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Finding Your Sexual Agency with Sex Therapist Dr. Juliana Hauser

Erin: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hotter Than Ever, where we uncover the unconscious rules we've been following, we break those rules, and we find a new path to being freer, happier, sexier, and more self expressed. I'm your host, Erin Keating. Welcome to all the new listeners who found Hotter Than Ever on Apple Podcasts this week.


I am so thrilled to have you here. You've joined us for a really great episode. Take a listen, then rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. I'm going to pick some reviews to read on next week's episode, and one of them might be yours. In this episode, I talked to sex therapist and educator, Dr. Juliana Hauser, about how our sexuality is the essence of who we are and how the concept of agency, both [00:01:00] inside and outside the bedroom can help us lead happier, more fulfilled lives.


Like if you can show up for yourself in the bedroom, you can show up for yourself in the rest of your life and vice versa. We talk about the difficulty of agreeing on a definition of sex beyond sex acts, and why you can trust somebody's yeses if you can really hear their no's. This conversation connected the dots for me about where sex fits into the quest for living a vital, empowered life.


I think you're really going to enjoy. Dr Hauser is a CEO, founder, educator, and mother with decades of experience in the world of sex, sexuality, and relationships. She has a PhD in counseling education, which means she teaches She's a licensed marriage and family therapist herself, as well as a licensed professional counselor. Her [00:02:00] mission is to connect people with their essence, their truest self, through uncovering, demystifying, and reclaiming their unique sexuality. This conversation is right up my alley, and I'm so happy to have her here. Welcome, Dr. Juliana Hauser.

Dr. Juliana: Thank you so much. I'm really looking forward to this conversation with you.


Erin: When I first looked at your bio and your focus, I thought, I got to know more about this person and what she does and what she's up to in the world because You talk about the undeniable links between empowerment, self worth, and sexual agency, and I want to understand how those things are connected for you because I've experienced a deep connection with those things and those things being intertwined in my own personal life, but I have not heard anybody talking about this stuff out in the world.


Dr. Juliana: Thank you for understanding that that's really important and that, to me, it is the missing piece of so much what we, what [00:03:00] needs to be a part of our education and the conversations about sexuality and relationships. It took me a while to put all the pieces together. And it came to me really just almost like a ladder effect.


It was personal, it was professional. It was personal, it was professional. And what I found is I believe that sexuality is the essence of who we are. So it is a core expression of us and it is the core experience of us. We've just been taught that sexuality is sex acts and who we're having sex with.


Erin: Right. So what's the difference? What's the difference?


Dr. Juliana: For me, the difference is that sexuality is all of us. It's the whole embodiment of who we are as a human. It's our sensuality. It is our connections and love. It is our intimacy. It is our sex acts. It is our desire and pleasure. I've. Made 10 parts of holistic sexuality that I think really make up [00:04:00] the truth of us, of how we show up for ourselves and how we connect with other people.


And when I expanded my view of sexuality being holistic, and I wasn't, I'm not the one that came up with the idea of holistic sexuality. But I knew it needed to bridge to what that meant in our sexual lives and how that was going to affect relationships because I knew sexuality mattered. I knew how we were having sex mattered and I knew that what kind of sex we were having if it was fulfilling, if it just happened to us, if it was exuberating, that we always tie that back to us, our personalities or our experience of who we are.


It, I just kept getting glimpses of like, yes, this makes sense, but that's not what people are saying. And when I put it all together, that's where I came up with like, this is the essence of who we are. This is holistic and all of it is driven by the concept of agency. [00:05:00] And that's the missing piece of the essence of us, of holistic sexuality.


It is that we have to know who we are. In order to show up to a connection, whether it is obviously sexual or not in order to receive any kind of wanting, whether it's again, sexual wanting, or just wanting to be around you in any kind of authentic way. And that is what we're searching for. We are searching for people to want us to value us, to understand us, to see us.


That's the crux of everything. And that could only happen. if we're truthful about the essence of who we are. And so I would go back in a circle and say, so then how do we find out who we are? There's, and there's ways, there's other ways that we can find out who we are. But what I found is if to know yourself and to know yourself sexually, it is the hardest place to really know who you are.


And when you figure out who you are as a sexual being based in the concept of [00:06:00] agency, Then everything changes. Everything changes because sexuality requires that you are often reflecting on who you are and it is impacted by the sexual experiences you have with other people. It is impacted how the world and the era that you're born in looks at sexuality in general.


It is fluid and it is ever changing. So you are constantly having to go back to those same questions of what do I want? What do I need? What do I like? What is a yes? What is a no for me in the context holistically of sexuality? And that seems like a big, huh, as we're talking about sexuality.


Erin: That's what I'm imagining people listening to this podcast. I'm imagining them going, okay, there's me and there's my life and then there's sex. which is a part of my life. But what do you mean that the essence of me is my unique sexuality? Like sex is sex. And so [00:07:00] I'd love to drill down into that because I think we were talking and you said a lot of women's first experience of sexuality is things happening to them and then being responsive to that.

Oh, this guy wants to kiss me. Oh, he wants to go up my shirt. I'm in seventh grade. Like, okay, I guess that's what sex is. How are we talking in this conversation about reframing that teaching? people to discover who they are as sexual beings. I've spent a lot of time thinking about sex in the, in my life.


And especially in the last couple of years, and I feel very connected to myself as a sexual person in my relationship and in all of that stuff. And I do think owning that a hundred percent has been wildly empowering for me, but I think of myself as a bit of an outlier. In that department and a green.


Yeah. And so I wonder how, what's the access point for people who are like, yeah, I mean, I, I do sex. I have sex or I don't have [00:08:00] sex or I haven't had or I have in the past and it was great or I have in the past and it was bad. How do you even dip your toes into those waters as a starting place?


Dr. Juliana: I think there's two parts to that. One is: you are a sexual being if you breathe, so it is part of your birthright, and it's part of your responsibility to understand it and understand who you are as a sexual being and to know that you get to have it look and feel however you want it to, but the caveat to that is you want it to be so clear in the knowledge of the truth of who you are instead of All the shoulds that are put on to sexuality.


So we are told so often what is right and what is wrong. And it's never the right, however, people are showing up as a sexual being. It's never the right way to a lot of other people. And often we are taught to please. We are starting to please others or our partner sexually and not about finding out who we are and what, what we need and [00:09:00] what we want.

And the bridge to that is agency. It is that skill and even just the audacity to know that you get to ask. You not just get to, you have a responsibility to ask yourself what you want and what you don't want, what you need and what you don't need, what feels pleasurable, what doesn't feel pleasurable to you inside and outside of sexual connection when you can do that in something as intimate and as something as complicated as a sex act, then you get to put that in all other areas of your life as well.


And people come to agency in 2 different ways. They come to it through sexuality and through their sex life, or they come to it and another part of their life, like their career or. Uh, more of a platonic relationship, and then they bring it into their sexual life. For most people, sex is the last place that they have agency.


It's gendered in some ways, but I've also found it not to be. I have found people in the transgender non binary community have the easiest access to agency, and I put that in quotation marks, meaning it's the, it's, it is absolutely part [00:10:00] of the process. Uh, finding out who you are as a trans and non binary person is you go through the concept of agency.


Then it is those who have the experience of, especially 20 years ago, anyone that was in the lesbian and gay community, their coming out process was a process of agency, was a process of claiming who they are and deciding what was right and what was wrong for them. Then it is those who identify as women.


Um, and that's, uh, another big place of where I spend a lot of time and what you're speaking about too, of like, yeah, this is who I am. This, this message doesn't work for me. What I was taught doesn't work for me or this experience that I, that just happened to me. isn't the truth of who I am or where I want to be moving forward.


And then I've actually found although a lot of males have privilege, and we've talked about the unearned privilege often of males, I have found them to have the least amount of agency in their sexual world because they haven't been exposed to the need of having agency. But all the [00:11:00] other communities that I talked about before that, they need to have to experience and, and claim their agency as a part of their sexual awakening and their sexual, like the coming of them of their own to it.


Erin: Right. Their sexuality, if you're transgender, you're non binary or you're LGBTQ in some way, that is so much a part of your claiming yourself as an adult, as a fully self possessed human being empowering yourself. But when you are born cisgender male or female sort of thrown into the gender binary. And you're sort of thrown into this puritanical, but hyper sexualized culture that we live in.


How you find yourself and your own sexuality and your relationship to your body and pleasure and partners and that exchange of pleasure, power. Eroticism, how you inhabit that space is like a choose your own fucking adventure because there, you were not supposed [00:12:00] to talk about it, it's very rule bound because of the burdens of sort of religion and history and the patriarchy and all of these big, big macro things, right?


So how does a woman, just since we're both women in this conversation, how does a person who identifies as a woman... Start to go on a journey of getting in touch with their desire. Because one thing that I have heard over and over again in interviews with amazing people that I've done on this podcast is that women have a hard time saying what they want, knowing what they want, understanding their own desires, and getting in touch with that enough to let that propel them to change their lives or to evolve or to be a better version of themselves.


Dr. Juliana: Yeah, it's so important and I see it all the time too. And I love it. I thank you for using the word desire instead of libido because that's the word I use also.


Erin: Oh, libido's a little [00:13:00] different. Libido's like the amount of horniness you have.


Dr. Juliana: Well, I use, I use just, yeah, I use desire in place of libido. I never use the word libido. Okay. Okay. I like it better. Yeah, and I like looking at the relationship you have with desire as being the way that we conceptualize what this all means. Because again, just like with sexuality, no one ever feels like they have the right level or right kind of desire in their life, ever. And so if you already feel that, I think that if the cars are stacked against you, then how do you then figure out how to have a better relationship with it?


And we're now looking at climbing up a huge mountain instead of just going over some pebbles here. So what I like to do with desire besides just doing what you already did, which is looking at it as desire. Is how I define it. It's about vibrancy and it's about finding your spark and that has nothing to do with a sex act.


We start out of that all together. What, what makes you feel vibrant? And sometimes a lot of grief comes with that question. I don't know. I don't know. I've been defining my whole [00:14:00] life based on everybody else. But if you persevere and you can get curious and have a hopeful examination, it doesn't take long to find, yeah, this brings me vibrancy and you don't have any judgment to what that is, whether you think it's small or big or weird or whatever you claim.


That this brings me vibrancy, and this sparks my life without anything else, without any role attached to it. I like this. Can you give me an example? It may be looking at a beautiful bouquet of flowers that you have found, and it just is even just for a microsecond of it just brings you that spark. Or it is that one class.


That is a particular group of people that you go to, you have a wonderful conversation and it's rich and you walk out and you're feeling smart or you're feeling like you've contributed, it's a connection. And again, I go back to find connection to be one of the most integral parts of everything that that's a part of holistic sexuality desire being one of them is [00:15:00] a vibrancy and a spark.


It's all related to a connection that you're having. And when you're looking at, like for me, one of the things that brings me a spark in my life is if I climb to the top of a mountain and I get to look over the vista, that is a spark for me. And I feel connected to the larger sense of the world. It doesn't last long.


Oh, and especially if I've got kids with me and they're complaining and all that, but I'd make myself really ground in that moment of juice. for me and I collect them. I pick up my juices everywhere I can so that I have a reservoir for me if I'm not feeling connected sexually to myself or to anybody else. And there is a connection between the two. I, and I teach people how to move it from out of sexual connection to inside a sexual connection, but I always start outside of it. And then I like to go through one of the other parts of holistic sexuality, which is sensuality. Everyone is a sensual being. Yes. And everyone has [00:16:00] different access to senses and not everyone has has access to all senses. But for those senses that you have access to and to the degree in which you have access to it, you start going through each one of them and asking that question, is this a yes or no? I like using the question, is this a yuck or a yum?


And you just, you start paying attention to how your body responds. You know what your body does when it's a yuck. You know what your body does when it's a yum, and you start becoming a student from your own body of what that looks like. And you collect the yums. You just keep collecting the yums and you don't judge it.


And if you don't know it, then if you don't automatically know, like, what do you like to see? What do you not like to see? Then you go on an expedition. And it is some of the most fun work that I do is helping somebody go through their senses and find out their yucks and yums.

Erin: Oh. That is so fun. What a great project. See, smell, taste, hear. What's the other one? [00:17:00] Touch. Oh, my favorite. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, this is all the inbuilt pleasure in our bodies, right? It's not just, you know, your genitals. It's not just the sort of erogenous zones, but so many things. I have found in this, like, period of rediscovery that I've been in, like, I rediscovered my love of music.


Like, music. I have music on all the time. I had bought this beautiful speaker system in my house and put this interconnected speakers in every room so that you could walk through the house and the music would follow you. But my ex listened to music I did not like and it was always on and he was kind of in charge of that area.


So when he left, I was like, Oh my God, I get music back. And there's always music playing and I'm listening to all kinds of things that I wouldn't have thought and I'm always on like a discovery on Spotify, like what did I just hear and can I add this to my list? And that was a huge part of me when I was a young person.


And [00:18:00] I think what happens as we age and we gain these roles of huge responsibility and obligation and service in our lives, especially as women, we let go of that stuff. We start to think that stuff is frivolous or unimportant. And for me, part of the reclamation of myself has been through my senses. And just as one example, music has been a big part of it, but I'm sure you've heard all kinds of things that connect people to their senses.


Dr. Juliana: It's, uh, you have a beautiful story. That is exactly what I'm talking about. And you also were talking about the ripple effects that have other areas. To reclaim music through a sense that brought you joy and vibrancy, I know spread into other areas of you reclaiming it. And I bet it made you look at other places that you could look at like, Oh, he's not here.

So I get to fill the space. What do I want to fill it with?


Erin: With my own pleasure, with my own pleasure. Yeah. Yeah. It's amazing.


Dr. Juliana: So great. Yeah. That's a perfect [00:19:00] example of how you do it. And I love going to census again because we all have certain accesses to our census. We all have it. We all are essential beings. Even if you don't think that you are a sexual being, although a lot of people will say that to me.


Erin: Yes. I've heard that from a lot of women. Oh, I'm just not very sexual.


Dr. Juliana: Is that true? That's. Inherently, it's an incorrect statement because if you're breathing, you're sexual.


Erin: What does sexual mean in that context?


Dr. Juliana: That's a great question. Uh, and for me, it's biologic, it's social, it is part of like a cultural construct. Sexual does mean different to different cultures and different communities. Um, and. It goes back to it's all of you. It is absolutely all. I think it's only one of two things we all have in common. We all have a body and we all are sexual.


We just think that sexual means having sex and it doesn't. Not in my definition of it. It's part of it. Sex acts as a part of holistic sexuality, but it's only [00:20:00] one. Out of 10 things. And yet it's all we focus on. It's all we're taught in so many ways. And we're always taught the negative bad parts of it.


But when you can change that, when you can look at sensual, your senses as being something that can springboard to who you are as a sexual being. And when you practice doing yes's and no's in your life in places that feel safer to you. Because sometimes in someone's sexual journey, Sex acts is no longer safe, whether it's because of violence or it's because of it hasn't gone well, or you haven't had good sex.


So it's, it stopped being a priority or sex hurt. Your relationship to sex acts became something that was no longer causing vibrancy and joy and pleasure. So you took sexual made it sex acts and then it became irrelevant to you. Right. And you just


Erin: literally closed the door on that part of it. That's right. Yeah. Right.


Dr. Juliana: And then you think that makes you a non sexual person. It [00:21:00] doesn't. Because when you, when I start looking at a woman's life, although I can tell, especially a woman, I work with all genders, but in particular, cisgender women that I work with will often have pretty similar ways of describing it.


It's that they feel disconnected or deadened. And then when we are figuring out how to connect it on their own terms through agency to find it on their own, then it's all like, I'm having the best sex of my life, or I am so happy and vibrant. And, uh, it's, it's, it usually is 1 extreme to the other or opposite.


It's rarely a benign experience or even gradual in some ways, because when you link in to the truth of who you are, the image I have is like, it's just a light starts shining through you and the people are drawn to that. And they see it very differently. It's why people joke, like, that person needs to get laid.


They haven't gotten laid in a while when they're very grumpy or, or when they're, they seem really negative. Or they're like, well, some of it got it last night. Cause you're like, you know, [00:22:00] like in it.


Erin: You have a different. You're vibrating on a different frequency. That's right.


Dr. Juliana: Yeah. It's true. Yeah. And that's what I mean by the essence of who you are.


Erin: Yeah. I love that so much. And I so relate to that because for 10 years in my marriage, I had no sex. And I went into my marriage as a sexual person who was pretty connected to my desires and my wants. And, um, I thought I was going to get the met, you know, and then the complexities of life. And. The challenges of the relationship dynamic and all the kind of broken stuff definitely shut the door for me.


And the first thing I wanted to do when I, you know, got separated was find, get that back. I wanted it back because it was mine. It was a special thing that I had a relationship with myself as I had always had a relationship with my own sexuality, whether I was partnered or not. I was just a horny little girl.


And so I really got really good at making myself feel good. And I have, I have had [00:23:00] partners in my life who have gotten that about me. And Those are the only people I'm looking for because it's so important to me in my life that, like, I feel like it connects me to my vitality, to my life force. I've described it as being a taxi cab with the light on.


Like, walking around, people can see it. People can see it. And you can see it in people. There is a glow and a life energy that is flowing through people who are connected with their sexuality. And I don't mean that in any... Way that isn't beautiful. Do you know what I mean? I'm absolutely not. I'm not talking about presenting yourself in a certain way or dressing in a certain way or behaving with your target sexual partner in a certain way that will get you certain outcomes or the performance of anything which I think we're taught a lot about the performance of sexuality But when it comes from within you can [00:24:00] see it in people and for me the right men see it in me.


I sleep with men. So the right ones have been like, uh, I'll take that. Thank you very much. But most of them don't have the same level of desire. That I have had mm-hmm. . And so it's taken some very fun searching to try to find someone who matches me in that way. And I'm like, I feel like for the first time in my life, that's what I have.


And it's fucking nuts. So Great. It's nuts. game. It's game changing. It's, it's a game. We both look at each other, like how is it possible that we met? Because this works in a way that is like, we're so different. In general, but something about it just, whoo, clicks. Yeah. And like, yeah, I feel alive and I think a lot of women when they are coming out of long unhappy relationships, that is what they want is to feel alive again. When you said people feel dead and disconnected, I so relate to that. I so relate to that.


Dr. Juliana: [00:25:00] Yeah. And it's something I've learned too, is when you fall into the journey of sexual agency, when you find who you are, is the sexual being a goal on that exploration? It doesn't mean that you're saying yes to everything too.


I have found a lot of people's pathway to vibrancy is saying no and getting very clear about this is a no, this is a no. Instead of like that being like an aggressive thing, it's a like No, it's a, it's a very grounded, no, it's like, yeah, no, here's my yes. Cause I think there's nothing sexier than being able to trust somebody's yes, because you can hear their no.


Erin: Can you say that again? Can you talk about that more? Because I get so many fake yeses. In my marriage, so much insincere enthusiasm for things that I just felt like this will keep me safe if I go along with this or if I pretend to give a shit about this, but that takes its toll. It's so inauthentic and we learn, I think, as women to be inauthentic.


A lot of the time [00:26:00] for our own safety, for our own emotional well being to not have conflict. I would love to hear more about that.


Dr. Juliana: And I think also because we've been taught that our pleasure, our sexual pleasure, especially when we're looking at like the continuum to orgasm pleasure, that we have this really mysterious, hard thing to figure out.


Super not hard. You're right. It isn't. It is with some understanding with it, with working with it. And so it's like, well, it's a blessing if you get to have it instead of a birthright to your pleasure. And I think that adds to the performative nature of things and use it like protecting yourself for your own emotional or physical safety.


And you, you then start learning. Through every interaction, it starts cementing that like Nora pathway that this is what it's like to be a sexual being connecting with another sexual being. And that's erroneous. It's, it's not the right thing. So a lot of times when I'm working with somebody, we have to [00:27:00] relearn.


I have to unlearn all those, the bad sexual messaging that we've received. And then start going again to those yeses and nos. And it doesn't, once you've had that experience of like, this is a yes, I love this, next to somebody who the exact same thing is again, this is a no. And if you don't judge each other or judge yourself for having a difference of that one thing that you don't like and do like, when you can do that next to somebody, and I prefer to have people do that.


Not with their sexual partner, but to find those commonalities and differences with somebody that they're not being sexually active with and that you can gain. You just gain a different level of confidence in that. That's when you get to go to the place with your sexual partner that you can then say.


This is such a yes. Trust this. Yes. This is so great. This is what I'm offering. This is where this is the continuum of where the yeses and where the yes ends. And people who have any level of evolved sexuality crave those [00:28:00] kinds of yeses. They want them. Seek them. They reward them. They eat them up. They're like, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.


And they're not upset with the nose. They feel the same way about the nose. And I like teaching people that you cannot have the wonderful yes until you know how to seek the wonderful nose. And it's not a negative. It's not a bad thing when you all find this is not what you're wanting to do or your partner doesn't want to do. You're like, thank you. Thank you for, because now I can play so. enthusiastically in the yeses.


Erin: Yeah. And I think like when I was talking about the things that I pretended to say yes to, I was not talking about anything sexual. I was talking about like in the relationship. And that's kind of how I see the holistic nature of this sexuality coming out.


Because if I'm in a relationship where I'm able to be honest about what's working for me and what's not working for me, what feels good and what doesn't feel good, how I want to be treated and what's not okay to do or say [00:29:00] with me. Then I've created some kind of map for what happens in the bedroom or wherever so that we're being honest and we're being straight with each other and we're used to hearing, Oh, this person has yucks and yums.


You know, and so, and we know how to show up for that. That's right. That's right. But gosh, I don't, I don't know if I could have done any of this before the age of 40. I hope that young women and young people, you keep hearing these doom and gloom to me. It's my boyfriend's doom and gloom that young people aren't having sex.


We're like, God, what a shame you keep hearing all of that stuff. And I hope that doesn't mean they're not also investigating their desires in the rest of their lives. It worries me.


Dr. Juliana: Yeah, I'm always so wary of sex research because it's really hard to get people to speak honestly. And I am so [00:30:00] grateful for the institutes that are really doing quality education.


Like I'm not sliding that at all. And I do think there's several that are able to really elicit truthful responses. But in general, it's pretty difficult for people to be honest, even an anonymous survey. They. still want to give the right answer to things. And I always go back to, we don't do a great job defining what they say is sex.


And even if they are saying, this is how we're defining this research, sex, they're not having a lot of sex, the kids are being very sexual. That hasn't stopped what they're considering sex. That may be different in some communities and some populations. But some of that is coming from one study that I'm not sure I love so much, but, um, but


Erin: I know what you're saying. I'm relieved to hear that because if your sexuality is the essence of who you are and there's a whole generation of people who are disconnected from that, then I worry about People feeling empowered or having agency.


Dr. Juliana: But I also, I like to [00:31:00] have hope in that study and in that process that if they're saying no to, we'll just pretend that we agree on a definition of sex and say that we're all saying the same thing here.


What I hope is it's that enthusiastic. No, and if that's the case, if younger kids are having more agency and saying no, when they want to, and yes, when they want to, and they're just not wanting to say yes as often, or they're not wanting that kind of sex, then I think that's great for us. That's great.


Yeah. And we don't know because those questions really weren't asked, but I started doing all this research in the college setting and it was so interesting to me. So I would teach the course for a semester and the beginning of the semester I would do a test and then do it again afterwards to see the difference of it.


And at the beginning, there was a whole lot of, it just happened to me. And by the end of the semester, after we've been doing three to four months worth of work in agency and holistic sexuality, it was different on some were having more numbers of sex acts and some were not, but all of them had such that it was [00:32:00] absolutely.


Almost 100%. They were more fulfilled. It didn't matter what their sex life looked like. They were happy because they were in charge of it. And they were saying they were defining their sexual life on their own instead of what they thought people should be doing, what their partner said, and it was absolutely correlated to other relationships.


And so they saw that showing up for themselves in their sexual life, help them show up for themselves outside of their sexual life or vice versa. It just depended on where they had their skill set in it. I'd love to give one example. This is not in that research that it kind of shows you were saying it earlier to inside the bedroom.


And we know sex doesn't always happen inside the bedroom, but that inside and outside of sexual connection part, I love asking the question to a client, what are your top three skills in your sex life? Like, what are you, tell me what you're good at. And it can be anything from a sex act like, I'm so good at giving blowjobs.


Or it can be like, I'm really good at creating like a really fun atmosphere or whatever it is. And one of my favorite examples of this is [00:33:00] like a client who, she's like, I'm a risk taker. I am such a risk taker. And I remember being so surprised because she didn't necessarily look like that. Yeah. And all the other presentation that she gave was pretty conservative.


And I love it when I'm surprised. And when someone has a different part of them, and especially in their sexual life, and she didn't even hesitate, took her a little bit to get to the other two. Then we put that, those skills. Enter her life outside of sexual connection, and she was really unhappy with her career.


And when it came down to it, she realized she was not a risk taker in her career. And so we took the skill that she had in her sex life that was innate to her and like, super she lit up and her stories were hilarious and great and just made for TV. And then we started applying that. To her career. I changed everything for her.


And that connection lands because again, we're talking about who you are and the truth of you and how it presents to other people in other ways. And sometimes that's really easy to access [00:34:00] outside of sexual connection. And sometimes it isn't when you've gotten in any place in your life that you feel connected to who you are sexually, like what you're talking about right now, you will then start having.


Other things happening in other parts of your life, like they can catch your vibe where you like, you're glowing those kinds of things, but you also start incorporating that even just unconsciously into other parts. You start creating differently. You start making decisions differently. You start looking at other platonic relationships differently and you.


When you get a taste for what it feels like to be an agency, to have your yeses and noes on a smaller or larger scale, you really want nothing less than that. And that changes your life.


Erin: Hmm. I love it so much. And you're connecting so many dots for me in a way that I have not heard anybody else do. I think because we are so weird as a culture around sex, we are so weird about it.


And... [00:35:00] It's so like sex and money. Don't ask what's happening behind closed doors in somebody's sex life. Don't ask about how much money they make. Like these are the things we're supposed to hide, protect at all costs, feel ashamed about, feel all kinds of ways about when it's really the sex part. For me, I agree.


It's a metaphor. It's a metaphor for how we show up in the world. And not to say that if you don't have a ton of sexual agency you don't show up as a shiny sparkly person because there are some people whose vitality shows up that way, but that also shows me that they have the potential to translate that into their sexual life.


Yeah. And feel more whole. Yes. I felt like I was missing the juice of life. Yeah. When I was not, when I was in a partnership that had all sorts of burdens on it and no sex. I was like, why are we even fucking married? And someone who was on the podcast, Alicia Reiner [00:36:00] said, the difference between a friendship and a marriage is sex.


Like that was her definition that she and her husband decided, you know, we're going to keep this piece of our lives sacred for ourselves because otherwise we're just friends. Right. And like, I have a lot of friends. I want a friend who knows how to fuck me.


Dr. Juliana: That's ideal,


Erin: yes. And who I make feel really, really good, you know?


Dr. Juliana: Yeah. It's so beautiful. And I, it's funny when you're talking about sex and money, I work with a financial advisor and we, we did a workshop together. And we both came, we brought a whole bunch of, well, I see, I have to be careful, I can take that because it's always a double edged sword with me.


Erin: Fascinating! How did that happen? We had a great workshop! It was money on the bed, sorry, I'm just kidding.


Dr. Juliana: We both brought to the table phrasing from our clients. And we put it anonymously in this worksheet and it's a [00:37:00] fun exercise. We had people trying to guess, was it a statement about money or was it a statement about sex?


And everyone failed because they're so intertwined about how people talk about sex and how they start the conversation. It was so great. It actually was the impetus to this thing that did this called a sex plan because we do all these financial planning and we never do a plan for our sex life. And it came from that workshop and from us doing that.


Erin: That's amazing. I think people feel like, well, sex just like happened. That like, if you have to talk about it, then there's something wrong, you know, it's so fun to talk about it. It


Dr. Juliana: It is. It's a shame that that's what we've been taught to because. It would be lovely if our society supported us as sexual beings from the very beginning and we didn't like fuck everybody up with all these terrible messages and say all these terrible things that hold rights and wrongs, but we do.


So thusly, we have to talk about it and we have to and it's not this arduous thing. It's another part that [00:38:00] I want to bring to the table about sexuality is like it's fun. It's messy and weird. And there's all sorts of things about it that are, are just bizarre, but it's also wonderful. It is fun. It's funny. And it's not just sex act. Yeah. I mean, it's just this, there's so much silliness to the, even just when you look at what a sex act is.


Erin: What are we doing? Yeah.


Dr. Juliana: It is kind of a miracle. It brings you pleasure. All of that. But I'll, when I work with couples, I'll say to them, especially cause there's so much I'm working with somebody with a couple that their sex life is. Either non existent or really unfulfilling. It's just as private shame to it because we really make it very taboo when you become married to talk about your sex life to anybody it's off limits for so you don't complain.


Erin: You don't tell people what the problems you don't talk about. your relationship, period, to other people And that I think is really fucked up, that there's this like cone of silence that [00:39:00] descends. And I think that's why so many people can't find their way out of an abusive dynamic, an unhealthy dynamic, an unhappy dynamic, a sexless dynamic, because nobody else has access to even your own reflections on what that relationship looks like on the inside. It's like you go into your little single family house in the suburbs and shut the door and what happens there stays there. That can't be healthy, right?


Dr. Juliana: No. And then when we keep it taboo or keep it quiet, we not only don't get to like release and share and not feel alone, we don't get to hear resources that help other people. We don't get ideas. We don't learn. We don't get modeling of what it sounds like. And I say the same thing for we don't celebrate our sexual life too. And so I like to help people like be able to, whether you're married or not, or partnered or whatever it is, to be able to like, I would like to tell you about the best sex I just had last night.


Even that's [00:40:00] taboo. It's taboo to talk about when it's not going well and it's taboo to say it's going well. And that's insane to me. If it's just humming along, then maybe you can talk about it in a joke


Erin: Yeah, we have sex, you know, once a week and it's, and it's great or whatever. I think that's all you get. You don't get like, well, I like it when he does this or when she does that, or I had 20 orgasms last night or whatever. I'm dying for those details. I mean, because I'm a pervert, but like, no, I just, I want to hear about everybody's experiences.


Dr. Juliana: Yeah. It is so interesting. It was so fascinating. Interesting. And again, like I'm so lucky that I get to hear so many people's inner worlds and I'll say like, I love it when I'm surprised by somebody's inner sexual world and thoughts. I love hearing people's fantasies. I think that is so interesting. And I think it's just such a beautiful part of our vibrancy too, is looking at our sexual fantasies.


But that's one of the most taboo places within sexuality is what our fantasies are. People have a lot of [00:41:00] shame and worry and concern about fantasies.


Erin: So how would you tell someone to distinguish what a fantasy is from what they actually want to enact?


Dr. Juliana: So I, um, have people put fantasies into one of those two categories, especially if you're going to share it with somebody else. You really want to know, is this a fantasy that just Really excites me and I think it's really interesting. Usually that is, usually that has some kind of something that you think is taboo. Right. And that's the thing that kind of gets you over the edge.


Erin: Yeah. And then there's the fantasy of like, you know, I've always wanted this idea.


Dr. Juliana: That's right. Like, what do you think about that? Like the toe dipping kind of thing. Yeah. And it's great to know. Sometimes you won't know what that is, but when you, if you don't know if your own fantasy is, It just turns me on and that's awesome. And it's just going to stay a turned on thing versus I think I'm excited to try it is how your body starts reacting to logistics. You can still have some fears and concerns about a [00:42:00] fantasy that you want to try. And that doesn't necessarily make it a no, but again, if you're doing the work to know your yums and yucks. Then, you know, when your body has a visceral, no, it's great to think about it. We can talk about it. We can like just say all the things to each other in bed to each other, or I can fantasize it.


Erin: But if I put it in reality, I could, can maybe get arrested and that feels like a, no, that's not going to go. Yeah.


Dr. Juliana: Right. Um, or it's not worth it for this relationship or this is a no for my partner, like those kinds of things. But in, in general, what I find with fantasies is that people are. It means something's wrong with them if they had, like, why are they turned on by this thing that I would never do in real life? Why do I do that? That's the most common question that I'm asked. And I think it's a lot of like asking the same thing about dreams. Why do we dream? And it's a lot of our dreams don't make sense. A lot of our fantasies don't make sense. And, and some of it, sometimes dreams tell us something, sometimes fantasies tell us something and sometimes it doesn't.


And so I, I think [00:43:00] that looking at fantasies should be twofold. Ooh, what do you have to tell me? With a really curious wondering, um, and like, ah, you're not telling me anything. You're just creative. And that's beautiful. And thank you for giving me that vibrancy. And then I like to go to the next, you know, another layer in this is like in your fantasy, like what's turning you on?


You want to know, is this a thing that. Starts the engines kind of fantasy. Is this a revving it up or is this the thing that's going to set you over the edge part of the fantasy and there's two kind of two different types of arousal in that and that can be interesting too. I often think when you're looking at any examination of your sexual life is you have to have both sides of your lenses.


One needs to be this matters and this doesn't matter at all. And you just kind of keep flipping back for it so that you stay out of judgment. Because nothing helps your sexuality

less than judgment.


Erin: And we have so much judgment. I mean, even I feel like I'm pretty sexually empowered person, but sometimes I'll ask [00:44:00] for something in bed and I'll be like, Oh my God, I can't do this.


Like, please don't judge me. Please don't judge me. It's just what I want. It's just what I want, you know? And if you're with the right partner, they're like, baby, whatever you want. Yes. That's a yes. That's a yum for me. Like you being turned on is a yum for me. Which is, that's the response I want. I don't know that it's shamed so much as like, God, this is private.

This is really private. It's really, again, your essence. I'm letting myself be seen. I'm letting myself be known.


Dr. Juliana: And it's so scary. It's so scary to let yourself be known, but again, going back to that cycle we talked about in the very beginning, which is that you're describing you are like, I do this motion of this, which is like two hands and opening up my chest and it's like a soul to soul and I got that beam that comes up when you say, again, do you mind, like, can you try like, I'm in so like, don't judge me on this.


When you are saying I'm [00:45:00] letting you in to something vulnerable about me, whether it's emotional intimacy, intimacy, or sexual. It is saying, are you going to take it and protect it and keep it sacred? Are you going to do something harmful or dismiss it or whatever? And when you risk that, you know yourself to say, this is what I want.


And your partner says, yep. And affirms you that it grows. grows your agency. It grows that safety point. Yeah. And then you can grow it to other areas in the relationship or other areas of your life too.


Erin: I found that to be so true. So I, I am, you know, emotionally very guarded in a lot of ways in relationships, scared and being so received. Sexually has allowed me to be more willing to say, well, if you can handle that, then it sort of inverse for me, like if you can handle this in my sexuality, then maybe you can handle this in the three dimensionality of my life outside of the sex acts.


Dr. Juliana: [00:46:00] Beautiful. That sums up why I think it's the essence of who we are.

That's beautiful. I don't want to cry. I know, I love it for you. And you're right, that's why this is such so powerful and it's why I feel so passionate about teaching people. We are being the top, wrong, taught the wrong thing about sex in our education that what you just described is what we should be teaching.


Age appropriately moving up through our lifespan and it's just beautiful. It's just such a beautiful example. I was going to give another one, but it's not as beautiful as that. It's just perfect. That's great. And I love that for you. And I hope that those listening will hear that. If you're open to it, everyone will have their own journey.


So your journey to agency, it is, as I said, it's either way it is you come into the sexual, it's your sexual life and it goes to other areas or it goes for this to your sexual life and the details will all be different, but, but I just welcome everyone to the agency train and it [00:47:00] is absolutely, it changed my life completely.


And in a lot of ways, it saved my life on multiple circumstances, too, that I could always go back to. And I think it's always important when I talk about sexuality is I'm not saying, even though I have, I've worked very hard in my sexual agency and agency in all years of my life. It's not that I am having mind blowing sex every single day.


Every, you know, all the time and that I just walk around feeling so amazing about myself and I am just at this beacon of light for everyone all the time. It's not that.


Erin: No. It's not that for me either.


Dr. Juliana: But I know every time I get to tap into it. It feeds it more, and I know how to get back to it. I can recognize the spaces in between have come shorter and shorter and shorter.

And I sometimes choose to not tap into it and to not do the skill set that I know I just need to have a couple days of just not. But I know the skill of how to get back to it. [00:48:00] And I know what happens to my life. Inside and outside of sexual connection when I choose to be in my agency and when I choose to only be in relationships that are relational and an agency too


Erin: Yes, exactly. So I listened to your TEDx. Thank you. You have a new TEDx that's called Agency, the Noun, Verb, Concept, and Skill. And I'll put the link to it in the show notes. Um, But I thought it was so interesting that the whole talk was about agency and decision making and really choosing a path. And you give a definition of agency that I thought was so great.

There was this sort of urban dictionary definition, and then there was a sort of larger four part definition than a process for how to put it into your life. And I think maybe that's...


Conversation about agency is a pathway to women to understanding their own desires. [00:49:00] Because if you're making active decisions about your life, and you make the point that indecision is a decision, not making a decision is also a decision.


But when you make active choices, and then you own the consequences of those choices, and you learn from that, and you see how those choices ripple out in your life, that's agency. And that's applicable to every aspect of our life. I just summed it up for you because I took notes, but I would love to hear a little bit more about that from you because I thought it was a really great topic that I just didn't expect.


Dr. Juliana: Oh, thank you. And thank you for watching it. That means a lot to me. I wish I could just hang it out on corners. Yeah. Just learn about agency. I promise it's going to change everything for you.


Erin: Well, and you came to it a little hard one yourself


Dr. Juliana: I did. Yeah. And that story that I share in it is. And the latter part of my year is it's not an early [00:50:00] story. I actually came to agency much earlier and it's a whole other podcast to get into how all that, that, that adds up together. But that's the part that I would say, even though it may not sound like it's what saved my life, if I didn't have agency. It, I wouldn't have survived that situation. It was a bad relationship that was violent.


Erin: That was violent. Yeah.


Dr. Juliana: Right. And I was already doing the work. I had already done, been doing the research. I was already immersed in it and then I was dealing with this in my personal life too. So it, again, I'm very clear that I don't act like I'm perfect in this. And that it's not a one stop shop. You have to keep going back to it.


And that you can look at it as like a blessing that is there for you always. You don't just learn an agency once, but when I go back to it, it all began again, when I was working at the College of William Mary, and at the time I was only working with those who identified as female and that changed later.


But in the beginning conversations, I just. Like, tell me about your sex life. That's how I basically started it. And I started culling [00:51:00] together sexual stories and this is patterns started coming up of this. It just happened to me. And I would take out the stories of sexual violence. I was really interested in the ones that we're talking about.


Cause that's obvious. Obviously that's not an agency. Um, I was looking for the ones that they wouldn't describe it of any kind of sexual violence, but they didn't describe it also as being a choice. They just went along with it. They just or they never even thought of it. And I could have 2 students describing a very, very similar sexual experience.


And one would be devastated, would describe it as coercive, would describe it as this terrible experience and a very negative one about who they are and what that was like. The other one have almost the exact same and they're like, ah, you know, like, whatever, like, I'm not going to do that again. I learned that. And I was so curious. What was the difference? And it took me a while to start asking the right questions so that I can understand it. And I had [00:52:00] several wrong theories, so it took a while, but when I finally got it. It boils down to choice. that if they thought they had a choice. Those are the words that I was using back then. Then I learned to refine that to decision making. So then I started asking, I went back and I asked all of them about decision making and particularly sexual decision making. And then I was like, they had nothing. No one was being taught how to make sexual decisions. No one was looking at it. It seemed obvious that you always, always quote, have choice within sexual decisions until I started asking those detailed questions of like, so when did you know there was a choice?


And I was like, well, I don't know how graphic I can be, but like when there's a genital in my mouth, that's when I know I have a choice. And do I even, because I want this person to like me.


Erin: Doesn't so much of it come down to that. Like I'm going to do the things this person wants me to do so that they'll like me.


Dr. Juliana: Yeah. And there's something that I want.


Erin: Yes. Yeah. I'll get something out of it in some way. Yeah. But I don't even know that that's conscious for [00:53:00] a lot of people.


Dr. Juliana: They're just doing it. Honestly. Yeah. Until you start doing agency and I'm telling you it made a difference. So it's not an age thing. Like when you're talking about, could you have done this before 40?


My answer is yes. We just weren't exposed to it because I've worked with people that age. And so I'm working with like girls and they're in their 18 in college and they are grieving. They didn't have it in high school and it's everyone wishes they had it earlier because they know how much it changes everything.


And that's how I came up with the five steps when I started asking like, so when was the choice? Where could you have chosen when and it would always it end up backing up way before they were even in the sexual Circumstance it was what do I want out of this thing with this person? And if they went into it, I just want sex I just would like to see if I can have orgasm tonight those are the ones that were like depending how it went they knew or the answer was I just want to see what they're like, or I don't need anything, whatever that is.

If they got it or they didn't, then they were [00:54:00] okay. The, how it turned out was not the determining factor of how they viewed it. It was, did they choose to be a part of it? And were they choosing the right thing? Meaning like, were they accurate about what they were actually wanting? So if they were saying, yes, I didn't mind having sex, but what I really wanted was for him to like me afterwards.


And they did the sex part and they, they were conscious about choosing sex, but really why they did it was because they want to be wanted. And the guy didn't call him the next day. Then it was negative, but the ones who went into it, like I'm doing this. Cause I hope that they're like me. That was, they're like, well, it turned out didn't like me.


I get in here the next day. And again, I'm not acting like they were callous to it, but it was about choice and purpose and intent. And it takes a while to really know yourself so that you can know what your purpose and intent is. Which is the basis of agency. So who you were and what you know about yourself at 20 is very different than at 40.


So it goes back to what you're saying. I know myself very differently now than I know, knew [00:55:00] myself then. But if you had talked to me, I probably would've told you how Well I know myself a hundred percent at 20. A hundred percent.


Erin: Oh, I knew everything about everyone. Everything. And myself. I knew everything.

Right? Yeah. Not true, right? I did not Right. I did not different. What was motivating me Half the time.


Dr. Juliana: That's right. Yeah, but when you start doing the work of agency, no matter what, and I've worked with people in their 80s, it's never too late. And I think it's never too early. I even teach parents how to teach their like 5 and 6 year olds, not not the sexual aspect of it.

But how do you raise a kid who has agency? It's. It just compounds itself. And again, that's how I came up with those five steps of like, knowing there's a decision to be made can be one of the hardest parts of agency instead of just falling into it. And then feeling confident because once you've made a decision, if you're five years old, you've made decisions that have gone to shit and you don't like fit, you've, you've made them, like you got in trouble for it or it didn't happen how you thought, or it broke it, whatever.


And that you start collecting, Oh, I'm good at decisions. Oh, [00:56:00] And most of us collect because our brains are made to collect the negative and we have to work to collect the positive, we start collecting on the negative. So we start running this story that we make a bad decision. So the second step is that you have confidence that you can make a good decision and that you're the one to make it.


And this is the time to make it. That's again a very complicated way to you have to sift through and then you have to make the decision. So you talked earlier about like indecision is a decision. Yeah. Well, so is decision by committee when you call five people and what do you think? What do you think?


What do you think? I'm not that person. And that's different.


Erin: Yes. I'm not either. I don't call anyone, which is also a pathology.


Dr. Juliana: Right. You want to think. Yeah. I always say the best case scenario is an advisory board. So you just get people's input and then you got to be the CEO and you got to decide it. You make the decision and I'll say besides the choice of it. This is where I first ended my research was on step three, but it's because it's the most profound and in a lot of ways, which [00:57:00] is when someone can go back and say, this is when I decided it and. I know it was here. It was then this is what I thought about it.


It really doesn't matter how it went. But if you don't remember when you chose actively, yes or no to this, or you did it by committee and you can blame other people, or you sabotage it to death so that you have no options and whatever it is, but you don't take responsibility. proactively to make a decision and know when you did it, that's when you have the most wounds.


And that's when people come to me as a therapist, that we are cleaning up those places on your timeline, on your journey, where you didn't activate your agency or somebody took it from you and violence or an abuse. And so I stopped there for a while and then I realized, nope, there's more, there's stories that are adding up.


So I went to step four, which is you have to deal with the consequences of your decisions. And boy, is that the, I'll say, that's the motherfucker of agency. It just is.


Erin: I fucking hate that part. I'm, I mean, just because I'm going through a [00:58:00] divorce and I'm looking at the money and I'm like, this is the consequence. This is the fucking consequence. This is awful. I hate that. Yes. But this is what I wanted.


Dr. Juliana: So right here I go and see, and so you go back to, and that's the place where you make it right. That's the meaning you make of it is I'm choosing this. Even if you don't love the choices that you have, when you can choose what they are within it, it makes a difference of the resiliency that you have.


And in between that, I liked. even less the consequences of things was between three and four is something that you have to embrace, which is ambiguity. And when you can embrace it, I wish that people, I wish every school every year taught agency and ambiguity. Those are the two life skills that I see make a difference across the board as a therapist, more than resiliency or hope or any of those other things.


It is, if you can be, if you can raise your level of handling ambiguity in your life. And if you can raise your skill of agency, you are living a much more fulfilled life. And I was living a life of certainty [00:59:00] when I came into agency, certainty meant safety. And I would go to the ends of the earth to create certainty for myself.


And I'm like, that's right. And that's how I'm safe. And then I'd make a decision. Quote an agency and be destroyed when it didn't go how I was supposed to like bad things happen to good people. Why is this happening to me? Or I've got bad luck or whatever it is, or I feel super unsafe. And so I make 10 plans of how things could go to shit and then it'd be that 11th that happened that I didn't foresee.


And I didn't know how to handle it. And so I started studying all the theories of moral and ego development and across the theories. The number one skill of the highest developed person is someone who has a high tolerance for ambiguity. No. And, and it's right.


Erin: Change is the only constant.


Dr. Juliana: And knowing you're going to be okay.

And knowing that no matter how things come to bear, you have yourself. And you'll figure it out, which is resiliency in a lot of ways. And then you [01:00:00] make the last step is making meaning. So how you make meaning of all of that, of step one through four makes a difference of how you step into agency in the next decision in your life.


Erin: I love all of this. I love the way that. You talk about this, that it feels like you can grasp agency, and that you can actually decide to cultivate agency in your life. My last question for you is, we live in a lot of deals and contracts in our lives. It's kind of the way we set things up. And so much of the genesis of this podcast is me wanting to blow everything up and renegotiate every contract.


Blow up all the deals. I love it. And so I'm wondering, is there anything you want to renegotiate, big or small, in your own life that, that you think would cause a change? Oh, that's so beautiful. Or maybe give [01:01:00] you more agency?


Dr. Juliana: Yeah, I, I'm, I'm going to go with the first thing that came to my mind and it's actually pretty vulnerable to share, but I'm going to do it. So I've been bumping up lately against this narrative that because I'm a solo parent of a young child, that there is a ceiling of what I'm going to be able to accomplish through my work and that. compared to people who have a partner or dual income or don't have children that I am at a disadvantage.


And I know intuitively that's bullshit, but I keep bumping up against it. And I wish I could blow that up, that contract, that there is a certain way to define success. And there's a certain way that your life has to be in order to achieve that, that it's set up for one track, but it is not. Set up for the others.


And I just refuse to believe it, to keep to it. And on the good days, I know that. [01:02:00]


Erin: I love that. I'm so grateful to you for being so vulnerable. I think that's a real fear that people have, you know, because of their particular circumstances, what they want is not available to them. I know you will redefine that for yourself. I'm so grateful to know you to have had this conversation. And everybody go watch the TED talk. And also you have a book that's coming up, right? So we'll mention that on the podcast. We'll put any information that you have in the notes, but thank you, Dr. J. I appreciate it.


Dr. Juliana: Oh, thank you, Erin. I just love this conversation with you and I appreciate all that you've shared too.


Erin: Thanks for listening to Hotter Than Ever. I want to hear from you. DM me on social media and share your reaction. Or tell me your story @hotterthaneverpod on Instagram, Facebook, and all social media. We may even share your message on the show. Please follow the [01:03:00] show on whatever platform you're listening to right now.


Tell your nearest and dearest and rate and review us on Apple podcasts. Really looking for some more reviews. That would be incredibly helpful for people who have only just stumbled upon the show. and are curious whether it's good or not. If you think it's good, let them know. Hotter Than Ever is produced by Erica Girard and PodKit Productions. Our interim associate producer is Melody Carey. Music is by Chris Keating and vocals are by Isa Fernandez. Come back next week.


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