Writer bio: Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer-inclusive, health-informed, pleasure-inclusive, sex-positive journalist and educator whose work reflects the intersections of LGBTQ+ issues, sexual health, wellness, and pleasure. She is also the co-host of Bad in Bed a queer sex education podcast featuring the queer sex education you never got, but always deserved.
If you could hump your way to happiness, would you? Well guess what, you can. Yes, really! That’s why in honor of International Day Of Happiness we put together this guide on exactly how getting down can help you when you're feeling down. Ahead, 7 tips for utilizing sex for an overall happiness boost.
Yes, Having Sex Really Can Boost Your Happiness
For the people who want to have sex (allosexuals), having sex has the capacity to boost happiness—and that’s true for solo, partnered, and multipartnered sex. Research proves it!
One recent study published in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Studies found that couples who had sex once a week were happier than those who had sex less frequently than that. Likely, this is because intimacy and orgasms can release a cocktail of endorphins and hormones like oxytocin and dopamine, which to an overall sense of well-being.
Hell, there’s even some data showing that sex is more strongly associated with happiness than money. For a recent online survey, researchers asked participants about both their sex lives and incomes. Their findings? That there was a larger difference in happiness between people who had sex less than once a month compared to people who had sex once a week than between people who had an income of $15,000-$25,000 compared to people who had an income of three times that! Pretty damn interesting.
These explicit links between sex and happiness aside, sex has also been shown to boost self esteem, reduce stress, and relieve certain pains -- all benefits that obviously have some positive impact on overall happiness.
1. Prioritize it.
Forgive us for sounding like Captain Obvious, but if you want to do something you have to do it. And that is true when it comes to cumming, too.
How you prioritize is up to you. But putting it on your Get To Do list, scheduling it right into your calendar, and making a verbal pact with your partner(s) to explore each other's bodies X times per week, can all help.
2. But don’t force it!
Remember: prioritizing sex is not the same as putting pressure on yourself to have it. If there’s ever a time when your Google calendar lets you know it’s time to go to Pound Town and you’re not in the mood, play hookie.
In the case that you have pre-planned that time with your partner, you might say something like, “Baby, I’m really looking forward to spending time together this afternoon. But just to manage expectations, I’m not in the mood for intercourse. Would you be open to snuggling instead?”.
Managing expectations while also offering an alternative type of intimacy will help protect their feelings and preserve the happiness within your relationship.
3. Put on something that makes you feel sexy.
Whether your go-to sexy fit is Hugh Heffner rope or James Dean get-up, put it on. It might sound trite, but when you look good, you really do feel good!
Plus, the act of putting something sexy on helps you get in the mood—especially if you cue up some Marvin Gaye while you change.
4. Invest in your pleasure.
You may not be able to buy happiness, but you can buy sex toys!
Designed to provide sensations that the human body is literally not equipped to deliver, sex toys are a tool for experiencing new sensations, as well as learning more about your body. And learning more about your body can be happy-making, so go ahead and invest in your pleasure vis-à-vis buzzy buddies.
5. Lather on lube.
Lubricant is designed to increase the feel good slip-and-slide of sex, and decrease the micro-tear friction of frick-fracking.
Typically, store-bought lube is considered a non-negotiable for anal sex, because the anal canal never self-lubricates, and a happy bonus for vaginal sex because the vaginal canal sometimes self-lubricates. But wetter is better didn’t become a commonplace sex slogan because for not reason! It became a mantra because it’s true. But it does not matter if that ~wet~ comes from a bottle or your body.
Your move: If you’re planning to explore anal play or ever struggle to produce enough vaginal lubrication for the type or length of the duration of your play, invest in lube.
6. Keep a sex journal.
Specifically a sex gratitude journal. After you get it on, spend some time writing down the parts of your playtime that were especially pleasurable.
Why? For starters, being raw and honest about what feels good on paper can make it easier to express that information verbally to a partner or future partner. It also gives you a log to go back and read on days when you feel unsexy, undesirable, or otherwise down in the dumps.
The Notes App on your phone or a moleskin will work just fine. But another option would be to invest in a journal made specifically for this purpose, like the aptly-named A Sex Journal ($26.00).
If you’re not sure where to start, the below prompts are a great entry point:
- What brought me pleasure during that last session?
- What parts of my body am I feeling especially grateful for right now?
- When during that last encounter did I smile?
7. Allow yourself to expand the definition of sex.
We may have been taught that sex is exclusively a penetrative act. But sex can be A-N-Y solo, partnered, or multi-partnered act that cultivates pleasure. That means that hand sex, oral sex, sex toy play, and even kissing or dancing can qualify as sex.
When you allow yourself to re-define what sex mean, you give yourself the freedom to prioritize sex acts that bring you joy—rather than simply checking off the “sex” box on your to-do list.