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Discover the Power of Physical Intimacy and Touch in Relationships

Pallavi Barnwal
Updated on June 22, 2024
Discover the Power of Physical Intimacy and Touch in Relationships
Table of Contents

“Is sex the only form of physical intimacy? Can simple, physical touch ever be enough? I’m 31 and new to physical intimacy and need some tips from you.”

I received this query from a female follower of mine sometime back. A lot of people want to spice up their physical intimacy but don’t know how to. They believe they have to do something out of their way, which they don’t know. Let me tell you that spicing up your sex life needs one simple element: simplicity.

Touch is the core of physical intimacy but is often misunderstood.

When people think about physical intimacy, they often picture something frantic and urgent, with fast, rough touches all over the place. I had been with men who thought their sexual prowess was all about going for half an hour in penetration. For the longest time, I believed penetration was a primary pleasure, and a simple touch wasn’t going to build a good relationship or romance between couples.

It is through my own experience (of acting happy on the outside while just going through the motions internally) and professional sexology studies – that I understood that the right kind of touch is so important in physical intimacy.

And this insight changed my life a lot and in a very good way. And there’ve been many ideas that have had an impact on my life. But if I have to pick one, I think it would be the idea that to touch well, you have to feel. Touch is crucial in a relationship, and among the 5 love languages, physical touch plays a significant role.

Yet the average husband and wife in society aren’t aware of the fact that physical intimacy is not just about sex. And this unawareness negatively impacts their marriage & emotional intimacy. Sex becomes boring, and lacks luster, lacks variety, and the couple feels so exhausted that they barely have the energy to have sex. Therefore, it is essential to understand that a strong relationship, romance, and touch – all go hand-in-hand.

Why does physical intimacy decline between husband and wife over time?


Before marriage, physical intimacy looks different. As time goes by in a relationship and the ‘honeymoon’ phase ends, couples come down from the high hormonal plane. The high-level hormonal plane supports rough, fast, intense sex but once this hormonal level declines, this rough-hard-fast model of sex becomes unsustainable. Just like a relationship evolves, life evolves, the physical intimacy should also evolve along with your relationship. But most couples don’t know what that evolution means in sex.

The evolution of physical intimacy & emotional intimacy in a relationship or marriage

Go finer, and subtle in your physical touch while interspersing it with rough-fast-intense sex as you please. This will not just improve physical intimacy but also emotional intimacy in your relationship. But how to go finer and subtle in your touch?

It is about ‘feeling the touch’ in physical intimacy

Feeling the touch helps couples expand their experience thus countering the most common complaint that sex life is the same and thus non-exciting. When I talk about feeling during touch, I mean touching someone with all your five senses engaged and being fully present in the moment.

You have to feel your partner’s body with your fingers and your body, sense their breath, and pay attention to both yourself and them. It’s about staying off script and opening your eyes, your ears, your nostrils, and your heart to truly connect. This full sensory connection is the full romance.

‘Touching to feel’ is the idea of not treating your hand as just a mechanical object or some sort of tool. Your hand has got nerves that can feel and thus when you touch it, you feel.

Focus on feeling through touch for emotional intimacy

Being touched and giving touch are two different experiences; how does it feel to receive touch; how does it feel to give touch? You will notice that the experience of feeling is quite different than when you are not focusing on the “feeling” but rather just “doing”

Let’s move from ‘doing touch’ to ‘feeling it’.

Lifetime practice for physical intimacy: How to ‘touch to feel’

The first part is can we touch to be aware of the sensations under our hands, in our fingertips? Can we become so aware of the sensations that we are experiencing? The sensations in our hands and bodies. Yes, we touch primarily with our hands. But actually, we touch with our entire bodies when we make love. Just this morning my partner connected my chest to his in a moment of hug.

Physical touch and being physically affectionate is present in all aspects of our lives

Physical touch is important in all parts of our lives as we move through this world. We are sensory beings that move through this world sensing and feeling it.

A gentle handshake with a stranger in a networking meeting, hugging a long-time friend, assuring someone with a pat on their shoulder who is going through a breakup. So many different types of touches come across our lives. Our sense of touch is the oldest of senses. It’s the first sense to develop in fetuses. And all of our other senses are specializations of the sense of touch.

That’s how we are wired but today we don’t feel much because of sensory numbing as a result of living a consumerist life. But if we feel, if we allow ourselves to feel, we can feel so much and we can take so much sensory gathering of information. This is exactly with touch. You experience more of touch; you activate more of touch when you touch to feel.

That’s how important physical touch is to build emotional intimacy.

More physical touch examples

If you ever observe an infant or a toddler, you’ll see how curious and enthusiastic they are about touching and playing with the most random of things. That’s how human beings connect with the world around them. By simply touching. But like I said most people have not fully explored the sense, the feeling of touch which is what this blog explores.

You can touch to feel the whole world around you. But when we touch to feel our bodies and the bodies of people we love and care about, a whole world opens up of feeling. For example, when a child touches a plush, fluffy toy – the child feels endearment. When we touch a soft cotton fabric, we instantly feel a sense of comfort.

Our bodies are blessed with this power to experience so much feeling and pleasure. We have specialized nerve endings on our fingertips that can detect micro changes of texture and temperature and use that information to sense and feel. And as we start to feel this other realm of feeling opens up within us emotions, and feelings.

We can sense the feeling and we feel emotions.

Diving deeper into understanding the role of physical intimacy and touch

We sense the outside world and we feel what it makes us feel inside – this is an integral part of our anatomy and is a chorus that works together. And you will notice this as you touch your own body or someone else’s body. You feel the sensation and you feel the emotion. But most people numb their emotions even when they feel the sensation.

Most of us are only touching inanimate objects like our smartphones, laptops, ATMs, tabs, cars, bikes, and other gadgets. Most of us spend so much time working on our laptops and smartphones that our hands become working hands. Our hands constantly type keyboard buttons to work with machines. These keyboard buttons are non-feeling objects and so our hands become non-living tools.

So, because of this habit, we also tend to touch our partners in the same way, like a non-living object. But human bodies aren’t inanimate, there are about 7 trillion nerves in our bodies. Yes! 7 trillion. So, touching a human body is not the same as touching a lift button or a switch around your house.

I will bring back your attention to the feeling aspect of touch. Imagine pressing a button on the ATM; you’re not feeling what that machine is feeling but when you are touching other living beings such as pets and plants you feel right. The tenderness with which someone gardens, because we are touching another living being. In a similar vein, when we are touching our loved ones, when we are making love, we touch to feel. So, did you understand the difference between mechanical touch and feeling touch for better physical intimacy?

This split between sensation and emotion creates dissatisfaction in a relationship.

And that’s one of those things that fascinates me is this experience of sensation feeling and emotional feeling together is a deeply human thing. And they’re so entwined. And so, we acknowledge that and each one of them helps us pay attention to the other.

Tips for modern couples to enhance physical intimacy & emotional intimacy

Start to slow down and pay attention to your body, to the sensations you are experiencing, and allow yourself to feel inside your own body and feel your emotions. And that is so powerful. And this is one major reason that sex is a vulnerable and overwhelming affair and even scary sometimes – because sex makes us feel the whole realm of human touch and this full-body, skin-to-skin contact triggers different kinds of emotions, as our bodies open up.

That’s why many married couples who deep down lack emotional depth are unable to melt in the bedroom. Unable to touch each other in all surrender and result in no sex after marriage even if they are good friends.

Studies show that activities like cuddling, kissing, hand holding, eye contact, and hugging can enhance a romantic relationship further, as these physical kinds of physical touch release feel-good hormones in our bodies.

So, start to ‘feel’ the physical touch for physical intimacy.

See what kind of emotions the physical touch brings in you, whether you are touching another person or you are touching yourself. Ask yourself, am I touching just for the sake of it, to please another person, to distract myself, to get a temporary high or am I allowing myself to descend and rise in the full spectrum of pleasure, depth, feeling the whole spectrum of sensations that my body, mind, and soul is capable of?  

Last reviewed on July 5, 2024

Learn more about our editorial process.

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