I have spent roughly 90% of this past year with my boyfriend -- and that is not an exaggeration. That’s all straight, uninterrupted time where we have been in each other’s presence, with the few exceptions where we make it a point to spend time alone. While some couples see the upcoming holiday of love as just another day, Jack and I are more excited than ever, because we have something special planned.
A COVID Move-In Gone Right
Jack and I moved in together in April after being together for about 2 years, so I can confidently say we knew each other very well before taking that step in our relationship, but COVID isolation had us spend more time together than I ever had with anyone, well, ever. As a result, we have reached a new level of comfort neither of us has ever had with a partner before. He has really been through it all -- every cry, every laugh, every bodily function -- we have been spared very little privacy. A not-so-humble brag: our relationship is better and stronger than it ever was, and we are very thankful for that, but I would like to let out a burp now and then without worrying his co-workers might hear it over a video call.
How We Plan Our Time Together
Jack and I have a “date night” once a week. On this day, we will keep our contact to a minimum so that when we do get to the time of our date, it is a little extra special than our morning catch up over soggy cereal. Our date nights usually aren’t anything super extravagant or out of the ordinary, but the build up is what makes it all the more fun.
We’ll surprise each other by cooking the other’s favorite dinner, or go to a drive-in movie with our favorite snacks and a pile of blankets. Sometimes, it is as simple as watching our favorite TV show on the couch and ordering an extra large pizza. On occasion we will dress up, and other times, we have our date nights in our sweats, but setting a “special” time aside for us to do things that feel a little normal gives me butterflies every time.
It’s also easy to love spending time with someone who you’re in love with… that is definitely an added perk.
How We Spend Our Time Alone
While not every relationship made it to the end of 2020 unscathed, I think it is safe to say, even for the couples still together, that COVID isolation has added a lot of unexpected strain across the board. Spending every waking moment with your partner -- or truly anyone -- can add some emotional stress and tension.
To combat the interpersonal “fatigue,” Jack and I try to be very intentional about the way we spend our alone time, to a point where we quite literally schedule it into our respective calendars. What we do in our “alone time” varies for each of us, but we establish when exactly we want to have it. When you are sharing a 700 square foot apartment in a major city, “alone time” looks a little different. We might physically be in the same room, having time to ourselves. Whatever it is we plan out, we give each other space to do it as an individual. No talking. No interrupting. Just you and your activity.
This might not work for everyone, but we both have found it immensely helpful, not only for our relationship, but for our mental and social battery. I can give more when I have the time to reflect on a day and be by myself, and Jack feels similarly (we are extroverted introverts at heart, for anyone out there who relates).
A huge part of my alone time is my blocked out exercise and kegel time. When I first told Jack about my need for uninterrupted kegel time, he looked at me like I had six heads. But as I explained -- I care about strengthening all of my muscles, pelvic floor included!
So what is a kegel? Kegels refer to the act of squeezing the muscles in your pelvic floor; exercising these muscles can have great benefits for your body, regardless of your age, and can impact some of your sensations during sex. So along with my regular workouts, I set aside a few minutes aside every week to do my kegels and honestly, it makes a huge difference.
Recently, I came across the KegelSmart, which is a kegel exerciser that helps you strengthen your pelvic floor. I was a little hesitant at first, since I already thought I was a *kegel professional,* but I ordered it anyway. Much to my disappointment, I was not, in fact, a kegel professional. And much to my delight, this is one of the best things I have purchased in the last year. The KegelSmart registers your pelvic strength -- and I had a little bit of work to do. Over the last few weeks, I have been using this and its vibration-guided program to work on my strength, and even I am noticing a difference in the way I experience sex.
Valentine’s Day -- With a Twist
With Valentine’s Day coming up, Jack and I talked about doing something new together regarding our sex life, and the first thing I thought of was to bring my new KegelSmart into the picture. Kegels can be a somewhat stimulating experience on their own, so why not bring it into the bedroom?
Now you might be thinking, how exactly is an exercise tool going to spice up your sex life? And honesty, you might be surprised. Jack and I like to focus on each other with a lot of foreplay, and the KegelSmart is great for that. Taking the time to sync with your partner during sex by matching each other’s rythms, or separately doing an activity can bring a deeper connection between you and your partner. We plan on using it as a fun way to mix up oral sex, and might even add in a little bit of masturbation, and I can already tell you the latter is phenomenal with the addition of KegelSmart.
We regularly like to add new things to our sex life that meet our comfort levels, and this is totally up our alley (no pun intended). And while we don’t need “spice” to keep our relationship from thriving, it definitely is fun. Whether we are squeezing together in our small apartment, or squeezing our pelvic floor muscles, there is no one else I’d rather do it with.