Mariah Freya grew up feeling pretty comfortable about bodies. But then, her teens brought rockiness that stood in the way of her sexual empowerment. After years of off-and-on low libido in adulthood, she encountered a workshop that changed…everything. Learn much more in the latest Girl Boner Radio episode!
Stream it on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Spotify or below. Or read the transcript below.
“Libido Challenges and an Erotic Awakening: Mariah Freya”
a Girl Boner podcast transcript
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[Upbeat intro music… + VO: What would it take to arouse your life? To experience more connection, more pleasure, more realness – in and outside of the bedroom? I’m August McLaughlin and this is Girl Boner Radio.]
Mariah: Just a big surprise and like, Wow, okay. What’s happening? And just realizing in that moment, oh my gosh, like my body is so freaking powerful and like I just did that and, and it came even with an incredible, like pleasure wave or pleasure experience.
[encouraging, acoustic music]
Mariah Freya is the co-founder of the sex ed platform, Beducated. And her journey to that work has involved plentiful ups and downs – fueled by curiosity, libido challenges, and a mighty sexual breakthrough.
Mariah’s curiosity came first. Some of her first sexuality memories involved Barbies, back when she was five or six.
Mariah: I caught my parents a couple of times, having sex and, I started like playing like what I saw with my Barbies and it, it sort of like evolved from this like little role plays where my Barbies would all be naked, just in the box where all my barbies would lie and they would naturally always be naked even though, you have a lot of little dresses and stuff to put them on.But somehow I just…like that you know, idea of yeah, everyone can walk around naked.
Her family was into that idea, too.
Mariah: Fun fact, in Germany, there’s a lot of nudist beaches. So, my grandpa, I’d say he was a more conservative person, but not with his body, and he would actually go nudist, bathing with the whole family. So I grew up in a nudist bathing family. So somehow, being naked was always very present to me.
And I think I sort of continued exploring my sexuality in a quite natural way, I’d say. Especially with my friends, we knew it was something sort of secretive, so we didn’t wanna get caught. But, we were quite open in a way.
We must have been seven or eight, just sort of exploring each other’s bodies in just a very naive and innocent way without really having all that later on projection that, you know, with teenage years and shame and not liking your body. Luckily, nobody ever caught us. So we didn’t get that moment of like, oh, how dare you. You’re not allowed to do that. So we just, you know, felt okay doing what you are doing.
August: Aw, I love that. It’s like that childhood curiosity. There was so much joy in your voice as you talked about it.
Mariah: Yeah, that was a very blissful time actually to just be a sexual being. Right?
Mariah said she loves thinking about that time, especially given the not-so-blissful phases of her sex life she experienced later – the kinds so many folks experience. During her teens, that bliss took a turn toward shame.
Mariah: In my teenage years, I was naturally a very, very skinny girl. Like I’ve always been and still am. And if you look at my father, he also is that very skinny, skinny person. but somehow, like people were projecting on me and I started projecting that on myself as well, that I wasn’t strong or I was weak because, so skinny, like almost invisible.
So I, I sort of, started in my teenage years to connect that also with my sexuality that I simply wasn’t strong, powerful, orgasmic, like just blank pretty much.
Those ideas bled into her sexual experiences in adulthood, too – affecting her desire for sex and her relationships, including with her longtime partner, Philip, who she’s still with today. Early in their relationship, Mariah noticed a familiar pattern unfolding.
Mariah: It was sort of like we were in for a couple of years in our relationship and things would slowly start to get flat, how they would usually go in my past relationships as well. Like in the beginning, exciting, but then quite quickly, I would kind of grow cold…not the love, but my body wouldn’t crave for more.
That challenged us in the relationship, just because he was just in a different, different level of libido and how much he would want that to have with me and celebrate that with me.
Mariah had noticed that same type of scenario playing out about six months into her relationships. And she tried to navigate it well with Philip.
August: How were you managing that during that time?
Mariah: Yeah, I think that’s always the tricky part for anyone who’s having low libido and not wanting to Irritate your partner because you love them and in the same time you like withdrawing and yeah, it’s like this back and forth and, yeah, I think I sort of managed in a probably not so healthy way to just, Do it every now and then, you know, and sometimes it would be sort of fun, but like the beginning of getting into it would be harder.
But yeah, it definitely wasn’t something that I’m very proud of. At that point I didn’t have the sex education to know, okay, how do I best know my body? What type of intimacy would work now in my situation best? And I would just go still with the default, then doing it anyways just to make my partner happy.
And of course this is, you know, I think what most individuals with low libido would do until they hurt themselves so much that it’s really going off the flame completely. And then, I think that’s most of the sad parts where you have dead bedrooms and partners cheating on their partner and marriage is breaking. And all these tragic relationships falling apart.
It wasn’t a very good time in my life and before that, I think I had these moments many times as well.
So, there was definitely some healing require, you know, to kind of realize, okay, I’ve actually not been consensual with myself. Like I’ve been allowing partners to engage with me sexually even though I wasn’t feeling it.
Admitting that to herself, she said, was hard. And a lot of it went unspoken in the relationship.
August: Had you been talking about the libido differences around that time or No?
Mariah: A little bit every now and then…like it wasn’t completely that we wouldn’t talk at all about it, but we both knew that something was going on and we had to change something.
About two years into the relationship, while those challenges were carrying on, Mariah’s job as a social worker led her to India, where she worked on an NGO project for women. Philip traveled with her to India, and it was there that they learned of something that would turn out to be game-changing: an erotic vulva massage workshop.
Mariah: I was living in this Expat community and uh, yeah, someone just came up, talking about this workshop they did and what they learned, and I was like, oh, wow, that’s interesting.
I suddenly had that same feeling when I was a child discovering new things with my friends. Like, okay, so there’s actually stuff out there, instead of just, you know, doing it how you sort of know it from Hollywood movies or maybe some porn. I think it just sparked that curiosity and I told my partner about it and he was like, “Completely. Wow, that, let’s go there. Like, it sounds amazing.”
Oh, yeah, I think from that moment and there wasn’t a lot of fear or a lot of holding back. It was just that, one information that we needed. Right? To just do it and, and that it exists. And it’s not that, it’s not something scary, like getting that recommendation by someone, you know, like definitely makes it easier.
And that sort of opened just a new opportunity for us to explore something entirely different, just a new frame of intimacy, a new practice without having penetrative sex that would still be intimate, but just something entirely different. Right?
The course was very helpful, but the sexual awakening happened while they were doing the spicy homework behind closed doors.
Mariah: I was just receiving pretty much a full body oil massage. It felt so real because, Where we lived in that little hotel in Rishikesh. You could hear the music of Indians, of some Bollywood sounds, close by like somehow this, Kama Sutra adventure, you know, that you would be going through.
Very surreal somehow. And yeah, I just kind of was super relaxed. Like the nice thing is just receiving just a full body massage. And, at that point I didn’t even have the vulva massage yet. I, I simply received just, you know, my legs, my arms, my face and belly. So everything was super, super relaxed.
I think only that already gave me sort of that opportunity to just let go even further and just have a very, very vulnerable moment in my body. So when my partner asked me if he’s allowed to touch my vulva, like, like it was also a very mindful step of that, like asking and then consenting to that.
And I think that was another big aha moment, just like, oh, okay. Like. Just ask and then answer honestly in that very relaxed, very good state.
And that’s when everything started to shift for Mariah. Now she was being very honest and consensual herself, as well as with Philip.
Mariah: So with that consensual touch and then further also penetration. So outside massage of the vulva, but also inside massage of the vaginal canal and G- spot area and, , cervical area.
I suddenly realized that I haven’t really explored it in that way. I was still scared of penetration somehow because it just felt very strange and I didn’t really know, like nobody would tell me about it. Like, am I even allowed to go so deep?
So yeah, just that moment of sort of learning step-by-step and, and exploring the outside, the inside parts, stretching the labia, pressing it, like rubbing it, finding new ways of, or just pleasing it. And then also discovering my G-spot area, which I completely didn’t know at that point existed. Like even the term G-spot, I didn’t know.
I’ve never heard of squirting before. I never heard of G- spot before, and it was something that we learned in that workshop on that day.
As Philip explored those areas back at the hotel, during her erotic massage…just wow.
Mariah: Suddenly I just felt this. sort of pressure, like bearing down sensation almost like you have to pee but it’s not really pee and you like, either you let go of that sort of pressure and just release and then gush and just squirting all over the bed and just big surprise and like, wow, okay. What’s happening?
And just realizing in that moment, oh my gosh, like my body is so freaking powerful and like I just did that and, and it came even with an incredible, like pleasure wave or pleasure experience.
And I think that was for me, definitely the key, key aha moment to see sex education as something that’s not just for my own pleasure and my partner’s pleasure, but as like a tool for real empowerment. So my social worker brain also kicked in like, okay, we have to do something about this.
Starting with continuing her own journey first, she said. She knew that healing remained around her libido challenges and the disconnection she’d had from her body’s pleasure. The awakening she experienced during that massage also led her to grapple with some sexual trauma.
Later on, I, I realized that I was also sexually assaulted a couple of times, just not having that awareness for it. And then once you dig in it, you suddenly unfold and uncover things you didn’t know you actually had experience, but you did. And then you of course, just cleaning up the mess and, and, owning it properly.
Gradually, she did find that healing – and a lot more pleasure.
August: Obviously this changed the course of your life in so many ways. How did it impact your desire?
Mariah: Hmm. No, it, it definitely kickstarted something new. I also stopped, uh, taking the anti baby pill, in, in like birth control following, yeah, birth control, uh, in this following months.
Which I think had an extra boost on my hormonal levels anyhow, which, I mean, you can now read more and more studies around birth control, anti baby pill being, um, Yeah, really not a great way for especially women, in teenage years because it, it can cause a lot of depression, low libido, especially if you already having like a low libido, like it diminishes pretty much the rest of what’s left. It’s sad because it’s definitely a powerful way of protecting yourself against pregnancy. But, yeah, I didn’t see it as worth it. So we found the condom, uh, again, and, and that worked really well. And, yeah, I think there are many ways of protection for sure.
August: And they affect people differently too, right? So like if one pill is not working for you, I feel like there’s so many choices and a lot of times it’s just like, okay, I’ll take that one.And we don’t even get the information about all the things that can happen. And also not to accept the things that aren’t going well.
Mariah: Yeah. And especially if you’re starting in your teenage years, like you’re just starting out. And so you don’t see the before and after effect.And if you’re taking birth control pill until your thirties, you have no idea how your sex life feels without it.
August: It’s so true. Like before your desire really is part of your life.
Mariah: Yeah. So coming back to your question, there were many sort of impulse, from the outside, from the inside, from this key experience that just completely opened me up in a different way. But I think I still live with simply a lower drive, just because that’s more of my nature. But I know now you know how to handle it, how to talk about it with my partner, how to also get myself into mood, and especially not to break, consent and being truthful with myself.
August: Were you able then to know what you wanted more or were you able to ask for certain things or maybe just move your body in different ways? Like did it, did it impact the actual, like, physical steps you were taking during sex? Not to be so like mechanical but…
Mariah: Yeah, I think so. I, for example, realized that I would usuall just be very passive and just lie on my back and sort of let it happen. And obviously like in a dance, if you are just standing and your partner is trying to dance, it’s not working. Like you have cold feets. You are stiff, you are cold. No passion is flowing. No pleasure is flowing. So, you need to really move.
I think in the massage, for example, my body warmed up through the massage. So what I think I know now is, I need to move my body beforehand. I need to wake it up, get my juice flowing, my blood flow, you know, heart and, and, and get it all up. And then, with that movement, Sort of that drive is, it’s jumpstarted. And then, and then you can take it from there. I think that was quite a big revelation.
No more lying there or just letting it happen, she said.
And that applies to Mariah’s sexual discovery journey today, too — not just sex itself, but staying open to changes in her life and desires. And while she’s reckoned with realizations around those early harassment experiences that lowered her libido early on, she likes looking forward.
Mariah: Now I’m a mother. I have two young kids, like I’ve gone through birth and what that means to your sex life, what kids mean to your sex life?
So like, I’m now in a different sexual life cycle than I was before when I sort of kickstarted my sexual empowerment journey. And, you know, I’m, I’m still discovering new things and trying out new things that work for me today. So I feel like it’s a lifelong journey.
And I think it was good to go back and feelings, those emotions, like anger and frustration and more like sadness I guess. But I do like to look forward.
And there are definitely, in my healing journey, some steps where I went to a sex therapist, a psychotherapist, and just working through these things, that sort of helped me then to kind of put a check on that.
And for now it’s, it’s, you know, kind of good to kind of tuck it away. And I know it, it feels a little bit un-dusted. It’s a little bit cleared up but it’s not like it continues to influence my life at this point because there’s so many other things and challenges that influence my sex life today, but that’s not rooted in my sexual assault experience.Because life as a mom and as an entrepreneur is just a different thing and you navigate with different time available for your sex life. So it’s fun to get creative on your schedule. [softly laughs]
Similar creativity has allowed Mariah and her partner, Philip, to build Beducated into this hugely robust library of sex education. It’s something that her vulva massage sexual awakening planted a mighty seed for – though it didn’t evolve right away.
For about two years after that experience, the couple explored the whole sex-positive world – taking various workshops and working with different teachers. Mariah first started a sex education blog, almost 9 years ago. Four years after that, they launched Beducated. Here’s what she wanted all of you to know about it.
Mariah: I think it’s a great space to start out if you haven’t been to a sex-positive event or if you haven’t worked with maybe a sex coach before or therapist before, it’s something to tap your toes in and kind of get addicted immediately just because you realize, oh my gosh. There’s so much to learn. There’s so many techniques and tools and ways to experience a different intimate life. Different fantasies, different practices from Tantra and more like spiritual, mindful, sacred sex to, kinky sex, BDSM, spanking, role play, dirty talk, like the whole spectrum of it.
And, I think if you suddenly have this variety and multitude and, and huge spectrum of things you could try out, you start exploring and you start to sort of learn a lot about yourself. Okay, what am I like clicking on? What is interesting to me? Like just navigating through these different choices. It’s just super interesting if you do that by yourself or with a partner.
And then, you know, suddenly, okay, I never thought that this could be interesting to me. Let’s explore how to implement spank more into our intimate life because, you know, there’s a really fun and mindful way to do that.
And exploring pain or exploring like really communicating better about your desires, like those fine tuning things in your relationship that often people struggle with. kind of from the basics to oral sex to pretty much everything.
So I think the platform provides a really safe space that you can stream in your comfort of your home without needing to travel or go anywhere
A space like that has remained important to Mariah over the years, having learned what can happen when you set your sights on sexual growth and discovery. Something she hopes we’ll all prioritize.
Mariah: I think for me, our sex life and how much it’s, it’s required to become that super empowering tool next to a healthy diet. Sports, you know, we are optimized so much in our lives. We are optimizing our career.
We’re advancing on our know-how. We’re trying to get better at so much, and somehow sex always is like, rotting in the corner or a low prio and, I think it’s, it’s really worth it to invest in it and even taking it up as a lifelong learning challenge wherever you are at on your journey. So, yes, there are a lot of downs.There are a lot of ups with it.
But I think if we are seeing the challenges, especially as an opportunity to grow, like the end result is just magnificent and so beautiful and so powerful for our individual empowerment. So if I’m able to share with my partner what I like, and I do that in the most intimate private space, like which is the scariest thing. I’m definitely able to share what I want and how much salary I wanna have with my boss. So it’s like the best training, and the most scary training [laughs], but the best for any kind of situation in your life.
So I’d say yeah, use that as your secret sauce for all the other things that you do. You can start any day, like maybe your brain has been pushing it a little bit to the side or you’ve been like, yeah, I wanna do that someday. Do it today. It’s just the best timing.
[acoustic chord riff]
The Beducated team wanted to extend a special offer to you all. You can try Beducated for free for one day, and then save 25% on a subscription by using the link in the show notes. Or simply use the promo code GIRLBONER at check out at Beducated.com.
The site has a roster of over 40 different experts, from gynecologists to sex coaches, so you can search around and find someone who resonates with you. You can also learn about the brand new Beducated Sex Coach AI on their site.
To stay in my loop, sign up for email updates on my site, augustmclaughlin.com — I send a note once every month or two. And if you’re enjoying Girl Boner Radio, I would so appreciate a rating and review on Apple Podcasts or the iTunes Store. Thanks so much for listening.
[outro music that makes you wanna dance!]