5 Sex Habits To Break Before The New Year

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Everyone has a few bad habits. Are yours related to sex? Here are some sexual habits to consider breaking right away:

1. Having sex only in the dark. Unless you've lied about your gender, you have nothing to hide during sex. He can feel your body, and he's been looking at it since you met. If he really disliked it, you wouldn't be making love right now. So relax and feel comfotable with your body.

If the glare of stadium lights isn't appealing, try a few candles instead. A light in the hallway or bathroom outside the bedroom can be gentle, too. Remember, just because you don't like one or more parts of your body doesn't mean he won't. If you're baffled, ask him exactly what he likes about the body part that offends you — and believe him.

2. Not asking for what you want and not interrupting what you don't want. Say you come to my house and I serve broccoli for dinner. You don't like it, but you eat it. Not surprisingly, I serve it again the next time you visit. You eat it, so of course I figure you like it. Repeat that scene a few more times and what happens? You start declining my invitations to dinner.

A sure way to reduce your interest in sex is doing stuff you don't want to, and passively wishing for change. Whether the subject is food or sex, there's no substitute for simply saying "not this, that," or "let's try something else." That fabled male ego that you have to protect with your silence? For most men, it doesn't exist. And when it does, don't feed it. If he doesn't want the information, find someone who does.

3. Protesting whenever he says you're sexy. Your guy enjoys telling you he's attracted to you. As a bonus, it can make you feel pretty, and help keep the pilot light of your sex life shimmering. But when you respond with "Ugh, look at my belly," or "With this hair? No way," it takes all the fun away. You're effectively saying, "You're too dumb to notice how I really look," and "Your attraction to me is foolish." How sexy is that? 

If you have trouble hearing your mate's appreciative observations about your body, face, or general appeal, simply say "thank you" and let it go. And do some work on this. Remember, they're not "compliments" or "flattery." They're sincere observations — someone else's reality.

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4. Focusing on intercourse more than you want to. Intercourse has a lot going for it. It can be intimate, pleasurable, relaxing, and if you want to conceive, it's definitely the way to go. But it's the only kind of sex that requires an erection or birth control (if you don't want to conceive), and many women don't climax from it. There's absolutely nothing that makes intercourse special, "normal," or superior to other kinds of sex (except for that conception thing). So if you're in a sexual routine that always ends up with intercourse, feel free to change it.

This is why I dislike the word "foreplay." It assumes that the "real thing" will follow. The word for all the erotic stuff you do before intercourse is "sex." And you don't necessarily need intercourse after it.

5. Being less than 100% responsible about birth control. This is a simpler issue than many people make it. Anytime you have intercourse, you either want to conceive or you don't. You don't walk into a hair salon and say "I'll leave it to Jose — if he perms and dyes my hair red that's okay, and if he doesn't, that's okay too." So don't use that approach to pregnancy. If you don't want it tonight, use a scientifically reliable form of contraception. Yes, you really should be 100% sure before proceeding. Because every time you have intercourse you have a small chance of being 100% pregnant.

If you're angry at your guy because you two haven't worked out the birth control issue, either handle it yourself or don't have intercourse. There are no time-outs on this thing. Your fertility continues even while you're negotiating which method you're going to use.

Dr. Marty Klein is a sex therapist in Palo Alto, CA. His seventh book is "Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want From Sex, and How to Get It" (HarperOne).

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