Great sex doesn’t just happen.
In fact, most of the best things in life don’t just happen. They happen because people put effort, time, resources, and plan to make them happen. The unexpected spontaneous surprises that just pop up in life are great, but we cheat ourselves out of some amazing opportunities when we depend on those rare moments to meet our emotional or physical needs. It's hard to feel fulfilled when we rely completely on things beyond our control, don't you think? Spontaneous sex is great, but life often necessitates a bit more intention and planning to make the things that matter most to us happen.
Think about the last time you went out on a date, went to a movie, or made plans for an overnighter. You planned for it, right? You took the time to get a babysitter, make a reservation, purchase the movie tickets, made sure your favorite outfit was ready to go. You already know how these things work. When you have something to look forward to it can make the whole week better! And having a weekend date planned doesn't mean you can't be spontaneous. You could create a surprise date, decide to go get ice-cream after a movie, or switch out restaurants. As Tammy Nelson says, "You can be as spontaneous as you want if it's planned."
What if Hollywood taught us how to think about our meals?
If the movies, books, and songs that set our sexual expectations had taught us how to think about our meals, we would all dread opening the fridge. What's with the unrealistic pressure?
Most movies would have you believe that the best sex happens on a whim, spontaneously, driven by desire and crazy passion.
The reality is most couples don't experience this kind of sex all that often because it isn't real sex. It’s Hollywood sex, designed to tell a story and evoke emotion. I've been doing this for quite a while now, and I'm telling you, for a lot of couples spontaneous sex often happens after everyone is in bed, it’s 11:57, and you’re already tired and worn out. I don't mean you shouldn't have that last-possible-minute spontaneous romp when it comes along, but we all know nobody in Hollywood is taking notes on the experience.
Do you plan sex?
I recently asked my friends on Instagram if they planned things that were important to them. Over 80% said yes.
Then I asked if they planned sex. Over 80% said no.
If that fits your relationship, you're not alone! A lot of us believe planning sex kills the mood AND makes them worry about not wanting to actually have sex when the planned time comes. But over 60% said they weren’t having sex as often as they would like.
So how do you plan sex but not have it feel pressured, fake, or, my least favorite, obligatory?
Here are some of my favorite ways to bring more intentional sex to your everyday schedule.
Work sex into your schedule, just like you do your carpool.
Commit to a day and time and prioritize to make it happen. We often think planning sex feels awkward, and like any new routine, it can feel a bit clunky and unstable when you're finding your way. Awkward isn’t bad, it’s only new. It's part of growing into something different. Like traveling to a different country, awkwardness comes with new experiences and growth always follows new experiences. Are you worried about driving away the spontaneous romance? You can be as spontaneous as you want once it’s planned!
Leave room for spontaneity, but don't rely on it!
Did you ever have that super fun, sort of wild, spontaneous friend? When she showed up she made everything more fun, but you learned pretty fast not to expect her on time – and you certainly wouldn't trust her to book your airline tickets. You don't have to kick that fun, spontaneous energy to the curb, just don't expect it to make the important details come together. Planning to have sex creates anticipation, and most couples I talk with say the anticipation is every bit as satisfying as spontaneity. Planning means thinking about your plans, and thinking about plans means looking forward to sex instead of dreading it.
Okay, but what if things don't go to plan?
What if the day arrives and things just don't work out? Maybe you're not feeling well, or your partner says just the wrong thing, or you just change your mind? Here's another huge benefit to planning sex: It nudges us to talk more openly about sex. Have a conversation with your partner and create an agreement about how you each want to handle a situation like this. Could it shift from sex to cuddling? Netflix and chill? You're never stuck as long as you can talk.
Get yourself in the mood.
Our brains are our biggest sex organ, and a lot of the time getting in the mood begins between our own ears. A lot of us are still re-learning how to think about sex. You may even have deliberately trained yourself to chase sexual thoughts out of your mind in order to feel worthy. That old habit may have been exactly right for you then, but remind yourself you aren't a teenager anymore. What is exactly right for you now?
Planning for sex helps build anticipation. Think of a crockpot simmering: The longer it simmers, the better the meal. Let those thoughts simmer! What ingredient sounds just right this week? How can you get into the right frame of mind and open yourself up to a healthy, rewarding experience? (If these questions look simple but feel a little tricky, you're not weird. Check out Day 4: Connecting through Play and Day 5: Connecting by Setting the Mood for some tips to help you get in the mood.)
Talk about what you want your sex dates to look like.
This isn't a once-a-year conversation to have with your partner, or even with yourself. What feels important this week? Playful and fun? Romantic and super connected? How would a great sex date begin? Who's initiating? Do you want to start with a massage? A foot rub? Let yourself think about the context and circumstances that invite sex – and remember that last month's answers might not fit this month's relationship.
Not everyone starts off by wanting sex (we call this spontaneous desire) in fact a lot of people start off feeling willing to have sex and the wanting comes once they are actually in the experience with their partner. (We call it responsive desire – and it is so very normal!)
Connect in between your sex dates.
This one is important! For a lot of us, a kind of unhappy sexual pressure can build when there isn’t genuine connection in between sexual encounters. In committed relationships, foreplay is EVERYTHING happening between sexual encounters, not just the six minutes before sex begins. It’s flirting, cuddling, and conversations. Whether you plan your next sex date or you luck into one of those spontaneous adventures we see in movies, sex will feel like an extension of the connection you already share, not something that has to be forced as a way of compensating for a lack of connection.
And listen, friends, it may not be an accident that foreplay rhymes with choreplay! There was a fantastic study that showed that better sex tends to follow better sharing household responsibilities.
Sex dates are a great way to explore how to lean into developing our sexual selves a bit more. It can be that we need to learn how to step out of a work role, parent role, friend role and step into a lover role. It can be that we don’t know what kind of touch or sexual experience we want and having sex regularly can help us confront that. It can be learning how to be better partners and connect more during the week. Sex dates support couples on moving toward better sex more than just for the actual sex. They create conversations, opportunities to explore and carve out space to remind you of why you got together in the first place.
I’ve created this free calendar download for you. It makes for an easy conversation starter and a great stocking stuffer or gift as another way to suggest some sexy time with the partner! With a new year coming up, it’s a great time to try something new and establish new patterns in our relationships. Remember, sex can be morning, noon, or night. It can be in the shower, the bed, or the basement. It can be a regular conversation to talk about sex or be sex. You make the rules. Be as creative as you want to make this work for you, your relationship, and your circumstances.
Not looking forward to sex?
If you're not looking forward to sex like you do a weekend date, here are some questions you can use to become curious about why. Check in with yourself – no pressure to have great answers!
- Are you having the kind of sex that's worth wanting?
- Is your relationship feeling disconnected? Maybe lack of sex is a symptom.
- If it feels like great sex can't possibly be scheduled, what would great sex look like if it were possible?
- How does it feel to try on the idea that good sex doesn't always happen on a whim driven by spontaneous desire?
Wherever you're at with your intention, planning, and desire around sex, today is a great place to start shaping things even more into what you might want them to be. And the fact that you're here joining me for these 12 Days means you're already making some good moves...