New year, new sex life.
Every time a new year arrives, a lot of people make resolutions for self-improvement. That’s why this is the perfect time to think about things you can do to take your sex life to the next level!
Resolve to have the best sex ever in 2022. In this article, I will be sharing four research-backed tips for making sex more pleasurable and keeping things fresh and interesting in the bedroom all year long.
Resolution 1: Expand your definition of sex
When people are asked to define what “sex” means to them, they have a tendency to focus only on penetrative intercourse. However, sex is so much more than that, and holding such a narrow view can be very limiting.
The sex-as-penetration view restricts opportunities for pleasure and can lead to sexual disagreements. By contrast, a more expansive view that includes oral sex, mutual masturbation, sex toys, and beyond can lead to a more varied and satisfying sex life over time.
For example, when two partners are open to sexual activity but one is not in the mood for penetration, an expansive view of sex allows endless possibilities for pleasure, intimacy, and connection, whereas a restricted view can lead to frustration or even prompt conflict.
Likewise, as we age and develop chronic illnesses or disabilities, penetrative intercourse can become more challenging or less comfortable. Having more options on the sexual “menu” can allow you to maintain an active sex life for the long haul. It’s therefore not surprising to see that research finds that seniors who adopt broader (vs. narrower) views of sex tend to be more sexually satisfied and happier in their relationships.
It’s always a good time to expand your definition of sex, no matter where you are in your lifespan. It can allow you to tap into more pleasure now, while also setting the stage for your sex life to age gracefully.
Resolution 2: Boost your sexual performance by improving your physical and mental health
Physical health, mental health, and sexual health are all intimately interconnected. When our health suffers in one area, it often has spillover effects to other areas.
For example, if you don’t take good care of your physical health, this can contribute to lower levels of sexual desire and/or create difficulties becoming and staying aroused. Mental health issues (including depression, anxiety, and stress) can have similar effects.
Research shows that broader health improvements often translate to improvements in the bedroom and that taking better care of your overall health can both prevent and resolve various sexual difficulties.
As an example, in research on men with erectile dysfunction (ED), some studies have found that simply getting regular exercise can reverse their ED. Likewise, research shows that effective stress management can be a potent tool for boosting sexual desire—and can also help to resolve desire discrepancies in relationships where one partner wants more sex than the other.
Thus, whether you are currently experiencing any sexual difficulties or simply want to reduce the odds of future difficulties, one of the most powerful things you can do is work on your health. This can involve anything from getting more exercise to switching up your diet to getting more sleep to cultivating a better work-life balance.
Of course, if you’re experiencing sexual difficulties, it’s always worth consulting with your healthcare provider to figure out the root cause because, sometimes, sexual difficulties are the sign of an underlying physical health problem (for instance, ED can potentially be an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease). This is just one of many reasons not to let sexual difficulties go untreated.
However, by resolving to improve your health, you just might see improvement in sexual functioning and performance, while also lowering your risk of future difficulties.
Resolution 3: Explore your body and discover new sources of pleasure
When it comes to sex, sometimes you don’t know what you really like or what brings you the most pleasure until you try it.
Many people get used to a certain masturbation technique and stick with it over time. And while that may be effective, there might be other routes to pleasure that you haven’t yet discovered.
Engage in some sexual self-exploration this year. This will look different for different people, but here are a few ideas:
- Switch up your masturbation technique. This could mean using a different hand, both hands, or a new toy—or even masturbating in different positions or locations than usual.
- Experiment with different kinds of lubricants and pay attention to how they feel on your body.
- Get a sex toy that offers sensations you’ve never experienced before or that stimulates a part of the body you don’t typically stimulate.
- Try new erotic material. If you usually watch porn when you masturbate, try a different kind—or read something sexy, listen to some audio erotica and close your eyes, or just let your imagination run wild.
If you try some things that don’t really do it for you, that’s okay—it’s all part of the journey and still contributes to better sexual self-understanding. But if you mix it up a bit, you’ll likely encounter some things you really like, which can give you fresh ideas for new things to try with a partner. This will also allow you to communicate more effectively with your partner about what you want and what feels good.
Resolution 4: Build up your body confidence
If you don’t feel good about your body, it can be difficult to be in the moment during sex. Your mind may start to wander to distracting thoughts such as “How do I look right now?” or “Does my partner find me attractive?”
Those kinds of thoughts can make it harder to stay aroused and more difficult to reach orgasm because we’re stuck in our heads instead of focusing on the sensations and pleasure we’re experiencing.
Building up body confidence is easier said than done, but sexual self-confidence is crucial for having truly great sex.
There are a lot of things you can try when it comes to building up body confidence. For some, it might mean looking in a mirror and finding something—anything—you like about your body and then engaging in some body appreciation exercises. For others, it might be getting some new clothes or underwear that make you feel comfortable and sexy. For yet others, it might be educating yourself about what’s “normal” and shutting down the comparisons to porn stars’ genitalia.
Find ways to boost your confidence that work for you. And if this is something you’re still struggling with, you might try some mindfulness exercises. These can help you learn to be more in the moment during sex by tuning out the distractions.
Make some resolutions to improve the quality of your sex life in the new year. If you resolve to expand your definition of sex, take care of your physical and mental health, engage in sexual self-exploration, and build up your sexual self-confidence, you’ll be well on your way to having the best sex ever.
Edwards, W. M., & Coleman, E. (2004). Defining sexual health: a descriptive overview. Archives of sexual Behavior, 33(3), 189-195.
Gore-Gorszewska, G. (2020). “What Do You Mean by Sex?” A Qualitative Analysis of Traditional versus Evolved Meanings of Sexual Activity among Older Women and Men. The Journal of Sex Research.
Lehmiller, J. J. (2017). The psychology of human sexuality. John Wiley & Sons.
Sewell, K. K., & Strassberg, D. S. (2015). How do heterosexual undergraduate students define having sex? A new approach to an old question. Journal of sex research, 52(5), 507-516.
Silva, A. B., Sousa, N., Azevedo, L. F., & Martins, C. (2017). Physical activity and exercise for erectile dysfunction: systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(19), 1419-1424.
Simon, R. M., Howard, L., Zapata, D., Frank, J., Freedland, S. J., & Vidal, A. C. (2015). The association of exercise with both erectile and sexual function in black and white men. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 12(5), 1202-1210.