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Unraveling the Secrets of True Intimacy

In a world often captivated by the physical act of sex, the journey "Beyond the Bedroom" beckons us to explore the intricate landscapes of...
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9 Powerful Intimacy Exercises to Feel More Connected

Even in our own marriage, there are times when we’re distracted and don’t feel as close as we’d like to. But we’re careful not to neglect our relationship for too long A relationship with no emotional connection is at high risk of failure. And living in a relationship with no emotional intimacy is one of the loneliest feelings in the world.

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Picture this: you and your partner are an unstoppable team. You trust and support each other unconditionally. You feel safe, secure, and totally loved up. And you know that whatever comes your way, the two of you will conquer it, together.

That’s the magic of an emotionally-connected relationship.

But here’s the catch – it doesn’t happen by chance.

Even in our own marriage, there are times when we’re distracted and don’t feel as close as we’d like to. But we’re careful not to neglect our relationship for too long:

Left unchecked, a relationship with no emotional connection is at high risk of failure. And living in a relationship with no emotional intimacy is one of the loneliest feelings in the world.

The good news is that emotional intimacy is something you can easily nurture and develop, once you have the right skills:

To help get you started, here are nine emotional intimacy exercises to bring you closer together. They’ll help you learn more about each other’s inner worlds and deepen the connection between you.

But we won’t just rattle off a list of activities and send you on your way:

You’ll also learn the essential ingredients of emotional intimacy, so you can turn almost any activity into an exercise to build intimacy.

intimacy exercises for couples to feel more connected

What Can Couples Do To Build Intimacy?

The secret to connection-creating activities is not so much what you’re doing, it’s how you’re doing it. This means you’ll be practicing two key concepts:

1. Being ‘intentional’

‘Intention’ means getting clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing. When it comes to marriage intimacy exercises, that intention is to connect. Aligning with that intention means you then set the internal and external stage for that to happen.

Practically, this looks like bringing yourself to these intimacy exercises with an open and curious mindset, and a spirit of collaboration and appreciation.

2. Being ‘present’

‘Presence’ is the state of being fully engaged in and experiencing the current moment. It means giving your complete focus to the here and now by paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and surroundings, with an open and non-judgmental attitude.

Because true intimacy happens in the real-time interactions between you and your partner. And that can only happen when you’re truly in the moment with them – not preoccupied with something else.

Practically, you want to remove any distractions and create a space where you’re here doing this and only this with each other.

Which also means: no phones. When you try to connect with someone and they keep looking at their phone, it’s disrespectful. And it hurts. Don’t be that person.

So no matter which intimacy exercises you try, make sure your phones are somewhere you can’t see them. (Seriously, the research* supports this. Even a phone face down on the table affects the quality of your interactions).

Now that you have some fundamentals down, let’s check out these step-by-step intimacy exercises for couples.

couple playing photo show and tell intimacy exercise at cafe

INTIMACY EXERCISES FOR COUPLES #1:

Photo Show & Tell

Right. We literally just finished saying to put your phones away 😆 We’ll make an exception for this exercise, just be sure to switch them to Do Not Disturb mode.

  • Find a cozy spot where you can sit and relax together for 20 minutes or so.
  • Take a few minutes to go through your photos individually. Pick out 3 each that represent a cherished relationship memory. (You don’t even have to be in the photo – just pick photos that bring up relationship memories).
  • Next, take turns sharing a photo and talk about what it means to you. Recount the memory, how you felt, and why it’s a treasured or important moment for you.
  • Discuss any themes or patterns that emerge as you look at your pictures together. Are there certain activities or places that you both enjoy? Are there particular emotions or experiences that are common across your photos?
  • Once you’re finished, take a moment to give each other some love and appreciate the awesome relationship and life story you’re writing together.

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✅ Why it works, and why we love it:

Reminiscing on your relationship memories is a fun way to re-live those moments and nurture your connection. It helps to reinforce your relationship story and strengthen your bond.

There’s another unexpected benefit here too:

A recent study* in the Journal of Psychophysiology found that couples who merely looked at photos of their partner experienced increased infatuation, attachment, and marital satisfaction.

The study showed that you don’t even have to try to cultivate those feelings. Simply seeing your partner’s face in a photo is enough to bring on the good feelings, and can be a simple practice to help keep the love alive long-term.

Cool, huh?

In our marriage, we’ll often play this intimacy-building exercise when we’re at a restaurant waiting for our meals. A quick scroll through our phone’s gallery and we’re giggling down memory lane. By the time our order arrives, we feel super connected, and the quality of our conversation is richer and more meaningful.

couple sitting on floor playing intimacy exercises

INTIMACY EXERCISES FOR COUPLES #2:

The Revealing Game

  • Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit facing each other.
  • Make eye contact and take a few deep breaths together. Feel the space between you, and notice what it feels like to be sitting together in this way.
  • Pick one of these prompts as a way to open up and share your inner world with each other:
  • Decide who will go first, and let that person speak for at least 5-10 minutes without interruption.
  • After the first person has finished, switch roles. The second person can then pick the same prompt and speak for 5-10 minutes.
  • After you’ve both had a chance to share, reflect on what you’ve learned about each other. You can also share any feelings that came up during the exercise.
  • To help you go deeper, try asking some of these questions (not all will be relevant, depending on what topic you’re exploring) :

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✅ Why it works, and why we love it:

The essence of emotional connection comes down to this:

Revealing your inner self to someone, and being seen, heard, and understood. This means you have to open up and talk to each other about the things happening inside you.

Research* shows that without personal disclosure, even people with lots of friends still feel lonely.

So unless you’re talking about yourself in an honest and meaningful way, you just won’t feel close.

Of course, ‘talking openly’ is only half the equation:

How well your partner listens, responds, and reflects an understanding is also crucial to emotional intimacy (what’s known as ‘reflective listening’).

couple sharing kiss intimacy exercise

INTIMACY EXERCISES FOR COUPLES #3:

Six-Second Kiss

Here’s a fun connection quickie you can easily do any time, any place:

  • Kiss
  • Hold the kiss for 6 seconds (or more).

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✅ Why it works, and why we love it:

The simple pleasure of kissing can easily get lost in the busyness of adult life. (Not to mention the general trend of complacency in long-term relationships).

But kissing has a number of positive effects* on your health, well-being, and relationship satisfaction:

It releases oxytocin and dopamine, and reduces stress. It reaffirms commitment, facilitates secure attachment, and communicates that you’re wanted, loved, and desired.

One study* in Germany in the 1980s showed some even more profound effects:

Men who kissed their wives before going to work in the morning lived an average of five years longer than husbands who didn’t. And, they earned 20-35% more money.

Amazing, right?

So why 6 seconds?

It’s long enough to feel meaningful (instead of a perfunctory peck on the cheek) but not too long that it feels forced.

But if you want to carry on for longer, go for it! We’re all for a steamy make-out session 🥰

couple having relationship check in to build intimacy

INTIMACY EXERCISES FOR COUPLES #4:

Relationship Check-In

  • Sit somewhere comfortable where you can relax and talk openly for 20 minutes – 1 hour.
  • Begin with your ‘celebrations’ – what’s working in your relationship? What do you appreciate about each other? This helps you remember all the awesome things about your relationship. Share at least three each.
  • Talk about your growth opportunities – what needs attention in your relationship? It might be an unresolved conflict, a request to meet a specific need, or an intention you want to set together. Select one each.
  • Pick an action item that you both want to commit to in order to integrate the insights gained from your check in.
  • Finish on a high by thanking each other and celebrating yourselves for talking about the important stuff.

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✅ Why it works, and why we love it:

One of the simplest ways to strengthen your relationship and build intimacy is to actively talk about your relationship as a whole.

A Relationship Check-In gives you the structure to celebrate what’s working and creates space to address your challenges as a team.

Before we started doing our relationship check in we found it difficult to bring up issues with each other:

We’d walk on eggshells waiting for the ‘right time’ to address concerns. But the longer we waited, the worse it got, until one of us would blurt out something hurtful and we’d end up in an argument.

Sound familiar?

But a relationship check in changed all that for us. And it’s since become a time of connection and quality conversation that we genuinely look forward to.

➞ Check out the full guide on how to get the most out of your Relationship Check-In.

couple practicing hugging intimacy exercise

INTIMACY EXERCISES FOR COUPLES #5:

Hugging ‘Til Relaxed

  •  Set a timer for 5 minutes. Hit start and begin hugging. You can do this standing, sitting, or laying down – whatever you like.
  • Take a few deep breaths to relax. Tune in to yourself – notice your body, notice your breathing, notice how you’re feeling. Where are you at emotionally? Are you holding tension anywhere? Can you relax some more?
  • Once you feel more present and connected with yourself, begin tuning in to your partner while still holding attention on yourself. Notice their body and breathing. How do they feel to you? Can you feel them holding tension? What feels good about being held by them?
  • Then notice – how does tuning in to your partner make you feel? What comes up in response? Bring an awareness to the chatter in your mind. What thoughts do you notice coming up? Do you find it hard to just be with your partner without some kind of agenda or goal? Is it difficult for you to be still and quiet with each other? Does it feel comforting? Arousing? Is your mind racing? Are you worrying about your partner and what they’re thinking or feeling?
  • Keep hugging until the timer goes off, keeping an awareness on yourself and your own internal experience, while also letting yourself be impacted by the close physical contact.
  • Afterwards, share how the experience was for you. What did you notice? What was challenging? What did you enjoy?

TIP: Approach this like a meditation. Unlike a ‘normal’ meditation though – where the focus is on your own subjective experience – in Hugging Til Relaxed, the focus is on your own experience while also including your partner.

✅ Why it works, and why we love it:

Hugs are really, really good for you. Research* shows they reduce stress, increase serotonin (the happiness hormone) and release oxytocin (the bonding brain chemical).

Which means this is a great exercise to build health, happiness, and connection, all at the same time.

It can be challenging at first to slow down and simply be with each other. But with practice, this simple intimacy exercise can go to some incredibly deep places.

Hugging ‘Til Relaxed is especially helpful if you’ve noticed a decrease in physical intimacy in your relationship, or you’re facing challenges in your sex life. But it’s only a first step.

loving couple cooking together to create intimacy

INTIMACY EXERCISES FOR COUPLES #6:

Conscious Cooking

Before you roll your eyes at how simplistic this exercise is, hear us out:

Cooking a meal together is the perfect example of how intention and presence have the potential to turn even the most basic of interactions into something intimacy-building.

Here’s how:

  • Pick a recipe you feel confident with. It can be new, but a tried-and-true recipe is sometimes safer. Make sure you give yourselves plenty of extra time to prepare it. Intimacy doesn’t like to be rushed.
  • Set the internal scene for connection by removing any distractions and discussing your intention to connect. Put your phones in another room, clear your mind of any work thoughts or to-do lists, and decide to be ‘here and now’ with your partner.
  • Set the external scene so you feel relaxed, and maybe even a little playful. We’re talking music, a comfy outfit (or a spunky one if you prefer), and some mood lighting. Maybe a glass of wine, or a cup of tea. Do whatever helps create a relaxed, easeful, enjoyable experience.
  • While you’re cooking, ask each other questions about what’s going on in your world. Take it as an opportunity to check in with each other as individuals, and be genuinely curious about what’s happening in each other’s life.
  • Turn on the charm and flirt with each other! If that sounds a bit intimidating, don’t worry – start small. Gently graze the small of their back with your hand while you move past each other. Hold back their hair while they’re chopping vegetables. Pull them in for a hug while you stir the pasta sauce. Look for as many opportunities for touch as you can.
  • Stay in the moment, and avoid any logistics planning or ‘life administration’ talk. It’s easy to fall back into habitual ways of communicating. But keep coming back to your intention to be in the moment, and to enjoy each other’s company.

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✅ Why it works, and why we love it:

To be honest, this intimacy exercise can be done with any number of ordinary tasks – folding laundry, washing dishes, cleaning the car. The skill to focus on is opening the door to connection in your everyday life.

Life is lived in the small moments. And especially when you live together, the bulk of your relationship is usually made up of some pretty mundane things.

Transforming those ordinary moments into a couple’s intimacy exercise breathes magic into your everyday relationship. Chores suddenly become an opportunity to upgrade your “Love Maps” and deepen your understanding of each other.

It can even be easier for some people to open up about the important stuff when they’re casually engaged in an incidental activity.

For us, those unassuming moments when we’re chopping vegetables and laughing over an inside joke, or wrapping our arms around each other while waiting for the water to boil – are the essence of what makes sharing our life together so rich, and so incredibly precious.

couple playing intimacy exercise in bed

INTIMACY EXERCISES FOR COUPLES #7:

The Intimate Pause

Try this intimacy exercise the next time you’re being sexually intimate. Agree on a phrase beforehand like “Let’s pause” or “Connection quickie” (or whatever works for you) so you both know what to do.

  • Pause, make eye contact, and hold each other’s gaze while staying in close contact with each other. (You don’t need to completely stop, just find a position where you can keep sexual contact while also meeting each other’s gaze.)
  • Place a hand (or both) on each other’s heart center (in the center of the chest). A variation is one hand on your own heart, and one hand on your partner’s heart.
  • Take a few slow, deep breaths, hold eye contact, and feel the energy and connection between you.
  • Take turns sharing a compliment or expression of love. For example: “You’re so beautiful.” “You’re so sexy.” “I love you.” “I love being inside of you.” “I love being with you like this.” Speak whatever feels true and authentic for you in the moment.
  • After you share at least one expression of love (you can do more if you like) unpause your sexual interaction while staying with this feeling of intimacy and connection.

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✅ Why it works, and why we love it:

We use this intimacy exercise all the time in our sex life. It’s one of the simplest ways to deepen emotional intimacy during sex, and it helps us stay closely calibrated with one another. (Pausing in the middle of penetration is also incredibly erotic and builds some great sexual tension.)

The eye contact helps to release oxytocin and increase intimacy. While contact on your heart helps stimulate feelings of openness and vulnerability.

Admittedly, it can be awkward to speak like this during sex at first. But the more you practice, the more confident you become.

Communicating during sex is also an important skill to learn. From sharing your desires, to giving feedback on what’s working (and what’s not), to straight-up loving exclamations like in this exercise – communication makes sex hot AF.

couple playing intimacy building card game

INTIMACY EXERCISES FOR COUPLES #8:

Love Fish

Yes, the name is ridiculous 😂 (That’s what happens when you combine the card game “Go Fish” with a playful, intimacy-building exercise… We thought it was too funny not to use).

Anyway, here’s the game:

  • Shuffle a standard deck of 52 cards and deal 7 cards to each player. Place the remaining cards in a draw pile in the center of the table.
  • The aim of the game is to make the most pairs. Whenever a player collects a pair of cards (two cards of the same rank), they must lay them face up and perform the Love Challenge that corresponds to that pair’s number (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8 and so on).
  • Start by pairing any cards you currently have in your hand, and place them face up in front of you. (Remember to do a Love Challenge for every pair you make!)
  • To decide who goes first, make eye contact with each other. The first person to smile goes second. Feel free to turn up the flirt to see who cracks first.
  • Player 1: ask your partner if they have a card of a certain rank to match with your own. For example, “Do you have any 6’s?” If your partner has a card of that rank, they must give it to you, so you can make a pair. After you do the corresponding Love Challenge, you then get another turn.
  • If your partner doesn’t have a card of the requested rank, they’ll say “love fish!”. You must then draw two cards from the draw pile, and it’s now your partner’s turn.
  • The game continues until someone runs out of cards. The player with the most pairs at the end of the game wins.

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🃏 Love challenges:

Ace: Share something you find physically attractive about your partner.

King: Hold hands until the next pair is made (yes, this is designed to be difficult!)

Queen: Give your partner a 6-second kiss.

Jack: Share a current personal goal or dream with your partner.

10: Share a personality trait that you appreciate in your partner.

9: Share a specific moment when you knew you felt yourself falling in love with your partner.

8: Share something that turns you on and gets you hot. For example, a certain type of touch, dirty talk, a fantasy.

7: Share a cherished memory from your relationship.

6: Give your partner a hug and tell them how much they mean to you.

5: Take a selfie with your partner and post it on social media with a cute caption.

4: Share a funny joke or story with your partner.

3: Perform a short strip tease and remove one item of clothing.

2: Dance break! Put on a song you love and dance together.

couple reading together as an intimacy building exercise

INTIMACY EXERCISES FOR COUPLES #9:

Read Together

  • Pick a book or in-depth article on a topic that interests you both. It can be fiction, but non-fiction can often spark more stimulating conversations.
  • Read out loud to each other. You can either break the text into sections and read back and forth to each other, or you can each take a chapter on different days. Or, have one person who reads and one who listens.
  • Afterward, reflect on what you read. What ideas or moments in the story connected with you? What thoughts, feelings, or insights came up?

(Variation: If you don’t want to read out loud to each other, read the same material separately and then come back together to discuss what you read.)

✅ Why it works, and why we love it:

This exercise creates a specific kind of intimacy – Intellectual Intimacy:

Discovering new ideas, getting lost in a story together, discussing the themes and personal insights that the text brings up for you… These are all incredible ways to delve into each other’s minds and understand each other’s unique perspectives, while also learning and growing together.

And we’re not the only ones who love this intimacy exercise:

In an interview* with Tim Ferris, Aussie actor Hugh Jackman explains that he and his wife read to each other every morning:

“It’s become our favorite time of the day as a couple. And we know, no matter what happens in the day – which invariably gets away from you – [we’ve] had that quality time together.”

If it’s good enough for Wolverine, it’s good enough for us.

Did you know that Intellectual Intimacy is just one of the 6 Intimacy Styles? Want to know which one you are?

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