Touchpoint: A Monthly Sex-Ed Community That Cultivates Emotional Intelligence
Jared Matthew Weiss achieved what most people rarely do after a breakup: He made lemons out of lemonade. Or in his case, he made an adult sex-ed group out of people from all walks of life starved for emotionally intelligent conversations. “I had recently gotten out of a long relationship and I felt like I wanted to talk to other people about what they were experiencing or exploring in bed and in love.” By churning his mixed pot of emotions into an arsenal, he facilitated an intimate gathering with 12 other people in a cramped NYC apartment. What transpired was the first ‘Town Hall’ in 2016 about love, sex, and relationships. Instead of “discussing potholes in the street, it’s ‘should I take ghosting personally?’,” Weiss told to the New York Times last summer about Touchpoint, his sex-ed community.
Since their initial gathering, Touchpoint has amassed over 4000 people in total to sit in their inclusive circle once a month at The Assemblage and a 12-part podcast that features some of the stories that are shared. The judgment-free zone is a safe space for those to submit anonymous questions in advance about anything ranging from open relationships to unsung fantasies or ask them aloud on the spot. “We create a space that’s entertaining, it’s not a support group. If there are 100 plus people sitting there, most people don’t say a word, most people come there and they listen and they hear something that gives them permission to be themselves.” Jared explained.
For this 15-year veteran entrepreneur, simply experiencing the act of sex is not enough. “When we talk about sex, there’s only so much you can say around what body part went where and for how long. The conversation very quickly becomes around the emotional experience of exploring love and sexuality and intimacy.” Jared took me by total surprise when I asked him how the new community he’s fostered has changed his relationships and connection with others. “In the most profound way, it has changed the relationship I have with my parents. What I came to realize is what we’re really having is a town hall about emotional intelligence.” Opening up about love doesn’t just strengthen romantic partnerships but it enables you to feel empathy for all people.
Weiss’s community is a clear depiction of how sex is as much about emotional intimacy as it is about physical intimacy. But talking about sex and your desires is not always so easy to discuss with your partner. “Love and sexuality are very lonely journeys. It’s interesting because, in some sense, it could get lonelier in partnerships because in partnerships, if we’re experiencing things we don’t enjoy or we feel like we’re in the wrong thing, I think we don’t want to dishonor our relationship or speak badly of our partners, so we don’t feel often the freedom to speak about what’s going on in the relationship with other people.” Jared believes that self-expression is the key to freedom and that when we’re free to express what’s in our hearts and in our minds we can create whatever we want. But if we don’t feel free to divulge those things, life gets really difficult to navigate. Touchpoint’s ultimate goal is to help people find the words to express themselves.
But when someone’s words are hidden behind identity shame, letting one’s guard down proves to be a difficult challenge. “The most popular topics for people to discuss is commitment, monogamy, singledom. The second one is probably fantasies. And more specifically, the permission to even have fantasies. The third is probably identity. How we show up whether it be as a man, or a woman, or non-binary or gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual.”
Considering that comprehensive sexual education isn’t often taught in high schools around the country, this is vital information for all people who have sex or are interested in having sex in the future — and maybe even those who aren’t. In addition to this adult sex-ed community’s monthly meet-ups, in September they started facilitating workshops on all-things love and sex. In less than three months, more than 800 people have joined classes that ranged from ‘Breathwork in Bed,’ ‘The Art of Touch,’ ‘A Creative Writing Workshop on Fantasies,’ ‘How to Speak to Your Partner About Death,’ and ‘How to Be In an Open Relationship.’ In 2019, they plan on expanding their Town Halls to 20 more cities and offering even more educational programs.
Solving problems pertaining to love and sex all comes down to healthy conversation and education. In high school if we talked about sex at all, our formal lessons told us the who, the what, and the where… and the laundry-list of risks. But it didn’t allow us to fully explore the nuances that come with various identities and fantasies. In the millennial age, more and more people are questioning monogamy. Even the act of ghosting is a new phenomenon. Jared concluded, “Touchpoint helps people facilitate more meaningful conversation with themselves and also gives them tools and outlets and ways to become more educated so they can be better partners in bed and in love and in life.”