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V-Day 2020- Let’s make it the best one yet! 

Valentine’s Day. There’s no better day to celebrate with the one you love, indulge in some (non GMO, raw, vegan) chocolate, and reflect on how awesome your sex life is. Oh wait, did I say awesome? So many of us use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to take stock of our relationships and how they/we/our partners can improve. I like to think of it as the second wave of New Year’s resolutions. Now that we’ve #KGChallenge-d our way into healthier eating habits, we’re poised to take on our sex lives! So, I challenge you to start making healthier choices in the bedroom (or kitchen, or hot tub, or backyard… you get the idea) and reap the rewards all year long. To get you started, here are some DO’s and DON’TS of a healthy sex life.  

DON’T Schedule sex!

While scheduling sex dates with your partner may seem like a good idea, nothing says buzz kill like a scheduled hour of sex in between a phone call with your accountant and a pilates class. In addition, having a date on the calendar, or a quota for the month can create unwanted pressure, especially if you’re feeling like the “less sexual” half of your duo.  If you are looking for a powerful change in your sex life, spontaneity is key! There’s something so thrilling about not knowing where and when your next rendez-vous is going to occur. It also allows you and your partner to be playful, finding small moments throughout the day that may or may not lead to more, but will certainly help that desire to increase. This means that when the right moment presents itself, it will feel more natural and less forced. 

DO get to know yourself better!

Masturbation is such an important part of a woman’s life. Most women that I see in my practice will leave with some form of “homework” involving self-exploration and masturbation. Many of us don’t know the inner workings of our bodies, and making time to learn is a healthy part of any woman’s sex life. Once you have the opportunity to discover how your body responds to various stimuli, what it enjoys and how to achieve pleasure, you are well equipped to start sharing your discoveries with your partner. I encourage my clients to start off by finding some time to be alone and getting into a relaxed state (I know this can be tough as my children are literally screaming in the next room as I write this!). The next steps are up to you. Do whatever you feel comfortable doing. If you want to simply conjure up arousing fantasies, that’s a step in the right direction. If you want to look at your vagina, go ahead and look. If you want to use a sex toy, HERE are some recommendations. Whatever you do, try and dismiss any worries and negativity, and focus on pleasure.

DO work on intimacy! 

Date nights? Naked twister? Swinging? Put them all on the back burner for now. In fact, if sex itself is stressing you out, please put that aside for now too! In my experience, one of the best things that a couple can do to spice things up, is to increase the intimacy between them. First, let me define intimacy for you. When a couple trusts each other so deeply that they can fully be themselves, show themselves and be vulnerable with one another, they have achieved a high level of intimacy. Once you have intimacy, it becomes easier to ask your partner to try something new or to stop doing something old. So how does one go about building intimacy? I usually give a quick exercise to couples called the 2-minute stare. Basically, set a timer for 2 minutes and stare into each others eyes the entire time. Yes, you will laugh the first few times you try this one, but keep at it. Notice if you’re feeling self-conscious and awkward or connected and safe. What would it take to get to the latter? Once you’re comfortable with this, try a 2-minute hug and then a 2-minute kiss. These types of exercises help a couple strengthen their intimacy and create a non-pressured environment to begin deepening things further between them. 

DON’T confuse intercourse with sex!

Imagine you sit down to dinner every night and the same dish is on your plate. It would get pretty old pretty fast right? But it would also increase the pressure on that one dish. That better be one hell of a teriyaki salmon to keep you eating it night after night after night. It’s the same with sex. If intercourse is always the main dish or the end goal, all your focus turns to intercourse, making the whole experience pressured and very limiting. Sex, like food, needs variety to keep us interested. It’s also essential to the survival of the couple. I work with many couples and individuals across the lifespan. One thing that I can count on is that things change. People have to travel more for work, get pregnant, deliver babies, have children, get sick, have back injuries, develop sexual dysfunctions, get older, have chronic illnesses… you get the idea. Using spontaneity, knowledge of what brings you pleasure, and intimacy with your partner, take the time to develop a rich sexual repertoire! Have sex in ways other than straight up intercourse. Have a bunch of “quasi sexual” acts that you enjoy (snuggling on the couch, kissing, holding hands when you can), and try new things (flip on the porn together, share a fantasy). When you have a rich repertoire in place, it no longer matters if intercourse is cut short or doesn’t happen at all. You are well equipped with other ways of being sexual with your partner. 

I hope that these tips will help you all get on track and stay on track in 2020. Here’s to a year of great sex for all! 

Alex Chinks, Psy.D. is a Boston-based licensed clinical psychologist and clinical sexologist specializing in sex therapy for couples and individuals. The decision to seek help for sexual issues is a brave one. Dr. Chinks' extensive experience in the field ensures a safe and effective environment in which to learn, heal and grow.

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