Feel closer than ever to your loved one with our suggested intimate couples activities. With an element of sensuality, these 5 activities correlate to each of the senses (stare, share, stroke, sniff and savour) to help you deepen your emotional and romantic connection.
Vulnerability has been found by researchers to be a key element to connecting and falling deeper in love with someone. Remember: sensuality doesn’t have to involve sex or arousal, so become mindful and let your guard down when trying these intimate activities.
Firstly, set aside some time for each other. If you live busy lives, Psychosexual Therapist, Kate Moyle, says don’t just find the time, but make it. We all know that technology can be a blessing and a curse. While we spend much of our time looking at our screens, balance that with fully appreciating your partner’s existence – and have them appreciate yours.
Dr. Rene Hurlemann, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Bonn, in Germany says that when you commit to being fully in the presence of your partner, your hypothalamus produces more of the bonding hormone oxytocin, releasing it into the bloodstream via the posterior pituitary gland triggering the reward system.
So grab a timer, turn off your mobile phone (or at least pop it on airplane mode), and make approximately 2 hours for these intimate couples activities to connect deeper, and deeper with your partner.
1. Stare (for 4 minutes)
Begin with getting into a comfortable seated position facing each other, either on the floor, chair or bed. With the timer set for four minutes, study each other. Stare lovingly – not a cold, hard stare – at their face. Observe the way their facial expression shifts, looking back at yours. Resist the urge to talk, whilst you gaze into each other’s eyes.
Remember what attracted you to them in the first place. Notice what comes up for you. Feel whatever you feel and allow that to show on your face.
Back in 1987, social psychologist, Dr. Arthur Aron, did this experiment with two strangers, who ended up falling in love. He explains that “eye contact is a way of feeling connected, and feeling that [another person] is interested in you has a huge effect of feeling love for a person.”
This study has been replicated over the years and the findings show again and again that feelings of love are in fact triggered. That wonderful oxytocin working its magic.
When you have a history together, this experiment makes for one beautifully intimate couples activity that will revive and strengthen those all important feelings.
2. Share (for 20 minutes)
Once you have stared at each other, you will find that opening up comes more naturally. For an “easier” life, a lot of the time we’d rather sweep our thoughts and feelings under the carpet. We don’t say what’s actually on our minds for fear or judgement, or upset.
However, this is where your vulnerability becomes necessary. If you are to truly deepen your connection you have to allow for a space of safety and care – free from judgement. There is only 20 mins here, so split your time evenly by asking questions you’d like to know about your partner and being open to answering those yourself.
Not sure what to ask? Begin with finding out what went through each of your minds in the previous intimate couples activity. You could try to find out each other’s earliest memories. Or share your dreams. It might feel safer to begin with the less daunting, more abstract conversations and work your way to asking perhaps the less comfortable things.
These things could be finding out what each of you would like to get out of your relationship. Or a fantasy you’d like to explore. Be open minded, and remember nothing has to be set in stone. This intimate couples activity is merely a way for opening up an understanding of each other on a deeper level. Put a pin in the topics you’d like to return to at another time.
3. Stroke (for 1 hour in total)
This one may sound long, one hour in total, but it’s probably the best bit. The oxytocin, which is also famously known as the “cuddle hormone”, released will leave you feeling blissfully connected to one another.
Studies have found that social bonds are strengthened in non-human animals via grooming each other. In humans, these bonds equally develop between people through all kinds of intimate touching.
Set a timer to break it down into holding, massaging and stroking different parts of your partner’s body. Have them repeat the same strokes on you. Notice how your body reacts and relaxes.
- Spend 10 mins on the feet; there are up to 200,000 nerve endings in the sole of each foot. Foot massages are a wonderfully vulnerable way to connect to your partner as this part of our body is very much hidden, and in some cases forbidden. If you really enjoy having your feet touched, then maybe you’d like to incorporate the feet more into your sex lives with these foot foreplay ideas.
- Spend 10 mins on the hands. Either just holding them, massaging them, stroking them. Notice all the lines and textures. The shape of their nails. Squeeze each finger as a sign of affection.
- Spend 10 mins focusing on their head. Scratching, massaging, very light hair pulling and end with just holding. Like a puppy your partner will go putty in your hands with these head stroking tactics.
- Finally, spend 30 mins cuddling and stroking each other’s bodies. Squeeze each other. Tickle each other. Hold each other.
It’s important to realise the reciprocal nature of touching. Psychologist Matthew Hertenstein reminds us that “you can’t touch without being touched. A lot of those same beneficial physiological consequences happen to me, the person doing the touching.” Thus the oxytocin benefits are just as strong for the person doing the touching, hugging, stroking or caressing, than for the receiver. So whenever you get a chance, offer up a massage, or comb your fingers through your partner’s hair – and notice the juicy warm feelings that arise.
4. Sniff (for 6 minutes)
“Couples that smell together, stay together.” – Mandy Oaklander, Time
Though pheromones haven’t been scientifically proven to exist in humans, smells are still an extremely important indicator for choosing a genetically and romantically compatible partner when dating, or starting up a new relationship. Furthermore, incorporating sniffing as an intimate couples activity will bring you closer together than ever, strengthening your bonding as a compatible pair.
Take the famous Eskimo kiss for instance. Researchers have noted this is not just a habitual rubbing of noses together, but a mutual sniff of each other’s scents. Faces are one of the “most accessible concentrations of scent glands on the human body”. Each time you greet each other, your smells have a powerful way of triggering the a memory or emotion via the olfactory bulb, the brain’s smell center which is directly linked to the amygdala and hippocampus.
You already know that this person’s smell is (at least we hope) attractive to you in some way. So set that timer and for 6 mins and just take in each other’s scent. Smell their faces, their neck, their hair, even their armpits. That’s right. Get your nose right in there.
If this intimate couples activity is too smelly for your sensitive noses, take a shower together first (but you may want to add an extra 15 minutes to the timer).
5. Savour (for 30 minutes)
Deep kiss for 30 mins. This may feel like a long time, but remember those “make-out” days of your youth, before sex came into play? Make this a sensual practice that doesn’t end in a sexual interaction. Take the time to really taste and savour each other in this moment.
With 200 times more sensation in the lips than in the fingertips, you can really feel each other connecting. In laymen’s terms: the nerve endings trigger neurons in the brain, releasing endorphins and bonding hormones to flood your bloodstream, causing an emotionally romantic reaction.
This Japanese study found that kissing for 30 minutes can not only deepen your intimacy but actually improve your health – shown by decreasing allergic reactions.
Just read here for more on the science behind why we kiss and what it’s benefits are.