Out with the old, in with the new. That has definitely been a theme lately, with the start of a new year, a new president here in the US, and so much more.
I don’t know about you, but I have had urges to organize my life better amidst it all. When folks asked me about my “word of the year” near the start of this month, a term to set the tone for my intentions for 2021, I landed on “streamline.”
I had it in mind mostly for my work life, but I’ve found myself exploring it in more personal ways, too. I donated a bunch of clothes that are ratty or I never wear, ordered a couple of replacements–thanks to my good friend, Rayne—and I almost organized my kitchen cupboards. Emphasis on “almost.”
Getting rid of habits that no longer serve us is important too, which is exactly what we’re going to focus on today: seven sex habits to leave behind as we move forward.
It might seem a tad negative to focus on “don’ts” in the bedroom. But heck, we’re humans. And human nature is such that it’s easy to focus on the negative. Risky business stands out; it’s a protective, survival thing. I can promise you positivity in these suggestions, though, too. After all, it is not just out with the old, but in with the new.
As a side note, if you see yourself in a lot of these habits, please go easy on yourself. I’m pretty sure many of us have made most, if not all, of these mistakes at some point. I know I have. It’s not our fault we didn’t know better.
1 Using saliva as lube
I get it. Saliva is a natural substance your body produces and let’s face it: it’s handy. But, it’s not a good choice as a lubricant during sex. Saliva dries up pretty fast and lacks the smooth slickness of commercial lubes and the lubricant our bodies naturally create for sexual purposes.
Using spit as lube can also lead to uncomfortable friction and irritation in some of our most delicate and pleasure-centric parts. This is partly because saliva contains enzymes that help your body digest food. If those enzymes enter a vagina, it can upset bacterial balance and lead to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis—neither of which are fun.
Saliva can also lead to STI transmission. A study published in the journal, Sexually Transmitted Infections, showed that close to half of rectal gonorrhea cases could be eliminated if folks stopped using saliva as lube during anal sex.
2 Shaming yourself for how “often” or “seldom” you have sex
There is no “normal” or “best” amount of times to engage in sex, solo or with a partner or partners. As I shared in my Girl Boner book, no two people will have the exact same libido consistently any more than two people crave food in equal amounts at the same times.
Especially now, during a global pandemic, please go easy on yourself. Some folks are desiring sex more lately, as a form of stress relief or more time near a partner. Others are having less sex, which is probably more common, because of stress, anxiety, low moods, exhaustion… Either way and no matter where your interest level lies, sexual frequency does not determine sexiness, your worth or the quality of your relationship.
If you would like to desire sex more often, there are many ways to work toward that. Just make sure you’re setting goals based on sincere interest and desire, versus society’s or anyone else’s “shoulds.”
3 Hiding pain or discomfort during sex
I’m sure we have virtually all done this at some point. Things are hot and heavy and something feels not-so-great, or even painful, and yet we attempt to grin and bear it. We fear making our partner(s) feel bad, or maybe we just don’t want to seem less sexually cool or, god forbid, “problematic.”
If you are not into something for any reason during sex, and definitely if you’re in intense pain or discomfort, stop everything. There is absolutely no reason to continue an activity, especially one aimed at pleasure and connection, if it’s hurting you. A good partner won’t want that either.
And you can do so in gentle ways, if that helps and you have the wherewithal in the moment. You could say, “Hey, can we pause for a second?” That’s it! That easy. From there, if you don’t yet feel ready to speak openly about your reasons, take a bathroom break. Give yourself time to breathe and gather your thoughts so you’ll know how to best proceed from there.
4 Keeping your wishes or desires with a partner secret
Obviously, you don’t need to articulate every sexual desire you have to anyone. Your fantasies are your own, to enjoy as you see fit. If you have a wish or desire that you really want to delve into with a partner, however—something that’s realistic and may be fun for you both—don’t keep that info locked up inside your head.
I’ve heard from many people who really want to try pegging or a couple’s sex toy or a threesome or BDSM or fill-in-the-blank, but feel too nervous to bring it up. Some butterflies are totally normal, especially around something new. But I would hate to see you miss out on an incredible experience because of them.
Here are a couple of simple ways to broach the subject, using rope play as an example. Over dinner sometime, you could say:
“Hey, I read this really sexy story where this couple used rope during sex… Is that something you’d ever want to try?”
“I heard this podcast about rope play. Would you like to hear it? I thought it might be fun to try sometime—even if we ended up not liking it.”
Of course, make sure you really have read or heard about it somewhere so you can share that resource. Staying honest and genuine is important.
You could also use a Yes, No, Maybe list to bring up your wants, where you both go down a list of activities and mark the ones you definitely want to try with Yes, those you aren’t interested in as No and those you might like to try sometime as Maybe. These lists are a great tool for talking about sex and learning about mutual interests, as well as anything that might be off the table for now.
5 Ignoring your sexuality because you’re not partnered
Our sexuality doesn’t vanish when we’re not in a relationship or don’t have access to partnered sex. If you enjoy sex when you can, attempting to put your sexuality on a shelf when you’re single is likely to cause more harm than good.
Remember, our sexuality goes far beyond particular kinds of sex acts and there are so many other ways to delight in that aspect of our lives: reading or writing erotica, watching spicy films, solo play, trying a new toy, taking sensual baths. Aim to engage your senses in something pleasurable and intimate, if even for a few minutes, every day. If you feel stuck in this area, consider journaling about your sexuality.
For products to help you better embrace pleasure, head to thepleasurechest.com. I’m loving their Sexy Self-Care collection, which features some awesome clit and G-spot toys from Lora Dicarlo, the sex toy company you might recall from my interview with the founder and marketing director a couple of years ago. They won, then lost, and then won a robotics award after being told they were breaking contest rules—for, well, you can guess… It’s quite a story.
To get a Yes, No, Maybe list from me and more fun extras, join the Girl Boner Radio Patreon community. Learn about the different tiers and rewards at patreon.com/girlboner. I would love to have you join us!
Okay, back to those not-so-sexy habits. I asked Dr. Megan Fleming to share a couple of habits she would like us all to say bye bye to as well. Both of her center on common challenges that she’s helped so many people work through her 15+ work as a sex and relationship therapist: sexual desire and keeping that “sexy pilot light” on.
6 Turning yourself off before a partner enters the room
Yes, I said it. I don’t think enough of us own the power of how we can both turn ourselves on and turn ourselves off. Most of us have a bad habit of delegating our pleasure to our partners vs. knowing and owning our own pleasure. I can’t tell you how easy it is to get in our own way of what we most want, often giving the best of ourselves to kids, others, work, you name it, and our partner gets the breadcrumbs.
What do we expect if we come to a potential sexual encounter exhausted, frustrated, focusing on what hasn’t happened or isn’t done? Our biggest sex organ is our mind, and well, if your honest with yourself, have you owned your own turn-on? Practice the art of “before play” getting your mind and body into a sexy place with anticipation of the experience you want and get to have with your partner. Owning your own turn on is the best gift you can give to yourself and your relationship.
7 Assuming that low desire is “just the way it is”
This is a big one! I am by no means diminishing the challenges of low sexual desire and I know that it’s complicated and if you look at all of the conditions, it always makes sense. That said, it’s not a fixed state. There are many things I promise that you haven’t yet tried. There are ways of turning on both your mind and body. There are also relationship dynamics that can be addressed.
It’s often also being open to the real and equally valid pathway of responsive desire vs. spontaneous desire, where you don’t start off from a place of wanting. I often refer to it as a cold engine. If you ask yourself, what’s one small thing I can say yes to? Say it’s the massaging of the shoulders or the stroking of the hair. When that FEELS good in the body, the body gets aroused and desire comes online.
My first recommendation is to get Emily Nagoski’s book, Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that will Transform Your Sex Life. I also highly recommend my online Rekindle Desire workshop that’s available at greatlifegreatsex/desire. Get this 60-minute self-help sex therapy audio program and workbook for $59 after a special 25% discount for Girl Boner listeners through Valentine’s Day.
So many cheers to those erotic possibilities. Thank you, Dr. Megan. She’s so right about developing new habits not necessarily being easy, too.
One way to ease the process is known as “stacking your habits.” You basically tie the new one into the existing habit you’re replacing. So make sure that you’re focusing on the goodness you’re bringing into your sex life with each one of these steps. Buy that lube ASAP and keep it in your nightstand. Every time you find yourself shaming yourself with negative self talk about your sexual frequency, take a few deep breaths and repeat after me: “I am sexually awesome and worthy, precisely as I am. There are no rules or standards I need to meet”. Write that down and keep it in your pocket if it helps.
Whatever your goals are for this year, I’m cheering for you so hard. Thanks so much for listening and have a beautiful, Girl Boner embracing week.