While most people are growing tired of social media these days we are finding that if you can tune out the madness of ou world you can connect with some really amazing people. We stumbled onto the page of Janel Vitale (@lovewithjanel on Instagram) and we've fallen in love with the amazing relationship advice that she provide both there as well as TikTok. She's a 33-year-old sexual empowerment and shame-free relationship coach from Oakland, California.
Her TikTok following is massive. She's got over 175,000 going to her page for daily advice on intimacy. Which brings us to some questions that we got to ask her.
Could you take a second and explain what you do for the audience?
I am a sexual empowerment and shame-free relationship coach. That means I help people create more authentic intimacy and deeply connected sex by rethinking unhelpful myths about sexuality and relationships, learning self-awareness and embodiment, practicing emotional intelligence and developing vulnerable communication skills.
We love the positive messages that you send in your posts. What's the biggest benefit of both physical and emotional intimacy?
There is a myth in our individualistic "cowboy culture" that needing other people is weak and "needy." But what's true is that humans are social animals. We need each other to survive from day one. That's why we form attachments with the people we are closest to. Our nervous systems actually SYNC UP with the people we are close to, so when they are happy, we are happy! So I want to empower people to create maximum closeness in their relationships to discover greater happiness and a higher quality of life.
How did you get started in this line of work? Has it always been a passion of yours?
I've always been interested in people and relationships, including at a broader societal and systemic level. (My first major in college was American Studies, but then I dropped that to a minor and majored in Communication instead.) But my story with this work began when I was a young woman struggling with internalized shame about sexuality that I probably got from attending Catholic school for 14 years. So, I traveled the world as a cruise ship singer, lived on communes, experimented with polyamory, hiked 5,000 miles across the US and took 400 hours of relationship coaching trainings in search of my authentic self. Along the way, I learned how to face my fears, embrace what I really want in life and love, and talk about my needs without shame. That sparked my passion for empowering others to live their truths and create relationships and sex lives that truly fit.
We have a lot of married people in our audience. What advice could you give them on how to keep things both spicy and also loving?
The #1 thing to keep in mind about long-term relationships is that keeping desire alive requires both mystery AND connection; psychological distance AND emotional closeness/intimacy. Meaning, you need to keep investing in yourself and your hobbies/friendships just as much as you are investing in your life with your partner. Seeing each other as a separate being from one another reminds you that you don't "own" the other, and you shouldn't take the other for granted. Seeing your partner as able to take care of themselves is sexy because you don't feel like you have to "parent" them by overly-caretaking them. It's the difference between codependency and interdependence. It makes sure things are never too overly-familiar and familial-feeling between you, which kills eroticism.
Who would you say is your biggest influence?
The relationship coach Esther Perel is a thought leader I admire, as are the women who trained me in the Somatica Method: Somatica Institute founders Celeste Hirschman and Danielle Harel.
What is one thing you can't live without?
I mean...I hate to be cliche...but I wouldn't want to live without sex. It is my church, my meditation, my place of self-discovery and self-love, and the best way to relax ever!
Pizza or burgers?
A delicious pastured-meat burger topped with bacon, blue cheese, aoili and avocado on a really good bun!