We're guilty of it here at Kinkly too. We have tips galore on how to have the hottest sex, choose the best sexy gift and have the sexiest time ever on Valentine's Day. Hey, it's just what we're into. But here's the thing: When we all start assuming that Valentine's Day (or any day, for that matter) needs to include sex, it can create a bit of a high-pressure situation. And pressure is a major boner-killer. After all, the best sex happens when we're happy, relaxed and receptive to our partners. So how can you take the pressure off and just enjoy each other's (or your own!) company on Valentine's day? We got some tips from relationship experts on how to have a good time, whether you get naked or not.
Make Every Day Valentine's Day
I believe that Valentine’s Day can do more harm than good in many cases.
A holiday centered around romance, love and sex sounds great on the surface, but its intention is often obscured by commercialism and accompanied by the pressure to perform according to gendered expectations. In many cases, it also relegates romantic gestures to special occasions and suggests that thoughtfulness, intimacy and eroticism are special as opposed to essential components of a happy relationship.
Performing thoughtful gestures on a regular basis will likely be more impactful than pulling out all the stops once a year in February. Instead of buying your partner a present or making a dinner reservation this year, why not make a note in your calendar to do something thoughtful each week (or day) for the upcoming year? Meaningful favors like putting gas in their car or offering a hand massage can take as little as sixty seconds, but have an impact that lasts a lifetime.
-Dr. Jess O'Reilly, resident sexologist at Astroglide
Suck It Up and Do Something Nice
Sometimes, because things fall through the cracks, or we get busy or stressed, or there are overdrafts, or crazy clients, the love we show each other seems to flow a bit more slowly. Worse, of course, is that when the flow slows is usually when we need it most, right? When we're stressed and crazy and busy and overtired, that's when we need most to feel that love and desire and - dare I say it - romance. And that's where Valentine's Day comes in. It's not a once-a-year-you-have-to-be-romantic holiday, in my view. It's a reminder to take a look at the romance you MEAN to be showing - and step it up a bit if you've been slack lately.
-Heather Claus, owner of DatingKinky.com
Reach Out and Touch Someone
I have given 10,000 hours of massages, during my career as a massage therapist. This has given me several epiphanies, one of which is that intimacy is not about sex. Intimacy is all about touch.
Many people feel pressured to increase intimacy on Valentine's Day, because its supposed to be the "romantic" day. So they buy roses and chocolates and gift cards, and do a special dinner, only to find that intimacy has not been increased by doing these things.
The reason that intimacy has not been increased, is that intimacy is about how you look at your partner, and about how you touch them.
Massage is the ultimate way to increase both of these. While massaging your partner, watch their face, frequently, to get feedback about what's working for them. It is easy to "read" pleasure. If you see pleasure on their face, then keep doing more of that.
Listen for sighs of relief, or "that feels good, yes, right there", and keep doing that.
Much intimacy is lost when couples stop "reading" each other. This becomes magnified when making love: If you lose eye contact for too long, or if you don't "listen," then you will be out of touch, with what your partner really enjoys.
-Janice Rosenthal, massage therapist and owner of Garden of Essences
Stretch It Out
The physical act of practicing yoga poses (asanas) with a partner can create physical intimacy without the pressure of being sexual with each other. This can be very powerful, say for a couple who has been together for some time and has lost some of the time spent in foreplay, or just touching. Practicing yoga together helps a couple work as a team and learn to communicate with each other more effectively ... Learning to be present with one another is one of the most powerful ways to take the pressure off, and to truly enjoy your partner's company!
-Daisy and Darrin Zeer, yoga therapists at Lovers’ Yoga
Get In Sync
Most people don’t realize just how connected and good synchronized breathing will make them feel until they try it. Find about five minutes so that you and your partner can lie down somewhere comfortable and won’t be disturbed. Before bed or in the morning are great.
Lay on your sides in a “spooning” position. The person in front is the “leader.” Couples take turns with each person alternating being the “leader.”
The “leader” inhales through their nose deep to their belly for six seconds, holds the breath for four seconds, and exhales for 12 seconds. They exhale initially through their mouth making an “ahhhh” or “ohhhh” sound, then close their mouth making an “mmmmm” sound where they can feel their throat vibrate.
The “follower” spoons their partner and copies their breathing pace and sounds. When you sync you’ll hear a difference in your sounds together.
Try this for about five minutes. Change the times for breathing if you run out of breath or can go longer.
Focus on the sound and how it feels “being together” in sync.
The next time, switch “leader” and “follower” roles.
This easy but powerful technique strongly stimulates your vagus nerve for relaxation, and connects you on a deep level.
-Steve McGough, DHS - director of R&D at Women and Couples Wellness, associate professor at IASHS
There are plenty of ways to make Valentine's day more authentic and memorable. One of the best ways is when you make it personal. Flowers and chocolates are nothing compared to knowing your partner's interests and revolving the day around what keeps a smile on their face - especially if they weren't expecting it. Noticing the small things will make a big difference, which can do wonders for a growing relationship.
-Taylor Henry, relationship coach, sexual health expert, therapist for His & Hers
I have suffered on many a Valentines day, not to mention birthdays and Christmas, with the stubborn idea that my husband should know what I want. Many people assume that asking somehow diminishes the offering, the spoken word, or gift. The fantasy that our partners should know what would make us happy keeps us from happiness. And yet, we remain dedicated to this common form of relationship suicide rather than taking the responsibility and explaining what we want. Even then, there are times that I don’t get exactly the relationship I believe that I want or deserve, but at least it is not for lack of clarity.
-Wendy Strgar, author, loveologist, sex educator and founder of Good Clean Love
Sure, I want intimacy and passion and, although I've wanted them forever, I also want them to appear spontaneously. How do I make this happen? Answer: stop trying to make it happen and instead ask yourself, "Do I love my mate as they are or am I really in love with some future version of my mate in which they are more like me?" Valentine's Day isn't so much performance art as it is a litmus test: yes or no, is this the sort of love relationship I'm looking for? Intimacy and passion are a lifestyle, not a holiday.
-Steven Ing, author, psychotherapist and public speaker
Step Out of the Everyday
Stress and pressure only set you up for failure. Expectations are premeditated resentment. It's important to have real connection. Out-of -the-ordinary experiences are not necessary to provide a strong bond. For couples with kids, a night away could be all that is needed to be fully present, and to connect and recharge. Besides providing much needed time away, it returns you refreshed and invigorated and hopeful that you can establish new patterns that avoid you from getting sucked back into the humdrum of everyday living. You need not travel across the ocean. Even a short overnight trip will do the job.
-Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, certified Imago therapist at The Marriage Restoration Project
Get Physical in a Different Way
I don't honestly think most people are rolling around in bed on Valentine's day. It's really a stressful time for most couples and definitely for those who are dating. If having sex is a going to be a potentially awkward issue for one or both parts of a couple my suggestion might be to plan ahead and arrange a Valentine's Day evening that is exciting but exhausting and physical enough so the neither person feels like sex is necessary at the end of the night. Try a long run in the park or tackling the rock climbing wall, or a hike up a mountain with a picnic dinner, anything besides just the usual drinks and some dinner.
-Alison Blackman, relationship advisor at Leather and Lace
Forget the "Norm"
One way [to take the pressure off] is to refuse to do anything that fits the “norm” - no flowers, no candy, no lingerie, no candlelit dinner. Instead, recreate your first date or plan something you both enjoy doing that has nothing to do with “love.” You can also take sex completely off the table. No matter how much either of you wants it, it’s a no-go. This doesn’t mean you can’t cuddle and make out, but sex (however you define it) isn’t going to happen. You can also create a game of what’s the most fun way you can show/tell the other how much you care. Laughing and being silly are great tension busters.
-Lesli Doares, couples' consultant and coach at Foundations Coaching
Is sex on your agenda for Valentine's Day? Share how you take the pressure off in the comments!