If there’s one person we’d want to hash out all our sex related quandaries with, no holds barred, it’s certified sex therapist Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus aka ‘Queen of Vibrators’. Her wicker basket of sex toys is the Instagram content we never knew we were missing. Thank us later.
In her new book, Sex Points: Reclaim Your Sex Life with the Revolutionary Multi-Point System, Bat Sheva Marcus provides an easy-to-use framework to identify the missing parts of your pleasure puzzle and what factors could be keeping you from having the rich sex life you SO deserve.
Here, we asked her to tell us everything she knows about embracing taboo fantasies without shame, introducing sex toys, rekindling lust and reviving your sexual desire.
If you’re currently settling for a mediocre sex life and your bed-rocking orgasms are officially MIA, this is one Q&A you’ll want to have on your radar.
Your revolutionary Sex Points framework helps identify the factors that could be affecting your sex life and what’s keeping you from the great sex you deserve. Can you tell us a bit about how it works and the four quadrants pain, arousal libido and orgasm?
Sure. Here’s the thing, when our sex life isn’t working, we usually are looking for the “one thing” that is “off” or “broken” to fix. But your sex life doesn’t work that way. And honestly, it’s not really helpful to look at it that way! It’s much more useful and realistic to understand that your sex life is a combination of many, many aspects of your life: your health, your body image, your hormone levels, your relationship, your ability to use your brain, your willingness to explore new things. And all those things add “points” or takeaway “points”. That’s why I say that you rather than worrying about what is “broken” in your sex life you look towards getting yourself “100 points”, places where you can add to the bottom line of your sex life, because at that threshold you will be having good sex. And I truly believe everyone can get to that threshold.
I break things down into the four typical areas where women experience their problems: pain, low desire, problems with arousal (getting turned on) and problems with orgasms.Dr Bat Sheva Marcus
In order to help you understand how different parts of your sex life may be affected by “missing points,” I break things down into the four typical areas where women experience their problems: pain, low desire, problems with arousal (getting turned on) and problems with orgasms. Identifying and understanding these four “quadrants”, and where you are “missing points” in each of them will give you the keys to turning around your sex life.
And to make your life really easy, I provide a handy-dandy quiz that does the work for you. You just take the quiz (there’s a link in the book) and it gives you a full score, and your score broken down into the four quadrants. So you can just click buttons to answer the questions and voila, you end up with a lovely, snapshot view of your current situation.
Once you’ve established what it is that’s keeping you from having a great sex life, how do you go about reclaiming those missing sex points?
Once you have a picture of what is happening currently in your sex life, you should be off and running. The book works as a “choose your own adventure.” Once you realize where you are missing points, the book will say “To gain back points in this quadrant, go to chapter 12, 15 or 17”. Those chapter guides will suggest any number of areas to approach. Let’s look at medications you are on that might be taking away points. Let’s look at medications that you could be on that could give you points. Let’s see if we can help you retrain your brain to get you fantasizing and gain a slew of points that way. Maybe start looking differently at how you approach sex. Or perhaps a primer on vibrators might give you points in the particular area you are missing points. There’s a veritable buffet of options you can use to gain points.
Why is it so important for us to fantasies and how do you learn to tune into your sexuality, especially if it feels taboo or inappropriate?
I think there is almost nothing as critical for women as learning to use their erotic brains and embracing their fantasies. The truth is that the erotic part of your brain needs to be nurtured and paid attention to just like any other part of your brain. If you stop doing math, you’re going to be poor at doing math problems. If you stop speaking a foreign language, you’re going to get rusty in that language. Women have stopped themselves from fantasizing for so long because they are ashamed of their fantasies, or because they are afraid of their fantasies. And then, that part of your brain gets rusty from disuse. The book has a blueprint for how to get back that erotic part of your brain.
A fantasy is just a thought, it doesn’t hold any meaning other than the fantasy itself which is entirely imaginary, so why do you think women find it so difficult to explore the concept?Dr Bat Sheva Marcus
We’re very quick to judge and shut down our fantasies, aren’t we? We sure are! I am always taken aback at how women “edit” their fantasies! It’s such a weird situation. Somehow, we have lost our ability to discern between fantasy and reality. And that makes women feel as though their fantasies have to be “appropriate”. Well, nothing could be worse for your erotic brain! The whole joy of fantasies is that they are not real, not happening and most times we don’t have any desire to have them happen!! Women have to start understanding that fantasies are just fantasies and not a reflection of what they would like to have happened in reality. They should not worry if their fantasies are not reflective of reality, are not PC, or “appropriate”. Fantasies are one of the most fun things in our life and we should revel in them without worrying about them.
How can we unlearn those sex myths and enjoy the pleasure of guilt-free fantasies?
I will tell you that the first step is understanding that fantasies are not something that descends upon you like Pixie dust but are something that you need to work on and actually practice. You need to keep reminding yourself that they do not reflect reality and that whatever you love to fantasize about, whether that is your boss, three women, two Martians and a chimpanzee, it is all fine and good because it is just a fantasy. And know that many women have “categories” of fantasies: ones that are semi-realistic that you want to try out, ones that are far out and unrealistic and you never, ever want to actually happen, ones you might share with a partner because it would be fun and ones that never leave the confines of your brain! Their all good, valid and helpful.
A lot of people just don’t feel like having sex. They’re tired, their libido is nowhere to be seen and the thought of sexy underwear does nothing for them. For anyone who falls into the ‘would rather roll over and read a book’ camp, how can they revive their sex drive?
It’s important to understand that desire is not something that “happens” to you magically from the outside. It is a combination of what is happening in your body chemically, hormonally, and in your brain and your relationship. In order to get your mojo back you may need to look at all of those factors and understand how they fit together. But let me tell you this: it is possible to regain your sex drive and feel good about it. I know women often feel hopeless when they have no desire. Because, you know, with no desire, there’s no desire to have desire and that can feel insurmountable. But with some understanding of the physical and the emotional factors at play, you can turn things around!
How do complex emotions such as anger, jealousy, shame and anger play a part in our sex lives and can those feelings actually be the making of good sex?
Jack Morin, one of my all-time favorite writers on sex, suggests that difficult emotions are often some of the strongest catalysts for eroticism. His book, The Erotic Mind, posits the great paradox of sexuality: how shame, guilt, anger and anxiety, often thought to be inhibitive of good sex, can turn out to be powerful aphrodisiacs.
Sex can be safe and consensual and still flirt with some of these more complicated emotions.Dr Bat Sheva Marcus
One thing I talk about in the book is how complicated emotions impact on our sex lives. Many women will tell you that ironically, the best or “hottest” sex of their life was early on in a relationship when they were a bit anxious and nervous and not as they got more comfortable and settled into their relationships. Many women will tell you that they get turned on by emotions that have to do with aggression and power which is fine and perfectly normal and healthy. The truth is that we’ve tried to clean up sex so much that we seem to be leaving it fairly anaemic which is totally unnecessary. Sex can be safe and consensual and still flirt with some of these more complicated emotions.
Why do you think women in particular have such a hard time asking for what they want sexually?
Let’s be honest, women have a hard time asking for what they want in many realms of life. Sex is just another area where we don’t communicate our wants, desires and needs.
With regard to sex in particular, I think women are ashamed to ask for what they want because they have been told that what they want is inappropriate. They have been told that only certain types of women want certain kinds of sex. And they feel like sex should be easy and comfortable which can sometimes be the opposite of what it should be. Like how sexy are flannel pajamas?
Lust has a pretty critical role in the ongoing health of a sexual relationship, right? Talk to us about the love/lust ratio and striking that perfect balance!
Here’s the difference between love and lust: Love is an intricate and complicated tapestry of feelings: respect, concern, support, understanding and appreciation to name just a few. Lust, by contrast, is quite a simple emotion. It’s a visceral, almost physical longing for someone sexually. And on its own, lust may work quite well in specific types of relationships: one-offs, friends with benefits, and short-term trysts. On its own though, it usually doesn’t bode well for ongoing, meaningful, long term relationships. It’s hard to sustain a relationship with a one-dimensional base and nothing but physical interest in each other to cement the relationship.
But it’s also difficult to sustain a long-term romantic relationship without it. You know when you hear someone talk about not being “in love” with their partner, even though they “love” them? Or when someone talks about a relationship being supportive and loving but “we feel like roommates?” What they are saying is that the lust is gone! That is a problem–and it’s a more common problem than you think.
When relationships first start you often find a perfect fusion of love and lust. And as a result, relationships oftentimes start off so heady. But overtime things shift, and when relationships that are lustful become long-term meaningful relationships, many of us start to trade in the whirlwind feelings of lust in favor of shiny romance.
The trick is to try to recapture some of that lust and keep a semblance of a balance, because in the end that will bode best for a relationship.
How do you go about introducing sex toys into your relationship for the first time?
Women worry that their male partners might feel threatened by their use of a vibrator. While that can sometimes be the case, often I believe women are just transferring some of their own discomfort or questions onto their partner. If you believe that it’s perfectly valid and normal to bring a vibrator into the sexual relationship, it makes the conversation so much easier.
The truth is that most partners really and truly do care about giving pleasure. They want to see you excited, turned on and wild with pleasure.Dr Bat Sheva Marcus
The truth is that most partners really and truly do care about giving pleasure. They want to see you excited, turned on and wild with pleasure. It may take them a while to wrap their head around the idea, they may have many questions, but in the end, the honest truth is that they are usually okay with it. That’s a turn on to them. And let’s face it, sex toys often make their job easier! I often tell my patients, to go ahead and blame me. Take my book and the chapter on vibrators and tell them I said they should read it!
Should we manage our expectations a little? Like, what is the sweet spot between an aspirational sex life and a realistic one?
Here’s the thing we need to remember: sex is a good thing. Even non-firework, just plain good old sex is a good thing.
It’s good for you physically. It’s good for you emotionally and it’s good for your relationship. A realistic sex life is one where there is regular ongoing sex. And sometimes it’s just good, and sometimes it’s fun or funny and sometimes it excellent. I know it’s tempting to think that you should hold off sex until one of those magic moments blast through to you, and the spirit of desire overtakes you and you and your partner are off and running, but I have bad news. In my experience, (and trust me I have a lot of experience at this point), it’s the people with the regular, rather pedestrian, ongoing “good” sex lives, that turn around one day and say, “Wow. That was great sex.” Or, “It’s great. We are going through a great patch right now.”
So what you want is a solid, ongoing sex life that makes you both happy … and then there is space and conditions for a fireworks sex life sometimes. As a veteran sex therapist, what do you believe is the most important ingredient for a happy, healthy, thriving sex life, or is more nuanced than that?
The bottom line, is that the only things you really need to get your sex life back on track is:
- An understanding that a good sex life doesn’t just “happen” but needs some time attention and work.
- A willingness to look at the whole picture and see where you might realistically” get more points.”
- And my book, which will explain to you why and how certain things will give you the points you need
- What are your top tips for getting out of your head and into your body if you’re struggling to find your sexy?
The most important thing is to understand that you are not broken, and you are not crazy. Everyone and I mean everyone struggles with their sex life at some time in their life. The sooner you accept that and can appreciate the reality of what a sex life looks like and the fact that sex is something you can practice and learn and work at, the sooner you will be able to find your sexy. I promise.
Purchase Sex Points by Dr Bat Sheva Marcus from Bookshop.org here.