Justin J. Lehmiller
Justin J. Lehmiller, Ph.D.
Occupation: Founder and Editor of the blog Sex and Psychology
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
The Sex in My Business: Sex and Psychology is a blog that explores the science of sex, love, and relationships in a way that aims to be both educational and entertaining. I create all of the content for the site myself and have been putting up three new posts per week every week since 2011. Posts cover a wide range of topics, but the primary goal is to explore sex-related issues from a psychological perspective in order to give people a better understanding of why we do what we do when it comes to sex and how we can lead happier, healthier sex lives. I see the blog as a form of adult sex education.
A Typical Day: Every day is a little different for me, but I usually start each morning on social media—mostly Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit. On days I have new posts, I share them on my social media channels, and on days I don’t, I usually share older content that has become relevant again or bears repeating for some reason. I also use social media to see what’s going on in the world of sex research, which is where I get a lot of my ideas for things to blog about in the future. It also helps keep my knowledge base current to ensure that, whenever I’m writing, the content is up-to-date. The rest of the day varies a lot, but most often it’s just me sitting at my computer and writing about sex, either in my home office or in a coffee shop. In addition to writing for the blog, I also write for various media outlets like Men’s Health and VICE, on top of the academic journal articles and books that I write too—it’s a lot of writing!
The Best Part: It is rewarding to have a job where I can help other people. My favorite thing is when someone tells me that information I provided helped them work through a difficult issue or made them feel normal for the first time in their life. That is definitely a big part of what keeps me going in this line of work. I also love that it has me travel a lot. My blog and books have led to a lot of speaking opportunities, which have taken me all over. In the last few months alone, I’ve given lectures and workshops in New York City, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle. I love that I get to see new places, meet new people, and share my work with a wider audience, all at the same time! Teaching these lectures and workshops has also been a humbling experience because I’ve met people who have traveled great distances to hear me speak—I’m absolutely blown away by this.
The Worst Part: My least favorite part of the job is when people come to me for advice at a time when I’m out having fun and want to forget about work for a while. I’ve had the experience many times where people will pull me aside at a bar or at a party and want to have a long conversation about some major sexual or relationship problem they’re experiencing. I truly feel for these folks, but it’s really important for me to have some boundaries between work and life. I have people sending me really heavy questions over email every day—and I’m honored that they trust me with their secrets—but, like everyone else, I need time to “unplug” from work, too.
How I Got Here: I got into blogging in 2011 when a few friends of mine from graduate school started a website aimed at providing scientifically-based information about relationships to the public. They asked me to contribute and I was kind of hesitant at first. I had never done this sort of writing before—I was trained to be a scientist and write journal articles for other people with Ph.D.s, so there was a steep learning curve in trying to communicate with the public about research and data in a way that they could both understand and enjoy. However, I found that I really liked it and, after a few months, I decided to start my own blog that focused more on sex, hence the birth of Sex and Psychology.
What Society Thinks: Generally speaking, the response I’ve received has been pretty positive, which encourages me to keep going. I have a very supportive family—my mom even reads my blog! I’m thrilled to have this kind of support because I know a lot of people in my field who have families that don’t accept what they do, or who are afraid to “come out” to their families as sex researchers/educators/therapists because they’re worried about not being accepted. Most people outside of my family have also responded to my occupation positively, often by asking me a lot of questions they’ve always wanted to ask but never felt comfortable asking anyone before. Rarely, I have met people who seemed uncomfortable with my job or who insulted or disparaged me for it, which can be hard to shrug off, but I have learned that if you’re going to be in this field, you need to have a very thick skin. However, I am fortunate that the positive responses have far outweighed the negative ones.
When I’m not at Work: I love to travel for pleasure and completely “unplug” for a while—no email, no social media. It’s such a wonderful, freeing feeling. It doesn’t matter so much where I am as long as I have that chance to let go, be in the moment, and stop thinking about work. I also like to unplug through cooking, especially by making Indian food. Aside from the flavors (which I absolutely love), part of what draws me to it is that all of the dishes I make are complex—some are practically an all-day affair! Just as with travel, cooking forces me to stay away from work for a while and focus on something else. It is an immersive and delicious experience—plus, I can drink wine the whole time!
For more about Justin, please check out his blog, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, or pick up his latest book, Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life