5. Stop Apologizing
If you find yourself apologizing for your sexual boundaries, playing down your sexual desires, feeling bad for your non-desires, or defending your wild sexual history, perhaps this is the year to own it! Don't apologize! Having sexual likes or dislikes, a high sex drive, no sex drive, or an inconsistent sex drive is part of being human. Would you apologize for loving watermelon and disliking pineapple? Would you eat pineapple just to make someone feel better? Well, that's your call. In either case, no apologies necessary! Because if you do decide to eat pineapple just to make someone feel better, you don't have to apologize for that either.
6. Recognize the Sexual Boundaries of Others
Just like you have your own boundaries and desires (which you are no longer apologizing for because of the last resolution), others have their own unique set. Don't project your preferences onto others. Develop your "sensitivity to others" muscle and recognize when your desire butts up against another's boundaries. Their boundaries take precedence, as would yours. Recognize that other people's desires don't look like yours, and that's okay.
7. Get Tested
If you've been putting it off, just do it. Theresa Lee Public Health Center (http://webcms.pima.gov/cms/One.aspx?pageId=19994) offers low cost, walk-in testing. Open your calendar right now and schedule a time to go in. I'll wait. Did you do it? Good! Early diagnosis is key, and every STI is treatable. Have a partner? Take them with you!
8. Play Safe and Play Healthy
I won't go into too many details about proper safer sex practices because there is plenty of information out there including earlier Pleasure Activist articles, but that is only one aspect of playing safe. Basically, use condoms, dental dams, or other prophylactics.
Lube use is another important component of safer and healthier sexual activity (assuming you are using good quality lube). Lube relieves unpleasant friction. Too much friction can lead to chaffing and micro tearing, and micro-tears are vulnerable to infections ... oh, and uncomfortable sex. Who wants uncomfortable sex?
Don't cross contaminate. If an object touches or enters an anus, it should be thoroughly washed (or condoms changed) before touching or entering the vagina. Otherwise, hello urinary tract infection!
Speaking of which, urinate after sex. It's proven to reduce UTIs. Clean out those pipes before you give those bacteria a chance to grow their numbers!
Think you're in the clear just because you're participating in solo sex? Wash those toys, and toss out your old toxic ones! When you get new ones, stay with the non-toxic and preferably non-porous materials. This includes silicone, stainless steel, and glass. If your heart is set on a toxic rubbery jelly contraption, put a condom on it.
Good sexual hygiene and healthy habits not only reduce risk of STIs, but also can reduce yeast infections, UTIs, and irritation that can put a real damper on your sex life.
Safe and healthy sex also includes vigilance to your own and your partners comfort zones. It's okay to mindfully push your own boundaries if that is what you choose to do. It's not okay to push another's boundaries.
Masturbation is one way to exercise some of the sexual resolutions mentioned above (or in Part I of this article). It's a terrific opportunity to practice mindfulness of various sexual/sensual sensations and a safe environment for manifesting some self-permission, as well as sexual exploration.
Additionally, masturbation keeps those juices flowing, your cells alive, and your pipes clean. For many people it's a terrific reminder and even a wake-up call that they are indeed vital sexual beings.
If you are in a monogamous relationship, masturbation is an amazing free pass to have another lover ... yourself! I bet you touch yourself differently than your lover does. More variety! Also, it's a great way to fill in the gaps created by sex-drive discrepancies.
10. Realize A Sexual Fantasy
Fulfill one sexual fantasy or desire that you've never gotten around to carrying out. Either solo, with a partner, with multiple partners, or with a pro. Remember: keep it safe, sane, and consensual!
11. Realize Another's Sexual Fantasy
Fulfill a lover's sexual fantasy that they have never gotten around to fulfilling (while respecting your own comfort level, of course). Remember that it's about them. Try not to insert your own fantasy into theirs, but instead attempt to immerse yourself into theirs. It helps to have a preliminary discussion to line up the premise and make sure everyone is on the same page, and it's important to have a safe word. When the light hits green, it's go! Who knows, you may find that it opens a whole new door for yourself as well!
Ally Booker is a pleasure activist passionate about educating herself and others on cool sexuality related things like communication skills, creating and respecting boundaries, sexual self-determination, destigmatization, gender and sexual expressions, sex toy use and safety, and all the other mechanics of pleasure. You can often find her at her Tucson shop, Jellywink Boutique, 418 E. 7th St.