- In the Netflix series “Love, Sex, and Goop,” a couple struggles with an off-balance power dynamic.
- An expert on the show tells the woman she shouldn’t give negative feedback during or right after intimate moments.
- An outside expert says the advice violates consent, and that how, not when, feedback is given matters most.
When Rama and Felicitas met in college about 15 years ago, the spark was instant. They married within a year.
But while raising two kids by themselves with little support – Rama’s family is in the Caribbean and Felicitas’ family is in Germany – their romantic chemistry died and a new dynamic took hold: Felicitas as the disapproving “mom” and Rama as the “little boy” always trying, and failing, to please her.
They almost divorced.
But on the new Netflix series, “Love, Sex, and Goop,” an expert helps the couple recalibrate their dynamic, saying, among other guidance, that Felicitas should hold her critical tongue in intimate moments. An outside sex educator told Insider that message is problematic, even dangerous.
A relationship expert says why feedback in the moment can backfire
Relationship expert Michaela Boehm coached Rama and Felicitas through exercises to help them reconnect. In one, Rama blindfolds his wife and then holds, touches, and moves with her in a dominant way.
When he removes her blindfold, Felicitas offers high praise for her (“Wow, that was pretty good.”) before souring the moment (“So if you knew all along, then why don’t you do that?”)
Boehm tells Felicitas she needs to get in the habit of saying what she likes without criticizing it immediately after.
“Something I’m a real stickler for is that sexual feedback is not given in the moment,” Boehm tells Gwyneth Paltrow, the show’s host, later. That’s because “you start having negative associations,” she said.
“Essentially, bodies are meant to remember things and sexual engagement has to do a lot with biochemistry and the nervous system and relaxing and opening,” Boehm continued. “When you get negative feedback in a place where you’re supposed to open up, and feel hot and heavy, it’s very likely that you’re not going to be as open the next time you’re in that place.”
Another expert disagrees with Boehm’s advice
Laura McGuire, a certified sexual health educator, told Insider she’s skeptical of advice delivered by someone without apparent accredited degrees from nationally-recognized bodies like The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists.
(Boehm’s website says she’s a “classical Kashmiri Shakta Tantra lineage holder” with many celebrity clients.)
McGuire also takes issue with her rule against giving negative feedback in the moment. “If something isn’t going well … you definitely want to communicate that,” they said. “Because otherwise you’re just going to live with being uncomfortable for the rest of the time you’re together.”
The advice is also at odds with consent, which should be an open, clear, and ongoing conversation. “It’s a consent violation to say, ‘Don’t tell me if something is wrong,'” McGuire said. “You can’t just say, ‘It’s consensual because it started out as consensual.'”
McGuire says giving feedback isn’t so much about when you do it but how you say it – if Felicitas had delivered her criticism over dinner, for example, it still wouldn’t have sat well, they suspect. Instead, it’s important to learn to communicate, and receive feedback, in a loving way.
One partner may check in (“Is this working for you?”) or the other may speak up (“Can we try more of this?”).
“Sometimes in the moment, you have to have a hard conversation and yes, there’s vulnerability there and that’s part of intimacy,” McGuire said. “Sometimes that’s going to be tough and that’s going to be a little uncomfortable – that’s part of sex.”
“Love, Sex, and Goop” airs today on Netflix.