“In my head, when I think about a solo Valentine’s day I’m picturing a bunch of girls getting together to commiserate about how lonely they are,” says certified love, sex, and life coach Shelby Sells. “That’s a stereotype, and your night doesn’t have to look like that.” It’s Sells’ life mission to change people’s attitudes about the way they approach sexual health and relationships, without any judgment. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, and experience more pleasure with humor than pressure—the Sells method is first and foremost about being clear about what you like and what feels good. Valentine’s Day already has enough pressure attached to it, so whether you’re single or in a relationship, why not try handing Sells the reins for a day? Here’s what she thinks you should do:
Care for your body
Sells suggests starting off the day with some self-care. Sleep in, make yourself breakfast (or indulge in your favorite pricy latte and a pastry), and take a minute to clean and pamper your body. “Especially as I’m getting older, there’s a lot that’s involved in skincare, and it takes a lot of time.” This is the day you should do your whole routine—maybe that means a full body exfoliation, double masking, or trying out a new hairstyle. After that, Sells suggests relaxing with something chill that gets your body moving. You could go for a walk outside, do some light yoga or stretching, or masturbate. “I think it’s great to take an hour out of my day to masturbate,” says Sells, who also recognizes that mainstream porn might not be the way to go if you’re a non cis-man identifying person. Instead, she recommends seeking out sources that cater to the female gaze, if you do want a little external inspiration. She likes Cheex, a European sex-wellness platform where you can find audio and visual erotica—they charge a monthly fee, but also offer a week-long free trial if you’d like to check it out. You can also try exploring Onlyfans, which is more accessible than traditional porn because it’s user-created. Whatever you choose to do, Sells emphasizes that your morning should be spent feeling good.
Plan your day
“After I honor my body, my day could go a bunch of different ways,” Sells explains. In order to differentiate a romantic date with yourself from just a regular day spent alone, it’s important to intentionally plan out what you want to do. Sells suggests making a list, either mental or written out, of all of your favorite things. “I might decide to go sit outside, or I could stay home and binge-watch my favorite TV show,” she adds, which you might have been doing a lot of in the past year. However, taking a moment to take stock of the activities you enjoy, and then purposefully scheduling time to do them, makes a day feel special. “The difference is in the intention.”
Explore your sexuality
A day to yourself is a great time to explore your sexuality, whether that means trying something new or just starting out. “The most important things are comfort, consent, and communication,” says Sells, who calls the principles her three Cs. In terms of comfort, Sells suggests being naked at home as much as possible. “A good portion of us struggle with body dysphoria,” explains Sells, “and if you’re insecure about your body, you’re not going to feel comfortable being sexual, even with yourself.” In front of a mirror, try sharing positive affirmations with your reflection, exploring angles you’ve never seen before without judgment, and dancing around. A playlist filled with sex-positive artists like Rihanna and Megan Thee Stallion is perfect to set the mood. The second C is consent, and it goes hand in hand with communication. “Practicing consent with yourself might sound silly, but practicing being in tune with what feels good and when you want to stop makes it easier to communicate with a partner.”
Get dressed up
Whether or not you currently have a partner, you can celebrate your sensuality and sexuality. Sells’ favorite way to do it? Dress up in lingerie or a sexy outfit, and take some hot selfies. What you do with them is entirely up to you—you might save them for later, show them to friends for some safe and supportive attention, or even send them to a crush. “Especially on Valentine’s Day, I want to channel sex goddess energy,” says Sells, “and even putting on a dress, doing my hair and makeup, and listening to some music gets me in the mood and honors that part of myself.”
Start a conversation about love
Valentine’s Day is a great time to have serious conversations about love. “Relationship or not, I think everyone can benefit from asking themselves what they want,” says Sells. She suggests two journaling activities you can do solo, with friends, or with a partner: the first is called a love list. “It sounds simple, but when I ask my clients to name what they want in a relationship, what their needs are, and what their values are, most people can’t.” Making a list of everything you want is not only helpful as you explore potential partners, but also gets you comfortable with owning exactly what you want. “Sometimes, when you do manifest the things you’re looking for in a relationship, you might freak out and worry that you’re going to mess it up.” By being comfortable with what you want, you’re better equipped to recognize and accept it when it does come along. Sells recommends putting on some background music, lighting a candle, and sitting in silence while you think about what you want to write. Some prompts to get you started: What do you want your relationship to look like? How do you want to feel in the relationship? What are your non-negotiable dealbreakers, and what are the things you’re flexible on but still really want? “Then you can go into more of the desirables,” says Sells, “like, I want a guy who’s 6’2’’ and super buff. Or I want a girl who’s really soft and has great style.” While she recognizes that your needs and desires might change all the time, keeping track of them and being able to communicate what they are turns that dynamism from a negative to a positive.
Sells’ second journal prompt is about sex, specifically. “Sex is really important to me in a relationship,” she explains, “and I would like a partner who matches my sexual energy and is willing to explore sexuality with me.” After you’ve made your love list, she suggests thinking about what your sex goals for the year might be. “We’re still fresh out of 2020, so I think most people’s sex goal is just to have it,” Sells says with a laugh. However, sex goals can involve everything from solo sex, to partnered sex, to sex education. “Maybe you want to get a sex coach, or learn more about sex through books.”
If Sells could leave you with one takeaway this February 14th, it’s this: “Everyone deserves love and everyone deserves pleasure.” Whatever makes you feel both of those things is the perfect way to treat yourself.
Photo via ITG