If the last six months have left you craving psychical human touch, know you’re not alone. That feeling you have, that craving to connect psychically with another person, is called ‘skin hunger‘. It’s a term that crept into the verbal lexicon during periods of isolation in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Touch is important, and moments of psychical connection — whether romantic, platonic or perfunctory — release a cocktail of hormones that make us feel warm, relaxed and positive.
“Touch is a powerful tool, and I often refer to it as a remedy,” says certified sex coach and We-Vibe ambassador, Georgia Grace.
“Touch releases the feel-good neurochemicals dopamine and oxytocin, AKA the ‘bliss’, ‘cuddle’ and ‘love’ hormones that improve your mood, create a natural high, boost your satisfaction and activate the reward circuits in your brain.
“Touch lowers your defences and makes your trust people more, plus strengthens emotional bonds with self and others. This helps you feel closer to your romantic partners on a neurological level.”
Georgia Grace says romantic partners can and should employ touch techniques whenever feelings of skin hunger occur — following time apart, during a period of disconnection, throughout shares challenges, or simply to build on intimacy.
“It is always useful to learn, practice and connect on a physical level,” she says.
Below, Georgia Grace takes us through her step-by-step guide to increasing intimacy via physical touch.
1. Create your space
It is vital to create the time and space for mind-blowing sex. Ditch the technology and lock out any distractions. In creating a conscious and deliberate intention to keep your bedroom for sleeping and pleasure, you will be more aware and in tune with the sensuality you create together.
It is normal to have a lot on your mind and often these stresses and distractions creep into our thoughts while getting it on. It’s not easy, but it is a skill you can practice.
When this happens, acknowledge your thoughts without being attached to them, allow them to pass and bring your awareness to the sensations you’re feeling in your body. If you can’t shake the distractions, keep a notepad and pen next to your bed and scribble them down, you can always come back to them later.
It is so important to prioritise pleasure and connection with your partner and it’s worth putting it high on your priority list.
2. Slow down the fuck down… literally
Sex is mind-blowing when you can get out of your head and into your body. Take time to feel, see, smell, taste your partner and allow them to do the same for you. Slow down and appreciate every inch of their body, notice how they respond to your touch and you will wake up thousands of nerve endings.
Eye gazing is a great practice to start with. For a few breaths, stand so close to your partner that you can feel the warmth of their body without physically touching them.
Intend to sync your breath with theirs and when you can’t stand the distance any longer, kiss gently, firmly, passionately.
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Desire in the Pandemic • To state the blooming obvious, COVID has had a huge impact on relationships. I do see some people and couples doing really well – thriving with time and space to finally enjoy each other (and a quickie at lunch!). But for the majority, it hasn’t been so sweet. It’s safe to say the past few months have not been passion-inducing… Whilst everyone’s circumstances are different – some living with family or children, some with roomies, other couples now living apart – we’re all having to navigate new ways to make it work. Here are some things that might be helpful to keep in mind: • Changes in desire and libido are common: When you’re stressed, your body goes into fight or flight mode, increasing cortisol production and decreasing your interest in sex. With all the financial, emotional, physiological and overall pressure humans are feeling right now, it’s no surprise our libido takes a rain check! • Prioritise pleasure in a sh*tty situation: There’s a lot you can do so don’t lose hope. Figure out what you want and need (this is for all people regardless of relationship style- applies to friendships, family and roomies too…) If you want a massage, ask for it. If you need space, allow for it. If you want to schedule sex with other/solo sex, get out your diary and book it in. • You don’t have to go it alone: I’m flat out supporting people through this time – it’s healthy to seek support to feel grounded and connected in these strange times. There are some incredible resources out there – make sure you get the help you need. Good sex takes intentional time and practice. If you’re not feeling your sexiest, take the pressure off, seek support and reconnect with the things that make *you* feel good. Pulled from a piece I wrote for @bodyandsoul_au. Image via @alexhannibalova
This sounds so simple as we do it unconsciously all day and night, but connecting with your breath is key to mind-blowing, earth-shattering pleasure.
Breathing deeply will relax your body, prolong the experience, build anticipation and help you both experience more pleasure than you ever thought possible. I know! It sounds too simple to be true, but practice intentionally for a week and then let’s talk.
Breathe deep into your belly, relax your body, unclench your jaw and pelvis, move with your breath and intend to bring your awareness to the sexual pleasure you are receiving.
4. Explore touch with your hands
Not only can you give pleasure with your hands, but you can receive pleasure through your hands. Touch parts of your partner’s body that turns you on.
What do you like to touch the most? Their bum, hips, breasts, hair, arms, stomach, feet or back? Explore their body with your hands, it may also feel good for them too.
Hands are so important. Intentional, considerate touch is fundamental to mind-blowing sex and supports you in feeling more connected.
5. Foreplay is sex
The word foreplay completely undermines the value of first, second and third base. Having sex doesn’t just involve penetration and once you come to terms with this, you will learn to be more creative and unlock pleasure potential that you didn’t know existed.
It will help you get out of your head, become present and have sex that is about pleasure, not just penetration.
Play is so important when it comes to touch — don’t forget to include different types of stimulation. Blindfolds, food and toys can work well, particularly the toys in We-Vibe’s range as they all come with access to the WeConnect App, allowing for your partner to control the settings and program the experience.
You can also experiment with Wand toys that allow for all-over body massage, which can be really effective in building intimacy slowly and exploring erogenous zones.
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Which parts of the body do you touch for your pleasure? • Last week I asked you what turns you on the most. From inner thighs to full lips, loads of forearms and, of course, necks and (sexy) backs… There were some common themes, but there was so much variety! Would you look at all these magnificent areas! We touch others for our own pleasure all the time, it’s a healthy, sexy way to engage, to show desire and feel desired ~ so long as it’s done with consent ~ Here’s what you shared, thanks for being a part of this VERY IMPORTANT research
Not all physical touch activities will involve a follow-up of sex — although, as Georgia Grace explains, this will depend on how you define sex. For some people, physical touch will involve hugging only, hand-holding or pats on the back.
For romantic couples, though, it’s best both parties ensure they’re on the same page, both with their definitions of sex, and where they’d like the physical touch exercises to take them.
“First, define sex. Some people would categorise a touch activity as sex. Second, it will depend on your agreement as to whether or not you’ll be comfortable taking touch to deeper levels.
“If you agreed at the beginning that it wasn’t going to lead to sex (whatever that means to you), then it must not lead to sex as you had an agreement and you set the container.
“If you’re working on arousal, desire, libido and after a few physical touch activities you are really turned on and want to continue enjoying each other — and everyone is excited about doing so — then great! Go for it.”