Sex, Porn, and Masturbation in Relationships -With Dr. Nazanin Moali

Dr. Tari and Dr. Nazanin Moali, psychologist and sex expert, discuss porn, masturbation and other common issues related to sex and intimacy that often come up for couples.

Dr. Nazanin Moali she’s a licensed clinical psychologist and a certified sex therapist. Her private practice is located in LA and she specializes in working with couples and individuals struggling with issues of sex and intimacy.

Dr. Nez hosts, a weekly podcast called sexology. Introducing the most intriguing findings in psychology of sex and intimacy.

Find Dr. Naz online:

http://www.instagram.com/sexologypodcast

http://www.sexologypodcast.com

Find Dr. Tari online:

http://www.drtarimack.com

http://www.instagram.com/drtarimack

Episode Transcript

Dear Dater Intro Episode

Welcome to Dear Dater, the podcast for people who want to change their disappointing relationship patterns and finally access the love they deserve. My name is Dr. Tari Mack, and I’m a psychologist and celebrity love coach. My journey has been one from disconnection and loneliness to love and miracles. And I want this podcast to give you the tools and awareness to help you create an access to the love you want in your own life. What we yearn for is meant for us. So if you yearn for love, you’re meant to have it when we change; our relationships change. I’m so glad you’re here.

Dr. Tari: I’m really excited today to welcome our guest, Dr. Nazanin Moali; she’s a licensed clinical psychologist and an Asex certified sex therapist. Her private practice is located in LA, and she specializes in working with couples and individuals struggling with issues of sex and intimacy. Dr. Naz hosts a weekly podcast called sexology. Introducing the most intriguing findings in the psychology of sex and intimacy. Welcome, Dr. NAZ. Thanks for being here.

Dr. Naz: Thank you for having me, Dr. Terry; I’m very excited about this conversation. So I experienced some of the rooms you hosted in the Clubhouse, and I really enjoy your style and the wealth of knowledge.

Dr. Tari: I feel the same about you. We talked about different topics we could talk about. And we picked out a few juicy ones that I think individuals and couples will find interesting and helpful. So let’s start. With talking about masturbation and especially masturbation, when we’re part of a relationship, what do you think about that? Is that healthy? Does it cause problems? What have you seen in your work?

Dr. Naz: I certainly see couples in my practice that come again. Because one of the partners is very disturbed when they realize that the partner is masturbating, whether with porn or without porn, it’s such an intimidating, challenging situation for couples to navigate. I don’t think it’s necessarily unhealthy when people masturbate, when they are in a relationship, I was looking at research I studied. And it showed that many couples who are in a happy relationship. They have solo sexual activities for a number of different reasons. But I think it’s important to if couples are comfortable to talk about it, what they’re feeling about that what’s their fidelity agreement at times I have called clients and couples that they’re telling me that they’re okay if the partner is masturbating. But it’s, but it’s not okay for them. If they’re watching porn, or it’s not okay if they are using websites, like only fans, so I think it’s really important for couples to have this conversation about fidelity agreement. What’s considered cheating for them, and what’s not cheating. But again, it’s very common and could be healthy for couples to have their solo sexual activities, even when they are in a relationship.

Dr. Tari: Tell us more about this fidelity agreement. What is that?
Dr. Naz: Sometimes, it’s funny that people assume their partner has the same definition of this marriage or relationship agreement they think about; of course, flirting with someone is cheating, that is cheating, but I’ve seen it many times in my office. And I bet you; you had the same experiences that people who want one partner considered cheating. The other partner doesn’t think it is cheating. So for couples that are in a monogamous relationship, it’s important to think about it as a spectrum. So there is one part of the spectrum that I’m not thinking about anyone else. I’m not having any other sexual activity with someone else, and it’s only, and only my partner and most people fall somewhere in that spectrum. It could be that some people are completely okay. Again, if their partner is masturbating, if they are even flirting with other people. So it’s important for couples to think about where they agree on and the spectrum, what they consider cheating, and what their partner considers cheating so they can prevent any misunderstanding and future.

Dr. Tari: Yeah. And what do you do if you disagree? What if one partner is no. No, I don’t want you masturbating. I’m not okay with that. What do you do then?

Dr. Naz: Yeah, I’ve seen that many times. That’s sometimes in my heterosexual couple, my female clients; they tell their partner, I don’t want you to masturbate. And the male partner prematurely agrees. Saying that Oh, okay. I’m not going to masturbate knowing that’s not reasonable if they’ve been in the relationship for five years and they’ve been single for 30 years, and they’ve masturbated for 20 years; it’s not that easy to say I’m not going to do that. So I think it’s important to be open and honest about what’s reasonable and what’s not reasonable between couples—really talking about the underlying issues. So when there is one of the partners saying that I don’t want you to masturbate. Sometimes when I talk about it with my clients in my office, the issue is not necessarily about masturbating. The issue is whether you’re attracted to me or not. Does it mean that you’re not finding me attractive anymore? Or are you attracted to things that you see in porn? And I’m not that. So I think that’s important to talk about underlying issues and create an agreement to see if masturbation and solar activity gets in the way of a couple’s healthy relationship or not because I started in the scene the cases that one of the partners used masturbation as a distraction, and they just don’t want to be intimate with the partner. And that becomes a solo activity, the entire sexual activity that the partner is participating in.

Dr. Tari: And like as you said, then you’d want to look at what is really going on here. What’s the underlying issue?

Dr. Naz: Because at times people think about like porn being an issue.But when I talk to couples, when they are in the situation that one partner is fulfilling all of their sexual desires in porn, there are numbers for things that’s going on. Sometimes it’s about emotional regulation. It’s about release. It’s not about connection. So that can be a case. Sometimes there are issues that’s going on in the bedroom that the poet of the partner is not comfortable with. Two or both of the partners are not comfortable bringing it up. The partner decides to choose masturbation as a way of fulfilling their sexual needs. And I think it’s important to address that versus blaming porn for the issue.
Dr. Tari: So I do want to get to porn, but I have a question because I think you’re right. I think a lot of couples, not all couples, but a lot of couples have trouble discussing sex. Especially if they’re not being fulfilled or if there’s an issue. So what would you recommend to couples? How did they bring up this sensitive subject?

Dr. Naz: Dr. Cherry, you’re absolutely right. That most people grew up in the families that they didn’t have a proper sex education, we never learned, or we haven’t learned how to talk about sex. So it can be awkward and uncomfortable. My invitation for a couple is that they set aside a time, could be weekly, could be monthly, that they can talk about their sexual behaviors, sexual connections. At times I recommend my couple to do naked, happy hours. So is that an hour per. A week or per month that they’re pouring a cocktail, and they’re naked, and they’re playful. And to talk about things that are going well sexually for the relationship and what they’re wanting more of. And if people are not comfortable talking about sex, the good place is to start with positive things. Saying that honey, I love, and you do this kind of very being specific about that. So you can feel the language around sex. So it’s easier to give positive feedback than negative feedback for some couples, even that is challenging that they never talked about sex. It’s hard to verbalize that. So my invitation for people is like, thinking about, there are less on the internet, yes, no, maybe and each partner can go through that list and choose the things that they want more of, it could be even kissing, touching, and it all of those activities, or it could be kinky or all sorts of fun stuff. Think about what is a maybe, and maybe on the list. Are there things that I might be open to, but if the context is right, so we’re choosing that and the no, no RDS hard limits that these are the things that we’re, I’m not doing it now. I’m bringing the list to the meeting at that happy hour and like exchanging the list and talking about what are some of the overlapping things that you both are enjoying. So I think that would be a good place to start if there is difficult feedback that you want to give our partner. My invitation again is to start from positive talking about what’s working and then talking about what do you want more of? I think that’s very important to talk about. The other recommendation that I have for our listeners is that a half this conversation outside the bedroom, sometimes, that we’re blurring this out in the middle of the sex or after sex, and that can be very hurtful. So when you’re giving this feedback, it’s important to set aside time to have those conversations and also talk to your partner and saying, that this is a tough conversation for me, sharing with them about how challenging it is, if that’s the challenge conversation. So your partner can find that way you can build empathy.

Dr. Tari: Yeah. So letting them know you feel really vulnerable or nervous, so they become more conscious of how we’re feeling, even bringing it up.

Dr. Naz: Yes. Yes. And again, giving them specific instructions. So if you’re saying that if you don’t like how your partner kisses, saying that, honey, I don’t like the way you kiss me. That can be hurtful. You can give them the information, honey. I want more of this kiss here. Like I would love, I love it when you can apply less pressure. So I think it’s important to give very specific instructions. I think that sometimes they hear that people are not doing enough of giving those detailed instructions.

Dr. Tari: Yeah. So important. I’m sure not to be critical.
Dr. Naz: Yes. Yes. Especially like sex is a sensitive conversation on topic. You’re feeling vulnerable; they’re feeling vulnerable. So I think it’s important to, as you mentioned, be tactful and thoughtful.

Dr. Tari: Yeah, and I love what you said, have this conversation outside of the bedroom. So I guess that means you’ll be having your naked, happy hours in the living room.

Dr. Naz: Well, that would be fun. Or if you’re interested.

Dr. Tari: Exactly. You’ve mentioned porn a couple of times, and this is such a loaded issue, I think, for some couples. So what are your thoughts on porn in relationships?

Dr. Naz: It’s interesting because my view of it evolved; my training initially was around sexual addiction and porn addiction. And that’s how I got by most of my training early in my career, but after I became a sex therapist, My view shifted, and I share with you like some of the things that I learned from my clients that I like in the porn addiction world there’s this negative connotation that all porns are negative and that can get in the way of the couples having wonderful and fulfilling sexual experiences. But there are a number of different reasons. First of all, some different research studies that shows that when couples are using the porn together, When they’re watching it together, it’s not leading to any negative connotation; of course, it can lead to disagreement if that’s the case, but it doesn’t have the same negative impact that some people are experiencing when they’re watching it alone. And I can be a source of excitement for many people. There could be a way for people to indulge in their fantasies. That they’re not indulging, and in-person with a partner and sometimes people think about it. If my partner has this specific fantasy, they want to have that kind of sexual experience. That’s in reality; I’m, that’s not necessarily true. I have clients that they have sexual fantasies that they love fantasizing about watching porn around, but they have no intention of implementing it in their bedroom and in the partner sex that they have. So I think that’s important to keep in mind. I think one of the challenges with porn that’s that’s very important to consider a note, is that what porn is not sex education? Uh, unfortunately, in our culture, we don’t get accurate sex education. And many people learn about sex and intimacy watching porn. And it can be very misleading. I tell people that the same way that if you’re watching a fast and furious, that’s how we drive a porn. Oh, he’s not a sex education, right? Like in the porn, you’re watching porn stars engaging in a couple of minutes of kissing, and they move to penetration immediately or any other kind of core play. And that’s not how it works in reality. For most couples, it takes about 20 minutes for them to engage in different kinds of foreplay until their bodies are ready. So it’s important to know that the porn is sexual entertainment and seeing it that way. And also, if you are curious about if your relationship with porn is not healthy, it’s important for you to examine that because sometimes I see couples coming in, and one partner is not happy that their partner is watching porn, and that’s purely value discrepancy that the couples have different values It doesn’t mean that a porn is bad. So I think it’s important to have those conversations, but overall if you’re finding that you’re watching porn as a way to distract from world and disconnect from this world, and it gets in the way of you having fulfilling sexual experiences with your partner, going to work, doing your schoolwork, then this can be an opportunity for you to re-examine that. And because as we talked earlier to see what are you avoiding? So I think that’s important to keep in mind.

Dr. Tari: Yeah, I was going to ask you, how do you know if you have an unhealthy relationship with porn or an addiction? And it sounds like you just answered that if it’s getting in the way of your functioning or of your relationship if you’re using it to avoid or disconnect, those would be signs that maybe you need to look at your relationship with porn.

Dr. Naz: Yes. Yes. And again, it doesn’t have that experience of you connecting with your body because I think with great sex, there’s an element of embodiment. But when we are having these compulsory sexual experiences, there is an element of dissociation, and that can be destructive.

Dr. Tari: So I want to get to what is great sex and a little bit, but first you mentioned something you said, it could be a value difference. So let’s say, what I’ve seen a lot is the woman, is saying I don’t want you watching porn. That’s offensive to me. And the man wants to watch porn. So what do you say to those couples? If it, if the guy is not using it in an unhealthy way, but it’s still making his partner upset.

Dr. Naz: One of my mentors, he makes this wonderful analogy that says that if you’re, if your husband is going to golf every Sunday, all day, the golf is not an issue there really. So I think porn that could be the same thing that if your partner is using it as a way to fulfill their sexual desire, then there is something going on that could be relationally or with the partner. So I think it’s important to be honest and open with your partner saying that. Honey, tell me more about that kind of starting with this open-ended question of hearing, really hearing your partner’s concern and then instead of getting defensive, reflecting that back. I was saying I’m hearing this. Is that what you meant? So giving this opportunity for your partner to talk about all of their concerns and getting really at heart of it, thinking about, okay, if the partner is worried about me not being present sexually or of my partner is worried about us not having sex, how can we tackle that piece? And like any other negotiation that you have outside the bedroom? It’s the same. What I’m thinking about is what can you do to satisfy both partners, but you remain honest and open and vulnerable in the relationship with yourself. So it could be like, thinking about, okay, honey, if it makes you uncomfortable and watching porn, what if I don’t watch for. But you’re not saying you’re not masturbating, but you’re still compromising part of it. But I think it’s really important to not prematurely making disagreement If you’re not ready to saying that I’m not going to do that because what’s going to happen is at times I’ve seen that one of the other partners is discovering the partner is using porn or masturbating and they see it as a betrayal. And I think to prevent that.

Dr. Tari: Yeah, the lying or the hiding can then eat away at the trust, which is another huge issue.

Dr. Naz: Absolutely.

Dr. Tari: Yeah. And you mentioned being curious about it. The partner that’s uncomfortable with porn being curious about their fears and concerns. And I, don’t you think it goes the other way too? Like I always say, instead of judging, instead of getting angry first, let’s just be curious about each other and why we do what we do and why we think the way we think. And asking your partner, why do you like to watch porn? What are you getting out of it? Why is that important to you? It may seem obvious some of those questions, but really I think, like that, curiosity would be so important, and maybe some of the reasons would help alleviate some of the fears for the other partner.

Dr. Naz: Absolutely. And those conversations can be very useful. I remember that we had one of these conversations with one of the couples that were in my office recently, and the male partner was saying that I just masturbate before I go to bed because it helps me fall asleep. And that was as simple as that I have sleep issues. I use it as a way to fall asleep. So for him, it didn’t have any other meanings. So I think it’s important to be curious about, as you mentioned about, what this masturbation is, what’s the purpose that it serves?

Dr. Tari: Yeah. You mentioned earlier with porn, like it can be detached, versus great sex has embodiment like being present. So can you talk a little bit more about that? Like intimacy versus sex and like being present and connected versus detached and just doing the act.

Dr. Naz: It’s really helpful if we’re training ourselves to be in our bodies when we’re having sex. And what happens is for many of my male clients, They trained themselves almost to, as a child, to climax as quickly as possible. People masturbate in the bedroom, in the bathroom. They’re worried about someone walking again. And it’s almost like it, this training of I’m gonna experience orgasm within five minutes. And that can be problematic because I think good sex is when you’re really indulging. And in the experience, you’re paying attention to your sensation. So I think that’s something that’s important for both men and women to train themselves too, to pay attention to. And yes, experiencing orgasm is wonderful. It has a number of benefits. But great sex there’s, as you mentioned, there’s this element of embodiment. So there’s this conversation around mindful masturbation. One of the kinds of analogies that at times we talk about with my clients is that, when you’re driving, sometimes you notice that you arrive at the destination and you don’t know how you got there. Uh, but I think it’s a different experience if you’re really paying attention, looking at your surroundings, enjoying the sounds you’re hearing the smells, so then that can add to the experience. It’s the same with sex, and I think it’s definitely a process for most people to get there. But it’s, it can definitely add to the sexual experiences, and for many people, sex can be a spiritual experience. And in order for it to be a spiritual connected experience, it’s really important to be present in the moment and really connect with your lover.

Dr. Tari: Yeah, it’s so interesting. So I had a conversation with some of my girlfriends last week, and I was saying, like, when I’m having sex, I want to look in somebody’s eyes sometimes. And all three of my girlfriends were like, no way. No, I don’t do that. Do you think that’s weird? Is that common to want to look in the other person’s eyes while you’re having sex? Or am I just being completely ridiculous here?
Dr. Naz: I Love it, Dr. Tari; I think that’s wonderful. I think what happens for many women, that there is this shame base, not the shame-based narrative that’s going on for us and when it comes to sex. And that’s why many women go to the place of fantasies because they’re just feeling really anxious and but I think it can when you’re gazing at your partner’s eyes, when you’re really present, that can make sex definitely more delicious and exciting, but it can bring that shame feeling for some people on surface. That’s why people are avoiding it at that time.

Dr. Tari: Oh, why that shameful feeling? Where does that come from?

Dr. Naz: It comes from so many different places. Like many women learned that good girls, they don’t like sex. sex is dirty. All of this messaging that most people have been exposed to throughout their lives. And of course, sex is very natural and part of us, but for many women, in order for them to be able to lean into that part of themselves, they have to almost repressed and numb the other piece. So it’s hard to be able to, for them to be able to be present in sexual experiences because those messaging, at times, if you haven’t worked through it, can come on surface.

Dr. Tari: What would you say to a woman who’s listening? Who struggles with that? How can she work toward less shame, more acceptance, more being present, more enjoyment, more intimacy?

Dr. Naz: I think it’s the first good step as to really trying to identify these stories that we picked up growing up in the society around sex and pleasure. I think it’s really important to build awareness around that. And examining those beliefs are these beliefs are serving us, or they’re not serving us. This is something that I want to continue or not. So I think that’s a good place to start. And then the other piece is like really trying to kind of plant seeds in your sexual garden of sexual desire because sometimes, oh, many women are not aware of what turns them on. They’re not connected to their eroticism. So as you are, like going on this journey, it’s important to pay attention to what kind of a context turns me on. What are some of the things I can do to connect with pleasure? Sometimes even with non-sexual pleasure, many of my clients have a reaction around that. There is this concept of guilty pleasure because they think that pleasure is bad. So really leading into making sure that you’re nourishing yourself, yeah. Indulging and engaging in these nonsexual pleasures so I think that can be something else that people need to explore. And the other kind of recommendation I have is doing this mindfulness whole body experience, really setting aside some time every week to explore your bodies, touching different parts of your body. It could be genital non-genital and change yourself to be comfortable and aware of these emotions and sensations that show up as you’re exploring different parts of your body.

Dr. Tari: Yeah. I think for some women that. Would be really uncomfortable because I think we learn to disconnect from our bodies. So it’s like we don’t even consider our bodies or what they do for us or how they feel. So I love that idea of reconnecting with your body, even though for some of us, that may feel really weird.
Dr. Naz: And again, showing up for the sensation. But at times, they could look like when you’re taking a shower, like using the showerhead in different parts of your body and paying attention to the temperature of the water. So I think that can be a good starting point, and you’re right; it can be very uncomfortable at the beginning, but it’s definitely a journey.

Dr. Tari: Yeah, it’s like anything, right? Lean into the discomfort and keep trying to take a small step, and over time you’ll change.

Dr. Naz: Yes,

Dr. Tari: You mentioned, you said there are many benefits of climaxing. So what are the benefits of orgasm?

Dr. Naz: There’s a number of different benefits. One is that it helps people, which like experiencing this kind of getting, getting this feeling of good hormones. That like you, it can be shown in different ways for your body to have those hormones. That’s part of it is definitely shown in studies that it can help with sleep. It can help with bonding between couples as far as a physiological impact that it can help with discomfort around periods that could be for women. That can be one benefit. It helps reduce headaches, so it can have a number of different benefits. But I think that one tricky thing around that is that many people struggle with experiencing orgasm. So it’s important to think about, okay, this can be a one part of sex, but sex can still be great if you’re not reaching orgasm every time. So that’s something also useful to keep in mind.

Dr. Tari: Yeah, what you said made me think of this. Anytime we’re coming from fear or putting pressure on ourselves to be something or achieve something, it makes it really hard to get there. So probably the same as true. Anytime we’re focused on the orgasm, it’s probably going to be harder to have it.

Dr. Naz: Absolutely. And the same for, even for my male clients that like, some of them are worried about losing direction, and that’s a sure way of losing erection.

Dr. Tari: Rise.

Dr. Naz: It’s the same thing, orgasm too, that you could have worried about in your head that, Oh God, what if I don’t get an orgasm? Then it would be really hard to cultivate that experience.

Dr. Tari: So true. One last question for you. So what would you say to couples or people that are dating in terms of how soon you should introduce sex into the relationship, either talking about it, having it. What do you think about the pacing of that?

Dr. Naz: I think one thing that’s important is to know yourself. Some people are more sexual beings, and there are some people that even identify as asexual. I think it’s important to know how much of a priority is having sexual compatibility with the partner. So I have some clients that are interested in specific fetishes, and if the partner is not open to that, Then that’s non-negotiable, and I think that’s important then to bring it up, like as soon as second or third day. But if you are someone that you’re interested in sex, but it’s not a priority, then I would invite you to like assess first, if you have chemistry with someone or not. And then like opening up the conversation about this topic after because it, I, something that at times I see with some of my female clients, That they feel this pressure that I must have sex, or I must present myself as someone that’s overly sexual or non-sexual. And that gets in the way of them show-up as their authentic self. So I think it’s important to know yourself, know your limits, and making sure you’re communicating, having some kind of a conversation about sex before engaging in with a partner. I think it’s really important to have a conversation about consent, your boundaries very clearly before the first time you’re having any kind of sexual interaction with a new person.

Dr. Tari: Like what you like, what you don’t like, what’s important to you, that sort of thing?

Dr. Naz: And I think being comfortable with coming up with this if it could be a safe word that if I say this, we’re pausing if this is someone that you don’t know because people are different and they’re understanding and accepting and honoring others, other people’s boundaries. And I’ve seen so many people that they’ve been on dates and horrible things happen to them. So it’s important to have this really open and honest communication about what is a yes, what is a no. And how are you going to communicate that with your partner in the midst of these passionate experiences that you guys are having?

Dr. Tari: Yeah. And I think what you said is really important that before you can communicate that you have to know those things for yourself, right? Where your own boundaries are.

Dr. Naz: And I think that’s, that can be a tricky thing for many women, that if we have, like now, the gold standard of consent is an enthusiastic yes but that even can be a tricky conversation for many women because historically whatever they say, they have the expresses enthusiastic yes then the partner think there are slots. So that can be very complicated. So I think it’s important to have those conversations before the sexual experience and also making sure you’re protecting yourself by having some way of communicating if something doesn’t feel comfortable in the midst of sexual play.

Dr. Tari: Yeah, and I think it’s just so important that you’re doing your own work to trust yourself, to know that you’re worthy, that your needs and desires matter. So when it does come to maybe a moment where you have to communicate that, and it might feel awkward, it might feel uncomfortable. You can still do it because you know that your voice matters, just like everything is connected. This piece is so connected to every other piece.

Dr. Naz: Yes. Yes. And I love that you talked about knowing yourself. I think that’s really important when it comes to having satisfying sexual experiences. I think the more we invest in knowing our bodies and honoring our desires and needs, as you mentioned, the better partner we will be, and we will have better sexual experiences.
Dr. Tari: So there are probably a lot of people that would love to learn more about sex, and you know how to make it more pleasurable, how to talk about it and their relationships. And I know that you have a PodCast about sexology, so they can find that. So, where do people find you? And if they want to work with you, if they want to find the podcast, where can we find you?

Dr. Naz: Thank you so much for that beautiful invitation. So I have this pocket I’ve been airing on a weekly basis for the last four years. It’s called sexology. And I cover lots of different topics around kind of relationship and proving your sexual experience says consent taught to talk to your child about sex. So you can find all of that information in my website of just sexology PodCasts Dot Com and my, my show is in all of the places that people are listening to podcasts,

Dr. Tari: I’m going to go follow that. And if they want to connect with you directly or see more of your content, are you on Instagram?

Dr. Naz: Yes. My handle is a sexology podcast on Clubhouse. My handle is in sexology. I love talking about sex with people. I would be happy to answer any questions that your listeners have.

Dr. Tari: Thank you so much, Dr. Naz,

Dr. Naz: Thank you. This was fun.

Dr. Tari: Thanks for tuning into Dear Dater. This is Dr. Tari, reminding you that if you want love, that’s meant for you.