] Just so I could see a final eye roll there.


Emily Nagoski: [00:57:04] A container of holding. 


Jonathan Fields: [00:57:05] right, right


Emily Nagoski: [00:57:06] No, but really a container of holding.


Jonathan Fields: [00:57:08] But in in this container. Good Life Project, if I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up?


Emily Nagoski: [00:57:15] Oh pleasure. It’s the very first thing that comes up, because I know that our brains only have access to it when we are in a good enough, safe enough state, and I long for everyone to advocate enough for their own well-being to fight against, to reject the white supremacist, rabidly exploitative, late capitalist, cis hetero patriarchal system that wants to rob them of their humanity and their access to pleasure, decide that they are going to live according to the rules of living in this organic body. That is the only thing we have with us on the day we’re born, and the only thing we will have with us on the day we die. Living within the rules of this body to maximize the experience of this. For me, that’s the good life.


Jonathan Fields: [00:58:07] Mmm. Thank you.


Jonathan Fields: [00:58:09] And we’ll be right back after a word from our sponsors. So I so appreciate Emily’s ability to shatter long held myths while offering such an empowering, pleasure centric approach that feels truly revolutionary. So our final guest in this series is Nicole Prause, a pioneering neuroscientist whose decade long research is shattering antiquated beliefs around human sexuality by combining neuroimaging with transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS. She is quite literally rewriting our understanding of how the brain experiences desire, pleasure and everything in between. In this fascinating conversation, we dive into Nicole’s groundbreaking work using targeted magnetic pulses to essentially remix the neural pathways driving our sexual cravings and responses. So whether your goal is to amplify your passion or downshift an overactive libido, her findings point to an intriguing potential solution. But Nicole’s exploration also doesn’t stop at manipulating desires. She also shares mind blowing insights from her study into the neuroscience of orgasm, itself, a phenomenon whose secrets have remained maddeningly exclusive until now. You’ll learn about the physiological changes we experience at climax that hint at possible links to inflammation, aging, even conditions like long Covid. Here’s Nicole. I’m excited to dive into some of your research because it’s really fascinating. But even before we get there, as you’re describing this nearly decade long journey you’ve taken, part of me is also wondering, like, what makes somebody stay in this for a decade when there’s so much resistance, when literally, like everywhere you look, people are putting up roadblocks and barriers on every conceivable way. And yet a decade in, instead of you saying, you know what, maybe this just isn’t right. It’s just too hard. You’re like, no, I’m all in on this. In fact, I’m so all in in it. I’m starting my own institute to keep going all in on this, because that’s not a response that I think it’s an unusual response. So I’m really curious what’s underneath that. Like, what keeps driving you so hard to say. Like I’m not stopping this.


Nicole Prause: [01:00:16] Mhm. I think my dad would say stubbornness, but I’m going to argue a bit and say my sense is there’s some justice underlying that like a justice principle, because if it stops me it will stop everyone behind me. So if I allow an institute to say you can’t study this, then the next person who goes to ethics review now has a history where they’re like, well, you know, somebody else wasn’t allowed to do this either. And they have to disclose that. And their IRB may say, well, the institutional Review Board may say, well, if they didn’t allow it, maybe we shouldn’t allow it. And, you know, if I get death threats for my research and I stop because of it, someone else may say, well, that worked. Let’s threaten this new person too, so we can stop that work. And there it goes. So my sense was, to the extent that you allow yourself to be halted by processes that clearly shouldn’t be stopping the research, you know, I think you have to be open also to the possibility, like, am I doing something that shouldn’t be done right? I haven’t run into that yet. I think everything we’ve done is very above board, but assuming that’s not the case, I think if you fold, you also are folding on everyone behind you. All the students who are coming up now are going to have a harder time. All the scholars who want to come into that space are going to have a harder time. So for me, it was intentional trailblazing. I think, you know, I tell people that all the time in my talks with the couples research, I said, there’s no reason you can’t do this anymore. We hadn’t approved protocol. They were published. The protocol is now widely known. Tell your IRBs. Yes you can. You know, there is a path now. So I really use that experience to try and advocate for people going further in science and saying like, push, you know, do the work that needs to be done. Don’t back off because you’re nervous of being told no, because we got the yes, we did the work. Please use it. You know, move it forward.


Jonathan Fields: [01:02:08] Yeah. For those who don’t know, by the way, the IRB is basically a review board that looks at every study and basically determines whether it’s safe and okay to move forward, you know, by whatever standards that they’re using. Um, we’ve been talking a lot about sex and sexual desire on this, sort of like the benefit to humanity side. Let’s kind of like look at the other side also, which is I don’t know if we want to label this dysfunction or not. I’ll sort of like let you guide me here, but it’s and I think this is where a lot of the conversation goes, where you talk about sexual desire. My sense is a lot of times the conversation goes to the place of, of well, I used to be really sexually attracted to this person or this person like my partner used to be really sexual, attracted to me. But now it’s sort of like we’re roommates and I still love them. I still want to be with them. But that desire is gone. And maybe it’s okay for one person, but it’s not okay for the other, and one person is really missing it and yearning it and craving it, and it’s causing tension in a relationship. Talk to me a bit about this phenomenon and like what you see going on there and also how prevalent is. It is, and how much of a moral overlay we sometimes bring to that too.


Nicole Prause: [01:03:19] This issue is the number one, uh, brought before sexual therapy clinics. So couples most commonly present with an issue of we call it desire discrepancy. And part of the motivation behind calling it desire discrepancy is to try not to label one or the other to say, you know, you’re low, bring it up. And no, you’re a pervert. Bring it down. So we think like, okay, you two aren’t matched. What are we going to do about that? And early on, we thought the lower desire partner had a problem and most likely they were sexually inhibited. And so we just needed to open them up and make them more positive about sex. You know, get them the right toy, get them the right swingers convention, whatever it was that we thought might be helpful. But the data just don’t support that. Most people who have low drive aren’t, especially sex negative. It’s kind of like you describe. It seems like maybe at one time it was there and just kind of gone, and they don’t even know why necessarily. So the lower desire partner typically describes that as I want to want. I wish it was there. Like, I love this person and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to bring it back. So one thing we often will do early with couples with a desire discrepancy is we say, first of all, you know, we have to negotiate some things that will help reduce the tension. As it is. So very often couples have rules around masturbation or pornography viewing or fantasy where they find the higher desire partner is masturbating and they say, do you not want me anymore? And they say, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. That could mean that it’s possible, but most likely not. Most likely they have a higher drive. They know you probably are going to say no. They feel rejected. They don’t want to get turned down again. Maybe they don’t want to pester you. And so they’re like, I can handle this. I can take it off their plate. I’m gonna take care of this myself. You know, I would prefer to have sex with them. They’re not doing that. So we say, okay, first things first. We got to negotiate that balance. Say, do you not want them to masturbate at all? If so, what’s underlying that? Can you find times when that actually might be okay and that it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you and that it may actually be a good thing because it’s reducing the pressure on that desire discrepancy. Or is there some other outlet that you feel is appropriate? Couples sometimes these days think, oh, the answer is to try and open our relationship. That might work for some folks, but the problem is we have no data on who does that well. So we have data on people who are already doing that and kind of how they may be different from folks who have closed relationships. But I can’t advise someone to open their relationship to balance out that discrepancy, because I don’t know is going to do well with that. So we usually don’t consider that. And the other issues are just trying to find areas of novelty, potentially. And sometimes when a sex therapist says novelty, they think you can’t make swinging from the chandeliers, you know, like, are we talking crazy activities? And we see novelty can actually be pretty simple, you know, it can be. We used to take five minutes. Well, now you’re going to make yourself take an hour and find a way to fill the hour without going to penetration and try to find ways of integrating setting in an appropriate way that that may be in an uncomfortable car just because it’s different, that may be outside. So I think sometimes people hear novelty and they think they have to shoot for the stars, that it has to be crazy novel. Not at all. You know, I think sometimes looking for novelty and easier to access spaces and challenging areas is often something that can be helpful. But man, if I had the solution for that, I would open that clinic in a heartbeat. There are a couple of medications that have come out recently to try and address low drive and bring that up potentially, and the meds that are available have have two different mechanisms. At least the first one that’s already out doesn’t seem to do much, doesn’t look very promising. The effect sizes are tiny, so I don’t generally recommend those. I think most of us don’t, and the others that are coming forward might ultimately be helpful. I worry a lot about development that’s being done on the other side. That is to reduce high drive. I don’t want to castrate anyone in any sense of the way, you know, not neurally, not chemically, not, I think much better to find a way to negotiate those differences in a way that it honors both, uh, if it’s to both members of the couple’s values to balance that desire discrepancy. But it’s it is such a painful thing to deal with because there’s often a lot of hurt feelings and feeling rejected and, uh, love intertwined in that. And you have to, of course, navigate that and be aware of it. But there’s certainly not a magic bullet. And I don’t think it’s that, you know, the one or the other is pathologized. You know, where somebody has a disease here and we got to label one, say no, no, no, just different.


Jonathan Fields: [01:08:20] I mean it’s interesting also because I wonder how much so many, um, so many people are now on some sort of SSRI or variations of those areas. Um, and one of the known side effects of many of those is suppressed sexual desire. I wonder how many people are doing this balancing act of saying, okay, so this medication is actually really helping me, you know, whether it’s depression, anxiety, whatever it may be like, like this is making a real difference for me. And in theory, that would bring me back to a place where I would be more like open to sexual experience. But at the same time, the medication is actually suppressing my desire for any of that, which is a really tough place to be in, I would imagine.


Nicole Prause: [01:09:05] Absolutely. I always joke that antidepressant medications are more effective at causing anorgasmia than treating depression. They will knock orgasm out quickly. You know, we often talk about the delayed effects and the affect or emotion to kick in and say, oh, you got to wait a month on the meds. When you take the med about an hour later, you’ll have more difficulty reaching climax. So it’s very effective at knocking that out, unfortunately. And one way we can sometimes think about that is we differentiate between sexual motivation and the sex desire. So you are allowed to choose to engage in sexual behavior without desire. So if you say, well, you know, my partner is feeling deprived, like we’re not having sex as often as they want to. It is okay to say, I’m going to do oral sex with them. I’m going to use my hands with them. I’m going to hold them while they do something. Even though I don’t personally desire to be sexual myself, I choose to do that for my partner, and I think sometimes there may be a variety of historical reasons for us trying to say no, no, like we don’t engage in sex unless we personally want it. I say, well, sexual motivations are the reasons why you might engage in sex. So the joke often is, you know, take out the trash and you know, there might be a treat for you. It’s okay. A little funny, but but that is a thing you can do. It’s not. It doesn’t make you a bad person. There’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t mean you’re not a if you’re identified that you’re not a feminist anymore, if that’s something of concern to you, you can absolutely choose behaviors that you may not be personally motivated to engage in at the time. Now, that’s always a balance, too. You know, it’s like, how much do I do that before I start to feel like I’ve lost contact with my own desires? So as ever, not a simple answer there. But sometimes I think differentiating between, like, you know, I can be sexually motivated and not have desire and that’s still okay to engage sexually if I choose that.


Jonathan Fields: [01:11:10] Got it. So one of the things that you’ve been studying also in this context is you’ve been doing a lot of work with, I guess there’s a distinction between brain training and brain stimulation, right? Talk to me about like what the two are and what the distinction is. And then I’d love to know more about like the brain stem side of it.


Nicole Prause: [01:11:28] The brain training people often use to refer to things like biofeedback from electroencephalography or EEG. So EEG is if you ever see the things they look like swim caps with a bunch of wires sprouting off of them that measures electrical activity at the scalp that’s generated by the brain. And you can do things like train yourself to increase your alpha response. That’s by far the most common biofeedback that’s used with EEG. And there are now a lot of headsets that allow you to do this to some extent at home. There are lots of clinics that have been set up to do this. It doesn’t actually seem to be a lot more effective than other forms of biofeedback, like electromyography or EMG, that are with muscles that are much easier to do. The signal is much easier to read. So I don’t know that there’s anything super special about the neuro biofeedback per se, but it seems to have some efficacy and a number of spaces. So that’s measuring what’s coming out and teaching yourself to have some control over what that electrical output is. Brain stimulation is putting activity in. And usually if people have heard of that, they’re often familiar with it through electroconvulsive therapy or ECT. People do still use ECT for some things, but the problems with ECT is it’s a fair amount of energy that’s not very directed. So a lot is sent throughout the brain and we’re not totally sure where it’s having its impact.


Nicole Prause: [01:12:57] Always makes you a little nervous when you don’t know the mechanism. And so there have been two major areas of brain stimulation and research. There are others as well, but the two main ones are transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS, and direct current stimulation, or DCS. Dcs is something that can be done at. Home right now. The FDA is still not regulating these for some reason. So you can get the parts and play scientist at home. But be careful. I have gotten a few calls about people being nervous about what they did to their head. So DCS is, uh, less intense current that is supposed to be directed between two sensors that you place strategically on the scalp to direct energy in a particular area. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or the TMS, is done by a tech. These were initially approved to treat treatment resistant depression. And there’s a big company out of Israel that sells almost all these devices in the US, and a ton of clinics have them now because they’re FDA approved. They’re often covered by insurance, which a lot of people don’t know. There is some evidence from my lab and one other now that the TMS can alter sexual responsiveness. And the way that’s often done is the TMS is very targeted. We’re trying to get one particular area of the brain to alter its responsivity. And so we first apply the TMS to see how strong it should be.


Nicole Prause: [01:14:22] Everyone’s skull and dura mater are a little bit different in their thickness. And so we don’t just plop it on the head of everyone and turn it on, we adjust it to make sure it’s the appropriate strength for your particular physiology, and then we move it to the area that we’re attempting to stimulate. And then the pattern of stimulation really makes a difference. So there are some studies showing you if you do pulses of this activity in one particular way, it’s excitatory. It increases the activity in those brain areas. If you do the pattern of stimulation in a different way, it suppresses activity in the brain areas stimulated. So there’s a lot of work being done on, you know, which patterns optimize for this or that. How long are the effects. You’re supposed to do it repetitively. Well, what if you know, you live in a small town and you’re coming to a big town for treatment? Can I do two treatments in a day? They have to be every other day. Like, how much can we mush these in together to get a full treatment session in, to have the effects that we’re trying to have. So there’s a lot of methodological research being done on TMS especially. And it’s shown the most promise probably in depression. But I’m very optimistic for its application and sex as well.


Jonathan Fields: [01:15:33] I mean, what are you seeing just in terms of early? Because I guess the Holy Grail is like somebody listening to this and saying, like, you know, I’m this person you’re talking about, like, I love this other person. My libido, my sexual drive, my sexual motivation just isn’t there anymore. And I wish it was, but it’s not. And like, is this a potential is is is TMS brain stimulation a potential intervention that for that person could bring it back?


Nicole Prause: [01:16:00] Yes, it could be. So TMS can be prescribed what’s called off label. So it’s not currently approved for the purpose of altering sexual responsiveness, but because it is an FDA approved device in general, if your physician decides that it may be useful for you in the sexual domain, they can prescribe it off. Label is what that’s called. So you could go and and say, you know, I hear there are a couple of studies that have done this. I’d like to try it. I think it might be helpful for me. A lot of folks ask, well, like, how does this work exactly? So that I can understand what you’re doing to my brain because this is thought to be at least semi-permanent. That’s the one reason I always say I do all my protocols. You know, I run them on myself first to make sure I everything feels safe and where it’s supposed to be and everything’s working. I don’t do this one because I like my brain where it is. I don’t want to do anything to permanently or even semi-permanently alter its responsiveness. And this is a treatment. The way we think TMS is working is primarily to add some noise within the neural network.


Nicole Prause: [01:17:05] So if you are someone who tends to be less sexually sensitive or responsive, maybe those connections between touch and understanding, those to be sexual have weakened over time, and maybe there’s some inhibition that’s been added because you’re used to being rejected, or you’ve had a lot of anxiety associated with your sexual response. Essentially, you’re adding noise to both of those paths so that you can more easily condition them in the future. Another way of thinking about that is people have used TMS when they’re doing physical therapy to speed the recovery of limb use. So you can think of it as, you know, the brain is getting used to not having sensitivity in my foot. And so my foot’s not really working anymore. But if we apply TMS to that motor strip area and then do your physical therapy, you recover a lot more quickly. And that’s because we’re kind of adding some noise to your brain saying like, hey, maybe you should check that connection again. You know, like, are you sure it’s still not there?


Jonathan Fields: [01:18:02] Oh, that’s so interesting.


Nicole Prause: [01:18:03] And so it comes back online and becomes more effective more quickly. So I don’t think you can just sit and like, oh, I’ll stimulate my brain and then I’ll be horny all the time. But I think if you do the stimulation. In conjunction with sexual attempts, you know, and trying to heal that maybe some new novelty as well doesn’t have to be crazy novelty. Um, that those may be a great way of enhancing your response to comeback.


Jonathan Fields: [01:18:27] Yeah. I mean, it’s so interesting, and especially if you’re describing this may actually be a very long term outcome or result where like, you have a relatively short series of treatments and if it sustains, well, I guess maybe that’s part of what the research doesn’t entirely know. Like what is actually what are we talking about when we’re talking about long term? Like is it weeks, is it months? Is it years? Is this like you’ve permanently rewired your brain this way? There’s no real permanent rewiring, but that would probably be one of the big questions, you know, like how long is it going to last and is it worth it to even try?


Nicole Prause: [01:18:57] Absolutely. And you can always condition it back. So even if you kind of were responding again and then you have a sexual assault experience, goodness forbid, um, that could certainly cause a traumatic experience that would change that right back. But the research on depression has done a lot of long term work now. And depending on the trial you look at, they’re saying, you know, at least 5 or 6 years that they’ve looked out to. There are some that go longer than that, but they’re very small samples at that point. So I don’t know these that are claiming ten year efficacy. I was like, maybe. But the way that we’re using insects is the same circuits that are being stimulated for depression treatments in the same way. So I think it’s very reasonable to rely on the data from depression literature to inform how long the sex effects might last. So I think this is a potentially a semi, at least semi-permanent if not permanent. So long as nothing else happens. Experience. It may be worth trying.


Jonathan Fields: [01:19:55] Yeah, I mean it’s pretty incredible. Does it work the other way around also you know, so we’ve been talking about and again like we don’t want to label a lack of sexual motivation as like, well you’re the one who has the problem. Right. That’s let’s take that off the table. There’s like this is not a shame thing and there’s no labeling. It’s like like you just said, you know, there’s just there’s a disparity. And that’s usually what causes the angst. What about looking at the other side of the spectrum? What about the person who actually has very high sexual motivation? And this person may be less motivated because ethically or morally, they perceive themselves as like, I’m not the one with the problem. Um, um, but if somebody is open to that and they really want a relationship to endure, does this technology work in the other direction, too?


Nicole Prause: [01:20:41] That’s exactly what we looked at in our study was we did some that were excitatory and some that were inhibitory, and we found evidence that we could modulate both directions. That’s always important in science. Like if you think you understand the mechanism, then you should be able to push it both ways, you know, not just one or the other. So it looks like if you use inhibitory stimulation that you should be able to decrease the sensitivity potentially over time. But again, I think the main mechanism is through that kind of adding noise to the connections. So one way to think about it is if you’re sexually hypersensitive, um, then if you go through TMS, it’s probably going to weaken those connections. But if you continue to, you know, engage in whatever those sexual behaviors are at a high level, over time, you’re going to sensitize them right back. So I think, again, there’s probably an interaction of if you have low drive and you’re doing TMS, it’s going to benefit you to attempt to engage in some pleasurable sexual behaviors during that time. The opposite is probably also true that if you do TMS, it’s not a magic bullet. You probably also need to attempt some behavior change to not immediately resensitize, but the moral questions around that. Absolutely. Like you never want to.


Jonathan Fields: [01:21:57] Big time, right?


Nicole Prause: [01:21:58] Yeah.To cause someone to lose that pleasure in their life either, you know. Can you overdo it? I don’t know you. Maybe. You know, maybe you should start. The other thing to keep in mind with TMS is the effects are logarithmic. And what I mean by that is the sessions that cause the most change are the early ones. And then there’s kind of less and less change over time. So often you’ll have a series of 12 stimulations. So maybe you want to do one and see how it feels. One more, give it a month, see how it feels, uh, that you may have some benefit in proceeding with caution if you want to try that.


Jonathan Fields: [01:22:34] No, that makes a lot of sense and part of what you’re describing. Also, I’ll loop this back to psychedelics. You know what? I’ve been what’s been described to me through some researchers is that it’s not necessarily that the immediate intervention has changed, but it’s sort of like it puts your brain into a state where there’s a high level of neuroplasticity. So whatever grooves you had, whatever neural connections you had coming into the experience, it’s almost like it smooths the grooves, the grooves a bit and has a high level of susceptibility for you to regroup it in a way that feels more constructive to you. And it’s kind of what it sounds like you’re describing here, which is why, like in that world, they’ll say like like don’t come out of an experience and go watch like a whole bunch of violent movies and stuff like this. Like in the immediate window following. Like how? Like, think about think about the things that you’re saying yes to so that you can rewire it in a way which is really the way that you want, like, want to be. Um, it sounds like it’s a similar thing with this.


Nicole Prause: [01:23:30] Yeah. That description does sound pretty similar.


Jonathan Fields: [01:23:32] Yeah. I’m so fascinating. I’m excited to see where this research goes. Also, in the next five years when you look forward like next five years, like what’s on the horizon for you, what are you looking at exploring from where you are now?


Nicole Prause: [01:23:46] I’m really interested in orgasm physiology. So the sexual psychophysiology is a tiny field. You know, our like, flagship conference has all 150 of us all over the world. And so there are most folks in that space working on sexual arousal in the first 3 to 5 minutes. You know, we show them an erotic film. Maybe we use a vibrator for getting fancy with the hardware, but we know a lot about the early arousal response and very little about high arousal and climax in terms of physiology. And there’s so much that changes with those states that we know nothing about. So I’m most excited about a study that we literally recruited the first person for this study the day the Covid shut down happened. I was so heartbroken. But we’re doing a funded study looking at orgasm and guys to start and their inflammatory cytokines before and after climax. So literally just saying what is this do to inflammation. Because we don’t know. No one’s looked. Maybe we should look you know, we have lots of suspicions about what might happen. But my goodness, like how many inflammatory diseases might be addressed by altering sexual activity one way or another, you know, depending on the particular difficulty you’re having. So I’m really excited to get some very basic science information on climax. And the other pattern within climax that we’re interested in is if you took any human sexuality class, if you remember it, you probably got taught the masters in Johnson’s model of sexual response and that you’re supposed to, you know, have a period of excitation and then plateau and then climax.


Nicole Prause: [01:25:30] We have some data showing that plateau phase is not a plateau. Something entirely different appears to be happening there that we didn’t know was occurring. We’ve seen it enough now in our data that we think it’s it’s real, like we’re trusting, trusting at any time you think you have a big discovery, you know, what is a big claims requiring big evidence, right? So we’re trying to be conservative, but frankly, I’m very excited about what we’ve seen. I think that the sexual response model, we have some evidence that it’s wrong in this way, that in high arousal states, there’s actually a deactivation where people have to disconnect. And whereas in the early phases you have to focus, attempt to become aroused, look at the sexual stimulus, elaborate on that cognitively to approach climax, we think you actually need to release some cognitive control. That makes sense for a lot of reasons, but we actually see evidence like sympathetic nervous system tone decreasing prior to climax. What, like that’s not supposed to happen. And man, the galvanic skin response, which is another measure of sympathetic nervous system activity, just drops when you tell someone to attempt to climax. And so we’re very excited to get those data in this large group of guys as well. Just to see, is our basic model wrong? Should we be correcting this? Because I think we probably should.


Jonathan Fields: [01:26:52] Yeah. That’s amazing. Well, I will be following along for sure because I think it’s just fascinating and so many different ways, and it can affect our lives in so many different ways, like from happiness to intimacy, to like your studying cytokines, which for those who don’t know, cytokines are a major marker of inflammation in our body. And if literally, you know, a short intervention with no external substance and no cost, it can make a real difference and immediate difference in the level of inflammation. But, I mean, how incredible would that be? So I’m excited to follow along. As you deepen into all of this research, it feels like a good place for us to come full circle in our conversation as well. So we’ll loop around in this container of Good Life Project., um, zooming the lens out. If I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up?


Nicole Prause: [01:27:42] On the spot. Off the top of my head, I would say a life of unashamed pleasures and connection is probably a good place.


Jonathan Fields: [01:27:54] Thank you. So I’ve learned so much what a profoundly eye opening journey into the deepest realms of human sexuality and intimacy. From Vanessa’s shameless roadmap for erotic communication to Emily’s myth busting insights into embracing authentic pleasure and Nicole’s mind bending research hinting at Sexuality’s power to modulate our very physiology, I am in awe of the possibilities awakened by our guest today, and if you’ve loved this episode, be sure to catch the full conversations with today’s guests. You can find a link to those episodes in the show notes. This episode of Good Life Project was produced by executive producers Lindsey Fox and Me, jonathan Fields. Editing help By Alejandro Ramirez. Kristoffer Carter crafted our theme music and special thanks to Shelley Adelle for her research on this episode. And of course, if you haven’t already done so, please go ahead and follow Good Life Project. in your favorite listening app. And if you found this conversation interesting or inspiring or valuable, and chances are you did. Since you’re still listening here, would you do me a personal favor, a seven second favor, and share it? Maybe on social or by text or by email? Even just with one person? Just copy the link from the app you’re using and tell those you know, those you love, those you want to help navigate this thing called life a little better so we can all do it better together with more ease and more joy. Tell them to listen, then even invite them to talk about what you’ve both discovered. Because when podcasts become conversations and conversations become action, that’s how we all come alive together. Until next time, I’m Jonathan Fields signing off for Good Life project.


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