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Relationship Advice

Man kissing woman on ChristmasThe holidays are upon us! No matter what celebrations you’re planning, gift-giving is a must. For many of us, it can be difficult to decide what you want to get for that special someone. Luckily, we have some ideas for how you can curate the best gift based on love language. 

Note: Many people value more than one love language so feel free to mix and match as you are shopping this holiday season. 

Words of Affirmation

Individuals who value words of affirmation love to hear frequent compliments and other forms of positive, supportive commentary from their loved ones. 

Gift Ideas

People who feel most loved from receiving words of affirmation love compliments. Turn this into a gift by making a compliment jar! Simply write down all of your favorite things about the person, or maybe favorite memories or motivational sayings that they can read throughout the year. Alternatively, you can create a scrapbook with all of your favorite memories and moments with your loved one.

If you’re more drawn to music, a carefully curated playlist could be an easy way to show a person who values words of affirmation just how much they mean to you. Remember: a thoughtful note or card is a must-have for individuals who value words of affirmation. Another great way to use words to show your love is audio erotica. Whereas porn is more visually stimulating, audio erotica caters to audio stimulation, using words to describe sexy scenarios. Consider getting your partner a subscription to &Jane, an app with a wide array of authentic audio erotica, so they can get even more pleasure for what they hear.


Those who value gifts feel loved when they are able to interact with visual symbols of love. It is important to note that those with this love language are not specifically interested in the monetary value of these gifts—rather, they appreciate the time and care that went into the giving.

Gift Ideas 

If your partner uses gifts to show love, why not show them the gift of pleasure? Toys can make great gifts. Whether it’s the Womanizer, Zumio, or We-Vibe, toys truly are the gift that keeps on giving.

If you’re looking for a non-sexual gift, pay close attention to any subtle hints or mentions your partner has made. Individuals with this love language will really appreciate the effort taken to pay attention and find the perfect gift for them.

If you are overwhelmed with the possibilities and not sure what route to take, think of your partner’s favorite things, or gifts they’ve liked in the past. Maybe they love a certain Etsy shop or type of jewelry. Maybe they’re all about cozy things, like candles or blankets.  In any case, you know your partner best of all—so think carefully about their personality and what would best resonate with them.

Acts of Service

Those who value acts of service as their love language appreciate when their loved one spends time to make their life a little easier. These acts can be anything from a simple household chore to filling the car with gas to babysitting. 

Gift Ideas

Individuals with this love language will appreciate any thoughtful gift, especially if it took time and effort for you to create it. You might consider completing a larger chore or project for them, making them breakfast in bed, or baking their favorite dessert.

Another great option is a coupon book. Compile a list of tasks you will complete for and with your partner. They can be anything from cleaning up around the house, date ideas, and sexual favors (obviously). 

Quality Time   

People who value quality time feel the most appreciated when their loved one prioritizes activities and one-on-one time. Quality time isn’t just time spent hanging out, but rather truly connecting with one another through activities and hobbies without extraneous distractions.

Gift Ideas

Show your partner you care by giving a gift that you can share together. It can be an intricately planned date night at home, a picnic in the park, or a weekend away at a nice hotel or AirbnbIf you want to plan something intricate, try giving a series of dates for the next year. Use envelopes to seal different gift and date ideas to be opened by the month or date written on the outside of the envelope. These can be anything that you think your partner will enjoy like spa gift cards, details for a hike you can do in May, an ice cream date in July, or plans to go ice skating in January.

Another great way to share quality time is by completing our Yes, No, Maybe List–a comprehensive and inspiring list of different sexual experiences. By checking things off this list, you can determine together what are things you like or would like to do together and discuss them.

Physical Touch

Valuing physical touch as a love language means appreciating and feeling affirmed through a physical connection, whether that’s kissing, cuddling, holding hands, or sex. Gifts for a person who values physical touch don’t necessarily need to be physical (though that can be awesome), but also gateways into a physical experience. 

Gift Ideas

A massage (or a coupon book of massages paired with sexual favors) can be a great option for those who value physical touch. Consider also gifting them with Exsens warming oil to create a warm, scented, and intimate experience. Other ways to give the gift of touch is by providing tools for sensual experiences, like a bath bomb, body lotion, or high-power toy, like the Magic Wand

Regardless of one’s love language, the holiday season is a great time to show your loved ones just how much you care and appreciate them. Gift-giving can be stressful, but by tapping into that special someone’s love language of choice, you can find something that truly represents how you feel. Happy holidays!

Ovie Crum is a UCLA graduate originally from the bay area. She joined the Sex with Emily family in June of 2019, loves spending time outdoors, and aspires to one day own a dog of her own.

Two people laying in bed and cuddling.Dear Emily,

In many of your Podcasts, I’ve heard you talk about  “Jackhammer Sex”, and how men should stop doing it immediately. After hearing it for the third or fourth time, I realized something. My partner is guilty of the Jackhammer, too! I thought it was totally normal to have sex this way, and didn’t really mind it, but now I’m wondering.  If not the jackhammer, then what? What are some alternatives to Jackhammer sex?


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sex positions

Dear Emily,

My girlfriend and I have been together for almost two years. We are still very much in love, but our sex life is not exactly what you would call exciting. Ever since we began having sex, it has always been the same missionary sex position–me on top, her on the bottom–and it’s beginning to get a bit old…

I am afraid that due to her inexperience with sex and relationships, (she has never had a serious boyfriend and had quite a few partners) her idea of what sex truly is and what it can be has been ruined. She seems content with just lying there with me on top.

There is nothing more I would love than to share all of my sexual energy with her and have her express her wants and desires so that we can both be together on a much deeper level, but I am afraid to bring it up!

How do I start a conversation like this, and when should I do it?


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Getting over breakup

Breakups freaking suck. They’re uncomfortable. They’re miserable. They’re at the bottom of everyone’s list of favorite things to do. But they happen. And every now and then, a breakup comes along that completely devastates and destroys you. And when this happens, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the breakup tunnel.  Continue Reading

Truth: this year has been HARD on relationships. Luckily, sex educator, author, licensed therapist, and my dear friend Jamye Waxman is here to help! For those struggling to connect right now, Jamye gives different methods for checking in with your partner, rekindling the magic, and keeping a relationship strong over time.  
Click Here to Subscribe.

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Have Good Sex

Let’s talk about vanilla sex. “Vanilla sex” or “vanilla” is often used to describe people whose sex lives are mainstream, plain, or boring. While kink and BDSM have been becoming more and more popular and hogging the sexual spotlight, vanilla sex is often left behind. Some people even use the term in a derogatory sense. But let me clue you in on a little secret: you don’t need to be kinky in order to have good sex. In fact, a pure vanilla experience can be one of the best flavors out there. 

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It’s no secret that long-term relationships are hard to sustain. All parts of them take work. Communication takes work, romance takes work, cohabitation takes work. Arguably the most infamously difficult part of a serious monogamous commitment to maintain is the sex. Sex in a long-term relationship is constantly shifting, and you can get a sexual peak turn into a valley.

Sex drives change. People grow. Habits form and un-form. So it’s natural that EVERY long-term sexual relationship evolves as it ages. They’re like landscapes. When you’re committed to one person, your sex life has high points, low points, plateaus, and bodies of water that ebb and flow for a myriad of different and unique reasons. And it is OKAY.

I personally have a rich and storied relationship history. I’ve had stretches of singleness, friends with benefits, and so, so many partners. But if you look at the big picture, you might classify me as something of a serial monogamist. I fall deep and fast. I’m a glutton for commitment. And the one thing I can attest to when it comes to long-term committed monogamous relationships is that they are all unique. There is no one way a relationship unfolds. Every detail is totally case by case. Every sexual landscape, unique and imperfect. But with each of them there were frenzied peaks, and there were dry valleys.

The First Peak—A Sexual Rush 

I know I just said that all sexual relationships are unique and different snowflakes. And I’m not unsaying that. But a common and well-known thread in almost every relationship is the way they start. I’m talking about that blissful period before they become long-term. That delicious chapter in which they’re just fledgling love stories. This stage is commonly known as the honeymoon phase, and it’s every relationship’s first sexual peak.

Driven by lust and fixation, the anticipation of something new thrusts you and your partner upwards together to a peak of sexual elation. Coming from a state of single-dom, or the death valley of a dead love, your body gets excited about the prospect of a partner. And in addition to being an extremely emotional experience, studies suggest that it is also very chemically induced.

When you’re climbing this first sexual peak, your nerve growth factor increases. This means that the development and growth of your neurons are heightened. Elevated NGF leads to feelings of euphoria and connection. You idealize your partner. Nothing about them is lacking and all you want to do is be around them, and touch them and have sex with them. And when you have sex, your brain releases oxytocin (sometimes called the cuddle hormone) which increases the euphoria and attachment.

The honeymoon phase is science! It’s wonderful and it’s lovely. However, though most relationships start with this phase, the details are where they can vary. It can be as short as a couple of weeks or can last as long as a couple of years. It can be intensely sexual or heightened romantically. The peak can be sharp and steep, or it can be more like the slow and steady curvature of a hill. It’s the nature of peaks that they eventually descend. It’s the nature of monogamy that a shift will occur.

The Valleys—Or Sexual Lows

What is a valley? National Geographic describes them as “depressed areas of land–scoured and washed out by the conspiring forces of gravity, water, and ice.” So metaphorically speaking, sexual valleys are stretches of your relationship that are low and have been battered by outside forces, as well as time. Maybe you started to notice something you don’t like about your partner (or yourself). Maybe you’ve been fighting. Maybe you’re too stressed out. Maybe you’re just bored. Maybe you have no idea why the sex has stopped.

There are so many reasons why sex in a long-term relationship sputters. Our libidos can be affected by outside forces like medication or trauma. Sex drive also fluctuates as a result of natural hormonal changes our bodies go through every few years. Maintaining excitement is hard for all living creatures. Eventually, cats get tired of their new toys. Teenagers change their fashion choices. Flowers wilt at the slightest gust of wind. It’s natural to be searching for something to fulfill natural curiosity. And when you’ve made a commitment to stay sexually faithful to someone, it’s your responsibility to fulfill that curiosity within that relationship.

These sexual dry spells happen for different reasons, but also, they look totally different from couple to couple. In one of my relationships, reaching a sexual valley meant that sex dwindled down to once a week. In another, it meant that sexual encounters happened months apart. In another still, it was all about the quality of the sex. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of your own landscape. Assessing the situation, communicating, and doing the work can get you safely out of the valley and onto the next peak. Or if you’re comfortable with a dry spell, you can find the nicer, more positive aspects of the valley. Whichever path you can travel, make sure that you can see the road ahead. And if it’s what you want, envision another peak.

Climbing Back Uphill—Sexual Reclamation 

There comes a point in every LTR where you and/or your partner are faced with the challenge of spicing things up. You have to try and rediscover the sexual excitement of your first peak. During this time, it’s imperative that you reinvest in each other and not be fearful of trying new things when having sex in a long-term relationship.

Do what you can to make your sexual encounters feel fresh again. If one of you is usually dominant, switch up the dynamic. If you usually do it in bed, venture to a different location. Maybe if you’re adventurous, try to kink up your sex life a little bit. If you tend towards kinky sex, slow it down and go back to the basics.

If you’re climbing out of a particularly low valley, you may have to do some extra work to get back to where you were before. You might consider couples counseling or sex therapy. You might need to make a sex schedule and do your best to stick to it. But just like when you’re hiking, climbing is the hardest part.

The Topography is Ever-Changing

I’m speaking in a giant extended geological metaphor, but it is true that the landscape of your sex life is constantly changing. At any moment, an earthquake or tsunami or tornado could come and change the entire topography of your relationship. Be ready for these changes, and be present! Notice the difference between steep falloffs and steady descents. The journey never ends! The lower your valley is, the longer and harder you have to work to climb back to it. If you must plateau, give yourself a nice view. Try and make it as high as possible before leveling out.

Monogamy is hard. It’s a challenge and a daily choice. Sometimes things end or our sexual relationships don’t turn out the way we want them to. But as I’ve learned many times over, all you can do is roll with the punches. In navigating sex in a long-term relationship, find fun in the valleys and cherish the peaks. There is no normal and no supposed to be. We’re all inventing what relationships look like as we have them.

Laurie Magers is a comedy writer and actor living in Los Angeles. Her favorite color is red and her favorite food is crab legs. Check out more from her at

Woman and man holding vibrator on a bed
Dear Dr. Emily,
I’m wondering if it’s okay to always bring in a clitoral vibrator into the bedroom? It’s the only way I can orgasm, but I don’t want to hurt my partner’s feelings or have them think I’m weird. Thank you! 
Feeling the Vibes

Hi Feeling the Vibes, 

I love that you’re using toys and know what your body needs to feel pleasure. It can be difficult for women to orgasm in the first place, so you’re already on the right track.

There is nothing shameful about using a clitoral vibrator! I mean, you’re experiencing pleasure, right? Many vulva and vibrator owners keep their toys to themselves out of fear of rejection or offending their partner. But I say, why NOT give your partner a chance to see what the magic is all about?

Like anything, start by being mindful of how to start the conversation. Best not to overwhelm them or pull it out without much warning. Remember the three T’s of communication: timing, tone, and turf. Bring it up outside of the bedroom and start by having a casual and playful conversation. Maybe start with a specific thing you love or memory you have about your sex life with them. Be honest and open about your experience with toys. Explain that you think toys might be a fun way to increase the pleasure even more for both of you.

Once you’ve had an open conversation now you can start playing.  I always find it helps to show my partner how it works, even demonstrating on their body so they get a sense of how amazing vibrations can feel, no matter what parts you have! 

Get creative, and even let them take control—the We-Vibe Chorus is a great clitoral vibrator for couples and can be totally hands-free. Maybe bring out some massage oil, like Exsens. You can massage their body and start to tease them with the vibe. Once they know how good it feels, they’ll better understand why you love it so much.

There’s no shame in always needing a vibrator, but I would also encourage you to keep experimenting. Our brain memorizes masturbation patterns, so it may take time and effort to discover new methods.

And of course, have lots of fun. Many couples find that bringing a toy into their relationship not only enhances pleasure but also strengthens their intimacy. Happy vibing!


Dr. Emily

jealousy blog sex with emilyHave you ever been jealous of your partner? Has your partner ever wanted to see your phone or been suspicious of you when you go to hang out with friends? Do you hate when your significant other has a connection with someone else that you don’t have?

Jealousy is real, and it can affect all types of relationships. Let’s talk about how to handle jealousy in your relationship whether you’re monogamous, monogamish, or totally open, and how those differ!

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