“Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.” ― Rumi
For those who celebrate gift-giving this time of year, you have an easy opportunity to deepen intimacy with a partner—or yourself, using gifts as a springboard. I want to take this opportunity to encourage you to try something new as a way to experience connection. The following is a list of gift ideas—for you—or your beloved—or both—that will encourage communication, risk-taking and ultimately, intimacy.
First, I love books and find that reading is great way to keep learning about love, intimacy and sexuality. When shared, especially when read out loud together, books can deepen our connectivity, our awareness of our partners and open our hearts to joint explorations.
One of my all-time favorites is Come as You Are, by Emily Nagoski, PhD. While Come as You Are is heavy on the science, Nagoski presents new research on the science of arousal and desire that is simply revolutionary. I wish I had learned this information years ago, as it helped me to understand some things about myself that had me a bit puzzled. It all makes sense now! The rest of the book is pretty awesome as well. In addition, for people wanting to dance with sacred energy exchange, Barbara Carrella's Urban Tantra: sacred sex for the twenty-first century is a delight, and an approachable exploration of tantric practices. If your sex life is lacking in imagination (we all experience that from time to time) try out The Ultimate Guide to Seduction & Foreplay, by Jessica O'Reilly, PhD and Marla Stewart, MA.
For those who are over 50, if you have not yet read Joan Price’s books, you’re missing out. I highly recommend: Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex; and The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50: How to Maintain—or Regain—a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life.
For those who read my blogs, you also know that I’m a huge fan of sensual touch as a way to deepen connection, whether sex is involved or not. For a good starting place, consider: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sensual Massage, by Patti Britton and Helen Hodgson.
If you give your partner a book, give the gift of connection with it: offer to read the book out loud to one another; with the Sensual Massage Guide, offer to read and practice as you go. Reading together will give you the opportunity to open to one another—I can guarantee you’ll learn things about one another you never knew!
Second, as you know from reading my blogs, I also support and promote both solo sex and partnered sex. This is a great opportunity to purchase a vibrator and/or dildo for her, and a masturbation sleeve for him. (I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, my god, what would: [fill in the blank: Grandma, the kids, Aunt Bessie, etc. think when I pull a dildo out of my stocking....??”] Ummm. If you have those concerns, remember, you can give these gifts discreetly! Remember also: even if you’re not currently partnered, continuing to love yourself through solo intimacy and sex is incredibly valuable. Self-loving fosters connectivity with your own heart and on a practical level, keeps penises and vaginal tissues and muscles healthy and functioning well. And playing with toys as a couple can add spice—and intimacy to a relationship.
Third, lubes make a great stocking stuffer. My all time favorite for partners who do not have a need to use protection: organic coconut oil; organic sweet almond oil is also nice--but don't use olive oil because it can collect around the cervix and become rancid. For those who need to practice safer sex, consider a good quality, organic lube: Good Clean Love, Aloe Cadabra, and Yes! Lubricants. And please, get rid of the harmful lubes: K-Y Jelly, Replens, Astroglide, Boots Jelly, Durex Play, and Sylk!! For more information, read about why K-Y Jelly is so bad for you!
Fourth, I know, I know. It’s winter. It’s cold. Everyone is running around in frumpy flannel (guilty as charged)…and yet, lingerie can be lots of fun! Ladies, consider buying something sweet and sexy and surprise him (or her!)—or guys (or gals), buy her something lovely. Crank the heat up in the bedroom then dress up. If you’re currently unpartnered, buy yourself something lovely just for you. You’re worth it.
Last, step out of your comfort zone and attend an online workshop. I highly recommend all Human Awareness Institute workshops on Love, Intimacy and Sexuality--though in-person workshops are currently suspended due to COVID-19. You can check it out, though, by taking a Zoom workshop, Loving Me, Loving You in late February, 2021. You need not be partnered to attend—and it can be a terrific tool for couples to connect and grow together. Attending HAI workshops completely changed my life. While I have not taken any tantra workshops, I have friends who have had wonderful experiences with SkyDancing Tantra, which may also be worth exploring.
Whatever your situation, gift-giving presents opportunity: you can give your usual and expected gifts, or you can try something new as a way to explore and deepen connectivity. If you feel certain that such a gift would be a shock to your partner, consider including a heart-felt note with your gift, inviting your partner into a vulnerable sharing about your desire to deepen intimacy. It may be the best gift you ever give—to both of you.