Holiday Hook-Ups: How to Keep Your Sexual Sanity Intact

Although Christmas is portrayed as this lovely time full of family and cheer, the Holidays can really take their toll on your mental and emotional wellness. Because every movie, song and advert you come across paints Christmas as this idyllic, nostalgic time, you can feel pressured to live up to this idealised scenario. And, as most of us inevitably fail to achieve this, your wellbeing becomes affected by feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, remorse, and even outright depression. Then, you load up on bad-for-you pick-me-ups like food and cocktails and Robert Weiss, Founding Director of The Sexual Recovery Institute, points out that you may risk your sexual health for the same reason.


According to Weiss, ‘For a wide variety of reasons, many people have a tendency to make bad sexual choices around the holidays. Office holiday parties are notorious for mismatched couples sneaking off to the copy room for a quickie…And New Year’s Eve is probably the biggest night of the year for regrettable sexual encounters. In fact, I’m pretty certain Baby New Year is the patron saint of one-night stands. Unfortunately, these liaisons are hardly without consequence. Office party hook-ups mean you have to face the other person at work the following Monday, and every workday thereafter…Plus, these ill-advised, heat of the moment hook-ups oftentimes put people at risk for catching and/or transmitting HIV or another STD.’ With that in mind, we have a few sexual sanity guidelines to help you survive the holidays, unscathed:


1. Watch your alcohol intake: There are so many events during the holidays that you may as well spend the entirety of December well and truly hammered. However, Weiss warns, ‘Don’t get drunk at the office party (or any other social event). Alcohol is disinhibiting, and over-imbibing greatly increases your risk for making a bad sexual decision.’


2. Don’t get nostalgic: If you’re going home for the holidays, you’re bound to bump into an old flame and wonder about reigniting that spark. Weiss advises, ‘Don’t seek out ex-lovers, ex-spouses, or old hook-up partners during the holiday season. These people are in your past for a reason! There is no need to resurrect a bad relationship.’


3. Find better ways of coping: If you’re single, Christmas can be a particularly hard time. You’re surrounded by families and couples showing how much they love each other, and this can make things feel pretty lonely. Nonetheless, Weiss instructs, ‘Do not have sex just because you’re lonely or otherwise feeling bad about yourself. Grab a cookie instead, or better yet talk about your feelings with a friend, a loved one, or your therapist.’


4. Be honest: If you do decide to have sex with someone, make sure you’re honest about what you want from that person. Say if you just want something casual or if you’re looking for something more. Weiss notes, ‘If you’re dishonest about what you’re seeking you’re much more likely to hurt either yourself or the other person.’


5. Be safe: This doesn’t just mean using condoms with new sexual partners – although this is an absolute MUST – but Weiss comments, ‘If you’re meeting a stranger for a sexual encounter, make sure at least one friend or family member knows exactly where you are going, how to reach you, and when you expect to be back. Arrange to check in with that person both before and after your date.’


6. Trust your instincts: The Holiday blues can cloud your judgement, but you need to stay in tune with your instincts, whether you’re hooking-up with an old partner or meeting someone new. Weiss explains, ‘It doesn’t matter how good looking the other person is, if something feels “off” to you, then something is wrong and you need to get out immediately. Not everyone is as nice or harmless as they appear online or at first glance in-person. If you get into a sex date and start to feel uncomfortable, it is perfectly OK to leave.’

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