Social distancing may have put a kink in your bedroom routine for the last year, but now that more Americans are “
vaxxed, waxed, and ready to go,” it’s safe to get busy.
FaceTime dates are turning into good old-fashioned face time.
Post-pandemic travel is on the table. Festival season is back with a bang. Whether you’re in a relationship or single, hot date nights and hookups are finally on the horizon.
declining COVID infection rates and increasing vaccination numbers across the country, it feels like we’re able to breathe a (small) sigh of relief this summer. Finally — a chance to exhale all that nervous energy we’ve been holding on to.
But before you put your self-pleasure practice to work with a partner, don’t forget to keep your personal satisfaction in mind. No matter if you spent the last year isolating solo, with a significant other, or kept your FWB in your close circle, this summer is the perfect time to refresh your bedroom routine while keeping your own wants, desires, and safety top of mind.
Feeling good (and having fun while you do it) is the key to celebrating your sexuality. Read on for some expert-approved sex resolutions that will empower you to do your thing safely … and have some fun along the way.
Swapping stories about vaccination side effects may be more common than talking about the weather these days. It may be one of the first things to come up during a meet-cute moment IRL, but screening online dates for others who are playing it COVID-safe is a little easier thanks to updates on popular dating apps.
Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble all allow users to share their vaccine status directly on their profile. As you ease back into bedroom activities — in particular with new partners — screen your hookup pool by communicating with matches ahead of time. That way, you can get right to the good stuff in your opening line.
While many who are single or in open relationships are likely feeling eager to get out there and meet new people again, there’s bound to be some conflicting feelings about leaving the nest. Moushumi Ghose, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of
Los Angeles Sex Therapy, says this conflict may leave people feeling confused and unsure of where to start. Instead of jumping into things with someone new right away, Ghose recommends going slow and taking your time. “Get reconnected to your body, reacquainted with yourself, and just go at your own pace,” she says. “There is no rush. We got through an intense 14 months of pandemic — we can take our time now.” Give respect to all parties.
Ghose also suggests using the summer as an opportunity to reassess the way we engage with our partners, whether the situation is serious or more casual. She encourages people to practice what she calls “ethical dating,” which means being respectful of the people you engage with through clear, direct communication about what you’re looking for in a relationship. “Even if it’s for a one-night stand, a hook-up, a ‘friends with benefits’ or ‘no strings attached’ situation — by showing respect for others, you also show respect for yourself. And this simply just means being upfront with where you are at and what you are looking for.”
Get creative based on your comfort level.
Practicing safe sex is a no-brainer. But staying safe with new partners has taken on a whole new meaning in the last year. Talking about your level of comfort is a must for folks who may have reservations about seeing new people after months of social distancing. Sarah Watson, a
licensed professional counselor and certified sex therapist based in Michigan, says that her clients are balancing their need to meet new people and stay safe by thinking up new ways to meet outside in fresh air. It’s a fun way to try something new while fostering a sense of mutual safety.
“When meeting someone new off Tinder, now they might go get coffee in a park outside, when before they would have gone to dinner or drinks at a bar,” she says. If heading into a bar is not comfortable or safe for both parties, suggest an alternative that suits your situation.
Use this summer as a chance to turn up the heat in your relationship as the thermostat rises. Ghose and Watson both point to curiosity and communication as keys to better sex with a partner. “Be genuinely curious about how your partner feels,” Ghose says. Ask questions and find out what your partner likes, but also consider your own interests. Is there a new position you’d like to try? How about a new activity outside the bedroom? Take time to think about what you like or want and have a conversation about those needs.
Likewise, Watson says that communication is key to any relationship, partnership, or even friendship. When her clients are looking to spice things up, she has them think about three to five things that they’d like to try with their partner — “sexual or non-sexual activities, just things you’re interested in.” Sit down with them outside the bedroom and talk it through. “Maybe it’s a different activity or a different way to be touched,” she says. “Most couples have stuff on their plate that they’d like to try but just haven’t talked about it.”
Maybe you’re looking for love, maybe not. Or maybe you already found it. Either way, there’s no time like the present to advocate for your own pleasure. Watson says there’s one tool she shares with any client — single or partnered, solo sex or with someone else — to boost confidence and help them feel more empowered in bed. “Lubrication is your friend! It’s going to make things feel better during sex with a partner or solo sex.”
Keep your own needs in perspective.
Just as we collectively muddled through what it meant to be socially distant in 2020, we also learned to revisit what it meant to set healthy boundaries based around your comfort zone with others. As we deal with conflicting feelings that may arise as we begin to leave the comfort and safety of home and resume more “normal” activities like dating and hooking up, Ghose recommends taking it slow with others and listening to your own intuition about what’s right for you and your body.
For example, just because bars have re-opened and you’ve added plans to that once-empty calendar doesn’t mean you have to go out every night or swipe right on that potential hookup in your ’hood. Sometimes you just need a night in — alone — to get in touch with what your body needs. “Getting reconnected to yourself is so key,” Ghose advises. “Find out what you really want, check in with your body and see how your body feels. Go easy and gentle on yourself.”