Spring cleaning isn’t so much about a complete do-over or remodel of your living space. It’s an opportunity to take stock of what you’ve got, notice what’s missing, and give some loving attention and touch to those areas of our lives that have been neglected over the months and years.
Tips for spring cleaning tips and sex tips have in common. Most of us need some encouragement to clean up our act (sexually and domestically).
In both cases writing about it is a lot easier than doing it (those who can, do; those who can’t, teach; those who can and do but don’t want to leave the house, write for the Internet). And when it comes to keeping a clean house or plumbing the depths of our sexual potential, most of us have a ways to go.
So, with apologies to my industrious About.com colleagues who are actually helping us clean up, I offer you 6 ways to spring clean your sex life.
1. Find the Right Attitude
When it comes to what’s wrong with our sex lives, it’s so easy to go negative and stay negative.
In addition to feelings of shame and guilt that most of us have about our sexual desires, we can too easily blame ourselves for what’s not working.
Spring cleaning can feel like a chore, but it can also be at least a little bit fun. Stop being mean to yourself. If you catch yourself criticizing your body or desirability, remind yourself that you weren’t born feeling less than, that comes from culture, society, and expectations that none of us can meet. Pick a few things you like about yourself and remind yourself of at least one of them each day. And see if you can’t find some sense of intrigue or giddy anticipation about what you might find under all that dust.
2. Set Realistic Goals
You can’t clean a castle in a day if all you’ve got is a pair of rubber gloves and some knee pads (but if you already own rubber gloves and knee pads you’re ahead of the game when it comes to supplies below).
Making change in your sex life can feel overwhelming because you may not know where to start. Remember that your sex life is part of your whole life. Cleaning up your sex life isn’t like picking up a picture frame and dusting around it. Your sex life is the picture, the frame, the table it’s sitting on, and the air around it that carries the dust that eventually comes to settle.
Try to come up with some manageable goals. Maybe you want to date more, maybe you want to have more or less casual sex, more time for yourself, opening up to a partner about a new sexual activity you want to try, or sitting down and re-writing the rules for the sex life you’ve got that may feel a bit stale to you. The idea of spring cleaning is a bit vague, so get specific, and start with something that feels like a bit of work, but not so much that you’ll never do it.
3. Use Time Saving Products
I stole this tip verbatim from my favorite non-sexual spring cleaning checklist. The right tool for the right job can make all the difference. Sex toys are becoming less taboo and more acceptable products in our daily sex lives, but many of us still think of them as somehow cheating, or not the “real thing.” This is nonsense. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, orgasm is an orgasm is an orgasm. Particularly if one of your goals is more physical pleasure, experimenting with sex toys doesn’t just save time and energy, it can open entirely new avenues of sexual feeling. Alone, or with a partner.
A good lubricant is to your sex spring cleaning what a spray bottle of water and vinegar is to your house spring cleaning (just don’t get those two bottles confused!) While most mainstream pornography can’t be said to offer much illumination, there is a range of both written and visual pornography and erotica can can shine a light into the dark corners of your mind and help discover some erotic buttons that have been buried under stacks of magazines and dirty laundry (metaphorically speaking, of course).
4. Get Started on Your Own or Pick a Cleaning Buddy
If you think real sex is something that only happens with two (or more) people present, you’re wrong. You are sexual. You are real. And you can turn yourself on and get yourself off as good, if not better, than any partner. So even if your goal for this sexual spring cleaning is about more sex with a partner, you can always start on your own.
You don’t need to wait for the right person or the perfect moment to spruce up your sex life. Why not make it a goal to find two new ways to turn yourself on? Or one new fantasy you’ve never imagined that reliably gets your pulse racing? You can always share what you’ve learned with your partner, but if you wait around, you may be waiting a long time. Those piles of clothes aren’t going to fold themselves.
5. DIY or Call In the Professionals
Some of us clean our own homes and some of us pay other people to clean them. Having better sex isn’t something you can outsource, but if you have the means it is possible, and sometimes even advisable, to call in a professional. We tend to think of calling a sexuality professional in when we have a problem. Sex therapists, in particular, spend most of their time working on sexual dysfunctions. But people also make use of other professionals (some of whom call themselves surrogates or healers while others will use the umbrella term of sex worker) not only to fix a problem but to explore new sexual possibilities that might require a few extra hands.
All sexual change is, or should be, DIY in the sense that you should be driving the change. Spring cleaning your house might be a great surprise for a partner, but if they are the only reason you’re doing it, you run the risk of building resentment. Sexual change in a relationship needs to be a collaboration, but you should never be making change only for your partner if it runs counter to your needs and desires.
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