Lovehoney Sex Expert Interview: Dr. Ian Kerner
on Oct 7, 2018
Ian Kerner, PhD, LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist and nationally recognized sexuality counselor who specializes in sex therapy, couples therapy, and working with individuals on a range of relational issues.
Ian is regularly quoted as an expert in various media, with appearances on The Today Show, The Dr. Oz Show, and NPR.
He lectures frequently on topics related to sex and relationships, with recent presentations at New York University, Yale, Princeton and the Ackerman Institute.
Ian is the New York Times best-selling author of She Comes First (Harper Collins), which is the best-selling sex advice book of the last decade and has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
In addition to being a Clinical Fellow of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT), Ian is certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists and is also a member of the American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA).
Find out more about his work at iankerner.com.
What's your very favorite bedroom advice to give couples?
I don’t have a one-size-fits-all piece of advice, but I do encourage couples to break out of the “intercourse-discourse” and to embrace outercourse and the many pleasure-paths that can lead to sexual fulfillment.
Many men know more about what’s under the hood of a car than the hood of a clitoris, so I also encourage a high level of sexual cliteracy.
Tell us more about your books She Comes First and Passionista and what inspired you to write them! Did certain themes emerge from your private practice to make you realize this information could help people on an even larger scale?
At the time I wrote She Comes First, the #1 question I was hearing from women was, “What can I do to have an orgasm during sex?”
Many women internalized this issue as being their problem or issue, rather than looking to the relationship.
I also became a sex therapist out of my own journey battling sexual dysfunction and wanting to feel sexually connected to my partners. My own sense of sexuality was mired in shame and insecurity, so I wrote both books in the spirit of being sexually authentic.
What advice can you give to someone who is used to “self-silencing” and what kind of tools can help a person open up to their partner about their relationship as a whole and sex life in particular?
Most of didn’t grow up in sex-positive homes where we learned how to talk about sex. We grew up in sex-neutral or sex-negative homes, so we didn’t learn how to talk about sex in the way that we learned to talk about other topics.
When we do finally talk about sex, we’re often self-silencing and have built up frustration, anger, and resentment, so we don’t end up expressing ourselves in ways that are particularly positive.
I always try to encourage my patients to get in touch with their vulnerability and communicate from that place of vulnerability.
But [it’s also important] to not just focus on the problem and the sex they’re not having, but the solution and the sex they’d like to be having – to express the problem from a place of vulnerability and to express the solution in the form of a fantasy.
It’s so much hotter and more arousing to tell your partner about the kind of sex you’d like to be having.
How can incorporating toys into the bedroom help strengthen and increase the level of play in a couple's sex life?
I think we’re lucky to be part of a Golden Age of sex toys where there are so many choices and such high-quality toys available at reasonable prices. And I love that there are toys for women, toys for men, and toys for couples.
I think the thing with toys is that they have to be part of an overall erotic environment, they don’t just automatically create eroticism. You have to be able to eroticize your partner, and then let the toy be part of that fantasy.
Maybe you want to tease and taunt your partner to orgasm, maybe you want to engage in power dynamics and incorporate a toy, maybe you want to watch your partner use a toy, or be watched [yourself].
Toys are not inherently erotic, so begin with a fantasy and incorporate the toy into that fantasy.
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