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Sex should be fun, but it can also be complicated. Welcome to Sexual Resolution, a column by sex therapist Vanessa Marin that answers your most confidential questions to help you achieve the healthy, safe, and joyful sex life you deserve. In this edition, she offers advice to a reader who just doesn’t get why everyone else seems to love vacation sex.
DEAR VANESSA: I know everyone says vacation sex is the best, but for me, it’s the worst. I hate the expectation that just because we’re on vacation, we’re supposed to be screwing like rabbits. I’d rather be sightseeing! My partner and I are about to go on vacation, and I know she wants to have a lot of sex. What can I do to take the pressure off? – Vacation Sex Hater, 29
DEAR VSH: First of all, you’re not alone. A lot of my clients express your same frustrations about vacation sex. Everybody thinks vacation sex is supposed to be magical, but for a lot of couples, it inadvertently creates a lot of pressure. When you feel expected or obligated to have sex, it can be hard to feel much actual desire.
Your first step is to have a conversation with your girlfriend before you two leave. Don’t wait until you’re already on vacation and arguing about not having sex. Let her know first that you like being intimate with her, and give her some personal reasons why. Whenever you need to have a tough conversation about your sex life, it’s always great to start with compliments. It can help make the conversation feel more comfortable, and it helps your partner recognize that there are still plenty of great things about your sex life.
It’s possible that this upcoming trip is highlighting issues that you
two have in your sex life overall.
Then, let your girlfriend know that you’re feeling pressured by the idea of vacation sex. Tell her you want to enjoy this special time away together, but that the pressure of needing to have hot sex is blocking the desire you usually feel. Ask your girlfriend what her specific desires are for your time away together.
It’s possible that you may be overestimating what she wants because you’re feeling anxious about the trip. Maybe “a lot of sex” to her is once or twice during the trip. Maybe it’s a quickie before your next sightseeing adventure. Maybe it’s wanting more time for cuddling and making out. Just ask her.
It would also be useful for you to be honest about what your non-vacation sex life looks like. Is your girlfriend excited about this vacation because you guys haven’t had sex in weeks or months? Have the two of you argued about how frequently you each want to be having sex? It’s possible that this upcoming trip is highlighting issues that you two have in your sex life overall. It may be a sign that the two of you have some broader work to do. You may want to talk about scheduling sex, talking to a sex therapist, or doing couples counseling.
If your sex life is generally fine, and it’s really just the specific vacation issue that’s bothering you, try asking yourself this question: “What would I need to feel open to having sex on vacation?” The beauty of travel is that you don’t have to stick to your usual routine. Your entire days are free for you to schedule. There can be time for sightseeing and for connecting intimately. So think about what specific dynamics you would like to have in place in order to feel open to being intimate.
Here are some ideas to amp up the intimacy in your relationship:
- Have a date night, so you guys are flirting all evening before being intimate later. If you’re staying at a nice hotel, you can even ask your concierge to arrange a date night for you.
- Try morning sex, so you can have the rest of the day for sightseeing adventures.
- Or try a quickie at the end of a long day of sightseeing.
- Visit a local sex shop or lingerie store to put you in the mood.
- Define “sex” in different ways. Maybe you feel more open to making more space for make-out sessions, or for masturbating with each other.
- Schedule sex on specific days of the trip, so you both know exactly what to expect and look forward to.
You may also want to think about how your girlfriend can support you in feeling desire on this trip. Maybe she usually complains about the sightseeing stuff you want to do. If she were to be more enthusiastic about going along with some of your plans, would that make you feel more enthusiastic about some of hers? Maybe the two of you could even trade off planning days of the trip?
At the end of the day, it’s perfectly fine for you to not be a big vacation sex fan. You just want to make sure you put forth the same amount of effort and intention into your vacation sex life as you do into your at-home sex life.
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