How to Have a Great Sex Life | Sex Educator and Coach Ruth Ramsay

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It was an absolute delight to have had Ruth Ramsay on The IPS podcast in Episode 037, titled ‘Improve Your Sex Life with Sex Educator and Coach Ruth Ramsay.’ Now, it’s our pleasure to welcome her back for this bonus episode, which is, once again, a treasure trove of resources and practical takeaways to improve your sex life starting today.

Just like the initial interview, Ruth’s insights in this bonus episode cover a multitude of crucial topics. Discover what men commonly feel insecure about, unravel the most prevalent insecurities among women, learn how to navigate a relationship where desires significantly differ, and explore strategies to keep the flame alive when sex gets boring. Ruth delves into these issues and more, providing actionable advice that can transform your intimate relationships.

So, I hope you are ready to enhance your understanding with the one and only sex educator and coach, Ruth Ramsay. Enjoy the show!

Interviews:


Videos:

  •  Revamp your sex life in 6 minutes | Ruth Ramsay | TEDxDaltVila (Is there a simple mindset shift that can radically improve our sex lives? One which can apply whatever our circumstances, experience or preferences? Yes! Sex coach Ruth Ramsay shares this shift, and how its ramifications go way beyond increasing our pleasure)


Courses:

  • The Passiosn8 Programme (The Passion8 Programme is a pleasure-focused, eight-week, step-by-step journey into what YOU need for a vibrant sex life. Participation is anonymous – you don’t have to talk or share.)


People Mentioned:

  • Dr. Justin Lehmiller (Dr. Lehmiller is an award winning educator and a prolific researcher and scholar. He has published articles in some of the leading journals on sex and relationships, written two textbooks, and produces the popular blog, Sex & Psychology.)
  • Lucas de Man (Lucas De Man graduated from the KU Leuven with a Masters in Literature in 2004. He immediately applied to the Amsterdam University of the Arts (NL) to become a Theatre Director and won the Matthijs Prize a young talent stipendium from Artemis and Young Talent Award from Theater aan Zee (BE) before graduating in 2008.)
  • Lucie Fielding (Lucie Fielding (she/they) is a sexuality educator and resident in counseling in Charlottesville, Virginia. They have an MA in Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute as well as a PhD in French from Northwestern University.)
  • Dr. Emily Nagoski (A gifted and engaging speaker, Emily is an expert on women’s sexual wellbeing, healthy relationships, and the prevention.)
  • Dr. Peggy Kleinplatz (She is a clinical psychologist, Board Certified in Sex Education and as a Diplomate and Supervisor of Sex Therapy. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. She was awarded the Prix d’Excellence in 2000 for her teaching of Human Sexuality.)
  • Lauro Dodsworth (I am a photographer, artist and author, telling powerful, moving human stories for art, editorial and commercial commissions.)


Books:


Websites:

  • Pleasure_Portraits (Erotic portraits)
  • The Great Wall of Vulva (Vulvas are as different as faces and many people, particularly women, don’t realize that.)
  • 100 Vaginas (100 Vaginas followed me photographing and interviewing 18 women (of the total 100 in my project) about how their vulvas and vaginas have shaped their lives.)
  • Intro 00:0002:44
  • – Is there anything that people who are listening should know about actively working on their sex life and what this does for other areas of their life that they might not realize right now? 02:4508:17
  • – What are some great ways to prevent sex from getting boring that many listeners might not have explored? In the first years of your relationship, it isn’t too hard, but after 10, 20, 30, … years, it becomes a lot more difficult to keep things exciting. 08:1816:43
  • – How do you navigate a relationship where one partner would have very different desires from the other partner? 16:4423:27
  • – What would be a great piece of advice or exercise for non-binary or transgender people who are listening right now? 23:2826:59
  • – The IPS Academy 26:5928:15
  • – What is something that most men feel ashamed or very insecure about surrounding sex, their bodies, and/or the emotional and physical skills they need for intimacy? 28:1538:00
  • – What is something most women feel ashamed or very insecure about surrounding sex, their bodies, and/or the emotional and physical skills they need for intimacy? 38:0149:48
  • – Outro 49:4951:26
  • – The IPS Academy 51:2752:53 

The transcription is, for the most part, AI-transcribed and is currently 85% accurate. We are still weeding out some minor errors.

Jellis Vaes
What’s up there, everyone? Welcome to another episode here on The IPS podcast. I’m Jellis Vaes, the founder of The IPS Project, which is an educational platform on life, which means that I’m trying to fill in that gap of education that we, you know, didn’t receive in school on topics, you know, on life topics, topics that affect us all, such as mental health, relationships, the mind, the body, and brain. And I try to do that by providing articles, online courses, events, and of course, this podcast where I talk with experts such as Ruth Ramsay, which is a sex educator and coach. Now, Ruth already appeared on the podcast in an interview that I did with her. But in this episode, which is a bonus episode, this is where the guest is taking over the podcast and where they, in their own terms, answer some questions that I didn’t ask in the initial interview that I did with them. Now, if you haven’t listened to the interview that I did with Ruth and after this episode, you want to learn even more from her about how to improve your sex life, then do definitely check out the interview that I did with her, which you can find in the show notes, which are located in the description of this episode. Or you can also just scroll through whichever podcast app you’re using to the interview with Ruth. Now, in this episode, Ruth mentions a lot of great resources around sex and ways to improve your sex life, and the resources you can also find in the show notes, which are once again located in the description of this episode. Or you can also go directly to theipsproject.com/podcast and search for Ruth. Now, lastly, before I will let Ruth take over the podcast, if you enjoy, if you will come to enjoy this episode or any other episodes on the podcast, don’t forget to subscribe. And if you could take, I mean, just a second to leave a rating on whichever podcast app you’re using. Honestly, it would mean the world to me to know how I am doing with the podcast. But also, you will open the door for me and therefore for you to invite more incredible guests such as Ruth here on the podcast. So if you would take the time, then, I mean, truly, thank you for doing that. With that, I hope you are ready to learn a whole lot more about ways to improve your sex life with the one and only sex educator and coach, Ruth Ramsay.

Ruth Ramsay
Hello, IPS podcast listeners and viewers. This is Ruth Ramsay, adult sex educator and sex coach, back on the podcast. Now, I recorded a full episode a couple of months ago, and Yelis has asked me to cover a few of the questions that he didn’t get a chance to ask me on that recording. So here goes. So the first question is, what should listeners know about what actively working on their sex life does for other areas of their lives? Now, I love this question because it’s something which people haven’t necessarily thought about before they start on the journey of improving their sex lives. But it’s something which I always hear about afterwards. So people tell me I’m so much more confident, I’m more able to communicate, I’m more able to self-regulate my own emotions, stand up for my own boundaries outside of the bedroom because of the work I’ve done inside. Now, typically, sex is an area where we’re taught not to talk about it. Maybe we’ve been brought up being taught that somebody else’s pleasure, our partner’s pleasure is more important, that we shouldn’t advocate for ourselves. If we’ve been having sex that isn’t particularly pleasurable, but we’ve been going along with it or pretending it’s more pleasurable than it is, then that might mean we’ve disconnected with ourselves physically.

Ruth Ramsay
Basically, there’s so much that can be going wrong in the bedroom, and that can go wrong for years and years and years. When we’re able to face, understand and overcome those things in the very kind of delicate and sensitive area of the bedroom, then doing so outside the bedroom can be much, much easier. So if we’ve managed to pluck up the courage to tell our partner whilst we’re naked in bed with them, when they start doing something that actually we’ve never particularly liked, when we’re able to self advocate and say in a sensitive, kind, non-confrontational way, actually, I’d rather you do it like this, for example, than clothed in our boss’s office. When they’re asking us to do something which we don’t feel is appropriate in our job or that we don’t enjoy, or where our skill set isn’t best used, we’re more able, in the same way, to communicate in an appropriate way that that’s actually not something that we are happy with. Insects. When we’re able to tune into our body more and to what we actually want and need for pleasure in that moment, then we can also tune in better outside the bedroom.

Ruth Ramsay
So, for example, when we’re making food choices or to carry on a food example, when we’re able to say what we do and don’t want in the bedroom, we might find that we’re much more able to say to a partner who says, hey, shall we go to our favorite pizza restaurant tonight? Actually, do you know what? I don’t fancy pizza tonight. Let’s go for indian instead. Now, that might seem like a very kind of small, insignificant thing, but added up, over all of the decisions that we’re making alongside a partner in our lives, we can find that we are typically always defaulting to what they want, and that that’s just become the pattern that does then kind of erode away on our happiness and pleasure. And when we can say, in the bedroom, actually, this is what I want and need, then doing so in areas outside of the bedroom, it just becomes much easier as well. And then the last way that I’ll cover on how actively working on our sex lives inside the bedroom does impact us outside the bedroom is if you have a family. Now, it’s so common that I work with clients who’ve got children who will tell me at the end that one of the impacts of working on their sex life with me has been that for the first time ever, they’re talking in an age-appropriate way with their kids about sex.

Ruth Ramsay
And often they tell me they’re doing so in a way that their own parents never did for them and that would have made their own upbringing around sex far more positive to lift that shame. So, as I say, obviously in an age appropriate way, talking with your kids or with other younger people in your life where it’s appropriate, showing that it’s okay to talk about sex and open that topic is very, very powerful. So I guess that’s an example of how actively working on our sex lives can help us improve other people’s sex lives as well. I was talking to a client literally two days ago who said that she’d sat down her 1214, 15 and 17 year olds, or rather over dinner, when they were all sat down together. She had raised the topic of sex in an appropriate kind of way. She explained how the four teens had all reacted quite differently to that, but how they’d then had a discussion that she felt was very, very beneficial, and that already she could feel a shift in the energy around that topic and felt that it was a very, very healthy thing for them as a family.

Ruth Ramsay
So working on your sex life can actually improve other people’s lives overall as well. Okay, next question. How do we keep sex exciting after, for example, 10, 20, 30 years? This is such a common question, and the answers are curiosity, variety, and being open to change. Typically, when we first get together with someone, and I’ll be replying to this question in the context of a long term relationship in the context of having been with the same person for that 10, 20, 30 years. If there’s ever a time in a relationship when we’re going to talk about sex, share preferences, et cetera, et cetera, typically, it’s at the start, but what we then do is find a pattern of activities in bed that work for us both or that we believe work for us both and then keep on doing those things. I’ll work with couples who will admit that actually, once sexual activity starts, it follows exactly the same script. And they might not be thinking it in the moment, but thinking about it, for example, in a coaching session, they’ll say, yeah, actually, we always do the same things. Whatever mood we were in, whether it’s daytime, nighttime, or whatever the kind of surrounding context, once we get going, we always do the same things in the same order.

Ruth Ramsay
And typically it has the same result. So maybe for a couple, it might be that they both orgasm and it might have that result that they both orgasm. But the process for getting there has become so autopiloted, if that’s a word, that they don’t actually need to kind of be fully present in the moment. Their bodies can be going through the motions of pleasure. And even if that results in an orgasm, it’s not necessarily what I feel I want to say is touching their souls. They could be thinking about what they need to buy in the supermarket, for example, whilst their body is taking that pleasure pathway. So they’re not fully present in the moment. But couples, very often, when they found that pattern of behavior that works for them, they’ll use it. It’s an easy default. And what that means, though, is they keep doing the same things again and again and again over 10, 20, 30 years. That’s not satisfying in the long term. So what can we do about that? So Yellis’s question, how do we keep sex exciting? So I would say the first thing is to be aware that those things that you said to each other at the start, the things that you found worked for your body and each other’s bodies at the start, do not remain set in stone forever.

Ruth Ramsay
So check in with each other and give each other license to entirely change. So it might be that, for example, at the start, one of you said to the other, I will never engage in any kind of anal play. That is not for me. Never ask me to do that. I will never do that. Over the, say, 15 years you’ve been together, that situation might have actually started to change for that first person, but the second person thinks, I can never, ever make any suggestion about anything in that region because they made very clear they’re never up for that. But then the second person might be thinking, well, I said 15 years ago, I was never up for that, but now I’m a bit curious. But my partners never made any suggestions. They never go anywhere near that area. They’re clearly not interested in that. And so you can have a situation where actually both partners are a bit curious, but because of that thing that was said 15 years ago, neither of them wants to bring that up. So something that I think it’s healthy to do is, even with those areas of sex where we’ve said it’s an absolute a no, and one of the ways we can think about different activities is, what’s a definite yes?

Ruth Ramsay
It doesn’t personally turn me on, but it doesn’t upset me or repulse me in any way. And if you wanted to explore it, I’d be up for doing that for you. So a yes doesn’t particularly excite me, but doesn’t appall me. We can try it and no, but even those things that are a no, you still do revisit the topic on a semiregular basis. So this could be in a once a year sex review. One of my most popular workshops is one that I run in early January, which is a sexual planning workshop for the year, a review of the previous year, and a look ahead at the year that’s coming up, and do revisit all of those areas. Is there something which was a definite no that, for whatever reason, you’re now a bit curious about? So that’s a tip and kind of open the playing field for your partner as well, to say, has anything changed? Is there something that you’re curious about now that you weren’t before? Another way to keep things kind of varied on a regular basis is to always check in, or almost always check in at the start of partnered sexual activity, what do you need?

Ruth Ramsay
So if we assume it’s at nighttime, what do you need tonight? And even to check in with yourself? Having said partnered, you can check in with yourself solo. If you’re going to have a masturbation session, what do I actually need? And it’s about, again, not falling into that autopilot that people tell me sometimes that they’ve been in for decades. We might want sex for very different reasons. It might be that we need to feel reassured and held close and that we’re loved. It might be that we want to feel dominant and powerful and in control. It might be that we want a wild session, or another time, it might be that we want a quickie. It might just be that we want some erotic connection without it being a marathon. And when we ask each other, when we check in, what do you need tonight? That results in sex. That’s more tailored to what we need in that moment. It results in deeper understanding of each other, and it results in more variety in sex. And that in itself helps keep things exciting over the longer term. So there are some tips I will add to that.

Ruth Ramsay
That if we are involved in the world of kink, there are endless possibilities. Now, Kink isn’t all about pain and whipping and spanking in the way that some people think it is. Kink can incorporate psychological kink, physical kink. So one of the ways of understanding the differences there is physical kink would be being handcuffed to a bed, unable to move. The psychological version of that would be for a partner to place your hands and feet at the corners of a bed and order you not to move. So in theory, you could, but you are obeying their order. So very often, even when I just share that, people will say, I didn’t realize that the psychological side of that would be included as kink. But then there’s also things like erotic hypnotism. There’s Shibari rope bondage. There is so much within the world of kink that can be very sensual and beautiful and not about impact or pain at all, but that within it has lots of variety, that has endless skills to learn and practice, for example, that can keep things interesting. So if somebody decides to go on a journey into learning Shibari Japanese rope bondage, that can take them years and years.

Ruth Ramsay
And so, again, that’s a way of keeping things interesting. Let me just have a sip of tea, and then I’ll look at the next question. So next is how to healthily navigate desire discrepancies. For example, when one person fantasizes about a threesome and the other not at all. So with things like this, I think having an approach of non-judgment and of curiosity around what that fantasy, for example, is actually about. So I’ve worked with a couple recently where he was fantasizing about seeing his wife with another man or having a threesome with another man, where they were focused on her. So I know that a lot of people just hearing that would have judgment against him and assume that it was somehow about him and his pleasure. But actually, the background was that he’d had a period of time where he was unwell and where sex was something that wasn’t possible for him. And that was the point at which he began imagining his wife with another man, because he didn’t want her going without sexual pleasure for that period of time. So that’s where the idea started. And then in their sex life, he is extremely focused on her pleasure.

Ruth Ramsay
And this imagining her with another man whilst he couldn’t engage in sex then became, well, if there was another man and there was me, imagine all the extra pleasure that she could experience. And that’s what the fantasy was about. So it isn’t necessarily what people might have imagined. So if a partner has a fantasy or something they want to try, that doesn’t work for us, it’s a benefit to understand what is this actually truly about now, with a lot of fantasies, they’re not about what they would appear to be about on the surface. A researcher who’s done loads of fantastic work around this is Dr. Justin Lehmiller. He has a book about fantasies. Tell me what you want. He’s working in the States. And then there’s another researcher, Lucas de Man, who has been doing work in the Netherlands and around northern Europe. They’ve done a few podcasts together where they discuss, among other things, how what a fantasy appears to be about on the surface isn’t necessarily what it’s more deeply about. So try to understand, what is this actually about, this thing that your partner wants to try or to talk about or think about, that doesn’t work for you.

Ruth Ramsay
What’s it actually about? That in itself might change your feelings on it or otherwise, what can you do that can meet those needs, all the curiosities that your partner has in a way that is comfortable for you. One of the main things here is not to shame anyone for their desires and to be pleased and happy that our partners are able to share things with us, because that opens the door for us to share as well. Also, if their fantasy or the thing that they want to try isn’t something you want to engage in, but isn’t abhorrent to you in any way, or you’re not vehemently against it, then are there ways that you can do things that do satisfy some of that fantasy, but in a way that you are comfortable with? So, for example, if there’s a couple where one partner loves the idea of a threesome or group sex and the other one doesn’t, then can they work around that as a fantasy? So, for example, one partner is blindfolded on the bed and the other partner is saying, oh, I can see, all of the people who are here for us to have group sex with, they’re about to arrive, and now the first one’s coming through the door and describe those people.

Ruth Ramsay
And now they’re stood around the bed, maybe use sex toys or use different sensation toys to give the impression of different people, and so therefore give the partner an experience of elements of that fantasy, but without actually bringing anyone else into the bedroom. Now, something that people typically will share with me as a concern around this is, oh, but if they have a taste of it, what if it makes them want it more? Now, I’ve not done research around this, but I will say just anecdotally, in my experience as a sex coach, typically it tends to be more likely that the opposite will happen, that actually they had this fantasy of, for example, group sex that they thought would only be satisfied if they went to a sex club with their partner and had group sex. But actually that experience of pretending, of kind of role-playing, that that was happening in itself was enough. As I say, I find I see that happening far more commonly than the opposite of, well, actually, now it’s made them want it even more. When we engage in that, when we’re able to say, well, this thing, I wouldn’t want to ever indulge in it in real life, but I am prepared to make believe it a bit so that you can experience what that’s like.

Ruth Ramsay
Actually might well change our feelings as well. We might find that we are much more comfortable, or we might find that we understand better why we wouldn’t want to do that. Bring our partner’s fantasy into full, I can’t say it fruition in real life. I think with sex, it’s so good to be curious and in a safe, consensual way, explore our boundaries and learn more about what turns us on, what turns us off, and how we can work with that and work around that. So this ties into the answer to the previous question about how to keep things exciting and interesting. Don’t assume that you know everything about yourself sexually, body or mind. Be up for safely and consensually exploring those things, and you might find that activities and experiences open up to you that are massively fulfilling and enjoyable that you might not have expected to necessarily be your thing. So let me have a look at the next question. So, Yelis asked me if I’ve worked with non binary and transgender clients and what my main piece of advice or main exercise that I would share with those clients would be. Now, early on in my coaching journey, I did have a couple of transgender clients.

Ruth Ramsay
But what I found was that I didn’t have the up to date expertise around, for example, the medications, the various procedures, for example, in the UK, the NHS pathway for people who are transgender. I didn’t know enough about those basic things to support those clients as fully as I wanted to. So what I now do? I have a couple of amazing coaches who specialize entirely in transgender and nonbinary clients to support them if they require one to one coaching. But on my course, the passionate program, which is an eight week course that helps members to understand themselves more deeply, what I found is that I have had nonbinary clients or members on that course, and they’ve found it massively useful in understanding themselves more. But I’ve actually got an easy answer to the question in terms of what exercise or piece of advice would I recommend? And that’s to read an amazing book called transsex, clinical approaches to trans sexualities and erotic embodiments. It’s by Lucie Fielding. I read it as part of my prep to support my first transgender client, and it absolutely blew my mind in terms of, well, my whole approach to coaching around sex, my approach in my personal life towards sex.

Ruth Ramsay
I found it an incredibly uplifting book. I’m actually getting sliced goosebumps talking about it, because it was about looking at opportunities and about reimagining our bodies, about rejecting everything we’ve been taught about what certain body parts should do, how they should be used, and instead to start from the beginning as ourselves, in terms of what feels good, how would we explore ourselves if we’d never been taught anything about our erotic bodies, for example? So that book transsex by Lucy Fielding, it’s written for clinicians, but it’s written in a very, very accessible way that certainly someone who wasn’t a coach or a therapist could definitely understand and make the most of. So that’s my top tip for not just transgender clients, but actually for everyone. There’s two books that I recommend a lot. One of them is come as you are by Emily Nagoski. And I’m sure I must have recommended that in the main podcast recording. And I think I might have mentioned this one as well, trans sex by Lucy Fielding. But definitely check that out. And of course, if you’re someone who doesn’t particularly like reading, or who buys books and then never gets round to them, do search for podcasts by those authors as well.

The IPS Academy
Before we continue with the interview, I just like to take a moment to mention if you feel that you’ve gained some insights and lessons from this interview and you’re curious to see what else we offer at The IPS Project, I recommend that you check out The IPS Academy, where we offer online courses taught by guests here on The IPS Podcast. Learn more about essential life topics such as mental health, relationships, the mind and the body and brain through fun and interactive courses. Simply go to theipsproject.com/academy or check the description of this episode to find the link. Each course has a few lessons to try for free so you can get a taste of what the course is like. We have countless reviews from other students so you can see what others think. And there is a 30-day-money-back guarantee. If you end up not liking the course again, check them out at theipsproject.com/academy or by clicking on the link in the description of this episode. Having said that, let’s return back to the interview.

Ruth Ramsay
We’ve got two more questions or a nice pair of questions that we’ll finish up with. So the first one was what’s something most men feel insecure about around sex? Their bodies, emotional or physical skills. The thing that most people with a penis seem insecure about is the performance of that penis. So typically penis size, but erectile function. Now it’s understandable because there is so much focus put on the penis and the erection and the absolute necessity presented in mainstream culture that a man must have an erection as part of sex. However, there are so many kind of opportunities that open up when we lose that obsession and that necessity. Give me just a moment. So for a start, there have been so many research studies done that show the majority of women. So around 70% of women do not orgasm through penetrative sex. So if orgasm is the goal for a partner, actually your erect penis penetrating her vulva and vagina is not what’s going to get her there. But I did say once in a workshop, and people seem to like it, an erect penis in the room demands attention. And yet once that’s there, all the focus, or a lot of the focus goes on that erect penis or on what that penis is going to be doing.

Ruth Ramsay
And this is where we get the term of foreplay for everything prior to penetrative intercourse. And we shouldn’t call all those other activities foreplay, they are sex. If you are somebody with a penis, it would be fantastic for you to imagine, even if you don’t have any erectile challenges at all, what would you do in the absence of that penis? How would you engage with your partner? How would you engage with the rest of your own body. So this isn’t just about a partner’s pleasure, this is about your access to pleasure as well. Where is there sensitivity in your body that you maybe don’t even know about yet? Because all of the focus is on the erection. I had a guy do my passionate program course, and part of his feedback was that he’d been able to admit to himself for the first time ever, that actually he’s more aroused by his partner whispering in his ear and caressing his ears than touching his penis. And he said, in his feedback, he said, I think deep down I’ve always known that, but I felt ashamed about it because as a man, I felt all the focus should be on my penis.

Ruth Ramsay
And he’d admitted it not only to himself, but to his partner as well. And it had added this whole new area of pleasure into their sexual repertoire. There is a phenomenon among people who’ve had paralysis that’s affected the genital regions, called transfer orgasms, which is where you can develop orgasmic level of sensitivity in a different area of the body. And I think it’s a benefit to everybody to think, where on my body would that be? And then give that part of your body attention. Explore, enjoy it. Now, that doesn’t need an erect penis involved. If there isn’t an erect penis taking your attention, demanding attention, then it can be easier to explore those other areas. Something else very important to know around erectile function is that above age 40, around 40% of men are experiencing erectile disappointment. Now, I and certain other coaches use the term erectile disappointment, not erectile dysfunction, because actually what’s happening is entirely normal. So taking longer to get aroused, maybe significantly longer to get an erection, and then that erection not being as reliable, so going down, down and up, down and up, not being as rigid as before. All of these things are normal above age 40 and become more and more and more likely, but can be disappointing for that person.

Ruth Ramsay
So erectile disappointment, not dysfunction, that can be a useful reframe. We are kind of made to believe that men are going to be rock hard, ever ready Duracell bunnies through to their 80s, but that’s not the case. But when a man starts to experience these changes, typically there can be so much embarrassment, fear, shame. He might try to hide this from his partner, maybe by not wanting sex as often, for example. And then his partner’s thinking, oh, what’s wrong? Does he not fancy me? Is he having an affair? And so then they get tense and worried and basically something I see so often in clients, particularly above age 40 is that there’s been this downward spiral created through lack of communication, through one of them starting to withdraw from sex, either from erectile difficulties or maybe it’s a woman starting to go through perimenopausal changes and finding she’s not lubricating as quickly and as much as she was before. And she’s ashamed. And she doesn’t want to suggest they use Lube because she doesn’t want him thinking she doesn’t fancy him. By the way, everyone should be using lube anyway, I think. But she doesn’t say anything.

Ruth Ramsay
And then in the meantime, he’s becoming insecure and worried about his erectile performance. And of course, that’s self-perpetuating stress about not getting hard means you’re less likely to get hard. And years have gone by, maybe a decade has gone by during which they’ve basically stopped having sex. But if they had talked to each other at the start, these changes are happening. If they both understood that these changes are entirely normal, nothing to be ashamed about, then they could have talked about them, they could have worked around them. And actually in studies of long term couples, trying to remember the details, who had been together more than 25 years, I think it was. This is Dr. Peggy Kleinplatz. Her book, magnificent Sex lessons from Extraordinary Lovers. She did a big study of couples who, as I say, I think, had been together for over 25 years. And she covered couples of all sorts of orientations and kinky and vanilla and all sorts. And they all actually said it was the challenges to conventional sex that made them communicate and made them open their minds to what else was possible, made them vastly kind of diversify their sexual menu of things that they did.

Ruth Ramsay
It wasn’t just all about penetrative intercourse anymore. It certainly wasn’t about following the same autopilot pattern, because that autopilot pattern was no longer working. But it was kind of being forced to explore more that actually led to them having what they classed as their best sexual experiences of their lives. So that couple we were imagining for whom things started to change and who didn’t talk about it and ended up not having sex, actually could have been having the best sex they’d ever had. So it’s about education, understanding what’s normal, understanding what’s out there to help with certain changes in the body, but more than that, understanding how we can broaden what we do sexually for everybody’s benefit. How did I get to this? I’m losing my train of thought a bit. But it was about men. Yeah, it was about losing this obsession about having a hard penis as an essential part of sex. So everything I’ve kind of waffled on about in the last five minutes kind of all ties into that. I encourage men and their partners to not obsess over having an erect penis and to explore the whole body, to explore lots of other activities.

Ruth Ramsay
And typically, when we do that, what we might find, or what this couple might find is, where has he thought, I can’t get it up anymore, because it wasn’t happening as quickly and to the same effect as it was before. He actually finds, when the focus is taken off, that when they’re doing other things, when they’re exploring, oh, where else on the body is the most deliciously sensitive? That actually he then gets an erection when the pressure around that is gone. But obviously, when that happens, then still try to not then make that the be all and end all. So that was a long answer to something most men feel insecure about. And then the last one, same question for women. As a coach, women coming to me, what’s something they feel insecure about around their bodies? Emotions or physical skills around sex? So there’s two things here. The thing that they feel most insecure about around their bodies, but haven’t really thought through until I ask them about it, is how they feel about their own vulva, so their external genitals. And typically, they’ll say, oh, it’s ugly, it’s disgusting. And I’ll say, well, how often do you look?

Ruth Ramsay
And they might say, oh, I’ve never looked. Ooh, I wouldn’t want to look. And I’m like, well, how do you know it’s ugly and disgusting? Then it is terrible. I think the degree of shame that’s put on women about that part of their bodies, literally not even nine out of 1019 out of 20 women I speak to have a lot of negativity and shame around that. Now, if we feel negatively about our vulvas, how can we fully inhabit our bodies and enjoy sexual pleasure, particularly around activities that are focused there? So, like enjoying receiving oral sex? Part of the problem is that we don’t see enough diversity of vulva very often. I’ll work with midlife women who say they’ve never, ever in their whole life seen another woman’s vulva in real life. Maybe they’ve seen some porn, and that is it. Now, I think it’s very difficult for men to empathize with this because they can see their own penises and in the showers, in locker room, this and that. They can see other men’s. But for women to have never seen another woman’s vulva and to have never got a mirror and had a look at yours and what you’re then left with is all the messages in society around it.

Ruth Ramsay
And I’m not even going to say out loud some of the nicknames that we have for that part of the body, but I invite you to think of some of the negative nicknames, and it is just horrific. And we hear those things again and again as women. There’s jokes around smell and taste. We might go to the chemist, and there’s a whole row of feminine deodorants and things like that. And we’re basically taught that this is an area of the body that is not appealing at all. So I hear that from the majority of women. But one of the ways to help overcome that is simply to see other examples. And this is so much easier now because we have the Internet. So there’s some fantastic vulva art accounts on Instagram. I might have mentioned these in the made podcast at Pleasure underscore portraits is one of them, and it’s beautiful watercolor portraits of all kinds of genitals. Actually, it’s worth a look for everyone. The artist has a book out now as well called Pleasure Portraits. There’s the Great Wall of Vulva, which is a touring exhibition of, I think, 400 volva that you can do an online tour of as well for free.

Ruth Ramsay
So look up great wall of vulva and have a look. There’s Laura Dodson, photographer with her project 100 Volva. Basically, go and look at illustrations, photographs, et cetera, of real Volvo and appreciate the diversity that’s out there. And then have a look at yours, knowing that you’re likely not going to see a reflection of what you saw in an airbrushed porn mag in the 1990s, for example, which may have been the first time you saw an image of another Volvo, but instead appreciate that. I think it’s the most diverse part of the female body. And I was a strip tease artist full-time for twelve years, so I have seen thousands of vulva, but appreciate the diversity and the beauty. And a top tip, if your partner has a vulva, is to help them love their vulva. Express how beautiful you find it. Tell them about all the different colors that you can see, for example, make them feel great about it, because there’s a sky-high correlation between women who report themselves as having an incredibly satisfying sex life and women who are comfortable with their own vulva. So that’s one of the two main things I hear, and then the other thing is around spontaneity.

Ruth Ramsay
The vast majority of women I speak to will say, I wish I spontaneously wanted sex, but I don’t. What they don’t realize is that’s entirely normal. We have two main desire styles, spontaneous desire, where we just suddenly feel like out of nowhere we want sex, and responsive desire, where the idea of sex is proposed, and then we need time to warm up to that. Now, the majority of women experience responsive desire over the long term, but at the start of a relationship, when all the reproductive hormones are going crazy, all the brain chemicals, then we will experience spontaneous desire. When we stop experiencing that, we think something’s wrong with us. Maybe we think, oh, I don’t fancy my partner enough anymore, or my libido has dropped in some kind of way. But more likely what’s happening is we’re shifting more towards responsive desire now because this isn’t understood. Most women and men who’ve shifted more towards responsive desire. So as men get older, as we spend longer in a relationship, we shift more towards responsive desire again. They’ll think, oh, there’s something wrong with me, my libido is starting to fail, or is there something wrong with the relationship?

Ruth Ramsay
Whereas instead, we just need to understand that we’re not going to spontaneously think about sex spontaneously desire sex in the way that we did at the start of the relationship. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t have amazing sex. Despite this knowledge. Though, when I impart this knowledge to clients, they’ll still say, oh, but I wish it could be spontaneous like the old days. But the way to get back to that kind of feeling is to have good, regular, varied, exciting sex. For that to happen, we do need to recognize and work with responsive desire. So instead of thinking sex is the last thing from our minds, we’re just going to sit on the sofa and watch Netflix instead to think. Right now, sex feels like the last thing from our minds. But if we have a shower together, if we tidy the bedroom, put nice lighting on, if we agree we’re putting our phones on silent for an hour and a half, if we cuddle up naked and reminisce together about one of our favorite times from when we were first together, then we are then going to start feeling like sex. And doing those initial things requires a bit of effort.

Ruth Ramsay
So to give a non-sexual example, it’s like, for example, if you are a runner getting your kit on and going out for that run, it might feel like the last thing you want to do in that moment you want to sit on the sofa, but you know, if you make the effort to get changed, lace your trainers up, get out the door, that once you’re out there, you’ll think, oh, this was a good idea. Once you’re partway through the run, you’ll think, I’m so glad I’m doing this. And by the time you’re home, you’re going to think, I feel amazing. I must do this three times a week or however long it is. You recognize that there’s that period of, oh, I don’t really want to do this to get through first. Now, I am absolutely not saying engage in intimate sexual contact when you do not want to with a partner. You absolutely need to be able to say to each other, if you’ve done all those preparatory things and you’re still absolutely not feeling it, to be able to say, do you know what? I’m still not feeling this. So there needs to be that honest communication, but accepting.

Ruth Ramsay
If we put a bit of effort in, then we are going to start to feel like it. And so often I speak to clients who say, we don’t often have sex, but when we do, we say, oh, we must do this more often, but then we don’t get round to it again for a month. And it’s because they’re waiting for that spontaneous strike of desire when actually they need to work with the responsive desire style. One of the ways to do this is to schedule intimate time into the diary. Now, this does not mean agreeing ahead of time to have direct sexual contact, certainly not penetrative intercourse. But it’s saying, let’s protect, say, 2 hours next week, on Thursday, to be intimate with each other in ways we know is likely to create an environment where we will then start to feel desire. Now, coming back to spontaneity, the thing is, when you do that and you start having more regular intimate time because you’re diarizing it, when you ask each other, what do you need tonight? When you’re curious about each other’s fantasies, when you don’t assume that everything you said to each other 20 years ago still stands, when you start exploring in that way, you’re having more regular sexual playtime, and it’s more varied.

Ruth Ramsay
What then happens is it’s front of mind more, and then you do more regularly. Start spontaneously feeling like it. So actually, the way to get back to spontaneous sex is to work with responsive desire. Schedule sex, put more effort in so that might seem like the opposite of spontaneous. And then once you’re having regular, enjoyable sex. It will pop into your mind a lot more and make you feel that you’re spontaneously wanting it. So that was all of the main questions from Yelis. I hope I haven’t covered too much that I covered in the original recording. I maybe should have gone and listened to that again before I recorded this one. But if I have repeated myself, these are some of the key messages that I see again and again and again help people in their sex lives, whatever age they are, whether they’re single, whether they’re in a new relationship, whether they’re in a long term relationship. So I hope that they will have a similarly amazing impact on you and on your sexual life. If you have questions, do feel free to reach out to me. My website is ruthramsay.com. You can dm me on Instagram.

Ruth Ramsay
I love Instagram. I’m @ruthramsay_. You can send me a DM there. You can message me via the website as well. And I would love to hear which of these tips or what element of these answers has landed the most strongly for you and what you feel you can actually bring into reality in your own sex life. Thank you very much for watching and listening.

Jellis Vaes
All right, and that concludes this bonus episode with the one and only sex educator and coach Ruth Ramsay. I do truly hope that you found this episode to be helpful and insightful. Now, if you want to learn way more from Ruth on ways to improve your sex life, then check out the interview that I did with her, which can be found in the show notes which are located in the description of this episode. Now, you can also, of course, just scroll on whichever podcast app you’re using to the episode with Ruth. Now, in addition, you can also find all the resources Ruth mentioned in the show notes. So again, you can find the show notes in the description of this episode, or you can also go directly to theipsproject.com/podcast and search for Ruth. Finally, if you found this episode to be helpful and be insightful, then don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and to leave a rating on whichever podcast app you’re using. It would not only mean, I mean honestly the world to me to know how I am doing, but also it would open doors for more incredible guests as Ruth to be here on the podcast. So you are, in a way, directly also helping yourself by leaving a rating. So if you take the time, truly thank you with that. Thank you for being here, and I hope that I get to welcome you again soon on another episode here on The IPS Podcast. This is Jellis Vaes signing off.

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