I’m in a sexless marriage! with Cindy Gallop full transcript

Cindy Gallop: I'm all about communication in bed. I told him how to make me come, which he did wonderfully and he said to me afterwards, you know, I've really learnt from you, I'm going to start talking in bed. [Laughs] And it's astonishing how many people actually don't!

Myisha Battle: It's a skill and sometimes you need someone to say this is okay.


Myisha: Welcome back to KCRW's How's Your Sex Life, your sex and dating survival guide. I'm Myisha Battle and I'm here to tell you that we're all in this together. The stories you hear on this show are unique, but the themes are universal. Today, we're going to hear from listeners who need advice about masturbation and intimacy. And I'm here with Cindy Gallop. Hi, Cindy!

Cindy: Hi, Myisha. Thrilled to be here.

Myisha: I'm so happy to have you. We've talked a few times over the years, and I love hearing your take, and I'm just really excited for you and your advice to our listeners. You founded Make Love Not Porn, which I've recommended on this show before and countless times to my clients. For those of you who aren't familiar with Make Love Not Porn, can you tell us a little bit about it and what made you decide to start it up?

Cindy: Sure. So Make Love Not Porn was kind of an accident in that I did not consciously set out to do everything I'm doing now, but it began because I date younger men who tend to be in their 20s, and about 16, 17 years ago now, realized through my direct personal experience dating younger men, that when we don't talk openly and honestly about sex, porn becomes sex education by default, in not a good way. And so 15 years ago, I put up a tiny, clunky website at Make Love Not Porn dot com that in its original version was kind of a public service announcement. Porn world versus real world. Here's what happens in the porn world. Here's what happens in the real world. I launched it at Ted, my talk went viral back in 2009, the entire world responded, and I realized I'd uncovered a huge global social issue. And so today, we're the world's first and only user generated and importantly, 100 percent human curated social sex video sharing platform. And what we're doing is we are socializing, normalizing, and destigmatizing sex, in order to promote consent, communication, good sexual values and behavior. We are literally sex education through real world demonstration.

Myisha: Thank you so much for that this is, you know, what we all need. The world needs more representations of the real and the messy aspects of sex. And that's exactly what we're here to do today, is to address questions that people have that there may be ashamed to ask elsewhere, they're not having these conversations with friends, they don't know that messy is normal. So I want to just dig in to our listener questions, but before I do I have a question for you. And that is, how's your sex life?

Cindy: So my sex life, I have to say, was extremely healthy pre-pandemic. You know, I'm very open about the fact that I date younger men casually and recreationally. I did love them simultaneously. But obviously, I had to reduce that down to my pandemic pod. [Laughs]

Myisha: Yeah.

Cindy: And actually, it's taken a while to come back from that, because I've been very busy over the past year and a half focusing on raising funding for Make Love Not Porn, which has been a very challenging process, but I have to admit that, you know, while I've had some nice interludes, my dating life has also been somewhat constrained by the stresses of doing that. And so Myisha, I have pronounced that 2024 is the year of money and sex. I'm going to sort out my funding first, and then on the dating front, watch out world!

Myisha: Okay! [Laughter] All right, I'm excited for this, because I know I mean, we don't have to talk about it here, but I know that you are really, really busy and have some promising leads with funding right now. So that means that your sex life is going to be full steam ahead. Hopefully, very, very soon, my fingers are crossed for you. [Laughter] Amazing. Okay, let's jump into our first question. And as a reminder, we use voice actors to keep everyone anonymous.

Question 1: Hi Myisha, just out of curiosity, is there such a thing as too much masturbation?

Myisha: I have my thoughts about this one, but I'm really curious about yours as someone who provides an outlet for people to explore solo or with a partner or partners. What do you think about this question of is there such a thing as too much masturbation?

Cindy: Oh my God, my answer is absolutely not. The English playwright Christopher Hampton wrote, many years ago in a play called The Philanthropist, masturbation is the thinking man's television. Masturbation is fantastic free entertainment, so I'm a huge fan of masturbation. I masturbate virtually every day. I do it especially as a sleep aid, by the way, it's the best sleep aid I know. But honestly, there is absolutely no such thing as too much. And, you know, a couple of points on that Myisha, because it's really sad the question is even asked, and I totally know why the question is asked, because, you know, in 15 years of working on Make Love Not Porn, I have seen firsthand the enormous human misery and unhappiness caused by the shame, guilt and embarrassment that we imbue sex with.

Myisha: Yes, I think there's a lot of hand wringing about masturbation, generally speaking. We don't teach it. We don't teach masturbation as a sexual practice in general sex ed, because what we get is mostly pregnancy and STI prevention, as you know, and so, masturbation doesn't lead to any of those, which is actually a mark in its favor! And yet we don't talk about it or encourage it as an outlet and so when I see questions like, is there such a thing as too much masturbation, I'm hearing a little bit of that panic of, 'Hey, I like this. Do I like this too much? Is this something that I'm using, instead of or replacement of having a quote unquote, real sex life?' And the only caveat I would have is like, is this disruptive to your life? That's that's the main I would say criteria to assessing whether or not you're masturbating too much. Because there are folks for whom you know, self pleasure or masturbation becomes a compulsion! Just like anything else that feels good can become a compulsion people have food compulsions, they have sex compulsions, partnered sex compulsions. Things that feel good we want because they maybe help us manage and cope with the things that don't feel good in our lives. So what I'm hearing from this question is more just like that moral panic that might be around masturbation, and like 'Oh I've heard, you can lose your sense of sensitivity,' which is sometimes the case but it comes back, you just need to lay off a little bit, you know, maybe you take the intensity down. Some men who jerk off really hard and fast find partnered sex a little more difficult to get that level of sensitivity that they need activated, because they're used to just a firm grip and very, very fast. And so your body can learn to become more attuned! So I just wanted to address those issues as well to say that, like, if it's not causing any harm, to your day to day life, if you're not noticing any negative impacts in your sex life or sexual functioning, you're good. Let's hear our next question. It's about intimacy.

Question 2: My partner and I have lived together for around 30 years. He's 10 years younger than me, we love each other, but intimacy has disappeared over the years. I want to talk about it and figure out what can satisfy our sexual needs, but I don't know how to bring up the subject. Are there any questions that could help me get the conversation going?

Myisha: Hmm. This is a good one. I think there's probably points in a lot of people's relationships, no matter how long they've been together, where they realized, hey, we probably should talk about intimacy. And I, I guess the first question I have is this person's definition of intimacy? Because sometimes people use intimacy as a euphemism for sex. But intimacy is more than sex. Wouldn't you agree?

Cindy: Yep, absolutely. And in fact, this question is very interesting Myisha, because this is a very classic scenario that Make Love Not Porn has solved numerous times over the years. So one couple said to us, you really normalized, you know, being able to watch people having sex in the real world. They said, we found it as easy to talk about what we were watching as we would have done if we're watching something on Netflix, and from talking about what was happening in the videos, it was just one step further to having that inspire a conversation about our own sex life. And so you know, I would absolutely, in this scenario, recommend watching Make Love Not Porn together and seeing what happens as a result.

Myisha: Yes, I love recommending any type of technology or external source as a point of connection or conversation. So, 'Oh, I was listening to this podcast, and these two women were talking about this site called Make Love Not Porn, and it made me think like, hey, we really haven't talked about our sex life in a long time, is that something you're open to?'. That could be a really good starting point, I love being the excuse that people use to talk about sex. And then things like Make Love Not Porn can be that avenue to, if we still don't feel comfortable having this conversation, we can at least put something on in front of us and test the waters to see how we feel or how we react or how we know what kinds of conversations are sparked by sharing an intimate experience. And, and I would say, you know, I do want to address this person's general question about, like, how to talk about intimacy and point out that like, yes, there is a sexual component to intimacy or there can be in relationships, but not always. So where is your general intimacy level at, you know, what, what are the things that you're doing as a couple that make you feel connected to one another. And that may be also a good point to start with, you know, let's, let's, let's address that part first. If you don't feel connected, if you feel like it's kind of a leap to go to sex, because you're just really not talking and you're kind of the, you know, proverbial roommate situation that I hear a lot from my clients, we feel like roommates, we don't really talk, we don't really connect, they don't really know me. And that could require working with a professional as well to help you, you know, figure out how to communicate better as intimate partners.

Cindy: You know, I was dating a young gentleman, this is a few years ago, now, he was 21 at the time. Very good looking, had had a ton of girlfriends, and it became very apparent in bed that he had never ever talked in bed. Literally, you know, and, and, you know, I am all about communication in bed, I talked to him. I told him how to make me come, which he did wonderfully. And, and he said to me afterwards, you know, I've really learnt from you, I'm going to start talking in bed and it's astonishing how many people actually don't!

Myisha: It's a skill and sometimes you need someone to create the environment and the space to say, this is okay. You know, this is something that we can do, whether it's in the moment, or it's generally outside of a sexual moment, like, hey, what are your turn ons? Like, hey, we haven't touched base about our sex life in a while. How do you feel about it? So this question asker, could be that person who opens the door to say, come on in. We talk about sex over here, and it's okay. And it might make the sex that we're having, or not having, better in the long run. More frequent, potentially. So yeah, my my good luck to this question asker. And I would love a follow up email if you have taken our advice to either enlist Make Love Not Porn in your opening the discussion about sex, or you have decided to address it head on in a, in a different way. All right, we're gonna take a quick break. And when we come back, we'll hear from a woman whose sex life has hit a wall. And as a reminder to our listeners, if you need advice about sex, dating or relationships, be sure to drop us an email or voice memo at sex life at kcrw dot org.


Myisha: And we're back! Let's listen to our last question.

Question 3: Hi Myisha, my husband and I have been married for 12 years. In the beginning, the sex was awesome. Now I'm 51, he's 60, and he's just lost his sex drive! He says he doesn't want to take Viagra because it makes him less of a man. So we just don't have sex. This has been going on for months. There are other ways to please your wife and he doesn't even want to do that. I told him it's his job, and he thinks it's funny I think this way. I think it is my husband's job to sexually please his wife, but he doesn't want to talk about it. What can I do?

Myisha: Okay, this is another one where sexual communication has broken down. What do you say to this couple?

Cindy: If the breakdown in the bedroom is emblematic of a breakdown of the relationship generally, then, honestly, my advice would be to seriously consider parting ways. There are a lot of people out there staying in marriages they shouldn't be staying in, because they are fearful of leaving them. Because every dynamic in popular culture tells you that you should stay married. Because, you know, it's what their friends expect. It's what their family expect. And I would really encourage, especially older women, who particularly get the raw end of the deal in marriage, to really look at whether this is how they want to spend the second half of their life, because because, you know, to this woman asked this question, I want to say you have as long to live again, potentially, as you've lived to date. What would you like to do with your next 50 years, you know, or however long it may be, but it's going to be a good long time. So I will just say, this may be a stimulus to, you know, examine your marriage and your life holistically. And go, you know, is this really what I want? My second response is, you know, if this is a marriage that, you know, you absolutely are still very much in love with your husband, this is the only area in which he's not delivering, then, you know, I would say you might like to have a conversation about opening up the marriage, you know, and I say that both because, you know, honestly, you know, sexual pleasure is absolutely a human right, you know, I mean, a human right, not in terms of entitlement, but in terms of we all deserve to experience pleasure.

Myisha: Yes, humans have been dealing with this issue for quite some time, since we created the institution of marriage and decided it was going to be just two people until they die, right. And so this situation of one partner's sexual functioning changing, or both partners sexually, you know, changing throughout the course of the marriage, like, that's been with us, and people have been navigating this, and dealing with this in various ways forever, right? I think what is nice about living in 2024, is that we have a lot of options to do things more ethically. And, you know, even if the end result is you don't open your marriage, having that conversation of like, listen, it's, it's maybe time to have this this talk, because this is how seriously I take sex, this is no joke to me, this is a part of my life that I value, and if you are opting out to, you know, to sharing that with me, I need to find someone who wants to opt in, you know, and that may light a fire under this person to take responsibility and get over some of the guilt or shame that they are experiencing around the changing and their sexual functioning as they age. It sucks! It means you're getting old. Nobody wants to like accept that and realize that something that they relied on for years and years and years isn't working the way that it does. So fully understand that but like, you can grieve that and then open up to the possibility of more, of different, of expansive, of a world where, you know, sex looks different, but it's not worse! You know, it's not worse, it's better, because you're actually having it potentially, you know, you're having some kind of sexual contact with the person who you love. You've said that you, you know, question asker, you've said that you do think that this is his job as your husband, but he doesn't see it that way. So is there any room for that to change? And if not, what are the ways that you can ethically now do this? You know, there was a Sex after 70 piece in The New York Times, did you read that? It came out I think two years ago?

Cindy: Yep. Love it. Yeah.

Myisha: It was fantastic, because we're talking about people who have been separated, because you know, one person has an illness, and they need to be in, you know, a care facility, and they have a girlfriend, you know, in the care facility. And, you know, we just don't talk about this. We don't talk about how sex and our relationships can change and morph and evolve in later life, and I think that's worth exploring too. If you have not thought about this, and this is the first challenge that you're experiencing in your sexual functioning, first of all, congratulations, but second of all, you know, take some time to understand what's going on and how common this is and what people have come up with to navigate this stage of life. That's my advice.


Myisha: All right. Cindy, this is a great time to segue into our last segment of the show before I let you go. I have a few questions for you that are about sex and dating. I'm going to read them to you. And then you can pick which one you'd like to answer. Here are your choices. A, when was the last time you had a sexual fantasy fulfilled? B, what was your best hookup ever? Or C, what's the hottest scene you've watched or been in?

Cindy: I'm trying to think of a sexual fantasy I've had that was fulfilled, and I'll tell you, I'll tell you what, so I absolutely have a sexual fantasy that that I would adore to have fulfilled.

Myisha: Well, let's speak it into existence for later in 2024.

Cindy: Well, unfortunately there are some very practical reasons why it can't be fulfilled, but it's been a very enjoyable fantasy to masturbate to in the past, which is that, you know, I would absolutely love to have a threesome with two men. And by the way obviously, that's a common female fantasy, but specifically, I would love to have a threesome with two men who are men I know and have dated. And by the way, this is absolutely what I fantasize about in various combinations very enjoyably, over the years. The reason it's not feasible is because the younger men I date live all over the place [laughs] you know, are in varying stages of life. I mean, I would, I know, unfortunately, logistically speaking, may never be able to actually make this happen because of what it would take to try and bring those men together. But that is absolutely a sexual fantasy that I would adore to have fulfilled. And, and I think the important thing there is, you know, I've been lucky to have a succession of wonderful younger lovers, you know, in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect and affection. And that is what I want to draw on for that fantasy, which as I said, for boring logistical and practical reasons is virtually impossible to make happen. But that's key to my particular fantasy.

Myisha: I have a way that you can make this happen. Forward this episode to several of your exes.

Cindy: [Laughs] But unfortunately Myisha as I said, there are there are serious geographical barriers.

Myisha: They might be so intrigued that they are like ‘When do you want this Cindy? Who else do you want to be there? I will buy my ticket.’

Cindy: You know, the stars have never aligned in any way that would enable this to happen in the combos I'm thinking about, but it's a very enjoyable fantasy.

Myisha: Okay. I love that you shared that and I still have hope! [Laughs] Okay, well, thank you so much for joining me today Cindy. Yeah, just a pleasure to speak with you again and where can people find you and learn more about your work and Make Love Not Porn.

Cindy: So people can find me, I'm on Twitter and Instagram at Cindy Gallop. Please do follow at Make Love Not Porn on Twitter and Instagram as well. Please do, if you've enjoyed what we've talked about go to Make Love Not Porn dot com, you know, you've heard the benefits, consider sharing your own real world sex. You know you can be anonymous. We'll take your videos down the moment you want them gone. And I will just say also that we are at the moment running our first ever equity crowdfunding campaign for Make Love Not Porn. So do go to we funder dot com slash make love not porn to find out more about investing in Make Love Not Porn.

Myisha: Amazing. I hope that that is such a successful fundraise for you. I know you've been working so fucking hard to make this more accessible to more people and we need that. We need you. Thank you for the work that you do.

Cindy: I enormously appreciate that Myisha. Thank you so much for having me on.

Myisha: My pleasure.

Myisha: And thank you for listening. If you need advice for your love life, be sure to drop us an email or voice memo at sex life at kcrw dot org.


Myisha: 'How's Your Sex Life?' is KCRW original podcast. Our producer is Andrea Bautista Our executive producer is Gina Delvac. This episode was mixed by Nick Lampone. Our music was created by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs. Special thanks to SF podcast studio, Arnie Seipel, and Jennifer Ferro. And last but not least, a big shout out to our voice actors, we'll let them introduce themselves on the way out.

VO 1: This is Christopher Ho. Thanks for listening.

VO 2: This is Sue Marvin. If you liked this episode, share it with a friend!

VO 3: This is Angie Perrin. See you next week for another episode of How's Your Sex Life.