Why You Shouldn't Have Sex Over The Holidays

Why You Shouldn't Have Sex Over The Holidays [EXPERT]
Family, Self

According to the calendar, it's time for all of us to be of good cheer. According to the media (and peer pressure and our own internal pressure), it's also apparently time to have great sex, and plenty of it.

This month, magazines, blogs, and talk shows are full of advice about how to make your sweetheart, friend-with-benefits, or upcoming one-night wonder explode with pleasure. Sexual Intelligence suggests the opposite approach: that sex during the holidays may not be such a great idea. Here are five reasons why.

1. You've been drinking. Four centuries ago, Shakespeare wisely noted that alcohol "inflames the desire, but dulls the ability." That's true for women as well as men. Alcohol slows down our reflexes—which include arousal and orgasm. It undermines our decision-making which includes choice of partner, choice of place, and choice of activity. It also discourages meaningful conversation about, say, who has an STD, or who's married, or what two people previously agreed isn’t a good idea.

2. You don't have your birth control handy. You forgot your birth control pills, or you each thought the other was bringing condoms, or your diaphragm is in the suitcase the airlines seem to have lost. In such a situation, it’s tempting to play baby roulette—after all, you got away with it once or twice last year, and your period's not that far off, and this is a great opportunity for an adventure, and…

"One thing led to another," my patients tell me every January. "I decided to take a foolish risk" is generally more accurate. And more painful to admit, I know.

3. You're cranky. Your family is treating you like a kid, or Uncle Matt is acting like a kid, or people want to know why you don't have a kid. Then, you get cranky, and everyone wonders why. Or worse, everyone tells you why—which makes it worse.

Starting sex when you're short-tempered, or feeling misunderstood or alone, isn’t a good idea. All it takes is one little frustration—your partner leans on your hair, or gets a foot cramp, or accidentally tickles you—and you’re throwing up your hands and snarling “look, just forget it."

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4. Your expectations are unrealistic.

It’s a romantic setting, or your long-awaited vacation, or you've spent a fortune on the trip, or everyone's telling you how great your partner looks, or you’re both a little tipsy, or it’s New Year's Eve. Or you two haven’t had much sex in a while, and here's your chance to make it up with one great big, um, bang.

Any sexual event loaded down with expectations—birthday, anniversary, Arbor Day—is a disappointment just waiting to happen. Unlike in the movies, our bodies often respond to that kind of pressure by simply wilting. If that happens, take it with a rueful smile instead of taking it personally.

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5. You really want some touching or soothing. The whole holiday thing—travel, family, disruptions, drinking, eating, spending too much, a thousand little disappointments or irritations—can leave you a little frazzled, a little let down, a little emotionally needy.

When that's the case, most of us don't want sex. It's more likely that you want some touching, or soothing, or reassurance, or a sense of connection. Unfortunately, some people don't know how to ask for those things except through sex. Some people don’t know how to provide those things except through sex. If it works, that's great. But it often doesn't. It’s really a good idea to have an emotional vocabulary beyond sex.

Of course, there's always reason number six: You or your mate just aren’t in the mood. Holiday or not, that's a reason you should always take seriously.

Dr. Marty Klein is a marriage counselor and sex therapist with 30 years experience. His latest book is SEXUAL INTELLIGENCE: What We Really Want From Sex, and How to Get It. Dr. Klein’s blog, newsletter and more at www.MartyKlein.com.

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