Figure skater turned relationship professional Ashleigh Renard met her husband at 21 and, for years, thought she had an ideal life and marriage. When the pair decided to spice things up through sex parties and the swinging lifestyle, she faced ongoing problems for the first time.
She shared her journey in her new memoir, Swing: a Memoir of Doing it All. And you can learn much more in the new Girl Boner Radio episode!
Stream it on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Spotify or below. Or read on for a lightly edited transcript.
“Sex Parties, Soul Searching and Hot Monogamy: Ashleigh Renard”
a Girl Boner Radio podcast transcript
Ashleigh: And then he pulled it off and just slung it over a chair, and then I’m just dancing and I’m like, oh my God. I never knew how much I would like that sensation of dancing and I’m very scantily dressed and there are people watching. Like, listen, August. I’m a mom of three kids at this point. I’m still breastfeeding my youngest and I haven’t had this feeling of feeling alive in my body and like sexy in my body. Do you know what I mean?
And it being about, in that moment, my body wasn’t there to feed children or like birth children. I even had my babies at home. I’m always like, okay, yeah, my body can do these things. It can be on the ice for a hundred hours over two weeks and feel better at the end than the beginning and it can birth these children. And you know what, also? My body can just move in a way that makes me feel alive.
Ashleigh Renard is a non-clinical relationship professional, author and former professional figure skater. And like many folks, her curiosity about sex started early.
Ashleigh: My memories around sex as a kid are super vivid. Anything I learned about sex made me think, oh my God, I am gathering secrets to the adult realm to bring back to the other curious children. Just like gathering information that usually was saved for people who had more years of life. I was just really eager to just learn as much as I could.
The first time I remember my mom telling me about how babies were made, I swear I was like three or four years old I remember her telling me, and we’re walking in, in the bathroom, maybe she’s getting ready, right? And she’s talking to me andI’m following, I’m following until she said the word fertilize. And then I pictured my dad out mowing the lawn. And I thought, like, you lost me.
Like, I thought I knew what was going on.
When my mom gave me information about it, it was so straightforward and so like, “oh, this is an incredible thing about human bodies. I’m so happy to tell you this.” So she was just so open to it.
My favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon when I was like 10, 11 years old was to corner one of my friend’s moms and sit them down at the kitchen table and ask them everything about sex. And ask them to give us the pros and cons of every kind of birth control.
I thought this was spectacular and everybody’s favorite way to spend, a weekend afternoon until my 20th high school reunion, and my friend Jamie said to me, ” do you remember that thing you used to do, when you was used to like, ask my mom about sex? Do you realize how Catholic she is?
It’s something that I need to hone in some situations, and I’m sure I’m not completely unaware of this, but I get such a charge from digging into conversations that usually people don’t wanna have and go, no, no, we’re all safe here. We can talk about this. Here’s why. And just like creating a vibe where people feel safe.
Ashleigh said she’s used that skillset for decades as an adult, too. After excelling as a skater in Canada herself, she coached figure skating. She even started Philadelphia’s first synchronized skating program.
Ashleigh: In coaching a sport where there were 16 pairs of blades going at all times we just had to really feel safe. We had to really feel safe going there physically, and going there and performance. I’m going there as far as like pushing the envelope, with creativity. So going there and talking about vibrators on my Instagram is like, no big deal.
Of course, a lot happened between the days when young Ashleigh was asking her classmate’s moms about sex and her outspoken advocacy of today. In her book, Swing: a Memoir of Doing it All, she shares advice her mom gave her about men, including:
Ashleigh: “You would be a fool to ever marry a man without living with him first.” So I always knew like, sex is something that can be fantastic and that you should figure out before you get married. I always had this open idea about it and thinking it was super grownup and awesome. So I always knew my body really well.
August: So was masturbation a big part of your youth and your coming into yourself?
Ashleigh: Huge part. And also like, just so discreet and personal that it was just something that was so private and just so commonplace for me. And I didn’t have any stigma around it.
The only message that I got, cause I’m the oldest of four kids, what I heard my parents or my mom saying to my younger siblings was like, “yeah, that’s for when you’re alone. You just need privacy.” And you do that like, “yep, you need privacy. If you’re gonna do that.”
As Ashleigh blossomed into her first partnered sexual experiences, in her late teens, she always went for nice guys — kind men who cared about her pleasure.
Ashleigh: So sex was always really fun for me because I was with someone I trusted and I really knew my body.
At 21, she met her husband, Manny, when they took the same job. They had graduated from different colleges with the same degree — in exercise physiology.
Ashleigh: When I was there interviewing for the job, they said to me, “Hey, we just interviewed this college or this Greek football player a couple weeks ago.”
And I was like, Greek football player. Like, wow, that sounds interesting. When he had been there for his interview, they said to him, “yeah, we’re flying down this Canadian figure skater in a couple weeks.” And he thought, Canadian figure skater. That’s really interesting.
So, even before we met, we both had this idea in our head of like, Ooh, who’s this other person gonna be? Because we were the only two employees, we were replacing two other employees. It was a super small sports specific training place in New Jersey, actually.
So I packed up my car on a Sunday. I drove from Manitoba to my new home in New Jersey. And I ended up there like on Tuesday. And then on the Thursday he came into work. I went, shook his hand and I was like, oh he looks a little bit like a Greek statue. Great, great athlete, looking really cute.
What I found out over those next few weeks — cuz we tried to just be friends and it lasted like a couple weeks — is that he’s one of the nicest guys I know. And that was 20 years ago, last August that we first met.
They started dating and before long, they got married, built a life together. And their sexual connection was strong, even once they had their three kids.
Ashleigh: And we thought that was a good thing. But so many areas of our life we were fraying. Like we were like, pulled at the seams, from overdoing and not asking for support and not communicating and not supporting each other.
But we would have incredible sex but we kept getting further and further apart in any sort of emotional intimacy. We were passing children back and forth. . The first two didn’t sleep. At the same time, Manny developed a tumor in his spine.
I had a really, really challenging kind of cohort of skating parents. It was a growing pains time of growing pains in my own business. Um, so there were just a lot of things at once. But we had this really , we had this really egoic way of, I think thinking that, oh yeah, we’re okay because like we still have, you know, regular sex.
It was such an easy, easy way for me to get connection that was like surefire, you know? But it would never hit the spot like I wanted it to because I wanted to have great orgasms, but like, I could have those on my own.
I really wanted more closeness to him. And I think we were both getting kind of bored. We were so overwhelmed with all the stress and we didn’t have a lot of focus or energy put towards something that really felt nourishing. So that’s what I mean by bored. We were so busy, but we weren’t nourished like we were, we were really feeling unfulfilled is a better word than bored.
And that is what led to the opening scene in Swing.
Ashleigh: I’m in line at an invite only sex party in New York City where we had to send in headshots and freaking relationship bios to get on the guest list.
That’s where we got ourself because sex was always easy and we were looking for something else and then, oh, why not? Why not sex clubs?
August: Ah, would you walk us through that first experience, like including how you were feeling going in? Cuz it sounds like you both were like, excited. Did you have any butterflies?
Ashleigh: So many butterflies. We’re pulling into the parking lot, we’re like, oh my God, we’re definitely gonna be the only people there. Oh my God. We’re gonna feel so weird. We’re gonna walk in, there’s gonna be like one other couple, who’s weird and given us the sexy eyes or something, you know what I mean? Because you just don’t wanna be put on the spot in a situation like that, right? So we’re so nervous .
We’re trying to go, like, how scared should we be? And like also sort of this game, like what are the odds that we end up like, tied up in the parking lot or something.
Or I’ve like I don’t wanna joke about trafficking, but I was like, I am putting myself in a vulnerable situation. am I an idiot? Am I like the worst mom in the world?
So we pull into the parking lot. it’s like a warehouse. Like a warehouse down in Philadelphia by the airport. It’s like off, right? It’s not in a regular like commercial area. And then we go in the door and opens up huge warehouse type club, okay? There are like all these TVs around playing different porn that’s like on mute. And then there’s a DJ who’s like trying to get things started and there’s a check-in where you have to surrender your cell phone and all these things, like there’s some privacy and you have to give your ID to check in. And It’s B Y O B, too, like a private club.
You walk in and people are dressed for clubbing. Do you know what I mean? And there are people of different ages and there are people of different ethnicities. A third of the people who were there will be there for the atmosphere, for the blowjobs they’ll see on the dance floor, like literally a couple will be dancing. And you know, there’s always like the brave couple who really like gets it started on the dance floor. They were probably the same kind of people who like got it started at the makeout party, right. , like, you know?
August: Spin the bottle. “I’ll go first!”
Ashleigh: Yeah. Hey, you wanna play spin the bottle? Like right. We have those people we can count on and I’m usually one of those people.
So I would say the first time that we went and my dress came off, I probably had two glasses of wine by then.
It would just start like, to get like a little sexy, like whether, you know? And we weren’t gonna be interacting with anybody else cuz we were gonna be in that second group of people who are gonna get the atmosphere and then go into one of the private rooms and have sex there.
And you can close the door and then there’s a little window in our favorite club and you can leave the curtain open or closed. And this is a common thing so that you can be watched if you want, but you can have the door locked, but like nobody’s coming in. And there’s a dimmer switch on the light, so you could like have it full brightness. You could have it pitch black, you could just close the curtain.
There are a million things you can do before you would even like kiss somebody else. It’s such a rich experience for you and your partner that feels very daring and feels very taboo.
And to then whisper in your husband’s ear, like, “take off my dress.” And he is like, “right here on the dance floor?” And he heard me go, “yeah, take it off.”
And then he pulled it off and just slung it over a chair, and then I’m just dancing and I’m like, oh my God. I never knew, I never knew how much I would like that sensation of like dancing and like, I’m very scantily dressed and there are people watching, like, listen August, I’m a mom of three kids at this point. Like, I’m still breastfeeding my youngest and I haven’t had this feeling of feeling alive in my body and like sexy in my body. Do you know what I mean?
And it being about in that moment, my body wasn’t there to feed children or like birth children. I even had my babies at home. Like, right? Like I’m always like, okay, yeah, my body can do these things. It can be on the ice for a hundred hours over two weeks and feel better at the end in the beginning and it can birth these children. And you know what, also? My body can just move in a way that makes me feel alive.
It was just so similar to like the way I used to feel alive when I was a kid. And there are just, there are ways that parts of ourselves just get turned down. The volume gets turned way down as adults.
Not everyone needs to go and dance partly naked at a sex party to experience that freedom again, she said. There’s no one best or right way to turn that volume back up. But for her –
Ashleigh: … that kinda opened up some things for me that started just unraveling, the life that I thought that we had.
It also led her to look at other aspects of her life where she felt “incredibly dissatisfied.” And — you might’ve gathered this about Ashleigh — but when she commits to something, she goes all in. Her life is organized, optimized and busy. So exploring different kinds of non-monogamy, opening her marriage up to different experiences, was no exception.
Ashleigh: Like, let’s go to clubs and see this excitement and let’s put ourselves in that environment and those situations with other people. Let’s see what happens. Like we were really open, like, let’s see what happens and we can kind of work it out on the fly.
In some ways, that worked out great for them.
Ashleigh: Cause I was connecting with my husband on like a shared thing.
Since they were done trying to get pregnant or keeping a toddler alive, she recalled…
Ashleigh: It’s like, we don’t have very much in common when we’re not procreating. This kitchen’s closed. Like, I don’t wanna have any more babies.
I wanna just get more, more, more into a space where I can delight in the ones I have instead of feeling so stressed and pulled apart. And it just, it opened this, this kind of portal for me to look at the places where I really felt sad and I hadn’t admitted it. Because I had three healthy kids…
…and a hands-on husband, plus a cool career.
Ashleigh: This lovely life. And so for me to admit that I actually felt mostly miserable in a lot of parts of that, was really hard for me. I felt a lot of shame. I felt a lot of shame because I thought if I was just more grateful, then maybe I would feel better. Like maybe that’s the problem. I’m the problem. It’s me. I just need to feel more grateful.
But then realized, you know what? I’m gonna have to give myself a little bit more compassion than what I’ve done in the past, in order to maybe heal from this. Because it really feels like I’m running from it in a lot of ways.
August: What prompted you, it sounds like it was gradual, but what prompted you to realize that you had that shame and that you needed to give yourself compassion? Was that before this foray into swinging and sex clubs, or was this during?
Ashleigh: Yeah, it was right in the middle of it. August. It was right in the middle of it really quickly. Which isn’t surprising cuz when you get yourself into kind of a daring situation where you’re like literally wanting to feel the edges, like you’re like, how far can we go with this?
How far can we push it? Yeah, you hit some spiky parts pretty quickly and that’s what happened with, with me and Manny and realizing, holy shit, all of this, all of this stuff we really prided ourselves on, like, oh, we’ve never really fought. we thought that was because we were just so great in relationship, but it was really because we are incredibly avoidant of conflict, incredibly avoidant.
And somehow we had got like 15 years into our relationship, like the most basic ass things about values and how we wanna live we’d never even talked about because anything that got sticky.
And I don’t know if you’re into astrology or your, or your audiences, but like we each have four planets in Libra. Were like, harmony is always possible, right?Cooperation is our default mode. So much so that we think that if we just want to get along and we push things under the rug, that we’d be okay. But then we turn around and those things have been growing and molding for like 10 years and we’re like, oh shit, we’ve got some stuff to pull apart here. If we wanna figure out, there are things here that are salvageable.
August: Yes. I love that sexual exploration was like your gateway to this kind of healing and analysis and reflection. Would you talk more about that and how, cuz you ended up really going into swinging and you mentioned these spiky parts you hit.
Ashleigh: Yeah. So whenever I do something, I’m all in all the way. So like, we went to a club maybe once, maybe twice. And then I think the second time we went, I kissed another man and I kissed a woman and they said that, I was like, oh my goodness, I want to go all the way, like full swap, separate room.
Full swap, separate room is like the full monty of swinging. Like you’re going to actually go all the way with someone else in a room separate from your partner. So it’s really this extra step. Cause it’s not like, oh, then your partner gets the turn on of watching if that’s a turn on. Cause it is a turn on for some people and some people not, but it’s really like there’s this separation. Like we’re truly gonna allow each other to just have an incredible sexual experience that’s not related, right?
So there is, it really seems like this incredible generosity in your marriage to not like hold someone’s sexuality hostage. And it can be, it can be. It’s incredible the way that you have to communicate and have to talk to each other to even start to dip your toe in.
It unlocks all this like, really necessary conversation right away, um, for you just like put all your chips on the table and be like, all right, where are you? Where am I? Right?
And that’s something that I’m trying to really, really keep. That’s something that I’ve like held onto that that level of conversation is like so connected.
But “connected” isn’t how all of the experiences, nor the conversations around them felt. From the start, she and Manny had very different aspirations.
August: Were you totally on the same page when you were like, “I wanna go full Monty, I wanna do a full swap?”
Ashleigh: We were absolutely not in agreement, which makes the story even more. More enjoyable, which makes the story even funnier to read.
So, no, he wasn’t into it at all. He would’ve been really happy just going to clubs once a month and having maybe a great sex there .
Ashleigh: We graduated out of the private room August and I realized, oh, I love when we have sex on like the mattress in the middle of like the play area. Nobody touching us, nobody there, but like people around like watching, right? So yeah, I’m an exhibitionist like figure skater, who knew, right? But, yeah, he would’ve been happy with that.
Just going once a month, having a few hours just to ourselves and the anticipation leading up to it. Oh, we are going to have such a great time on Saturday. We’re gonna have such a great time. And then the afterglow and having great sex for a few days after, that’s like heightened. He would’ve been fine with that.
In our relationship, I’m always the gas, he’s always the brakes. you know, like I wanted to move before he did. You know, it’s always, that’s our way for me wanting to go faster.
He would’ve been fine not doing any of the things that happened after like, dating another couple and going out for dinner and they would come to our house and me and the other guy fell for each other so fast and so hard.
Here’s the thing. When you try to be really, really open with your partner and like really make a concession in an area that like you are not feeling a hundred percent in alignment with, quite often it’s because you’ve taken ground without your partner knowing in other areas that you’re trying to make up for.
Ashleigh: You already knew it wasn’t an even playing field. So giving this like huge kind of rope to your partner to like really have freedom sometimes it seems like a really loving thing to do, but in our stories, there were some other reasons behind that. I guess it wasn’t surprising for people though, because like it’s always a little more complicated than it seems on the surface.
When it came to navigating his and her different interests and comfort levels — well, Ashleigh said she managed it all really poorly. She jokingly calls her memoir the “complete idiot’s guide for what not to do in the swing lifestyle.”
Ashleigh: The fact that I pushed too hard and put my foot in my mouth every time. As a perfectionist, this was the first thing I utterly, utterly failed in.
And I really wanted it cause I thought, oh my God, if I could keep the stability of my marriage and also have a connection with a man who is giving me emotionally, what I’m really desiring. Because that’s one of the things, I didn’t even have sex with this man. I was just completely in love with him.
It was the texts, like, “Oh, morning sunshine. Thinking about that funny thing you said yesterday.” You know, it was that kind of thing that I was just like, oh God, I actually want that. I always thought I was the kind of girl who didn’t need that, and I’m easy and easygoing and low maintenance and you know what?
All of those things that I decided about myself, August, when I first introduced myself to my husband and just established my persona for who I would be in relationship with him 20 years ago. A lot of them were guesses. And I’m more emotional than I thought I was.
And that’s part of what makes me generous and that’s part of what makes me a great mom is that I will just listen to feelings for so long. But it wasn’t until I made space for my own feelings in a real way. And it was scary cause it was a lot of shadow work. It was a lot of like, whoa, I wish I didn’t think that and I never thought that, but wow, that is the thing that’s coming on so strong. And if I don’t look at this, I know now what’ll happen when I try to just sweep things under the rug.
August: Mmm, that’s powerful. Wow. So when did you start to feel, and maybe this is ongoing, but that you two had made tremendous progress and that these spiky parts were not as big of a problem?
Ashleigh: Well, after we hit the spiky parts, I tried to dive in with Manny on like the things I was seeing and feeling about our relationship and my life and work and all of these things, like just greater awareness on how I do relationship in family and dynamics that I’m like, whoa, wait a minute. I see some parts of myself that I don’t wanna do.
Like I’m being codependent, I’m being micromanaging with other people’s energy and feelings that I don’t think all of this is my responsibility. I think that this is partly why I’m so exhausted all the time. That I’m not just doing my job on Earth. I’m trying to do other things that I don’t even know if they’re very helpful.
I told myself for a long time, I’m doing them out of love, but I don’t know if they’re very helpful. I tried to dive into that with him and he didn’t really have very much interest, which is so heartbreaking and I think when a lot of people split. When you’re like, oh my God, I’ve really, really, really realized that I am not happy and I need you to know like I’m not happy and I don’t know what I’m gonna do about this. A lot of time that’s just too much pressure and that’s when it goes.
He did not respond well to me. He was not very interested in digging deep. And I felt too sad and too ashamed to even tell any friends what had been going on because my friends didn’t know I was going to sex clubs.
My friends really trusted me and I didn’t want that to change because they thought I wanted to, I would wanna hook up with their husband or something. Like, I don’t. You know what I mean? I was just like, oh God, I can’t complicate these relationships that do feel good.
Eventually, me opening up made every relationship that was good to begin with better, better, better, better, better, better. Like to the 10 millionth degree. I just want people to know that. When you are truthful, the people who are really there and ready to see you, because they can hold a little bit of compassion for themselves. Manny wasn’t really ready to do that.
So I dove into my own work on my own while still being in marriage and in a house with him. But for two hours every day I would spend the first couple hours a day in meditation and prayer. It wasn’t like I was taking myself to like a retreat or a spa day. It was like to stay on this earth and then so I could parent my children upright and go to work that night. I was just like in, crisis mode, right? Like, okay, but I need to take this time to try to clear my mind, to try to calm my nervous system because I realized, wow, if I take a clear look at my life, I don’t like very much of it and I don’t like very much of me.
So just trying to work through that. And I did on my own for a really long time. Months and months. And I’d been meditating for years. Like I’d already started on the spiritual journey, but like, okay, now we’re gonna look at the stuff that’s not pretty, like really like just putting my hand up and going,I wanna see all the dark parts, because I think that maybe they’re more lovable than I think. So doing that work, I got to a point where I would’ve been okay if we were together, we weren’t.
Before that, she always saw staying together as the goal, especially for their kids. But that mindfulness work she did, and all of the reflecting, inspired her to take a closer look. She thought,
Ashleigh: Let’s just examine that for a minute, because this relationship I’m in right now, this isn’t the gold standard relationship I want for my kids. You know, I have three very, very sensitive boys and I think Manny was a sensitive boy at some point before that got shut down.
And I was like, but I’m not married to like an openly sensitive man or like an open man emotionally right now.
And she thought the kids should know that,
Ashleigh: Hey, mommy and daddy did a lot of great things together. Okay, great financial decisions. Like we can tell you how to pay off a mortgage. We don’t really know how to do marriage – we did when you were little kids, cause we’re really good co-parents -but we don’t know how to do marriage in this phase that we’re supposed to be going into now where we really get closer to each other while, really examining our own passions and path and it like, there’s this synergy.
So, and I said this to my husband, I said, you know what, I think it would maybe be a real favor to them to say, Hey, we didn’t really figure that out, but we hope we figure it out from you. Like we’re really good friends, but this, what you’re seeing, is not the kind of emotional connection we want you to have and the kind of intimacy that’s possible in a really loving adult intimate partnership.
Those realizations also led Ashleigh to seriously consider divorce.
Ashleigh: I think in that moment, he realized how serious I was.
She said it was as though her.voice became unmuted.
Ashleigh: And he looked at me and he was like, wait, what? And I’m ready to like go pack a bag. I’m like a motel six. This is so scary. But also like, wow, like sort of an eat prey love journey at a fucking motel. I don’t know. I didn’t know what was next. And the thing is, I, I didn’t need to know every answer anymore.
The ignoring my inner voice when it told me something clearly, that’s what became terrifying, because I was like, no, no, no. I have done so much work to hear that voice. I have done so much work to really get to know who I am and how to care for me. I’m not ignoring that anymore.
So she gathered herself together to leave. As she walked toward the door, she heard Manny crying — bawling — behind her.
Ashleigh: I’m like, what is happening with you? Like we’ve gotten married, we had two weddings, one in Canada and one down here at Greek wedding, and we had three babies. And he is never cried. I’ve never seen him cry. And he’s crying and I’m like, “what’s with the water works?”
And he’s like, “you and the boys are like all I’ve ever wanted.”
I’m like, “I know you’re saying that, but like, I don’t even think you want this either, because like you’re not acting like it. So I’m giving you the freedom. Like if you don’t want this, like it’s okay. It’s okay. We got together so young . And now it’s been 20 years.” Or it’d been about 15 years when we’d had this conversation.
From that day on, he changed. And I think in that moment, his fear of being vulnerable emotionally became smaller than his fear of his family not being in the shape that he expected or the shape that he preferred, or the shape that felt safe to him and right to him.
And like, no, I wanna see my wife and my kids every Christmas. That’s something I really want. And he just started just following my cues and asking more questions.
And ever since, as they’ve continued to work together on emotional intimacy – they’ve been closer. It’s not necessarily easy 24/7, but they’re no longer afraid to face challenging issues head on.
Ashleigh: I mean, the conversations we have had in the past, like six years, and it amps up every year, like 2022. Wow. The things we talked about, because we were hashing things out. Like every place we get to.
For example, their three kids are in three different schools now.
Ashleigh: And we’re like, oh, Jack is now a freshman in high school. That means, you know, he’s gonna be graduating soon. And like, okay, wait a minute. We don’t wanna like get caught with our pants down again,
Ahem. No pun intended.
Ashleigh: and get to a point in marriage where we’re like, what are we doing? And do we even like each other? Are we on the same page?
And nowadays, thanks to those efforts, they are.
That theme comes a lot in Ashleigh’s work today, too, as she helps couples improve their relationships through her writing and social media posts. She even retired from coaching to full-time her writing, which allowed her to complete her memoir.
Her Instagram community blew up when she posted a video responding to a question – which became an ongoing series. A follower asked her, “Do you have any advice for keeping things spicy in the bedroom?”
Ashleigh: And I said, first of all, decide what time of the day you wanna do it. Because Manny and I have never gone to bed at the same time. So we’ve never gone to bed and laid there and thought, oh, is it happening tonight? But I realized there’s so many people who go to bed every night and that’s what they do.
They kind of lay there and then there’s resentment and they’re like, should I say something? Oh my God, August. I wouldn’t be able to handle the uncertainty in my life. I could not handle that.
August: Especially right before you go to sleep.
August: I mean, that’s a terrible way to go to bed.
Ashleigh: And millions of people are going to bed like that every night. So my advice was, decide what time of the day. I said, in our house, nighttimes are for sleeping and mornings are for coffee. So I like 5:30pm. Just know your time, have a conversation.
There are millions and millions of people who never have conversations about sex.
Ashleigh realized that many people are hungry for the little prompts she shares to help change that. Many of her videos have tens of thousands of views. More important than that, though, or even the sex stuff, is what she’s learned about living truthfully.
Ashleigh: I just am able to move through the world with more integrity. I’m able to have clearer conversations. I’m able to make better relationships. I’m able to like, ugh, parent my 15 year old with my husband. Like it’s a new, it’s a new frontier all the time.
So the biggest thing for all of us is finding ways to live with integrity — or as Dr. Martha Beck puts it, ”living in harmony with ourselves.”
Ashleigh: You wanna make them happy, you wanna make them happy. What is your preference even? You know, a lot of times when we’re left for time to ourselves or freedom, we don’t even know, right? We’re just trying to do that song and dance to like, oh, get the accolade or get the followers or the revenue or whatever. Right? Fill in the blank.
Integrity has also shaped the relationship style that she and Manny have landed on.
August: Are you currently, like in the lifestyle, are sex party still a part of your life? I’m sure people ask you that all the time.
Ashleigh: Yeah, this is the question that I love to ask people after they read Swing, do you think we’re still doing that or not? And almost everybody goes, no, absolutely not. And then there’s this small portion, I would say it’s just a couple percent. They’re like, oh, they’re definitely still doing it. Okay, here’s the thing. We are not doing it, but we miss it . Cause it’s so, it’s, it’s so, such a heightened experience. but non-monogamy is not a good match for me because I’m an all in kind of person.
I love people really quickly and really easily. I fall in love with potential. So I just create my life. I do that in ways that are really more productive and ways that aren’t bottomless. And you could just like pour into someone, pour into someone and have them pour into you. It can become a little obsessive.
So we are monogamous and we do some specific things in our everyday life to really keep our sex life and our connection a priority. And really it’s more about connection than sex. And so having that willingness in relationship really makes a difference.
So for example,
Ashleigh: We will do one night a month, usually, a super sexy date night where we send the kids for a sleepover and we go for an early dinner. And we’re definitely gonna have like long style intimacy, which for us means my partner’s gonna climax twice.
It’s really long. It’s like massage, maybe shower, maybe sauna. There’s music, there’s candles. I’ll have like three orgasms and then he’ll finish again at the end. And literally he feels like the king of the world.
It’s just a time when we just do all the things. We pull out the new toy or we get like the extra sensation lube that can like, feel good because, but it takes a while to set in.
And then, us just sneaking away for 20 or 30 minutes from the kids for like a quickie or a little bit even we have realized how good it feels to just shower together, to just have a sauna together, to just be together intimately, with no distractions.
We could even get it around a little fire put on the deck if we each take a coffee or a drink out there in the afternoon, but leave our phones. The great thing about sex is like you can’t really have screen time at the same time, right? It’s like you focus your energy right in kind of activity, but it doesn’t have to be sex. But because we are so on the same page with like, yeah, we are there for each other, it can take a lot of different forms that are exciting.
August: That’s so lovely. I love how conscientiously you made the decision that monogamy isn’t your default, it’s what you chose because you know it’s what suits you the best. And you’ve asked those questions, which I think is important.
August: That’s beautiful.
[encouraging, acoustic music]
The most common thing Ashleigh hears from folks who’ve read her memoir, Swing, is that it’s a bit of a bait and switch. She said she knew it would be.
I’ve always told my stories on the ice, and this is my first really like concerted big attempt to tell them with my words. So I knew that I was going to have to take these things that had happened that, you know, made me aware of a lot of unprocessed trauma I had and helped me realize where I need support in my mental wellbeing, mental health that I didn’t realize.
Like, so it was a pretty intense situation, but I didn’t wanna just trauma vomit into a book that then would give you, you know, 94,000 words of, oh that doesn’t sound like that was fun to live. This is the incredible thing about art is that we all get to take our own experiences and then create something that can be a gift for someone else, right?
It can actually be a gift. Like it can give them laughs. I can give them insight. It can, like, entertain. Swing is way deeper than you would think. The real taboos in the book have nothing to do with sex clubs, very little to do with sex at all and really, really have to do with the level to which we’re willing to be honest with ourself and others. And that is why I think so many people are related so strongly to it.
This isn’t a 50 Shades of Gray book. But there are really sexy, interesting parts in it. It’s sexy and it’s funny, but the places that it takes you are a bit of a surprise that you shouldn’t be scared of. It’s gonna, it’s gonna help you uncover a few little things for yourself.
Hear Ashleigh talk about one of those sex scenes in a bonus clip at Patreon.com/girlboner. Learn much more about her and her work at ashleighrenard.com. Her book, Swing: A Memoir of Doing it All, is available on Amazon.
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Thanks so much for listening.
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