Love and Sex in the Digital Age

Technology and the intimate relationship

Holiday Crazy? Don’t Forget About Sex!

The winter holidays are a fantastic time to indulge your sexual fantasies.

Santa Gets a Cookie, You Get Some Nookie!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, where everywhere you go you’re bombarded with Christmas carols, Chanukah gelt, holiday decorations, and bell-ringing Santas. Most of us also are somewhat bombarded by situational stress and/or anxiety, and for some this time of year can bring feelings of depression, loneliness, and shame. This is simply grist for the mill at this time of year. In other words, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, there’s probably not anything to particularly worry about, especially if you set aside a little bit of time for self-care designed to alleviate the extra stress.

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Typically, most of self-soothing we do during the winter holidays involves overindulging with spiked eggnog, rampant spending, holiday sweets, and party after party after party. Sometimes our relationships get lost in the shuffle, and physical intimacy is largely forgotten (until New Year’s Eve, anyway). For many folks this may be just fine, and if that’s the case for you then so be it. For everyone else, I urge you to not forget the sincere joy that a few private, erotically charged moments shared with the one you love the most (or even someone you just met) can bring. Setting aside some time to remember and celebrate what’s really important in your life (love and intimacy) is usually far more relaxing and rewarding than a pitcher of holiday cocktails or even a two-pound box of cherry cordials. Plus, you probably won’t need a bottle of aspirin or an extra week on the Stairmaster to recover.

Ideas for Committed Couples

For those who are already married or in a committed relationship, the holiday season is a fantastic time to enhance both emotional and physical intimacy while at the same time alleviating some of the usual holiday stress. A few suggestions you may want to consider include:

  • Make a date with your partner for romance and sex. Yes, I know this sounds incredibly unromantic, but “scheduling it” gives you a little something to look forward to while you’re drudging through your workday, shopping for toys your kids may or may not ever play with, and trying to ignore jibes from your mother-in-law about your ugly Christmas tree and everything else she thinks you don’t do as well as her. Plus, a day of anticipation is sometimes the best possible foreplay!
  • Set the mood before you get busy. The holidays are stressful, so light some scented candles, put on some booty-music (your call on which songs get your groove thing going), and treat your spouse or partner to a hand or foot massage with some scented oil. (BTW, if you think a hand or foot massage doesn’t qualify as foreplay, try it and find out how arousing it can be.)
  • Give the gift of sex. Put some sex vouchers in your lover’s stocking offering to do that special thing that he or she really loves. It doesn’t matter if that particular activity is not your favorite, because a gift that comes from your heart will make it a lot more meaningful and enjoyable. Plus, your partner might just reciprocate with whatever it is that drives you wild.
  • Try “spiking the eggnog” by writing down three things you’ve always wanted to try in the bedroom but have never asked for, and asking your partner to do the same. Then pop open a bottle of wine and share your lists with each other. If it turns out you feel like trying something new, you can go for it. Even if not, the simple act of sharing your secret fantasies builds emotional connection. And if you do expand your sexual repertoire, you’ve found the gift that keeps on giving all year round.
  • HOLIDAY SHOPPING WITH SEX IN MIND! Along with that sweater for grandma and iPads for the kids, try stopping off in the lingerie department or your local “adult” store. I’m not going to be descriptive here, but I will say that there are a whole lot of fun things that will fit into a holiday stocking.

Ideas for Single People

Not everyone is married or in an otherwise committed relationship, and that’s just fine. For those who are single, though, the holidays can bring up feelings of loneliness and longing. Again, this is normal and there’s nothing wrong with it. For sexually healthy singles, self-dates and holiday hookups can be great ways to alleviate holiday-related emotional discomfort. The easiest route to a bit of sexual R&R is giving yourself some alone time. Try setting aside a few hours to watch your favorite movie or take a luxurious bath (or whatever else it is that relaxes you), and then pleasure yourself. More complicated but often more rewarding is a bout of casual partner sex. Regardless of whether you’re planning to hook up with a regular bootie call partner or someone new met online, on an app, or elsewhere, do consider the following tips.

  • SAFETY FIRST: Be careful who you hook up with, where you agree to meet them, and what you do when you get there. (It is best to negotiate acceptable sex acts in advance, before you actually meet). Make sure that at least one friend or family member knows where you are going, who you are meeting, and when you plan to be home. Arrange check-ins with that person both before and after (and maybe even during) your date.
  • SAFETY SECOND: Give yourself and your hookup partner the gift of safety and respect. And yes, I am talking about condoms. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, don’t leave the house without first packing a few wrappers for the candy. Opt for red and green ones, or flavored if you’re into that. Just make sure you take condoms and use them. After all, STDs and unwanted pregnancies make horrible holiday gifts.
  • When your sex partner asks what you want for Christmas, tell the truth. Don’t pretend you’re looking for a long-term relationship when all you want is a quickie, and don’t pretend you’re up for something casual when you’re secretly pining for a spouse. Keeping secrets about this sort of thing only leads to problems later on.
  • Take the holidays into the bedroom. Bring along a sexy elf outfit and ask to sit in Santa’s lap. Sing “Frosty the Snowman” at full volume during foreplay. Give your partner a box of chocolates and find ways to enjoy them during sex. Whatever. Sex is supposed to be fun, and the holidays present endless opportunities to make it more so than usual.

Sexual Sanity for Everyone

The sad truth is that a lot of people make bad sexual choices during the holidays. Office parties are notorious venues for lamentable behavior, and Baby New Year is the patron saint of regrettable one-night stands. So before you hop into bed with that girl from the accounting department or your neighbor the firefighter, you may want to remember that you’re going to be seeing these people at work or around the neighborhood on a regular basis, and you may not want to deal with that. That said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with recognizing that during the holidays you may be feeling a wee bit overwhelmed and needy, and then seeking some holiday hot and sweaty as a way to feel better. Just be sure that you know what you’re getting into and why, and that you’re OK with that info.

No matter your relationship status, it is important to remember that even though the holidays are supposedly about joy and good will toward men, most people find them stressful and even a bit disappointing. Nurturing intimate connections is a great way to combat these unpleasant feelings. Simply put, taking time out from Amazon, Macy’s, and the holiday party frenzy for a bit of sexual enjoyment, be it casual or with a long-term partner, is a great way to recharge your emotional batteries. So whether you are happily playing the field or deeply committed to your spouse, the winter holidays are a fantastic time to pay attention to and perhaps even indulge your sexual fantasies and urges—as long as you play safe and avoid inappropriate situations that you might later regret.

 

Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S is Senior Vice President of Clinical Development with Elements Behavioral Health. An author and subject expert on the relationship between digital technology and human sexuality, Mr. Weiss has served as a media specialist for CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Today Show, among many others. Mr. Weiss is author of Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men and Sex Addiction 101: A Basic Guide to Healing from Sex, Porn, and Love Addiction, and co-author with Dr. Jennifer Schneider of both Untangling the Web: Sex, Porn, and Fantasy Obsession in the Internet Age and the upcoming 2013 release, Closer Together, Further Apart: The Effect of Technology and the Internet on Parenting, Work, and Relationships.

Robert Weiss is the author of Closer Together, Further Apart: The Effect of Technology and the Internet on Sex, Intimacy and Relationships.

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