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Valentines Day: Skip the fancy meal and go straight to the sex!
February 10th, 2011
10:01 AM ET

Valentines Day: Skip the fancy meal and go straight to the sex!

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him at his website, GoodInBed.

I may be a sex therapist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel the pressure of Valentine’s Day just like any other guy.  Not only do I have to be “romantic” but, like many holidays, Valentine’s Day also seems to come with a built-in requirement to spend lots of money – which is not a libido-enhancer. So this year, I’m determined to do Valentine’s Day my way: affordable, and with an emphasis on sex.

That’s not to say it won’t be intimate, but this year there will be no extravagant dinner, no flimsy lingerie that will never get worn, no expensive jewelry bought at the last minute—and no possibility of not having sex. All obstacles to sex will be removed. According to CNN, more than 40 million Americans are stuck in sexless marriages, and sometimes it seems like my own sex life is going the way of my gym membership: less frequently used as time goes by, with sessions that are hard on the knees and don’t last nearly as long as I intended.

Here’s my strategy for the big day (which, alas, just so happens to fall this year on an ever-so romantically challenged Monday):

1.      First, I’ll wake up, make the coffee, and tell my wife that I had a really sexy dream about her last night. The brain is the biggest sex organ, and after you’ve had sex with someone about a thousand times, it’s the mental stuff that really stokes the flames. There are two types of sexual arousal—physiological and mental—but too often we emphasize the former at the expense of the latter. So I’ll tell my wife I had the sexiest dream ever about her, but keep the details to myself until later, or maybe offer a few tidbits via email during the day—a little anticipation goes a long way.

2.      Before we go head off to work, I’ll give my wife a 30-second hug. Sounds like a long time, but studies have shown that hugging for 20 to 30 seconds boosts levels of oxytocin, the feel-good “cuddle hormone” that helps bring couples closer.

3.      If we speak during the day, I’ll make an effort to stay positive. Experts believe that the happiest couples have five positive interactions (like cuddling, kissing, or having upbeat conversations) for every one negative interaction (such as bickering).

4.      At lunch, I’ll stop off at the drugstore for all of my Valentine’s Day supplies. That’s right: I’m doing my Valentine’s Day shopping at Duane Reade! And I’m not just talking about condoms. These days, you don’t have to look further than your local pharmacy to stock up on sexy accessories, from personal lubricants such as Astroglide, to products like K-Y Intense, which has been shown in studies to boost female arousal, to vibrators. Your local pharmacy has come a long way, baby! But if you’re still uncomfortable taking your products to the cash register and you want to eliminate the blush factor, you can also do your buying at online stores such as Pure Romance and Babeland which offer a vast array of products and advice. While I’m doing my shopping, I’ll also pick up some cleaning products. Yup: Ajax figures heavily into my romance strategy.

5.      Once I’m home, I’ll engage in some good old back-breaking “choreplay.” This is where the Windex comes in. Sure, cleaning house hardly seems romantic, but research suggests that getting busy washing those dishes could get you lucky between the sheets: Women whose partners help out around the house report being more satisfied with their relationships—in and out of the bedroom. “Choreplay” helps women stop stressing about everything else they have to do and promotes relaxation, which research shows is necessary for women to attain orgasmic bliss.

6.      I’ll probably pick up  a light dinner from our local Japanese fave— salmon is always a good choice as when you eat for your heart you’re eating for your sex life— and save some chocolate—which is known to increase mood-boosting brain chemicals—for later.

7.      We’ll prevent digital distractions by turning off our computers, iPad, and iPhones.

8.      Before transitioning seamlessly into the bedroom, I’ll help increase that oxytocin again with lots of hand-holding and hugging, as well as make sure she gets a big whiff of my natural scent, which seems to work as a natural aphrodisiac. Studies suggest that scent is an indicator of genetic compatibility: In fact, women rate a man’s smell as the most important feature for determining whether they’re attracted to him. I’ll also pull out our favorite porn flick. (Okay, that’s a joke. My wife and I don’t watch porn together. But I do have some sexy photos of her from when we first met and I couldn’t keep my hands off of her, and a little trip down memory lane will get things going.)  Also, I’ll make sure to have a nice bottle of red wine on hand. Two glasses each is perfect—enough to lower inhibitions, without lowering those all-important physiological responses.

9.      Inside the bedroom, I’ll do my best to add some touches that turn our crow’s nest into a love-nest: some candles to set the mood, fresh flowers for aromatherapy, and some music that will help lull her into the trance-like state that is so important to female arousal.

10.  Finally, we’ll enjoy lots of fun foreplay that includes sharing that fantasy (which I will not share with you, but I bet you have plenty of your own.) If you need some help in that department, feel free to check out my book 52 Weeks of Amazing Sex, which has—you guessed it—52 different sex-scenarios. If technology is your thing, try the new iPhone app Sex Life, which has lots of fun sex suggestions, or a sexy card game Private Affair, which helps couples communicate about sex.

Looking back over this plan, I realize it might sound like a lot of work. But honestly, it’s geared to be intimate, fun, romantic, sexy, and inexpensive. And, yes, it will still get us to bed with time to enjoy some post-coital "30 Rock" on Hulu.com, wake up with a kid between us in bed, and be ready to go to work on Tuesday.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


soundoff (377 Responses)
  1. Moby Detroit, MI

    ISarah is right on the TMI part but I disagree on the "ew!" factor. I think the article had too many words and not enough pictures...lol Us guys are visual animals after all.

    February 11, 2011 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Moby Detroit, MI

    ISarah is right on the TMI part but I disagree on the "ew!" factor. I think the article had too many words and not enough pictures. Us guys are visual animals after all.....LOL

    February 11, 2011 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Curt

    Good plan!

    February 11, 2011 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. themoi

    V-day the day when supposedly sane people go looking for 2 things that don't exist in the physical world–love and romance. They only exist in the overactive imaginations of song and screenwriters.

    February 11, 2011 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Sandy

    Absolutely useless for the millions of us with kids and jobs. You know, the audience that actually needs some help?

    February 11, 2011 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dgfg

      your boring us with your sad life

      February 11, 2011 at 09:53 | Report abuse |
    • MJC

      REAL jobs, anyway!

      February 11, 2011 at 11:21 | Report abuse |
  6. Kat

    That guy in the bathtub is kinda creep looking...

    February 11, 2011 at 09:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DrFood

      Yeah. The girl looks like a hippie. That's probably the first bath or shower she's gotten in a week. Must be a special day.

      February 11, 2011 at 09:25 | Report abuse |
    • ApeHanger

      What makes you think that's a guy?

      February 11, 2011 at 10:00 | Report abuse |
  7. DrFood

    Where does the tube sock fit into all this?

    February 11, 2011 at 09:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CHAS

      Put is back under the mattress when you are finished unless it is time to throw it in the wash and get another.

      February 11, 2011 at 12:08 | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    My wife is on the rag this year. So I will stick to taking her out for dinner.

    February 11, 2011 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. JennyTX

    EXCUSE ME, CNN???? DON'T YOU KNOW THAT KIDS READ YOUR WEBSITE LOOKING FOR ARTICLES FOR SCHOOL PROJECTS? CAN YOU PLEASE LEAVE THIS STUFF OFF YOUR MAIN PAGE????? WOULD YOU WANT YOUR 12-YEAR-OLD READING THIS??

    February 11, 2011 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DrFood

      Chances are your 12 year-old has seen and read way worse things than this article. Given your inability to find the caps lock, I think your 12 year-old can run circles around you in most things Internet-related.

      February 11, 2011 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
    • Martin

      Yeah...and stop using your kid as an excuse for your own hangups.

      February 11, 2011 at 10:24 | Report abuse |
    • A Twelve Year Old

      I read this.

      February 28, 2011 at 21:59 | Report abuse |
  10. David

    Laura LOL! That works both ways though..... From the wife, I'll expect a half-hearted "thank you" for having polished the glass with Windex. From my girlfriend, I'll be the one getting something else polished....

    February 11, 2011 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Really?

    He makes it sound so clinical. Let's hope his wife doesn't read the article. It might be a turn off to know that he is trying to manipulate her hormones and other bodily chemicals. LOL!

    It is a good article though. Some men do need help with finding ways to be romantic without breaking the bank.

    February 11, 2011 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. BY

    I think that's a great idea! I'm going to call off work on Monday.

    February 11, 2011 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. dgfg

    1st don't be in a boring relationship, thats it! now go out and find a hot new person

    February 11, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. gfgf

    haha this guys life sucks! he has to clean the house to get l aid, if you want great valentines day s ex go out with a different person each year its guaranteed to be amazing

    February 11, 2011 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. blessed

    @ toothball ~ I found my guy at 20 & at 30 (8 yrs of marriage & a son later) I'm still just as happy. Also, since when is lying to your wife suppose to turn her on?

    February 11, 2011 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Bill

    V-day isn't nearly as hard as this guy is making it out to be. Make some homemade cards with construction paper, glitter, whatever kind of crap you have lying around the house. it will get a laugh and points for effort. call at some point during the day, ask if she'll be your valentine, tell her you love her and you have been thinking about her all day. leave work an hour early. cook a nice meal, make sure the house is clean. maybe do something she's been bugging you about for a while. dress up nice, brush your teeth, comb your hair. get her an inexpensive gift, maybe a dessert you shared on your first date, gift certificate at a local spa, certificate for dinner for two at her favorite restaurant, certificate for night out w her friends while you watch the kids, etc. if you don't want to pay for flowers, get red tissue paper and make paper ones, google the instructions. it doesn't have to cost a fortune, just requires effort. Pretend like it's your first date again and you are trying to impress her, and just let that be your guide. V-day is kind of fun if you think about it, it gives you a chance to act like kids in puppy love all over again.

    February 11, 2011 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Whoa

      Wow man. You just said Valentine's Day wasn't as complicated and then proceeded to list an equally long formula for success. That is so ironic.

      February 11, 2011 at 15:36 | Report abuse |
  17. 3some

    My husband and I will be rolling in the sheets with my best friend as we have been doing for the past 3 years. Only on Valentines Day though...and for his 25th birthday...lol. Hoping to make it the best one so far, as my friend may be moving out of state soon for a job opportunity. : (

    February 11, 2011 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MJC

      Wow...I wish my wife was as open-minded as you...Happy Valentine's Day!!!

      February 11, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
  18. MonsterLove

    Even though I think Valentines Day's is a retail holiday, it is nice to remember why your better half is your best friend. (And you better half better be your best friend!). Do things, like dinner, the day before and avoid the crowds. Make it a 48 hour Valentines day!

    February 11, 2011 at 10:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Heather

    This sounds great, but how do you do this with two kids in the house? LOL

    February 11, 2011 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Exactly

      People with kids understand the frustration of knowing that normal rules of life no longer apply. In fact, I think everyone who gives advice on anything should be required by law to state how many children they have before their opinion is registered.

      February 11, 2011 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
  20. BFE

    This article is horrible, but some of the comments by the readers are absolutely hilarious.

    February 11, 2011 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Kim

    It all sounds great for those of you with partners. The only thing is the comment about the old pics when you couldn't keep your hands of her.I know guys are visual but man, when a woman gets older she wants to know she's still attactive to her mate and he doesn't need pictures to get him aroused as how she "used" to look. Do we all have to be the perfect thing you remember? Can't we be great now?

    February 11, 2011 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MJC

      I agree Kim...I don't think anyone would gain many points by saying "Look how hot you were honey!!"

      February 11, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
  22. FSM

    So this guy gives us a detailed description of everything he's going to do to get his wife/girlfriend in bed. What is she going to do for him? Is he going to go through all of these steps and her gift to him is a roll in the hay? I mean, if he's going to be doing all this "choreplay" is she going to do something similar like mow the yard and fix the broken toilet?

    Valentine's day is bogus for many reasons. First of all is the obvious commercialism that spawned the holiday. Additionally, the entire holiday is focused on women. Most women expect guys to get them a card, flowers, chocolates, or do something romantic for them all the while doing nothing special in return. And no, putting out is NOT an acceptable Valentines gift for men since that should be happening on a regular basis anyway.

    February 11, 2011 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Truefax

      In most relations women (like it or not guys/feminazi's) play the submissive role. Men do the persuit. There are women that are more aggressive and God bless them all, but that is not the majority of the female population.

      February 11, 2011 at 10:53 | Report abuse |
  23. The Oldest Profession

    The best s3x? Women can't compete with h00kers. It's amateurs vs. professionals and every woman knows it.

    February 11, 2011 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah in Texas

      Please. You've probably never had either.

      February 11, 2011 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
  24. tim

    lol....your to-do list sounds like lots of work....sorry you have to remember so much to have a good time...

    February 11, 2011 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. May as well call it VD!

    The whole occasion is a scam that's slanted towards women. When was the last time anyone heard of a woman bringing her guy flowers? Or if he doesn't like flowers, how about candy? The point is, when was the last time any woman reversed the roles and gave instead of got? You all know the answer to that: never. Because it just doesn't happen. That one sign of why women will never be truly equal to men.

    February 11, 2011 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • trixen

      LMAO!!!

      February 11, 2011 at 12:02 | Report abuse |
  26. Jordan

    ok so what do we do for the mistress?

    February 11, 2011 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • My Response

      Same thing, fewer chores.

      February 11, 2011 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
  27. Dave

    What a ridiculous article. You'd think it was written by a 15-year old boy. I may be a 27-year old guy but Valentine's Day isn't about doing everything you can to get straight into bed and get laid – despite what various "s-exploitation" comedies might tell you. Personally, I look forward to celebrating my love with my girlfriend by spending quality time together with dinner, movie, a walk by the river, etc. If celebrating love to you means getting sticky in bed...I feel sorry for you.

    February 11, 2011 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jordan

      What makes it sad is the American male with his white picket fence and 2.1 kids and mini-van is salivating at the thought of getting laid on Valentines day. But in all honesty if he's not getting it regularly then he needs to re-evaluate his situation. Just because it's assumed that wives "give it up" on V day doesn't mean the other 364 days aren't an option either.

      February 11, 2011 at 10:38 | Report abuse |
    • SMS

      Couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks.

      February 11, 2011 at 12:01 | Report abuse |
  28. Martin

    I tried posting this comment once but it didn't go through...let's see if they block it again...some people go to this blog to get real advice, but what do they find? In this article he has plugged Astroglide, KY, iPhone Apps, a card game...and let's not forget his own book. I couldn't help but notice that he mentions chocolate but no brand names here...I guess that shows whose paying him. Just another commercial puppet...

    February 11, 2011 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lubester

      That alone should tell you it's a holiday created for women by marketing execs who want to push "product."

      February 11, 2011 at 11:11 | Report abuse |
  29. Perradin

    Soooo, your top secret plan is to lie to her about a dream you didn't have, wash the dishes, and let her small your BO? Noice.

    February 11, 2011 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • My Response

      Well, when you put it that way the advice does sound ridiculous.

      February 11, 2011 at 15:46 | Report abuse |
  30. BillLumbergh

    I'll do this, but I'll skip all the hugging and just give my wife an oxycontin.

    February 11, 2011 at 10:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Truefax

      hugs are cheaper, just sayin. Unless your wife is so ugly you don't want to touch her with the lights on.

      February 11, 2011 at 10:47 | Report abuse |
    • BillLumbergh

      @Truefax. This reply is so typically airhead girl. First there's the gay little "just sayin". Then you, in a monumental display of shallowness, a double-digit IQ, and no soul, you go straight to "ugly" as an insult. (I'm not even married.) My joke was dumb, but it could never be as dumb as your comment.

      February 11, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
    • Rooster Cogburn

      Thumbs up for this comment

      February 11, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
  31. Amy

    I'm sorry, is this seriously a story listed as a top headline on CNN??

    February 11, 2011 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MJC

      Yeah, this and Lohan's dress...LOL

      February 11, 2011 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
  32. kw

    At least the author has given much thought and now has a plan. I suggest to just go with the flow. Let this only be a "general guide" . Communicate, Be respectful and complimentary. IF u r Always colorfully creative and have tricks & treats in the bag. I assure u that the night and years to come will b grand and magical given u r with the "right partner".

    February 11, 2011 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. blessed

    Sometime's the rules DO get reversed & if you think men are superior to women you obviously have a lot to learn. What did I get my husband? Tickets to a concert, something he enjoys. I told him to get me nothing. I have everything I need in a loving husband who works hard & is a great dad. You need to grow up.

    February 11, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Ex-Navy

    Best advice I ever got from a senior chief in the navy: If the girlfriend thinks she's all that and always keeps demanding more, find another girlfriend who's plain-looking or not particularly attractive but has a killer body and treat her well. She'll be grateful as hell and you can't see her anyway when the lights are turned off.

    February 11, 2011 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Keri

      As a so-so looking chick who is active, that sounds like good advice. Always more fish in the sea.

      February 11, 2011 at 11:13 | Report abuse |
  35. Ex-Navy

    PS: Same strategy applies to meeting girls in port: the hot ones will more likely have been with tons of guys, the homely ones with still nice bodies won't and they'll remember you next time.

    February 11, 2011 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Fuyuko

    sounds like the relationship isnt' the best if you have to plot to get a shag..

    I do like the pic in the article though. The guy is hot for once!

    February 11, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen

      Amen, you're preachin' to the choir!

      February 11, 2011 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
  37. BillLumbergh

    I'm amazed how much women react to good hair. The guy in the article, to me, looks like someone who I might have to be careful doesn't try to molest my nephew.

    February 11, 2011 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BillLumbergh

      I meant the guy in the picture in the bathtub. The article's writer I'm absolute sure would molest a boy.

      February 11, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse |
    • Fuyuko

      I do appreciate long hair on a man, but men feel the same way about women. Long hair is indicative of good health, and youthful beauty, both things men and women find kinda hot. The guy looks like a typical male model to me.

      February 11, 2011 at 17:45 | Report abuse |
  38. maxwell

    perverted news

    February 11, 2011 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • k

      Sounds like you need to just stay in church.

      February 11, 2011 at 12:43 | Report abuse |
    • MJC

      Someone who thinks this is "perverted" has a few issues to work out.

      February 11, 2011 at 16:42 | Report abuse |
  39. woodie

    This is all very fine and well, but since I can't find anybody willing and I'm a reject in the eligible bachelor pool, I'll be doing my laundry like every other Sunday...and answering stupid articles about a useless pagan festival day.

    February 11, 2011 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Jessica!

    This story is funny but obviously only some of it is true my husband does do housework and gets some:) All the other stuff is just icing on the cake! He does not have to do to get some!

    February 11, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Shawn

    I really like #5 .. I'm going to forward to my husband and highlight.. thanks.

    February 11, 2011 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Chris

    I like how each step was written as if "it is definitely going to happen just like I typed it". First off if she reads the article then your "ploy" is ruined. Telling her you had a dream about her after saying you were going to say that is fairly lame. Also, what if she says first thing in the morning....let's go to a movie tonight......or go out to eat.....etc. What's the response then? haha

    February 11, 2011 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Must Lull Wife

    Is his wife a science project?

    "studies have shown," "Experts believe," "which has been shown in studies to boost female arousal," "which research shows is necessary for women to attain orgasmic bliss," "which is known to increase mood-boosting brain chemicals," "Studies suggest that scent is an indicator of genetic compatibility," "some music that will help lull her into the trance-like state that is so important to female arousal."

    LULL HER INTO A TRANCE-LIKE STATE? C'mon, dude. This super-planned step-by-step seduction sounds tedious and a little creepy, but I guess everyone's marriage is different.

    February 11, 2011 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Steveo

    Between #9 & #10... smoke a bowl and crank the Incubus playlist.

    February 11, 2011 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • A. Goodwin

      Steve – I think you and my husband would get along fantastically! Actually, I know how our night will play out: get home from work, feed/bathe/put kids to bed....go crack a beer, smoke a bowl, watch a little news – get down to business. Ahhhh.....sounds perfect.

      February 11, 2011 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
  45. nz8kjl

    valentine's day is about me sticking in my wife's A$$, haha

    February 11, 2011 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Tifosi

    Keep Valentine's Day interesting–try wife or husband swapping for the weekend or evening.

    February 11, 2011 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Jared

    #1 order her a drink
    #2 slip her a roofie
    #3 ???
    #4 drop her off in an alley and go home

    February 11, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Karen

      ha ha ha

      February 11, 2011 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
  48. Jann

    Shucks, I'm just so impressed that a man would write an article with so much thought and care. Bravo! Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

    February 11, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Hello

    My right hand understands me more than my gf.

    February 11, 2011 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Michael

    How about a follow-up article next week describing how the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
    Anyone taking odds he doesn't get any?
    Doofus

    February 11, 2011 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
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