When you think about last year, were there things you wish you did differently when it came to your romantic relationships… or lack thereof? Whether it’s to find a partner you click with, have kinkier sex, or speak up more in your current relationship, the start of a new year is a good time to set some new #relationshipgoals for yourself.
Happy and healthy relationships are something we should strive for all year and, frankly, all life long. Aside from the typical goals we might set (have more sex, put yourself out there more…) here are 10 very worthy goals to set this year—any of which will improve your life even if you only achieve a few.
Resolve Conflicts Quickly by Speaking up
Your partner leaves their socks on the floor and it drives you crazy, but you don’t say anything. Six months later, that and 12 other tiny annoyances have created a heap of resentment. “It’s a new year, so take this opportunity to set a goal with your partner to resolve conflicts as soon as possible,” says Emily Morse, sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast. “Make a pledge to address concerns without blaming or shaming. You’ll be amazed at how much stronger this will make you as a couple.”
Make a Bucket List
Do it now, before it’s halfway through 2018! Julia Colangelo, a licensed relationship therapist, suggests adding several categories, including one local bucket list item including sights to see and restaurants to try and one larger scale. “Maybe some vacations, or exhibits to see, or retreats to attend. Why? It’s important to prioritize these goals, and also this allows for more discussion about what you both want for this coming year.” Again, this allows you more time to connect and an opportunity to compromise and grow together.
Knock out two birds with one stone by getting in shape and strengthening your relationship. Psychological studies have found that couples who engage in physical activity/challenges together tend to feel more loving and satisfied with each other. “Think about it—when you work out together, you’re spending more time together,” says Samantha Burns, millennial love expert and founder of LoveSuccessfully.com. “You’re also encouraging and praising each other as you work towards your fitness goals. This creates a supportive environment. Have a date night at the gym, sign up for a 5K together… just get moving together!”
Plan More Weekend Jaunts
Who says you have to wait for a full-on weeklong trip to enjoy vacation sex? Take out the calendar and pick a weekend either monthly or quarterly and have a change of venue. “Pick a hotel you want to check out and look for a deal. Pack a bag and have a sexy sleepover,” says relationship expert and dating coach Lisa Concepcion. Make dinner reservations right there at the hotel so you can enjoy cocktails without the hassle of driving. Arrange for a spa massage or some fun sightseeing excursion and be tourists in your own town. The change of venue will bring some excitement to your love life.
Practice Mindfulness Together
Just like sweating together benefits both body and relationship, so does being mindful. “Set aside times when both of you can be entirely present, whether it’s meditating together, taking a quiet walk, or even exploring each other’s bodies with mindful awareness,” says relationship therapist Katie Krimer. “Mindfulness practice aids in anxiety and stress reduction, and helps someone feel more connected—in this case, practicing it together can foster connection between partners.”
Masturbate First Thing
Instead of waking up and immediately checking your phone notifications, reach for your vibrator instead, suggests Polly Rodriguez, CEO of Unbound, a sexual lifestyle company. If you’re single, this is easy, and if you’re in a relationship, get your partner involved for a little AM fun. “There is literally no better way to start the day than with an orgasm. Plus, we all need to get out of the habit of revolving our entire lives around our phones.” Rodriguez says to start with two mornings a week and see how it totally shifts your morning (and day) in the best way possible.
Experiment with Different Positions
If your go-to isn’t getting you off like it used to, make a goal to explore broader range of sex positions. “Like with most couples, having sex daily isn’t realistic for us so make it your goal to check off at least one [new] position a week,” says sexpert and erotic novel author, BSM Stoneking. There are plenty of ways to research what positions are out there and afterwards, Stoneking says it’s fun to rate how hot or how cold the sex position was.
Watch Better Porn
All those websites you watch for free end up hurting the adult actors (especially the women) more than anything. “Two alternatives: 1) try ditching porn and using your actual real imagination (I KNOW it seems like more work but it stimulates your brain and increased brain activity has been linked to more intense orgasms) and 2) pay for your porn * gasp * and support amazing creators like Erika Lust, says Rodriguez.
We all knock one out now and then and that’s totally healthy whether you’re in a relationship or not. “Masturbation feels good, keeps your sexual energy going, relieves stress, etc… But, it can also expand your self-awareness, confidence and teach you about your body’s potential for pleasure. This year, make time to masturbate with a purpose. Shut out distractions and really focus on how your body reacts to different sensations. The more you do this, the more you’ll be able to share with your partner, all-leading to more satisfying sex,” says Morse.
Have Connected Sex
It’s very easy to get locked inside our own heads during sex. “Sure, we’re physically with your partner, but our minds drift, and suddenly instead of enjoying the moment we’re thinking about laundry,” notes Morse. “Make it a goal to truly stay connected during sex. To really enhance intimacy, try going slower. If you really want to reach expert level, try to synchronize your breathing. The combination of all this is the perfect cocktail of connection.”