Nail biting. Playing with hair. Cracking knuckles. Doom scrolling on Instagram. Procrastinating. Eating with your mouth open. Eating slowly. Washing your hands. Hanging up your towel instead of leaving it on the floor (c’mon people).
These are examples of habits. Habits are more than our routine behaviors. Habits inform almost everything that we do, say, and even think.
Habits have gotten a lot of buzz in the productivity and business spheres. What does this have to do with sex?
Let’s say you and a partner are trying to talk more openly about your sex life. You’re trying to explore some new fantasies together, or troubleshoot a source of stress. Bringing it up spontaneously hasn’t worked in the past, so you’ve decided to try scheduling a check-in. But it’s just not happening. You agree the conversation needs to happen and it’s looming over you, but you keep putting it off.
How can you use some of the core concepts of habit psychology to get the convo on the calendar and make it stick?
Since our brains love rewards, pair your desired new behavior with an obvious reward.
Your desired new behavior = regular check-ins with your partner to talk about sex.
As for the reward: go for a walk, get some ice cream, watch your favorite show or listen to audio erotica after you talk.
You can also build new habits by leveraging established ones.
This is the basic principle of habit stacking. The term ‘Habit stacking’ was first established by S.J Scott and further popularized by James Clear.
In a nutshell: habit stacking is taking something you want to do and adding it to something you already do.
Say you want to learn Spanish. You can listen to a Spanish podcast during a routine morning activity like making coffee, shaving or curling your hair.
How can this concept of habit stacking improve your sex life?
check out squirm's habit-stacking sex communication audio course, oral hygiene
Want to feel more confident with dirty talk? Listen to an erotica while you make lunch and repeat some of the phrases. Get that turkey club all hot and bothered.
Want to spice things up with a partner? Leave them a dirty note every time you take out the trash.
It’s like wake surfing off of your well-established routines.
These may seem like small things, but that’s kind of the point. In the book Atomic Habits, Clear states that we do not need monumental, massive change to move toward our goals. Sustained, consistent, small changes will make a world of difference.
From Atomic Habits: “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. This is one reason why meaningful change does not require radical change. Small habits can make a meaningful difference by providing evidence of a new identity. And if a change is meaningful, it is actually big.”
By leveraging existing behaviors as well as our love of rewards, we can make small bids towards becoming a better partner and communicator.
Let’s practice habit stacking with a challenge.
If you're like most of us, you want to feel more comfortable talking about sex. One way to become more comfortable is by getting used to hearing yourself say sexy words out loud.
Here’s your assignment: For the next 24 hours, every time you wash your hands, whisper (under your breath) or loudly shout (if no children are around) words that make you giggle or blush. Some ideas:
Pussy. Clit. Cock. Asshole. Nipples. Vibrator. Lube.
Pick one of those, or choose your own.
Clock starts now!