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New Year: New Intimacy

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2014-12-17-rullo.jpg Co-authored by Jordan Rullo, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist.

The most popular New Year's resolutions are about physical and mental health -- lose weight, eat healthier, quit smoking or drink less alcohol. Yet we often forget about sexual health. People who are happy with their sexual health tend to be happier people. Why not make a resolution about sexual health?


What's interesting about New Year's resolutions is that they are typically about subtracting something from your life. Take away sugars, eat less, stop smoking and drinking. But when we are restricted from doing something, often we want it more or we rebel against making changes. So instead, what about adding something in the new year? Specifically, what about adding something to strengthen your sexual health and ultimately your happiness?

Try adding non-demand sensual touching to your intimacy menu. Essentially, you and your partner spend at least 20 minutes touching each other sensually with the agreement that the touch will not lead to sexual activity. This touch will only be sensual, with no pressure for sexual arousal or orgasm.

During these non-demand sexual touching exercises, take turns touching. For 10-15 minutes touch your partner all over, using different types of touch with different pressures, touching all areas of the body, paying attention to what it feels like to touch your partner. Explore your partner's body. Then switch and it's your partner's turn to explore your body.

During these touching exercises, pay attention to the sensations of physical touch. If you find your mind wandering, try to let go of the thoughts and return to the sensations. If you find yourself wondering, "Am I doing this right?" or "Does my partner like this?" let those thoughts pass by, and go back to focusing on the sensations. These exercises are non-demand, which means there's no pressure do these in a particular way. There is no right way! You're not doing these to reach any specific goal.

The purpose of these exercises is to sensually reconnect with your partner, explore his or her body, and learn about their body and your own in a non-pressured way. Make a New Year's resolution to add one of these non-demand touching exercises to your relationship once a week.

Worried that you won't have enough time? Substitute the TV show you each watch one night a week and instead engage in non-demand touching. Or substitute sexual activity once a week with these non-demand sensual touch exercises.

If you're thinking, "Now we're going to have less sex," I want you to really think about why you're having sex or sexual activity in the first place. Is it just to engage in the physical act of sex? Or is the connection and closeness you feel with your partner the reason? These exercises are an excellent tool to develop and maintain that closeness. They may sound simple, but for many couples this is more rewarding emotionally and sensually than the usual sexual routine.

Make your New Year's resolution about improving your sexual health and enjoy this new approach to intimacy. Happy New Year!