The Best Present You Can Give Your Partner This Holiday Season? Touch

It’s that time of year when many of us begin to search frantically for the perfect holiday gift for a significant other. Despite all of the time, effort, and money we put into buying this present, though, a lot of us find that—after the holidays—it is quickly forgotten and, at best, brings only temporary happiness. You might be able to avoid that outcome this year and potentially improve your relationship at the same time by instead giving your partner a gift that promotes touch and intimacy.

As I have previously written, touch is one of the keys to a happy and healthy long-term relationship. Unfortunately, many couples find that they don't touch each other nearly as often as they used to the longer their relationship goes on. This can potentially make you feel distant from your partner both physically and psychologically, as well as contribute to relationship problems. Adding more touch back into your love life may not only help to resolve these issues, but prevent future problems from arising.

So what can you do if you if you want to introduce a little more touch into your love life?  My go-to recommendation is to offer your partner a massage—but not the kind where you make an appointment at the spa. I’m talking about a massage that you give with your own hands.

It turns out that a lot of people don’t know how to give good massages. I mean, perhaps you've had the experience where someone presses too hard or in the wrong area? That's no fun. Massages are supposed to be relaxing, not irritating. That's why I recommend learning some massage techniques before you begin—your partner will thank you.

For a crash course in massaging, I recommend Melt: Massage for Couples, a three-part video series you can watch in the privacy of your own home and practice over a sequence of date nights. The video segments are short, informative, and tastefully done. The techniques, taught by Australian massage therapist Denis Merkas, are easy to learn and intended to make sure you hit the right spots.

One of the things I like about Melt is that it builds on a lot of the fundamentals of sensate focus, a couple’s exercise originally pioneered by William Masters and Virginia Johnson that involves promoting relaxation and building communication skills through non-sexual touch [1]. The goal of sensate focus is to set aside some quality time to concentrate only on each other, replace feelings of stress and anxiety with relaxation through mutual touch, and communicate with your partner about what feels good. Melt does all of this.

To be clear, this isn’t an erotic massage program; however, research suggests that you may very well find that the act of giving each other massages has the potential to spark sexual desire. As some evidence of this, a study of nearly 40,000 American men and women found that the most sexually satisfied couples were the ones who gave each other massages or backrubs [2]. That’s right—these results suggest that frequent touch just might help when it comes to keeping passion alive.  

If you’re interested in learning more about the Melt video series, check it out here. For a limited time, readers of Sex & Psychology are eligible to receive a discount on Melt with savings of $55 and a free bottle of massage oil with the masterclass video bundle. If you want to take advantage of this special offer, please click here.

Enjoy, and happy holiday shopping!

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[1] Masters, W., & Johnson, V. (1970). Human sexual inadequacy. Boston: Little, Brown.

[2] Frederick, D. A., Lever, J., Gillespie, B. J., & Garcia, J. R. (2017). What keeps passion alive? Sexual satisfaction is associated with sexual communication, mood setting, sexual variety, oral sex, orgasm, and sex frequency in a national US study. The Journal of Sex Research54(2), 186-201.

Image Credit: 123RF/Piotr Marcinski

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