SKYN – SKYN

The orgasm gap is real. But fortunately, with the right information, we can work on closing it together ❤

The orgasm gap exists strictly in heterosexual relationships…and refers to the fact that men orgasm more frequently than women. In fact, 95% of heterosexual men, reported that they ‘usually’ or ‘always’ experienced orgasm during sex, compared to 65% of women (and only 39% of college-aged women). The figures vary by study, but the conclusion remains: heterosexual men are coming more than the women they’re sleeping with.

So what gives? Why are straight women having less orgasms than their male counterparts?

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…Two other gaps help explain this gendered issue.

Lesbian vs. Straight Sex: Research shows that the orgasm gap is a non-issue in lesbian relationships — as it essentially disappears. With lesbian women experiencing orgasm 86% of the time. Interestingly, men’s orgasm rates were unaffected by their sexual orientation.

Women Alone vs. With a Partner: Women have significantly more orgasms while masturbating vs. while with a partner.

Red-headed woman in her underwear standing in a powerful position
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“The orgasm gap is a cultural problem”

So — if lesbian women and masturbating women are having more orgasms than women when they have sex with men… what’s causing this gendered gap in heterosexual sex?

Though it could appear that penile involvement is to blame — the orgasm gap is a cultural problem.

Here are just a few reasons why the orgasm gap is as complex as it is cultural.
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The overvaluing penetrative sex

As a society, we overvalue penetrative sex. Just 3 to 10% of women reliably orgasm from penetration alone, yet society consistently presents us with images of women having mind-blowing orgasms from intercourse in movies, porn and on TV.

Our language tells a similar story. We use the words ‘sex’ and ‘intercourse’ interchangeably and clitoral stimulation is considered as ‘foreplay’ and not part of the main event. We have countless nicknames for ‘penis’ and few (if any) for the clitoris. All of this results in misinformation, false expectations and couples thinking they’re doing it wrong.

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The female pleasure taboo

There are endless cultural reasons that contribute to the orgasm gap, but they all seem to stem from our denial of female pleasure. To start, sex education doesn’t usually focus on pleasure. Growing up, our definition of ‘sex’, begins with a male getting an erection and ends with ejaculation. Our society judges women for enjoying sex, having casual sex and having multiple sexual partners. And yet, being able to openly communicate with your partner is key to reaching orgasm.

You can see why it could be difficult to explicitly ask for something that our society is in denial of. Additionally, many women are plagued by self-consciousness during sex… and it’s basically impossible to have an orgasm while sucking in your stomach. Finally, reaching orgasm requires a mindfulness that few of us have mastered in our daily life, let alone our sex lives.

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In an interview with Cosmo, Nicki Minaj made explained that she demands orgasms from her sexual partners. She also explained that she teaches her friends how to demand (and receive) orgasms from their male partners too: “I demand that I climax. I think women should demand that. I have a friend who’s never had an orgasm in her life. In her life! That hurts my heart. It’s cuckoo to me.”

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“I have a friend who’s never had an orgasm in her life. In her life!”
Nicki Minaj

Closing the orgasm gap

Closing the orgasm gap comes down to education, clitoral knowledge, and the willingness to apply that knowledge.

To close the orgasm gap, we have to hold clitoral stimulation and penetration as equal. Most women require clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm, and not penetration alone. Both women and men must understand this and really apply this knowledge.

Because when it comes to the orgasm gap, the work is far from over — not just in raising awareness of it’s existence — but in exploring the deep and complex reasons as to why it’s so difficult for women to ask for and receive orgasms. We must give people the tools they need to explore their own sexual pleasure, and the confidence to communicate that with their partners.

Adding toys into the mix can be a fantastic way to show your partner exactly what works for you and to increase your level of intimacy. Normalizing and using vibes is a simple way to begin closing the gap; vibes are a great addition to foreplay and can be used externally during penetrative sex.

Closing the orgasm gap may be a long and winding road… but one thing’s for sure: pleasure is an endless exploration.

“During quarantine, you’re either alone or together…there’s no in between”, says Charlie Halston, a 28-year-old comedian from London.

With borders closed and travel at a stand still, a huge number of couples have been separated for months. It’s only recently that some of us are seeing our partners again, after all this time.

We have to make up for lost time — and time is of the essence.

Here are some playful ways to restore intimacy after months of being apart.

A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets
A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets
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Deliver-o

The next time you click ‘place order’ on this week’s take-out, get ready. This is a race against time — and whoever comes first, wins.

Yes — that means, either you and your parter, or the person delivering your food.
No — we are not suggesting that you sleep with your delivery driver.

BUT what we are suggesting, is that you and your partner should both try and come, before your food arrives. Have your cake… and eat it too.

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A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets
A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets
A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets
A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets

Sensuality is how in tune you are with your senses — sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. It opens up a powerful passageway to experience raw emotions. Accessing our sensual nature, allows us to feel more deeply connected to others and ourselves.

While sensuality and sexuality may be used interchangeably, the two are very different. Sensual experiences do not necessarily have to lead to sexual ones. However, being in tune with your sensuality can heighten your sexual encounters.

Using personal lubricants in the bedroom can present some seriously exciting ways to explore your sensual side. Not only can lube make certain things possible (i.e. anal), it can also offer a huge range of sensations that can bring sexual play to the next level. About 70% of people have already tried incorporating lube into their love life. But before you become one of them — it’s important to have a basic understanding of how it works, when it can come in handy and what different formulas can do.

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To start — lube isn’t just a natural lubrication replacement — but rather, a vessel for endless exploration. Men of course, don’t produce any lubrication, and while most females are capable of doing so, it’s not always the case. In addition to making anal sex more comfortable and extending the longevity of marathon sessions, lube can be used in a variety of ways… a true sensuality enhancer.

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Water-based lube is the most common type of lube.

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Water-based lubricants

Water-based lube is the most common type of lube. It can be used for pretty much all of your sexual needs: penetration, masturbation and with toys. Water-based lubes are also ideal for sensitive skin and vaginal irritation and it’s the best option to use with condoms.

Pro tip* the fact that it’s water-based makes it the easiest to clean out of sheets and clothes.

“My boyfriend got me a bottle of SKYN Aqua Feel while on a road trip once, so now we just keep it in the car. Anytime we drive somewhere especially beautiful, we both usually feel compelled to use it. It’s a nice way to experience our surroundings in a new way and to create memories together that are just for us” says Jake, 33.

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“WOW… It’s incredible”
Mila, 25

SKYN Excite is more than a water-based lubricant — it’s an orgasmic gel for her. It was specially designed and tested by women to maximize the female sexual experience. “Using SKYN Excite with my girlfriend was so intense…in a good way! You just have to gently massage it onto your clit… it takes a minute to kick in and then WOW… it’s incredible” says Mila, 25.

A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets
A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets

Silicone-based

Silicone-based lube is slippery, long-lasting, and the best for longer sessions. “At gay play parties, there really aren’t many toys” says James, 22… “there’s lube, there are condoms, there are wipes, but generally, there’s just bodies. What you see is what you get. SKYN All Night Long is the only lube I bring.”

The ingredients in silicone-based lube require less to be applied and less reapplication. It’s also #1 for shower sex and shower masturbating, as the silicone is resistant to water.

Just remember, silicone-based lube shouldn’t be used on silicone sex toys, as it can break down the rubber over time. However, there are many toys that are made from other materials, like hard plastic, glass and steel, so this lube is still great for that!

A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets
A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets

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“We use our favorite oil-based lube as massage oil and then what’s left for personal lubricant”
Camille, 29

Oil-based

Oil-based lube provides a slippery feel that stays on longer than water-based lubricant. Oil-based lubes are ideal for masturbation, penetrative unprotected sex and water play. “The best is when my boyfriend starts by giving me a luxurious massage and then eventually it turns into something more. We use our favorite oil-based lube as massage oil and then what’s left for personal lubricant… it’s super convenient” says Camilla, 29.

Oil-based lubricants (or other oil-based products, like coconut oil) should not be used with latex condoms. The oil dissolves the latex of the condom and can cause them to break.

Using Lubricants with your SKYN Products

While using a condom, use only water-based or silicone lubricants, such as SKYN Aqua Feel, SKYN Excite Gel or SKYN All Night Long. Do NOT use anything oil-based like petroleum jelly, coconut oil, butter, hand creams or body lotion. While using a condom, withdraw occasionally, to add more lubricant. Most* SKYN Lubricants are compatible with sex toys, including SKYN Vibes, SKYN Stroke and SKYN Thrill.

 

*SKYN All Night Long is silicone-based and therefore is not compatible with SKYN Vibes.

Choosing the right condom can take some trial and error, but most men will agree that their favorite is “the one that’s readily available”. SKYN also has an excellent assortment in their Selection pack, so you can test out what feels best for you and your partner. Male condoms offer 98% effectiveness against unwanted pregnancy and STIs — and nothing’s sexier than safe sex…

There are three main materials condoms are made from: natural rubber latex, synthetic materials and lambskin (with latex being the most widely-used by producers). However, an increasing number of women and men are turning to non-latex options, as latex can be to blame for rashes and allergic reactions. It all comes down to using what feels right for you. Try out an assorted Selection pack and find what works!

SKYN condoms are the world’s most-sold non-latex condom. This cult status comes down to SKYNFEEL® — a revolutionary material that is noticeably softer and more natural-feeling than regular condoms. SKYN condoms offer the same protection against pregnancy and STIs and they’re manufactured in a facility that doesn’t process latex at all.

Users report SKYN condoms as feeling ‘barely noticeable’ and ‘full of sensitivity’, while remaining safe and suitable for people with an allergy to latex. The brand offers a ton of latex-free options too—from extra lube, larger sizes and flavored.

 

Here are 6 types of condoms, so you can see what sounds best for you.

SKYN Natural Feel Original Non Latex Condoms

This is a new generation of condom and loved by many. Made from SKYNFEEL®, a technologically advanced, non-latex material, proven to enhance stimulation. It feels so soft and comfortable that you’ll barely notice wearing it, allowing you and your partner to really feel everything.

It offers a straight fit with ultra smooth lubricant not spermicidal, a smooth texture and 53 mm size with reservoir tip.

SKYN Elite Non Latex Condoms

This is our thinnest and softest condom, offering everything of the original design, except 20% thinner than SKYN Original. Offering the most ultimate natural feeling.

The SKYN Elite is incredibly 20% thinner than SKYN Original! With the same straight fit, ultra smooth lubricant not spermicidal, smooth texture and 53 mm size with reservoir tip.

SKYN Extra Lube Condoms

Lubricant allows you and your partner to extend play. SKYN Extra Lube condoms contain 40% more long-lasting lubricant compared to SKYN Original condoms. These condoms offer the maximum amount of comfort, enhancing your experience. All SKYN condoms are made from SKYNFEEL® material.

 

SKYN Intense Feel Condoms

Instead of *just* protecting against unwanted pregnancy and STIs, condoms can play more of an active role in offering up interesting sensations. SKYN Intense Feel condoms have a wave design texture with raised dots in all the right places. The dots are placed in the most sensitive areas to maximize stimulation and enhance pleasure.

SKYN Large Non Latex Condoms

This is the same much-loved condom, made from SKYNFEEL® only larger. It feels so soft and comfortable that you’ll barely notice wearing it, allowing you and your partner to really feel everything.

It offers a straight fit with ultra smooth lubricant not spermicidal, a smooth texture and 56 mm size with reservoir tip.

 

SKYN Cocktail Flavored Condoms

SKYN Cocktail Club condoms are new non-latex “flavored and scented” condoms, inspired by cocktails. Flavors include Piña Colada, Cherry Sunrise and Passion Daiquiri. The SKYNFEEL® material in this condom lets these fruity flavors really shine—as there is no latex smell to hide.

SKYN Cocktail Club condoms are consistently voted the “Best Flavored Condoms” and they are the only non-latex flavored condoms.

Erectile dysfunction happens to the best of us. And while we’re used to seeing white-haired men in Viagra commercials, the truth is — that a significant number of men affected by ED are young, sexually active and otherwise healthy. Age is just one of so many other factors that determine your risk for developing erectile dysfunction. More often than not, lifestyle-induced stressors are to blame and (good news!), can oftentimes be reversed.

One in four men seeking help for erectile dysfunction is under 40, and according to New York City sex therapist Stephen Snyder, M.D, the most common causes in young men are psychological barriers like anxiety, anger, or shame. Only about 5 percent of these men have complete erectile dysfunction. Thus, it’s important to recognize possible causes and to correct them early on, if possible.

Here’s a list of potential causes of ED, that have nothing to do with your age.

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1. Porn

Watching porn is a fact of life, but studies have shown that a compulsive use may lead to an increase in ED and a dissociation with real-life sexuality.

2. Psychological conditions

This one is huge. Any disturbance to mental health, including stress at work, hormone imbalance, seasonal depression, anxiety etc. can greatly impact your ability to perform sexually.

3. Unhealthy diet

Our modern diet is extremely high in refined sugars and processed carbs, which in addition to negatively affecting our overall health, has been shown to inhibit healthy vascular function necessary for getting and maintaining an erection. The chemicals and artificial additives found in processed foods may also affect your testosterone levels.

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Tattooed couple kissing

4. Obesity and inactivity

Research suggests that nearly 80% of men with erectile dysfunction have a BMI of 25 or higher. Inactivity only adds to this, contributing to poor cardiovascular health and potential symptoms of ED.

5. Medical problems and certain medications

Health issues that affect circulation, including diabetes, heart disease, etc. may increase your risk of ED. Additionally, prescription medications often come with a long list of potential side effects, including sexual dysfunction. Unlikely culprits include antihistamines and anti-depressants.

Tattooed couple kissing

6. Smoking

Smoking inhibits circulation necessary for getting and maintaining an erection, quitting may improve symptoms of ED.

7. Alcohol and drug use

Last, but certainly not least, recreational drugs and alcohol can dull physical sensations and heighten psychological problems, intensifying any issues that may already contribute to erectile dysfunction.

Let’s be honest, a lot of the things listed above are unavoidable and part of modern life as we know it. However, simply being aware of these factors may help you to make positive changes that could decrease your risk for developing ED down the line.

ED is something no man wants to experience, but the good news is — it’s incredibly common, easy to treat and medication is extremely effective in most cases. “Medications like SKYN arise can be lifesavers…often, these medications can help break the vicious cycle between ED and the negative emotions that ED produces”, says Dr. Snyder.

If some form of erectile dysfunction happens to you, don’t ignore the signs. If you’re interested in exploring treatment options for ED but don’t know which drug or treatment would work best, you can fill out our online medical questionnaire and a licensed physician will evaluate your needs and medical history to prescribe the most suitable option for you — no doctor’s visit required.

Perhaps the least-documented of all sexual acts, is the post-sex cleanup.

It’s strange. We’re all in agreement that sex gets messy… pretty much every time. But we really don’t talk about it, not even a little bit. And without any how-to guides leading the way… really all bets are off. People have been left to their own devices for far too long in this sector, and the feedback we’re getting is extremely varied. We interviewed a range of people, and their after-sex responses ranged from unhygienic to haunting.

Cleanup consisted of answers like, “dick in the sink” to “t-shirt” to “cum towel” and “baby wipes”. But overall, it really feels like we’re all sort of winging it…

Basically, however you’re confronting this post-sex sitch, SKYN wants you to know: there’s a better way!

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SKYN’s Get Fresh Intimate Cleansing Wipes are super gentle, moisturizing with shea butter and provitamin B5, and can be found on the same shelf as condoms and lube.

All SKYN products are designed using the very latest technology to give couples the most intimate sexual experience. From condoms, to lube, to toys, to delay spray for men… SKYN products are simple and natural.

And whatever you like to do right after sex, we promise that Get Fresh wipes will have a place, and may just be your favorite new habit ❤.

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Get Fresh Wipes

Get Fresh Wipes

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“It’s the gentlemanly thing to do”
Emma

Blogger, Emma A. writes, “I don’t think my partner and I have ever had a discussion about who should clean me off after sex. He’s just always taken care of it. And that makes sense to me. As far as I see it, it’s the gentlemanly thing to do… I also invested in a baby wipe warmer, which has been great!”

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A pre-pee wipe is perfect… and this is the biggest post-sex advice. Always pee after sex! It will protect against dreaded urinary tract infections (UTIs) and will flush out any bacteria in the urethra from penetrative sex. Condoms can help reduce the spread of bacteria, but it’s still always a good idea to pee asap regardless.

Sperm has been known to throw off the pH balance of vaginas, so these wipes are the perfect tool to wash away any bacteria and quickly re-balance your pH. Healthy vaginas “have a pH between 3.8 and 4.5, which makes them slightly acidic. Semen, on the other hand, is between 7.1 and 8 — making it slightly alkaline. As a result, semen can potentially disrupt the delicate balance that’s ideal for vaginal flora” states Dr. Susie Gronski. Vaginal canals on the other hand, will clean themselves, (vaginas are good like that) — so never douche or attempt to clean the inside.

  • What brings people closer than having sex?
  • Foreplay

“It’s true… foreplay can help partners feel closer and more intimate, which ultimately leads to both parties feeling more aroused”, says Debra Herbenick, PhD, MPH, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University in Bloomington.

And there’s only one rule: however long you think you should be spending on foreplay… it’s always best to multiply by at least two.

So, we’ve done some polling and compiled a list of personal tips, describing different types of foreplay that has brought people closer to their partners…❤

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Close up of the back a couple inside a bathroom

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“For me, the best foreplay always starts with a conversation about what turns me on”
Ryan, 30
1. Don’t neglect the obvious

“Communication is key. I honestly think there’s nothing sexier than a guy who looks me straight in the eyes and asks me what I want him to do to me.

It sounds kind of obvious, (and it really is), but you’d be surprised how rarely that happens. I could never understand why someone would try and guess what feels good for me, when — I’m sitting right there! For me, the best foreplay always starts with a conversation about what turns me on.”

— Ryan, 30

2. Take it slow

“Especially when I haven’t seen my girlfriend in a while, it’s very tempting to just get right to the main event. But what I love even more, is when she’s begging for it. I really take my time when I’m going down on her and love watching her freak out.

The extra attention means that she’s closer to coming, if she hasn’t already. And it’s less pressure on me to last forever. I never have to worry about finishing before she does.”

— Alessandro, 32

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“I go crazy when my girlfriend does anything to my ears”
Nicolette, 24
3. Ears

“I go crazy when my girlfriend does anything to my ears. Light kisses, nibbling, licking—really anything. And then when she brings it down a little further to the neck— it’s all over. My body’s already in a full spasm.

— Nicolette, 24

4. Don’t fear the vibe

“I’m going to be honest… I was a little shy about breaking out my vibrator in front of my boyfriend. But once I got over it, I loved driving him crazy while he watched me use it on myself. I also love when he reaches around during sex and holds it against me, but that’s for another article. My all-time favorite is the SKYN Vibes Personal Massager

— Helena, 67

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“The attention alone is such a turn-on and always puts me in the mood, even if I wasn’t to begin with”
Rae, 18
5. Take it outside

“There’s nothing sexier than a little PDA dragged out over an entire day. Everything from making-out on the street to touching my guy over his pants at the restaurant— is very underrated. One thing he’ll do that makes me insane… is lean in and whisper in my ear how badly he wants me when we’re in a very public place. It pretty much makes me get instantly wet, and really heightens the anticipation until we get home.”

— Sofia, 45

6. Just add water

“I once read that touching your partner’s breasts lowers stress levels by 70% — and I couldn’t agree more. After a long day, my favorite thing is showering together. Especially after a particularly stressful day at work — to just wash the day off, get clean and relax together. And then if it ends up going further, there’s always lube.”

— Nicolas, 27

7. Touch

“The sexiest thing my partner does, is how they take their time touching me. It’s almost like a light tickle up and down my entire body. Once they start stimulating me with their fingers and then it’s all over. The attention alone is such a turn-on and always puts me in the mood, even if I wasn’t to begin with.”

— Rae, 18

One girl on top of another touching her face in bed

 

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8. Feet

“My boyfriend’s hands are so strong, and he gives the best foot rubs. The slower, the better…and I know he likes watching my reactions. It’s the ultimate combination of foreplay and physical therapy.”

— Noa, 33

9. Play with my hair

“Ok, there’s definitely a ‘right’ way to tug on your partner’s hair…but when it’s right, there’s nothing hotter. It’s best when your grip is firm and as close to the root as possible, away from the face. What’s great is that this can really be done at any time— while kissing their neck, whispering in their ear and of course, during sex.”

— Quinn, 45

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“The sensation of his lips over the fabric was incredible”
Chloé, 21
10. Nips over everything

“I’ll never forget the first time my boyfriend took the bed sheet, held it up to my chest and kissed my nipples through it. The sensation of his lips over the fabric was incredible and now I ask him to do it all the time…”

— Chloé, 21

Sex toys are empowering… and can improve intimacy exponentially. For starters, toys offer entirely new ways to learn exactly what you like, as well as close the orgasm gap with your partner. In fact, 49% percent of couples who use vibrators report communicating often, whether it be about sex or other subjects. In contrast, of those who don’t use vibrators, only 29% could report the same level of openness and communication.

And the beauty of toys is, each shape and size serves an entirely different purpose…

Here is a sneak peak at three toys and what you can do with them.

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1. The ‘rabbit-style’ vibe

A rabbit vibrator is a combination of an external vibrator and a G-spot toy. Rabbit-style vibrators have an external piece that provides vibration to the clitoris, while a second deeper attachment can go inside for G-spot stimulation. What makes this toy perfect is it’s versatility. It’s designed to provide maximum pleasure and blended orgasms, but can also be used one way or the other.

The SKYN Vibes Personal Pleasure Vibrating Massager is a great rabbit-style option. This vibe has multiple settings and is perfect for solo-quarantine-play, to safely explore what you like…and then together with a partner.

“The day I taught my boyfriend how I like to use my vibrator was definitely a turning point in our relationship”, says Liana, 32.

You can put on an incredibly sexy show by masturbating with the vibe in front of your partner, while describing what you’re doing. You can also try placing the vibrator in your partner’s hand and then guiding them with yours.

2. The male masturbator

Male masturbators or ‘strokers’ often feature a soft, tube-like space to masturbate into. With all of them pretty much mimicking the feeling of oral/vaginal/anal sex.

The best toys are designed to blend in. The SKYN Stroke Male Self-Pleasure Egg, checks all of these boxes. The egg design is super discrete and can come in handy anytime. It truly couldn’t look less suspicious.

A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets
A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets

3. Bullet vibes

The beauty of bullet massagers is that they resemble slim tubes of lipstick and are discrete enough that you can bring them and use them anywhere. They’re perhaps the easiest and smallest type of vibrator you can use, and feature one easy on/off switch.

A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets
A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets

For so many reasons, the year 2020 is about embracing authenticity. It’s about being open in our sexual exploration and unapologetic in our actions. It is a collective rejection of whatever’s holding us back.

More than ever, we are less-defined by our age, gender or sexual orientation than ever before. Instead, we are defined by our state of mind: a common quest for truth, a desire for experience and a thirst for pleasure.

A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets
A naked girl laying in gray bedsheets

As a society, we are coming to terms with the idea that pleasure is an endless exploration. Intimacy is not a caricature — like porn, or movies, or brands would have us think. Real intimacy is poorly-timed, awkward, messy and imperfect… and it’s these imperfections that make it so incredibly exciting.

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Close up of the back a couple inside a bathroom

For the first time we are learning… without judgement, shame, or shyness — to become comfortable with the idea of embracing what we like and exploring it. And becoming less hesitant to say “no” to what we don’t.

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In 2020, I vow to

Be honest with myself.
Be honest with my partner.
Feel comfortable exploring porn.
Masturbate more.
Be open to trying new things.
Endlessly explore my sexuality.

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Don’t fall into the trap of performative sex
Erica Garza

Author Erica Garza perfectly sums it up: Get a vibrator, explore your body, see what you like, don’t be afraid of fantasy, explore your mind, be honest in the bedroom, and don’t fall into the trap of ‘performative sex.’ We might think sex looks a certain way, or a guy will like certain things, but it’s important to be real and honest and not be afraid of being vulnerable about your desires.”

Save Intimacy is your guide to exploring barriers to intimacy. With devices an everyday presence in our lives, we set out to question our habits and examine the relationships between technology, personal connection and intimacy.

Inspired by SkynFeel, our technology that’s designed to bring you closer together, we’re giving you the chance to get back in touch with intimacy. Join SkynFeel here to enter the draw to win a boutique hotel stay – we’re giving away one £500 Mr and Mrs Smith gift card each week for 10 weeks.

Find yourself reaching for your phone when you have a spare moment, only to disappear down an Instagram/email/cat-meme hole and wonder what happened to the last half hour (or more)? If you’ve been thinking you spend too much time with your smartphone, you’re not alone. Almost 40% of people in the UK feel the same. Whatever your motivation for wanting to cut back on tech-time, these tips can help you rely on your devices less and connect in-person more.

Put your phone away during dates

“Are you actually listening, or is your phone more interesting?”

Familiar scenario? Switching your focus from the person you’re spending time with to your screen signals indifference, even if that’s not your intention. It’s not surprising that phubbing – phone snubbing – has been linked to relationship dissatisfaction: phubbed partners report feeling disconnected and excluded. And not only does phubbing peeve your partner, but it can also keep you from making a new connection. A University of Essex study found that smartphone use creates a barrier to the development of new relationships by reducing the level of closeness people feel in conversations with someone they’ve just met.

So when you’re on a date, whether it’s dinner, drinks or casual hangs, avoid the temptation to cheat with your phone – switch it off and leave it in your bag or pocket.

Try tech time-outs

Going cold-turkey may not be easy, so work yourself up to it by starting with small boundaries. It could be as simple as setting a switch-off time each night, or designating a window each day for checking and posting on social media; the trick is to begin with small sacrifices and build up your stamina. Even consciously reminding yourself of other things you could be doing instead of another binge-watch session can be helpful. Why not go for a walk, or suggest going for a picnic? After all, any attempt to break the usual routine is positive, and time without devices leaves more space to connect in person – with yourself or someone else.

Go old-school

Make friends with paper. Simple things like writing down your shopping list instead of typing it in your notes app can help cut back phone time. If you’re in a relationship, finding a sweet note your partner’s left for you can make you feel special and appreciated – probably because it takes a little more thought and effort than shooting off a text. And when you’re having a tech-free day but you still want to keep in touch with your friends or crush, give them a call from a landline telephone – but write everyone’s numbers in a notebook first. Most of us don’t remember phone numbers because we trust our devices to do it for us – a symptom of the digital amnesia caused by outsourcing our memories and information storage to technology.

Train yourself to be okay with quiet moments

Habitually pulling out your phone during idle moments, like when you’re on the Tube or waiting for your date to show up, can be a sign that you’re not comfortable being alone with your thoughts. The compulsion to phub can be attributed to a similar discomfort we feel when the flow of talk trails off. We’re so used to the constant stimulation our devices provide that we can’t handle gaps in conversation or shared quiet moments, so we default to our phones. Instead, we should think about these moments as opportunities: to let our minds wander or do something rewarding, like reading, when we’re alone, or to consider what’s been said and respond or ask questions more thoughtfully.

Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock

Unless you’re disciplined and keep your phone over on the other side of the room, forcing you to spring out of bed when your alarm goes off in the morning, you’re likely to keep your phone on a bedside table or the floor beside your bed. When your device is right there before sleep and when you wake up, so is the temptation to read emails, respond to notifications or watch a few Instagram Stories in the dark – a habit recent research has shown can speed up macular degeneration, a condition that’s a leading cause of blindness. Plus, if someone’s in bed with you, leaving your phone in another room means it won’t distract your attention from them.

Save Intimacy

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