Sexologist Dr. Jess O’Reilly talks relationships & sex at the Gentleman’s Expo

by W. Andrew Powell
Dr Jess O'Reilly

From November 14 to 16, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre will play host to the second annual Gentlemen’s Expo, an event for men and women about the best in fashion, cars, food, entrepreneurship, technology, sports, music, grooming, and sex and relationships.

At this year’s event, among the sports stars, chefs, and luxury personalities, Dr. Jess O’Reilly will be speaking on those last two topics, and she has advice that may surprise you.

Dr. Jess is a sexologist with a PhD, and beyond her work as an author and television personality, she has a passion for events like the Gentlemen’s Expo. Before her appearance this weekend at the event, I asked her a bit about her work, and some of the misconceptions many people have about relationships. Catch her all weekend on the main stage.

Question: When you’re speaking at an event like the Gentleman’s Expo, what is the best part?

Dr. Jess O’Reilly: “I love live audiences, so feeding off of their energy is the best part. I work in television, but I’d pick a live crowd over a camera any day. Every time they laugh at joke or nod their heads in acknowledgment, the energy in the room is elevated to a new level.”

Q: What do you want people to walk away with after they’ve met you?

Dr. Jess: “I want you to walk away feeling better about where you’re at in your relationship. Whether you feel motivated to start a meaningful conversation with your partner or more comfortable with the possibility of trying something new, I hope that my work highlights the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to relationships. Just because something works for another couple, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Sex and relationships are exploratory opportunities–we need to stop taking a prescriptive approach. I’m a general expert, but you’re the ultimate expert in your own relationship.”

Q: Are there a few common misconceptions about sex and relationships, or is the list long and varied?

Dr. Jess: “It’s a long list and I’m still learning too, but these are a few common and challenging misconceptions.”

“First: Fighting is bad for the relationship. You obviously don’t want to nitpick at each other or spend all your free time resolving disagreements, but fights, struggles and challenges can be healthy components of a lasting relationship. They can help us to communicate our needs and insecurities to deepen connection and plan for the future.”

“Second: Negative emotions (jealousy, insecurity, resentment) are a sign that something is awry. You can’t eradicate emotions, but you can use them to start meaningful and intimate conversations.”

“Third: Sexual compatibility comes naturally. This simply isn’t the case. All compatibility takes work–in fact, the most important component of sexual compatibility involves being willing to put a similar amount of effort into your sex life. It’s not about wanting the same things at the same time in the same quantity, but more a matter of assigning a similar value to sex.”

Q: Has the public conversation changed much about sex over the last few years? Do you think people are more or less vocal about sex now?

Dr. Jess: “People are much more vocal about sex and porn is more accessible, so they’ve likely seen a range of simulated sex acts. However, mainstream porn still offers a very narrow view of bodies and sexual expression and this can impact our assumptions and expectations in bed. The reality is that porn often doesn’t reflect real pleasure (they’re actors!), so if you take your cues from porn stars, you may end up with a sexual disconnect in real life.”

Q: If you could change people’s minds about one thing, regarding sex, what would it be?

“I’d like to take the judgment out of sex. We seem to expect people to operate according to our own standards, but sexual tastes are as varied as our taste in food. Some people (like my mom and all of my aunts) love chicken feet and others find them repulsive. But those who hate them don’t judge those who love them (unless they’ve seen them suck on those slimy toes–that’s a whole other story and they probably judge). Kidding aside, we need to get over the reality that sex comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and stay out of other peoples’ business as long as they’re consenting adults.”

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