How Much Sex is Enough and Other Relationship Questions with Rachel Wright
There’s no denying that committed relationships take work. Sometimes it might feel as if it's hopeless, you’re too old, too tired or simply unwilling to put in the time and energy that's required. Working on your relationships can be absolutely exhausting, but when and how do you know it's worth it?
Today we get to pick the brain of psychotherapist and therapeutic relationship coach, Rachel Wright, who is recognized as one of the freshest voices on modern and millennial relationships. Her mission: to help people have better sex, relationships and take care of their mental health.
After witnessing the breakdown in communication and the ultimate demise of her parents' marriage at the age of 17, Rachel was intrigued by some rather large questions for someone so young. Through many years of study, experience, and lots of love, Rachel and her husband Kyle founded the Wright Wellness Centre to help others kick those relationship goals and find their mojo.
Rachel was extremely generous with her time, knowledge and no topic was too taboo. It was so refreshing to feel heard and understood, and I'm so happy to be able to share this episode with you.
As a special gift to our lovely Soul Compass podcast listeners, Rachel has generously provided access to an incredible vault of relationship tools. Thanks so much, Rachel!
SOME TOPICS WE COVERED:
What to look out for in a new relationship
What are your non-negotiables
How much sex is enough
Becoming a parent and how this changes your relationships
The #MeToo Movement and why this is a game-changer for all
Do polyamorous relationships really work
When to do the work, and when to let it go
How traditional sex-ed in schools has failed us
Working with love languages
Understanding and working with your own anatomy
Rachel: What are you worth? What do you deserve? What do you want? We do not take the time to sit down and think about who our ideal partner is enough.
Vitina: Namaste and welcome. I'm Vitina Blumenthal and you're listening to the Soul Compass podcast.
I'm here to help you find your inner calm and deepen your self-discovery journey. Take this moment and focus on yourself. For your mental health, your ability to find ease in your everyday life, and your emotional well-being. It is so important that you nourish yourself not only physically but also emotionally and mentally. Here at Soul Compass, you'll learn practical tips from experts who will leave you with a sharper focus and a renewed commitment to yourself.
Have you ever wondered how much sex is healthy to have in a relationship? I know you're not the only one that has that question.
As you know we are a self-discovery podcast and often times on the self-discovery journey it can be solo when we're meditating, doing our personal yoga practice or whatever that looks like for you. But relationships, especially romantic relationships play a huge role in our mental and emotional well-being. Today we get to pick the brain of a psychotherapist and therapeutic relationship coach. She is recognized as one of the freshest voices on modern and millennial relationships. Her mission: to help people have better sex, relationships and taking care of their mental health.
Today we cover a variety of topics from what to look out for when you're starting out in a new relationship, being a new parent and how to consciously manage your relationship, polyamorous relationships and do they really work? The "me too" movement, and the pros and cons that came around sexuality. I am so honored to welcome the lovely Rachel Wright. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Rachel: Thank you so much for having me. This is just the best. I love talking to you.
Vitina: I know, likewise. It's so funny because I've had a lot of the "Doves" on the podcast so far, and welcome to another dove - Alexis, shout out to Dovetail Summit because she has connected us with some incredible women and I'm just fascinated with what you're doing Rachel. I think that you're spreading so much light on a topic that is really uncomfortable for people to talk about a lot. I mean relationships are one thing but also sex, being millennials and you know being curious about our sexuality is such a huge part of growing up.
Rachel: Seriously and it's so crazy that we're all here because of sex and yet we don't talk about it. We're all here because two people got it on. That's one of the only things that we all have in common. That and breathing oxygen, and yet it's such a weird thing that we don't talk about it. The same thing with relationships. It's commonplace to kind of talk with your girlfriends about it but it's not commonplace to go seek out tools and resources and help. It's like we have to wait until something is wrong.
It's crazy. It's like waiting until a car is broken to go take it in for a service. No, we get our oil changed so it doesn't break. Not wait until it doesn't work and they're like "Oh well I guess I don't have a car now".
Vitina: It's so true and it's one of those things that we think maybe should just come naturally to us yet. I know I find myself at times not wanting to share things even with my girlfriends because I'm like, "Oh is that kind of weird? Is it a little taboo? What are they going to think of me? Do they do this too? Then I just keep everything inside.
Rachel: Exactly. That's because it doesn't come naturally to us. Communication skills and all of those things - they're learned. It's just like learning how to work out your arms in a way that doesn't hurt your arms. If you just walk into a gym and don't know what's going on and pick up 100-pound weights and try to do squats you're gonna hurt yourself. The same thing goes with communication. We need to learn how to do it so that it's best done and that we're not hurting ourselves and other people.
Vitina: What led you down the road to specialize in relationships and sex therapy?
Rachel: To take a really long story and to condense it. I was put in therapy and by put, I mean like literally put in therapy when I was 14 and a half almost 15. My parents were like, "She's dating an older guy. What's going on? There must be something wrong. Let's send her to therapy." I left that day saying, "I want to do what this woman does". I had never in my life felt as understood and heard. I left the office that day with tools and things that I wanted to change and an acceptance of myself that I had never felt before.
Three years later my parents got divorced. I watched them essentially self sabotage their relationship. Frankly, because they didn't have the tools to do it. My dad got to the point where he was like I cannot learn anything anymore. He got to this like, "I'm too old to learn new things," state which is total B.S. but it is what it is and that was his experience. The thing that he said was, "I can't change anymore for you," to my Mom. Instead of saying, "Okay I can learn new skills," he felt like it was changing who he was.
I watched this happen you know as a 17, 18, 19-year-old and it's a really unique experience to watch as a mini adult.
Vitina: Because you can understand at that point.
Rachel: Yes and I had, had a relationship already. I knew more about relationships than let's say if I was 7 and I'm like, "Oh mommy and daddy just don't get along anymore".
I was watching their communication just tank and I thought to myself, "I learned in therapy how to talk to my boyfriend and I'm 17. What's going on?" I immediately knew. I started reading all of these books on relationships and communication and that was it. I was down the path. I was so interested in why we did the things we do especially in terms of sex and relationships.
My family was so open to talking about things like sex. My mom took me to a mommy and me sex class when I was 9. It was a group of moms and their daughters, and we learned all about all these things. My friends in high school were like, "I don't know what that is. What is that? I was the one that they would go to.
It's not like I was in some hippie family where everyone walked around nude and there were orgies at my house. There was nothing "off" going on. It was a very nice sex educator course and I just had an open dialogue. It was mind-boggling to me that my friends who were doing some of these things didn't even know what they were, or what the consequences were, or how to do them for pleasure and not just how not to do things. Like how not to get pregnant or how not to get an STD. It was like, "how do I enjoy this?"
Vitina: Yeah because there's so much fear I think at that age around sex depending on how you are educated especially with millennials. I grew up in a household that wasn't really talked about. I remember my dad sat me down, I had my first serious boyfriend when I was 14 and I remember he sat me down and he's like, "We're going to have the birds and the bees chat Vitina." We sit down and I could see it now looking back, he was embarrassed to have that conversation although I feel like that would have been a better conversation for my mom probably to have with me.
Rachel: Yeah I think it's fascinating
Vitina: It's one of those things that even in schools now...I don't know how it is in the US at this point, but in Toronto, they are becoming a lot more progressive in terms of sexual education in schools. We just got a lot of changes based on our province Premier...I'm so bad with politics. You can't even ask me about Canadian politics. It's so bad. I'm in a bubble guys, please don't judge me.
They ended up changing all of the guidelines around sex education and a lot of the teachers especially were really upset because it was becoming more progressive. Now it's been ripped away.
Rachel: Yeah it's really messed up.
The reason why I mentioned especially with millennials is we're this post-AIDS crisis generation. So what happens when there is a crisis is we all overcorrect. We went from no sex education to the AIDS boom and crisis happens. Then all sex education became abstinence and the line in Mean Girls - "If you have sex you will get an STD and die." With that mentality, we have this generation full of women who are not sure if they've even had an orgasm before because they can't relax their mind enough to orgasm because they're like, "Am I getting AIDS right now?
Am I going to get pregnant? Is the condom breaking? Oh, that felt weird, is that supposed to feel weird?" We have nowhere to go with these questions.
The older we get the more shame there is in our culture of then coming back and saying, "Hey I'm 32 and don't know how to masturbate," or, "I'm 31. Have I had an orgasm? I don't know." That's a big part of what lights a fire under my ass every day is helping people be happy in their relationships.
More importantly and what has to come first is be happy in their own skin. To feel comfortable just being. Whether that includes masturbation or sex with somebody else. It doesn't matter. But the level of self-love that needs to be there. Like every woman - we need to know the anatomy of what's going on.
I run this program called "Ladies and Libidos" and whenever we go through the anatomy lesson I teach that the clitoris is shaped like a horseshoe. And 90 percent of the women in the group, their faces are like, "What...?"
Vitina: Their jaws dropped. They're so confused.
Rachel: Right. They're like, "What do you mean? It's like a little button at the top of my situation. What do you mean it's a horseshoe?" We go through the diagram and they're like, "Oh my gosh," and these are women as young as 20 all the way up until we had a 74-year-old in one of the groups.
Vitina: I love it.
Rachel: Oh it's amazing. It's my favourite. For a 74-year-old woman to not know what the anatomy of her own body is...Could you imagine if we're like, Well I have this hand but I'm not really sure how my fingers work? They're there but I don't know. It's crazy."
Vitina: So wild and 74 years, that's a long time to not know what's going on in your goods.
Rachel: Exactly. She came back actually the next week and she was like, "This changed everything," and that's amazing. You know it's never too late. That's the thing is there's no shame. That's something I talk about all the time is, we don't know what we don't know. Don't blame yourself for not knowing these things.
Vitina: I want to bring up because you mentioned the word shame and I do feel like there's a lot of shame around sexuality. I'm just curious to know just your thoughts around that and if someone were to come to you with that concern or maybe you just recognize that in someone, how do you go about that?
Rachel: The first thing is really looking at where it came from. Usually, it's this assumption of, well we didn't talk about it so therefore there's something wrong with it. Sometimes there's trauma that's associated or there was an assault and then that shame developed because of that event. Or when they were young...I had a client once whose mom flat out told her, "If you have sex, you will be a slut and the guy will be a king."
She was 9 years old when her mom told her this. So for her whole life up until we started working together, she had this idea that if she had sex including then with her now husband, that she would be a slut and he would be a king. She didn't realize that one conversation had imprinted so deeply in her mind. It was presenting as low libido, I just don't like sex that much, I'm not really into it.
Then when we dug deep underneath we uncovered this memory and she was like, "Holy moly. I have this belief that if I have sex I'm a slut."
Vitina: Wow. That's so deep-rooted.
Rachel: Yeah I mean we have to cover that up as a coping mechanism. At 9 years old you don't have the brain capacity to know what to do with that type of information.
Vitina: No and I feel like that is probably before you even start exploring with your sexuality...
Rachel: Yes and no...So crazy statistic: the average age that a human being, male or female starts masturbating is 18 months.
I shit you not. 18 months old. It's because it's really comforting.
Vitina: Just like putting your hands down your pants kind of thing?
Rachel: There's no ejaculation, there's no climax, but what happens is and this leads to the shame thing is the parents will say, "Hey you James, get your hands out of your pants," and we get shamed for it.
Instead of, "Hey James, we're at the grocery store. While we're in public we don't have our hands in our pants. If you want to do that while we're at home and you're in your room, cool. Go for it. Have fun all day, but at the grocery store, like you know we also don't take off our clothes." It's the same thing, but instead as adults, we rope it in because we're so uncomfortable.
We're like, "No. Get your hands out of your pants," and it's the snap - then that memory is associated, "Oh if I touch myself someone will get mad at me. Therefore that's a bad thing to do". Instead of understanding that it's a situational thing and that it's actually a really normal thing to do and a healthy thing to do, but not in the middle of the grocery store.
Vitina: Yeah well that's actually really good because I know we have listeners that are moms and so knowing something like that I'm sure is going to change that energetic pattern. I know we all hold on to energy from our parents so that would be a game changer.
Rachel: Totally. If the child's 18 months old of course you're not going to have a conversation with them, they can't really have a conversation with you yet. Knowing that is a normal self-soothing thing, just as they would rub their head, just as they would rub their leg. They have no meaning to their body parts at 18 months old. They are touching a part of their body that is soothing part of their brain and whether that is their penis, or their thigh, or their foot, really doesn't make a difference to them. They just want to feel comfy.
Vitina: It's so true. Also, I wanted to go back to your comment about what the mother had said to your client. Whether it's your mom telling you or on the playground if you were young and exploring and you might have been the girl that kissed a boy or maybe they touched your boobs. You're young and you're just curious at that age - the man is technically like you said the "king" and the women are shamed, they're the sluts. I saw it in my playground.
Rachel: Yep. I did too.
Vitina: It's something I think that you laugh now as an adult, but it's something that lives in us because we don't know how to process it.
Rachel: Exactly. So the best thing that we can do as parents is really not enforcing that. If the kids are going to enforce it, which until our whole society shifts with gender and all of that which is a much bigger thing, we can only control what goes on in our home. So the best thing to do is to not reinforce that at home and to remind especially your daughters around this - there is a healthy sexual exploration and talking about boundaries. Talking about not doing things before you're ready and saying no.
Same thing for boys - how to say no, how to accept a no if you hear and no, and that that's not a personal slight against you. There's so much that we just kind of say, "Oh well that's how it is. That's how the world is," and we kind of toss our hands up and go along with it. But we can change that for our kids. And if every parent does that then all of a sudden we have this new generation that's a little bit better than we were.
And then they can make it a little bit better than they were when they have kids and hopefully when you and I are long gone these generations don't have the slut/king dynamic going on.
Vitina: Yeah I really hope that goes away.
Rachel: I know it's the worst. It's the worst.
Vitina: I really hope if I do have children at some point, that's just done. I would love for that to be over.
Rachel: That's all we can do is these little things that make a giant impact. Kids talk like you were saying... I'm not a parent yet either but I say "we" because hopefully one day we do have kids, and if we as people and we as parents can help our kids to understand it then that kid is going to talk to another kid on the playground and say, "Hey don't call her that. That's not what she's doing," and that ripples out just like the negativity ripples out. The ripple effect that we can have when we educate our kids in a way that's empowering, in a way that they can stand up for themselves, explore themselves and not shame themselves or other people, that will help their friends and then their friends and their friends. It just goes and goes and goes and goes.
Vitina: Absolutely. I wanted to touch on the communication piece. I do find even when you are in a relationship maybe there's a boundary. Maybe you don't know how to communicate something and then as a woman, you're like, "I don't want the guy not to like me," but you're using your sexuality for a man to like you. How do you properly communicate that? Especially if you're in a situation that maybe you're not ready to step forward in that?
Rachel: First and foremost educating our young people on how to say no and how to do it in a way that is respectful and not then shaming the other person for asking. Whether you're 14, 24, 34 or 44 - if somebody propositions a sexual activity, whether it's a kiss or actual intercourse, learning how to say no in a way that isn't like, "Oh no you disgusting person. Why would you ask me for that!" Because then we're just shaming them and it makes them not want to ask. So if we can say no in a way that is, "No thanks. I'd really like to do this with you..." whether that is going to the movie or "Hey I'd really like to make out with you and I'm all for hand stuff tonight, but anything else I'm not ready for that yet. Just wanted to let you know."
Vitina: Say you did have someone who was like, "Oh no. I think that's gross. Why would I want to do that," you can't control that response. How do you deal with that if someone were to say that to you?
Rachel: Well first and foremost understanding that it probably has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their past experiences. If they think that sex is gross and you ask them if they want to have sex, that has nothing to do with you. That's their preconceived stuff. Also knowing that we live in a day and age now where finally we're having more conversations around consent but women especially, we have to speak up and say yes as often as we say no. That's something that again we don't teach.
I think back to the story that came out I think it was last year or two years ago with Aziz Ansari - the comedian. This woman who was out on a date with him was like, "My body language said that I didn't want to do this but he kept doing it and he's an asshole," As much as yes, there were things in that story that I'm sure that he will learn from and could do differently - one hundred percent, you cannot rely on somebody to read your body language. It's called body language but like really it's not a language. We're not mind readers.
We need to use our words. Especially being in that position of in the story I believe she was performing oral sex on him. Any man who is receiving oral sex, their mind is so filled with happy hormones at that point that they are not looking to be like, "Is she uncomfortable? Is she not wanting to do this?" They're just like, "I'm so happy this is happening right now". They're just so happy that it's happening they go into sexual being mode. If you want to be done, if you don't want it to continue, if you don't like if he grabs the back of your head, or does something that feels gross to you or just that you don't like, you have every right to stop and say, "I'm done. I don't like that".
Vitina: Not into it
Rachel: Or ask, "I'd like to continue this but can you not touch my head? Or you know, "Can we slow down? I'd like to take a break". You have every right to do this, but making a face that's uncomfortable, or trying to turn your body away...and if any men are listening I'm going to generalize here so I'm sorry for a second...but none of us are good mind readers. Men are the worst.
They need such clear cut directions like, "Turn right at the corner of this." if you're like, "Walk up like a few blocks and then you're going to turn right near the flower store," they're like, "Okay but what street is it?" They need clear cut directions. In our relationships too even when it comes to not sex when we need something from our male partners we need to be very explicit with what we need. Otherwise, we're not going to get it.
Vitina: Yeah well I guess it comes from maybe age but also just being comfortable with yourself a little bit more. I even found as I've gotten older it's become easier to communicate with my partners, but I do notice when I struggle. I definitely do struggle in that department. I wanted to actually ask you because as you know I think it was mostly 2018 the #metoo movement kind of just blew up, I'm just curious to know your thoughts more on how it affected the sexuality of the population.
I mean there are so many positive things that have come from it like women having a voice, but I'm just curious to know on the other side of it circumstances that might have arisen that didn't come to fruition.
Rachel: So all in all very positive. Overarching. We needed it to happen. There are some really horrible men who are finally behind bars or getting called out for manipulation. I think it's incredibly important and beautiful and wonderful and it's created challenges for especially younger men. My brother is 25 and he's dating. It is a very confusing time for a 25-year-old heterosexual cisgender male to be dating. He's like, "Can I approach a woman at a bar? Is that too forward? Am I allowed to lean in for a kiss?
Is she going to feel pressured?" All of these thoughts go through his mind. While it's better that the thoughts are there than just assuming that she wants it, he never thought she just wanted it before 2018. So I think that the guys out there that are really good men, some of them are now overthinking things a bit.
Vitina: Because they are good.
Rachel: Yeah. They're like, "I'm good so like how do I be like gooder...?"
It's difficult in that way. Again it goes back to the communication piece which we don't learn how to do. That's what I continue to tell him is you know just ask. It is just as romantic to say, "Hey can I kiss you now?"
Vitina: Yeah. That is so romantic.
Rachel: Right. Consent is sexy.
Vitina: I would love it if a man said, "Can I kiss you right now?"
Rachel. Yes! That is better than physically leaning in to then where she feels like you're attacking, not actually attacking but like physically in her bubble. You think about that in each context: Can I kiss your belly button now? Can I take your pants off? You're like, "Oh my God this is so hot."
Vitina: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Rachel: Exactly. And then you have that ability to say, "No. Let's stop it here, but let's continue to make out on my couch because that's super hot". That's where men can find that middle ground. If you still want to be that instigator, that kind of like the 1950s more archetype of the man instigating the physical - you can still do that. But within the respect and awareness of consent.
Vitina: What if you're not really comfortable communicating that?
Vitina: Amen sister.
Rachel: Let's say you're listening and you're like, "Oh my gosh I could never say no. It's so hard for me to say no". First of all, there's a great book, it's called The Disease to Please and it totally changed my life. I read it when I was 19 years old and I've read it nine times because at each phase of my life...and I think this is with everybody, we have new things that we're now pleasing for.
I've been married for a while now. I don't feel sexually obligated with my husband and it's easier to say no than when I was dating, but I also please in different ways now. Each time I read it I get something different from it. When it's hard for us to say no we're trying to anger proof our relationships. We're trying to create this ease and not have friction, and at the end of the day, friction is what helps us grow. We cannot grow without friction. That's as individuals, that's in relationships, that's at all. Literally, we need tension and friction to grow.
You think about like an egg cracking with a chicken. It has to physically crack out and break the egg to be born. Or a baby being born, it has to pop through in the water. Everything is this tension and friction to grow. So if you're having that feeling of, "What if I say no and this happens?" I encourage you to play that out in your head and what happens? What is your worst case scenario here? Is it that he gets upset and walks away because then that's not your dude or your woman.
Rachel: If somebody is seriously going to say, "Oh you don't want to have sex with me on our third date? I'm angry now". Okay, well like, fuck you. No, you don't want to be with that person anyway. So play out in your head what is it about saying no that you're afraid of? What is uncomfortable about it.? If it's something that you feel you cannot get over by yourself, that is what therapy is for because there's something laying underneath all of that, that we need to uncover. Just like that memory of my client with her mom. There's something in there that's just too deep to access by yourself. You need the support to kind of dig into the layers.
Vitina: Yeah. I love that. I remember being in a relationship in my early 20s and the best piece of advice I got. Every time I would bring something up to my boyfriend at the time, he would always turn it around and he'd get mad at me and then threaten to break up with me.
Rachel: I had so many relationships like that too.
Vitina: I know that there are still people that struggle with it and I was so afraid of losing this person because I was infatuated with him. I remember my cousin said to me she said, "Vitina if someone is that easily and willing to give you up, that person's not for you".
Vitina: Game changer.
Rachel: What are you worth? What do you deserve? What do you want? I know that we don't take the time - male, a female, doesn't matter the gender. We do not take the time to sit down and think about who our ideal partner is enough. We really don't.
I also as in so many relationships like that I had a guy once asked me to cover his rent and if I didn't cover his rent then he was going to break up with me.
Vitina: Oh my goodness. What did you do?
Rachel: Well a fun story. I paid his rent. See so progress is possible people, I'm living proof. It went on for like six months. I didn't pay it the whole time, but he knew he had me eating out of the palm of his hands. I was 22 at the time and he was 35. Now I look back and I think, "What in the world was a 35-year-old...first of all, what did he have in common with a 22-year-old? Second of all, in what world does a 22-year-old have more money and is more financially stable than a 35-year-old.
Hindsight is 20/20 and so part of the work I've had to do and maybe this resonates with you listening is forgiving our younger selves. Because that girl was doing the best she could.
Vitina: She didn't know any better.
Rachel: We live and learn. Literally. Hopefully hearing conversations like this can prevent more of those things happening. But if it's happened already, learn from it, forgive yourself, love on yourself and don't beat yourself up. There is literally no positive outcome of you beating yourself up.
Research shows it. There was a new study it came out like maybe eight months ago now - I'm really bad with time now. It was a study that proved that "tough love," It just doesn't work. So we think about that the way we talk to ourselves because we're kind of the rudest to ourselves than we are to anybody else. The way we talk to ourselves, we would never talk to our girlfriends like that. Ever.
Vitina: I wouldn't have any friends.
Rachel: Exactly. They'd be like, "Wow she's a real bitch". The way that we talk to ourselves is so horrible sometimes. With the research showing that when other people doing it to us - that has no effect. Talking to ourselves that way has like extra no effect.
Vitina: It's so true. I wanted to ask you because I struggle with this. You said that we need to be defining our partner. Getting clearer on who our partner is or manifesting whoever that is. I get a little scared to do it because I don't want to be then looking at the checklist of like, "Does this person meet this and this and this criteria," because I've been there. Then there are some non-negotiables. How do you draw that fine line of having your list of this ideal partner but maybe not being attached to everything?
Rachel: So first and foremost, make a list of those non-negotiables. The things that are so black and white. There are not a lot of black and white things in life. Most of the time we live in the gray because people change. If you want a brunette, the guy's hair is going to turn gray at the end of the day, so like who cares. Whatever. He cannot be abusive - great non-negotiable. For some people, it may be religion, for some people spirituality.
For some people, it's being open to certain things. You know for some people, they're polyamorous then they need a partner who's also of that same mentality. There are some things that are just non-negotiable. Period. End of story. For me, I work a lot in the LGBTQ community so a non-negotiable would be if they had any hate in them towards anyone. No, I don't care if you meet every other criterion you're out. So making yourself write down those are the best first place to start.
What I would encourage you to include on that list is what are the non-negotiables of how you want to feel around your partner.
Vitina: That's such a good one. We don't focus on how we want to feel. Even just in our desires in our everyday life.
Rachel: Like with our food.
Vitina: Yeah, how do you want to feel when you? I want to feel freaking awesome.
Rachel: So it's like, "Oh maybe I won't have the pizza because I feel like ass afterward.
Vitina: It's so true but pizza is so good.
Rachel: Right. Then we can make that conscious decision of like, "Okay so I'm going to feel crappy after I eat this, but I know that. It's the same thing with a one night stand. If you want to go out and have a lovely evening with a guy who you never talk to again, cool. Just know that going in that that's your intention and that's great. It's all about that, how do I want to feel? For me, I know that my husband Kyle, it took me so off guard because all of the things that I thought were my ideal person in terms of looks, their upbringing and all these things that typically would go on this list that we make, he didn't meet any of those. Any of them. But the non-negotiables were there and he made me feel like the best version of myself. He made me feel that I could do anything and that I was the most important person to him when it was just him and me. That was so much more powerful than, I thought I really wanted darker hair.
Vitina: Before we actually connected I put out a post on the WanderfulSoul Instagram and I was asking the audience if they had any relationships or sex questions. Would you mind if we just did a little quick Q and A?
Rachel: Of course! I love this. I love being put on the spot. Let's do it.
Vitina: Okay, so I categorized them because that's what I do in life. We're going to start with relationships. You kind of already touched on this but how important are common life values when starting a new relationship?
Rachel: Very, very, very, very important. There is something called shared meaning. John and Julie Gottman, if you have not read anything from them they are like the gold standard of relationship research, at least here in the U.S. I know that they're all over Canada too. They have discovered that one of the things that make relationships super successful is having clarity around the meaning of things in your life. So, what does money mean to you? What does a home mean to you? Because for some people money means freedom, for other people money means opulence, for other people it's security. We all have different meanings that we apply to tangible things and what family means and all these things. So having conversations around those and making sure that they align is huge.
Vitina: How early in the relationship would you start talking about those things?
Rachel: Sometimes you can do it on a first date. You don't necessarily have to do a deep dive into this person's psyche on the first date, but even asking the question of...Let's say family is a huge non-negotiable for you, asking a question like, "Tell me about your family". Leaving it open-ended. You're not asking a closed-ended, "Do you like your family? Do you talk to your family?" That person may not be in contact with their family but they may value family and view it similarly to you.
Leaving the question open-ended, "Tell me about..." or "Tell me about your aspirations...Tell me about your spirituality". That's a great format of asking questions.
Vitina: That's such good advice. The next question is, what are the red flags to look out for when getting into a new relationship?
Rachel: It's going to vary from person to person. What I would get clear on is what are the things that would be red flags for you. Really take some time to ask yourself that. I would say if somebody seems very controlling, if somebody seems very like cutting you down, dismissive or mean - huge red flag. The controlling piece, that's a big one because it gets worse over time. People who are controlling at the beginning, they do not get better. That is not a thing that happens.
They will get more and more controlling throughout the relationship. That would be the one objective red flag I would say universally. The rest can be kind of subjective.
Vitina: Okay. How much do love languages impact the relationship, especially when you and your partner have different love languages?
Rachel: Hugely. In fact, in our program, Revive Your Relationship, it's a whole module. They really impact because if I'm speaking Chinese and you're speaking Hebrew, we are not going to understand each other and love languages are the same way. So a couple will come in and say, "My husband never shows me love," and the husband's like, "No my wife never shows me love". They're both doing the things that are within their love language and it's not being interpreted as the act of love.
So figuring out what they are and what your partner wants to see from you is incredibly helpful.
Vitina: Actually you made a comment about this when your dad said, "I don't want to change...like I feel like I'm changing who I am..." When you don't naturally love touch and your partner, their love language is touch, that may be really difficult.
Rachel: Yeah and you got to figure that out. So asking questions, "My love language is touch. You don't like it when I touch you. If we're not being intimate I need to find a middle ground, otherwise, I don't feel like you will love me. Where is somewhere we can start to find this middle ground?" I like to think about it as a Venn diagram. If you're this circle and your partners this circle, there's this little part where they overlap, and sometimes it's a lot of overlap, and sometimes it's just like a teeny tiny little sliver in the middle. But there is some overlap. Maybe that's touching your head at night, or putting a hand on your back. It could be something small. Putting your feet on your partner's lap on the couch.
You can figure out something. It's really about expressing why that is so important to you for your partner to understand and that will motivate them. If they want to make it work that will motivate them to do it.
Vitina: I think that especially with touch, I know that is actually my love language. My number one is definitely touch, and even just simply if my partner puts their hand on my lower back. Or if we're out at a party, or at home like I'm cooking or something, putting the hand on the lower back just gives me some sort of energetic connection.
Rachel: Yes I'm the same way.
Vitina: How do you encourage your partner to communicate their feelings more?
Rachel: Tell them why it's important for them to communicate their feelings more. Literally, it's that simple. A lot of times when I ask that question, "Well why is it important for you for your partner to communicate their feelings?" I get this blank stare back like, "I don't know. I just want him to". That not going to motivate anybody. Like if you said, "Hey Rachel, come to Canada right now," and I said "Okay, why? and you're like, "I don't know". Why would I come? It's very confusing.
You need to look within first and then communicate that why.
Vitina: In the next section we're going to cover is relationships and parenti