Sex on the Brain – Part 1 of an Interview with Dr. Emily Morse

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Dr. Emily Morse is the host of “Sex with Emily,” a live radio show and top downloaded podcast on iTunes. Morse has appeared as a guest expert on countless radio and television shows, as well as been featured in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle for her expertise in sex and relationships. Emily’s first book Hot Sex: Over 200 Things You Can Try Tonight was released in October 2011. In this episode, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana talk with Emily about how to prioritize intimacy, and how “communication is lubrication”.


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Tana Amen: Welcome back to The Brain Warrior's Way. This is gonna be a fun day. We are discussing sex with Emily. Now, I know that doesn't sound quite right, so let me explain.

We're here today with Dr. Emily Morse, who is a sex and relationship expert. She's also the host of top downloaded podcast Sex With Emily. She's helped millions of struggling couples achieve sex and relationships they desire in order to maintain happiness and longevity. She's the number one dating and sex expert on and Twitter. She's launched Sex With Emily radio show and podcast, and became Bravo Television's personality on Misadvised.

I'm gonna just read some of the highlights on her bio, because we would be here all day. She is definitely the sex expert. She is author of the popular book "Hot Sex: Over 200 Things You Can Try Tonight". She's the weekly guest and co-host of the nationally-syndicated Radio Show Loveline, with Dr. Drew Pinsky, who is a friend of ours. We love Dr. Drew.

And earned her Doctor of Human Sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. Some of this I am gonna save for the next podcast, or we'll be here all day.

Daniel Amen: So we have four with Emily, so it's our week of Sex With Emily. Thank you so much for being part of the Brain Warrior's Way podcast.

Tana Amen: Welcome.

Dr. Emily Morse: [crosstalk 00:01:25] here.

Daniel Amen: Talk to us about why sex and how you became passionate about this topic.

Dr. Emily Morse: Okay. I became passionate about sex because I was one of those very late bloomers when it came to sex. I didn't have a lot of information about it, a lot of education about it, like a lot of people. Right? I don't think it's changed much today.

Also, I've always been very confused by sex and also very intrigued by it. I thought, "I don't understand how people continue to have sex for a lifetime, but keep it interesting."

Going back to early on, I never masturbated. It didn't occur to me to masturbate when I was a child. I was having sex and I'm like, "This isn't so great. This seems kind of overrated."

Also, as I got older, I was like, "I don't see how you have sex with one person." I was a documentary filmmaker before I started this podcast and I thought, "Well, we all learn from each other's stories." I've always asked a lot of questions so I started this podcast 12 years ago.

I invited a bunch of friends over: married, gay, straight, single and I just started interviewing them about their sex lives and their relationships. I thought, "Well, I want to understand what am I not getting." When people used to say, "Oh, I had the best sex of my life last night. Sex is amazing. This and that." I thought, "I don't think that I've had the best sex of my life." And [crosstalk 00:02:53]

I was like, "Well, maybe I'm missing something." It really became this mission to better myself and to hear other people's stories because I feel like we all learn from each other's stories. That's where it started. Now, 12 years later, I realize that sex is everything. I believe if we had a lot better sex and sex a lot more frequently we'd be in a much better world right now.

Tana Amen: Well, and one of the reasons we wanted to have you on our show is because this is an issue for people who have brain issues too. Like you said, if your sex isn't good in a relationship, in a marriage. You don't have that intimacy, it can really damage relationships. If you've got brain issues, like ADD or head injuries or you're too impulsive or you don't know how to communicate right with your partner, it can damage relationships.

Daniel Amen: It devastates them. I've been a psychiatrist for 35 years and people who have affairs or people who have bipolar disorder where when they go into a manic state, they become hypersexual. It's just devastating. Although, I'm always trying to find the positive way to reframe this. I had one ADD guy that had been married 11 times and my first session with him I said, "Wow. You're really good at getting chicks."

Dr. Emily Morse: Right. I like it. Don't shame them.

Daniel Amen: Tell us some of the big lessons that you have learned that really resonate with your listeners. What are some of the big nuggets that are important?

Dr. Emily Morse: I would say that the big nuggets are that, well you were just saying that sex becomes this huge problem in relationships. It's because people don't talk about it. I always say communication is a lubrication. The more that you talk about sex, the better sex you're going to have.

The problem is when people get into a relationship and if you talk about people with ADD or even any relationship, sex is going to become a little stale after awhile the [crosstalk 00:05:01] isn't there anymore. You get busy with family, life, and children and you put sex on the back burner.

You think, "You know what? We'll come back to that once the kids are older. Once the house gets built. Once I get this job." The problem is it's on the back burner and you never go back. Right? [crosstalk 00:05:17]

Tana Amen: Well, I think that's the normal- We, as a society, think that's normal.

Dr. Emily Morse: Right.

Daniel Amen: Completely [crosstalk 00:05:22]

Dr. Emily Morse: You don't prioritize [crosstalk 00:05:23]

Tana Amen: Oh, yeah. I would never get away with that, but that's what we think is normal.

Dr. Emily Morse: Yeah. [inaudible 00:05:29] is normal. Here's the problem, is that we don't know how to talk about sex. Not only are we not taught about sex, we're not taught about our bodies, we're not taught about pleasure. We're just taught in school [inaudible 00:05:42] STDs.

Tana Amen: Right. How to avoid sex and stay away from problems.

Dr. Emily Morse: [crosstalk 00:05:46] sex. [inaudible 00:05:47] sex. Not only that, we're not told that sex is actually important and how to prioritize sex.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Emily Morse: How to prioritize sex in a relationship and why if you don't prioritize it then you're just like roommates because there's nothing there to bond you. There's not intimacy [crosstalk 00:06:01]

Tana Amen: You know that's funny. If I could interject really quickly. Our 13 year old daughter gets so mad at us. She is so disgusted because we do the opposite. People are going to think that we're crazy, but I frequently, we joke around, we're affectionate with each other. She's like, "Ew. Gross. Gag me." Whatever.

Privately, I talk to her a lot about it and she goes, "Mom. No mom talks to their kid about sex like this." I go, "They should. Sweetie." I go, "There's nothing wrong with sex. You just need to put it in its proper place. When you are married, when you are in a loving, intimate relationship, when you are responsible, that's a good thing that you need to make sure that you actually do understand." She's like, "Gross. I don't want to hear anymore."

Dr. Emily Morse: Exactly. Well, here's the other problem. I feel for parents because we do need to normalize sex because sex is a bad word. Sex is dangerous and it's wrong and little girls aren't taught to love your body.

Actually, the first thing we learn about sex is to cover up and that there's something to be ashamed about. There's a point in every young girl's life, little girl's life, maybe she's four or five years old and she still has her shirt off and she's riding her bike outside and someone says, "Put your shirt on."

We're just told to cover up. That we're wrong. That our body parts are dirty. That never is refrained. [No one 00:07:15] ever said, "It's okay to love yourself and your body and that it's [inaudible 00:07:18] yourself.

Here's the other thing about parenting though too, I think is that kids don't really want to hear it from their parents necessarily. Also, even parents who do try to talk to their kids about it, typically the conversation goes like this. Well, if you have any questions please talk to me. I'm always here for you.

I think the problem with children is they don't even know what the questions are.

Tana Amen: Yeah. No, we actually just bring it up. I actually think she listens and she appreciates it. She just doesn't want us to know that. Does that make sense? She's taking it in.

Dr. Emily Morse: Yeah. No, totally.

Tana Amen: She just doesn't want us to know it because it would seem weird.

Dr. Emily Morse: No, that's good. You guys are doing it right. For a lot of parents [crosstalk 00:07:53]

Daniel Amen: The first big lesson is communication.

Dr. Emily Morse: Yes. Exactly.

Daniel Amen: Communication is lubrication. I like that.

Tana Amen: That's actually really, that's a good saying.

Daniel Amen: So thoughtful. Before we have to stop, what is the second one you think for couples who are really struggling in this area?

Dr. Emily Morse: I think that for couples who are struggling, I always say, "Foreplay starts after the last orgasm." What I mean by that, is using your senses to stay connected, to stay [crosstalk 00:08:24] intellectual stimulation, to stay connected to your partner.

Text each other. Talk to each other. I mean, send a sexy text or what you want to do next time you see each other. Talk about your sex life. Stay engaged with your sex life and continue to keep exploring it and keeping it interesting and just prioritizing it.

Tana Amen: I like that.

Daniel Amen: Talk about what you like. Talk about-

Tana Amen: Be affectionate. Be playful.

Dr. Emily Morse: Yeah. Exactly. Be playful. Be affectionate. Say, "You know what I think?" That's why, even if my book 200 Things You Can Try Tonight, it is exhausting. I don't recommend you try them all in one night, but open it up and just say, "Oh, this sounds interesting." It's fantasy. Using fantasy too. I think that we're shamed a lot for that as well.

Again, when your brain gets on board for sex, your body will follow. If our brain is shut down for sex, we're not primed, we're not ready. Men and women are so different with the way we get aroused. Right?

Women are slow cookers. Men are frying pans. You're ready to go and we're like, "I didn't even see you walk in the door. I haven't been thinking about sex all day. I'm busy. I just got home. I'm making dinner. I'm doing this or that."

I think the way that we even approach sex is so different and then understanding that. Understanding that it's okay that we're not approaching it the same way, but coming together. Also, yeah, talking about it. People will be like, "Well, that's not sexy. I want my partner just to know what I want. He should be a mind reader. She should be a mind reader."

I've never met a mind reader. Have you? Yeah. Talking about it. Even if it's uncomfortable. Even if you're like, "I don't know where to start." That's okay. You can say, "I don't know where to start, but I know that sex is really important. I know that if we don't have sex then things aren't going so well with us so let's just-" even if it's hand holding. It's massage, it's connecting. It's keeping that intimacy alive.

Tana Amen: You said something really important that I like and I want to actually reiterate it before we go to our next podcast is that we approach sex very differently. One thing I have heard a lot from my friends, from some of our patients, is that men get upset because they feel like their wives or girlfriends or whatever are not as interested in sex because they don't initiate as often.

What you just said. That doesn't necessarily mean because I know because talking to women, doesn't mean they're not as interested. Sometimes they want to be pursued. That's one reason.

The other reason that I've heard is because it takes them a lot longer to unwind and start to think about things. That miscommunication of you don't want it as much as I do is not necessarily true. That's sort of an ANT, an Automatic Negative Thought, that we need to work on.

Dr. Emily Morse: Exactly. It's not top of mind for us. We're not thinking [crosstalk 00:11:12]

Daniel Amen: It's top of mind for us. I wrote two books in this area. One is called "The Brain and Love", which was so much fun for me to write. I was a columnist for men's health and I actually wrote a cover story for them: "Sex on the Brain", which was so much fun to write. Then, I wrote "Unleash the Power of the Female Brain" looking at brain differences between males and females.

Men are always looking to be excited and turned on, which is why they race cars. Women's brains are much busier, dramatically busier, which means they're more worried.

Dr. Emily Morse: Exactly.

Daniel Amen: They have more forethought. They're spinning more and you need to calm them.

Tana Amen: Right. They have to be subtled.

Daniel Amen: Soothe them. One of the other big things we learned is not everybody's brain is the same. We have impulsive people, compulsive people, sad and anxious people. Know your partner's brain so you can do the right strategies for them.

Tana Amen: Yeah. I like that.

Daniel Amen: If you are married to an ADD woman, she needs variety. She needs excitement. She's much more likely to have sex with you if you've just jumped out of a plane together than if you went to a sappy [crosstalk 00:12:35] lovey movie.

Dr. Emily Morse: It's amazing. Right.

Daniel Amen: Do that with an anxious woman and she'll never jump out of the plane and she'll hate you and she'll never talk to you again.

Tana Amen: See?

Daniel Amen: No, I know my wife's brain.

Dr. Emily Morse: Oh, my gosh. It's so easy. Calm, holding, massage. [crosstalk 00:12:52]

Tana Amen: I would rather go through something like the plane, go to the range.

Daniel Amen: No, I take you to the firing range.

Tana Amen: Right.

Daniel Amen: All of a sudden, you're all wound up and ready to go.

Tana Amen: You just said that on our podcast.

Daniel Amen: I did that. Yes I did.

We are going to be back with Dr. Emily Morse. We're going to continue to talk about sex and the brain. When we come back, we're going to talk about common problems couples have and Dr. Emily's solutions. Stay with us. You're on the Brain Warrior's Way podcast.