Duane Hoffmann / MSNBC
By msnbc.com contributor
msnbc.com contributor
updated 1/23/2007 3:03:32 PM ET 2007-01-23T20:03:32

There is just no resisting one of the hoariest of all journalism traditions, the New Year’s resolution column. Not only does the date practically demand it, but I can think of lots of worthy resolutions to suggest.

Let’s have Britney resolve to start wearing panties with mini-skirts, for instance. Flashing is so last year. And maybe anybody who’s made a big mistake over the past few years, like, say, producing "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector"or paying $26 million to Alex Rodriguez could promise to make a public and heartfelt mea culpa.

This is a sex column though, so I suppose I should offer some sex-related resolutions. Since our mailbag has bulged in the past year with suggestions — complaints about lovers, really, but let’s be nice — and since self-improvement is the heart of all New Year’s vows, here is a menu of seven resolutions for 2007 that will go at least a little way toward making us the high rpm love machines we know we would be if only our partners were magically turned into Eva Longoria or that guy from "Grey’s Anatomy."

1. Lose the weight, get in shape
This is the most important thing you can do this year to improve your sex life. (Aside from finding somebody to have sex with, that is.)  

Before thousands of irate voluptuous people write in preaching “fat acceptance” or BBW love, we here at Sexploration are fully aware that overweight people can have strong libidos and exciting sex lives. Most of us, however, find that our libidos drop, and so does our performance, if we are overweight and out of shape.

Over and over in 2006, readers wrote in to Sexploration either confessing they were addicted to bowls full of Buffalo wings and "Adult Swim" on Cartoon Network, or their lovers were. Then they wondered why their sex life was suffering.

The link ought to be obvious but 2006 brought new research addressing the issue by showing a significant drop in testosterone levels in overweight men. Being overweight and out of shape often leads to a variety of health problems like diabetes, joint pain, insomnia and cardiovascular disease that can interfere with desire and sexual enjoyment.

The good news is that working out vigorously can create pulses of sex hormones in men and women, and delay all the other bad stuff. If you need more incentive, men, think about the cost of hopping aboard the Viagra/Cialis/Levitra train. Those handsome, in-shape guys you see in the ads probably don’t need the pills.

Get off the couch.

2. Have a conversation (or several)
One of the most significant Sexploration columns of 2006 was about communicating . In it, Donald Strassberg, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah, related a story about an older couple in sex therapy. The man had always wanted oral sex, but even after many years of marriage he had never asked for it. The wife thought it a fine idea.

Sexual conversations won’t always work out the way we want. We may open up about our long-time desire to have sex in front of the picture window, to invite the meter-reader in for a few drinks, or to wear the wife’s strapless bra and thong panties and be met with wide-eyed alarm. Or we may offer suggestions like “Please don’t use your incisors on my penis” that a sensitive partner can take as “You are a lousy lover.” But maybe the reaction will be positive. Maybe your partner will say, “Well, let’s talk about that.”

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It seems weird that this can be so hard, but it is for many people. For some reason we expect ourselves to grow up fully sexually competent adults, knowing everything. But nobody teaches us sexual techniques. So learn together. It requires patience and understanding and sometimes a thick skin. But first it requires a conversation. 

3. Drop sexual politics
This year, can we resolve to get over the idea that his holding your wrists down to the bed means he’s a Neanderthal brute, or that she’s a bitchy feminist if she wants to ride you like Seabiscuit? Sex is supposed to be joyful, exhilarating, intimate and revealing. If the mail coming into Sexploration is any indication, many of us are way too eager to find some hidden political meaning behind desire.

4. Promise to make it about the other person
The most frequent letter we received last year started with “My wife won’t …” or “My boyfriend won’t …”

When somebody who loves you says that giving them an hour-long massage would make them happy, consider it an honor. Their happiness can come from your fingertips. Once in awhile, just do what you know he or she likes, regardless of how much you like it. Don’t expect or demand anything in return. Experts say you may find that the more you give, the more you get.  

5. Vow to rent a sexy movie (not that kind!)
Porn is everywhere now and lots of you watch it. Fine. But apparently some of you miss the erotic charge to be gained from doing the dance of desire. So here are some suggestions for your rental list:

  • "The Fabulous Baker Boys” is almost 20 years old, but Michelle Pfeiffer singing on Jeff Bridges’ piano is still one of the sexiest scenes in movie history.
  • “Rear Window” — the moment when Grace Kelly walks out of Jimmy Stewart’s bathroom having put on something more comfortable.
  • “Body Heat.” The entire movie is sexy.

You get the idea.            

6. Buy some new clothes, get a manicure and a haircut
I bow in respect to all fans of the Oregon Ducks, the Toledo Mud Hens and the Vermont Frost Heaves. Wear the logo gear with pride. But do you really expect your lover to see you wearing the Frost Heaves sweatsuit every single morning, your hair sticking out at odd angles, those glasses at the end of your nose as you read the paper, and still want you, oohh baby, baby?

Seduction is not just for the 10 minutes between dinner and the start of “House.” Seduction is a full-time job. Make an effort. Try some grooming.

7. Turn fantasy into reality
As long as you’re grooming, how about slicking back the hair, wearing skinny legged pants, and skinnier ties, hoop earrings, Wayfarers and a beehive hairdo? Invite some friends over. Sip Manhattans. Listen to Sinatra or, better yet, Chet Baker. Have a ring-a-ding time, and then after the friends go, make crazy whoopee.

OK, so the Rat Pack isn’t your bag, baby. How about psychedelic Barbarella sex? You know, the groovy Jane Fonda movie? Or NASCAR sex (Daisy Duke cut-offs, cowboy hats, cold beers darlin’)? You could try Lady Chatterly’s Lover sex (all rough game keeper and high class lady), James Bond sex or even old reliable scenarios like secretary-and-boss sex. You can flip to decide who’s who. Anything to break up the routine. 

Fantasy life is lacking, say readers, and they’d like more of it from you, the other half. It only makes sense, especially if you’ve been together for a long time. I mean, it’s 2007 already and after 10 years of looking at you in that Mud Hens cap, we could use a change.

Brian Alexander, a California-based freelance writer and contributing editor for Glamour magazine, is working on a new book about sex for Harmony, an imprint of Crown Publishing.

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