our bodies

5 Ways to Get Intimate During Lockdown

February 11, 2021
Dr. Jess O’Reilly

Intimacy means different things to different people and it extends far beyond the bedroom. It may be emotional, relational, verbal, audial, spiritual and so much more. You can cultivate intimacy in so many different ways! 

Whether you’re single, partnered or otherwise engaged, consider these strategies for fostering intimacy during these uncertain times at home. 

1. Plan a digital detox

Technology can both enhance and interfere with relationships and since the onset of the pandemic, more people are reporting technology related exhaustion, interference and anxiety. 

Research continues to confirm that overuse of digital devices detract from presence and connection even when you’re not actively scrolling or typing. The mere presence of a phone (or other digital device) can reduce concentration, mindfulness, connection, empathy and trust, so the negative repercussions apply to singles and couples alike. The urge to check in takes you away from the moment and even if the phone is sitting on the table in front of you, one-on-one  conversations become less fulfilling and empathy declines.  

Setting limits on when, where and how you use your digital devices creates more opportunities to connect and be present.  

Can you consider locking your phone and tablets away this evening? Put them in the basement or a kitchen cupboard so that you can fall asleep with yourself and/or your lover instead of passing out while scrolling. Your whole day will likely change tomorrow if you take a few minutes to wake up on your own without immediately rushing to check messages.  

Women Sleeping

Try it for just one night! See how you feel and consider designating a specific time to shut down on a daily basis. You can set an alarm to remind yourself to put your phone away each night or start with a tech free bedroom just on the weekends.  

Once you become accustomed to nightly detoxes, consider going tech-free at other times throughout the week too! Perhaps you put your phone in the closet during breakfast or turn everything off before dinner so that you can float into the evening connected to yourself or one another instead of being connected to your devices.  

2. Start your day on the right foot (or chest)

This strategy will be even easier if you’ve banned your devices from your bedroom: begin your day with one minute of physical connection.  

Before you hop out of bed, take a moment to pause, breathe and be affectionate by resting your head on your partner’s chest to listen to their heartbeat. This simple act can be so grounding and gratitude inducing, and it can set the tone for connection and empathy all day long. 

If you’re sleeping alone, consider starting the day with seven deep breaths with your hand on your own chest as you slow down and feel your own heart beat. 

3. Have meaningful conversations

Oftentimes, we think of intimacy as what happens inside the bedroom, but the way you interact in the living room and at the dining room table can be just important! And the conversations in which you engage can set the tone for different types of intimacy. 

Especially in long term relationships, conversation can often be reduced to the dark triad of mundanity: work, family and schedules. And though it’s necessary to discuss these three topics, you’ll likely find that you feel more excitement, intimacy and passion if you broaden your conversations to include more personal and meaningful topics. 

Consider reflecting on the past fondly using some of these prompts: 

  • What was the first thing you noticed about your lover? 
  • Why were you first attracted to them?  
  • What excited you most on your first date? 
  • What were you most nervous about when you first met/started dating? 
  • Do you remember your first kiss? What was it like?  
  • What was the wildest encounter you shared together?  
  • How has your lover changed since you first met? 

Or dream of the future: 

  • What is the first thing you want to do once all restrictions are lifted?  
  • What do you daydream of most when it comes to your future?  
  • Where do you see yourselves in ten years?  
  • Where do you want to travel together?  
  • Do you think about retirement? How do you want to spend your days? 
  • Imagine your sex life ten years down the road. How do you anticipate it will look and feel?  

Allow your conversations to flow freely as you dive deeper into your fond reflections and most intimate daydreams.  

4. Explore full body pleasure, with no pressure

How much do you know about your body? Have you explored it in its entirety— for all types of pleasure? Not just sexual! 

Now may be the perfect time to explore beyond the obvious spots and get in touch with your body, and perhaps your lover’s.  

Get comfortable and explore every square inch from head to toe paying attention to your unique erogenous zones. Consider setting aside 15 minutes for this exploration before you get to your more sensitive spots. Here are some ways you can get started: 

  • Use your fingertips to explore the sensitive skin of your face, scalp and neck. 
  • Try pitter patter strokes or use only the backs of your hands with feather light touch. Work your way down your shoulders and across your collarbone. 
  • Move in a slow, exaggerated figure-eight pattern. 
  • Continue across your arms, along your fingers, over your palms. Take your time and enjoy the pleasure. It doesn’t need to be erotic or sexual to be pleasurable.  
  • Explore your chest, abdomen, thighs, knees, calves, ankles and feet.  
  • Use massage oil or trace a scarf over your skin. 
  • Trace all ten fingertips across your skin like a gentle rake.  
  • Roll your fingertips around.  
  • Sweep your palms in broad strokes. 
  • Use your breath and lips on the spots you can reach.  
  • Add lube and let your hands wander… 

Of course, you can try this full body exploration with a partner if you prefer. Take turns being giver and receiver and don’t feel pressure for any encounter to lead to sex (however you define it). Instead, explore for pleasure’s sake and see where it leads.

5. Break up the day with a 60-second favour

Intimacy extends beyond the physical. The way you interact outside of the bedroom can be just as (or more) important than how we interact in bed. 

However, if you and a partner have both been working from home for months, overexposure can lead to frustration, tension and boredom that carries over into the bedroom. 

But there is good news! You can break these cycles with a 60 second act of kindness every single day.  

Performing acts of kindness can lower your anxiety levels as you shift focus to someone else’s feelings rather than your own. And, of course, it will feel good for your partner too! Here are some ideas to start with: 

  • Give them a shoulder rub while they’re on a tense phone call. 
  • Bring them a snack on a busy day. 
  • Warm up their socks on the heating vent in the morning. 
  • Charge their phone when you see the battery getting low. 
  • Massage their hand for one minute without asking for anything in return. 
  • Warm up their side of the bed or put a chocolate on their pillow as a surprise. 
  • Hide a love note in their sock drawer. 
  • Warm up their towel in the dryer while they’re in the shower.  
  • Lay their clothes out on the bed.  
  • Clean their laptop screen and keyboard. 
  • Steal one of their chores so that they can relax for a few extra minutes. 

Celebrating and expressing love all year long with little favours is more important than grand gestures that are relegated to special occasions, so pick one simple act of kindness today and make a habit of daily relationship investments. 

Here’s to a lifetime of intimacy— however you define it!


Dr Jess
Dr. Jess O'Reilly is a Sex & Relationship Expert whose work spans across books, TV, her podcast and her own Ted Talk. For tips, tricks and advice, you can check out her website here.