By Tiger Devore, Ph.D.

At this time of year is the phenomenon of holiday parties. Family, friends, groups and companies, large and small, will encourage celebrations. Bars and restaurants will offer up special events to encourage people to celebrate there. There is the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, lots of eggnog and the expectation for everyone to be in a joyous mood.

Many parties offer alcohol or even other “party” drugs that reduce inhibitions. Under the influence, you might find yourself in a quiet hallway, a back office or some other seemingly semi-private space with someone you may never have noticed before or have desired for some time in secret. Suddenly that person becomes the object of your most primal sexual desires. At the time, these feelings are strong, even irresistible, and can often end up in a very quick sexual coupling. The encounter may not even require the removal of many pieces of clothing. Instead many people might just push aside any garments to allow for mutual genital access, a quick (hopefully mutual) release, some catching of breath and smoothing of disheveled clothing. Then there might be a mutual agreement to deny that what just happened ever occurred. But what if it goes further with oral, anal or vaginal? Even mutually deciding that it will never happen again, what does it mean?

Sometimes, it is still just a sexual encounter, whether it is copulation or not. It might give the satisfaction of being desirable with no social, emotional or physical repercussions to the quick little holiday tryst. For that outcome, everyone breathes a sigh of relief and lets the event fade into the list of memories that are privately recalled from time to time with a small private smile. These quickies can be the salve for all the disappointments that may otherwise be causing a sense of lost confidence, fading youthfulness or fear of diminished sexual prowess.

I’m not here to judge. I do want to offer some simple suggestions that can make all the difference between these events being harmless, or a risk too great to take.

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First, being prepared does not indicate clandestine intent. Having a condom and even a small pocket package of lubrication is just a wise choice. It is your responsibility to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies. These consequences last a lifetime.

Think about the status of the other person. Are they married? Are they related to someone close to you? Are they a friend of someone you don’t want to hurt? Is their job related to yours in a way that is too risky for you to allow this to happen? All of these considerations are worth thinking about. Is this sexual encounter worth any damage it might cause personally or professionally? Will this encounter be a delicious secret or a heavy burden? You might think you can’t stop yourself, but yes you can.

At the end of the year, many people review where they are at in their lives and compare that to where they thought they might be at this point. This review can be a motivator or real confirmation of sense of disappointment in the accomplishments of the self. When winning in life, all seems to go well, but more often than not, there are shortfalls that can lead to a need to do something to feel better about all that has not gone as well as hoped. Do not let this be an excuse for irresponsible behavior that can lead to devastating consequences.

Great sex can be a part of everyone’s lives. Just think with your brains for a moment before giving into powerful hormonal rushes.