3 Intimacy Building Exercises to Keep the Spark Alive in a Relationship

We all had big and bold ideas for lockdown - a sourdough starter, a sewing machine, “couch to 5K”, The Kama Sutra. But as week after week of lockdown passed, motivation to try new things severely waned. New hobbies took a backseat and so did new sex positions. Relationships were put to the test with hard lockdowns and closed borders keeping us too close or too far apart. If your sex life lost its spark this year, you’re not alone.

Now, freedom calls… so here are our top tips for couples who are looking to reignite the spark and connect more intimately:

Sensate focus:

Sensate focus is an exercise in giving and receiving touch. It’s a way to add new sensual dimensions to your bedroom and to rediscover what feels pleasurable for you and your partner. What you do is take turns being either the giver or receiver of touch. When you are receiving touch, focus on the sensations you’re experiencing from being touched. The key is not to try to reciprocate, but just to notice how it feels to be touched in certain ways and certain places. Of course, make sure to speak up if being touched anywhere makes you uncomfortable or set these boundaries before you begin.

When you are the giver of touch, use your hands to notice the various textures of your partner’s body. Vary the firmness or the tempo of your touch. Discover the difference between touching with just the fingertips and the whole hand. Start with non-genital touching, but ideally be naked. Spend 15 minutes giving or receiving non-genital touch. The point of this exercise is to find pleasure from new sensations or in unexpected parts of the body; it’s to avoid focusing on what “should” be sexy, and find out what is.

Next, move to genital and breast touching, with the same person giving the touch first. Here, orgasm is not the goal. Sensate focus is about sensuality and new forms of pleasure. Use this time to explore your partner’s body. Go slow. Kissing should be avoided as it might push you back into old and familiar sexual patterns. After each partner has had their turn giving and receiving touch, move to mutual touching. Use your new sensory awareness to focus on what it’s like to touch and be touched at the same time.

Finally, try sensual sex. You should now have a greater awareness of the physical sensations of sex. Go slowly, and relax into the sensations of contact, connection, and arousal.

Create your own erotica:

If you struggle with dirty talk, this might just be the alternative for you. Erotica is literary or artistic work that is sexually stimulating or arousing. There are a few ways to do it with, or for your partner. Try writing a short erotic fiction and read it to your partner. Tap into your desire, mind-map a plot, a scene or an experience, and get it on the page. This is a great way to communicate your desires and fantasies and share them with your partner. It’s creative, it’s sexy, and it might feel safer than just coming out and saying it. If you don’t feel comfortable reading it out loud, let them read it in front of you.

You could also try collaborating with your partner by writing erotic fiction together. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. Take it in turns writing what your characters want to do to each other. Be open to your partner’s fantasies and your own. Watch them unfold on the page. Or, if you’re feeling artistic, try painting or sketching nudes of each other. Take time to really look at each other, and enjoy being looked at. Watch the French film Portrait of a Lady on Fire to really get you in the mood.

Outside the bedroom:

Spontaneity is the antithesis of routine. So, try being spontaneous with your partner. Send them a sext out of the blue, surprise them. Get explicit. Describe your outfit, recount one of your hottest memories together, tell them what you want to do to them as soon as they get home. This can build tension and excitement when things might have become a bit stale.

Breaking up your routine is the best way to reinvigorate a long-term relationship. New shared experiences mean new things to talk about, new things learnt about the other, and new things to enjoy together. Try going to a class together, go to a new restaurant on the other side of town, or try meeting new people together. Any new and shared experience can help create intimacy.

Finally, now that our relationships can once again exist outside of our homes, don’t forget to engage in non-sexual touch when you’re out and about. Touch is incredibly important for both connection and sensuality. It can be electric. Touch your partner lightly on the arm, the lower back, the knee. You might just find yourself leaving the party early…


Image credit: @dudihasson1

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