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Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright Headshot

Make This V-day a Sensual One

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Lovers are already one step ahead of the game. According to a national Consumer Reports survey, about 50% of people with partners say they'll spend less money on Valentine's Day this year. But, counter to what some sex experts originally claimed, 78% say that the economy hasn't affected the amount of time they have for sex or its frequency this past year.

Unfortunately, the survey report didn't say anything about how one might affect the other. If people aren't going above and beyond our wildest expectations this coming holiday weekend, will they be "rewarding" each other in quite the same way? This column is about making sure that your sex life doesn't suffer this V-day.

And fortunately, going from grandiose to sensually simple doesn't take too much convincing these days.

People are realizing that, in order to survive these times, they need to get back to the basics. Many sweethearts realize that, in order to survive Valentine's day, their most meaningful and affordable efforts all come down to connectedness, celebration, and intimacy. And it's the thoughtfulness of gestures focusing on celebrating Eros that can make for a lust-filled holiday.

Single or coupled, V-day is known for torturing us all. The most dreaded of the "Hallmark holidays," people feel overwhelmed by all of the expectations. On the commercial level, we're bombarded with ads promoting chocolates, roses, and stuffed animals. On the societal level, we feel pressured to go all out, buying incredibly expensive gifts or wining and dining a love.

But this year, thanks to tough economic times, lovers are welcoming the excuse not to go overboard. Why spend an arm and a leg when simple courtship, flirting, and seduction efforts are sure to be equally effective in your bedroom efforts? Better yet, with just a little extra effort, they make for more meaningful ravenous and romantic moments.

Hand-pick Tussie Mussies. Flowers for V-day are pretty much a given. But carefully choose bouquets known as "tussie mussies." Lovers of times gone by used to put together flowers to represent unspoken feelings. For example, ambrosia represents a love returned, baby's breath is for everlasting love, white roses is for eternal love, and viscaria is for will you dance with me.

Work with your florist in determining what different flowers mean. Then be sure to explain the meaning in your amorous arrangement when it's received.

Write personalized poetry. Even if you're no Sappho, you can become a passion poet in speaking from your heart. Remember, mor tussisque non celantur. Love and a cough cannot be concealed, according to the Romans. Even something short and sweet is sure to win over a beloved.

Use essential oils. One of the best gifts that keeps on giving is the sensual massage. A perfect way for lovers to reconnect and recharge, this experience can be made even better with aromatherapy. Add some rose oil to a basic carrier oil, like sunflower oil, to represent the sacredness of your love affair.

Add other essential oils in taking things from a sensual to erotic massage. According to Aromatherapy for Lovers, the essential oils of jasmine, neroli, and ylang-ylang can further enhance relaxation and arousal for her. For him, it's ideal to use sandalwood for increasing sexual pleasure.

Aim and shoot. The name Cupid is believed to come from the Latin cupere, meaning "desire." This god of love actually carries two sets of arrows, a tidbit well-known in Shakespearean times. One arrow is tipped with gold for inspiring true love and lasting passion. The other is lead tipped, resulting in lust and wantonness.

In a simple Cupid card, let your lover know that you've been struck by both arrows. Then ask your beloved to sit back, relax, and let you demonstrate just how romantically inspired you are.

Serenade your lover. Even if your musical talent is minimal, sing a song, strum a guitar, play a few simple keys on the piano... For centuries, lovers have been honoring each other with lovely compositions, declaring their affections. Hey, if Adam Sandler could do it in Wedding Singer, so can you.

Lose yourselves in nature. Pack a picnic and go for a walk or hike this weekend. If you're in a snowy climate, go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Spend quality time together taking in all of nature's beauty and sensual inspirations.

Write a love letter. English poet John Keats wrote in one of his private letters: "I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet... My love is selfish. I cannot breathe without you." Napoleon wrote to Josephine: "A thousand kisses on your eyes, your lips, your tongue, your heart. Most charming of thy sex, what is thy power over me?"

Get the picture? In an era where emails are where it's at, the love letter packed with compliments is a sweet blast from that past. The mere effort is sure to make this Valentine's Day memorable.

Have an at-home dinner date. Dress up, e.g., wear a tie or throw on your favorite cocktail dress. Order in from your favorite restaurant. Light candles and throw on Eros-inducing music. And pop a cork from a good champagne (stores like Trader Joe's have their winter holiday stocks incredibly reduced right now).

Wine and dine each other as you would at a restaurant, only at a much cheaper price. Also, don't forget that footsie, and any under the table action deemed inappropriate for public places, are highly encouraged.

Go for the tried and true. But do it with a twist. As you retire for the evening, present your sweet with a box of chocolates, explaining that this aphrodisiac has been lauded throughout history for its sexual effects. Highlight that chocolate was banned from some monasteries centuries ago. This once rare and coveted treat has also been used by the likes of Napoleon, Montezuma, Casanova, and Marquis de Sade for getting in the mood.

Give a gimmel. Yes, a diamond is forever, but this token of love has been around for a while too. Used by the Greeks, Romans, and those in late Middle Ages, gimmel stems from the word gemelli, meaning "twins." This love ring is made of 2-4 bands for one ring. While some can cost you hundreds of dollars, street jewelry vendors, like those in New York, sell them for as little as $12.

Pucker up. According to Je T'aime: The Language of Love for Lovers of Language, there is a 1903 book on folklore which states that kisses have different meanings. A kiss on the lips signifies love. Kissing one's forehead shows respect for one's intellect. Kissing one's cheek means you admire beauty. And a kiss on the hand is a sign of homage.

Buy a sex book. My personal recommendation, my book -- Pleasuring: The Secrets to Sexual Satisfaction. Packed with over 200 photos from shoots in France and Costa Rica, it's the perfect work for this holiday.

So go ahead and shower all of your lover's body parts with your sweet kisses. Just be sure to let your love know what you adore about each part.