The Apology Languages, Sexual Initiation Techniques & Communication Tips

This week Jess and Brandon discuss a new project with Walgreens related to PrEP, medication that reduces the sexual transmission of HIV by over 99%. They discuss Jess’ early work in sex education and answer listener questions including:
  • How can I initiate sex with confidence?
  • How do you flirt?
  • What are the “apology languages”?
  • How do you keep your cool during conflict?
  • How can I get my partner to be more dominant in bed?

To learn more about Walgreens PrEP, click here.

Rough transcript of this podcast below:

Brandon: Welcome! Hope everyone is well.

Jess: I’m really excited because I’m swamped this week and I like the buzz. I have lots going on with V-Day on the horizon and a big announcement as well, so I’ll start with that topic, as it relates to HIV prevention and involves a new partner and I really think that raising awareness of this topic can make a big difference because

While rates of HIV in the U.S. have continued to decrease, but the epidemic is far from over. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have faced barriers to HIV testing, prevention and treatment. Obviously sexual health and pleasure intersect with overall health and I really want to increase conversations and understanding when it comes to prevention of HIV through the use of tools like PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.

This is why why I am excited to be working with Walgreens to encourage anyone at risk for HIV to reach out to their local Walgreens pharmacist to discuss their options. Walgreens pharmacists are specially trained to offer compassionate, confidential HIV care, including prevention options such as medication counseling and how to qualify for free programs like Ready, Set, PrEP, a nationwide effort led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which provides PrEP medications at no cost to those who qualify.

These confidential discussions with a pharmacist can take place in private rooms in stores, by phone and online via Pharmacy Chat. To learn more, visit slash prep. That’s slash P-R-E-P.”

Now most people probably don’t know that I started my career in sexuality working in HIV. My focus when I was doing research in teacher training involved three topics: healthy relationships, HIV/AIDS and sexual pleasure, because these were the topics that Toronto teens identified as their top priorities via the Toronto Teen Survey, which was a partnership research project between three universities that spoke with teens who wouldn’t normally be included in research — so newcomer teens, more queer students, and other students forced to the margins.

And when or while I completed by research, I started working freelance with some AIDS service organizations as a trainer, as a speaker and I worked with the ASO up in Fort Mac Alberta to help launch a sexual health & STI counselling line in a region that was hit hard in terms of HIV and STI rates on account of the way the oil economy had affected population movement and growth.

The ED of that ASO, Daven Seebaran really focused on sexuality as a part of the HIV discussion — this was over a decade ago and he really realized that you can’t talk about HIV prevention without also talking about sex — pleasure, options, activity, behaviour and not just condom use. He was young at the time and way ahead of his time. And he gave me so many opportunities in this field at a time when many people in public health still refused to talk about sex and definitely were leaving pleasure out of the equation.

Back then, PrEP was in its infancy and was, in fact, still in clinical trials, but fast forward a decade plus and we’re in a very different situation now.

PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a daily pill that can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted HIV by about 99% when used consistently.

You may have heard of the brand names for PrEP. Truvada was the first drug approved for use as PrEP for both men and women by the Food & Drug Administration in 2012. In 2019, a second drug, Descovy, was approved by the FDA for use by men. Both forms of PrEP are highly effective and it’s like birth control in that you take it every day.

Efficacy rates according to the CDC are 99% preventative for sexual transmission and 74% for transmission via injectable drugs.

And some studies have shown even higher effectiveness with consistent PrEP use among gay and bisexual men, and transgender women.

While PrEP is highly effective in preventing HIV, it does not protect against other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). To prevent gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and other common STDs, use condoms.

It’s not immediately effective, however. Like birth control, it doesn’t work from the first day you take it.

It takes 7 days to reach maximum protection from HIV through receptive anal sex. And for receptive vaginal sex and drug use, it takes about 20 days to reach maximum efficacy. This doesn’t mean you can stop taking it at that time. You have to keep taking it every day as prescribed to maintain protection.

In the U.S., it’s covered by most insurance plans and should be covered by Medicaid and Medicare. But if you don’t have insurance, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ funds the Ready, Set, PrEP Program to provides PrEP at no cost and your Walgreen’s pharmacist can assist with this.

One of guests last week actually mentioned that she’s on PrEP and I wish we had time to open up that conversation, because we need to normalize these prevention tools.

Anyhow, I’m so excited that Walgreens reached out to me about their prevention efforts because it’s just a huge sign of how much has changed in the last decade. Ten years ago, big brands didn’t want to talk about sex even though they sold condoms and lube and birth control and STI drugs. But now, as public health agencies has shifted the conversation, they’re bringing sex talk into the open and that’s my hope with this campaign.

And that’s a long announcement, but I think the PrEp update is an important one. And I really encourage you to share it with your clients, friends, family, partners. Let them know that Walgreens pharmacists can answer questions via text on the phone or in store and connect them with programs that can help with access if you’re not insured.

Brandon: So much has changed since you started working in this field.

Jess: Today we’re answering your questions about how to initiate sex, managing anger, the apology languages and more, so let’s see how many we can get to…

First is from someone in Denver. “I’m 59, she’s 61, been married for 26 years and are empty-nesters living in Covid times! Frequency’s about 2-3 times a month, but it’s gotten very predictable. Can you help me with sexual initiation? I want to keep things fresh.”

I sure can try! B – how do you initiate sex?

Brandon: Touch. I use it to get myself in the mood. And get you in the mood. And the poke from behind in the shower. It really depends on the day.

Jess: I know the poke from behind.

Brandon: That’s my signature move. But also I pay attention to the things you like – being admired. And that was uncomfortable for me at first. I had to push my confort zone. I had to try new things.

I know I’m not a great flirt. I work on that.

Jess: First, I want to talk about sex seeds. This is from our latest book. Sex seeds are seductive clues about what is to come in a future sexual experience. They can be planted in the morning if you want to get busy at night or throughout the week before you meet. To plant effective seeds, consider which erotic activities appeal to your lover. Do they like romantic sex? Do they love to be filmed? Are they publicly experimental? Select an erotic activity that you can plan on your own and plant a sex seed to set the tone. For example, if your partner likes to be spanked, leave a spanking instrument in their car (paddle, wooden spoon from the kitchen, riding crop) or leave a photo of it in their briefcase. Leave them a note in their lunch bag or text them a photo of it in your hands. Throughout the day (or week), water the sex seed leaving additional clues. This process can offer you a distraction to reduce stress and help you to weave eroticism throughout your day-to-day interactions.

But on the spot, you have so many options: Watch porn or even a movie with lots of sex scenes. Read her a sexy story. Surprise her in the shower just for oral and then move into the comfier bed. Wake her up with oral or a toy. Leave the toy on the bed. Leave her note letting her know what you want to do or want her to do. Blindfold her and touch her entire body only with the backs of your hands. Get some massage oil and start with your fingertips as you very slowly work your way up to her shoulders. Be physically playful – dance, touch and wrestle around.

Make her feel something. I talk about the core erotic feeling all the time – how does she want to feel? Sexy? Loved? Confident? Sex is so much more than the physical – and the emotional is often the most powerful.

I hope this helps!

Next Q: What are the apology languages I saw you talk about them briefly on your IG.

Apology languages are drawn from Gary Chapman’s work, the guy who created the love languages, along with Jennifer Thomas. They suggest that the five languages of apology are:

  • expressing regret
  • accepting responsibility
  • making restitution
  • genuinely repenting
  • requesting forgiveness

And the theory is that you have to figure out what matters most to your partner. I know quizzes are attractive, but I would suggest that the best way to figure out what your partner wants, is to ask. Not once, but to keep the conversation going.

These components can all be important and depending on what you’re apologizing for, what you need may vary. So I don’t believe they’re static or mutually exclusive. But again, it’s a good place to start the conversation when apologizing.

The framework of languages can be helpful as a starting point, but it can also be reductionist and limiting. You are complex and changing and your needs cannot always be summed up in one word.

And these systems created by and for the West don’t necessarily apply across cultures. So they may or may not be helpful to you.

Another Q: “My question is for Brandon. You’ve spoken a few times about how you used to fly off the handle in conflict and learned to keep your cool, but also honour your own feelings. I’m a hot head, I know it and I just feel my blood boiling whenever my GF and I fight. So how did you learn to keep your cool?”

Brandon: I really have to tune in to what’s going on my body. Slow my breath. I can feel it boiling in my body. I’ll rub my own hand. It has taken years. You need a partner who supports you too. I have to tell Jess “I’m working on this.”

Next Q: What percentage of people actually cheat?

24% admit to it.

I want my boyfriend to be more dominant in bed. He’s gentle and slow and loving and I like that, but how do I tell him to be more aggressive?

I wonder if he’s gentle and loving and slow because there has been so much emphasis on having men slow down and tune into the emotional elements of connection — which is all well and good, but the bottom line is that there is no universal formula. Even If 99 people want their partners to slow down, they’ll always be one who wants them to speed up. Even If 99 people like a gentle caress, there will always be one who wants it rougher. And that’s cool. There are no universal rules, but in trying to undo gendered stereotypes sometimes we make the mistake of rewriting new rules instead of just focusing on doing what feels good for you and expressing your needs openly.

So that’s it. Let him know what you like. Show him with your hands. Tell him what you want to hear. Show him a character from a show whose dominant sexual personality appeals to you. Guide him. Treat him how you want to be treated sometimes and let him know you’re modelling the behaviour.

I think it’s important to remember that when we ask for something different, we’re not disparaging what came before that. And we need to be open to new asks too. When our partner wants something new, it doesn’t mean they want to discard all that is old. It’s an addition — not a substitution and it’s not a zero sum game.

That’s all the time we have for today.

Thanks for listening!

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