dating // relationships // connection

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Dr. David Ley on Cuckholding & The Myth of Sex Addiction


Dr. David J. Ley is a clinical psychologist and the author of 3 books including The Myth of Sex Addiction and Insatiable Wives, which explores hotwifing and cuckholding.

Dr. Ley sat down with Leah to explore:

  • The link between violence and mass shootings, and sexual “addiction” and shame
  • The psychology and stories behind hotwifing and cuckholding
  • Why people in power so often engage in sexual misconduct and cross sexual lines


“If there is shame, and I promise you there always is, that’s where you plant your flag and that’s where you start to do the work. Shame is the secret wellspring from which our problems flow.” ~David Ley, Author of “The Myth of Sex Addiction”

More at: https://www.davidleyphd.com/

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Dedeker Winston on Polyamory & Conscious Relationships


Dedeker Winston is the host and producer of one of the longest-running and most popular polyamory podcasts, Multiamory. She’s also the author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know about Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love.

Dedeker sat down with Leah and members of the Esther Perel Discussion Group for a conversation about open relationships including hierarchy and couple’s privilege and designing conscious relationships that meet your needs.


“Open relationships make a lot of sense but they’re not for everybody- they demand a massive amount of egalitarianism. They require two people who are sovereign, who can choose for themselves and not one person imposing it on the other. Cheating happens all the time in open relationships. People will always cross boundaries. Transgression seems to be part of relationships period. People always need to negotiate boundaries in both monogamous and open relationships. Everything needs to be negotiated within the couple. Consensual non-monogamy is not a protection device against transgression. It’s a philosophy, a way of thinking about sexuality, freedom and the centrality of the individual within a relationship. ~Esther Perel

More on Dedeker at:


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Solo Polyamory: When Couple’s Privilege & Attachment Triggers Collide


What’s it like to be the third person entering into an existing couple’s dynamic in ethical non-monogamy?

I practice solo polyamory and am often in this position. I was invited to share in the video above how common non-monogamy norms like having rules, practicing hierarchy, cutting off contact, and exercising veto power can feel for a third.

I also shared some of my personal experiences with the above and how they’ve shaped the types of polyamorous relationships I now explore.

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Jessica Fern on Attachment Theory & Polyamory


Jessica Fern is a polyamorous psychotherapist. Her ground-breaking new book, Polysecure, looks at how attachment theory shapes and plays out in non-monogamous relationships.

Jessica joined Leah for a conversation about her book, attachment theory, and polyamory.


“Both monogamy and hierarchical polyamory utilize external structures to create a feeling of security in a relationship, but they don’t necessarily address the internal secure functioning of the relationship.” ~Jessica Fern

The HEART acronym depicts the specific ways you can create a safe haven and a secure base in your relationships:

H: Here (being here and present with me)

E: Expressed Delight

A: Attunement

R: Rituals & Routines

T: Turning Towards after Conflict

A quick-reference tool to communicate how you practice polyamory with potential partners, and learn how they practice as well:

More on Jessica and Polysecure at: https://www.jessicafern.com/

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Kasia Urbaniak on Good Girl Conditioning & Becoming Unbound


Kasia Urbaniak worked as a high-paid dominatrix in the dungeons of New York for almost 2 decades, as a way to foot the bill for her studies and travels to become a Daoist nun. Kasia joined members of the Esther Perel Discussion Group for a conversation about her new book, Unbound, which explores female power and the good girl conditioning that blocks it.

“Why do women often feel like they’re too much–and, at the same time, not enough? What causes us, at the most critical moments in our lives, to freeze?” ~Kasia Urbaniak, Unbound

More on Kasia and her book at: https://www.kasiaurbaniak.com/unbound-book

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Dr. Wednesday Martin on Female Pleasure & Infidelity


Dr. Wednesday Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of the ground-breaking book, UNTRUE: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Adultery is Wrong. Dr. Martin joined Leah Marshall and members of the Esther Perel Discussion Group on Facebook to debunk common sexuality myths, particularly about women.

Learn more about Dr. Martin at: http://wednesdaymartin.com/

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Male Vulnerability: Weakness or Strength?

Loved this exploration with Daniel Mackenzie on why men and women both crave and repudiate male vulnerability.


Daniel Mackenzie is an author, counselor, and the host of Omega Male. Daniel and I sat down to explore the limitations on male vulnerability due to patriarchy and the cultural scripts conscious men are courageously breaking free from.

“In many ways, it’s hard to know what it means to be a man these days. Vulnerability is seen as weakness and feminine, it’s also seen as a loss of power or control. Under patriarchy, you can be connected or powerful but you can’t be both. Boys are taught at a young age what emotions are acceptable, meaning masculine, and which show weakness and are associated with femininity. The code of masculinity— stoicism, strength, power, & aggression— not just men internalize it, women too. Under this code, men are allowed 2 feelings only, anger and lust. Men are taught to hide, stuff down, and bury their vulnerable emotions. Women say, “I want him in touch with his emotions… but not so much so that he crumbles in front of me. I want him vulnerable but I don’t want to feel like I need to take care of or be strong for him. You’ll never hear someone say, “Be a woman” or, “Woman up.” Femininity doesn’t need to be earned. Masculinity must be constantly proven and can be instantly stripped away.” ~Esther Perel

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Intimacy & Healing Childhood Sexual Trauma with John Romaniello


I first heard John’s personal story on Connor Beaton’s ManTalks podcast. I immediately reached out to him because he shares with such vulnerability and insight what it’s like to experience and heal from childhood sexual trauma and physical abuse. John and I sat down together to explore:

  • How having an abusive dad led John to be conflict avoidant: “I didn’t know how to break up- I only knew how to sabotage relationships to end them.”
  • How an energy healing helped John uncover the roots of his lying and dishonesty in adulthood
  • How John and his partner unexpectedly navigated a relationship betrayal
  • John’s experience confronting his family about the childhood abuse and their response
  • Why John wasn’t able to be with others’ challenging emotions until he confronted and made peace with his own
  • Why the process of writing a screenplay about his dad was more healing than the decade of therapy John did related to his trauma
  • John’s advice to women whose male partners pull away from intimacy and how shame and safety play a role in the process
  • The power of psychedelics in John’s healing and growth journey
  • John’s advice to people who want to share their story but are hesitant or afraid
  • The hardest conversation John’s navigated around polyamory and betrayal with his partner
  • Why the ego wants to want more than it wants to have


“Fostering intimacy is about creating safety and undoing shame. That process, being in that shame and pulling it apart together, in front of one another, is the most intimate thing in the world.”

“When you grow up in an environment of abuse and violence and you don’t have an example of how to be, the north star then becomes one of opposition. Meaning, I didn’t know how to be a good man so I just dis the opposite of what I saw. If he [meaning my dad] was violent and prone to conflict, then I won’t get into conflict- which meant I was constantly repressing. I didn’t have difficult conversations and I didn’t speak up for what I wanted. That led to a whole host of other problems. For me, it was infidelity because I couldn’t just say to my partner, ‘I’m unhappy, we need to talk.’ I’d push it down and then eventually I’d crack.”


More on John and his writings at www.johnromaniello.com.

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Normalizing Non-Monogamy: A Conversation with Emma & Fin

Emma and Fin are the creators and hosts of the Normalizing Non-Monogamy podcast, where they share firsthand interviews and stories of people practicing ethical non-monogamy from around the world. Their passion and purpose is to help more people embrace their true selves in relationships, live authentically without shame, and see that ethical non-monogamy is more common than most people think and can be done safely and consensually.


In this conversation, Emma and Fin joined Leah to explore:

  • The different types of non-monogamy (swinging, polyamory, monogamish, etc) and how they vary
  • The biggest mistakes couples make when trying to open up
  • Challenges they’ve experienced in their relationship while exploring non-monogamy and how they navigated them
  • The greatest benefit of non-monogamy in their own relationship


  • I tried online dating and it wasn’t working so I’m willing to try swinging. How and where do I begin? How do I explore it safely as a single woman?
  • Do you have any tips on knowing if you desire polyamory or an open relationship because you identify with its values, and wanting poly because you’re dissatisfied in your relationship?
  • Does you think jealousy is natural and innate, or largely stemming from how we’re raised and our cultural conditioning around monogamy? And how have you navigated jealousy surfacing in your relationship?


  • Leah’s Poly Story on the Normalizing Non-Monogamy Podcast: https://www.normalizingnonmonogamy.com/post/episode146
  • Normalizing Non-Monogamy Monthly Virtual Meet & Greet: https://www.normalizingnonmonogamy.com/meetandgreet
  • Quote by Dossie Easton, author of The Ethical Slut: “We have been taught to find polyamory frightening. We need to start being curious about our feelings, where our emotions come from, and why we are feeling them. We were raised to believe that the feelings that are aroused if our partner has sex with or is interested in some else are intolerable and beyond our ability to control.” Often the response is then to slam on the breaks. But avoiding feelings and conversations that we think will hurt us actually blocks our healing and our growth. They’re also generally the conversations that deepen our relationships and bring us closer to our partners.

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Sex Q&A with Tristan Taormino

In this candid Ask Me Anything Q&A, the renowned sex educator and author Tristan Taormino joined me to explore the below topics.


  • Why it’s so erotic to explore taboos in a sexual context
  • Why some people are drawn to kink & BDSM, and others are drawn to tantra
  • Female orgasms: types & experiences
  • Anal play & prostate massage
  • Healing from sexual trauma
  • Non-monogamy as a response to infidelity
  • Polyamory: orientation or choice?
  • Why it’s so much harder to receive than give sexually
  • Why lust and disgust play together so closely
  • Attachment theory & open relationships


  • Neuroscientist Dr. Nan Wise’s book, Why Good Sex Matters: Understanding the Neuroscience of Pleasure
  • Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy
  • Urban Tantra by Barbara Carrellas
  • Betty Dodson’s book, “Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving

Tristan Taormino is an award-winning sex educator, speaker, podcast host and author. She’s the executive producer of the Sex Out Loud podcast and the creator of the Sex Educator Boot Camp, a training program for sexuality professionals. More on Tristan at: http://tristantaormino.com and http://tristantaormino.com/sex-out-loud/about

Leah Marshall is a relationship junkie and the founder and leader of the Esther Perel Discussion Group on Facebook, a community of over 12,000 members from across the globe who regularly discuss relationships, intimacy, sex, desire, and infidelity. She’s also the creator of Song Therapy, a video series which breaks down the relationship dysfunction in popular songs. You can connect with Leah on Song Therapy at https://hiitide.com/song-therapy.