Can we spare a minute to talk about how nothing brightens up a sex life like the City of Light…or the sands of the Caribbean…or a cozy cabin in Vermont with a crackling fireplace? If the notion of these locales (where I’m assuming you don’t live full-time) alone puts you in the mood, you’ve likely experienced the highs of vacation sex. Compared to the regular at-home, I-guess-we-should-do-it coitus, vacation sex tends to be a little bit more consistent and delightfully spicier than you’re likely to experience during a regular at-home week. And, there’s some psychology to explain why this is.
The guiding premise behind vacation sex veers into self-expansion theory, which supports the idea that novelty can stoke excitement within your relationship. When you focus on self-expansion or, essentially, trying new things as a couple, the result may include an improved connection and a boost in sexual well-being. And side note, introducing an element of novelty into life also skews the brain’s perception of passing time in such a way that things seem to feel slower-moving. So, when you’re operating outside your normal schedule and routine, romps may also feel longer, regardless of whether they really are or not.
The problem with this theory about why vacation sex is so great? Since you probably don’t have the limitless funds and vacation days required to be jet-setting constantly, the notion of only having great sex on vacation probably doesn’t satisfy you. Because, plain and simple, you’re not on vacation as often as you deserve to be having amazing vacation-style sex. To that point, is it possible to capture that mood on, say, a regular, nothing-special Tuesday? According psychotherapist and certified sexologist Laurel Steinberg, PhD, yes (phew): Hello, theme night!
“People can have different feelings about a location based on what they do there. A change in feelings could stimulate excitement and create newness in the bedroom.” —sexologist Laurel Steinberg, PhD
“Couples can go out for Cuban food followed by salsa dancing, or French food and a French film to feel immersed in a foreign culture,” says Dr. Steinberg. “What’s interesting is that I’ve found that people can have very different feelings about a location based on what they do when they are there. A change in feelings could stimulate excitement and create newness in the bedroom.”
If you’re committing to theme night, consider veering way far out of your comfort zone to access that vacation-worthy newness (i.e., give your go-to Italian restaurant a break). Make new memories, and then get home and make even more new memories. And if all of this feels a little hokey to you, let’s reframe: You know how a trip to Provence may inspire you to learn more about wine while you’re there, or that you only go rock climbing when you go to Colorado? Dr. Steinberg recommends that you get off the couch and embrace the adventurous date no matter where you are. “Activities that are out of the ordinary for the couple will make it seem like they’re on vacation,” she says.
And by the way, let’s not ignore the link between adrenaline and arousal. If you do something a little daring, you may be neurologically and physically inclined to bring that thrill-seeking energy into the bedroom.
I understand that nothing will directly compare to that magical night you and your partner shared in Vienna, Monaco, or Bali. But the idea of bringing that vacation energy into your everyday (or at least every week) sex life? Sounds worthy of a bedroom passport stamp to me.
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