5 ways to cultivate intimacy

We are spending too much time sitting on the couch cuddling with our phones instead of each other. If you've noticed your relationship struggling, try these five ideas to help bring the intimacy back.

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  • If you’re in a relationship with a human being, you must keep reading.

  • If you’re in a relationship with a computer, like Joaquin Phoenix in the Movie “Her” then this article won’t pertain to you.

  • To interact with another person is to involve your physical senses — sight, touch, sound, taste, and smell. We see our partner we hug him, we hear her say, “I love you,” we kiss him goodbye and we smell her scent lingering as she walks away. Our whole body is involved and leaves us feeling alive and wanting more. Sensuality, meaning using our senses, is an art and one that must be cultivated within any relationship, but is becoming increasingly difficult with the robust growth of the virtual world around us. Texting, “I love you” is very different from actually saying those words to someone standing in front of you.

  • When you increase your sensuality, you also reap the benefits of all the feel-good hormones like oxytocin and dopamine. You literally feel more bonded to your partner and the world around you. Human beings are social animals and are meant to interact with one another on a physical level. With smartphones becoming the norm and everyone “reconnecting” via Facebook, it’s becoming increasingly easy to go a whole day without really “connecting” with anyone in a personal way.

  • If you have come to the sudden realization that you worry more about your phone battery being charged than your love life, here are a few ideas for reclaiming your humanity:

  • 1. Get outside

  • If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, mountains, lake or a desert, go there. Now. Do not sigh and think about the traffic involved and then pull a picture up on your phone. Actually move your body out of doors and look up. Now look down. Let your eyes take in detail perhaps you’ve missed — even if it’s the detail of the single weed growing out of the sidewalk. Being outside, without headphones or talking on the phone, is important. It gives you the chance to use all your senses and wake your body back up.

  • 2. Eat with your fingers and your eyes

  • When was the last time you ate something juicy, like a delicious mango, and licked your fingers? Deliberately buy a food item you can eat with your fingers — which is really just about anything, even ice cream — and do just that. Revel in the sloppiness of it. Heighten this experience by letting your eyes wander over the choices and really see what the world has to offer. The best place for something like this is a Farmers’ Market and not, I repeat, not a drive-thru window. Eating is one of our most primal and physical instincts and can also generate incredible physical sensations if we’re paying attention, which brings me to number three.

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  • 3. Pay attention

  • If you’re talking on the phone while watching a YouTube instructional video on how to make a sauce reduction, you’re missing the whole point of making the sauce in the first place and barely interacting with the live human being on the other end of the phone.

  • “Multitasking” is the new buzzword, and we’re getting so good at it we’re multitasking everything. Ask yourself if you want to be multitasked by your partner? If the answer is no, then you may need to step away from all your gadgets to evaluate how you are approaching your primary relationships. Do you feel hassled and bothered when your spouse wants to actually talk with you for a few minutes? Are you so scattered that when your spouse hands you a beautiful flower you hardly notice it because a text just came in? Having someone give us their undivided attention helps us feel loved, noticed and appreciated. It does wonders for any relationship.

  • 4. Touch, touch, touch

  • And I don’t mean your phone. How often are you sitting on the couch cuddling with your phone instead of each other? We send virtual “hugs” while sitting alone at our laptops. Human beings can actually waste away due to a lack of touch. We release many feel-good hormones and chemicals during a good hug, an affectionate shoulder rub or just a passing pat on the hindquarters. Touch is an integral part of a healthy and satisfying relationship. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who has gone a period of time without it. Affectionately touching each other is something easily overlooked and takes conscious effort to cultivate, but the benefits will keep you coming back for more.

  • 5. Prioritize

  • Everything out there wants a piece of your precious time. An email can be quick and a Facebook update can seem like it has to be done “now” when, in fact, it doesn’t. With so many things pulling at our time, you may literally have to schedule in time to go for that walk outside, eat that delicious snack, listen to the river flowing, hold hands with your spouse or view the beautiful sunset. All those things are just as important, if not more important, than what your Facebook friends are going to think about all those things you just did. In fact, as you make cultivating sensuality more important, the real world may seem more exciting, colorful and satisfying than the virtual one.

  • Just remember, if you are a human being in a relationship with another human being, you are going to have to act like a human being. That will involve things like kissing and dancing and laughing and crying. You will never regret making the effort to enhance this part of your life. Because, let’s be honest, phones and computers just aren’t that cuddly.

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Alisha is a Life Coach specializing in Sex and Intimacy as well as the co-author of a recently published book titled Real Intimacy; A couple's guide to healthy, genuine sexuality. Find her at realintimacybook.com.

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