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Help Me Find a Sex Therapist
Episode 8
Help Me Find a Sex Therapist
Marc has always thought of others, often at the expense of himself. He is ready to start focusing on his own well being more. But is he ready to confront his past traumas and invest both time and money in finding a sex therapist?Feals: become a member and get 50% automatically taken off your first order with free shipping. fans- go to and use code snooze16 for up to 16 free meals AND 3 free gifts!Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Megan Tan 0:01

The other day I was in the car with one of my friends. And I was driving, and they were backseat driving. I hate it when people backseat drive. Side seat drive. Trunk street drive. It drives me nuts.

Kyle Chang 0:21

I totally get the same feeling. Like, okay, so the worst offender is my mom. Whenever I drive with her, she just is like, so much screaming over all the smallest things like changing lanes, like making turns. [laughs]

Megan Tan 0:42

I know.

Kyle Chang 0:43

Even if I make the signal, she's just like, freaking out. She's like, Did you see that person? You're about to crush the person.

Megan Tan 0:52

That's Kyle Chang, a Snooze Squad producer. And we were talking about this because when I'm in the moment, and someone's backseat driving, I get so heated, so frustrated. And it doesn't even matter what they say or when they say it. Sometimes that feeling just lingers. It follows me [theme music intro] throughout the day. It follows me to the next week. Every time I think about this person, I think of them backseat driving. [pause] And what I realize is maybe it's not even about what they say. It's about something deeper.

Kyle Chang 1:43

Yeah, it's like when you're feeling angry or frustrated about something small, but it's like really getting to you, like more than you know it should.

Megan Tan 1:56

That's when you give us a call.

Megan Tan 1:58

[theme music] You're listening to Snooze. A show about things people put off, how they conquer them, but most importantly, how they conquer themselves. And I'm Megan Tan. Let's go! [music out]

Kyle Chang 2:33

How are you?

Marc Esposo 2:34

Good. How are you?

Kyle Chang 2:36

I am okay, like super super hectic up here in San Francisco. Just like running around and seeing people.

Marc Esposo 2:47

Oh, oh you're still in SF. Nice.

Kyle Chang 2:50

Yeah, I'm gonna be... [duck under]

Kyle Chang 2:51

This is my friend Marc. This conversation is pretty typical between him and I. Like, he's the kind of person who likes to focus on other people. I ask him how he's doing and then just as quickly, he'll turn it around and ask me how I'm doing so we start talking about me. And he's just the kind of person who doesn't like to focus on himself.

Marc Esposo 3:12

I don't see myself as kind of like the center or the life of the party. I'm kind of like, on the edge, but not in a bad way. I just see that as like someone who's there when people need, need me.

Kyle Chang 3:25

I know Marc. Like we've talked a lot. [texting sounds]

Kyle Chang 3:29

Oh my god. [Marc laughs] So [music begins] I matched with Marc on Tinder, and Marc stood out because most guys are like,

Man 1 3:40

Like, what kind of Asian are you?

Man 2 3:42

Any dirty pics?

Man 3 3:43

How big are you? [music out]

Kyle Chang 3:46

And Marc's vibes were more like...

Man 4 3:49

[mellow music] Hey, how did that interview with Big Boi go?

Man 5 3:52

So what were you like in high school?

Man 6 3:53

I actually thought of you when I was watching Minari. [music out]

Kyle Chang 4:00

And my vibe was more Marc's vibe. We had no idea where that would take us.

Emma Alabaster 4:14

[theme music] Snooze will be back after the break.

Emma Alabaster 4:26

[theme music] Now back to the show.

Kyle Chang 4:27

So we decided to meet up after two weeks of texting. [texting sounds] We went to Barnes Park. It's a place where cute grandpas are chillin on the benches and listening to their favorite Chinese operas. There are tennis courts, people taking classes. It's a family park vibe. [walking sounds] Marc and I walked up a small grassy hill, sat down and played some music. [Snooze theme music in background] I brought my speakers, and he brought his blanket. And we just chatted about our lives. He's a video editor, and I'm a music producer. So, I told him he could edit my music videos when I make it big. [music out] I was comfortable with Marc, but maybe too comfortable? Like a friend who I've known for a long time. So after our park date, there weren't really any sparks, but we decided to stay friends.

Kyle Chang 5:34

Yeah. Okay. So... [car door opening] [beeping sound]

Marc Esposo 5:42


Kyle Chang 5:42

So anyway, [laughing] let me, let me get on the road.

Marc Esposo 5:44

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I don't want you to be distracted. You want me to hold your phone?

Kyle Chang 5:49


Marc Esposo 5:49

So where were we? What were we ta-

Kyle Chang 5:52

Where were we? We were talking about the dates and how you're talking with... [music begins] Fast forward three months later... Marc and I are hanging out. And we're talking about one of our favorite topics. Boys.

Marc Esposo 6:06

He said, like, oh, I, I don't think we can like date, because like, it's a lot.

Kyle Chang 6:11

And Marc has a lot of men in his life. It's kind of hard to keep track. There are the ones that want to bang, but don't want to date.

Marc Esposo 6:20

And like, I'm really busy and stuff like that, and I'm not ready. And then a month ago, I texted him like, Hey, I know like we're friends, but like, would you want to hook up again?

Kyle Chang 6:31

Ones that are stable, but maybe a bit boring.

Marc Esposo 6:34

So Pat, what I like about him is that he's very um, communicative. And he doesn't try to play it cool. And he also doesn't go like back and forth, you know?

Kyle Chang 6:45

And boys that are chaotic, but exciting.

Marc Esposo 6:49

Marc, the other guy who like came on really strong. [Kyle: Right.] But then since then, it's been kind of like, like whiplash, like- [Marc laughs] [Kyle: Right.] Emotional whiplash, just like, very intense, but then nothing like for the next couple days and very, like, just...

Kyle Chang 7:10

Yeah, well, it sounds like he doesn't really know what he wants.

Marc Esposo 7:14

No, he doesn't. I don't know. What would you do, Kyle? I feel like you would do something completely different.

Kyle Chang 7:20

Well- and a lot of people just don't know who they are. [Marc: Uh huh.] And they're still kind of like, making it up as they go. That's what I think, so

Marc Esposo 7:29


Kyle Chang 7:30

I wouldn't take it personally?

Marc Esposo 7:31

Uh huh. Right.

Kyle Chang 7:32

Cuz most people are still discovering themselves too.

Marc Esposo 7:35


Kyle Chang 7:36

Every time we talk, there's a new guy. But every time, every guy, the story seems to play out like this. Marc and the guy start hanging out and then they hook up. Marc says goodbye, and he thinks they have a good time. [music begins] So he texts them the next day. And maybe they'll respond in a few hours, but slowly, a few hours turns into a few days. And eventually, they stop texting him back. And then Marc starts over thinking.

Marc Esposo 8:12

Yeah, so after I started struggling with rejection from other guys, like, right after we would get intimate, maybe like a few guys in a row, then they would ghost me? So in the moment, I thought everything was great. And I thought that I would see them again. And then once they started becoming distant and not really responding to texts, then I started doubting myself and I was like, okay, so it's either they were just looking for a fling, or I'm not good enough at sex.

Kyle Chang 8:49

And Marc thinks that his sexual prowess, or lack of it, is following him everywhere. [music out]

Marc Esposo 9:01

So right after the last guy,

Kyle Chang 9:04

So the last guy, we'll call him Paul. He was Latino, nice tan skin, slim build, had a mustache. Marc found him on Grindr. And then after they hooked up, out of nowhere, Paul blocked Marc. No other words.

Marc Esposo 9:21

That's when I decided, okay, I need to really figure out what's going on and whether it's something in me that I'm still dealing with, or I just haven't found the right guy. I need to see someone because the rejection at that time, like three guys in a row, was really bad on my mental health.

Kyle Chang 9:41

When Marc says that he needs to see someone, he's not talking about boys anymore. He's talking about a therapist. But not just any therapist,

Marc Esposo 9:54

The way that I've been trying to approach sex um, without a therapist is like okay, I just gotta do it on my own. I just gotta like practice. I just gotta get out there and meet new people. And maybe like through practice, I can change, but it was kind of a mixed bag. Lately, it's been more negative.

Kyle Chang 10:12

For Marc, he thinks he's being ghosted because of unfulfilled sex. And he wants to fix that. He's been wanting to find a sex therapist. And he finally takes the first step, and comes to the Snooze Squad to make it happen.

Erick Galindo 10:28

Sound check for you first, Megan?

Megan Tan 10:30

Yeah. [laughs] Yeah. What are you seeking from a sex therapist?

Marc Esposo 10:39

I want to change the way I view my body and the way that I view sex. Because up until this point, sex was always a chore for me and something I needed to perform at and just be perfect at. Look perfect, act perfect, be perfect. I want sex to be fun. And I want to be relaxed. I just want to be you know, free from thinking about what's going on and just really pay attention to how my body is feeling and the [Megan: Mmm.] desire. I would really benefit from professional help. Yeah.

Megan Tan 11:11

Obviously, you're not alone. You know, now you have a squad of people who [Marc: Yeah.] are going to check in on you, hold you accountable to this thing. But I want to know what is like an ideal goal?

Marc Esposo 11:28

Yeah, I think to have like an actual first session with someone would be like the ultimate first step. [music begins]

Kyle Chang 11:36

Finding a therapist isn't simple, but Marc suggests that he wants to find one in about a month, which seems like plenty of time. But for Marc, as someone who's always been there for others, being there for himself and finding a sex therapist for himself may be tough, because he's got to defeat those inner voices.

Marc Esposo 11:59

[his inner voices] What if I'm alone for the rest of my life? Am I hallucinating... [overwhelming, overlapping negative self-talk] [stops abruptly]

Marc Esposo 12:10

[music] ...helped me change because at the time, I just thought things were like, this is it. It's impossible for things to get better. And so I felt very hopeless when I thought about starting because I was like, how am I really going to reach that point? [music out]

Kyle Chang 12:38

Conquering those inner voices may be the difference between Marc finding love and getting trapped in a loveless loop.

Emma Alabaster 12:45

Snooze will be back after the break. [theme music]

Emma Alabaster 12:51

Now back to the show. [theme music]

Kyle Chang 12:53

[texting sounds] We didn't record this in real time, but this is what happened. [music begins] Marc is looking for a sex therapist to help him gain confidence. He makes a list of seven sex therapists. And he starts making calls, sending emails. [phone rings] [recorded outgoing message: Your call has been forwarded to an automatic voice message system.]

Marc Esposo 13:17

Hi, this message is for Dr. Tran. My name is Marc, and I'm a new patient um, and I wanted to get into sex therapy if possible. [another outgoing message: Hi, you've reached Mary. Please leave a message.][beep] I want to talk to you about uh, your techniques and things like that. [another outgoing message: Hi, you've reached Ann-Marie. Please leave a message. ...three.] So please give me a call back. You can reach me at 818-###-##76. Thanks, bye. [outgoing message: Not available.]

Kyle Chang 13:45

We set a deadline. Marc and I have decided that in three weeks, he'll have had his first sex therapy session. [phone ringing] The irony is, finding a sex therapist to help you with dating, can feel a bit like dating itself.

Marc Esposo 14:04

And all of them, I think are gonna be covered by insurance for the most part. But the thing is um, I read that insurance websites that have those lists um, for therapists, might be like out of date. So I still need to call them and make sure that they still take my insurance.

Kyle Chang 14:21

He reaches out to them and then he waits. Day one, day two, day three. Silence. Except on day four-

Marc Esposo 14:37

Even though it was a very short phone call, the way she was listening to what I wanted to work on, and the way she gave feedback, made me feel so seen.

Kyle Chang 14:48

One of the sex therapists responds. Her name is Casey. Marc gets on the phone with her to have an intake meeting, and he tells me that she has a soft, caring voice. And during their intake conversation, he lets his emotions all pour out of him in the first five minutes. This could be the one. [music out] But then on their next call, when they should have been scheduling a first appointment...

Kyle Chang 15:27

So, what's going on with the sex therapist?

Marc Esposo 15:32

[laughs] Um yeah. So she told me that she doesn't take BlueCross BlueShield insurance, which is what I have. So that was a bummer. And then she was telling me like, the sliding scale that she has. Um, and she said, typically, it ends up being around like 200 per session. And I was like, holy-

Kyle Chang 15:56

Holy shit?

Marc Esposo 15:58

Holy fuck. How am I gonna pay for this? So, feeling a little disappointed.

Kyle Chang 16:04

Even though Marc says that he's just a little disappointed, I can hear it in his voice. This is a big blow. It feels like Marc's romantic life is riding on finding a sex therapist. And he thought he finally found one, only to have it be unaffordable. Finding that validation and safe space with someone that he trusts, someone he can open up to, is really important because I find out that his pain doesn't just come from a few dates ghosting him. It comes from a deeper history. [ambient grocery store sounds with music] And it all started one day, a few years ago, when he went shopping for groceries with his mom. While Marc's mom was squeezing for ripe vegetables, Marc strolled off by himself.

Marc Esposo 17:04

I'm just walking down the shampoo aisle, and I saw him and I thought he was cute. And I was kind of like checking him out. But then I noticed that he started checking me out too. So I was like, oh crap, he saw me checking him out. So then once he turned and saw me, I think I just looked shocked. And then he smiled. He smiled like, and he kind of like held eye contact for like a little bit- like, you know, when people just like, look at you for a little bit longer than what's expected. Then you're like, okay, that was like a little moment. So that's how I knew that we kind of like had that thing. So I was like, okay, oh my God, I don't want to look like a creep. [ambient grocery store sounds and music grow louder] And I was scared, because- still in the closet, never done anything with anyone.

Kyle Chang 17:45

Up until that point, Marc had had girlfriends but never slept with any of them, and never even dared to ask a boy out.

Marc Esposo 17:53

So I'm walking towards him. I look at him. We look at each other. He smiles and then he goes, Uh, hi. Can I give you my number? Those are the very first words he said to me. And then I think my jaw just kind of dropped. And I, I didn't know what to say. I was so speechless. And then I was like, Uh yeah, sure. And then so, I gave him my phone, he put in his number, and he was like, Hi, my name is Oscar. Nice to meet you. I hope you text me. Have a good day. And that's how we started to date. [end ambient grocery store sounds and music]

Kyle Chang 18:32

This wasn't just the beginning of a relationship. It was the beginning of Marc exploring his sexuality, something he'd never done before.

Marc Esposo 18:41

[techno music] Our first date, we went to a bar and just got drinks. Uh, it was in WeHo, cuz he knew that I had never like been in the gay scene at all. He brought me to a bar that had gogo dancers there, which I had never seen, and I was just like in awe like, oh my gosh, like how did I never come upon this? Or why didn't I start earlier to explore this part of myself? So I felt very taken care of and honored to like have someone there to like show me what like a gay, quote unquote, lifestyle could be like. Yeah, that honeymoon period was a really like, whirlwind time I guess. [music changes] Every little thing at the time since he was my very first boyfriend felt like such a big moment. You know, like him picking me up to go out, him opening the door for me, him paying for my meal and listening to me, him giving me attention. I think all of those little things kind of just added up to where I was starting to get attached to him and really like him. We were together 2012 to 2018. So like, more than half of my 20s.

Kyle Chang 20:00

But it wasn't exactly a rom com or anything. They fought. A lot. This was Marc's first love. So naturally, he put a lot of pressure on himself to make it work. [music: Satie] And when it came to their relationship in the bedroom, Marc ended up feeling a lot of pressure to do things he didn't want to do- for Oscar. Because he wanted to hang on to him.

Marc Esposo 20:30

So our sexual dynamic was, he was uh, identified as a top. And then me, I didn't really identify as anything at the time, but since he was a top, I was like, okay, I gotta be the one to be the bottom. But the thing is, I think the the sex we were having was more about him and his pleasure and never about mine. And so when I would ask him to do certain things, he's like, he would be like, I don't want to do that, you know. Or he would make certain comments about my body um, like my junk. And he'd be like, it looks weird. Like, I don't want to touch it, basically. Stuff like that. So at the time, I kind of tried to roll with it, you know, um even though I started feeling bad about myself, because of those comments. I tried to roll with it and try my best to, you know, please him. And, yeah, sex started to become like a chore for me, because me personally, this is another thing I'll put out there, um I don't actually enjoy receiving penetrative sex at all. It's never been like something that I, I get pleasure from. But with him, I was like, he's my boyfriend. So he wants it. So I should, you know, I should be a good boyfriend and like, give it to him. [pause] [music out]

Kyle Chang 21:51

So after six years of being with Oscar, Marc left the country for a job. But secretly, he was kind of hoping that the romance would fizzle out with space. And it did. They broke up. They stopped talking. [same music begins again] But the shadow of their relationship still follows Marc.

Marc Esposo 22:15

I struggle to enjoy sex with other, other people, because I'm always like, in my head, like I was with Oscar, cuz after six years of that relationship, I'm noticing the same patterns now, when I'm trying to date.

Kyle Chang 22:30

Marc feels like he's living his past relationship over and over, on dates, and in the bedroom.

Marc Esposo 22:38

I always feel like I'm in my head, and I'm really insecure about my body. Uh, because I kind of replay moments or comments that Oscar would tell me about my body. Like, he would make comments about my stomach or the way things look. So when I am dating someone now or trying to get to know them um, that's what I think about, like, I wish my body looked different, or all of those things that kind of like take me out of the moment um, are the same things that would happen with Oscar. I was just so like, insecure about how things were looking. What is the other person thinking? Yeah, I still, it still happens now. Yeah. [music out]

Kyle Chang 23:30

Marc is trying to resolve the problem with his current love life by looking for a sex therapist who can help understand his past love life. It doesn't help that looking for a therapist feels like looking for love. And Marc is having trouble with both.

Marc Esposo 23:45

[recorded outgoing message: Your call has been forwarded to an automatic...] [duck under] Hi, this message is for Dr. Tran. [another outgoing message: Hi. You've reached Mary. Please leave a message] I wanted to talk to you about uh-- [another outgoing message: Hi, you've reached Ann-Marie. Please leave a message.] So please give me a call back you can reach me at 818...

Kyle Chang 24:01

And yet he continues. After three weeks looking for a sex therapist, hours of phone tag, and email tag and texting tag. Not hearing back from some sex therapists, [music begins] most of them, and not having the right insurance for the one that he really likes.

Marc Esposo 24:22

[ringing] So yeah, I got the one on Friday.

Kyle Chang 24:28

So you already scheduled it.

Kyle Chang 24:30

Marc books his first hour long appointment with a sex therapist.

Marc Esposo 24:35

Yeah, I already scheduled it. Um, I'm confirmed for the appointment.

Kyle Chang 24:39

And the insurance copay is only 30 per session. It's something he can afford. But then suddenly, he tells me...

Marc Esposo 24:49

Yeah, so feeling a little disappointed just because like, not that a therapist who charges more is necessarily better. And then someone who charges less and takes insurance is worse, but I feel like, I don't know. I feel, I feel like if the one on Friday is going to be- since they're cheaper, I don't know if the therapy is going to be as good.

Kyle Chang 25:16

The fact that it's so affordable is actually a problem? He's convinced that quality sex therapy has to be expensive.

Marc Esposo 25:28

I'm trying to be positive, because the price doesn't necessarily reflect the quality of the care. Hopefully, so, so, I don't know.

Kyle Chang 25:37

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it doesn't reflect the quality of the care, and like, it's all about your chemistry, right. And that's the thing you're also very worried about, too.

Marc Esposo 25:48

Mmm hmm. Yeah, I, I hope that there's good chemistry with the one on Friday. [music out]

Kyle Chang 25:55

I'm starting to think that maybe this isn't really about the right fit. On December 22nd, Marc's therapy session finally arrives.

Marc Esposo 26:09

Talking to the therapist, and getting more into it, um, about why I feel [music begins] low self-esteem and why specifically, I see myself a certain way um, made me get emotional, made me cry a lot. Uh, I guess just admitting those things out loud to someone, talking to the therapist just made everything-- so real.

Kyle Chang 26:40

For the longest time, Marc has been focusing on getting better at sex. He thought that that was the problem in his love life. He danced around the issue of his low self-esteem and confidence by focusing on sex. But now, he's being confronted with the fact that it's more than just sex.

Marc Esposo 27:06

I just want a therapist in general, to talk about everything else that I'm going through. So it's funny, because the thing I thought I wanted, was actually not what I needed. And I found something even better. He's gonna help me navigate life in general with like, daily life, like, work, career, money. I actually just needed someone to listen to me and help me get through things. And someone who's a professional at doing all of that, you know. [music out]

Kyle Chang 27:58

[music begins] When I first moved to LA, I went on my first date with a new guy, in a new city. He thought he was looking for love. We became friends and I tried to help him find love, or at least find someone who would help him find love. But as it turns out, Marc was really just looking for someone who could help him fall in love with himself.

Marc Esposo 28:23

I know it's gonna be a lot of work from now on, to continue to talk about my struggles with someone. But hopefully, with all of that comes getting stronger and being more confident in myself as a person. And if you're listening to this out there, I hope that um, listening to my story has inspired you in a way to get help if you need it as well. I hope that you thrive and flourish. If you're thinking about going to therapy, it's definitely worth it. And there's definitely ways to afford it as well. And yeah, I guess this will be my last diary for the episode. So thanks again and talk to you guys soon. [theme music starts and ends]

Erick Galindo 29:31

[credits music] If you have something that you've been putting off, call us. 323-591-8159. That's 323-591-8159. Leave us a message. And you could be on an episode of Snooze. Don't put it off. I'm talking to you.

Megan Tan 29:53

Before I give you scenes from the next episode of Snooze, I want to tell you who made this episode possible. The lead producer of this episode was Kyle Chang. He also sound-designed, composed original music, and wrote this episode. Marina Pena, Erick Galindo and I supported him. Erick Galindo, our showrunner, also fact check and edited this episode. Marina Pena also helped with the editing. It was mixed and engineered by Donald Paz. Our producers are Emma Alabaster and Marina Pena. Our associate producer is Kyle Chang. I am your host, Megan Tan. Jessica Pilot is our talent producer and Antonia Cereijido and Leo G are the executive producers. Our theme song is by Wayan Dopeman. Andrew Eapen created and composed the original music for this show. Make sure you hit follow, like, subscribe to Snooze wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow me on Twitter or Instagram @meganleetan and the show @snoozepodcast. Our website on LAist Studios is designed by Andy Cheatwood and the digital Marceting team, who also created our branding. Woo hoo! Snooze is a production of LAist Studios. Thanks to the team over there, including Taylor Coffman, Sabir Brara, Kristen Hayford, Kristen Muller, Andy Orozco, Michael Cosentino and Leo G.

Erick Galindo 31:14

Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Megan Tan 31:31

If you like Snooze, rate and review us on Apple podcasts. Trust me, it really helps us out. And we would love to know what you think about the show. Also, if you love Snooze, become a sustaining member of KPCC and LAist Studios by going to Support the place that supports this show that supports people like me. I'm Megan Tan, and thanks for listening. [music out]

Megan Tan 32:06

[orginal music] On the next episode of Snooze, comedian Atsuko Okatsuka tells us how she gets ready to perform for millions of people.

Atsuko Okatsuka 32:17

You have to believe in yourself. It's gradual because sometimes you do go, oh those are just words, you know. And you have to like- somatically, physically believe it, too.

Megan Tan 32:28

I'm Megan Tan and thanks for listening. [music out]

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