Intimacy is a practice, and making space for these sweet, non-sexual practices will help keep your relationship energy alive, juicy, and connected.
So many of us are overstimulated, overwhelmed, and over-committed in our daily schedules—many of us moving through our days just barely checking things off the task list. This can create many challenges in relationships: lack of connection, missed communication, and a dearth of intimacy and sexual connection. Like a garden, relationships need consistent attention in order to thrive. To allow a garden to thrive, you must tend to the plants with water, attention, nourishment—so too, with our most intimate relationships. If you are not able to make space in our schedules for our relationships, like plants, the connection will not thrive.
If you wish to create a deep love and make space for erotic energy in your relationship, these four non-sexual intimacy building practices are the place to start. I invite you to set aside a few hours this week, and commit to reconnection with your sweetheart to tend to the garden of your love. These seemingly simple practices offer a lot of depth, and help you (re)connect on emotional, physical, and spiritual levels. Creating this connected, intimate space for your lover to be seen, heard, and truly felt is imperative for the foundation of your relationship. The emotional connection is so important on its own to feel safe and loved; for many of us, this deeper connection is the foundation necessary to feel safe enough to open sexually. Sex does not happen in a vacuum: the safe, connected intimacy must come first.
Connect Deeply with these Intimacy Practices
💜 Eye-gazing 💜
A simple but wildly deep practice that requires patience and presence. Sit across from each other, on pillows or chairs. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes; you can play some background music if it makes you feel more comfortable. Gaze into each others non-dominant eye (if you’re right-handed, this is your left eye): resist the urge to touch, hug, or shift away from the intensity of the gaze. Imagine your eyes and your heart expressing all the love and adoration you have for your sweetheart; allow them to feel into your presence. You might have feelings come up: joy, sadness—it’s all welcome here. Simply gaze, love, and be present. After the timer beeps, you can cuddle or hug for another few minutes to recalibrate. Make space to speak about the practice, and how it felt for you both. Revel in the warmth.
❤️ Synchronized breathing ❤️
Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. You can do practice while spooning, hugging, or in another cuddling position that is comfortable. Once you’re settled, begin to synchronize your breath with the other person: simply inhale at the same time, exhale at the same time. This might take a few minutes to get synced up initially, and throughout the practice the breath might move in/out of sync. This is fine; let your nervous systems co-regulate and your body calm down, and let the breath flow as it needs to.
Giving yourselves these few minutes of connected time creates a space of sweet, present, conscious connection with each other with no pressure or goal—the practice is only to be together in a loving space—the breath is the connection/focal point. This is especially sweet first thing in the morning or before going to bed, but it’s lovely any time of day to create a ritual of connection. When the timer goes off, be sure to spend a few minutes sharing thanks/gratitude to each other for taking the time together to build your connection.
💗 Fears, Loves, Desires 💗
I originally learned a version of this practice from Layla Martin, and I love it as a way to get really deep, really quickly with a partner. This is a communication practice that takes about 10 minutes, and like the other practices above, the simplicity belies the depth that awaits. There are three questions: What do you desire? What are you afraid of? What do you love about me? You each take turns with the questions. Set a timer for two minutes. Person 1 asks the first question: What do you desire? Person 2 speaks their deepest desires; anything goes here, big visions for the future or small requests for the day-to-day. If they run out of things to say, Person 1 says only, “And what else?” Person 1 only listens: they do not offer solutions, or response, or ideas—they only listen. After the two minute timer, swap roles, and Person 2 will ask the same question; then switch again, and ask the remaining questions.
💜 Take a shower or bath together 💜
If your bathroom has the space, you can explore playful physical touch in the shower: exploring touch—without the goal of sex—gives you a chance to see and touch each others’ bodies in a new way. If you’re very dirty or need to shave, take a practical shower first. Make your shared shower focused on sensation. I like to use a homemade body scrub or a scrubby washcloth; you can find some yummy shower oil or shower gel that is slippery and makes the skin so very soft. Give yourself space to explore your partner’s body in a way that’s as playful, sensual, or erotic as you like but without the goal of moving into sexual activity—be curious, exploratory, present. Not only is the steam and tactile sensations delightful for our skin, the change of location can stimulate your sense of novelty in really fun ways.
Creating intimacy with our partners takes time, energy, and attention. Just like yoga or running, intimacy is a practice: we need to prioritize the things that are most important to us, and building (or reinforcing the intimate connection with our partners is hugely important for thriving relationships. I hope these simple practices help you explore your relationship in new ways, and build a strong foundation for a deeply connected partnership. 💕