1. Respect Yourself
Ru Paul says it best - “If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Being intimate with another person is incredibly vulnerable. Having confidence and loving yourself makes it so much easier to be vulnerable with someone and enjoy your time together. Try these three things to appreciate yourself more in 2020:
Build your self-esteem. Love yourself inside.
When’s the last time you said something nice about yourself to yourself? Chances are, it’s been a minute. Take time every day to remind yourself of all the great characteristics you have, and if there’s a quirk you want to work on, be intentional about it!
Build your body image. Love yourself outside.
We come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. You are worthy of love no matter the combination. If we want our partners to find us physically attractive, then we need to find ourselves physically attractive. Say something nice about yourself in the mirror every morning.
Embrace your identities and orientations.
Lady Gaga already took care of this for us: no matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, [you’re] on the right track baby, [you were] born to survive. No matter how you identify, lean into it. If you’re not sure, empower yourself to explore your interests.
2. Define Boundaries
It’s so hard to define and set boundaries, so, so hard. That’s what makes it so important and impactful. You may not be great at it at first; that’s okay! You’ll get better with practice, and you’ll be helping the people you interact with get practice in setting boundaries as well. A win-win!
Define what you’re comfortable with, it’s okay to say no!
Boundaries change. It’s easier to start with what you know you like and don’t like and move out from there. Being intimate should be fun, and we’re never having fun when we’re doing something we don’t like.
Talk to your partners before, during, and after.
Say what you’re comfortable with and what you’re open to trying. If something doesn’t feel right in the moment, change it up, maybe go back to something comfortable. Debrief! After all those endorphins have faded away, talk about what worked and what didn’t. It’ll make next time better for everyone.
Feel free to experiment where you’re not sure where your limits are.
It’s easier than ever to experiment with yourself first. If something piques your interest, but you’re not comfortable trying with a partner, there might be a toy to help. It’s also important to find a partner you’re comfortable trying things with and being okay if it turns out to not be for you.
3. Do Unto Others
The Golden Rule! You’re setting boundaries and experimenting where you’re interested; don’t forget to afford your partner the same opportunities. Doing the work ahead of time can make your intimate experiences all the better.
Get consent, and then some.
The more you know about what your partner is interested in experiencing, the better you can make the experience together. Find out what your partner’s boundaries are and what they want to experiment. It will make your experience more intimate and rewarding.
Talk about safer sex.
That could mean lube, it could mean condoms. Safer sex is a spectrum, and just by talking you’re having a safer intimate experience. If your partner wants to use more safety practices, it’s important to respect their desires. You should expect the same treatment.
Define digital boundaries.
Don’t be the one sending or receiving unwanted “U up” texts. It’s easier than ever to stay in touch with our intimate partners, so we need to consider what we want out of a relationship. Maybe it’s one night, or maybe it’s friends for life, but you’ll be much happier setting those boundaries together.
4. Practice Positivity
Positivity doesn’t mean being happy, it means finding the brighter side of every interaction. Not every interaction is going to be happy, but practicing positivity allows us to appreciate the good and move on for better experiences in the future. Just like setting boundaries, practicing positivity can be difficult, but it gets easier with practice.
Intentionally make time for one another.
Not every day at work is great and it can be hard to be positive around your partners. It’s important to carve out specific times to spend time with your partner where you can both focus on each other, no phones, no distractions, just quality time appreciating the little things about them.
Disagree fairly and follow up.
Intimate relationships are hard and disagreements happen. When addressing our partners during those disagreements, practice positivity by knowing that working through your issues will lead to a better relationship in the future.
Discuss past relationships and break-ups.
No matter what we say, jealousy is a regular emotion with our intimate partners. Jealousy can fester in places of ambiguity. Our relationships end for a multitude of reasons. Reflecting on them will help improve our future relationships, and can help build trust with our current partners.
5. Be Proactive
You’re in charge! Don’t wait to take care of yourself. The sooner you start practicing wellness, the sooner your [sex] life will improve. Sometimes stuff happens, and that’s OK! Here’s some simple steps you can take to be healthier in the new year.
Weight? Check. Blood pressure? Check. Sexual health? Check.
This one is hard, but talk to your health care provider about your sexual health. Your provider can help you create a health plan for your sexual health, no matter your needs. If you don’t have a healthcare provider you feel you can trust, reach out and we’ll help you find one.
Get screened for STIs, even if you don't have symptoms.
If you’re engaging in intimacy with others, you should be getting tested at least once a year. Many sexually transmitted infections don’t show any symptoms, so it’s important to get tested regardless of how you feel. January is a great time to get tested to start your year off right.
Get treated quickly, and tell your partners.
The great news about STIs - they are all treatable. Every. Single. One. Infections happen–there’s no need to feel guilty. It is important, however, to tell your partners so they can get treated too. Those can feel like tough conversations, but you’re strong enough to have them.
Super simple right?!
No, not at all. But don’t worry, you don’t need to change everything about your life today. The best way to build healthy habits is slow and steady. Pick one thing you can practice doing better, and just focus on that for the next two to four weeks. Once you feel like you’re consistently improving that skill, pick a new one!