On this week’s episode, we have the knowledgeable and award-winning sex therapist Dr. Stephanie Sigler of Evolve Your Intimacy! In this insightful conversation, we dive deep into a wide range of topics such as: exploring alternative style relationships, religious guilt and its limitations on sexuality, and when to teach children about consent and boundaries.
Keep an open mind throughout this episode and I can guarantee you will walk away with some golden nuggets of wisdom that you can bring into your life and relationships. Tune in and then let me know what you think of this episode over on Instagram.
In this week’s episode, we discuss:
[01:12] About Dr. Stephanie Sigler
[03:27] Dr. Sigler’s journey of becoming a sex therapist
[08:45] Alternative style relationships
[12:23] Religious guilt and sexuality
[15:33] What is a successful relationship?
[17:38] Mental health and therapy
[23:37] About Dr. Sigler’s book “Anti-Fight Journal: Fighting Fair in Relationships”
[32:12] Dr. Sigler’s approach as a therapist
[33:58] Sex education in the United States
[35:58] Teaching children about consent and boundaries
[44:17] Defining what sex means to you in an alternative relationship
[49:59] Talking about sex and exploring what you like
[54:38] Dr. Sigler’s favorite date
About Dr. Stephanie Sigler
Dr. Stephanie Sigler has a deep passion for helping individuals uncover the true potential of their relationships. She helps them redesign or design their relationship in a way that aligns with their unique desires and needs, free from the constraints of societal norms or childhood teachings. She is also the winner of the 2022 and 2023 ASN magazine awards for the best educator, best educator website, and social media influencer of the year.
Dr. Sigler’s journey of becoming a sex therapist
Sex therapy was not on her radar until about 4 years ago. She was a public education teacher where she taught K through 12 and then she became a therapist. She had always been open about sex and being from the south, she knew that this was different. She was bisexual and when she got the opportunity to expand herself and explore what she really liked, she started to design her relationships in ways that supported her. This is where sex therapy came in. She was originally a couples therapist and she started seeing clients who were in alternative-style relationships. They would tell her that they were so grateful to have her because other counselors would tell them that their lifestyle was the root of the problem. So many of these clients were getting turned away and so she got her doctorate in clinical sexology to support them. Now she teaches seminars, helps people who want to learn more about their own sexuality and how to please their partners, and so much more.
Alternative style relationships
Dr. Sigler realized that she was bisexual in middle school but she could not tell anyone. She was from a small town in a southern state and this was not accepted. As she got older, she ended up having a girlfriend but once her family found out about it, she realized it was not worth the hassle of getting kicked out.
She ended up getting married several times and was never satisfied. In her last relationship, they agreed that she could have an alternative relationship and be bisexual if that was what she desired. They both defined what they wanted and that was liberating for her.
She shares that if you are looking for an alternative style relationship, there are many apps that are meant for this type of dating. There is something in the world for everybody and if you aren’t interested in this type of relationship, that is fine but do not knock others who are!
Religious guilt and sexuality
Dr. Sigler shares with us that religious guilt is debilitating. She was taught that being who she is, was not what the Lord wants. This guilt is so ingrained in the Southern states and Catholic guilt is just as bad. Our genders are assigned at birth and we are told what we should and should not like. There is always a definition of who we should be but Dr. Sigler reminds us that we do not have to follow this for life.
She also shares that everyone has their own “yums and yucks” and we should not judge each other as long as it is safe and consensual. It should not matter what other people are doing as long as we are happy and exploring what we like in a safe manner.
What is a successful relationship?
A successful relationship by societal standards is when two people are married for their lifetime until one person dies. When we get divorced, separated, or break up, we are told that our relationship was not successful. This is not true. A relationship may have run its course and two people just aren’t compatible anymore. You can learn and grow from a person and you do not have to be together forever. This is still a successful relationship. The stigma over breaking up and divorcing is debilitating in itself. Breaking this mold of what a “successful” relationship looks like, is powerful and liberating it itself. Only you can identify what that looks like for you.
Mental health and therapy
Even as a therapist, Dr. Sigler still sees two counselors herself. She believes it’s important to have a safe space to process her emotions. Something that she finds with people, in general, is the expectations placed upon us that we should be okay at all times. There is a stigma around not being perfect all of the time and not living up to our truest potential. She reminds us that we are allowed to have off days, weeks, or months and that is okay.
Celeste shares that we all experience growing phases and we can be in the thick of them at times. We can lean on support while we walk through these issues, take the happy moments of human connection, and allow them to carry us through the darker times.
Dr. Sigler shares that the wonderful part of the pandemic is that it helped to normalize mental health counseling. Insurance companies started paying for telehealth and this became really impactful. Now people have access to therapy from their homes. She reminds us that it is more than okay to ask for help.
About Dr. Sigler’s book “Anti-Fight Journal: Fighting Fair in Relationships”
Many couples have come to Dr. Sigler saying that their partner does not fight fair in the relationship. We were never taught how to face conflict so we are usually not skilled in this. So many times couples build up their anger and frustrations and then explode. Then they have a breakdown in communication and the whole day is ruined.
This is where she thought of creating her Anti-Fight Journal. Throughout the week, if you have things that irritate you or things you need to talk to your partner about but you do not want to ruin the day by talking about it, you write it in the book. In another part of the journal, you can write good things that have happened as well. Then you have a designated fight night where you sit down and pick out a topic that needs to be discussed. She has found that once you come back to the things that irritated you, you’ll notice that there are many that do not need to be discussed anymore. Things that may have caused a big fight are now not as important when you have a rational level head vs in the heat of the moment during a bad day.
This journal reduces the amount of outbursts and fights. On “fight night” you have conversations about the things that you feel you still need to talk about. The journal shows you how to state these irritants and then once you are done, it gives you reflection questions to answer. We need to get things out of our heads before they grow and get worse. With these reflection questions, you have an action plan of what happens when you start arguing about things that you have in the past.
In this book, you have 30 scheduled fight nights. After every good fight night, you have makeup sex. Dr. Sigler shares that even if you aren’t fighting, you at least have sex scheduled for that night which allows for more intimacy. The goal is that after these 30 fights, it will become natural. You will start judging if you need to speak up now or save it for later. This book helps to reduce fights and improve communication.
Dr. Sigler’s approach as a therapist
She is an eclectic therapist and uses a bit of everything. She meets the client where they are at and then uses different elements that they are going to need. She has a “toolbox” full of different activities and modalities that she can bring into a session.
Sex education in the United States
There is a lack of sex education in the United States. There are only 13 states that have to teach accurate sexual health data. There are many abstinence-based states and then everyone else is teaching what the school district wants to. Students are getting told that they should save themselves for marriage and that being gay isn’t right. Dr. Sigler has friends who are trying to bring awareness and make changes in this system.
Teaching children about consent and boundaries
Dr. Sigler says that we should teach children about consent, boundaries, and age appropriate statements about sex. For example: telling your daughter what her vagina is and letting her know that this is her personal space and if anyone touches it then she needs to tell mommy. Teaching them that it is okay to talk about it.
We also need to teach them that their voice matters and that they do not have to make anyone else feel comfortable. If they do not want to give a hug, they don’t have to. We should teach them that they need to ask for permission to touch a friend and vice versa. Teaching them what consent looks like from a very young age is important.
With boundaries, we can teach older children that it is okay to explore their bodies but they need to do this in the privacy of their rooms. We do not need to shame them because this brings up the negative stigma and negative ideation towards sex. Proper, age-appropriate education should start from the very beginning.
Defining what sex means to you in an alternative relationship
An alternative relationship is anything that is not monogamous. Dr. Sigler says that we are now normalizing gay and lesbian relationships and they are no longer in the alternative relationship box. She shares that ethical non monogamy is important. In alternative relationships, you still need to make sure that everyone is on board and that everyone is consenting to what is going on. If you are not ethical, you are hurting people and their feelings. This lifestyle can look like whatever you want it to whether that is kinky, BDSM, swingers, polyamorous, or asexual.
Within these relationships, we also have to define what sex means to us. It is not just penetration for many people. Sex can be foreplay, touching, or anything else that you consider sexual. Defining what that means to you also helps define what you’re into. There’s something for everybody and you just have to find what you like. Dr. Sigler recommends doing some deep diving into what turns you on and remembering that sex is about pleasure, not just an orgasm. When we focus on an orgasm and do not have one, it feels like everything else is not good enough. Focusing on everything you do leading up to an orgasm and the pleasure that was felt, is most important. She shares that there is a big orgasm gap so it is important to remember that sex does not just end when a penis owner has an orgasm. It stops when both of you agree. Pleasure is a two-way street.
Talking about sex and exploring what you like
It is important to explore what you like and you start that by pleasuring yourself. After you know what you like, you can then talk with your partner about both of your desires and see if you are sexually compatible. You have to be open to experimenting with each other (within your boundaries) and learn about each other through discussing sex. She recommends playing “would you rather” so you can learn more about each other and it opens up a conversation and exploration between partners.
Dr. Sigler’s favorite date
Dr. Sigler has had many favorite dates but she loves adventure dates. On a third date with her ex-partner, they went skydiving. It was so fun because it got their adrenaline going and it produced so many great hormones and chemicals. This allowed them to bond quicker than they would of if they had just gone for coffee.
Connect with Dr. Stephanie Sigler: