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Complete Guide to Sexual Health: Casual Relationships, Self-Love & Body Positivity

Couple in love hugging in bed after having sex

Salt-N-Pepa famously asked us to ‘talk about sex’ in their 1991 single, but did we listen? Kind of… but there is still so much to discuss! Because of online dating, hook-up culture, and societal changes, many of us are having causal relationships and exploring our sexual fantasies. This is great because sex is super important and fun! However, to get the most out of your sexual life, it is essential to know how to stay safe and explore it in a way that suits you. So, we at #Dating have created a complete guide to sexual health to answer all your sexy questions. Read on, and you will soon be a sexpert!

Improving your sexual health and wellness

Confident woman looking in the mirror

Our minds and bodies are connected, and how we feel in our heads affects our sexual health. Incorporating sexual wellness into your routine helps you on your journey toward sexual fulfillment and pleasure.

How mental health affects sexual desire and performance

Did you know that our mental health affects our sex life? According to a 2018 study, mental health issues are a huge risk factor for sexual dysfunction in women, with depression linked to low libido. Furthermore, there is a link between depression and erectile dysfunction, with people suffering from depression having a higher chance of experiencing ED.

Having a low sexual desire and sexual depression can be difficult to deal with, but knowing what causes it will help you. If you suffer from mental health issues, take your time to get help and work through your issues.

Happy woman practicing meditation in her living room

But what about performance anxiety? Of course, sex can relieve stress, but stress about sex can affect your performance. Performance anxiety is often linked to how we feel about ourselves. We may worry about what our bodies look like or if we are good enough to pleasure our partner. If you suffer from performance anxiety, working on your body image can assist you on your journey toward exciting and satisfying sex.

Sexual meditation and sexual yoga can slow things down and allow you to be in the moment. These practices involve mindfulness, which decreases anxiety and helps you feel comfortable in sex.

Is bad sex affecting your libido? 3 tips to deal with it

Man kissing his girlfriend‘s neck while they are cuddling in the bed

Disappointing sex affects your libido and can cause issues within your relationship. However, it can be hard to bring up the discussion in order to get the spark back.

So, how can you deal with bad sex? Here are our top tips on overcoming it:

  • Be honest with your partner – they may simply not know that you are not satisfied in the bedroom
  • Don’t be negative about their performance – instead, discuss what they do that you like and what you want from sex
  • Find out what you like by yourself – getting to know your body through masturbation helps you know exactly what you want from sex

It is important to know that sexuality is a journey, and you are constantly discovering new ways to find pleasure and enjoy sexual acts. Opening up the discussion with your partner and spending time alone to find out what you like allows you to move forward on your journey to sexual fulfillment.

How to practice self-love in your sex life

Woman dressed in warm clothes hugging herself with compassion

Self-love refers to actions and thoughts that nurture and celebrate your body. It builds up your confidence and allows you to feel good in your skin. But did you know that self-love can really boost your sex life?

Why self-esteem is the key to sexual confidence

When we have sex, we are often naked. However, many of us have hang-ups about our bodies. Accepting the way we look leads to sexual empowerment, as it allows us to feel confident in our skin.

Of course, this is simpler said than done. However, positive affirmations of self-love can kickstart your sexual self-esteem journey.

But, it isn’t just accepting your body that boosts sexual confidence, but also accepting yourself as a sexual person. According to sex therapist Dr. Shannon Chavez, being sexually healthy is to have a ‘personal self-acceptance and awareness of sexual desires and interests.’ In order to do this, we must know our bodies and develop habits that incorporate sexual pleasure into our self-love routine.

Beautiful curvy woman posing in her underwear full of confidence

This is particularly important for people who identify as women. Female sexuality is still quite a taboo subject, with female pleasure less likely to be discussed in sexual health talks. The lack of discussion around female pleasure means that a phenomenon called the orgasm gap exists, which refers to how men have more orgasms in heterosexual sexual encounters than women.

By actively accepting yourself as a sexual person and working on your sexual confidence, you can feel empowered to explore your wants and needs in the bedroom.

Setting sexual boundaries: why it’s important and how to do it

Knowing and expressing our sexual boundaries allows us to feel confident and safe when exploring our sexuality. Sexual boundaries draw the line between what we are cool with and what we don’t like in sex. We all have sexual boundaries, and they are different for everyone.

Couple casually talking on the kitchen floor about sexual health

Sexual boundaries examples include:

  • Where you like to be touched
  • How people touch your body
  • What sexual acts you are comfortable with
  • How people treat you in sex
  • What kinks and fantasies you are open to

But how do we talk about our sexual boundaries with our partners? Open discussion outside of the bedroom allows you to communicate your boundaries clearly. Tell your partner exactly what you do not want from sex, and give them time to discuss their own sexual boundaries.

Plus, it is okay for your boundaries to change! It is your body, and if something makes you feel uncomfortable, let your partner know.

Why loving your body is important for healthy sex

Loving your body allows you to focus on sexual pleasure and opens the door to healthy, satisfying sex. Body insecurities can really stress us out when we have sex with someone, as we will often worry about how we look instead of how we feel.

However, when we embrace body positivity or body neutrality to work toward a better relationship with ourselves, we can enjoy what sex really has to offer us.

Confident woman posing with a glass of juice in her kitchen

If we have a low self-image about our bodies, we may avoid sexual activity or feel on edge doing so. By accepting that we are attractive and sexy, we will be more fulfilled in the bedroom.

To overcome body insecurities that surround sex, we must:

  • Learn to love our bodies solo – practicing self-love affirmations or exploring body neutrality can help us accept our physical form
  • Believe what our partners say about us – our partners want to have sex with us! When your partner tells you that you are attractive and sexy, remind yourself that they are telling you the truth
  • Address negative thoughts during sex and gently bring your attention to positive thoughts

How to have safe sex and why safe is sexy

To feel free and satisfied in the bedroom, safe sex is super important. So, let’s look at how to have safe sex and open the discussion up with your partner.

Safe sex refers to practices that keep you and your partner healthy as it lessens the risk of STIs. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five people in the US have a sexually transmitted disease, and this means that if you are sexually active, not using protection creates a high risk of catching something.

Man taking a condom out of his back pocket

Using condoms is the first rule of practicing safe sex. They act as a barrier between you and the person you are having sex with, preventing bodily fluids from contacting the penis, vagina, mouth, and anus.

However, condoms don’t protect against all STIs. Infections caught from skin-to-skin contact, such as herpes and HPV, can be passed on even if you are using a condom. This means that it is vital to get regular STI tests if you are sexually active. Contact your healthcare practice or charities in your area to see what is available to you.

Safe sex gives you the freedom to enjoy sex without any second thoughts hanging over you. That your health has been put first and you can experience pleasure without any doubts. What is sexier than that?

Exploring your sexual desires

Naked woman lying on her boyfriend's back after exploring their desires during sex

As we move forward on our journey with sexual health and fulfillment, we may discover new and exciting sexual desires. Society is constantly evolving, and we know that sexuality is not black and white.

But how do we explore our sexual desires and figure out our sexuality? Let’s dive in!

Can't get no satisfaction? Sexual communication is key

Sex talk and communicating your wants in the bedroom allows you to explore your sexual desires and find fulfillment. But, this discussion often starts outside of the bedroom.

Okay, we know that bringing up sex with your partner can be daunting. We often feel more vulnerable discussing sex than actually having it. However remember, sexual communication allows you and your partner to be on the same page and deepens your relationship.

Whether you are in a casual relationship or have a long-term partner, having discussions outside of the bedroom around wants and wishes helps you find mutual satisfaction. But how do we bring the sex talk up?!

Couple casually talking about sex on the couch

Here are our top tips on how to bring up sex in a relationship:

  • Discuss it outside of the bedroom. Pick a neutral space for you and your partner for you to talk about what you want to explore and your likes and dislikes in sex
  • Don’t complain about your partner’s performance, and never compare them to past partners
  • Make sure you are mentioning the things that they do that you like before talking about the things you want them to do
  • Start the conversation slowly and ask questions about their sexual desires
  • Be honest about your sexual ideas and wants

Exploring your sexuality

A 2021 global survey conducted in 27 countries found that nearly 1 in 5 young adults identify as non-straight. Society is progressing, and there are so many options out there to explore. Knowing yourself and what you are attracted to allows you to have a satisfying sex life. It may seem daunting at first, but exploring sexuality helps you on your journey toward truth and fulfillment.

The idea that sexuality is a spectrum isn’t a new one. In 1948, Dr. Alfred Kinsey published the landmark study called Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male, which explored how sexuality is fluid and changes over time. The Kinsey Scale revolutionized how we thought about sex and opened the doors to new sexual orientations. Following this, the Klien Sexual Orientation Grid was developed, which included emotions, fantasies, and self-identification into the scale.

There is so much diversity in sexuality – you don’t have to pick either ‘straight’ or ‘gay’! However, questioning sexuality can be difficult for many of us. With so much diversity, there are so many labels that people identify with.

Two women celebrating LGBTQ+ rights

Here are some sexualities that you may identify with. But it is essential to remember that you don’t have to identify as anything at all!

  • Androsexual – Being sexually attracted to masculinity
  • Asexual – Experiencing little to no sexual attraction
  • Bicurious – Usually having sex with one gender but curious about having sex with a different gender
  • Bisexual – Experiencing attraction to both genders
  • Demisexual – Experiencing attraction when there is an emotional bond
  • Fluid – Having a sexuality that changes
  • Gay – Being sexually attracted to the same sex
  • Graysexual – Having rare sexual attraction to others
  • Gynosexual – Being sexually attracted to femininity
  • Heterosexual – Being attracted to the opposite sex
  • Lesbian – Being a woman attracted to women
  • Pansexual – Being attracted to people regardless of their gender

If you are interested in LGBTQ+  dating, there are loads of ways you can explore this. Dating apps, such as #Dating, have options for LGBTQ+ dating. You may also find it helpful to get involved with the queer scene in your area. There are so many welcoming communities around the world that provide advice and support for those who are exploring their sexuality.

But what about asexual dating? If you are an asexual, it can be hard to find the right person for you and your romantic needs. However, signing up for an asexual dating website or tagging yourself as asexual on your #Dating profile will help you find like-minded people to date.

Women about to kiss while exploring their sexuality

If you are dating an asexual, it is important to be aware of their sexuality and how you can be respectful towards them. Here are our top tips on dating an asexual:

  • Accept their sexuality and never try to change them
  • Know that their lack of attraction is about them, not you
  • Respect their boundaries
  • Communicate clearly about your sexual needs
  • Never pressure them into sexual acts
  • Explore other ways to connect and be intimate
  • Consider different types of relationships, such as polyamorous or non-monogamous relationships, if you don’t have the same sexual needs

The importance of sexual foreplay in a healthy relationship

Man softly caressing woman’s cheek

Foreplay is an important part of sex as it creates arousal and stimulates the mind and body. It creates an emotional and sexual connection between you and your partner, allowing you to explore your bodies together. It’s how to build sexual tension.

There are loads of different types of foreplay; it isn’t just kissing and touching! This means that trying out different types of sexual foreplay with your partner allows you to find what suits you both and what really turns you on.

Here are some types of foreplay for you to consider:

Exploring your sexual fantasies in a healthy and respectful way

Couple about to explore their sexual fantasies in bed

Whether we love or hate the film, Fifty Shades of Gray made kink the mainstream and opened many of us up to the world of sexual fantasies and sexual fetishes. Many of us have less than vanilla fantasies, with a 2019 study of Americans finding that 93% of women and 81% of men were interested in BDSM.

But there are so many sexual and taboo fantasies; it isn’t just whips and chains that excite us (thank you, Rihanna)! Let’s look at common sexual fantasies, types of sexual kinks, and how you can explore them in a healthy way.

Common sexual fantasies include:

  • Multi-partner sex
  • BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, and sadism)
  • Novelty and adventure sex, such as sex in public or in an unusual location
  • Roleplay
  • Voyeurism
  • Pegging and gender swapping

If you are in a relationship, you may struggle to bring up your sexual fantasies with your partner. But they probably have some sexual fantasies of their own! When bringing up yours, start the conversation slowly by mentioning that you have always been interested in a certain fantasy. If they are receptive to the conversation, be honest about what you want to try out. But remember never to pressure them into trying something that they aren’t that keen on.

Woman in underwear exploring her sexual fantasies

Before acting on your sexual fantasies, research the topic thoroughly and discuss it with your partner in detail. It is also essential to understand the rules of BDSM before you try. Kinks that involve dominance, bondage, and pain are totally normal, but rules and safewords need to be discussed beforehand to keep everyone safe.

Here are our intro to BDSM top tips:

  • Talk honestly and openly about it (outside of the bedroom)
  • Establish boundaries.
  • Discuss your limits and be detailed about them
  • Do not use alcohol or drugs when engaging in BDSM
  • Always have a safe word
  • Understand the importance of physical safety. If you have a choking kink, you NEED to research how to do it properly and safely. Learn how to use rope and restrain your partner properly by watching tutorials and practicing beforehand
  • Have check-ins with your partner before, during, and after BDSM sex
  • Incorporate aftercare into your sex

If you want to explore your sexual fantasies, watching porn both by yourself and with your partner helps you find out what kinks you are interested in. There are many benefits of masturbating and watching porn, as it allows you to get to know your body and what makes it tick.

How to approach sexting and dirty talk

Sexting and dirty talk are fun ways to explore sexual desires and your sexuality. Furthermore, it heightens sexual tension, making it extremely rewarding when you and your partner finally do the deed. But how do we get started with dirty talk if we are newbies?

Firstly, you need to set some ground rules and get consent before you send any sexy texts to someone. Are there any topics you and your partner want to avoid in dirty talk or sexting? You don’t want to end up like Miranda in that episode of Sex and the City where, during dirty talk, she kills the mood by telling her partner that they really like it when she slips her finger in their ass… oops.

Find out what your partner likes to hear and what you like to hear! It may take time for you to get to know what really turns you on. Sexual conversation ideas include:

  • What you like in the bedroom – be specific!
  • What you love about their body (and what their body does to you)
  • How turned on you are
  • Sexual fantasies you have
    What you want them to do to you

When approaching sexual conversations, start slow and work up to more intimate acts. It’s just like actual sex – you usually don’t go in for intercourse straight away! Include descriptions of foreplay in sexual conversations and work your way up to the hot and heavy stuff.

Oh, and sex talk doesn’t have to be super crude with a lot of expletives. Sex talk can simply be discussions of how you feel when they hold you and kiss you. It can be romantic, too! Find out what suits you and your partner.

Keep it chilled: the art of casual relationships

Casual dating and casual sex is a part of life. Sometimes we have an incredibly sexy connection with someone but can’t see them as a partner. And other times, we just don’t want a relationship.

A 2013 study interviewed a range of young people aged ages 18 to 25 across the USA and found that 18.6% of males and 7.4% of females reported having casual sex in the last month. But how do we keep ourselves safe during casual dating and casual sex?

Balancing emotional attachment in casual dating

Casual dating means different things for different people, so it is important to set ground rules before you dive in. Caught feelings, feelings of jealousy, and confusion are all potential problems for casual dating, but knowing what you want allows you to communicate clearly.

Do you want to go on actual dates with the person you are seeing? Or do you want a buddy to hook up with when you are feeling sexy? Do you want to be monogamous when casual dating, or are you okay with your sexual partner dating others?

Knowing yourself and your wants allows you to go into casual sex and keep clear boundaries.

Our top tips to casually date:

  • Be clear and honest with the person or people you are dating
  • Keep checking in and communicating with the person or people you are dating
  • Practice safe sex and get regular STI tests
  • Never ghost the person you are casually seeing

A big risk with casual dating involves developing an emotional connection with the person you are seeing. So how do we not catch feelings with our FWB? Firstly, you’ve got to make sure you are not blurring the lines between casual and non-casual. Don’t text your casual date every day, and limit going out on actual dates with them. Of course, it is nice to spend time with them, but too much time will cause those feelings to grow.

You may also want to stick to some physical boundaries with your casual date. Sex and cuddling release the hormone oxytocin, and this hormone boosts trust and deepens our connection with the person we are seeing. When this hormone is flowing through our body, and we are cuddling someone, we can get pretty attached to them! So, it may be helpful to keep post-sex snuggles to a minimum. Okay, you don’t have to smash and dash, but getting out of the bedroom after sex allows you to keep your relationship chill.

Finding pleasure in casual sex

Casual sex can be fun and exciting, but are hookups worth it? We think so – as long as you stay safe and are honest with the other person. Many of us have a high sex drive and want to explore our sexuality when we aren’t in a relationship, and casual hookups allow us to do so.

But what hookup tips do we have for you? Firstly, it is super important to practice safe sex! If you are planning to hook up with someone, pack a condom and make sure you use it. Furthermore, if you are having sex with a stranger, you must keep it vanilla. Even if you and the person you are hooking up with have similar kinks, you do not know each other enough to explore these fantasies safely.

Being honest about your intentions is also really important, especially if you are having casual sex with a friend or someone you know. Both of you need to be on the same page with what you want from the sexual connection. Plus, keep it light pre and post-sex. Deep convos about emotions and issues you are having will make the hook-up super intimate, and things may get confusing.

Oh, and don’t hook up with a colleague at a Christmas party. That usually never ends well…

When to say no: recognizing and respecting your boundaries when dating

When we casually date, we must be sure of our boundaries and respect them in every sexual encounter. Sexual consent by both you and the person you are hooking up with is essential, and you must ensure that everyone feels safe and comfortable.

So, what are your boundaries in dating? And what sexual boundaries do you need to be aware of when hooking up with others?

Before going out in the world to have fun, reflect on what your boundaries are. Is oral sex off the cards during a one-night stand? Do you only want to have sex with someone after you have been on a few dates?

In the heat of the moment, we may be tempted to forgo our boundaries. This can cause us to feel upset and vulnerable afterward. If you are tempted to cross your own boundary with someone, take time to reflect on the situation. Are you intoxicated? Do you feel pressured by the other person? Are you feeling uncomfortable?

Disclaimer: #Dating’s blog posts are for you to view at your discretion, and the sexual health insights presented are for general information only. It is not intended as medical advice and readers should seek professional guidance if appropriate.


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