Sexual New Year’s Resolutions, Part II

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A couple of days ago I noted that most New Year’s Resolutions apparently don’t mention sex. To help fix that, I suggested eight great resolutions—things you could promise yourself you wouldn’t do regarding sex in 2019.

Now here’s the other half of my suggestions: five things to promise yourself you’ll do to enhance your sexual experiences (and stay out of trouble).

* I’ll be honest with myself about why I want sex with this person at this time
People have sex for all sorts of reasons: to prove they’re attractive; the thrill of the conquest; to ease loneliness; they feel obligated; to get a hug or some touching; because they think they have nothing else to offer; to get revenge on an ex; to medicate depression or anxiety; to make someone else jealous.

Of course, some people have sex for pleasure, for intimacy, and/or to conceive.

I won’t judge any of these reasons, but I notice that a lot of people having sex for reasons other than pleasure, intimacy, or conception aren’t always honest with themselves about it. And then if they regret their decision afterwards, they ask themselves “What was I thinking?” Or they wonder “how did I let myself get talked into that?”

Not admitting what you’re doing, or why you’re doing it, makes bad choices a lot easier to make. And it’s not fair to the other person, who may assume you’re with them for reasons completely different from the real ones.

People in my office often call this a “communication problem.” I disagree. I call it a self-awareness problem, which often leads to a dishonesty problem or integrity problem.

Nobody benefits from this kind of decision-making.

* I’ll slow down during sex
Some people tear off their clothes or jump immediately into intercourse because they’re anxious. Thinking about what they’re doing, or actually sensing the other person’s feelings, challenges “the mood,” doesn’t feel “spontaneous,” and is just too, well, human.

Some people hurry into intercourse the second the guy gets erect because one or both of them are afraid he’s going to lose it. Or they hurry into intercourse so they don’t have time to think about birth control. Some men say they hurry so the woman won’t change her mind.

In porn, pounding someone harder is a stand-in for passion and sexiness (just like a porn actress’s willingness to have sex with the pizza delivery guy). Abruptly jamming a guy’s penis into your throat is also supposed to show passion and sexiness—even if it’s uncomfortable for him, not to mention your poor throat.

Our western model of sex—that it’s climbing a hill, getting hotter and hotter, and then exploding as we fall off a cliff—is fine, but it’s a limited view. Instead, try descending into a valley of relaxation, breathing deeper (not faster), opening your body to more levels of arousal and pleasure.

In this approach, orgasm isn’t a prize to work for, but a flood that can’t be held back. A deep flood.

* I’ll treat my sex partner like an individual rather than a “woman” or “man”
To hear people talk about someone being “just like a man” or “just like a woman,” you’d think that we’re back in 1959.

The stereotypes are still the same: women don’t really want sex and have to be pushed into it; men don’t know a feeling from a pineapple; women are SO hard to please sexually; men only care about getting hard and getting off; women’s vulvas taste and smell bad; men are too fragile to hear any helpful comments about their lovemaking.

Every week, patients ask me what “men” or “women” like or “need” in bed—how many minutes, how much teeth, which positions, which slang, how often, which fantasies. Unless you’re having sex with all men or all women, information about a category containing three billion is of very little value.

If you want to know what George likes, ask the world’s expert on George. If you want to know what Maria likes, ask the world’s expert on Maria. That expert is neither me, nor Google, nor your best friend, nor porn, nor the best sex education website in the world. It’s George or Maria. What all the other “men” or “women” like is really beside the point.

* I’ll decide my sexual plans before I start drinking
The first part of the plan should decide how much you’re going to drink. If you only want one or two drinks, you need to decide that before you’ve had them—because after you’ve had them, it’s easy to forget why you planned to limit yourself. And once anyone has more than two drinks, our judgement degrades dramatically.

Now that you’ve decided how much you’ll drink (and I know that some people do plan to get hammered), decide whether or not you’ll have sex, and under what conditions. Because again, once you’ve had a few drinks, your ability to think clearly about the next day (regret, gossip, nude pics, giving someone else the wrong idea) approaches zero.

“I didn’t really think about what would happen” is cute from a 5-year-old, annoying from a 15-year-old, and unacceptable from an adult. So do think about sex in advance of drinking.

* I’ll remember that real sex isn’t like porn sex
Most people can watch porn without losing their minds (or their moral compass).
But many people find porn sex really exciting and forget that it’s fictional: that it’s unusual bodies doing unusual things in unusual situations. And there’s editing, pretend desire, and off-camera preparation (like enemas and erection drugs).

So it’s easy to predict that attempting to reproduce what you see in porn will lead to disappointment—and either self-criticism or resentment toward a partner, or both. Creating enjoyable sex involves self-acceptance, communication, relaxation, and reasonable expectations. No blow job in real life can feel quite like a blow job in porn looks. And no orgasm in real life is as loud, as long, or as amazing as the orgasms in porn.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing in real life is as glamorous as it is in films—not restaurants, not the military, and certainly not flying across the country. And not sex.
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