Touch is a way of connecting and touch can also convey emotions. In the many ways touch has been researched, we’ve learned that loving touch is necessary to live and thrive. Touch from a loved one can give us feelings of comfort, safety, closeness, and being wanted. Below are 12 ways to engage in touch with a partner or partners. We want these forms of touch to be positive forms of touch that are expressions of affection. Everyone has different sensory thresholds, so check in with your partner or partners to make sure the form of touch is enjoyable to them.
- Six second kiss. Many kisses are short and sweet. Often a peck will do for many couples. John Gottman describes the six second kiss as “long enough to feel romantic.” The six second kiss is long enough to be a mindful moment and moment of connection.
- One minute hug. Most hugs with loved ones, friends, and people we know are usually quick. We tend to keep our bodies firm as we move in to hug someone and move out of the hug. Hugs are brief, but what would happen if we stayed in the embrace a little bit longer? When we spend a little more time in the hug our bodies begin to relax, and the hug turns into holding one another. Give it a try for one minute!
- Cuddle with clothes on. Cuddle with your partner for 10 minutes in a position or positions that feel comfortable for you. Turn off the tv, put phones away, and just be physically present with your partner for the next 10 minutes. There are numerous cuddle positions laying down or sitting together, so find one that feels comfortable for both of you.
- Dance together. Whether slow dancing or upbeat dancing, hold your partner and sway to some music. No dancing knowledge is required. Sway, rock, or spin each other to the music.
- 5-minute eye contact while touching. When was the last time you lovingly gazed at your partner? My guess is it has probably been a while. Our eyes can convey so many different messages. We have eyes when we are angry, we can have annoyed eyes, shocked eyes, surprised eyes, and we can lovingly look at our partner as well. Set a timer, sit across from each other while touching and begin. It is perfectly fine if there are some smiles and giggles, because how often have we really looked at our partner in this way? After a little while, ask the following question, what color are your partner’s eyes? After you saw brown or blue, look again. What is a favorite part of your partner’s face? Can you tell them softly as you are looking at them?
- Three minute hug. This hug adds to the one minute hug. What would it be like for you hold your partner for a little longer?
- Give a massage. Take turns exchanging a massage with your partner for 10 minutes. Many people enjoy their back massaged, but this can be a part of your body that would feel most relaxing to you. You can ask your partner to massage your legs, your feet, your shoulders, your hands, your temples, or your scalp. Then either that same day or the next day, switch roles.
- Be in lovers pose. Lovers pose is where partner A sits down with a pillow on their lap with their feet flat on the floor, preferably on a couch so there is room for their partner. Partner B will lay down with their head on the pillow in partner A’s lap with their face gazing up toward partner A. Partner A can wrap their arms around partner B, stroke partner B’s face and hair or simply hold them. Partner A will tell partner B their responses to the following:
What is one thing you find special about your partner?
Describe a time when you found your partner to be very beautiful.
Of all the people in the world I choose you because..
Partners will then switch roles.
- Five minute hug. The final hug. How does it feel to be held by your partner for this long? What do you notice about how your body feels being held?
- Cuddle with less clothes. This can be nude or with underwear on. Have you heard of mothers having skin to skin contact with their baby? Skin to skin contact for adults has benefits too! The body can release oxytocin, you can feel more relaxed, lower your blood pressure, and lower your heart rate during this time. Also take a chance to take in the senses: Listen to your partner’s heartbeat, feel the temperature of their skin, feel the hair on their body, look at their skin, smell the lotion on their skin or shampoo from their hair. Use your senses to be mindfully tuned in to the experience.
- Giver-receiver exercise. In this exercise one person will be the giver and the other will be the receiver of touch for 10 minutes. So often we touch others in a way we enjoy being touched. In this exercise, each person is describing what they would like most. The receiver will instruct the giver how they would like to receive touch for 10 minutes. Tips for the receiver: Make sure to tell your partner the amount of pressure, rhythm, speed, and specific motion such as asking your partner to move their hand in circles or back and forth. Example: Partner A would like their head scratched with nails, light pressure, only at the top of their head, and to go back and forth. After 10 minutes, switch roles.
- 31 kisses for the month of March. In this exercise partners will give each other 31 kisses. Kisses can be on lips, on their cheek, on the forehead, on the shoulder, on the neck, or on the hand. If 31 sounds like too big a number, try starting with 15 kisses. In some instances, kissing may lead to other activities. What would it be like to solely stay with the activity and enjoyment of kissing?
After completing these activities, check-in with your partner. Were you able to be thoughtful in how you touched one another? Were there activities where you felt connected to your partner? In times when schedules are busy, sometimes finding time for loving touch can seem nearly impossible. Connecting through touch can be as short at a six second kiss and build from there.