Physical intimacy doesn’t begin and end in the bedroom. It’s something you have to cultivate during the day and make an honest effort to keep alive throughout the years with your partner.
If one of your goals this year is to feel more physically intimate with your partner, experts say you need to work on emotional intimacy and closeness outside the bedroom. Below, sex therapists and other experts share seven things couples can do to fuel desire at any stage of a relationship.
Cuddle every night for at least five minutes.
“More powerful than it may seem, cuddling is one of the many situations that can trigger release of the feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain, which are dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals are responsible for your happiness. The physical touch, closeness and emotional connection one receives with a good cuddle can release some of these chemicals, supporting feelings of love, acceptance and security, and promote better sleep and even more pleasant dreams.” ― Sadie Allison, sexologist and founder of GoLove CBD lube
Learn something new together.
“Learning a new skill together is a research-backed way to boost intimacy, offer a rewarding dose of dopamine and give you something new to experience together. While you can choose to learn any new skill, bonus points for learning something together that will physically bring you closer; for instance, take an online course in something like ballroom dance, yoga or couples massage.” ― Chris Maxwell Rose, a sex educator and podcast host at PleasureMechanics.com
Talk about what turns you on.
“There are many ways to ‘get your sexy on’ without having sex. And one of the most powerful ways to tap into erotic energy is to simply talk about what turns you on. In my sex therapy practice, I help my couples share sexual fantasies with each other. It can be extremely powerful and exciting to disclose aspects of your private sexual fantasies with a partner. Trusting your partner with such intimate material can foster not only comfort and a sense of safety, but also erotic energy. It could be something small, like wanting to try a new sexual position or sharing your favorite Hollywood crush. Maybe you share memories of your top three sexual experiences with each other. Reminiscing about ‘the good old days’ can rekindle the spark. Or, you could share an elaborate fantasy with lots of detail highlighting specific erotic themes or interests.
Just acknowledging that you experience sexual energy can be meaningful to your partner. If couples are not intentional about nurturing sexual energy, it is relatively easy to de-eroticize our partners. Reminding each other that you are sexual beings with your own erotic interests can go a very long way. If you really want to take things up a notch, you can write your own erotica and share it with your partner.” ― Kimberly Resnick Anderson, a sex therapist and assistant professor of Psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine
Learn each other’s love language.
“For many couples, one or both individuals need to feel ‘love and connection’ outside of the bedroom to be able to initiate, open up or feel safe in the bedroom. One of the most efficient tools for this is to learn your love language, in terms of which of the five love languages make you feel most fulfilled, nurtured and loved. After my clients take the free five love languages quiz, I ask them to talk through the details of their top two love languages and give examples of these in action. Then I suggest that every day, each partner wakes up and asks themselves, ‘What’s one thing I could do in my relationship today to make my partner feel loved in a way that is meaningful to them?’” ― Jennifer Gunsaullus, a sociologist and author of “From Madness to Mindfulness: Reinventing Sex for Women”
Give each other a nonerotic massage.
“A good old back rub is a beautiful, pleasure-based way to connect with your partner. It’s a practice of giving and receiving, something that many couples struggle with. If they are not having sex ― and sex feels scary for whatever reasons ― starting with a back massage with the strong boundary of one-way touch can truly connect couples in a safe way. Giving and receiving massage is a beautiful ritual. Setting up the table, finding the beautiful sheets, setting up the room is all part of the ritual.” ― Pamela Madsen, sex educator and founder of Back to the Body Sensuous Retreats
“Consider cooking together as a ritual, too. Taking a virtual cooking program with each other is a nurturing and sexy way to be connected about the erotic. Let’s face it: Food is sexy. Creating special meals that are challenging can be both fun and delicious. Consider cultivating a beautiful table. Redesigning your food rituals with your partner can be very hot. Take it further, out of the kitchen, and read food blogs together and plan adventure dinners together that include reservations and travel.” ― Madsen
“Exercising together is a great way to rekindle intimacy. It fosters friendship with a mutual goal and purpose, and can even be playful. Choose something like a brisk walk or hike, play frisbee, take a Zumba class, or go ice skating. Not only will you reconnect by spending quality time together as ‘friends’ and enjoy some fun together, but exercise releases endorphins (feel-good chemicals in the brain), which will enhance the emotional element of feeling closer. The feeling of shared accomplishment lends itself to feelings of partnership and being on the same team. All of this will relate favorably in the bedroom.” ― Allison