Touching is an important part of any sensual relationship, but is all too often forgotten. Psychosexual therapist Paula Hall decribes sensate focus, a series of exercises designed to help couples become more comfortable with touch and build trust and intimacy.
* This exercise takes about an hour, so make sure you put aside enough time.
* Start by preparing your space.
* You'll be naked, so put the heating on at least an hour before so you'll be warm enough.
* Make sure you won't be disturbed. Unplug the phone and lock your door.
Before you start, it's important that you both agree this isn't a prelude to sex and genital touching is out of bounds. You may find you become aroused during the exercise, but this isn't the aim.
Take it in turns to be the touched and the toucher.
You just need to lend your partner your body for 30 minutes: 15 minutes lying on your front, then 15 on your back.
You don't need to say anything unless something's uncomfortable.
Explore your partner's body from head to toe, first the back then the front. Avoid the genital area.
Focus totally on your sensations of touch. Think about the different textures and temperatures of your partner's body.
Think about how it feels to use hard and soft, long and short strokes. Use your fingertips, palms and the back of your hands.
Remember - this isn't a massage. The point is to focus on the pleasure of touching your partner, not giving pleasure. You can do that another day.
When you've finished swap over.
After the hour's up, don't analyse it straight away. In fact, agree that you won't talk about it for 24 hours. This will help you focus on the sensory experience, rather than rationalising the process.
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