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.