Intimacy & Sexuality – SKYN

We live in a world where your refrigerator can order groceries online, you can ask Siri to recommend the best Italian restaurants nearby, or order Alexa to dim the room lights. Spotify can recommend the next ear-worm while Netflix can introduce you to the best TV show you’ll ever binge. From recommendation algorithms to virtual tour of properties and life-like gaming, we interact with technology daily. The man-machine relationship has reduced human interaction to a level where it has affected intimacy.

In the ‘Netflix and Chill’ era, romantic date nights have taken a backseat: partners prefer to order in, and binge shows, instead of a night out. Contentment and life satisfaction have taken a turn for the worse with unattainable #Goals. We still throw parties, but rather than talking to each other, we prefer to chat online. Now the problem isn’t with chatting, it’s with online interactions that take precedence over genuine heart-to-heart. Slowly, this has seeped into how we act, making communication very mechanical and devoid of human emotions. The constant distractions are hampering physical as well as emotional intimacy.

Rise of technology addiction

Technology isn’t inherently good or bad, the over-dependency is what breeds several problems. Whether it is the local transport or a roadside café, you won’t find a lack of people glued to their phone screens and tapping away like there’s no tomorrow. While it might sound funny, addiction to technology is all too real. The rate at which adults consume online media and depend on technology for everyday chores is frankly alarming.

The technology was meant to help and not hinder. What makes addictive substances difficult to resist is the dopamine kick they are supposed to provide. The same is the case with present-day technology. The feel-good factor when someone likes your Instagram post or comments on your Facebook update is what keeps you coming back for more. While it might feel harmless, anyone can fall into this loop, which eventually develops into a severe addiction. Proven cases suggest that technology addiction is one of the several reasons behind crumbled relationships. Pathological addiction to technology leaves very little time for real-world interactions which are quintessential to a healthy relationship.

The curious case of digital isolation

While a majority of the technology in use today was built to connect people, it has had quite the opposite effect. There is no denying that the internet and social media has indeed shrunk the world, but constant communication has taken a toll on actual human connect and turned us into isolated individuals. We have become so used to online communication that we have replaced face-to-face communication with digital interaction. This confusion between real and digital connection has grave consequences on our relationships.

It is difficult to read emotions while chatting, and we often, unintentionally, end up saying things we regret later. Relationships are built on understanding and openness–whether it is sad news, conflict, or joy, open discussions with your partner strengthen the bond. Online chatting provides a platform where sharing difficult news becomes easier because there is a certain sort of anonymity to hide behind and avoid raw emotions. This robs us of the opportunity to come close and process the feeling of loss, together.

Compromising time spent with loved ones

Given our current lifestyle, everyone seems to be busy 24×7–always on the move, always working. Whatever time we can take out of our hectic schedule, we should spend with our loved ones. But our tech dependency and addition take a toll here as well. The only cure to quitting this toxic addition is practicing restraint. Start small by banning the use of smartphones during meals and encouraging family interaction.

Substituting physical intimacy with digital means

Physical and emotional intimacy constitutes the building block of any successful relationship. Addiction to sexting and pornography have proven to affect an individual’s sex drive and setting unrealistic expectations. With tech proliferation in the adult entertainment industry, VR enabled pornography has offered several lucrative venues which can be hard to resist. When practiced in moderation, both sexting and pornography can be adventurous for a couple, but the problem arises when physical intimacy is threatened due to their continued abuse.

The only way out of this technology-laden hole we have dug ourselves into is by practicing self-control. So, drop that phone, grab your loved one, look into their eyes, and bare your soul with SKYN®.

It’s been nearly two decades since Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fell in love over emails and AOL messenger chats in You’ve Got Mail. We’ve come a long way since chat rooms and messengers. The world has been introduced to Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and a dozen other applications that allow us to stay connected with friends and family and meet new people. Dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, and Bumble have helped numerous people meet the love of their life. However, with the social media overload that is so evident, the question arises: How does social media impact our relationships, intimacy, and sexuality?

The social media bubble casts an illusion of human interaction on the user. While actions such as liking a post, reacting to a photo, commenting and (or) sharing a post might count as an interaction, in reality, it is just a tap on the screen. It’s not unusual to spot a couple at dinner, texting away or scrolling their social media feed, barely talking to each other over the course of the meal. While social media has done a commendable job in connecting old friends and making new acquaintances, it has created barriers between individuals–of course through no fault of its own. Like any other piece of technology, social media isn’t inherently good or bad; it all boils down to how one uses it.

Not enough time for intimate connection

Staying in touch has never been easier. Couples can remain connected 24×7, and while it might sound like a good thing, it creates a dependency on technology which cuts down on the special alone­ time. Reports suggest an average adult spends over two hours a day on social media platforms. That’s two hours precious hours gone from a very hectic schedule of 21st-century life. This can wreak havoc in terms of intimacy if left unchecked. Minimal time spent connecting on a personal level and no heart-to-heart sets relationships up to failure.

Unfair comparison breeds contempt and insecurity

One behavior of our time is the glamorous social media image everyone wants to project. Often it’s so very far from reality. However, that doesn’t stop people from comparing themselves and their lifestyle to others. While some might be harmless, like ‘couple goals,’ others can have a diminishing effect on one’s self-esteem. For instance, a photo album of someone’s trip abroad can trigger feelings of jealousy and insecurity. Coupled with the fear of missing out, if not handled properly, this can quickly turn into a trip down the rabbit hole. At these moments, it is essential to stop and decide what you want from the relationship and reassess what is triggering the reaction. This has proven to help take the edge off an unwanted response.

Fading attraction towards the significant other

Spending a majority of time online and engaging more with others than your partner can have serious repercussions. Couples have reported cases of reduced libido, loss of spark in the relationship, and overall drifting away. There have been few instances of infidelity and cheating arising from similar circumstances as well.

Digital Detox is not the solution

Undergoing a social media digital detox is akin to trying paleo/keto diet or cutting carbs out from your meal. Sounds fantastic but rarely works. The answer to dealing with the drawbacks of spending way too much time on social media isn’t totally cut off. It is to limit the time you are spending on it. Bring down your usage of social media bit by bit to accommodate for the special couple’s time. You can start by putting your phones down during dinner, limiting your online interaction during the day to promote real-time conversation, limiting usage of social media an hour before bedtime, etc.

It is easier to blame a tool like social media for a failed relationship but understanding the core problem is much more critical. While social media has been a boon, it has a fair share of banes, and it is up to us to decide how we’re going to let it affect our relationships. It all boils down to how we handle our social life, private life, as well as our life on social media. Many a time, we don’t realize the time we spend scrolling and consuming so much content that real contentment lies in effectively balancing between the three- social, private and social media.

The key to a healthy relationship is building trust and understanding with your partner. Spending time with your partner and understanding their needs is as important as being with them physically. It’s a basic human emotion to feel safe with our better halves. Of course, it is easier said than done, but to contemplate an intimate and fulfilled love life, it is but essential. In fact, safe sex is the cornerstone of every great intimate relationship and is essential to #saveintimacy.

Being intimate is so much more than just the physical part of the relationship, in fact, there is a direct correlation between feeling safe and enjoying a satisfying love life. Being intimate is about opening up, sharing secrets, being vulnerable without fearing judgement, and enjoying the shared safe space. It’s no surprise that adventure and excitement are the building blocks to a long-lasting and intimate relationship but not at the cost of trustworthiness, integrity, reliability, and safety.

There are no two ways that physical intimacy is a key factor that sustains and nourishes a relationship. While there are no strict Do’s and Don’ts, here are a few tips that should come in handy for safe and more intimate lovemaking:

Understanding Your Partner’s Needs

Often times couples facing intimacy problems talk about unfulfilled desires. This stems from a very basic misunderstanding of each other’s needs and mismanagement of expectation. The solution to this is as basic as the core problem. Be open to each other about needs and desires.

There might be instances where your partner might not be comfortable about a particular position or a sexual act. Instead of forcing them or ignoring the denial, talk about it, understand the hesitance and work towards solving it. Similarly, if you don’t want to perform certain sexual acts, be vocal about it with your partner without being disrespectful. Sometimes the cues might be very subtle, and that is where a non-confrontational environment helps people open up, and in turn, builds a deeper emotional bond.

Take time to understand what your partner’s expectations are, what do they really want and invest in your relationship emotionally. A keen study of their mood, while difficult can be very important in figuring out their behavior. But with enough practice, you can tell you whether they are tired, emotionally drained or need some alone time.

Create A Safe Space

As mentioned already, the key to building trust and intimacy is being able to feel safe, without fear of judgement. Promoting such a safe space obviously requires getting the basics right, whether it is practicing safe sex using contraceptives viz. condoms, or introducing an ample amount of foreplay.

Your partner should feel that you really care about their physical as well as mental wellbeing. The end goal of this space is being able to talk about things which would otherwise remain hidden. You can encourage this exchange by sharing your stories and providing your non-judgemental perspective on their stories.

Appreciate Your Partner

We human beings are a complicated lot. We need validation as much as we need assessment and criticism. If your partner is conscious about their body or their looks, make them feel at home. Remind them how much you love them and how much you appreciate spending every waking hour in their presence. This not only helps form a compassionate and intimate bond but also helps in their individual growth.

Spend Time Making Your Partner Feel Comfortable

Never be in a hurry, make sure your partner is feeling comfortable. Engage with your partner in rewarding foreplay sessions to ensure both of you are sufficiently aroused for longer-lasting and intimate lovemaking. You can start off by stroking and teasing each other, providing little visual treats while undressing, playing with each other’s clothing, etc. The main aim is to breed a certain degree of freedom and comfort before getting physically intimate.

Respect Each Other’s Personal Space

Maintaining and respecting boundaries are the cornerstone of any successful relationships. Establish a set of do’s and don’ts, identify no go zones and discuss sexual intimacy, which otherwise might lead to invasion of personal space. Now, there might be scenarios where personal spaces are intruded upon, and boundaries are crossed, but it doesn’t mean, we have to do away maintaining personal space. This is not a fail-safe, which you start questioning after every small debate or disagreement.

There are no fail-safes in a relationship, these are just a few things you can include and practice in your life for better, fulfilled and intimate relationship.

Long-distance relationships can be very hard to maintain. You need to put in a lot of hard work but at the end of the day, the investment of time and effort is all worth it. Contrary to popular belief, long-distance relationships have a lot going for them, as they say, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. While it may seem that the separation creates a vacuum emotionally and physically, meeting your loved one after a long time sparks a renewed interest and fondness in the relationship.

The current high-press and demanding lifestyle take a toll on all of us, but making time out of your busy schedule for your partner shouldn’t be a chore. In fact, it should be a release, a catharsis of sorts. Dedicate a part of your day, to #saveintimacy and work on your relationship. In no time it will become a habit, a ritual. It can be difficult to practice what you preach and that is why every small bit counts. Here are a few tidbits that will help in reinvigorating the lost spark in your long-distance relationship:

Keep Them Guessing

When the distance cuts off the possibility of frequent visits and physical closeness, then substitute that with surprise gifts and visits. While the topic of planned visits will be discussed later, there is no denying that surprise visits can bring unbridled joy! Gifts like handwritten letters and DIY cards can remind them of the good old days and will do nicely in the absence of physical intimacy. Keep the surprises coming and keep them guessing what’s next. This is guaranteed to keep them on their toes.

Listen To Each Other’s Voice Daily

One of the biggest factors contributing to the failure of long-distance relationships is the lack of communication. Not hearing your loved one’s voice for a long time can create a vacuum leading to a strained relationship. It is absolutely essential you maintain a schedule where you call and engage in a conversation every day. This will take your minds off the physical separation.

Do Things Together

A great way to feel together is to do things that you love, together. You can watch your favorite movies and TV shows together, keep updating each other about the latest episodes, or talk about upcoming movies, etc. If you and your partner both are into gaming, then there’s nothing better than playing online games together.

Fix Date Nights Over Skype

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Who said you can’t have a romantic date night if you are miles apart? Schedule video calls over Skype and order in your favorite date night dinner talk to each other and have a great bonding time. You can order in from different places every week and enjoy great food with great company, missing out on nothing!

Plan Visits Together

Instead of going to visit each other, why not visit and discover a new place? Going to meet each other at your respective locations can get a little monotonous and here’s how you can spice things up- visit a destination together, have a little vacation and create memories that you can cherish together until your next planned trip. You can work with your partner in creating a vacation calendar considering both of your holiday schedules.

Join Each Other’s Inner Circles

Considering we spent a lot of our waking hours in the company of our colleagues and acquaintances, it’s a great idea to become a part of your partner’s everyday inner circle. Start by asking your partner to introduce you to some of their friends from the workplace, gym, coffee shops, etc. Join them for a night out or maybe a house party, and gradually build camaraderie. You can then follow them on social media and stay updated with all inner circle happening. This will keep you informed about your partner’s day, and upcoming events, thus avoiding isolation.

Keep Things Fresh

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When there is a lack of physical intimacy, the onus is on you to keep things spicy. Never stop flirting with your partner, let them know how attractive they are and how truly blessed you are to have them in your life. A flirtatious text accompanied by seductive photos will certainly help. Now, of course, you don’t have to maintain a fixed timeline for this but make sure you frequently text each other expressing your love and affection. Slip in innuendo and maybe a naughty photo every once in a while. Another imaginative must-try is fantasizing about them and creating stories which you can later share for an intimate moment.

Don’t Be Afraid To Share More

Living miles apart, we tend to drift away from each other’s day to day affairs. And that is exactly where the emotional distance in the relationship creeps in. The best way to avoid that is by keeping your partner in the loop with everything happening in your life. Don’t stop if you feel like you have overshared, because knowing about your current situation will help your partner sympathize and understand you better. Staying aloof on the other hand can have disastrous repercussions.

Set And Accomplish Relationship Goals

Keep things interesting by setting goals for yourselves in terms of the relationship. Not sure where to start? How about planning agendas for your meets? One meeting can be all about Netflix and chill, where you spend time with each other and catch up on all that’s been. The next meet can be all about discovering new eateries and bonding over food. During one such meet, you can spend time with your partner’s local circle of colleagues and learn about their recent accomplishments. Setting up and achieving these goals will not keep things interesting in your relationship but will also take your mind off the distance between both of you.

Start small and eventually you will regain the lost charm in your long-distance relationship. You can #saveintimacy from heading down the boring, humdrum path.

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.

Late last night, with my arms full, I carried clean sheets to my bed. Shaking out the fabric, I congratulated myself for splurging on 1,000-thread-count cotton and high-end linen. The extra cash was well worth it – the fabric feels amazing. I pulled the bottom sheet taut over the mattress, shook the pillowcases over the pillows and smoothed the duvet cover. I unfolded my new pyjamas, shimmied inside and crawled into bed. After some cajoling and hefty bribery (we’re talking “I’ll buy your coffee every day for a week”), my boyfriend massaged my neck. As his thumbs smoothed out my shoulder muscles, my body responded in kind with goosebumps. I had always related goosebumps to fear (thanks to those creepy books we all read as kids) or a cold so icy that it makes your teeth chatter. These goosebumps were different, evolving out of unadulterated pleasure.

What was the catalyst for these joy- filled little bumps?

At a base level, how did they appear on my skin? The moments of touch from my boyfriend’s fingers stimulated my skin’s tiny muscles, the ones connected to every hair in my body (and yours), and caused them to shrink. This contraction left a shallow dip that also made the skin around the hair – and the hair itself – pop up, a result of the fight-or-flight instinct passed down to us from our animal ancestors. But since we are no longer furry hunter-gatherers, our goosebumps are now triggered by intense emotions rather than life-or-death situations. Turns out my boyfriend’s touch had sent such a profound jolt of pleasure through my body that my physiology picked up on it.

But what’s in a kiss?

The next morning, as I left for work, I gave my boyfriend a kiss goodbye – a simple act that has become a routine over our two years of dating. He’s a fantastic kisser, but I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences. Reverse goosebumps, if you will.

See, there’s also an entire science behind making out. A good kiss is like a good massage: it gives us goosebumps and generally makes us feel closer to another person. Kissing induces the ‘happy hormones’ – oxytocin and dopamine – and in turn decreases cortisol, a stress hormone, which explains why you feel relaxed after locking lips. A bad kiss usually happens because someone feels misunderstood. Research has shown that saliva contains testosterone – hence why men may enjoy a little more slobber. But, as most women will tell you, a slobbery kiss is about as sexy as a barnacle on a boat. In short, hold back on the wet kisses – they’re really not for everyone.

So we’re not hunter-gatherers anymore, and our fight-or-flight instinct isn’t always triggered by life or death. But maybe our goosebumps are our own personal wingmen, giving us the thumbs-up when something about someone tickles our fancy. Either way, I know that the massage from my boyfriend was definitely worth a whole week’s worth of coffee.

Save 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 13 weeks.

Today, porn is one of earliest sexual educators around the world. The issue with this, is that the majority of porn tends to be centered exclusively around biased situations and offers young viewers a distorted perception of sex and intimacy, that could involve violent behavior, non-consensual relationships, and/or unrealistic reactions.

And the adult industry concurs. “Porn is not a how-to guide” urge porn stars Stoya and Dale Cooper. “All sex education can’t be thrown on porn…but at the same time, porn could play a bigger role — instead of just focusing on penetration” Cooper says.

Stoya adds, “[porn] is bluntly superficial entertainment that caters to one of the most basic human desires. Pornography exists and is not going to go away anytime in the near future. I see it as neither inherently empowering nor disempowering. Showing up on set and doing my job is not an act of feminism…my politics and I are feminist… But my job is not.”

All sex education cannot be thrown on porn, but at the same time, porn could play a bigger role
Dale Cooper

In her own words, Stoya states, “I use my body to make gender-binary-heterosexual-oriented pornography for a production company that aims to have as much mass appeal as possible”. In other words, porn is “just a job” for both Stoya and Cooper…however — it does make porn stars pretty much experts on the difference between sex and true intimacy.

Here are 5 pieces of advice from porn stars for increased intimacy.
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Close up of the back a couple inside a bathroom
1. Consent

“One of the most problematic things that porn doesn’t show, is what consent looks like and how important communicating is with your partner, before and during sex. It’s something that’s as important at-home, as it is while filming.

As performers, we’re usually handed a 20 page contract that says, ‘Here’s payment info. Here’s what you’re doing. Do you consent to this?’ many times. There are also constant check-ins between performers and directors, it’s really supposed to be an open dialogue.

Simply having a conversation about what sexual partners want and don’t want is the best way to increase desire and improve the scene. In my personal life, it’s the same case. There’s nothing that turns me on more than someone who asks me what I want.”

2. Don’t skip foreplay

“I’m a huge believer that foreplay can truly be better than sex. I also treat every interaction with my partner as foreplay.

From texting, to dinner, to how we speak and look at one another in public — every action forms a connection, and every action has the power to make the sex that much better.

Everything is foreplay — it’s really that simple. It’s also always a good idea to brush up on tips and techniques for mind-blowing foreplay — thank me later! :)”

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Close up of the back a couple inside a bathroom

“Most women can’t come from penetration alone, this is a myth. I repeat —

THIS. IS. A. MYTH.

Make sure to go down on your partner and get her off, she wants to cum as badly as you do. And if for some reason you bust too soon… come back and finish her off! No one likes to be blue-balled — especially not me! Try using a clitoral vibrator while you’re penetrating her too, I recommend the SKYN Vibes personal massager… I’m obsessed.”

4. Lube and wipes are your friends

“For anal, we usually use SKYN All Night Long Lubricant or organic coconut oil*…and intimate cleansing wipes are a game-changer”

5. Be safe, get tested!

“Using protection, getting tested and wearing condoms is essential for porn stars. It’s something the industry as a whole does amazingly well, and I think it’s something we could really educate more people about—it’s so important. Incredible sex is always safe sex.

*Using coconut oil as lubricant is damaging to condoms.