Would you like to open up your ability to experience pleasure? And to not only increase your capacity for pleasure, but to also ensure that everything you do is consensual? In today’s episode, Betty Martin, the creator of the Wheel of Consent, explains the four different dimensions of touching (and being touched) - and how to expand erotic energy in a consent-based context. You’ll learn how to experience these flavors of touch in new ways, and how to ask for consent in ways that still keep things deeply connected, and passionate. While getting consent is important in all of your relationships - you’ll discover how to foster consent with your partner in ways that help you uncover exactly what each of you wants in any given moment - and unlock the keys to pleasure no matter what kind of touch you’re experiencing.

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http://www.neilsattin.com/consent Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Betty Martin. We’ll let you know when her book about the Wheel of Consent is released as well!

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Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. In today's culture, we're talking a lot about how to truly get consent, and it's an interesting conversation because generally, I don't know about you, but I want to ensure that when I'm getting involved with someone and particularly with my partner, that when we are doing anything but particularly when we're intimate with each other, that we're doing things that we both want to be doing, that consent is there, and yet the way that we've learned culturally, how to engage in being intimate with other people, isn't really about consent. It's kind of about trying to go as far as you can and then letting someone's boundary or lack thereof stop you and it doesn't work so well as we've seen, especially recently with all of the "Me Too" revelations about just how many people are abusing their power and discovering that they've abused their powers.

Neil Sattin: Some people know this consciously and other people, it's a revelation. So, I want to create a context for you where you don't have to wonder, where you know that when you're there with someone, they're right there with you. And at the same time, we want to build consent in a way that actually enhances erotic energy and polarity and passion where it's not something that kills the spark in the energy between you and your partner. So, that's what we're going to talk about today and I'm really excited for today's guest. Her name is Betty Martin and I found out about her when a friend of mine sent her videos on "the Wheel of Consent" my way and I watched them and they were a revelation.

Neil Sattin: So, I'm bringing the revelation here to you today with Betty Martin, who's a former chiropractor and now she's a sex and intimacy coach who has worked with clients, and is also primarily training other practitioners, both people who work hands on like chiropractors, massage therapists, and also people who are just therapists and counselors and coaches; how to bring "the Wheel of Consent" into their practice and use it with their clients, and also become more aware of how they are interacting with their clients in ways that are generative and beneficial for everyone. As always, we will have a detailed transcript of today's episode. If you want to get it, all you have to do is visit neilsattin.com/consent or you can text the word "Passion" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions and we'll send you a link where you can download that transcript. I think that's it. Betty Martin, thank you so much for joining us here today on Relationship Alive.

Betty Martin: You are welcome, thanks for inviting me.

Neil Sattin: It's my pleasure to have you here, and I know a lot more about pleasure now that I've...


Neil Sattin: Ran through your videos, and I do want to say you're in the process of writing a book. Is it still tentatively titled "Learning to Touch?"

Betty Martin: No, that's a great question. Book titles tend to change as they get written.

Neil Sattin: Right.

Betty Martin: But it's tentatively titled "The Direction of the Gift, Understanding the Wheel of Consent."

Neil Sattin: Oh, I like that... Well, I was...

Betty Martin: Or it may be "The Wheel of Consent, Understanding The Direction of the Gift," either way. [chuckle]

Neil Sattin: "The Direction of the Gift"... And you'll know what we're talking about in just a moment. I was hungry, hungry for the book, but at the same time Betty you have so generously put all these videos on your website, that walk people through the process of exploring the Wheel of Consent. It was so helpful for me. So I encourage you listening once you've heard this conversation, you can go back and fill in the gaps somewhat with the videos and then Betty when your book comes out, we will devour it here. I'm sure.

Betty Martin: Thank you.

Neil Sattin: So let's start with maybe a broad question, which is... What is consent and when you look at the Wheel of Consent and of course, we're going to describe the wheel in a moment. What's its contribution to this conversation about what consent even is?

Betty Martin: That's a great question. Consent in the dictionary, is agreeing to something and it implies that it's something that somebody else wants. So, I can consent to you touching me in some way, or I can consent to touching you in some way, or doing something for you. So it implies that there's something that somebody else wants that we are agreeing to and that's why you say, get consent or give consent. When I give consent, it means I'm agreeing to something that you want. However, I would like to expand that definition and the public conversation on consent these days is so rich that I imagine that definition is already expanding, but I would like to expand that definition to be more of an agreement.

Betty Martin: What is it that we are agreeing to? And an agreement isn't something you give someone, it's something that you arrive at together. So will you scratch my back, honey? Sure. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Now, we have an agreement, so that's consent or may I feel up your back? Sure, okay, now we have consent. We have an agreement. So, that's how I'd like to expand the idea of consent. And there's also people talking and particularly around sexual interaction, there's people talking about informed consent, enthusiastic consent, changeable consent. They're talking about the importance of not just having permission but are both people equally delighted and engaged, and I think that's the direction that we want to go.

Betty Martin: It's not... Well, as you were describing, it's not... Well, what can I get away with this. It's, is the other person equally delighted and engaged. So, the Wheel of Consent in particular has a pretty specific contribution and that is that there's a difference between who is doing, who's got their hands on who and who it's for. So, I could be touching you for your benefit the way you want, I could also be touching you for my benefit, the way I want. And the difference between those is significant and the Wheel of Consent recognizes that difference which I'll explain after a while. But it recognizes that difference and says that part of consent is whose hands are going where. But another very important part of consent is, who is it actually for?

Betty Martin: So that's the particular contribution that the Wheel of Consent brings to the conversation about consent. It's not that consent is a good thing, you already know that, and that's very clear and it's not that you ought not to touch people without an agreement, everybody knows that. So, the contribution of the wheel is that, who it's for... Ideally is part of the agreement, because it makes a difference.

Neil Sattin: Right. That was one thing that probably won't surprise you, that really... My eyes were opened to you, just in terms of how you teased apart those two separate dynamics suddenly opened me up. And especially as we get into talking about the difference between the giving-receiving dynamic and the taking-allowing dynamic and where people tend to find themselves. I can't wait to dive into more deeply because there was just so much there.

Betty Martin: That was the ahas... Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah, and I appreciate, I think I heard you during the intro, kind of chuckling about that way that it's so bizarre, but it's almost like we're taught, whether it's intentionally or not, that the way to get consent is to basically keep violating people's boundaries and...


Betty Martin: Until they smack you one.

Neil Sattin: Right. Yeah or they freeze up...

Betty Martin: So they give up.

Neil Sattin: And they... Exactly, yeah.

Neil Sattin: I'm curious, just because I mentioned it in the intro, what are your thoughts on people's fears that obtaining that agreement that we're talking about that, that's somehow going to actually kill the erotic energy between two people that if there isn't that kind of edgy risk happening [chuckle] that somehow the passion is going to just vanish. [chuckle]

Betty Martin: Oh yeah, well basically, I'd say grew up because... So, erotic tension and charge can be created by polarity, of course. And, one may get really turned on by the polarity of the idea of... Oh, I'm going to take this thing from this person, whether they want to give it to me or not. And that's understandable, but it doesn't substitute for actually communicating that, that's what you want to do and getting this person's agreement. But I think mostly the reason people think, it kills the mood... Is because they don't know how... And because, yeah, I just say grow up, you're grown up and you don't actually want to do something to someone who doesn't want it done to them, and so you need to learn how to ask.

Neil Sattin: Right.

Betty Martin: And there are a lot of people teaching fun ways to ask, but I think it also can be that you assume that in order to have an agreement, we have to make a detailed plan. Like, Okay, I'm going to put my hand here, and then you're going to put your hand here, and then you're going to put your mouth here, and then we're going to roll over and then we're going to do this. That's not... That is not required, that's not what agreement means although it could, if that's what was helpful for you.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, well, I think we'll be able to even pull that apart more as we go into a conversation about the Wheel of Consent and those moments for... Where and how agreements happen that might become more obvious for us.

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Okay. So, Wheel of Consent, Wheel of Consent. We keep mentioning it and as I was thinking about our conversation, I was... Part of me was like, "How are we going to do this without a whiteboard?


Neil Sattin: So people really get it. So I think that if you watch Betty's videos, you'll see it. And I may do a little drawing as we're talking and then kind of post the drawing on, in the show notes of the conversation too, but I'm...

Betty Martin: There's also a... There's a free download on my website that has a diagram of it.

Neil Sattin: Great, great, so we'll have links to all of that.

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: And in the meantime, let's... Where is a good place to start. You already mentioned this question of, maybe the two axises of...

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: And, I'm imagining maybe for people at home or in your car, you have a circle and you have one axis that goes up and down and one that goes back and forth across your typical XY axis.

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Let's start there and you already named each of those but...

Betty Martin: Yeah. Well, actually, I want to back up and start with where it came from, because I think having some context makes the model, make more sense.

Neil Sattin: Great.

Betty Martin: And that is that years ago, a couple of decades ago, I was at a workshop by The Body Electric School and it was called Power Surrender and Intimacy and it was about using the play tools of power and surrender and exploring that. So, BDSM kinds of things, and just other ways to play with the experience of power in erotic settings. And one of the games that we played there was called the Three-Minute game, and it consisted of two questions. And you take turns, you're playing with another person, you take turns asking each other. These two questions and the two questions were, "What do you want me to do to you for three minutes? And the other question is, what do you want to do to me for three minutes? And it was a lot of fun. I took it home and I put it to work with my clients, but I wasn't teaching power, I was teaching touch. So I narrowed the question somewhat.

Betty Martin: So now the question is, how do you want me to touch you, for three minutes and how do you want to touch me for three minutes? And of course, you can have longer terms in that. So, basically the question is how do you want me to touch you, and how do you want to touch me? And what surprised me was how difficult it was for people because for one thing, you're asking someone what they want, and there are always times we don't know what we want and many of us have never been asked how we want to be touched, so we have no clue where to start and almost no one has been asked, how do you want to touch me? For some people, it just didn't even make sense at all, it was like, "What do you mean how I want to touch you, I want to touch you however you want." But that's nice, but that's not the question, the question is, how do you want to touch me? That's for you, that's for your enjoyment. So those two questions asked by two different people, create four rounds of touching.

Betty Martin: In one round, I'm touching you the way you want, in another round, I'm touching you, the way I want, and so I can get to see what that difference is. And in one round, you're touching me the way I want, and then the final round, you're touching me, the way you want. And, again, I get to feel the difference between those two. So the Wheel of Consent simply draws out on those axes that you're describing, draws out, in two of those examples, I'm doing. And in two of them, I'm being done to. And in two of them, it's for me and in two of them it's for you, and those two cross and so you have four quadrants.

Betty Martin: I'm doing what I want, I'm doing what you want, you're doing what I want, you're doing what you want. So the Wheel of Consent is really simply a diagram of what happens when two people ask each other, those two questions. That's all it is, it's really simple, and it distinguishes who is doing from who it's for. And if you... There's a free download on my website that you can download it and draw it out and all that, and each of those quadrants has a name. But the important thing to know is that, who is doing is not always the same as who it's for.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and yeah, that's a great distinction and I love how you integrated that into what we know about how we experience pleasure, and you mentioned that like, "Well I just want to do whatever you want and how so many people have this indirect experience of their own pleasure that their only access to their own pleasure is through someone else's pleasure.

Neil Sattin: And... Yeah, so maybe we could just take a moment too and talk about the first lesson that you offer on your site, and why that's so important and I think you even talk about how introducing that transformed people's experience of the three minute game.

Betty Martin: Yeah, yeah, yeah. When I begin doing this with clients and I would ask them, "How do you want to touch me for example?" And it may be, "I want to feel your arm" or something and I would try to coach them in touching for their own pleasure, feel the shape, feel the warmth, feel the texture of the skin, feel the shape of it. Like focus on what you are noticing with your hands, and what you're enjoying directly from the touch itself, not from what effect it has on me, but from how it feels in your own hands. And I found that that was surprisingly difficult for people. And one day I had a client for whom that was extremely difficult, he just could not pull himself away from trying to produce some effect on me and I reached over there was, it happened to be a river stone sitting on the counter and I thought, to myself, "Okay, buddy let's see what happens if there's nobody to give to."

Betty Martin: And I handed him this river stone, I didn't say that out loud but I was thinking that, handed him this stone, and I said, "So see what you can feel this for your own enjoyment." And he couldn't do that either, he just could not connect with his hands, and that was a big aha for me of that, it's not that he was having trouble feeling a person, he was having trouble feeling anything with his hands. And so after that I began to do that experiment with people of... Okay, feel it, this object. And then it'll sort of wake up, the ability of your hands to experience sensation as pleasure. And then you transfer that over into feeling a person, a body. And these sessions were clothed. So we're using only mainly hands and arms, and so, I gradually learned that, "Oh, that just doesn't apply to everybody who has trouble. It applies to everybody." And so I began offering this little exercise to everybody. And like you said, it's on the website, and it still amazes me how transformative it often is for people to... You just lean back in your chair, or your seat, and you take something into your lap, some inanimate object, a pen, or a shell, or a hairbrush and you just feel it.

Betty Martin: What does it feel like? Where are the bumps? Where is it smooth, where is it sharp? And if you feel it slowly enough, and that's the, that's the key right there, is moving your hands really slowly, you'll start to notice that, "oh, oh this is quite interesting. It's bumpy over here, oh, it's smooth over here, and oh, this is kind of pleasant." And then pretty soon you notice that, "oh, it's, it's pleasurable." And then you start to, instead of feeling the object for its characteristics, pretty soon you're using the object as a way to experience pleasure in your hands so it kind of shifts from your focus on the object, shifts so your focus is on your hands, and what feels pleasant to your hands. And then pretty soon you're just using the shell as an object to pleasure yourself, and that is, it takes a little, it takes a few minutes to click for most people, many people it takes 10 or 20 minutes or 30 minutes. For some people it's extremely difficult. And I've had people that I've sent home, and said five minutes a day for six weeks, and then come back because what we're doing is we're getting this brain cell to talk to this other brain cell, and if they haven't talked in quite a while it can be difficult.

Betty Martin: And the surprising thing is that very often there's an emotional response to those brain cells starting to talk to each other because what you're really playing with here is what's your relationship to your skin? It's really, really a fundamental piece. Are you able to notice sensation in your skin and are you able to experience that as pleasure? And when you do very often feelings will come up. Embarrassment, shame, guilt. It's interesting what will come up. Grief is very common, as well as delight, and surprise, and oh my gosh, I didn't know I could feel this much, and this is wonderful. There is quite a range of feelings that come up and they're showing you your relationship to pleasure, and your relationship to your skin because there's no other person involved. You're not giving somebody pleasure, no one's giving you pleasure, no one's doing anything to you. No, there's no one you can blame if it doesn't feel good, like it's just you and your skin. And so that turned out to be a really fundamental piece that I had no idea was there until I stumbled on it.

Neil Sattin: And you mentioned, which is so important just that awareness that your hands have such a high concentration of nerve endings.

Betty Martin: Yes.

Neil Sattin: It's like second only to what your mouth and your genitals basically.

Betty Martin: Yeah. Yeah.

Neil Sattin: So there's a huge capacity for receiving pleasure when you get past what we usually do with our hands, which is more as a way of manipulating things or...

Betty Martin: Yeah. Work. Work. Work.

Neil Sattin: Right. Or you get that the sensation like, oh, that's sharp, that's wet, that's cold, those sorts of things, but you're not actually allowing that sensation to expand into actual pleasure.

Betty Martin: Yeah, yeah, so what this does is, then when your hands are awake, and your hands are able to take in pleasure of sensation, then when you touch a person, then you're able to touch a person for your own pleasure because your hands know how to experience pleasure. So you can run your hand down their back or their leg or something, and you feel the shapes, you feel the textures, you feel the warmth, you feel the contour, and it's very enjoyable just right there in your hands. And then it becomes possible to touch someone for your own enjoyment. Which is one of the quadrants, it's how do you want to touch me? Well, may I feel your legs? Oh yeah, sure. How do you want to touch me? Can I play with your hair? Yeah, sure, but don't pull it. How do you want to touch me? Can I feel up your back? Yeah, but I'm going to keep my shirt on, okay. So it's then you can use your hands to feel a person actually you're feeling somebody up is what you're doing and you're getting consent for it first. So the consent is not just having my hands on your back, it's having your hands on my back for my pleasure, which is very different from having my hands on your back, to give you a back massage.

Neil Sattin: Right.

Betty Martin: So that's where the distinction comes in, and it turns out to be very rich.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and okay, so first, let's step back for just a minute, 'cause there is one comment that you made very quickly, but when I heard it, originally, it felt so important to me which when you were describing how to use an inanimate object, how to just feel it with your hands and to feel the pleasure in your hands, you mentioned leaning back. And so I'm wondering if you can talk for a moment about the importance of leaning back and not efforting when it comes to experiencing pleasure?

Betty Martin: Yeah, boy, that's a good one. I'm not sure why, but I just noticed it in doing this with hundreds of people that when you lean back and take this object into your lap that it makes available to you an experience of being attentive to the pleasure. That doesn't happen, it just doesn't click if you're leaning forward, or turned to the side or holding the object up in the air, I'm assuming that it's because you have the muscles like your trunk engaged and that wakes up a different part of your brain. I'm not real sure, but I just know that I've seen it with hundreds of people. And if you were an ambulance driver, and you came up on an accident and you had to reach through the twisted up glass in order to take somebody's pulse, you could take in that data with your hands, no problem. But if you are sort of contorting yourself or holding yourself forward or turned around, you're not going to be able to relax into the sensation of it very easily. And what we're looking for is for the sensation to become pleasurable.

Neil Sattin: Right. And as the sensation becomes pleasurable, it can build and build. I think you say it recruits more and more...

Betty Martin: Yup.

Neil Sattin: Brain activity.

Betty Martin: Yes.

Neil Sattin: To support the pleasure.

Betty Martin: Yes, and that does happen. You put your attention on something, you actually recruit more and more brain cells in attending to that thing and we're talking about sensation. So you attend to your sensation more and more brain cells are going to be recruited to attend to it. So it has this feeling... The feeling of it is that it sort of fills up, fills you up, fills up the space, the world drops away is the feeling of it.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Betty Martin: And the sensation becomes very large.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and so that seems so important to me because so many couples who are having issues around their intimacy, they... One or the other of them or maybe both gets trapped in the sense of like, "Oh well, I should... This should feel good to me and so I'm going to somehow make it feel good" or...

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: "I should want this for my partner" or... And so that level of efforting is so different than relaxing into sensation. And you used the term "Following the pleasure" and trusting where that pleasure is going to take you.

Betty Martin: Yeah, and one thing that happens... So I call what we're describing here the ability to attend to the sensation and experience it as pleasure, I'm calling that the direct root of pleasure. It just comes in, the nerve endings in your hands are stimulated, it goes right up your spine cord into your brain, ping! Lights up your pleasure center, it's a direct route. There's also the indirect route which is, I do something to you, and you smile and then your smile lights me up. So, it's like throwing out a boomerang. I've gotta catch something in order to experience pleasure. And that's what I call the indirect route. So the indirect route depends on you responding in some way that I like or I don't have anything. If the direct route is closed and I have to get you excited in order for me to enjoy it, now, I'm depending on you and I'm depending on you responding in the way that I want you to respond or I have nothing. And this is where... This is a problem because now I'm not really giving to you, I'm using you to get the response that I want to see, so that I can feel good about myself, and so that I can have some pleasure. This is a problem.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Betty Martin: Yeah. And we've probably all been there, I've been there, I've been on both ends of it and I don't recommend it. But it's where many people are stuck because they don't really know what else to do.

Neil Sattin: Right. And this is why each of the quadrants in the Wheel of Consent is so important. You talk about how important it is to experience each one on its own. That if you're in the gray zone between like, "Oh, I'm giving to you for my pleasure, but I'm actually waiting for you to receive something in order to actually get pleasure." Well, now you're not really experiencing either of those things.

Betty Martin: Yes, that's right, yeah. Yeah, one thing the quadrants showed me after a while was that in order to experience each of them, you have to take them apart. So when I'm touching you, for me it needs to be 100% for me. I'm still within consent and I'm abiding by whatever limits you've said, and I'm respecting your limits. I'm not just doing any darn thing I want to do. I've asked you, "May I do this?" And you've said, "Yes" and we've negotiated limits. But, it's 100% for me, I'm not trying to get a response out of you. And I'm not trying to please you. So there's that quadrant, and then the other quadrant, I'm doing it and it's 100% for you. Again, I'm abiding by my limits, I'm respecting my limits while I'm available to do this but I'm not available to do that. And you are also respecting my limits, but it's 100% for you.

Betty Martin: It's not about me. It's not about what I want to do, it's about what you want me to do. And so the distinction between those two when you can take them apart and you can be completely in one or completely in the other, that's when they get really, really rich. And that's where you had your big ahas. That's where you had your challenges. That's where you see... Oh, this is what I was doing that I wasn't very clean about, or... Oh my gosh, this is what has been locked away and now it's free, and opened up, or lots of lots of insights come when you can take the quadrants apart and experience them one at a time. And that's what the wheel is. It's really, it's a practice in taking, receiving and giving apart. So you're doing one of them at a time. It's not the way I would want to live my entire love life. Certainly it's a practice in... Can I completely receive? It's all about me. Or can I completely give. And it's all about them. And can I tell the difference? And when I can tell the difference, then they both become very rich. Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I'm glad you mentioned that because that was a question for me around like in the end when you tease them apart through the practice, then you're able to dance between them. I imagine.

Betty Martin: Yes, yeah, yeah.

Neil Sattin: So, yeah. One thing that jumped out at me, did you have something to say there?

Betty Martin: Well, I was just going to say, everyone thinks they're jump... They are dancing in between them and doing them all at once, but really they're not doing any of them. Until you can take them apart, you can't do any of them.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, great.

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Great. So let's go a little bit deeper, I want to start if it's okay with... So we talked about a moment ago, giving which is... I'm touching you and I'm touching you the way you want to be touched like I'm touching you for you. I'm the giver, and...

Betty Martin: Oh thank you.

Neil Sattin: You're welcome.


Neil Sattin: And on the opposite quadrant from that is the receiver, the person who's being done to, and they are receiving the pleasure. And I think you do mention too that pleasure is like... It's not the sole province of one or two quadrants. Like no matter where you are here...

Betty Martin: That's right.

Neil Sattin: You can be feeling pleasure, you can be feeling pleasure, as a giver. But the idea is that if you're giving... So, I'm touching you to, the way you want to be touched, and then you are just receiving that touch, receiving touch the ways you want to be touched, and you mentioned that a lot of couples get stuck there in that part of the wheel. It's like their only access point to touching each other is giving and receiving in that way.

Betty Martin: Yeah, well, I think we need to back up and define receive and give.

Neil Sattin: Great.

Betty Martin: Because if you're looking up the diagram, you'll see this, but receive and give have a couple of different meanings. Receive, for example, one meaning is that something comes towards me and arrives at me, so, I can receive a package in the mail, I can receive a pass at the 20 yard line, I can receive a massage, but I can also receive a punch in the jaw, and a branch falling on my head. So that meaning of receive means something is done to me. It doesn't mean that I want it. You can receive unwanted touch, right? So that definition of receive means something's done to me, doesn't mean I want it or not, just is not applicable there.

Neil Sattin: Right.

Betty Martin: The other meaning of receive means it's a gift for me and it's something that I do want. But the trouble now is that... Well, maybe what I want is to be touched, which is what you were describing, touch me the way I want. Or maybe what I want is to be allowed to touch you in the way that I want. So this definition of receive doesn't indicate who is doing, it indicates who it's for. So when you are allowing me to touch you the way I want and feel you up the way I want, now you are giving me the gift. I'm receiving the gift, but I'm the one who's doing. So have I got your brains all tangled up? Yeah. [chuckle]

Neil Sattin: Hopefully not, but you just filled in the fourth quadrant of the diagram for me.

Betty Martin: Yeah, yeah, so receive and give. I'm using in a very particular way here, and I realize it's not the way that everybody uses it, I'm using it, to mean, not who's doing, I'm using it to me who it's for. And this does fill in the other two quadrants, this is the quadrant of I'm doing what I want to do to you, and you're allowing me to do that, so the action's going from me to you. But the gift is going from you to me, you are giving me this gift of access to your body for me to enjoy the way I want to enjoy it.

Neil Sattin: Right.

Betty Martin: That's why the two axes on the diagram, one is who's doing and who's being done to, the other is, who's giving and who's receiving, or who is it for? Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah, and...

Betty Martin: People just trip over it and that's fine. And I realize it's not the way everybody uses the word and in the workshops that I teach and when I work with clients, people would trip over it for a while, and that's okay. It'll come around.

Neil Sattin: And when you make the distinction and this is great that each of these quadrants also has a shadow side, and so you draw the circle and it's like everything that happens within that circle, those are the things that you're in agreement about that you're consenting to. I want to touch you this way and I'm explicit about that, and you agree, you allow me, and that could be that you want me to, or it could be that you're willing to let me touch you that way. And that outside of the circle, those are the things where these things happen, but where you don't have consent.

Betty Martin: That's right.

Neil Sattin: And that each of these quadrants has sort of a shadow expression. So in, I think, in the taking allowing that we were just describing. So, taking being, I'm touching you the way I want to touch you, and allowing being I'll let you do that. Well, it's the obvious where that leads when you don't have consent.

Betty Martin: Yes, well, it may be obvious and it may not... Because if you expand the view of this dynamic beyond my hands on you, then you realize that... Well, the shadow of, for example, the take allow dynamic, the shadow is groping or using or assault, rape, murder, and war. And the shadow of it also is dropping bombs on civilian populations, well any populations in order to get their oil from the land in there, from under their sand, or to go into a country and prop up a petty dictator so that we can get cheap bananas. That is part of the shadow of the taking quadrant. I'm taking action that I want to take, but I haven't asked you, if it's okay with you. I'm reaching out to get something that I want, but you haven't given me consent.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Betty Martin: So the shadow of the taking quadrant in particular is really ugly. And our whole culture's built on it.

Neil Sattin: Right.

Betty Martin: We stole the land. I'm in America, I don't know where you are, but we stole the land and we killed all the people, a bunch of the people. And that's a shadow of the taking quadrant, if ever there was one. So that's where I actually get passion about this stuff is that it will improve your sex life. Great, but I don't actually care. I'm sorry.


Neil Sattin: Betty, this is what we're here to talk about.

Betty Martin: What I'm really interested in is how does it make you more aware of where you are in consent and where you are out of consent? That's what really excites me because that translates into our lives in the world, and as it happens, it seems to happen anyway, that when we experience something somatically in our bodies right here in our homes, with our partners, and we learned that we have a choice about what happens to us, we learned that there are things that we want to do that we need permission for, we learn these things in a very tangible, physical way, and then they become real to us, and then we see where they... How they apply in the rest of our lives.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Betty Martin: We start to see, "Oh this is where I've been a doormat. I didn't notice that until now. Now I see it, or this is where I have been taken advantage of people. Oh, I didn't see it before now. Now I see it, this is where I've been giving, giving, giving way more than I really felt good about. Oh, I didn't see it before. Well, now I see it. So these are all... This is what excites me about the wheel actually.

Neil Sattin: Right. So you were just basically naming some of that shadow dysfunction in the other quadrants as well.

Betty Martin: Yeah, yeah. The shadow of the allow quadrant is the doormat, the going along with everything, the putting up with everything, the victim, the actual victim not like victim mentality, but you get held up at gunpoint on the street, that's your victim. You know...

Neil Sattin: Right. And in particular, one of the places where this lit up for me and I'm so curious to hear your thoughts on this, is that on the show we've talked a bunch about overcoming trauma and how many people have experienced the trauma around the sexual circuit. So that's the shadow of this taking allowing is. That's where people experience that trauma. And yet they're there, on the wheel. It's not like, okay, well, taking and allowing are bad, they're just bad when they are happening without consent.

Betty Martin: Right.

Neil Sattin: And so I'm curious from your perspective, what I see, happening, and maybe you see this differently is that when people disown the taking and allowing dynamic then that's one time, one place where they get stuck, in giving and receiving. And I'm wondering particularly with people who have experienced the more distorted parts of taking and allowing, how do you encourage them to experience taking and allowing in a way that's based around consent and that's safe? And I'm speculating here from hearing your work, that it's actually really important for them to re-own that in a healthy functional way. So maybe you could talk about, if you agree like, why that's important to do and then maybe how someone who's stuck in one place could find a comfortable way back to taking and allowing that actually serves them and doesn't retraumatize them.

Betty Martin: Yeah. That's a great question. Yes, I think every person needs access to all four quadrants, because each of them is an inherent part of being a human to take action for our own benefit, that's part of being human, that's the taking quadrant. And to do so within consent, that's integrity and maturity, and we need to be able to do that. A life in which you cannot take action for your own benefit, is going to be pretty problematic. Yeah? Taking action for someone else's benefit, this is the serving quadrant, this is doing what someone else wants you to do. We all need to be able to access that ability to serve others, of course we do, and we need to learn to do it in a way that respects our own limits and boundaries.

Betty Martin: So those are basic human abilities that we all need. We all need to learn how to allow others to do things for themselves, even if they affect us and learn how to set limits that affect us. I'm willing to allow you to do this, but I'm not willing to allow you to do that. That's a basic human skill that we all need. And the fourth quadrant, accepting where you're doing what I want, to receive the benefit of other people's actions, that's something that we all do, and we need to do it in a way that has integrity and clarity and respects other people's boundaries.

Betty Martin: So they're all inherent to being a human being, and we need access to all of them, and when we don't have access to them, we figure out some kind of workaround, but it's often problematic. The trauma piece I think is really important too, because we have all been touched against our will, every one of us, and it happened before we could talk. Even in the very best, if you had perfect parents, you still got your nappy's changed and your teeth brushed, and you got picked up out of oncoming traffic, like you were touched in ways that you did not want. And because it's pre-verbal, we come out of it with this, our body's kind of believing that, well touch is just something that happens that I can't stop, and I just have to make the best of it somehow, that the touch itself is not changeable, I have to change myself to be okay with it somehow.

Betty Martin: And for some of us, this happened in a reasonable way and it was gentle and it's okay. And for some of us, it was horrible and traumatic. And most of us are in between there somewhere, but we've all been touched against our will. And so what I've come to appreciate through playing this game, and working with clients over a dozen years is that, what we need to recover and reclaim is our ability to have a choice about how we are touched. Our ability to have a choice about how we are touched and that is... There's a huge range in that. So there's a huge range in our comfort with being touched, and you... As we're talking about the take-allow dynamic in wanting to recover that, and for someone who's been touched a lot against their will, or traumatically against their will, when you ask them, "Well, how is... May I feel your this or that?" It's terrifying, because they don't quite know that they have a choice about it.

Betty Martin: And I've seen this working with clients a lot where they just like, "Oh I get to have a choice about that. Gosh, that never occurred to me." So what I actually suggest is that you start with, "How do you want me to touch you?" And so you are directing exactly where my hands go, moment by moment by moment, until you learn that you really do, that you really are in charge of how you're touched. So for someone who's had traumatic experiences, this is the place to start, that you get to decide if and when and how I touch you, and you get to decide moment by moment by moment, so that there's no opportunity for you to go into the going along with, putting up with freezing and so forth. And that turns out to be very, very empowering and is life-changing for many people.

Neil Sattin: Right and that could still happen in the context of, if your partner is in the taking role, then they could say, "May I touch your hand?" that's one that we use. So they're expressing that, "I want to touch your hand for my own pleasure." And you could still set the limits...

Betty Martin: You could still choose, yes.

Neil Sattin: And direct exactly how they're able to touch your hand?

Betty Martin: Yeah. Right.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Betty Martin: Right, yeah.

Neil Sattin: One little note on that too, you were... You talk about the principles that each quadrant embodies, with the... If I get these wrong, feel free to correct me, but I believe that with the giving quadrant, this is where I'm giving you what you want for you, that that's generosity.

Betty Martin: That's the serving quadrant.

Neil Sattin: The serving quadrant, great.

Betty Martin: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Neil Sattin: And then...

Betty Martin: Yeah, a lot of people call that giving, but allowing is also a form of giving.

Neil Sattin: Great.

Betty Martin: So that's why I call it serving.

Neil Sattin: I like that.

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Thank you. The taking quadrant is integrity, you mentioned that it's about knowing what you want and being okay with asking, with acting.

Betty Martin: Yup.

Neil Sattin: In your own interest. The receiving, now there's... What's...

Betty Martin: Accepting.

Neil Sattin: Accepting thank you. So the accepting quadrant, which is... Right, because you're receiving the gift that's being given or served upon you, [chuckle] I guess.

Betty Martin: Yeah. You're being touched the way you want.

Neil Sattin: Yes. [chuckle] So that would be gratitude.

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Accepting those gifts. And just a reminder that when we were talking about the taking quadrant, that you are receiving there too, you're receiving...

Betty Martin: That's right.

Neil Sattin: The gift of someone allowing you to touch them.

Betty Martin: Yes.

Neil Sattin: And now when we get into the allowing quadrant, if I'm remembering right, the principle there is surrender?

Betty Martin: Yes.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, what's so important about surrender and learning to access that?

Betty Martin: Well, it's very fun, for one thing. And the other thing is when you... As you learn to take responsibility for your own limits, and this is something that we're all learning, there's no one who's totally got it, like everybody is on a learning journey here, that to the degree that I learn to say, "Yes, you can do this to me, but you cannot do this to me." Then I become trustworthy to myself. Oh, then I can trust myself, and then I can relax and allow you to play with me however you want. But that is based on me gaining the skills to set a limit, or to say no, or to say stop, or to say I've changed my mind, or to say ouch I need to move over here, or I need to turn over, or... To the degree that I am able to speak up for myself, to that degree I can enjoy surrendering to you because that means I'm no longer micromanaging what happens. I can relax into you taking your pleasure with me, but it depends on me being able to speak up for myself.

Betty Martin: The idea, there's this idea that, "Oh well, you should be able to surrender more," and that's a terrible idea, because what that means is, and what that implies is, you should be able to ignore yourself and go along with any old thing that I want to do, and that is not true, that's the opposite. That as I learn to speak up for myself, then I will naturally and easily surrender, and it'll be joy, because I can trust that if I need to I will speak up. And again, that's a lifelong journey that we're all on.

Neil Sattin: Right, and that's about creating a context, in this situation that we're talking about, creating a context with your partner, where you're in your creating agreement, it's where we started. And so part of that agreement is you being able to establish the limits within which you're comfortable...

Betty Martin: Yes.

Neil Sattin: Surrendering.

Betty Martin: Yes. Yeah, the question is not... Well, why can't I surrender to this thing? The question to ask yourself is, within what particular limits would it be fun to surrender? And there are some limits and you wait until you notice what they are. Oh, I'm happy to surrender if I'm assured that I'm going to keep my clothes on, for example, or I'm happy to surrender my hand and my arm, you do whatever you want, or I'm happy to surrender my little finger for three minutes. There is some limit within which surrender is easy, and that's what you want to find, and because then that's where you learn to trust yourself, and then as you trust yourself, your limits will gradually expand naturally, because you trust yourself to speak up as you need to. Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Now we've spent a lot of time on taking and allowing. I think because that's, they both represent distinctions that aren't familiar to a lot of people, myself included. So I'm glad that we spent a lot of time there, and before we go, I'm wondering if we can just turn our attention briefly to the giving, or the serving and accepting dynamic.

Betty Martin: Sure.

Neil Sattin: 'Cause I don't want to neglect their importance.

Betty Martin: They're also really good. [chuckle] Yeah, the accepting, which means I'm being touched the way I want. Because of what I mentioned a few minutes ago that we've all been touched against our will, and our tendency will be to try to go along with whatever is being done to us and think that we should like it better. This is probably the biggest challenge in the accepting quadrant is, "Well they're touching me this way, so therefore I should like it and I should be okay with it, and if I don't like it, there's something wrong with me." That's backwards. Instead of changing ourselves to suit what's happening, you change what's happening to suit ourselves. So part of the... Often times, the hardest part of the accepting quadrant is asking for what you want, asking for how you want to be touched. Because it's vulnerable, of course it is, and we don't always know. So then we have to just wait a while until we do know, and that can be awkward, and I do have compassion for that.

Betty Martin: But there is no substitute to waiting till you notice what you want and then asking for it, because then you have the opportunity to receive it, and then you notice that it actually is for you. And instead of sort of putting up with whatever is going on, or whatever it is that's happening. That's probably the hardest part of the accepting quadrant. And then the enjoyment of it, if you have asked for what you want, the enjoyment of it is pretty automatic. If you're not enjoying it, then don't try to change your enjoyment of it, change what it is that is happening. So the question to ask is not, "Why aren't I enjoying this more?" The question to ask is, "Well, what is it that I actually do want?" So that's the question of the accepting quadrant.

Betty Martin: In the serving quadrant, the hardest part... You might think that the thing to do in serving is to get all sorts of good strokes and techniques down, but what's actually the most important part of the serving quadrant is finding out what the accepting partner actually wants, and that's a whole art form of waiting and being, creating space for them and not pushing them, and not making suggestions, and just asking them what they want and then just shut up and wait until they tell ya. But it's so easy in serving to think, "Well I have this cool thing I know how to do, so I'm going to do it." And they show it on the video, it looked pretty cool, but that's not really it, it's finding out what they actually want. Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Right, yeah. Wow, if only we could just eliminate so many of those videos that seem to suggest what people want. [chuckle] It can be so inaccurate.

Betty Martin: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well they were accurate for some person at some moment, but you're a different person, and it's a different moment.

Neil Sattin: Right.

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. One thing that stood out really big for me was that you mentioned that a lot of... Most people assume that they're on the giving side of the wheel.

Betty Martin: Yeah. Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Which translates into someone either maybe always feeling like they're serving and someone always feeling like they're allowing.

Betty Martin: Yeah. Yeah, when we are on the giving half of the wheel, this is serving and allowing as you said, we are... The nature of giving is that we set aside what we would prefer in order to go with what our partner prefers, at the same time we're responsible for our boundaries and limits. So as soon as you set aside what you prefer, you're going to feel like you're giving. And so if you are constantly setting aside what you want, you're going to think you're giving all the time and you kind of are, except that no one has actually asked for that thing, or you haven't asked them if they wanted it. So what typically happens in a heterosexual couple is that the man feels like he's in the serving quadrant because he's doing all the work and he's doing all the stuff that he saw on the video, and by golly, it's supposed to be for her, and I hope she likes it. Yeah, so he feels like he's serving. And the woman feels like she's allowing because, "Well, he's doing all the stuff, I guess he wants to do it, didn't ask me what I wanted, and I guess he likes doing it so I'm going to let him do it." So he's in serving, she's in allowing. Who's receiving there? Nobody. When I do this in a room full of people, almost everybody nods their heads, they recognize it because...

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Betty Martin: And I've been there, I've been on both sides of that equation, I think we all have. I think we have to be able to kind of laugh at ourselves of,"How do we get here?" But that's one of the things that happens when you don't get up the courage to talk about what it is that you actually enjoy, and most people recommend that you have this conversation before you get to the bedroom, that you, in the heat of the moment, it's much harder to communicate. Of course it is. It's much more helpful to have these conversations before you ever get to the bedroom.

Neil Sattin: Right. With the caveat that once you're in the bedroom you can still set a limit that you... [chuckle]

Betty Martin: Yes, absolutely, absolutely, yeah.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah, wow.

Betty Martin: Yeah. Then I would just reiterate again that the two questions, the three-minute game, the Wheel of Consent are a practice, it's something that you come back to again and again, and you see how clear can I be about who this is for? It's not necessarily how you want to live your whole life, but it will illuminate other aspects of how you live your life. It's a practice in, "Can I just receive or can I just give, and can I tell the difference, and can I be clear about it, and what happens when I do that?" So it's a practice.

Neil Sattin: And what I love about this as a practice is, I think it creates a really easy-to-follow path to relearning what you do want.

Betty Martin: Yes.

Neil Sattin: And and to relearning your partner and what they want, that's so much of what we're struggling against in relationship, is just like the patterning that...

Betty Martin: Yes.

Neil Sattin: How we've done it time and again with other people, et cetera.

Betty Martin: Right, right.

Neil Sattin: And yeah, so the way that this opens us up to more presence, more of, "What can happen in this moment, what is actually true in this moment?"

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: And then that's where the art of intimacy happens, is you learn these new structures, these new ways of interacting, and then it becomes how you... It's just part of your language at that point. And you can get creative and write poetry.

Betty Martin: Yeah, exactly.


Neil Sattin: Well, Betty, one thing...

Betty Martin: Yeah, I think that the great thing too is that when you take turns asking each other those questions, you start to notice that, "Oh, what I want now is different than what I wanted yesterday, what I want now is different than what I wanted five minutes ago." And that's pretty important thing to notice.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I love that and I'm just... So many people feel pressed for time. I think, obviously, if you could do the true three-minute game, where you got three minutes, then three minutes, then three minutes, and three minutes, so it's actually more like a 12-minute game I guess.

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: I mean, who doesn't have 15 minutes in their day? Come on.

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: You could do that...

Betty Martin: Exactly. Yeah.

Neil Sattin: You each have a round and then there's a bonus round.

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: But even if you only had one minute each and you just sat at the table, that's possible.

Betty Martin: Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Neil Sattin: One thing that I thought as I was going through your work was, "Oh my God, I wish I could do a whole series with you," [chuckle] but the beauty is your series is there on your website, so if this is piqued your interest, I definitely encourage you to check out Betty's website, bettymartin.org. She has everything spelled out, different lessons you can follow right along, there's plenty of material there for you. And Betty, looking forward to your book coming out, when it does, I will make sure to let everyone know, so that they can pick it up.

Betty Martin: Thank you.

Neil Sattin: And I'm just so appreciative of the work that you're doing in the world and how you're helping us have this conversation in a way that that leads us somewhere different, and the impact that that's going to have not only on our relationships, but on those larger world dynamics, feels really powerful to me.

Betty Martin: Thank you. Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to talk to you.

Neil Sattin: Thank you.

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