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 (386 Responses)
  1. Nikki

    A lot of hate geared towards women and their "judgement" and high expectattions on Vday, but haven't seen many female posters to discredit that opinion.... I personally believe the effort should be made on both ends – you both are in a relationship together, Whether you are married or have a boy/girlfriend (even single on a date), the end goal should be about spending time together and making each other feel good. Not anxious and stressed to make things perfect, or get laid. If the goal is just that though (s3x) then by all means, go for it! But come on, it wouldn't kill both parties to make an effort. I make dinner, maybe a homemade card and expect the same level of care and thought to be taken by my partner. Nothing over the top, nothing expensive, just some effort. And that applies to any other day/romantic occasion.

    February 11, 2011 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nikki

      Hell, even a romantically-worded Post it note equals effort.

      February 11, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse |
  2. jimmy

    So he's planning on lying his way through valentines day so he can donkey punch his wife's chocolate starfish? Huh, not a bad idea.

    February 11, 2011 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HC21

      Maybe he has trained himself to dream whatever he wants? LOL Other than that, I don't see any other likely lies.

      February 11, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse |
  3. why bother.....

    Such an over rated hallmark holiday to begin with...as if everything in a relationship is tied to one day and is always geared towards a woman. First, you deal with a relationship everyday, not just on 2/14 which means that each day makes a difference. High priced meals, flowers and whatever else is pushed for that one moment as if that is going to dictate the rest of the days to follow. Is 2/14 the only day that you display love and affection to your partner whether it is male or female? The following day, life is back to normal...no I am not bitter, nor alone or whatever you may think, reality is the name of the game here. So enjoy the false sense of security on the day of love and hopefully, it will last more than 24 hours as long as the roses, chocolates, food and whatever gifts are given because it seems that will set the mood for things to follow....not the relationship itself. Have fun...

    February 11, 2011 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Tom

    Wow, that is a lot of work just to get lucky. I guess I'm just a shallow guy, but if I have to work that hard to get some after 10 years of marriage, well kind of explains affairs. Ladies, if you make your men do this stupid crap dont be surprised when you find out they are going elsewhere.

    February 11, 2011 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Angie

      wow, you should never get married. Your inability to be romantic ONE day a year is no reason to cheat and worse, blame the woman for it. Poor excuse for a man.

      February 11, 2011 at 17:30 | Report abuse |
  5. Ryan

    virgin reporting in

    feels good, man. Just me and my kleenexes

    February 11, 2011 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kevin

      Ruby Palmer is a great gal ain't she! Her five sisters are damn hot too.

      February 11, 2011 at 16:23 | Report abuse |
  6. Kevin

    Ah young grasshopper:

    First you must get significant other all the stupid flowers candy and teddy bear crap she can handle.
    Then must you liquor her up.
    Finally go out with buddies and find hoars.

    February 11, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Rie

    Ian Kerner, I think I love you.

    February 11, 2011 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. iamthewheel

    It sucks being Sarah! LOL

    February 11, 2011 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • yourmom

      I bet it sucks being you!

      February 11, 2011 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Funniest comment of all.

      February 12, 2011 at 12:36 | Report abuse |
  9. Jimmynog

    ..and I get a feeling Sarah doesn't suck.

    February 11, 2011 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Mico

    Step 1: Lather her in tanning cocunut oil (Coopertone mignt do it)
    Step 2: Go to the garage, laundry room, unfinished basement, or any other unsual place. If it is not cold and can go outside, better.
    Step 3: Have at it
    The rest is fluff!

    February 11, 2011 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Anna

    Sounds like a cheapskate to me. Are all mens' brains below the belt?

    February 11, 2011 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Katie

    Someone needs to tell CNN the proper use of apostrophes. Valentine's ???? Valentine's what? Are you missing a noun or do you mean valentines (plural) ?

    February 11, 2011 at 19:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Thomas Whalen

    Ahhhhhh How'd we do this MIssy !

    February 11, 2011 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. D

    Seems like a lot of effort to get laid....meh, I'll pass.

    February 11, 2011 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. JFT

    Dear God, a possessive used as a plural in a national news headline. Illiteracy has truly taken over.

    February 11, 2011 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. NC Girl

    I wonder how many women would like the fact that he was bringing out pictures of her when they "first met", when he "couldn't keep his hands off"... wow.

    February 11, 2011 at 20:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Puff Puff

    . Ahhhhhh. Thanks doc.

    February 11, 2011 at 21:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Sue

    This is such a great article
    Thank You


    February 12, 2011 at 08:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Sutemi

    Wowdamn! That chick in the picture doesn't have a forehead; it looks like a five or sixhead at least! Bag that lima bean!

    February 14, 2011 at 10:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Of the Mountain

    My third try at posting my short version of this article-

    1. First, I’ll tell my wife that I dreamed about her last night. It’s not true, but hey.
    2. Then I’m going to creep her out by hugging her so long she questions my intentions.
    3. IF we talk during the day, I’ll keep my negativity index below 20%.
    4. Over lunch, I’m gonna get some lube.
    5. When I get home, I will do enough chores to ensure that she owes me one.
    6. Whatever she wants for her Valentine’s Day dinner will have to wait until another day, because I’m going to feed her libido chemicals tonight.
    7. I will eliminate all possibility of internet boom-chicka-wahwah derailing my home-made boom-chicka-wahwah.
    8. Then I’ll pull out some pictures of her from before she had kids.
    9. Candles, flowers, music and whatever other clichés I can think of, and…
    10. Did I mention I have a book out? I recommend it for everyone who can stand my writing.

    February 16, 2011 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. seriously

    Steps a middle aged man might use to get laid on valentines day? hmmmm...can't use this weeks article for class tomorrow. But seriously, I read these articles every week and it's all the same facts. How about something new and interesting for once? I'm pretty sure doing nice things for your wife like doing the dishes and getting flowers/chocolates is already pretty standard....????? and that whole photo idea...yeah ill show her pictures of when i USED to have my hands all over her..AKA when she USED to be hot? ouuu yeah just a reminder of how old and fat she's gotten...that'll get her going....

    February 16, 2011 at 22:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. tortured

    we all are different, we all have different expectations, expecting to get some for doing chores doesn't work. having a "dream" was probably about a past g.f. or the girl next door, don't lie. statistics & studies are hardly ever romantic. the little things are what make her happy. get her a 3 pack of her fav. gum, that's like 3 bucks. skip the flowers and chocolate and clean her car, even take it to get cleaned, who cares, it got cleaned. leave a sticky note with a smile. either make a grand breakfast or a horrible, it'll be more memorable, at least you tried. if you snore, sleep in another room for a couple of hours. take the kids out for breakfast and let them play in a germ infested playground. be simple, make it easy. life is so short enjoy each day for all its worth.

    February 20, 2011 at 22:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Realist

    Those who are saying that you should treat your women/men like that everyday, hasn't been in a relationship. Unfortunately we live in a very hectic and material world where we dont get time to do such days everyday.....thus you make such dates.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. eggmont

    try making vd cards with menstrual blood

    February 24, 2011 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. S3x Addict

    Anyone that wouldn't mind sharing pics of their s3x, send them to samberia@live.com– I need position ideas for me and my girlfriend!

    February 25, 2011 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
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