Note: This article discusses about sexuality as well as sex, which is not suitable for those under the age of 16.
In our ever increasingly complex society, many of us are experiencing high levels of stress and fatigue. From extreme pressures of our heavy work load to emotional problems to increasing financial obligations or even declining health, it’s not surprising we feel stressed as well as exhausted in this constant state of overwhelming choices and overstimulation. Our relationships with our partners are also taking a toll, so how can we not only put the spark back on but heat it up in 2023?
According to LoveHoney Group, we’ll see everything from more open relationships to higher demand in eco-conscious sex toys. The conversation around pleasure and sex is growing and we’re in for a year of even more sexual exploration.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we must take our pleasures where we can find them. This is nowhere truer than with sex. In fact, sexual pleasure is now defined, straight up, as a basic human right.
As sexual wellness finds newfound respectability, here are 8 gender-bending, destigmatising, inclusive-friendly, open-minded sex trends to explore with your partner and sizzle it up!
1. Sexual Wellness in the Metaverse
Would you have sex with a sex-robot? If yes, then you are one of 36% of people who would be curious enough to try it out.
LoveHoney Group’s metaverse sexual wellness space is not only easily usable and accessible for a broad audience but it also acts as an anonymous place for people to explore sexual wellness products and content around the topic of sexuality.
While cybersex and virtual experiences have gained popularity during the pandemic, people are now looking for experiences in the real world again. Instead of a full virtual sexperience, people want the best of both worlds in the same way that we got used to technology making our everyday lives easier and better.
“In a World where ‘Big Tech’ is silencing sexual wellness brands, with regulations on Instagram and Google becoming more and more tight, it’s exciting for us to launch an experience like this pop-up space,” explains Johanna Rief, Head of Sexual Empowerment at Lovehoney Group.
Sex toys are getting smarter: Some offer app-connectivity, others are equipped with heat-function or can automatically adapt vibration patterns to music.
Our global survey has shown that more than half of the respondents (60%) are open to using a sex toy that can be controlled via an app. While this is not new, the appetite is still there and has survived the pandemic.
When asked why they are using or would like to use app-controlled sex toys, the main response was to “spice things up in the bedroom” (79%). Overcoming distance to a partner who is in another place was only named by 26% of respondents.
2. Sustainable Sex Toys
Biodegradable, solar powered, and fully recyclable sex toys are now options for the eco-minded consumer. It took a while for sex toy manufacturers to catch up with the growing climate crisis zeitgeist, but huge strides in sustainability have made their impact on the sex toy market.
These days, you’ll find toys made from recycled materials and powered by recyclable batteries. There’s a company that sells a carbon-neutral rabbit toy by planting a tree with every purchase, and another with a solar-powered vibrator—all part of the new, “make love not plastic” ethos.
As Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, sexologist & relationship expert says: “For many, eco-conscious sex involves opting for toys that are rechargeable and made with high-quality materials that last for years and even decades! Just as consumers are becoming more aware of manufacturing processes and environmental impact when shopping for clothing so too are we looking for environmental responsibility and sustainability when it comes to our sex toys and menstrual products.”
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Increasingly expansive definitions of gender, identity, and the erotic have broadened definitions of pleasure and who’s entitled to receive it.
“With the rise of body positivity, I’m seeing a lot of people reaching out asking how they can see themselves as sexy in the body they have,” says Melissa Fritchle, a Santa Cruz, California-based holistic psychotherapist and sex therapist.
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Many independent sex toy companies have started to focus on non-binary people’s needs, as well as encouraging cisgender folk to become less rigid about gender.
Wildflower has created a line of sex toys that work for all bodies—the adult equivalent of Walldorf kids toys—and are simple and open ended.
Their flagship product, the Enby 2, is a dynamic rechargeable vibrator for all forms of pleasure. Unlike most vibrators, you can hump it, grind on it, and even tuck it in a harness or put it between two bodies.
“When I work with non-binary clients or clients who are transitioning, we discuss learning to use whatever genitals they currently hold in ways that feel more genuine,” Fritchle says.
3. Ethical Non-Monogamy (ENM) and Fluid Relationships
Relationship models are expanding beyond traditional frontiers, which also has an effect on the types of sexual wellness options available.
In the United States, a recent YouGov poll of more than 1,300 adults found that about one-third (32%) stated their ideal relationship as being non-monogamous to some degree.
According to sex relationship Abby Moss, “Ethical non-monogamy is becoming more widely talked about than ever before and while alternative relationship styles aren’t for everyone, this broadening of the conversation is helping to create a better understanding of what relationships can be: and what sex can be.”
The sex coach at SchoolofSquirt.com, Laura Rose Halliday also explains the importance of casual sex on her website.
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There have been more and more polyamorous (aka non-monogamous) relationships, especially throuples (3-person relationship), according to Dwayne W, 34, Consultant, who initially was in a 12-year gay relationship with his partner, and recently included another, for about a year. We asked him what it takes to sustain such deep bonding connection which he replied:
“The ‘trend’ of Free Love and the values of Sex Positivity and Compersion are the most important in sustaining intimacy and trust.
Free Love – means to love without ego – that would be possession, fear, shame, anger – to also realise that love should not come with a cost.
Sex Positivity – to own one’s body, sexual behaviour and sexual acts, and to see them as natural and healthy parts of our lifestyle.
Compersion – usually seen as the opposite of jealousy – something that requires a major perspectival shift – feeling vicarious or sympathetic joy for one’s partner when they take pleasure from another relationship.
Combination of these factors, along with a healthy dose of communication, make the impossible possible! It allows us to explore our kinks to manage our expectations for the ultimate win-win-win situation!”
4. Open Intimacy
Former taboo topics such as menstruation, sex and female sexuality are being discussed more openly. A shift that has been strongly driven by women and especially members of the LGBTQIA+ community who are speaking out loudly against prejudice and stigmatisation.
Given the recent repeal of 377A law in Singapore, gay men are now free to talk about gay sex and social activities openly. Of course, social media and the availability of information have helped many individuals to take control of their own narratives.
Younger generations in particular approach intimate topics with greater confidence and curiosity than the generation beforehand.
Our global survey has shown that when learning about masturbation, the internet as a source of information (39%) plays an equally important role as trying it out (41%) for young people between 18-24 years old.
Asking the same question to people aged 35 and older, the majority only learned about self-love by trying it out (53%), followed by talking to friends and family as a source of information (26%).
While Communications Executive, Hunter Wayne, 30, feels that one way to boost intimacy in a relationship is being open to new things, while some partners may get too used to playing the same roles in bed, but allowing yourself to experiment together can be a great way to bring a new spark into the relationship and in the bedroom.
“This past year I have been working on this myself and found that my passion has increased and reached new levels. I’ll try to explain to any couple that they should try to explore sex in different places, different times and not make it so scheduled. Being sexually spontaneous will enhance your experience to be more exciting and adventurous,” Hunter said.
5. Anal Masturbation
While we are talking about sex more openly, there is one body part that is still occupied with shame and other negative feelings: the butt. Of course, as with any other exchange of intimacies and sexual encounters, anal stimulation requires consent. If all parties are interested and open to exploring, there is much to discover and enjoy.
Especially, when looking at male pleasure, the prostate as erogenous zone is often overlooked. It is accessible through the anus and, when properly massaged, can provide unparalleled pleasure a man can experience alone or with a partner.
The prostate is a gland about the size of a chestnut, made up of muscle tissue and located below the bladder near the erectile tissue of the urethra.
A global study brought to light that four out of five heterosexual men have never heard of the prostate as an erogenous zone. Yet, 34% of male respondents are aware, but have never tried to stimulate it.
Furthermore, the study revealed that 46% of gay men have tried anal sex and like it. However, if we look more closely at the percentage of men who answered “YES”, only 54% said they only give anal sex but do not receive it.
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6. Menstrubation (Masturbation For Pain Relief)
While still on the ‘M’ topic, according to sexperts, Menstrubation makes period pain a lot more tolerable. If Midol doesn’t cut it, menstrubation can be a good way to ease those horrible cramps.
Womanizer’s survey called ‘Menstrubation (menstruation+masturbation)’ found that 90% of those surveyed recommended it for period pain and 70% said it made periods less intense.
Dr. Naomi Sutton, NHS Sexual Health consultant and Womanizer spokesperson said in a press release, “Masturbation can have positive effects on health and general well-being for several reasons. Following orgasm, the hormone dopamine is released, which activates an inner bliss. This, combined with the increase in blood flow resulting from climax, are both ways orgasm may alleviate period pains.”
When asked whether masturbation or medication worked better for period pain, equal numbers favoured each method: 43% chose medication and 42% masturbation. Furthermore, 70% responded that regular masturbation had a long-lasting impact on achieving a lower pain intensity during periods.
7. Re-exploring Male Pleasure and Mental Health
The shift in sex toy perception towards a wellness concept has seen females rather than males as the beneficiary of the sex-tech revolution. The discovery of the clitoris and research into female pleasure, highly stigmatised in previous ages, has seen a boom in sexual wellness within Fem-tech, which also includes other innovations around the female menstruation cycle.
Male pleasure options have largely been stagnant, however, the liberalisation of society is starting to see an increasing number of men, both heterosexual and homosexual, interested in issues such as mental health and sexual wellness.
This is likely to become a topic that is bound to be considered serious talk as the modern man leaves behind the old toxic masculinity for a more modern and self-aware mentality when it comes to pleasure.
Cam Fraser, Australia-based male sex coach, provides more insights into how this trend evolves.
“Sex toys for men and people with a penis have historically been erection-oriented and friction-based. Few have challenged the stereotypical sexual scripts of men’s sexual experiences. Thankfully, it’s starting to shift with greater awareness of the multifaceted aspect of pleasure, for people of all genders, has seen conversations about male bodies and men’s expression of sexuality expand and become more nuanced. I anticipate that this will only continue to expand as the shame and lack of sincerity surrounding male masturbation is lifted in the conversations about men’s pleasure.” Fraser said.
8. Intentional Dating and Sexual Fantasies
According to our global survey, 27% of Singaporean women and 38% of Singaporean men dive into the topic of sexual desires and fantasies within the first three months of dating. Not surprisingly, the most common fantasies are quite different for men and for women.
Top three sexual fantasies for men are having non-partner random sex, having passionate or meaningful sex and oral sex, while women fantasise about romantic sex, passionate or meaningful sex and power/control/rough sex.
Of course, sexual fantasies have existed for as long as humans have, but talking about them and acting upon them is part of the overall trend toward destigmatising sexuality. One of the great things about fantasies, is that as long as they aren’t acted upon, they are completely safe.
Fantasies allow us to safely explore things that intrigue us and ‘work out’ feelings that might not be appropriate to act out in real life. And sometimes sharing fantasies with your partner can give insights to both of you, and actually deepen intimacy.
I discussed this with my partner Drew, who feels that sharing these private thoughts can be scary, but it is also a sign of deep trust.
“If your partner is open to discussing these things, you might be surprised at what could happen – sometimes it turns out your partner may have some deep cravings you never imagined! Maybe you fantasise about bringing a third person into bed with you and your partner, or about being tied up or tying up your partner – sharing these ideas doesn’t mean you insist on them, but a discussion of what turns you on can lead to better sex and better understanding of where your partner is coming from,” Drew said.
Try this: make a trade where each of you shares one sexual fantasy that they’ve never told the other. See how it goes, then do another. Gradually you will likely learn more about each other than just sex and no matter what happens, you will have increased communication, which is always a good thing. Best case, you will have better sex and a more intimate relationship.
The most important thing to remember in exploring sexuality and sexual health is that sex is a natural and healthy part of being human. The second more important, is to always respect the desires and boundaries of your partner (unless you’re exploring with just yourself – but respect your own boundaries too!). Follow those two rules, and the sky’s the limit. Our wish is for 2023 to be the year you have the best sex and best relationships of your life. Go out there and explore!
Sectional data for the 2023 Sex Trends report is provided by LoveHoney Group.
Images: Envato Elements, GETTY, LoveHoney Group,
Instagram: Womanizer, Wild Flower, dwayne.yawned
YouTube: Womanizer, LoveHoneyGroup