This year, I will take my sexual fulfillment seriously.
However far-fetched most of our resolutions may be, the new year is our annual opportunity to want something and go big in the wildest dreams department.
Better sex never used to be on my list—and it wasn’t on any of my girlfriends’ lists, either. I never once had a girlfriend say, “This new year, my resolution is to start having radically fulfilling sex and skyrocket my sex life!”
And I never once replied, “Yes, me too! This is the year I’m going to feel confident, turned on, alive, and satisfied.”
Instead we would say, “Let’s go to Paris! I’m going to lose five pounds. This year: six figures.”
These were not only the typical and sensible resolutions to have—they were also honestly the only ones I could think of.
I find it heartbreaking that given the opportunity to shoot the moon at that magical stroke of midnight, I never used to consider radically fulfilling sex—for me, not just for my partner—a worthwhile resolution.
For decades I treated my sexual fulfillment as an afterthought. It came second to all the other self-improvements I thought were more important—and more effective at filling that dark void of longing inside my soul. You know, the one that aches for something more profound and meaningful, and that we try to fill with more ice cream.
I was never sure exactly what that “longing” inside was asking for. I had run through all the flavors of Ben and Jerry’s, and still…my inner thirst for something better, deeper, and more fulfilling went unquenched.
I never once considered that my sexual fulfillment lacking. I didn’t occur to me that pleasure and arousal were vital for my health and happiness. I had mistaken sexual fulfillment for having an orgasm once a week, and thought I was set in that department.
And yet, I often felt crabby, overworked, and anxious. There was that tiny voice inside that said, “There has got to be more to life than this…” But I didn’t think the answer was sex, because when I did have sex, it didn’t excite or replenish me. It felt instead like getting the job done.
I settled for less-than-fulfilling sex for years. The biggest problem was, I didn’t realize how much my sex life mattered—until I ended up deeply unhappy, suffering from a heart condition, and freshly divorced.
Better Sex or a Heart Attack—You Choose
According to my research, the most common New Year’s resolutions include: losing weight, working out, getting in shape—predictable. I’m hoping that “enjoying life more” (which usually makes the Top 5) is code for “have better sex, but if not, sexual fulfillment continues to be ignored on a national scale.
This is heartbreaking, because as equally documented as our reluctance to admit we’d like to have better sex is the vital importance meaningful relationships and quality connection play in our physical health.
Shockingly, one Harvard study discovered a lack of meaningful connection increases our risk of premature death (yes—death!) at the same rate as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Did you just read that? It’s either start taking your need for sexual and relationship fulfillment seriously—or die at the same rate as life-long smokers.
To take it even further, inadequate meaningful connection statistically increases our risk of heart disease at a higher rate than do either obesity or long-standing physical inactivity.
We’re resolving to hit the gym in order to live longer—when really, our focus needs to shift to include our bedrooms.
I personally developed a heart condition at age 33 when my marriage was falling apart. I started having arrhythmia and regular pain in my chest. I went to the doctor. She asked, “Is there anything going on in your marriage?”
I smiled and squeaked, “No, everything’s fine!”
When I should have told her is that I was lonely, unfulfilled, and on the brink of having an affair. But I never once imagined that my failing sex life would cause me physical problems—problems no amount of time at the gym could resolve.
There are two reasons why we don’t put “MORE SEX!!!!!” underlined in bold on our list of New Year’s resolutions, even though many of us may indeed want to feel more sexually satisfied.
One, we’re culturally dissuaded from openly admitting to having sexual needs or desires—especially if we’re women—unless those desires involve pregnancy, unwanted body hair, or porn, which lives in its own special category of “so unacceptable and shocking that it’s somehow become okay again.”
The second and more interesting reason we don’t openly resolve for better sex at the New Year is that many of us—especially women—have forgotten that sex is worth our time.
I used to be in this category. Sex didn’t feel like a mood or health booster—it felt like a chore. It was honestly another task to get done before I did what I really wanted to do—which was was read a book while snuggling with my cat.
I vaguely knew sex was important—in theory. At least, it seemed important to my partner…and I remembered liking sex in the past, before kids and the stress of work piled up.
But in practice, too often sex cost me valuable time and energy. It was time I’d rather be spending watching the remaining episodes of “The OA.” Or napping…or emptying the dishwasher because I’d begun pulling clean dishes straight from the racks and was avoiding use of the cabinets altogether.
The moral of this blog post is: Don’t be like me and put your sex life on the back-burner for so long that you develop a heart condition. (Mysteriously cured, by the way, the minute I began taking my sexual fulfillment seriously.)
Will you join me in setting a new standard for 2017? This is a standard I have held myself to for several years with great success: If having sex feels exhausting like a chore, instead of relaxing like a nap—or if I’d rather empty the dishwasher than get frisky with my beloved—it’s a sign that I’m not taking my sexual fulfillment seriously.
It means it’s time to put more of my attention on the importance of my pleasure and fulfillment.
Because sexual fulfillment matters.
Since I started taking my own sexual enjoyment seriously, I’ve worked with thousands of women around feminine sexuality, expression, and fulfillment. I’ve found that far too many of us are having low quality sex that doesn’t truly meet our needs or fulfill the aching longing of our desires. Yet we don’t make a change because we’re looking to fill that void with all the wrong ice cream flavors.
Instead of discovering, exploring, and demanding sex that feels amazing for our bodies, we’re going through the motions of an outdated mode of sex that’s based on 7th grade sex ed and assumes all men’s and women’s bodies work like a textbook.
Our sexual pleasure as women is unique—and it’s important.
It’s important for the health of our families and relationships, and for the quality of our lives. It matters for our hearts, both literally and figuratively.
Here is the best New Year’s resolution I can think of: “This year, I will take my sexual fulfillment seriously.”
Will you join me?
Author: Bez Stone
Image: Flickr/Bui Linh Ngan
Editor: Travis May