Sexual Confidence 101 with Dr. Tara Suwinyattichaiporn (Q&A)

Sexual Confidence 101 with Dr. Tara Suwinyattichaiporn

In an enlightening conversation with Dr. Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, a sex and relationship coach, tenured professor at California State University Fullerton, speaker, and podcast host, we delve into the depths of sexual empowerment, body neutrality, and the power of self-advocacy in intimate relationships. Dr. Tara, known for her role as a TV sexpert on the UK’s “Celebs Go Dating” and her influential presence on social media, offers her wisdom and experience on these vital topics.

YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION OR YOU CAN READ THE Q&A SHARED BELOW-

Sexual Confidence 101 with Dr. Tara Suwinyattichaiporn Pin

Redefining Sexual Power

Being sex positive doesn't mean having sex all the time with a lot of people. It's about the ability to communicate your own sexual needs, desires, and boundaries.

Q: When you say sexually powerful, what do you mean? To what extent does your sexual confidence impact your life?

Dr. Tara: For me, being sexually powerful is comprised of two aspects. The first aspect is within me. So my, comfort level of my own sexuality, my desires, my boundaries, my body, and how I show up in the world as a sexual being.

Most of us have reproductive system. Most of us are sexual beings and the reason why the world is the way is what it is right now is because we have been populating. We’ve been having sex. So, for me, the first part of being sexually powerful is being comfortable with all of those aspects within yourself, and I’ve spent a long time working on that part of myself.

I think whenever I have a conversation with people, they often provide tips that are more external. Like, try this position, or wear a lingerie. To me, positions or lingeries, they’re both great but none of them is necessary for the true confidence that you feel on the inside to be sexually powerful. That’s the first aspect. The second aspect is the expression. I strongly believe that true sexual liberation is from sexual communication. Are we actually sexually liberated if we can have lots of sex with lots of different partners, but we cannot talk about it?

I think that the word sex positive has been used by some people in a misconceived way. Being sex positive doesn’t mean have sex all the time with a lot of people. If that’s what you consciously choose to do, that’s okay but a lot of times these people are not consciously choosing to do that, right? They’re doing it because they want to prove their sex positivity.

To me, a lot of it comes from expression and the ability to communicate for your own, sexual needs, desires, and boundaries. In class, we teach students about this concept called sexual agency, having agency over your own sexuality and your body is extremely important in being, you know, a sexually healthy adult.

So that part is related to this second aspect, which is expression – communicating with yourself, communicating with your partner, communicating with your friends, and the ability to express your sexual desires as well as your gender identity. A lot of times when you talk to LGBTQ folks that have their ‘in the closet’ stories, they will tell you , it’s hard to ever feel sexually confident or powerful. When a huge part of you, which is your gender identity, is completely hidden. So, the way you’re able to express your gender identity is also a very important part of being sexually powerful. Those are the two aspects.

Debunking common myths surrounding 'sex positivity'

Q: People are sexualising everything. How much access to sexual content should children have because sexual content is everywhere. Do you think that that’s the right move, putting sex everywhere? Is it necessary to make everyone in the world more sex positive?

Or is there a healthier, better way? Because I would think that someone who’s not yet ready to talk about sex, like a young kid, may get confused when exposed to that kind of content. It can push this topic into their life before they’re ready.

Dr. Tara: Yeah. So I think we should distinguish good exposure to a healthy sex life versus exposure to something like hardcore porn, right? There is a difference between, let’s say, watching a movie like sex education and seeing a mother who is a sex therapist living her sexually liberated life, teaching her son To be more sex positive, watching that show versus watching hardcore porn is very different types of sex positivity exposure.

So I think it’s very important to first distinguish, like, yes, there’s a lot of shit information about sex and should never be close to children. And it’s sad that it is rampant and it’s everywhere on the internet. The place that you get it the most is actually on X (Twitter) because Twitter is where all these young people get free porn.

They’re not regulated, so there’s a lot of misinformation on there. Now that’s a whole different conversation about like policy and like how apps should regulate their content. Anyways, so the first point is there is good information and there’s bad information and then there’s mediocre, in-between information.

I believe good information is good for starting at around teenage. Research found that a lot of adolescents started playing with themselves or kind of gaining a self understanding of their body and sexuality at the age of 12 to 13. So, to me, having sex positive sex education or positive sex content when you’re 13 is helpful rather than making it a hidden, shameful topic. Now, I don’t think anyone should be exposed to hardcore porn literally until the age of 21.

Once You’re a young adult, you can choose for yourself. Like, oh hey, I love hardcore sex. I’m gonna watch this. Cool, you go watch it. That’s your choice. The beautiful part of living in certain places in the world is freedom.

So go do that if you want to, but being someone who was exposed to very intense pornography since I was maybe about 15, I don’t think it helped me at all in feeling more sexually confident as an adult because back then, I mean, I’m 35 now, so when I was 15, the internet was a very different place and the people that I saw on these video clips were just performing and there were all these skinny, perfect bodies and huge penises and it’s fake performance.

Being 15, you don’t know much. You just think that that’s the way real people have real sex. So yeah, it became problematic, I think, you know, to be real and and authentic about my experience is that was problematic for me because I believed for a long time that that’s the way I should look when I have sex with someone.

Sexual agency and designing a fulfilling sex life

Q: There’s another aspect of this conversation which I think about a lot, which is, the sexual image of yourself that you form. I remember being very, very young, I think I was 11 years old when I started reading Ayn Rand. I read Fountainhead at a very early age and Atlas Shrugged. Both of those books have very strong ideas about who you should be sexually attracted to and what sex should mean to you.

I was so young at the time. While neither of these two books have any graphic sexual content in it, these books are on different topics, the characters did have sexual relationships and there was some ideology around sex and that stuck with me. It stayed with me and I grew up with these ideas because they appealed to me so much that who you are sexually attracted to speaks to your values, speaks to who you are on an intellectual, mental, emotional level. It speaks to the capacity you have and people who sleep with multiple partners or flirt even with multiple partners are insecure people and they are trying to make themselves feel good by indulging in this kind of behaviour. That stayed with me, but it wasn’t until I became an adult and actually was out in the world and dating that it hit me that it’s there with me. Nobody ever met my standards because of that ideology, that philosophy.

It was something that I learned at the age of 11 when I wasn’t even a sexual being. I didn’t even understand what all of that meant, but that impacted me so deeply that it was like 12 years later, I was still thinking about it. I was still running everything through that filter. So that is the other aspect of it.

I often wonder how much of what we are wanting to have in our sex life, wanting to do in our sex life is even about us. It’s not even about our desires. It’s about some idea we’ve picked up perhaps at a young age and we are still running with that idea without ever stopping to think that maybe this is not me and maybe this pressure is unnecessary. So talk to me about that – how do you work through that? How do you first of all identify what sort of pressures, expectations you’ve placed upon yourself and you are now placing on whoever you’re choosing to sleep with or marry or whatever and how do you get that agency back where it’s all it’s about you.

Dr. Tara: That’s a really good question and the way you prep for this question is fascinating because you gave like that example. I have a similar example of how like the things I learned when I was younger that kind of informed my behaviours in my 20s. Now in my 30s, I am completely free of those social expectations through the work that I’ve done on myself with a lot of help.

So I can definitely talk about this topic. First off, the cultural and societal expectations for sex isn’t the only topic that’s an epidemic in our society. I think one thing that I have observed personally, as well as I’ve seen in multiple statistics is the failure of monogamous marriages. The idea was embedded in us for thousands of years that that’s what you should want.

Dating apps is a hundred billion dollar industry, full of people looking for the one, hoping for happily ever after. But then Oh, it wasn’t happily ever after. That’s okay. Here’s also another app for divorced people to find each other.

Oh, never mind. That didn’t work either. Here’s another app for old people to find each other. Here’s another app for people who have dogs. Here’s another app for people who have two plus children. So I think, that modern society has really capitalized in the idea of romanticism and Being with one person forever, but based on my professional experience, as well as undeniable statistics, it doesn’t actually happen in real life, you know, the divorce rates, and the breakup rates of long term relationship is very high.

So at least for half the people in the world that have gotten a divorce, that is one idea that we were instilled since young age, that is completely bullshit. The same way as keeping ourselves “pure” and losing our virginity on the first night of marriage, saving myself for my husband, that idea is also bullshit, but also the idea of, Oh, I’m going to have sex with everyone I come across because you know what, I’m a sex positive person. I express my sexuality freely. I’m a free woman. That’s also bullshit. So ultimately I had to find my own path of what is it?

I like that you use the word design your sex life or design your life. I am a big proponent of freedom and even when I coach people, I never go, Oh, here’s a blueprint to a perfect relationship. Do these five things. Right? I always go, well, what kind of a relationship do you want? Cause I don’t think you want the kind of relationship that I want. So what, what is it that you want?

So when we talk about designing your relationship and your sex life, it’s always helpful to go back to the idea of what feels good in my body. Have you ever had this conversation about body intelligence? Like how your body tells you and like, when you make a big mistake

Krati: Yeah, somatic intelligence.

Dr. Tara: Your body knows. If you’re dating someone and you keep getting rashes, or you’re nauseous, have to throw up, or just don’t feel comfortable in your body, like having a knot in your stomach, don’t date that person. Your body is telling you this is not good for you.

What I have learned throughout my twenties and until now, and I’m still learning, is to trust my body, listen to it more, and tune in more. My superpower is that I am able to tune in often, like daily. I listen to my body, what I need, and then enact it in real life. My real superpower is being able to slow down and listen to myself.

Now, what does that look like? Let’s say you’re a 25- to 30-year-old woman and you want to explore your sexuality, but you don’t know if what you want is societal pressure or really you. An exercise that helped me and many of my clients is writing down 10 things you desire in a relationship and in your sex life. After writing these 10 things, write where they come from. For example, I am a sexually liberated person. My partner and I are in a monogamous relationship. We are only committed to one another and don’t date anyone else.

But yes, we do go to play parties and watch other people have sex. For us, it’s a fun, playful activity that doesn’t hurt anybody because everyone’s there consensually. Before this marriage, I was in another marriage. This was a person I thought was a good partner for me.

But then I realized, after writing down what I want in a relationship, like a sexually playful relationship that may or may not involve others, that I was in this previous marriage when I was younger. My husband, even though a great person, did not match what I actually wanted.

It was actually what my parents wanted for me. He was a rich finance guy, had a house on the beach, loved Thailand where I’m from, and was a Buddhist. He was checking every box. But when I really tune into my body, how do I feel in my body? When I think of him, take deep breaths, and think of him, how does my body react? Not so good.

Then I realized through this exercise: This is what I want. Where does it come from? Does it come from my parents, my culture, my religion, or just from me? This exercise can help a lot of people if you actually sit down and spend time to do it.

Krati: I agree with you. I think it’s important, as and when you’re venturing into this area of your life, to just forget everything you’ve heard your whole life and just tune in, like you said, listen to your body, listen to what you want at an instinctual, at a physical level instead of letting all of those narratives run.

I know how much those narratives have affected me and I just always felt pressure to have my sex life be a certain way. It feels impossible. I mean, men used to have so much pressure on them because men always felt like they had to project this very masculine, very sexual image. I don’t know how they lived with it for so long, and now even women feel like a certain degree of boldness and confidence is about our sexuality. So wearing certain type of clothes that maybe they don’t feel comfortable in or behaving in a certain way, projecting a body language. It’s such bullshit.

I mean, why do you have to do that? If that is you then do that and if not, then do whatever feels comfortable to you. I think that is true confidence to me, being able to do things, live life in an authentic way, channel your sexuality authentically.

There was this one question I asked you – to what extent do you think sexual confidence impacts your life?

Dr. Tara: So much! I think it’s also because of what I do. You can see the direct benefit. But I strongly believe that for everybody to be sexually confident, it will benefit in every aspect of life. It will benefit you with the work that you’re doing because sexual confidence, again, like to fuse Western and Eastern philosophies a little bit, is based on neo-tantric teachings, which comes from your sacral chakra, right?

Which is the kind of like the tummy area, the reproductive system, and I strongly believe that your sacral chakra shines through all the chakras. You know, through the middle part of your body and helps you deal with emotions better, helps you communicate better through your throat, helps you think clearer, honouring your boundaries and your desires, and then helps you transcend into the person that lives in a flow. So, in my life, as an example, because of sexual confidence, I am able to manifest and fulfil my own manifestations and accomplish all these things. You know, I usually say it’s sex magic, because I say them, and I think about the things that I want while I masturbate.

And like, it becomes true. Not to discount my own work ethic, I work hard for the things that I have. At the same time, I do think because I’m so confident and comfortable in my own skin, most negative things in life, like don’t faze me. Right? So, if I post a video, and someone’s like, “Oh, did you gain weight?”

Actually, I recently posted a video that was like an orgasmic day in life. And it’s kind of like sex-positive humour. I wake up, I say, “I just masturbated. I’m going to go to the gym.” I go to the gym, and I wear my gym clothes. And I saw a couple of comments that are like, “Oh my, are you pregnant? You look fat.” So, in my head, you know, of course, the first idea, the first thought is like anger, right? Like the first thought is, “How dare you?” But then the thought that comes over quickly and replaces that thought for me was actually, “I don’t care.”

Just, I really don’t care. It doesn’t faze me. I’m so sexually comfortable and comfortable with my body that it’s okay. Like, it’s okay that they think that I might be pregnant or that I’m fat that day. And I just responded, “Not pregnant, just bloated.”

And to me, that is how I can express my sexual confidence, not just through having sex. You know, so yeah, I’d say a lot of the things I have accomplished in life, I think partially it’s because of my sexual confidence.

Krati: Yeah, I absolutely 100 percent agree with you. Thank you for sharing that and yeah, it’s exactly like that. I think a lot of us think that if we lack sexual confidence, it just impacts our sex life but I think it impacts how you show up in the world. I experienced that for myself and especially if you can get to that place of I don’t care, my body, my sex life, tt’s all about me. It’s not about what you see.

Dr. Tara: Exactly.

Krati: I think that is a great, great place to be that dominates my life. Anytime I try to care, within five to seven seconds, I’m like, I don’t have the energy for this. I never have the energy for this. It’s my hope that everybody can get to that place where it’s about doing the right thing. It’s about doing the healthy thing. It’s about doing the thing that makes you happy and not giving a fuck about what everyone else is saying or thinking or perceiving. Who cares?

Dr. Tara: Preach! I stand for everything that you just said. I think it’s so important that everyone gets a chance to observe if they are living the life that they actually want.

Krati: Yeah, Absolutely!

Dr. Tara: It’s such a privilege to do what I do. I have observed my parents my whole life, and they’re both my idols in different ways. I admire my parents, I’m obsessed with them. They’re amazing people and have accomplished so much. However, I sometimes wonder if they ever thought about whether that’s the life they had wanted, or if it was because of previous generations. Older people often tell you that during their time, they didn’t have a choice. I can really understand. I’m very grateful. My mom was in finance, and my dad was in law, and I think they did not want that life because when I was young, they seemed a lot of times too stressed out, too overwhelmed.

Comparing that to the life I get to live and many of my friends who are living their dreams in this generation, yes, we have stressful days. For example, reviewing a contract or dealing with difficult deals is stressful. However, 95 percent of the time, we are living our dream. We do what we love every day. This is the life I chose. I think a lot of people in previous generations, and even now, are not necessarily living the life they choose. I’m not saying you have to choose an entrepreneur life or any specific type of life.

One of our friends is an engineer at Boeing. He has a nine-to-five job, drives to work, works on the computer on some plane modeling, walks around, looks at the plane, talks to coworkers, drives home, then hangs out with his kids. We often cite him as one of the happiest people we know because he loves planes, even though he has to do paperwork calculations on the computer, which he doesn’t love. Ultimately, he gets to work at Boeing. Secondly, he has a thankful practice. Every morning, he tells himself how grateful he is for his life, his wife, his kids, his job, even though it’s a nine-to-five job that we often talk negatively about in our modern society, which we really don’t need to.

Thirdly, what he really excels at is prioritizing things that matter: spending time with his kids, taking his wife on a date, reading more books about old planes. I always see this person living a very traditional, modest life. They don’t make a lot of money, his wife doesn’t really work, so it’s a single-income household, which is not very common nowadays. But he’s so happy. Every time we see him, he’s happy. When we ask, “Hey, how’s it going?” he’s like, “Oh man, fantastic. I just read this book, or I just took my son to a toy shop or whatever it is.” It’s a very simple life, yet he’s one of the happiest people I know.

Krati: There is such truth to what you’ve just shared. There’s such wisdom there. My parents generation, I would often ask them, why did you do this? This just didn’t make you happy and they’ll always say, we just had to do it. There was no choice about it. The way they got married, it was an arranged marriage.

We have so much choice now. I realised I didn’t want to get married and it took me a while to realise that this is my choice, but ultimately I was able to say, not for me. I don’t want to get married. I want to stay single. I prefer my solitude, whatever. But they stood by me.

It is such a privilege to be able to completely direct your life. Of course there are still people who are in environments that are just totally horrible, where they really, truly don’t have a choice and that’s a different story, but those are extreme cases. Most of us have a lot of choices, depending on where we live and you’ve got to make the best use of it. If you’re still finding yourself angry and mad at the world then perhaps you need to, as you said, listen to what you desire, what your body wants, and just simply take steps, one at a time, in that direction and you don’t have to be miserable.

We just get so angry when somebody says no you have to work 12 hours a day or somebody says no nine to five sucks Why the reaction? Why this extreme reactivity to things? Just do what you think is best. Obviously, whatever that other person is saying it’s their truth and they’re not going to change their truth for your benefit. You do you. Don’t get so mad about everything.

Dr. Tara: Exactly! The sad part is I think the people that do get upset of other people are probably the people that are not very happy and that they need the most help.

Krati: Of course.

Dr. Tara: You know, whenever I encounter comments on videos or people giving me negative feedback on sex-positive content, some of my team members will go, “Well, fuck them. Let’s just delete them or block them.” But in my mind, I actually think the opposite. I think, “Wow, because this person left this comment, they probably need this the most.” Like, let’s not block them, let’s allow them to see the content. Maybe we can hide the comments, whatever, it will be more work for us, but at the same time, maybe through this exposure, they will slowly change their minds and attitude towards this topic. So, yeah, I don’t usually just cancel other people because they don’t agree with me. I try to take time to, well, maybe just listen to it. You know, you don’t have to like it. Let’s see, let’s see what happens in maybe a year, maybe two years. Maybe you’ll realize, “Oh, wow. Tara has a great point.” So that’s kind of my approach to it, tolerance.

Sexual Performance and physical Attractiveness

Body neutrality over body positivity works for me. It's about appreciating the functions my body allows me to do, being okay with myself.

Q: People who are struggling with their sexuality, not because there are any direct sexual struggles, but because they don’t fit the conventional definition of attractive or their own definition of attractive, perhaps.

Dr. Tara: I think in our current times, the definition of attractive is actually a lot more vast than in previous times. And it’s also so culturally specific. You know, back in the days when I came to America and went to college, white girls would get into tanning beds to get tanned, but where I’m from, people bleach their skin to be white. So it’s all very cultural specific. And also, it depends on what industry you’re in. If you live modestly, have a 9 to 5, are happy with where you’re at, but then you turn on the TV and see the Kardashians and these people, yeah, it’s going to affect you psychologically. There are so many studies out there that show the media’s influence on young girls’ perception of their bodies. But those young girls then grow up to be adults still affected by those perceptions.

For me, when I think about myself, I used to be really skinny, then I gained a lot of weight, then I started eating more carefully, going to the gym, but now I would say I’m average. I’m definitely not like the Kardashians; I’m just average, and I’m happy and content. I think it’s moving from the idea of, “I’m ugly” or “I’m too fat” to “I’m okay.”

And I think a lot of people don’t teach that. You see these ads like Victoria’s Secret or Dove, “love your body, love your skin,” and it’s all these people who are plus size and this and that. But I’m like, okay, so are you supposed to be Lizzo or Kardashian, and that’s it? What if I’m just kind of in between? What if I’m a little chubby? What if I’m, you know, and isn’t it okay if I’m not like, “Yes, my body is a fuc*ing goddess”?

Maybe that’s okay. Maybe that’s being okay with yourself and your body. So my approach has been body neutrality over body positivity. And I think that it works for me. However, like we said before, whatever works for you, works for you. If body positivity and those affirmations work for you, that’s great, right? It didn’t work for me. So I had to find something else, and what works for me really well is body neutrality and just appreciating the functions that my body allows me to do. Eating amazing food, walking around, enjoying the sunshine, having nipples, having fingers to hold things, touch things, hold my partner, just appreciating it and just thinking, “Yeah, I’m okay. I look okay.” I think that’s as good as “Oh my God, I am a goddess.”

Q: When it comes to sexual performance and how you feel, do you think that people should wait to feel attractive before they make their sexual moves? Or do you think It’s just something you have to work through as you go down that path.

Dr. Tara: That’s such a good question. Wow, yeah, that is a good question. Let me think about it. No, I think you can have sex without loving your body at the moment. You don’t have to wait until you feel attractive to have sex. Maybe you don’t feel that good on a particular day, but perhaps you open up to the possibility of pleasure. If you’re with a partner who prioritizes pleasure and really spends a lot of time on foreplay, connection, kissing, and massaging, then you might end up feeling really good about yourself and the pleasure you experience in that sexual encounter.

That’s good. It adds to the positive loop of sexual confidence and self-esteem. So, I do think having good sex is possible without feeling super attractive.

Krati: That’s helpful and in fact, I would remind my listeners of this advice that you shared in the initial part of our conversation where you said that if someone doesn’t make you feel good, then maybe you need to walk away. And I often have conversations with my friends and they are in a new relationship and suddenly they are questioning how attractive they are, they’re questioning their worth, and I always wonder if it’s the guy. This guy has come into their life and now they’re saying these things that they’ve never said before but it’s always very difficult to point that out to your friend because you want to be a supportive friend. You don’t want your friend to get defensive and then find herself alone in that space.

So, I would not say that to my friends, but I would definitely say that to my listeners. If you are with someone who is constantly making you feel unattractive, then maybe that’s not the person you should be with, right?

Dr. Tara: Oh my God. I have a friend who, last year, was pregnant. One of the things her partner said was, “Oh, I just can’t have sex with you because I don’t find you attractive.” She was pregnant, too. And I’m like, “Oh, that’s so tough.” She started crying and then screaming, “Well, try having this baby yourself. Da da da da.” And I just thought, “Oh my gosh, this is horrible.” It’s horrible for the baby, all this cortisol from the mom to the baby, and just this whole experience of the partner saying hurtful things without thinking and being more mindful about their comments.

Like, maybe it is true, maybe it is true that you just don’t find your wife or partner attractive because they’re pregnant. And because you didn’t, you don’t have to say it that way. Just shut up? Sometimes people are way too truthful. Yeah, like, you don’t need to be that truthful in that moment.

I felt so bad because my friend called me and she’s like, “Oh my God, he said I’m ugly.” I’m like, “Did he say you’re ugly?” And she’s like, “Well, he just said I’m not attractive anymore.” I’m like, “Holy shit. How dare him, you know, to a pregnant mother. You just don’t do that.”

Maybe if you have a really close relationship with a friend and it’s a friend who cares about you, maybe those types of comments are available. But yeah, that was just really hard to hear. And, you know, sadly, I can kind of almost predict that they won’t be together that much longer.

Krati: I have no idea how you handle that; I’ve never been in a situation like that. It’s like you love this person and then to have this person say such a thing to you. How do you handle it? It’s horrible.

I remember this episode in Grey’s Anatomy which obviously covers such issues. So, in this episode, there’s this woman getting a butt implant. She was getting her butt enlarged. And people were like, why are you doing this? You look fine. You look okay. You don’t have to do this.

And everybody was like, okay, she clearly has a man in her life who prefers a larger butt  but then she said, no, I’m doing this for me. I’ve always wanted to wear these jeans and I’ve always wanted a big butt. I want it for myself.

I’m not pro surgeries. I’m definitely anti surgeries that are coming from a negative place where people are like, let me get this so I can hold on to this man. I’m completely, 100 percent against that. I do not want people doing that. I wish I had the power to make it stop but, I thought that was a lovely idea. Like if this is how extreme I want to go to make myself feel good, then I’ll do that.

Dr. Tara: I’ve never seen that show, but that’s such a good example of how sometimes people just want to do things for themselves. Why is it so hard to believe? I don’t need to do this to prove it to anybody. About five years ago, one of my clients, a mother of two kids, about five and six years old, said, “Yeah, I’m going to get a boob job.” Because Dave, her husband’s pseudonym, likes to joke that he doesn’t want to ‘suck saggy potatoes.’ I was shocked, that’s so hurtful. But she was saying it jokingly and laughing. So I asked her, even though he said this comment in a joking tone, did it feel in any way hurtful to you?

And she told me no. Maybe it’s the rapport in their relationship, but she said, “No, because those are the words I use.” He was just repeating it to me. She’s like, “Yeah, I look in the mirror and think, ‘My boobs. I literally had the best boobs in college, and now they just look like saggy potatoes.'” So in bed, he was joking, “Well, babe, if you want to get them done, just go get them done. I don’t want to be sucking saggy potatoes.” To me, it was hurtful, but to her, it wasn’t.

And I think that’s the beauty of the differences in humans. Some things may be funny and not hurtful to one person and some things can be triggering and hurtful to another. So it just really depends. I think this is why it’s so important to always emphasize open-mindedness and communication within the relationship. There’s no universal script for a relationship. What works in one relationship may not work for another. And I think that we may forget that sometimes because we have a lot of these advice articles or self-help books that are like rules of relationships and might not work for some people.

Krati: Of course. That’s such generic advice.

Dr. Tara: Yeah, like if my husband ever say my boobs look like sacky potatoes, I will slap his balls. I will not take it, but, you know, for my client, it was just funny. They had that kind of really bro-y rapport so, that’s fine.

Unconditional Love in Relationships

Krati: But then I think what you’re also pointing out here is that the love was very much alive and well in that relationship. It wasn’t like he was turning away from her or telling her to, you know, get out of bed. I don’t want to be near you.

So I think that is the difference. It may be a very fairy tale-ish idea, but I think when somebody loves you, it just is hard for them to see flaws in you. I think that is true, what they say that while they may support you and they may hold you accountable to be a better human being and challenge you in those ways. Of course, again, love, the definition of it differs for everyone, but I don’t think they’ll be able to look at you and be turned off or disgusted by you.

I don’t think that’s possible. I remember having an extreme case of cystic acne for many years of my life and yes, it was hard for other people to look at it. Sometimes, I was even asked to leave certain public places.

Dr. Tara: Woah. Really? Where was this?

Krati: Throughout my adolescence, from the top of my forehead to the bottom of my chin, I had cysts all over my face. If you’ve had cystic acne, you know they grow inside your skin. They take over all the area around it and it’s red and purple. It was difficult to look at sometimes, especially when they were swollen and had pus. I couldn’t just stay at home and not go out; I had to go out. Sometimes people thought I had some kind of contagious skin disease, like chickenpox or something. They would ask me to leave, but it stopped bothering me after two or three years because I was a student. I was focusing all my energies on being the best student possible but my parents were always supportive. They took me to the doctors wherever I wanted to go, but my father would always remind me, “To me, you’re the most beautiful girl in the world.” And my mom would say, “I can see the acne bothers you, but you have such beautiful eyes, such a beautiful smile, and I think everybody sees that.” And I’m like, “No, you see it,” but that helped immensely.

Dr. Tara: I mean, you and I are lucky, you know, we have loving parents. Some people have really brutal parents. I have a friend whose mom would always say, “Oh, you’re fat, eat less, here are some diet pills.” It was like, “That’s embarrassing. Don’t wear that. Cover this part.” So yeah, if we’re lucky, we get to be born into a loving family. And I think that helps propel a lot of things in romantic relationships. When you’re born into a family, you didn’t have a choice. But with a romantic relationship, you have to choose someone and you have to choose them every day. You have to choose to be with them, to connect with them, take care of them, support them, all of these things, every single day.

So, I think it’s a lot more, if you think about it in economic terms, there’s a lot more cost-benefit analysis. People feel like, “Oh, I’m not attracted to my partner. We don’t have good sex. I don’t even feel good when I come home.” For people, it’s a lot of cost, not a lot of benefit. And yes, there is love, but, I don’t know. Do you believe in unconditional love in a romantic relationship?

Krati: I do. I think, yes, I do believe in unconditional love, but it also depends on your definition of unconditional. I don’t think somebody who truly loves you would put up with nonsense. For example, I have friends who would help their partners get out of debt or remind them, “No, you have to hold down this job because you’ve got to get out of debt. We need to build a better life.” And then there are friends, couples who would enable each other like, “Oh, yes, it’s okay to wind up on the floor drunk out of your mind every single day,” and to me, that is not unconditional love. That is like two unhealthy people creating an unhealthy dynamic. But then there are people who love each other so much, they hold each other accountable. They do not agree with everything the other person says. They do not support unconditionally. They would demand for that person to be better, but in a loving way. It’s like, “My love is not going to change for you, but you can do this. You have the potential for this. So why not go for it? Believe in you,” that sort of thing.

But again, I am single. I decided to stay single. I decided not to get married. So don’t listen to me. I think I have very extreme ideas. As I said, I read Ayn Rand when I was 11 years old. She brainwashed me so completely, and I do deal in extremes. I have very high standards for myself, and I hold myself to those standards, and that makes my life difficult sometimes. And I do that to other people as well. I hold other people to very high standards. And I sometimes think that’s unfair. But I don’t think in a romantic relationship, every single day, like you said, you have to choose every single day. Every single day, I don’t think I could. And I prefer solitude. So that’s just the option for me. My solitude makes me euphoric. It’s the source of my happiness. So for me, that was an easy choice because I know I didn’t have to do the work that other people have to do. So please be mindful to whoever is listening, if what I said appeals to you. Also remember, I don’t have to do the work. I don’t have to go through that emotional ringer every day, like maybe perhaps you are doing. So you go ahead and talk about this because I think it makes sense coming from someone who actually is doing the work.

Dr. Tara: You know, it depends on the day, to be honest. Some days I believe in unconditional love. Some days I don’t. And I think you’re right. It depends on how you view the word, like, conditional versus unconditional. And what actions are within those terms. Let’s say if your partner cheats on you, engages in infidelity, but then comes back and says they have learned their lessons, they feel extremely guilty. They cry every day, they want you back, they want your trust back. In this situation, do you go back to them and give them another chance? Because of unconditional love, you can give them a second chance and have them prove themselves. Or do you say no, because you broke that trust.

And for me, that trust means everything. So now, this is not an investment I’m willing to make, like emotional investment and resources, right, time. So me, dealing with couples that have sex issues every single day as a coach, it’s kind of hard to feel like love is unconditional sometimes because there are so many people who want their partner to do ABC, and they don’t do it. They feel like they don’t love them, or they feel like they can’t love them anymore. And then there are also just lots of people engaging in infidelity.

As a coach, of course, I’m a third-party professional. It’s all confidential. If one partner tells me they are engaging in an affair, I’m not in a position to go tell the other person that that’s what they’re doing, even though they’re in therapy together, in this relationship coaching together. It’s really hard. So on those days, it’s hard for me to say, you know, you should have unconditional love for your romantic partner.

I think ultimately, it all kind of goes back to what I said before: listen to your body. Using the example before, if taking them back feels really bad in the body, like your stomach is tight, your neck hurts, your head hurts, and your body is just rejecting, that’s a good sign that like, don’t take them back. But if you feel at peace and you feel good, and you’re ready to forgive and give the relationship another try, and it feels good in your body, I think it’s totally justifiable. You are not undignified or stupid for going back to the relationship. So yeah, I think that’s not a very satisfying answer, but I think it just depends.

Krati: I hope that stays with everyone listening because I think that’s what it comes down to. I’ve had friends who tell me, “Yeah, he’s not my Prince Charming, but he treats my parents so well. He looks out for them, he cares for my family,” and that’s it, that’s all they need. And they’re so happy with him. Then there’s everything’s right, and yet nothing’s right. There are marriages like that also, so you are absolutely right. You cannot take someone else’s definition of happiness and unconditional love and run your marriage or your relationship by that definition. That’s not going to work.

Sexually Confident Beings

Q: If you could design a person from scratch, both male and female, and you wanted to infuse them with high sexual self-esteem, a healthy sex life, what are the qualities these two beings would have? One male, one female.

Dr. Tara: Okay. For the female, she first knows her worth, has high self-esteem, and feels comfortable in her own body, regardless of shape and size. She projects herself positively in most settings, or neutrally if she doesn’t feel very good, respecting her own feelings and boundaries. She will engage in sexual encounters that she desires, focusing on being in the present moment and feeling the pleasure in the body, being mindful during sex with her partner. She will express herself during sex, which could be loud moaning or soft moaning, whatever feels authentic to her. And she will communicate and advocate for herself in terms of whether this is the relationship she wants, what kind of relationship she wants, what qualities she desires from a partner, and what she brings to the table. To me, that is a sexually confident person.

A big part that I will say for both is the ability to communicate for consent. I think this is for both men and women. It’s not just for men to ask for consent; women should too. For a male, in my experience, males who are sexually confident are a little bit more assertive. It doesn’t mean they are extroverted. You can be introverted and firm, right? Assertive. So, I think an assertive male who is comfortable with their own masculine and feminine energy is a sexually confident man. Someone who, very much like the woman, understands their body, is comfortable, and communicates their desires and boundaries.

The one different thing about male sexual confidence versus female is, I think, there is something to be said about taking the lead. How authentic it feels for the feminine and masculine energy that we have had for thousands of years. And even in LGBTQ relationships, there is always an exchange of energy. In a moment, one person is the leader. And so, if we’re talking about heterosexual men, I would say taking the lead more often is a sexually confident man.

I feel like I could talk about that forever, but ultimately, I think being able to communicate and advocate for yourself and care for the other person is the most important thing.

Closing Thoughts

This dialogue with Dr. Tara is a must-listen for anyone seeking to deepen their understanding of sexual confidence and self-acceptance. Her insights encourage us to look beyond societal norms and find empowerment within ourselves.

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The Brain Behind The Blog

Hi! I'm Krati Mehra

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I know what it’s like to fall apart and gradually put your pieces back together to build something better than what you had before and I share all my lessons in this space hoping that you will share my learnings without the struggle.

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