Lovehoney Sex Expert Interview: Vanessa Marin
Vanessa Marin is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in sex therapy.
She received her Bachelor’s degree in Human Sexuality from Brown University and her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies.
She has 15 years of experience working in sex education, research, and therapy, and has been featured over 800 times in publications like The New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Times of London, Real Simple, Refinery29, CNN, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Jezebel, Lifehacker, Esquire, GQ, Bustle, Self, Shape, Glamour, Redbook, and more.
She is the creator of multiple online sex therapy programs, including Finishing School, a 12 week course that teaches women how to orgasm by themselves or with a partner, and currently works with clients over video chat.
Find out more below about her work in improving the sex lives of couples everywhere.
What are some of your very best practical tips to help couples fully express themselves to each other sexually?
Fully expressing yourself sexually is a really vulnerable act, but it's also necessary for having amazing sex.
I think it's important to realize that your sexual identity is always changing. With every experience you have, you learn something new about yourself as a sexual person.
You don't have to "figure everything out" before sharing with your partner. Instead, I think it's more important to be in tune with your own experience in the moment, and to try sharing that with your partner.
Practice this skill on your own first. Whenever you're being sexual, whether it's on your own or with a partner, try asking yourself, "what am I feeling now?".
Try to pay attention to the sensations you're feeling, the thoughts you're having, the needs that are surfacing, and the desires that are present. As you get more comfortable noticing what's going on for yourself, practice sharing with your partner.
How can incorporating toys into the bedroom help strengthen and increase the level of play in a couple's sex life?
There are so many different options to choose from; there's practically an unending supply of novelty!
There's a real thrill to pulling a new toy out of the box and figuring out how it works with your bodies.
Toys can bring incredible pleasure for men and women individually, and for couples to enjoy together. Plus, toys these days are so sophisticated. They can create sensations that hands, mouths, and genitals just can't replicate.
What do you find most couples need the most help with in their sex lives and what are the best ways for them to work on it together?
One of the biggest challenges for most couples is making the time and space for sex.
We're all so busy these days, and most couples tend to let sex slide to the bottom of their to-do lists. But it's really important to be active about making the time for sex. If you wait for it to happen, it's just not going to happen.
Couples need to plan for sex. For some couples, that might mean having a weekly date night. For others, that might mean trying to have sex earlier in the evening before they get exhausted. For others, it can even mean scheduling every time you have sex.
Another big challenge is keeping the passion alive. Just about every couple talks about missing the passion and intensity of the "honeymoon stage" of their relationship. But at the same time, it's also really easy for us to fall into ruts with our sex lives.
We tend to do the same things over and over again, even though our little "routines" aren't very sexy.
I think it's really important for couples to expand their definition of sex and try new things with each other. Put more options on the menu!
Sex doesn't need to mean just intercourse. You can try having foreplay as the main course, masturbating together, talking about fantasies, taking turns focusing on each other, playing with toys, and so much more.
The more options you have to choose from, the more excitement you're going to feel.
Tell us more about Finishing School! What needs did you see arising from your practice that inspired you to build a course that teaches women how to orgasm?
I'd love to! Finishing School is my baby! It was one of the first online courses I ever created.
At the time, I lived in San Francisco, and my practice was full of intelligent, accomplished, sex-positive women who were struggling to orgasm.
I always knew that female orgasm was going to be a popular topic in my work, but I was struck by how alone all of my clients felt in their struggles.
They really believed that they were the only woman who didn't know how to orgasm.
For a few years, I worked on perfecting an approach to learning how to orgasm, then decided it was time to share my approach on a broader scale.
I wanted to be able to work with more women, and I wanted to help spread the message that it's perfectly normal and common to have difficulty orgasming. I believe that orgasming is a skill, and like any other skill, it takes time and practice to learn.
There are also so many myths about female orgasm, and I wanted to make it my mission to spread the truth about how female orgasm actually works.
Finishing School teaches you a step-by-step, tried-and-tested method for learning how to have your first orgasms alone and with a partner. It's fully online, so you can work on it from the comfort and privacy of your own home, and the convenience of your own schedule.
I'm super proud of the course, and of the incredible reviews I've received from magazines like Glamour, Marie Claire, and Prevention, and from the thousands of women who have learned how to have their very first orgasms!
What's your VERY favorite bedroom advice to give couples?
I recently had a session with a new client when I asked her why she decided to sign up for the session. She said, "Why not try to have an extraordinary sex life instead of just settling for a mediocre one?"
I'd never heard that thought phrased that way, and I LOVED it!
I think it's far too easy to fall into this trap of thinking that passion has to fade in a long-term relationship. It's easy to complain about your sex life being boring or infrequent, but not actually do anything to change it.
But why not decide to create an exceptional sex life?
It takes time and effort, of course. But what else should we really be focusing our time and effort on than connecting with the person we love the most in this world?
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