Episode 77 - Transcript - Sex Therapist - Dr. Kate

By Michael Rhodes | August 23, 2022

This is a transcription of Episode 77.  The transcription was done by software, apologies for anything that seems out of whack. A link to the episode is below.

Michael 0:00
Joining me today is Dr. Kate. Dr. Kate, let’s just jump right into it. And why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Dr. Kate 0:15
Sure. Thanks so much for having me on your podcast. My name is Dr. Kate Balistreri. I’m a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist, certified sex therapist, a packed couples therapist and a certified sex addiction therapist. So basically, I’ve been working in the context and landscape of sex, intimacy, relationships and mental health for about 16 years now.

Michael 0:38
Oh, wow. Yeah, I honestly, it escapes me how I found you. I think it was. I think it might have just been Instagram. I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter. But vote, I was looking for someone to speak about. Sexuality and and some of the challenges around that. For men after divorce, and one of the things that I see often is that men jump into or try to jump into relationships immediately after. And I always caution against that, but I’m not an expert. So could you talk about that? Like, why? Why is that a bad idea? Why did we do it? Those types of things?

Dr. Kate 1:17
Yeah, so I think everyone has their own motives, unconscious and conscious for why they jump into a relationship or jump into a sexual context, right after a breakup. But for a lot of men, there’s a deep loneliness that is felt at the loss of our relationship. And so often men are socialized to sort of not be present with their feelings. And they don’t really get a lot of emotional intimacy needs met with some of their girlfriends, they may not even have many guy friends that are separate from the relationship that just ended. So a lot of men unconsciously seek out partners because they get a lot of social connection, they get some intimacy needs met, and it’s really the only place where they feel like it’s acceptable for them to be vulnerable. So I think it’s, it’s a space that offers some respite. And it also can backfire.

Michael 2:15
Well, and that’s that’s, I think the key to all of that, right, is that it can and I think often does backfire. Why is that? Why Why does it backfire? Often?

Dr. Kate 2:27
Well, I think, again, I don’t think that this is always a conscious process. But for a lot of men, the women that they end up being in relationship with immediately after a breakup, they’re sort of seen as like, a conduit to their next relationship. And so when you unconsciously Think about someone as an instrument for your needs, which is kind of what that is. When that need is fulfilled, or when it doesn’t fit quite right anymore to be in that relationship, it’s going to start to feel really suffocating. Or it can feel really disappointing or frustrating, or the other partner might feel like, panic. Does this person really liked me for me? Or are they in this? Because I’m there, you know, for their recovery plan?

Michael 3:20
Yeah, do. I can’t ask you to speak for all women, but do women I’m going to do

Dr. Kate 3:28
by the way when men speak for all of us.

Michael 3:32
Well, I better you than me, that’s for sure. I don’t want to speak for him. But do women recognize that they know that? It’s possible that um, his Hemis crotch right now? And I mean, obviously, I can’t imagine they would enjoy that. But is that something that they are conscious of and look for? Do you think,

Dr. Kate 3:53
look for probably not, but well, not in terms of they don’t seek it out? I would say but they look to see what’s happening. Certainly, yeah, I think most people do if they are partnering up with somebody who’s in a recent breakup. They want to know if they’re a rebound. I don’t think that’s gender specific. But but definitely women are conditioned to sort of be available for men and to help nurture men through hard things. And many women will sort of see it as an opportunity to potentially develop some real intimacy. And I don’t mean that in like a manipulative, conniving way. I think a lot of these dynamics are very unconscious for everyone involved. But yeah, women will definitely pick up on when they’re starting to feel like they are an object, whether that’s an emotional object or sexual object, the financial object and really sort of in service of somebody else’s needs without appreciation for who they are as an actual partner. So definitely, more and more people. Again, gender inclusive, are getting Ways to that and reevaluating the partnerships that they find themselves in.

Michael 5:05
So that that leads to the question, I think there’s probably a lot more here, but in my head now I’m thinking, Okay, how do I, how do I know then if I am indeed, ready? Because there are arbitrary things like a year, which I think is wise, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying, hey, take a year. I see a lot of men push back and say, Oh, everyone’s different, which I think is really just an excuse to say, Yeah, but I’m lonely and I want to go date. So what, you know, a year aside are arbitrary dates, or whatever, how do you truly know that you are ready to enact or to start another relationship?

Dr. Kate 5:45
It’s such a great question. And I wish there was a cookie cutter answer that would give people some sort of safety or a path forward. But we are all different. And people start grieving their relationships at different points within or outside of the relationship. So many folks who stay in a relationship a lot longer than they needed to or wanted to, will grieve that relationship and feel more detached, and perhaps ready to move on emotionally, by the time the relationship ends. But for a lot of folks, that’s not the case. So the things that I would encourage people to look for are things like, Do you feel like you can really give to the relationship? Or does it feel like, maybe it’s a bit lopsided, because when you’re cultivating a new relationship, it’s really important to ensure that it’s mutual, and that you’re really exploring it from a place of sustainability, if that’s what you’re looking for. But when we’re really in our grief, or reactive or angry at an ex, you know, we might sort of get into relationship to try and self that wound. And that, you know, backfires that we talked about. So, yeah, I would look for a lack of reactivity. Maybe when you’ve learned something about yourself and have been able to really look at what was your part in a relationship? And how, whatever your part was sustained their relationships, demise? I think when we can take accountability for that piece, then we can really move forward with a little bit more grace.

Michael 7:22
Yeah. So that made me think of what things would signify that you’re not ready. And you mentioned one, being angry at your ex. So I have, I’m much better, but it’s been three years. But I still have some anger. And I’m so I’m not sure if I’m completely ready. But But how do you? Well, so besides anger, and we can delve into a little bit more. But what are other things that maybe are indications I like? No, I actually, I’m not ready at all?

Dr. Kate 7:52
Well, I wouldn’t say that being angry is a sign that you’re not ready. I would say being reactive in your anger would be for me something that I would say maybe it’s not time, right to bring that energy to another person. There’s more healing that needs to be done. But some other signs us that people are not ready. Yeah. Yeah, if they’re having difficulty staying focused, if they’re still going through a lot of really intense court related dissolution stuff or gnarly custody battle, you know, anything that might limit your ability to be present with yourself, or present with a partner. And I say that because when we’re caught up in the chaos of ending a relationship, especially in marriage, when things can be very complicated, we’re more vulnerable to picking partners who may not be good for us, or with whom we may not be a good fit. So it’s important to to, you know, be able to stay more present. So you can evaluate, do I like this person? I think, for me, do we really jive? Or am I just sort of like, going along with it? Because it’s convenient?

Michael 9:03
Yeah, I think it can be difficult to, to not only ask these questions, but answer them. Because it does require some significant self reflection. I think, oftentimes, especially men, and I also don’t, as my listeners know, I don’t like to generalize, but it is something that happens. We all have tendencies. But I do think that men really struggle with that self reflection piece because it’s, it’s, it’s hurtful to take on some of the blame. Now some guys go the opposite and blame themselves 100% I see all all mixes, but but I think for men to sit with feelings is really, really difficult. And so then it can be hard to know where you’re really at. And I think the challenge is for men is to and I encourage them to do it all the time. Sit with your feelings, embrace them. You can’t run from them. And I think that’s what a new relationship a new girl My friend signifies is is just an escape route?

Dr. Kate 10:03
For a lot of people. Yeah, for sure a new relationship means see I’m not broken. Yes, I can do this, I’m I’m healed, I wasn’t the bad guy or girl person. Someone else likes me. So it can’t have been my fault. Right? We have a lot of unconscious motivations that drive a quick rebound. But I really appreciate what you said. And and that is the it’s so hard to take accountability for what our part in a relationship is, especially if we feel aggrieved. Right, especially if you were betrayed or if your partner was abusive, and no one is responsible for their partner’s abusive behavior. And looking at kind of what are what are the elements of my background? What are the elements of my ability to regulate my feelings or take care of myself that may have created vulnerabilities that I can better protect myself around moving forward is an important question to ask.

Michael 11:02
Yeah, that means that makes me Thank you. So essentially, self soothing, right? The ability to calm yourself to make yourself feel okay with the world and yourself. I think that’s a really important skill. And I think, from my perspective, I think you need that in a relationship, not that you can’t rely on other folks, partners to soothe you at times. But I think it’s unfair. And I think men, women, whoever, I do think this is a male tendency, again, general generalities, but to rely upon the partner to make you feel better. And I think that’s, I think that’s a heavy burden to bear for the for the partner and responsibility that perhaps dt. Here’s a question, does that get tiresome for folks? I would imagine that it would, but I don’t know. I’ve never heard that specifically. Oh, he always made me feel like I had to take care of him. I guess. I guess maybe I’ve maybe I’ve heard that. But But Is that Is that a thing? Do people get tired of being the emotional? Yeah,

Dr. Kate 12:12
yeah. Yeah, it’s a whole thing. It’s a really common relationship dynamic for sis het folks, because of the ways that we are all conditioned to relate to our feelings and relate to each other. So your point about regulation is a really important one. Men are often and of course, I’m speaking with a broad umbrella, and I recognize hashtag not all men. But for the most part, men are conditioned to really dismiss away their own awareness of the majority of their emotional experiences, physiological experiences related to emotions, and really they emerge in as adults and in their masculinity with kind of like, just a few options, all of their emotions get funneled into anger. Shame sometimes, but that usually quickly turns to anger. And then happiness and pride, right? So men are often conditioned away from feelings like sadness, or shame, or loneliness, or fear, things like that. And they do look to their female partners to kind of handle and manage those emotions for them. And in a healthy relationship, that kind of CO regulation is great, it’s important, we can’t only self regulate, right, we have to be able to co regulate with other human beings and our partner becomes that person with us and for us, but what happens is because so many men are conditioned away from emotional intelligence, they don’t have the ability to do that with their partner. So their female partner ends up taking on the majority of that mental load, and emotional labor. And that’s where things start to move from two people feeling like partners, to one partner feeling like a parent, and it’s exhausting. And one of the most common relationship ending points that I see.

Michael 14:17
So you don’t think it’s necessarily that there’s no self regulation. On the one partners part, the man’s will just generalize because it’s easier right now. It’s not so much that he isn’t regulating his own emotions. It’s it’s that he can’t handle hers is that do I have that right? It’s both

Dr. Kate 14:39
right. It’s it’s for folks who have been again sort of socialized away and conditioned away from their own emotional experiences, any emotion that they feel over a certain threshold in their own body can flood them? And so what can happen is that can very quickly shut them down or or they can go into sort of an explosive state, right. And so there have become these, these very stark polarities, in which a lot of men navigate their own feelings, they either totally shut down, or they can externalize and get explosive, or get angry or demonstrative, in some other way. Women are socialized to have more nuanced, more tolerance for myriad emotions, right. So I’m not saying that men are bad at all. But the way that we are conditioned leaves men without a lot of relational and emotional skills that can be learned, but often learning them is in competition with how a lot of men understand themselves as men. So they’re put into this really pernicious loyalty bind of I’m either a man. And that means I’m limited in these ways. But that’s a badge of honor. Or I learned these things over here. And my masculinity might be questioned.

Michael 15:57
Yeah, that is sort of the rub, or the challenge, or whatever you want to call it that. That is the difficulties I think we face today I have my best friend, the world, Chris, who’s been on the podcast, three separate times, he and I have had this conversation that the challenges we face today, as, as humans is definitely evolved from what we used to face, you know, 100 years ago. And the challenges of today aren’t? Where am I going to get, you know, my meal? You know? How do I survive those types of questions? I think it’s shifted into much more mental and emotional, and how do I deal with the things that life throws at us every single day? And I think, again, generalizing, but I think men are at a pretty big disadvantage. And it’s so it’s hard to figure out. Even for me, I think I have a pretty decent grasp on the need for emotional intelligence. And the I have a desire to have it. But there is that part of me that’s like, you know, that I usually try to tell that voice to shut the fuck up. But there’s that, you know, be a man, you know what I’m like, Yeah, fuck off. But it’s still, you know, it’s still there. Because it’s yeah, it’s just what we’re supposed that’s how we’re supposed to behave. And it’s, it can be incredibly difficult. I see it all the time. You know, in my support group, it’s it’s definitely I think, I’m probably being grandiose I have the tendency to do such things. But it’s but I think it’s the biggest challenge we face as men is that balance?

Dr. Kate 17:28
Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t, I would agree that that is a huge concern for a lot of men. And it’s why we are seeing such an increase and discrepancy between men and women and the number of cases of substance misuse, high risk behavior, suicide attempts, and completion. These are all things that affect men with significant, significantly higher numbers of frequency and severity. So when we look at that, and we look at the why, it’s because they have not really been taught how to regulate their feelings more appropriately. They haven’t taught how to be vulnerable and be authentic, right. So there’s a sort of performative nature of their masculinity that a lot of men have been told is the right way to be a man. And it really limits them. I think it’s the biggest grift, honestly, of the modern world is this idea that because hegemonic masculinity is the way to be a man, because it’s robbed so many men of being whole humans and experiencing everything, they have the potential to experience? Yeah,

Michael 18:46
it just sometimes just makes me incredibly sad when I think about it, because I know, I know, the statistics, you know, I know the divorce or the suicide stats, you know, I cite them often, you know, 38, divorcement, a day in the United States kill themselves. And I just can’t, sometimes hard to wrap my head around that fact. And it’s just, it’s just sad. And, and I don’t, I think I know what the answer is, but I’m gonna ask you, I’m not a I don’t have a PhD. I don’t have a medical degree, I have degrees, but there have nothing to do with mental health at all. So this, I only know what I know. Because I interview folks like yourself, I read a lot of books. And I’m obviously invested in this space that we’re in. And I think essentially, it’s, it’s trying to save men’s lives, especially men that are going through divorce. But with that said, you are an expert, I would say you have a PhD. So what’s the answer? And I know that’s very like such a simple question and probably a very, very large answer, but if you could boil it down, what what is the answer? How do we fix this?

Dr. Kate 19:55
Well, which question Are we answered?

Michael 19:56
Why you’ve been Why why why do we? Why do we kill ourselves at a higher rate? And, and and? Well, I think I know the why. But what do we do about that? What Why are we so bad with emotions that it leads to things like alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution, etc, etc? And then ultimately, unfortunately, possibly suicide? How do we fix that?

Dr. Kate 20:21
I think one of the answers, it’s a multifaceted answer. But one of the solutions is what you’re doing right now with your podcast, right? You are holding space for men to think about these things and be more curious and more introspective and to get support from other men. And that is really such an important component of healing. I’m not sure if you saw it, or if anyone listening saw it, but a few months ago, Saturday at live did a spoof called The Man Park. Yeah, so for a lot of men, listening or anyone listening, if you didn’t see it, the premise of the skit was talking basically about how men are so dependent on their female partners for all of their social and emotional interaction, that the women bring them to a man park so they can socialize with other men. So this is the solution, right? Is men building intimacy with each other, that doesn’t depend on aggression, that doesn’t depend on competition, that doesn’t depend on the dehumanization, or objectification of women or anyone else. I don’t know if you know this or not, I mean, you might know it implicitly. But there’s a lot of research out there that talks about how when men objectify women as a form of bonding with each other, right. And so we have to create other ways of connection between men so they can learn that they don’t need to be constantly proving their virility, or their competence as breadwinners, or their athletic ability and agility. You know, we have to sort of move these, these benchmarks of masculinity around and create new goals. And when men show up and do that with each other, it’s beautiful. There’s so much healing, there’s so much growth, and they get a lot from those connections. And then we find their romantic and sexual partnerships to be not much more rewarding.

Michael 22:19
So what what are those things that what are those new goals and benchmarks? And I’m kind of put you on the spot, but but, you know, what, what, what are some of them are or one of them? I don’t know?

Dr. Kate 22:31
Well, I think one of the goals that that I might opine is to really acknowledge the totality of your humaneness. Right, and that looks like building emotional awareness and intelligence, building relational awareness and intelligence, developing empathy for themselves and for other people. And really looking at the ways in which they’ve been socialized to perform. Right? I think a lot of men are told you have to do you have to win, you have to make money you have to drive this car, you’ve got to do all these things. And then you’ll be man enough to to do what I don’t know to prove to get a woman to prove yourself, right. So we’ve got to take away all of that like precarious performative attachment to masculinity. If you identify as a man, you’re a man. Right? And, and really, I think it’s about creating just a more holistic humaneness within

Michael 23:30
is it? I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I don’t know if it’s devil’s advocate, but I’m gonna. Because that because I, because I agree with you, but I also hear, maybe it’s that voice in my head, or maybe it’s the 1000s of other men that I’ve, I’ve seen throughout my time and doing this. Is it a question of being more feminine?

Dr. Kate 23:55
Well, here in lies the trap. Right? Herein lies the trap of this patriarchal conditioning, we have, we have assigned certain traits to be masculine or feminine in the constructs of gender. So what does that mean? It means that over time, we’ve conflated anatomy with a prescribed set of roles. And if you really look at the history of the human condition, this is a fairly recent phenomenon, especially in its rigidity. So today, this this sort of binary experience of gender is just really forced. And it creates fear when we have only two options of how to think about ourselves and how to be in life prescribed by these roles that are totally made up. Then there’s a lot of fear if I’m not this, then I’m that and when there’s so much misogyny and hatred toward women in the world, fear of women, prejudice against women, then humming like them is a terror for folks who have been told they’re bad. So I think we need to really stop gendering activities to women are smart women are successful women are patient. And are all these things as, as can men be as our men? Right. And so when we really stumped to think about what are these ideas of masculine and feminine? And what is our attachment to them, there’s more freedom to live a more integrated experience.

Michael 25:31
Yeah, I hear what you’re saying there. i It’s, again, I don’t disagree. But I think it’s kind of it’s fighting against what hundreds of years of Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Kate 25:44
Well, I might invite you, or anybody who’s kind of, you know, chewing on this or having a reaction to what I’m saying, which I totally, you know, I get it, it’s hard to challenge the things we’ve been told our truths. But I might invite you to think about instead of using the language masculine and feminine, substitute masculine with active and feminine with passive. And I’m not saying that those things are true. But if we look at the polarities in that way, we all have more passive parts and more active parts of us, we all have, you know, and we need to, to survive, we have to have a passivity to fall asleep. We have to have activity to wake up, right. And so when we look at the ways in which everyone can and does espouse these polarities, away from gender, we start to look at, like the function of those behaviors and ideas, it’s more accessible to possess them.

Michael 26:41
Okay, so besides anatomy, is there a characteristic a personality trait that you we can say? Is that, oh, that’s a masculine thing, or that’s, that’s a feminine thing? Because I’m just curious. I think where I’m going is no, and just be whoever the fuck you want to be? Right? I mean, but perhaps there are some things that are, I’m trying to, you know, look at all sides, I guess.

Dr. Kate 27:10
Yeah, I think this is a really complicated conversation, and it’s a nuanced one. So I, I would be hesitant to just, you know, blank slate saying yes or no. But what I would offer is that there, there are, I don’t want to say this. It’s important to validate the experience of people who identify in a certain way. So for folks who identify as men, for example, and who were raised within the construct of masculinity, and its definition looks like Whatever it looks like, right, that’s their experience as a man. So I don’t want to say that their gender identity is moot or doesn’t exist, or that kind of thing. But I would say that really a lot of, if not all of the character traits that we assigned to masculine or feminine are a construct. And we’ve been conditioned to perform in those constructs for, you know, a ridiculously long time, not necessarily our organic truth.

Michael 28:13
I always say this, often when I do these things, I’m always thinking about what we talked about. So sometimes I have to take a pause and sort of like, try and figure out what did I just hear? And how does that apply to me? And I mean, you’re right, this is nuanced, and and could probably go on for hours and hours. And what’s the I mean, just I think, was part of the intention. But it wasn’t that I didn’t want it to be the focus, not that that’s a bad thing. But we did get kind of bit off track, but that’s okay. That happens all the time. rabbit holes, as I say, so let’s steer it back to what was part of our original was part of the pre interview. And that was why I originally was looking for a sex therapist. Specifically, it was someone reached a listener reached out to me and said, Hey, I’d really like it. If you could bring on someone to talk about performance issues, sexual performance issues, erectile dysfunction, whatever you want to call it. And I think it’s the context is, I’m just getting back out there dating, and I can’t get it up for lack of a better, more eloquent description. What what is what hat what is happening? When that occurs? Like what is the reason? Medical issues aside? What’s going on up here?

Dr. Kate 29:32
Sure. So if we control for medication issues and medical or biological issues, a lot of the psychology behind erectile dysfunction is around anxiety. Sometimes it’s around a lack of interest, but usually it’s around anxiety. have fear of will I be enough or will this be fun for this person? Sometimes when we’re just getting out of a relationship That was really meaningful, it can also feel a little bit like a betrayal to sleep with someone else. And so sometimes our anatomy communicates that to us by refusing to participate. So, you know, it can be about a lot of things grief, sadness, depression, anxiety, fear, guilt, maybe a little shame sometimes to can underlie.

Michael 30:25
I think it calls back to one of those signs, right, that maybe you’re not ready,

Dr. Kate 30:29
potentially. But also, I mean, we do heal in relationship to so we can only do so much healing on our own. And then the rest of that has to happen in a relationship, because when we have relational wounds, it’s not a solo journey after that, to kind of put ourselves back together,

Michael 30:47
I struggle with that one, because I’m not saying wrong, clearly, you know, like, like I said, You’re, my degrees aren’t in any of these things. So. But I struggle with that, because I feel like that I don’t even think you’re wrong, because I think there are certain things that I don’t know if it’s healing, the way I view it is, there are certain things that I don’t know, that I’ve fixed or improved or worked on, because their relationship, but no fucking word issues. And so I just made it up. And so I don’t know where I’m at, because I’m not in a relationship. So but I don’t, I don’t know if that’s the same as his healing. I just think it’s sort of a check for me to be like, okay, that I’ve learned that skill, or I’ve unlearned that skill, or whatever.

Dr. Kate 31:40
I hear what you’re saying. I’ll clarify what I meant by that. When we have relational injuries, right, like broken trust, for example, or feeling hurt, or just really aggrieved in a relationship, when when things go sour, it can sometimes impair our ability to have confidence in a new relationship, trust in a new partner. And so there’s only so much we can do on our own to assuage those fears or address those wounds. Before we have to take the risk to be in relationship again. And it’s only when we are willing to sort of do that, and we have a reparative experience that we can kind of address the whole picture of that earlier injury.

Michael 32:26
And I would guess you would need to be pretty open about that, right? Because how could you? How could you heal? Or how could they help you heal trust? For instance, if you’re not honest, and say, hey, you know what, because of this last thing, I have this thing, isn’t it? I mean, I think that’s important in relationships. In general, we all say that communication, but I don’t know how much we actually practice it. But isn’t that an important part of it as well, where you have to say like, this is where I’m at, because I know that’s, I think that’s essential.

Dr. Kate 32:58
I do too, I agree wholeheartedly, right, when we can be transparent about what our feelings are, what our tender parts are, what our needs are, we stand a much greater chance of cultivating the kind of relationship that we want, and weeding out partners who aren’t going to be able to meet us there. So I see it as a necessary part of trusting yourself in a new relationship to communicate with a partner and say, Hey, here’s where I’m at. And I would love if we are on the same page. And if we’re not, I honor myself and you enough to back away.

Michael 33:35
It just stuff is just, it tickles every bone in my body. I love these topics. I think it’s essential to having healthy relationships to really ask these questions of yourself and look at where you’re at and, and understand yourself so that, you know, guys, we don’t want to do this again, like divorce rates for second marriages are 67%. I have no interest in doing it again, in other people who of course, you’re like, Oh, I’m never getting married. I don’t know, maybe whatever. But I do know that if I do, I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes. I don’t want to have the same outcome. And so I think these conversations are really important because I don’t know that men hear these things. As you know, I don’t know that they even consider some of these things. And I think it’s if you’re if you’re if you don’t want to repeat it, you got to you can’t do the same things over and over

Dr. Kate 34:27
the literal definition of insanity, doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results. Right. And we’re all

Michael 34:33
guilty of it. Oh, for sure. Yeah. Well, and especially when it I shouldn’t say especially but at times, when a relationship ends, you’re like, Oh, I was her one me. I just need to find another one. Right. And then you find another one. You’re like, oh, same thing. Oh, women suck like, man. But anyway. So we also talked about something you brought up and I am a complete novice will say I’d be nice to myself. On this particular topic, it’s something that you wanted to discuss. And so I’m not even sure if I have that correctly, Madonna whore complex is that yeah. Okay, so that’s that’s something you wanted to bring up and discuss because you thought it was relevant and I am all ears. So let’s let’s discuss this.

Dr. Kate 35:18
Yeah, well, for your edification, for anybody who’s not familiar with that complex, the Madonna whore complex, or sometimes the Madonna whore dichotomy is what it’s called, it exists in a sense that the men who experience it often see women as being either someone they can love and respect and partner with, or somebody with whom they can be sexual, but they don’t have to care about them, they don’t have to worry about their feelings or, or, you know, really even consider them consider their experience at all. So this sort of extreme bifurcation of how women are experienced and considered and thought of, can become really amplified after hard relationship breakups. Because at its core, it’s about objectification, right, and some women become an object through whom I seek redemption, or love, or care or worthiness, and other women become a vehicle for my guilt, my shame, my destruction, my lack of empathy, you know, they get all the parts of me that I think are not okay to bring to this person I love. And so it can create a lot of hard relationships and tough moments for folks, I work with so many men who struggle with this and don’t know how to integrate loving and fucking with the same person,

Michael 36:51
isn’t it? Uh, man, I had something there, it’s kind of a call back to some of the earlier stuff. And in that it’s, again, I think, an inability for men to to figure out how to integrate and regulate emotions. So it kind of, if they don’t deal with it, then they can separate. If that makes any kind of sense. I think what I’m trying to say is, it’s the inability to really deal with emotion. So you can you can sort of hate you hate, oh, that’s what I’m gonna go with you. So you can you can, you can hate women, because you’re angry, and you can’t deal with your emotions. So you go to hate and so you hate women, and that’s easier, but you kind of need them. Right? And so then you you don’t, it’s almost like you’re at war with yourself a little bit, right?

Dr. Kate 37:39
Totally, totally. And, and the women that that are interacted with becomes sort of a representation of that inner polarity, right, I’m either good or I’m bad. Right, and I don’t know how to regulate my feelings, all of us. Throughout the course of our development experience, that sort of black and white, good or bad, we call it object relations. So we sort of learn about who we are based on the ways that we interact with caregivers. And before we understand that our caregivers are whole human beings with a whole complex experience that have their own, we just see them as people who give us a bottle or food and change our diaper when we need it, or people who don’t. And so it creates this sort of internal experience of bifurcation or, or a dichotomy. And so when folks don’t learn how to humanize themselves properly, coupled with systemic ideologies about women, and men, and how they’re supposed to relate to each other, and all the things that we’ve been talking about, women are sort of seen as this, like, perpetual good breast or bad breast.

Michael 38:53
Is there a flipside to that? Is there a female version, so to speak? You know what I mean?

Dr. Kate 38:58
That’s a good question. Um, you know, definitely women can see men, in polarities too, and in black and whites, but it’s just not it risen to the level of systemic observation that we see with men and the degradation that can come with seeing women as sexual and therefore, bad and not respectable, and all of the things that go with the perpetual sex shaming of women and implicit demands that women remain pure and good in order to be respectable, pure and putting that in quotes. Dangerous term,

Michael 39:36
for sure. Yeah, I mean, I suppose that it’s I mean, there are of course negative experiences that men have with women and how they’re viewed but I think when you look and I one point, I think I did look at these statistics, when you look at like, there’s a reason that men are sort of looked at in a certain way and again, gender Last thing, whatever but, you know, rapes and murders of, you know, spouses and partners and stuff. It’s largely the man that’s doing these things. So it’s hard not to take that view sometimes and be like, Well, guys, there’s a cause because I see it all the time in like, in my support group, where guys like, Oh, she filed a false, you know, domestic violence claim. And so now everything’s like, it changes everything. And there’s a reason those claims are taken seriously. Right? It’s not willy nilly out of the blue like, oh, okay, we just, we just, there’s no reason for us to believe her. You know, men haven’t done shitty things. Women had to I’m not saying they haven’t. But, but there’s a reason that these things occur. Now, what I will say is, and this is definitely off topic, but there should be consequences, there isn’t for people that falsely accused and there isn’t. And that’s, I still think there should be, especially when it comes to, you know, children and like access to children. If you lose your kids or false accusations, that’s, you should be punished in some kind of way. I don’t know what that is. But it’s what a terrible and horrible thing to do. But there is precedent for believing women, where we don’t have a great track record, fellas.

Dr. Kate 41:21
Yes. Yes, there are so many men who are not abusive, who are not course, physically dangerous, and all of those things to women. And the men are responsible for so much of the violence that occurs toward women. Especially, I was surprised to read that. Actually, I’m not surprised. But I was surprised that it rose. But when women are pregnant, the actual number one cause of mortality is an intimate partner. So there’s just so much violence against women. And the more vulnerable they are, the higher the violence is most of the time. So there is good reason for women and the legal system to really take even the smallest of boundary infraction seriously, because it can so quickly escalate. And no one really knows until they get there, if it’s going to be them. You know, I used to work in multiple prisons, and I’ve worked with many men who have been abusive to their partner. And some of those instances have resulted in homicide, others have resulted in other forms of intimate partner violence. And I can’t tell you how many of them didn’t see it coming inside of themselves. They didn’t know. They didn’t know they were capable of that.

Michael 42:44
Feel like we feel like we fell into a large rabbit hole? How in the hell did you do that job like? Well, especially as a woman, like how could you? I mean, you know, you’re you’re there to help but like the premise in which you’re and I don’t know the exact details here, but but being around that being a woman. I mean, you’re you’re obviously a very smart person, you have the ability to understand it’s just that there’s probably some reasoning behind what they did, should he childhoods, etc, etc. But still, there’s what desire to help those people? How did you? How did you find that? How did you find the desire to help them within you? Yeah, those particular gentleman who did these particular things? Well, I have the

Dr. Kate 43:38
radical belief that all human beings are human beings, right, and none of us are created in a vacuum. So we have to humanize each other. And I do not condone any abusive or violent behavior, let me make very clear, but my personal philosophy in the work that I do is when we can understand what compels violence, when we can understand what compels some of the destructive behavior and human relationships, we have a better likelihood of preventing future violence. So for me, it’s all about, let’s try to reduce recidivism. Let’s try to improve relationships. Let’s try to create preventive medicine, psychological medicine that helps people heal the earlier wounds that contribute to increased violence and panic. So that’s my, that was my reason for doing it.

Michael 44:36
It did you find that? You know, and if this is too personal, or whatever, we can definitely switch but I’m just curious, did you? Was that who you always were? Or did you develop that like through the course of life or the course of school like was, was that just who is that just who you are?

Dr. Kate 44:50
Well, again, none of us are born and created in a vacuum. So obviously, the things that I’ve been through in life have influenced how I see human behavior. But what I’ll say is that I’ve always been somebody who’s been fascinated by True Crime documentaries, and really have always wondered, how can people do these things to each other, especially the people they claim to care about. So growing up by, I think I’ve seen every episode of every law and order. And I’m pretty much every show on Investigation Discovery, and just I’m always curious about how things escalate. And what could have been done to prevent that. So it made it made sense for me to go into forensic psychology and really tried to deepen my understanding and try to impact you know, that progression.

Michael 45:42
So what? Here’s the million dollar question, what’s the answer? Like, what do you how do you prevent those things? That’s probably not a fair question. But

Dr. Kate 45:53
well, it’s, yeah, it’s a complicated question. But I’m gonna say something that probably will make me unpopular on your podcast, but really, a huge component to reducing violence is changing the definition of masculinity away from this sort of traditional hegemonic toxic masculinity that contains in it a lot of the conditioning that creates that like vulnerable steamed off in folks, and then it’s a question of looking at what are the systemic implications that need to change in addition to that, so it’s about providing sex education, providing education that is really competent, in general, emotionally intelligent education, and focusing on developing those skills early in our children’s development, and, and universally, right, if we just have a couple of families in a school that are really keyed into emotional intelligence, and then they go to school, and that’s not something that’s taught, it won’t catch as much. So when we have that, as part of our curriculum, I think all of those things combined can really help.

Michael 47:13
I couldn’t agree more. And I honestly I think, you know, I think the people, the men that listen to this podcast are looking for answers. And they are open to any of those answers. And I think the people, the men that are fired, just just pissed off at the world and hate women, they’re probably not listening anyway. Honestly, because they haven’t figured it out. And the answer is women suck. Good. Good. Good luck with that to see oh, we’re suffering. So I think I you know, I don’t think maybe a few I’ll leave room for error. Right. But I don’t think anyone I don’t think many people are going to, you’re not going to get any hate mail. At least, the fuckers better not send any hate mail. I appreciate that. I don’t I don’t think that’s gonna happen. It’s never happened before. It’s not that I know of. Yeah. No one’s ever reached out. No, that wouldn’t be fucking cool at all. So I don’t I think what I’m trying to say is I think the guys that are listening are open. And and they probably would would if they are honest with themselves, they probably would agree with you. Because again, if you look at stats and info, and it’s, it’s, it’s largely men that are doing these really violent Now, are there some females? Of course, there are, there’s always exceptions to the rule. But if you’re looking at if we’re talking about majority of things, then, you know, we, as men have done some shitty things. We’ve done some great things too. Don’t get me wrong, it can be I think there’s this, you’re talking about black and white thinking, I think that’s so prevalent in our society, I think it’s, it’s really dangerous thing is either this or that. And that’s just not the human experience. We’re all so multifaceted. And we have many components and things that are just, you know, in some ways opposite, you know. But so I think it’s, it’s helpful for us to, I think, take a step back and try and see things through a different lens and not of a black and white type of lens.

Dr. Kate 49:15
I couldn’t agree more, I want to add with, or end with just a reminder that men are not trash and women are not crazy, right? So it’s really important that we challenge these stereotypes and these tropes, and I love that you’re doing this work and inviting these conversations. Because when we can stop from the sort of reductionistic labels of ourselves and of whoever we perceive as an other, we really get access to so much more richness in our lives and so much more peace. And that I think is really the goal.

Michael 49:53
I’m gonna ask you just one more. It’s just a quick one. What words of wisdom would you add? First of all, thank you for all of this. This is amazing. Thank you very much, we will definitely do it again. What are some words of wisdom you would impart to a man who’s just started his divorce process?

Dr. Kate 50:07
Be kind to yourself, right? Taking accountability can be hard, whether you were at fault, I hate that language. But, you know, whatever your part was in the dissolution of the relationship, be kind to yourself and also, you know, be honest and accountable, it gives you power to know what is your part so that you can move forward and heal with integrity and really have the life that you want. You know, when when the pain settles down, I would also encourage them to work with a therapist. You know, we’re, we work with folks at these junctures every day and you don’t have to do it alone.

Michael 50:49
Dr. Kay, thank you. So so. Okay, thank you so very much for for doing this. I really, really appreciate it. We’ll definitely do it again. I think this will come up pretty quickly. I’ll give you a heads up when it does. Thank you. So

Dr. Kate 51:04
this was wonderful. Thank you again for inviting me.


Episode 77 – Sex Therapist – Dr. Kate


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