Happy New Year! Science-Backed Resolutions for Better Sex in 2023
January 2, 2023 by Justin Lehmiller
The start of each new year is a common time for people to make resolutions for self-improvement. And it may very well be that more people than usual are making New Year’s resolutions right now given all of the ways in which our lives have been altered by COVID-19 over the last few years, from changes in diet and weight to increases in drinking and smoking.
Resolutions often revolve around physical and/or mental health, which is great, but as you ponder your own resolutions for 2023, here’s one more to consider: resolve to have better sex this year. Many people saw their intimate lives take a hit during the pandemic and are distressed by this. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to get your mojo back in the new year!
How so? Let research be your guide. Here are eleven scientifically-backed suggestions for enhancing your sex life in 2023.
1. Be more vocal during sex. Research finds that the people who make the most noise in bed tend to be the most sexually satisfied. Why? Moaning and groaning help convey what you like and what feels good. By communicating this to your partner, it increases the odds that you’ll get what you want. Plus, these noises signal appreciation for a partner’s efforts and have the potential to enhance your partner’s arousal.
2. Experiment with sex toys. A lot of women and men say they have previously used vibrators during sex. Not only do people who use these toys tend to report greater sexual satisfaction, but they also report better sexual functioning. This is likely due to the fact that vibrators and other toys are an easy way of interjecting novelty and excitement into sex (and, incidentally, the people who reported trying new sexual activities during the pandemic were the most likely to report that their intimate lives improved!).
3. Do your Kegels. A lot of people think that Kegel exercises are only for women, perhaps because that’s who they were originally developed for; however, it turns out that the benefits of Kegels aren’t restricted to persons of one gender. Studies have found that Kegel exercises can offer a wide range of sexual benefits to women and men. Specifically, research suggests that Kegels have the potential to both prevent and resolve numerous sexual difficulties, as well as enhance pleasure. Keep in mind that Kegels done incorrectly can exacerbate pelvic floor problems, so before you get started with them, do some research and get some insight from a pelvic floor physical therapist or other medical source, such as Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas, a.k.a. The Pelvic Dance Floor account.
4. Remember that “sex” isn’t just one thing. Research tells us that the more activities people engage in during sex, the more likely they are to have an orgasm. This is true for both women and men. Perhaps you’ve heard the old saying that “variety is the spice of life?” Well, these results suggest that variety just might be the spice of your sex life, too.
5. Watch how much you drink. Lots of people consume alcohol as an aphrodisiac—and alcohol can indeed stimulate sexual desire when consumed in small quantities. However, too much booze is a recipe for sexual problems. Being inebriated can create a range of sexual difficulties, including problems becoming aroused and reaching orgasm. Excessive alcohol consumption can also impair sexual communication.
6. Instead of going to sleep after sex, try spooning or cuddling. Research has found that, regardless of gender, the more time people spend on after-sex affection, the happier they tend to be with both their sex lives and relationships. This suggests that it’s not just what you do during sex that matters; what you do afterwards is very important, too.
7. Focus on quality, not quantity of sex. Most people think they’d be happier if they were having sex more often, but research suggests that this might not be the case. In a study in which couples tried to double the amount of sex they were having, those who forced themselves to do it more often were less happy in the end. When sex starts to feel like a chore—something we have to do instead of something we want to do—this undermines our interest in doing it. So don’t get so hung up on sexual frequency. Focus instead on making sure that the sex you’re having is good, which is something you can accomplish by adopting the other suggestions on this list.
8. Touch each other more often. Non-sexual, intimate touch is one of the keys to a happy and healthy relationship. Masters and Johnson discovered this long ago in their pioneering sex therapy work in the 1960s. They found that intimate touch can actually help resolve a wide range of sexual difficulties because it promotes relaxation, increases feelings of bondedness, and enhances communication. Learn more about the power of touch and ways you can incorporate more of it into your relationship here.
9. Focus on the journey, not the destination. The orgasmic imperative, or a powerful social norm that ties sex tightly with the end goal of orgasm, can wreak havoc on sexual relationships through problems like performance-related anxiety. For this reason, try throwing away the script that sex must end with orgasm, and focus on other pleasurable aspects of sex to reduce that pressure.
10. Try to be more “in the moment” when you have sex. If you aren’t in the moment during sex, there’s a good chance that you might find it difficult to stay aroused or have an orgasm. So how can you get out of your head? Consider mindfulness training. Mindfulness is based on Buddhist traditions and meditation techniques and it involves entering a state of present-moment awareness. It takes some practice to learn how to focus your attention like this, but it has been shown to help with a range of sexual difficulties. My go-to recommendation for assistance is Better Sex Through Mindfulness by Dr. Lori Brotto.
11. Talk about your sexual fantasies—and maybe turn some of them into reality, too (assuming they’re safe, sane, and consensual, of course). Research has found that couples who talk about and act on their sex fantasies are more sexually satisfied. Research also reveals that women who share and act on their fantasies have more orgasms, which suggests that getting in touch with our fantasies just might help us to close the orgasm gap! Don’t know where to start when it comes to sharing and acting on your fantasies? Check out my book Tell Me What You Want, which offers practical advice and information on communicating about your fantasies, while also describing the science behind where our fantasies come from and what they mean.
For practical tips on putting these resolutions into effect and even more resolution ideas to consider, check out my interview with Dr. Juliana Hauser on the Sex and Psychology Podcast (Episode 155).
Here’s to a very happy and sexy new year!
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Dr. Justin LehmillerFounder & Owner of Sex and Psychology
Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.Read full bio >