How to be a sex-positive nanny and compassionate companion

Nov 21, 2018

Dr. Liz Powell: How is this person over here bring in some more sex positivity into the world? I’m Dr. Liz from Sex-Positive Psych.

Intimacy: I’m Intimacy from PolyFreeLove.  [@PolyFreeLove on any social media, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat, Google, it’s whatever. Find me. Message me. I’ll respond.]

Dr. Liz Powell: And I’m so excited to talk with Intimacy today about all of the stuff that, what do you pronounce?

Intimacy: They, them, amazing, she, he.

Dr. Liz Powell: OK. So that they, she, he, amazing are doing. So Intimacy, tell me about what it is that you do.

Intimacy: So, I’m a nanny and I only take parents and kids who are OK with me being a sex-positive nanny.

Dr. Liz Powell: Oh good.

Intimacy: And I give their parents details about the things I’m going to be teaching them and I have a conversation with them about OK, how does the kid? Hypothetically, kids are already one. OK. The first time the baby touch themselves when they are 3, 4, or 5, 6 months old, what did you do? “I told them no, stop. Move their hand.”

Dr. Liz Powell: [Laughter]

Intimacy: OK. We’re not going to do that moving forward. If you want me to be their nanny, you’re going to have to do the homework at home too. And that means not shaming them for touching themselves as infants and children because a lot of adult shame around sexuality and masturbation started back then but nobody knows that until you do the research and you’re trying to grill the process and all this stuff.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah. One of the funniest stories I saw online about that was someone told their kid, “Honey, it feels good to touch your clit but we do that in our rooms, not at the dinner table.” [Laughter]

Intimacy: Yes, exactly that. Exactly that. And parents are like, “Oh, but they can’t even talk.” It doesn’t matter. You are talking to them. You’re giving them their proper wording around it. You’re teaching them that it is OK to touch my body because mommy didn’t tell me no not to do that.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah. So you’re a nanny. What other stuff do you do?

Intimacy: I’m a sex surrogate.

Dr. Liz Powell: Sex surrogate.

Intimacy: I prefer the term compassionate companion.

Dr. Liz Powell: OK.

Intimacy: Because it seems less daunting for my clients and people have triggers around the word sex but most people don’t have triggers around the word compassionate or companion.

Dr. Liz Powell: Right.

Intimacy: They seem like really gentle words but still are the same thing.

Dr. Liz Powell: So for those of you who don’t know the history of sex surrogacy or what’s sometimes called intimate partner therapy, when Masters and Johnson were developing one of the first therapeutic treatments for issues like erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, vulva pain, they developed this therapy called Sensate Focused Therapy. That’s all about touch and sensation and moving away from an orgasm or penetration focused model of sex. The therapy however required a couple, required two people. So when they had people coming to them who were solo, who were single, they couldn’t do this therapy. So they started training people to be surrogate partners to fill in and do this therapy with them, to help them learn about how to receive touch on their own body, how to give touch on their own body, how to receive touch or how to give touch on another person’s body and watch that person receiving touch. And it’s a way to help people move past a lot of the ideas that create what we often call sexual issues but that in a lot of ways are about cultural conditioning and worries and fears.

Intimacy: Right. Right. And so much of people’s sexual assumptions and self-imposed expectations …

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

Intimacy: … is either not as knowledgeable about our bodies because advertising you know.

Dr. Liz Powell: Right.

Intimacy: Everyone is supposed to be in a heterosexual relationship and everyone is supposed to have sex missionary style.

Dr. Liz Powell: And if you have a vagina, you should come from penetration.

Intimacy: Yes.

Dr. Liz Powell: And that should be the best way to come or it’s not real. [Laughter]

Intimacy: None of that is true.

Dr. Liz Powell: As Freud said, “Clitoral orgasms are immature orgasms, mature orgasms are penetration orgasms.” How ironic that a straight, cis man is the person who put forward that theory.

Intimacy: So, it’s about teaching them sex is finding pleasure within your own body with yourself, knowing where those pleasures are, and being able to communicate those pleasures with any other people that you choose and negotiate to have sexual shared pleasurable experiences with.

Dr. Liz Powell: And so then how for you does this therapeutic work play out? Like how do people find you? What kind of work do you do with them?

Intimacy: So people find me either from referrals or they find me from Googling, looking up information. There are ways to find me without it having to be a referral. And then I have a conversation with either the referral people or the people who didn’t have referrals about how they need to be actively seeking and participating in on a regular basis some sort of mental health professional help. I’m not specific about what that is. I’m very open-minded about what it could be.

Dr. Liz Powell: Sure.

Intimacy: The difference is they have to be OK with me talking to that person so that we can all be on the same page about what are the goals, where is the growth journey going, and I let my clients tell me what they’re seeking as an outcome.

Dr. Liz Powell: OK.

Intimacy: And we try to go towards that and get close to their ideals about it as we can. And then sometimes it changes and they’re like, “Whoa! I said this in the beginning but now they know more about me. This is what I really need.” And it’s like, “Great! This is why we’re doing this.”

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

Intimacy: And it’s called a triadic model when you have more than one care provider working together for the greater good of the person seeking growth.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah. And triadic care is so important for a lot of sexual health concerns because there can be body and biological related issues, a lot of medications have sexual side effects that doctors don’t often assess in their patients.

Intimacy: Or don’t tell their patients.

Dr. Liz Powell: Or don’t tell them about, yeah. A lot of different physical health conditions can also have sexual correlates that create problems with them. So things like blood pressure issues, diabetes can cause issues with erection. Menopause can cause changes in how vaginal tissue responds, lubrication in particular. Yeah. And there’s a thinning of the tissues so it’s much easier to tear. So there are a lot of different aspects that can be involved. And when you have a triadic care, it’s much easier to help people with those.

Intimacy: Right. Right. So then once we passed all that, my initial meeting is we meet for dinner in a public place and we both agree up on and I usually pick places and give them choices that I know have a quiet bar section where people don’t usually sit and eat or a back patio that nobody really knows about. I call them and make sure it’s not booked and, “Hey, I need to specifically sit back here because we’re going to be having a private conversation.” And the restaurants I’ve never gotten to know yet, it’s always a, “Sure! Thanks for letting us know. Make sure you tell the hostess when you come in that you’re specifically going to be seated in the back where there might not be a waiter but we’ll send one back there for you guys so we have privacy.” And the stipulation is they pay me my initial consultation fee plus dinner.

Dr. Liz Powell: OK.

Intimacy: And food is easy because when people feel nervous, they can just go into their soup and I just give them space and I’m just going to talk until it looks like they are ready to talk.

Dr. Liz Powell: Oh yeah.

Intimacy: I try to make it soft for them. And I give them a 2-hour window but it’s up to them if they just want 10 minutes with me or the whole 2 hours like whatever is best for them. It’s the same fee. If you’re there for 10 minutes or 2 hours, my initial consult is still the same price. You got to pay it upfront.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

Intimacy: It’s up to you.

Dr. Liz Powell: What do you love about this work?

Intimacy: What I love about this work is people having their aha moments. Like for instance, I might cry because I’m menopausal.

Dr. Liz Powell: Hey! I cry all the time and I’m not menopausal. So no excuse needed.

Intimacy: Right. Right. And I’m not shaming people that cry. They are not menopause either. I just personally don’t like to cry. That’s a me thing. But it’s the aha moment. An example I’m going to use myself is I’m 40 now. Yay! I’m going to be 41 soon.

Dr. Liz Powell: Woohoo!

Intimacy: When I was 35, I felt like I was an alien. And I was like, “Why I can’t I be monogamous like everybody?”

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

Intimacy: Because I’ve known since I was 6, I’m not monogamous. That shit don’t make sense to me. And I don’t have to be that so fuck you. But where are my people?

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

Intimacy: I have no community. And so, some chick saw me ranting about it in a swingers group and she was like, “Hey, I’m your people. I know where your people are.” And I was like, “Where are they?” And she was like, “You’re polyamorous.” And I was like, “Google, what’s polyamory?” And I read. I was like, “That’s me. That’s what I am. There’s nothing wrong. Where are these people?” And so, she put me in a North Texas poly group and there was like 800 members in my own community like my backyard, my neighborhood, around the corner, at the grocery store, at the church, at the strip club like we’re everywhere and it’s like, “I’m not alone. I’m not an alien. There’s nothing wrong with me. OK. Stop beating yourself up in your head.”

Dr. Liz Powell: Oh yeah.

Intimacy: And so, it’s aha moments like that like it would have been great to actually have someone else like really help me into it but I’m here to help other people into whatever.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

Intimacy: And you don’t have to polyamorous like I’m not here to coach you into being polyamorous if it’s not what you want. But I’m here for it if it’s what you want and you want like advice from someone who has been polyamorous 30 something years.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

Intimacy: I’ll tell you what I know.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah. That’s so amazing. And it’s – the poly community can be tough especially because the media we have about non-monogamy tends to be very thin and cisgender and abled and while and upper middle class and fairly hetero-looking.

Intimacy: And still sex negative.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

Intimacy: Really.

Dr. Liz Powell: There can be. There’s a lot of – we’re not just – it’s not about the sex. Polyamory is not about the sex.

Intimacy: Life is about sex.

Dr. Liz Powell: And I agree that like you there, A’s people who do polyamory, people who are asexual who can do polyamory, polyamory is not necessarily about sex but for the vast majority of people who do it, sex is a part of it. And it’s a big part of it. We also have a lot of love and a lot of relationships and we have a lot of sex. And I’ve heard people make arguments like if you have casual sex, that’s not poly. If you XYZ, that’s not poly. And I don’t – I just don’t understand like having casual sex doesn’t mean you’re not monogamous, right?

Intimacy: And just because you’re having casual sex with someone doesn’t mean that it’s not a relationship. It’s just not your typical escalator romantic relationship.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

Intimacy: Because I’ve got one friend. We’ve been friends for 23 years and it has always been just casual sex. When he is in my city, when I’m in his city, “Hey, you want to fuck? Yeah, let’s fuck.” That’s it. We may not even talk to each other until we’re back in each other’s cities, “Hey, you want to fuck? Yeah, let’s fuck.” We’re just casual sex buddies. But it has been 22 years.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah. I mean I have – there’s a friend of mine who I talk to on and off and we’ve hooked up a few times over the years and like when we’re both in relationship situations for that matters and we’re in places that it works, we hook up. But it’s not – it’s still a relationship like, “Hey, call me tomorrow. I needed to talk about some stuff.” I would be there for him.

Intimacy: Right. Right.

Dr. Liz Powell: So I think that a lot of what I found in the world of non-monogamy for me has been helpful, has been kind of like picking apart and untangling what our messages are about what is a relationship and what’s not a relationship.

Intimacy: Right.

Dr. Liz Powell: And like where those messages come from and the ways that like a ton of it is about capitalistic ways of keeping the proletariat down.

Intimacy: Yes.

Dr. Liz Powell: You know.

Intimacy: Yes. Hello.

Dr. Liz Powell: So, I’m so happy to hear about all this work that you’re doing and we’re unfortunately out of time today but like I really hope that I get to talk to you again in the future.

Intimacy: Awesome. I would love that.

Dr. Liz Powell: Thank you so much for all of your work. And again, where can people find you?

Intimacy: PolyFreeLove on any social media, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat, Google, it’s whatever. Find me. Message me. I’ll respond.

Dr. Liz Powell: Please go check this person out. Thank you all so much. Bye!

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