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hosted by Dr. Corey Allan

Optimal Sexual Experiences #515

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On the Regular version of today’s show …

I’m joined by Dr Emily Jamea and we discuss her work on helping couples experience optimal levels of sex in their marriage.

To learn more about Emily visit her site –

On the Xtended version …

Emily and I continue the conversation and move into the specifics about her research and the whys behind her findings.

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Speaker 1: You are listening to the regular version of Sexy Marriage Radio, You've turned on Sexy Marriage Radio, where the best sex happens in the marriage bed. Here's your host, Dr. Corey Allan.

Corey Allan: So Pam, you realize that coming up June 17th to the 20th is this year's Sexy Marriage Radio getaway.

Pam Allan: I do realize that. I'm looking forward to it.

Corey Allan: And did you also realize that the deadline for registering with the early bird rate is April 15th?

Pam Allan: I did realize that too.

Corey Allan: Which normally has a significance in our household, that date.

Pam Allan: Normally, not this year.

Corey Allan: I can hear the disappointment.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: But we hope that you can come join us. Not you, I know you're coming, but anybody else in the SMR Nation. If you're thinking about coming to the getaway and you haven't yet signed up, there are, as of the time we're recording this, there's two spots available. Early bird rate goes away on the 15th. That might actually be a little while before I can actually get in there in the back end and up it, so you've got maybe a little grace period in there, if you're hearing this on the 14th or the 15th. But we'd love to see you come June 17th to the 20th. It's four days, a fantastic getaway.

Pam Allan: Yeah. We'd love to meet you.

Corey Allan: And it's a fun time, all new content, great relaxing time with your spouse and a bunch of other really cool couples. And welcome to Sexy Marriage Radio because each and every week, we have conversations that go where the nation wants to go. And some of these then steer into the platform that you can join for free, where there's continuing conversations that took place from last week, or the week after, some emails that came in on penile enlargement, penile size. We actually on Instagram did a poll of looking at, to men. Have you ever complained or been insecure about penis size? And around 63% said yes. And then a poll, the next question was to the women, or the wives. Has your husband ever mentioned any insecurities about his penis size? And 63% or so said no.

Pam Allan: Well, that a big variance.

Corey Allan: So it exists, but it's not talked about.

Pam Allan: Again, it's that communication gap, which is what we're trying to help people close. Right?

Corey Allan: Absolutely. We want to frame the conversations and get them talking in your relationship.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: As it unfolds, and what's going on, and if you want to bring it to us, there's a lot of different ways you can find us. The easiest is 214-702-9565., the platform, Instagram, TikTok, we're spreading out, trying to reach as many people as we can. And so find us, Sexy Marriage Radio, on all the different major platforms. You can find us, and if you like what we've got going on, spread the word.

Pam Allan: Do it.

Corey Allan: So coming up on today's regular free version of Sexy Marriage Radio is a conversation I got to have with Dr. Emily Jamea, who's a sex therapist, lives down south part of Texas, in Houston. And she really looks at the idea of: What does it take to create an optimal level of sexual encounters?

Pam Allan: Optimal level, okay.

Corey Allan: She's basing it off of the idea of flow and being in the zone. And so she's actually done some research on coming at it from the other way. Rather than the dysfunction side, what is it that helps people? What are the characteristics and the qualifiers that help create that optimal experience together?

Pam Allan: So instead of what's going wrong, she looks at it from what's going right.

Corey Allan: That's what she's trying to do, yes.

Pam Allan: All right. I like that.

Corey Allan: And so we have some conversations about what she found. What are the parameters that create the likelihood of that for people? It's a fun, fun conversation. And then coming up on today's extended version, which is deeper, longer, and there's no ads, you can subscribe at Dr. Jamea and I continue the conversation, but we get a little more, we don't geek out, but we talk about her research and how it is that it came to be. What are some of the markers that she really found that came deeper from it? And what does that mean for our field? What does that mean for people in married life?

Pam Allan: I love that because that gives you a lot of the why.

Corey Allan: Right.

Pam Allan: There's things we know in life. And we know this is, but we don't know why this is. And the meaning is behind the why.

Corey Allan: When I can understand the why, I have a greater likelihood of replicating it. And so that's where we go today.

Pam Allan: That's good.

Corey Allan: All that's coming up on today's show. So it is a pleasure to welcome a guest today for Sexy Marriage Radio. It's Dr. Emily Jamea, who is, she's studied in psychology and human sexuality.

Emily Jamea: Yeah.

Corey Allan: And so you just dove right into the nitty gritty of what goes on in couples and in marriage. And it's a pleasure to have you joining me today, Emily.

Emily Jamea: Thank you, it's wonderful to be here.

Corey Allan: And I guess let's just jump right in because since a lot of people that are listening to Sexy Marriage Radio and have been around in the nation for a while, they're here largely just because they're trying to get the most out of marriage. They're trying to get the most out of sex. They're trying to just figure out: What are some of the ways we get around the hurdles or through them? Just because if everybody ... We would not have jobs if this process of relationships was easy.

Emily Jamea: Exactly. There's no book for this stuff.

Corey Allan: No, there's not. I always joke that the first person that could come up with the actual true roadmap, they would be the fastest trillionaire ever.

Emily Jamea: And probably winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Corey Allan: Maybe so. That's a good addition to it too. We've got to keep working then. So what is it, because I love the way you frame this in the work that you do and the different things that you offer, you frame this as helping people try to create optimal relationships and sexual connection. And I think that's what we're all striving for. Yeah?

Emily Jamea: Yeah. Exactly. I think there are a lot of people who want more than just good enough. I think that when you think of relationships and sex, it's happening on a spectrum. At the very low end of the spectrum, there's a lot of dysfunction. And then there's relationships that are functional. Then there's relationships that are satisfactory. But what are the ingredients, what are the components that move it a little further up on the scale into that really optimal zone? And I think that's what a lot of people want. And the truth is, there hasn't been until recently much research that has examined that. And so it's this emerging area of research that I've kind of dove into myself, and have been very curious about. So yeah, we're learning a lot more about that.

Corey Allan: Okay. Well, you're teeing it up, and we're going to go deeper into some of the specific research you've done in the extended content today. But what is some of the stuff that's being discovered that helps create that factor, or diminishes that? I mean, most science is either what makes something exist or not exist.

Emily Jamea: Exactly, yeah.

Corey Allan: So what have you found? And what's the field finding?

Emily Jamea: Yeah. So I think there are some key components that couples need to learn. And I really come from the place that I think a lot of us are born with a lot of these qualities. But I think for because of socio cultural impact, or negative life experience, we kind of disconnect from them. And so a lot of couples, when I start describing them, may have the initial thought, "Well, that's just not me, or that's not within me." And I call BS on that. I think it's all in there. We are born very sensual. We are born curious. We are born vulnerable. But for various reasons, we start to feel disconnected from our bodies. Or we begin to feel kind of stuck. Our lives begin to feel robotic, or you can't adapt to change.
So I always remind people that this is not a matter of creating something that isn't there. It's really about reconnecting with that which already exists. Yeah. And so those are some of the qualities. It's about learning to be more fully embodied and in the moment. I think that we live in such a high tech, fast paced world these days that we've become very disconnected from our bodies. Think of how many dinners you have, where there is zero interference with cell phones or TV. I mean like even hearing, knowing there might be a little ding. inaudible the cell phone isn't at the table, but it's on the other side of the kitchen. Hearing that ping go off, that just distracts us from what's happening in the present moment.
And I think especially as it relates to our interpersonal interactions with our partners in particular, the influence of technology has really broken attunement. Attunement is such a key ingredient for optimal relationships and optimal sexual experiences. So what is attunement?

Corey Allan: I was just about to ask that question just to make sure we're being clear and on the same page between us.

Emily Jamea: Let me break it down.

Corey Allan: Yes.

Emily Jamea: That's kind of being in sync, walking home and seeing your partner maybe through their nonverbal cues, or just that subtle shift in their energy, knowing their pulse without really having to break it down. And I think there's such an emphasis on communication skills, and that's important. But you want to get to a place in your relationship I think where ... We were talking about being David Schnarch earlier, I was listening to something by him, at one point. And he was like, "There's nothing wrong with that old married couple at the restaurant who isn't saying much." They're saying a lot without having to overly communicate every little detail. Not that you want to get to a place in your relationship where you're silent all the time, but there's so much that happens, I think even on a cellular level, between couples that we've become disconnected from because we're living like two ships passing in the night, or we're on our phones all the time.

Corey Allan: Right. And that's where Schnarch has the main component I've always loved the most of his, is the idea that we're always communicating. It's the messages that are the problems. It's what I'm reading in my map of them that's the real issue because I interpret it the way I interpret it, and usually, it's something about me rather than it may have nothing to do with me, which is still then about me because they're not caring and connecting with me.

Emily Jamea: Exactly.

Corey Allan: So we are so, so focused.

Emily Jamea: inaudible. Yeah.

Corey Allan: Absolutely. Which is then, I like the word attunement because that's kind of the idea of how am I bringing myself into ... The way I'm hearing us say it is: How am I bringing myself into awareness of what's going on around me, but also myself, within what's going on around me?

Emily Jamea: Yes. I think one of the best analogies is to think of a musical band, who's been playing together for a long period of time. And they had to start off, of course, learning their own instruments, learning the music, learning to play with other people. But eventually, they may do a set where they kind of let someone go on a drum solo without having to stop and talk about it. And then there's music happening in the background. And then it's like everyone kind of knows when to come back to the song that they were playing, and they don't have to talk about it because they're really highly attuned to each other. And so that's where I try to get couples, is to that place where it feels almost effortless, but still sounds really beautiful.

Corey Allan: Sure. So what are some basic steps that help make that process, at least you start heading towards it? Because again, I'm going to venture to guess because you work in the world of couples and people, that all of this is under the umbrella of it's not a destination, because we don't necessarily arrive at, look at me, I have now entered the world of full attunement. Instead, it's just a process because just as soon, I attribute this to raising children. As soon as I figure out one stage, they change, and they move into the next stage.

Emily Jamea: So true.

Corey Allan: And it's like, "I've got to learn all over again." So Pam, our sponsor today is someone, a company that's near and dear to our hearts.

Pam Allan: Yes, they are.

Corey Allan: Hello Fresh, because they've been in our home for many, many months now. And they've taken a lot of the burden and angst that would come around meal time. More specifically, what are we going to eat? And variety being on display in the Allan household, they've taken that and made it so easy because Hello Fresh provides everything we need right at our doorstep.

Pam Allan: They've opened up your palate.

Corey Allan: They really have. And what's so much fun is we do this all together as we're creating the meals because it comes in, it's all premeasured. It's exactly what you need. You get to pick from usually around 14 different recipes each week. You pick and select which ones you want that fit. You can have some add ons, like some garlic bread, or some extra protein, or some desserts even if you want to, to make it even easier. But what the fun thing is, the way it's come out in our household is oftentimes, the party has already begun when you are walking in because the cooking is starting, kids may be involved.

Pam Allan: Yeah. You guys are already chopping up veggies and whatever.

Corey Allan: You come join in, and then we have a meal together as a family. And then every single meal, we rate them as a family.

Pam Allan: We do.

Corey Allan: And only one for each of the kids has rated below a seven.

Pam Allan: Oh my gosh.

Corey Allan: And that was just because they didn't like the actual entrée, not the taste of it.

Pam Allan: It was so good.

Corey Allan: They just didn't like what it was we chose that week.

Pam Allan: Because they're kids. Most of them are all nines and 10s.

Corey Allan: Right. So Hello Fresh is convenient. It's contact free delivery right to your door. The recipes are easy to follow. They give you pictures to guide you all along the way. They take the stress out of everything you need to do each and every week to feed your family. And they're flexible. You can customize it, like we mentioned. You can easily change your delivery days or food preferences. You can skip a week, which we've had to do several different times with our schedules. And with Hello Fresh, we are proud to have them as a regular sponsor right now. So go to, the number 12, and use the code SMR12, and you get 12 free meals, including free shipping.

Pam Allan: Wow, that's a deal.

Corey Allan: So if you didn't catch that, go to, the number 12, actually. And use the code SMR12 to get 12 free meals including free shipping. So make your mealtime fresh with Hello Fresh.
So what are some steps that get people on that journey better?

Emily Jamea: Yeah. Well, I think the way you just described it brings us down to one of my components, which is adaptability. If you are going to make a long-term monogamous relationship work, you have to be adaptable, which means maintaining kind of a curious open stance about yourself, about your partner, about your environment. When I talk to couples who've been married 30, 40 plus years about what makes their relationship work, what brought them to that optimal zone, if you will, and a lot of them will talk about hard times. But they focus on how they bounced back from those times. And I really think the last ... I just did an article for Psychology Today about I think how the last year has been sort of relationship Darwinism. It really is a survival of the fittest.

Corey Allan: Absolutely.

Emily Jamea: Those who have figured out how to adapt I think have learned new tools, have created new meaning within their relationship.

Corey Allan: Right. I was immediately thinking of Viktor Frankl's work, of the idea of making meaning out of suffering makes all the difference because when you're talking about what goes on, it's unavoidable that we're going to have trials, we're going to have struggles, going to have pain. How do I make meaning out of it to then learn from it? Because I think that's life teaching us things.

Emily Jamea: Exactly. I think that a lot of couples are kind of ill equipped to handle big adversity. And so even when I'm coaching couples through premarital stuff, we really talk through. How are you going to handle adversity? Because you don't always have a baby exactly when you want to have a baby. You don't have a perfect child. You don't always have the perfect job or inaudible. There's just any number of things.

Corey Allan: Right. And no sexual encounter always ends the same way you're hoping it will.

Emily Jamea: Exactly, yeah. If we bring it back down to sex, for sure, if you're not adaptable, you're going to be disappointed.

Corey Allan: Yep.

Emily Jamea: So I think that learning those skills and how to navigate adversity as a couple is a really, really key element to getting into that optimal zone.

Corey Allan: Okay. Are there some others? Because that is one that's almost, I can hear people in the nation saying, "Well, that's just stuff that I just learned. It's baptism by fire." I can necessarily, okay, here, I'm going to just read up on being adaptable and now I'm adaptable.

Emily Jamea: Right. It's both, and. And I think back to your point about this being a journey, I do think that there are certain skills that you can read up and learn. But of course, as we know, as relationship experts, you really don't know anything until you're living it, breathing it, experiencing it. So yes, it's a matter I think of learning, but then it's only life that's going to put those skills to the test.

Corey Allan: Right. That's the life on life terms lessons that we get. Right?

Emily Jamea: Exactly. Exactly. And mindfulness I think is a real key piece of that as well. Knowing, okay, we talked about this, we knew a challenge was going to come. Here it is. Let's go back to the drawing board. What skills do we need to draw from so that we can work through this together?

Corey Allan: Yeah. And is this one of those things? Because I can almost hear, and I'm just thinking of my own journey on this path too. Is this one of those things where you're talking about this idea of, okay, I know being mindful, I know being adaptable, I know being flexible? That's one of our keywords as a family, is five, six years ago, we started doing these monthlong summer trips, where we would be gone with a camper. And we had this big long 6000 mile route or whatever. And the very first one we did, the smartest thing we ever said, right when we started, and our kids were elementary aged kids at this point, was, "Okay, kids. The word for the trip is flexibility because we don't know what is out there, or what's going to change what we've got planned." Right? So that's got to become a mantra.
I almost hear people maybe need to recognize these are the goals we're striving for. But I also have to recognize I'm going to suck at it at times. So how do I recover better? How do I realize it's just a process? That I can get ticked off about something and disappointed, that doesn't mean I'm doing it wrong. It just means I wasn't at my best, or circumstances built up, because I think we want to at least, between our conversation as professionals, acknowledge the fact that sometimes we suck at this stuff.

Emily Jamea: Yes.

Corey Allan: Even you and I.

Emily Jamea: Oh, inaudible.

Corey Allan: Absolutely.

Emily Jamea: Definitely.

Corey Allan: Pam and I had to go and have a nice little heart to heart conversation about what went on over the weekend. Just like, "Okay, we've got to unpack this whole thing because yeah, I wasn't good. You weren't. Okay. We can figure this out." But I think people need permission to realize it's okay to not do this well.

Emily Jamea: Yes, which is why in the workshop I run on this stuff, I have a whole section on self compassion.

Corey Allan: Perfect.

Emily Jamea: Yeah, so self compassion, you are absolutely right, is a really key piece of the puzzle throughout any journey. Any time you're learning something new, if you can't be gentle with yourself when you stumble or make a mistake, you're never going to learn. That's how we learn.

Corey Allan: Absolutely. So I want to pivot with you just a little bit. This just hit me, Emily. I want to use the same kind of dialogue we're having on a relational global context. And let's talk about it within the sexual context because I see that this is where it even gets a little bit more intense for people. And it's where maybe I've got attachment to a meaning and an outcome that it just makes it to where I can't recover and I can't be attuned. What are some skills or some tips that can help people in the midst of that moment in their marriage to actually start practicing these and seeing them a little cleaner?

Emily Jamea: Yeah. So through my research, and we'll unpack that a little bit more in the second part of this, but this research into what constitutes optimal sexual experiences was started really about a decade ago by Peggy Kleinplatz. And she didn't even bother interviewing couples who were initially I think under the age of 65, and who hadn't been married for a really long time. At that point in life, there's been things like erectile dysfunction, there's been difficulty. There's been menopause. There's been all the typical stuff that tends to throw a wrench in people's sex lives. She wanted to know how these couples overcame some of those difficulties.
And that adaptability piece was a really key component for her participants as well, and showed up with mine too. So taking the shoulds out of sex is vital. We come into sex with so many expectations, gender expectations, bodily function expectations. But all that does is really narrow our script for what good sex is. And couples who have a really wide script for what sex is, even that word sex. Does sex have to mean PV intercourse? No. I think taking a bath together can be sexual, even if you're hardly touching. There's eroticism in that. And I think couples who know that, or who have figured that out along the way tend to be much more satisfied in the long run than couples who don't.
I mean, I have so many couples who fall apart the first time maybe there's a loss of an erection. I'm not man enough, I'm inadequate, all those negative beliefs, which create so much anxiety. But there's tons of things that you can do sexually that don't require an erection. And truthfully, the earlier on you learn those skills, the better off you'll be in the long run.

Corey Allan: Right. Because then you're just really describing the idea of what is the overall goal, which that's in a relational context while each person's still striving for what it is they want. But the humans have capacities to be able to be disappointed and still have success with something.

Emily Jamea: Exactly.

Corey Allan: I mean, that's kind of the way you're framing it.

Emily Jamea: Right. I work with partners where maybe one person has had prostate cancer. And for that reason, they're unable to get an erection anymore. And they come in devastated about that. And I get that, I have a lot of compassion. But when I start asking the questions like, "What do you miss the most about your sexual interactions before?" They'll say things like, "How emotionally close I felt to my partner." They don't say, "My erection." inaudible. And so I'm like, "Okay. Let's open our mind. There's tons of things that you can learn that will help you feel that way toward your partner despite some of the physical challenges you now have."

Corey Allan: Right. Because that's just redefining the meanings, redefining the goals, or the outcomes you're seeking, and adaptability, and then adjusting in time because this is the biggest thing I keep seeing with couples that really do get into this kind of a depth, is helping them start to recognize. You know what, maybe one of the best things you could do when you recognize, I'm shoulding all over my sex life, is what you're doing. One of the best things I can do is open my mouth and start talking in the midst of these things, especially when it starts going sideways. And just say, "Hey, I just caught the glimpse that you checked out for a second. Was I wrong?" Because it's likely you weren't, and most people think, "Whoa, if we go like that, it's going to run everything."
And then I give them the caveat, it might in that moment, yes, because you're with a partner that does not like the flow to be interrupted because they think of it in the same kind of concept of we shouldn't ever break the flow, rather than, the reality is, and this is Schnarch's work again, we break connection all the time.

Emily Jamea: Right.

Corey Allan: And then we reestablish connection all the time. So just bring it out in the open and be a little more simplistic of just start talking, just start speaking up. Start being aware, being read, being seen.

Emily Jamea: Yeah, exactly. I mean, we humans are a complex bunch. And I think we have to fine tune our instruments a little bit if we're going to maintain them over time. I come back to that analogy a lot. I think the same principle applies.

Corey Allan: That's good. And so if I was to wrap up this segment with you, Emily, what I'm hearing is this idea of dive into the relationship, dive into sex, and see it as a learning opportunity to hone your own skills, and also then see how your partner does at handling theirs.

Emily Jamea: Yes, yeah. And recreate the meaning, the sex you share after having children, for example, a lot of people think kids ruin it. And look, having a crying baby and fatigue, there's going to be a period of time where there may be a little bit of disconnection. But if you can come back talk about, wow, how special our relationship is that we have a product of our love, however that came about. That's amazing. And to be able to talk about that and to feel the depth of the new meaning that you establish, I think that creates a sense of novelty even, without having to try anything new.

Corey Allan: Yes, absolutely. That's where the idea is so great about long-term and married sex being a long game, is in reality, it's with a different version of people as it keeps going all the way through because you don't know what you're capable of. And then soon as you figure that out, you still don't know what you're capable of. And then you figure that out.

Emily Jamea: Right. That's how you avoid stagnation.

Corey Allan: Perfect. Well, Emily, it has been a pleasure to have you on thus far. And I'd love for the people in the nation to be able to hear more about: How can they find you? So where do they go?

Emily Jamea: Yeah. So you can follow me across all the social media channels at Dr. Emily Jamea. That's D-R, Emily Jamea. I've got lost of content there. I'm recently on TikTok, Lord help me.

Corey Allan: You and I are in the same boat because we're jumping in there too. Yep.

Emily Jamea: inaudible. But yeah, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook. And then my website is I've got my online workshop is there that covers all of this material. You can download a free sample to test it out. And I've got little meditations on there for improving sexuality, so it's got all my blogs are there.

Corey Allan: Love it.

Emily Jamea: So it's got a lot of information.

Corey Allan: Well, Emily, thank you so much for sharing your work here today and for the work that you do on just-

Emily Jamea: Thank you.

Corey Allan: It's so needed to have people that are willing to be upfront and honest about this aspect of our life, and seeing it as something that's life giving and beautiful and touching. So thank you so much.

Emily Jamea: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share it here.

Corey Allan: Once again, it is such a privilege to have other people join us and help speak to the nation, just because of the work they do, the passion they bring, the view, the standpoint. There's a lot of overlap in the way we talk about things with a lot of the guests that we have.

Pam Allan: Yeah. It's nice to have the collaboration, for sure.

Corey Allan: Those just ring true because we're all better when we can collaborate together. I mean, that's the state of the world. If we could all just figure out how to collaborate a little bit better, everything would be so much better.

Pam Allan: Can't we all just get along?

Corey Allan: There's that too. Speaking of trying to get along, we hope that you have gotten along well with us, with the way this has all gone on today, and the things that we've got going because we are really making a dedicated effort on some of the social platforms to really start reaching out and helping some people. So if you haven't found us on Instagram or TikTok at Sexy Marriage Radio, is how you can find us on both of those platforms, but there's stuff going on regularly. I'm actually doing quick little videos. It's kind of a weird expansion of growth for me.

Pam Allan: Out on Insta. Right?

Corey Allan: So come find us and join the conversations. And if we left something undone from this one, let us know. So thank you for taking some time out of your week to spend it with us. We'll see you next time.