Amanda Luterman on Erotic Empathy (#40)

This episode is not suitable for children.

Ok, so I bet you’re curious to know what we’ll be talking about today.  

This episode is about erotic empathy. So, yes, we’ll be talking about sex.

Communication in the bedroom can be very tricky. Sex is such a sensitive topic and can be difficult to discuss with our partners. My hope for this episode is that it will help us to communicate more effectively with our partners so that we can develop a deeper sense of connection and intimacy. 

Our guide for our conversation today is Amanda Luterman. Amanda is a psychotherapist and founder of the Centre for Erotic Empathy where she does individual, couple and relationship consulting. She has over a decade of clinal experience helping people to have more fulfilling relationships and psychological well-being by reducing the stigma and barriers inhibiting intimacy. 

We hope you enjoy this revealing episode with Amanda Luterman. 

You can connect with Amanda via her website ( or LinkedIn.

You can listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Simplecast.

Show Notes

2:09 – how do people respond when Amanda introduces herself at a networking event.
3:52 – scared of talking about sex.
5:06 – how Amanda’s journey into erotic empathy started.
6:43 – what is erotic empathy.
7:47 – we push our partner away because of the way we feel about ourselves.
8:57 – not being judgemental about your partner’s sexual preferences.
11:08 – is it usually females who are more likely to find themselves unattractive.
12:52 – how to open up with your partner about your sexual preferences.
16:01 – asking your partner: what were you fantasizing about during sex?
16:16 – power dynamics are a common sexual fantasy.
16:47 – example of initiating sex with a power dynamic.
18:54 – the way people engage in partnered sex contradicts the way people masturbate.
21:57 – lessening the pressure and expectations in sex.
24:30 – how important is sex in a romantic relationship.
25:57 – your marriage isn’t over just because you develop feelings for someone else.
27:06 – the pressure men feel during sex.
29:50 – a lover is not responsible for both people’s pleasure.
30:35 – being good at sex is not about technique.
32:18 – religious or moral constraints on sex.
34:36 – therapy can help couples communicate their sexual needs and expectations more safely.
35:32 – how to get better at talking to your partner about sex.
38:12 – what do women want? what do men want?
40:22 – power switching and taboo fantasies are super arousing.
41:44 – is there hope if you are no longer attracted to each other?
46:42 – marriage is a promise to look after yourself for the other person.
48:21 – what if I’m not into the same things that turn on my partner?
51:48 – can sharing fantasies of sleeping with other people go too far?
53:52 – controlling your emotions so your partner can share their sexual preferences openly with you.
54:51 – sex is about communication and emotion regulation skills.
55:34 – the paradox of building confidence in your sexuality.
57:01 – how important is sexual compatibility when choosing a partner.
59:38 – why is sex important for your relationship and your health.
1:02:02 – connect with Amanda.

Links to References

I am Carrot Cake: A Lesson in Erotic Empathy

Golden shower

Key Quotes

“Some of the most articulate professional, skilled individuals in their own arena become monosyllabic when they talk about sex.”

“Sex is euphemistic at best in conversations.”

“How do heretosexual couples actually happen when women find vulnerability endearing and men don’t allow themselves any. How do we connect romantically, how do we arouse each other sexually when very contradictory methods work for each group?”

“ I call it a skill set. The skill set to put oneself in the other person’s shoes in order to get good at what they like. When you get good at a lover it means that you get good at anticipating what they might enjoy.”

“Don’t presume that what you like, they like. What they like is what you should do.”

“That is erotic empathy. I can appreciate what my partner enjoys and not judge them for it. I don’t make any negative assumptions about it being right or wrong.”

“I see people who cannot understand how their partner can find them attractive when they are looking frumpy.”

“When you push your partner away because of how you feel about yourself you reject them away. You are not rejecting yourself.”

“It’s pretty common for people to fantasise about power dynamics or being instructed to do things.”

“Fantasising a power dynamic is one of the simplest adjustments a couple can make. Once they integrate some narratives, some taboos, some power dynamics they find a limitless menu for inspiration moving forward in their relationships.”

“Erotic is the term I use for interpersonal sexuality and desire.”

“We put way too much pressure on the mechanics of sexuality to give us all the fulfilment.”

“Monogamy is not a promise to never desire someone else. It’s expecting to desire other people but it’s promising that you’ll remain devoted and committed to desiring each other.”

“People assume that if you have feelings for someone else their marriage is over. It’s not.”

“Desire from outside the marriage can provide a lot of information to the marriage about what can be incorporated into the marriage.”

“Men feel that manliness or masculinity is synonymous to dominance, sexually. It’s a myth, but it’s one many men relate to.”

“Once you’re in your own head it becomes hard to connect.”

“The more pressure you put on the orgasm, the less likely it is to happen.”

“A good lover is not someone who provides both people pleasure in the sexual experience, but it’s about connecting on what you each need to each pursue your own pleasure in each other’s company. I don’t believe a person gives another person an orgasm.”

“[Sex] has nothing to do with this technique-based, mechanical stuff.”

“The verbiage of some of these phrases are essential for some people being able to access pleasure in the company of their partners.”

“Sexuality and eroticism is so tightly linked to mental health.”

“The expectations in media and popular culture are so unrealistic.”

“Always start with what you want more of.”

“In sexuality you never want to add shame to something that is so prone to shame. And how you talk about it is so important.”

“What turns you on in your fantasy life on your own may have zero translation to your partnered erotic life.”

“These images of power switching are super arousing. The more taboo, the more arousing.”

“In order to switch it up, what is going to need to happen is a decision to become curious afresh and to become decidedly prioritising of the relationship in a sexual way.”

“If you’re unhappy then one of the reasons you may be unhappy is because you stopped being an erotic person in the bed you go to sleep in every night.”

“You might be able to integrate the fantasy around the fetish if you can’t integrate the actual fetish.”

“Sex is about communication and emotional regulation skills.”

“Nobody has been given enough reassurance in life that they are adequate sexually.”

“You don’t solve these feelings [of inadequacy]. You get support and don’t feel alone having them.”

“Sex is only very costly to your vitality in a daily way if it’s not happening.”

About the author

Divan and Mark are co-hosts of the Candour Communication Podcast where we discuss interpersonal communication and all the human stuff that gets in the way.