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Love Exercises

May 31, 2010

Art by Rikuko

  • About half of first marriages fail in the U.S., as do two thirds of second marriages and three quarters of third marriages.
  • We fail in large part because we enter into relationships with poor skills for maintaining them and highly unrealistic expectations.
  • The fix for our poor performance in romantic relationships: extract a practical technology from scientific research on how people learn to love each other—and then teach individuals how to use it.

Art by Hirokazu

1. Two as One. Embracing each other gently, begin to sense your partner’s breathing and gradually try to synchronize your breathing with his or hers. After a few minutes, you might feel that the two of you have merged.

Inhibitions. Countless millions of relationships have probably started with a glass of wine. Inhibitions block feelings of vulnerability, so lowering inhibitions can indeed help people bond. Getting drunk, however, is blinding and debilitating. Instead of alcohol, try the Two as One exercise above.

2. Soul Gazing. Standing or sitting about two feet away from each other, look deeply into each other’s eyes, trying to look into the very core of your beings. Do this for about two minutes and then talk about what you saw.

Art by Jayun

3. Monkey Love. Standing or sitting fairly near each other, start moving your hands, arms and legs any way you like—but in a fashion that perfectly imitates your partner. This is fun but also challenging. You will both feel as if you are moving voluntarily, but your actions are also linked to those of your partner.

Similarity. Opposites sometimes attract, but research by behavioral economist Dan Ariely of Duke University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and others shows that people usually tend to pair off with those who are similar to themselves—in intelligence, background and level of attractiveness. Some research even suggests that merely imitating someone can increase closeness. See the Monkey Love exercise above.

4. Falling in Love. This is a trust exercise, one of many that increase mutual feelings of vulnerability. From a standing position, simply let yourself fall backward into the arms of your partner. Then trade places. Repeat several times and then talk about your feelings. Strangers who do this exercise sometimes feel connected to each other for years.

Arousal. Studies by researchers such as psychologist Arthur Aron of Stony Brook University show that people tend to bond emotionally when aroused, say, through exercise, adventures or exposure to dangerous situations. Roller coaster, anyone? See the Falling in Love exercise above.

5. Secret Swap. Write down a deep secret and have your partner do the same. Then trade papers and talk about what you read. You can continue this process until you have run out of secrets. Better yet, save some of your secrets for another day

Self-disclosure. Research by Aron, Sprecher and others indicates that people tend to bond when they share secrets with each other. Once again, the key here is allowing oneself to be vulnerable. See the Secret Swap exercise above.

Art by Fujisawa Machi

6. Mind-Reading Game. Write down a thought that you want to convey to your partner. Then spend a few minutes wordlessly trying to broadcast that thought to him or her, as he or she tries to guess what it is. If he or she cannot guess, reveal what you were thinking. Then switch roles.

Art by Nariyuki

7. Let Me Inside. Stand about four feet away from each other and focus on each other. Every 10 seconds or so move a bit closer until, after several shifts, you are well inside each other’s personal space (the boundary is about 18 inches). Get as close as you can without touching. (My students tell me this exercise often ends with kissing.)

Proximity and familiarity. Studies by Stanford University social psychologists Leon Festinger and Robert Zajonc and others conclude that simply being around someone tends to produce positive feelings. When two people consciously and deliberately allow each other to invade their personal space, feelings of intimacy can grow quickly. See the Let Me Inside exercise above.

Art by Tetsukuzu Tetsuko

8. Love Aura. Place the palm of your hand as close as possible to your partner’s palm without actually touching. Do this for several minutes, during which you will feel not only heat but also, sometimes, eerie kinds of sparks.

Additional Factors from Studies on Intimacy

Humor

  • In long-term, happy relationships, partners make each other laugh a lot
  • Women often seek male partners who can make them laugh (possibly because when we are laughing, we feel vulnerable)

Novelty

  • People grow closer when they are doing something new
  • Novelty heightens the senses and also makes people feel vulnerable

Kindness, accommodation and forgiveness.

  • We tend to bond to people who are kind, sensitive and thoughtful
  • Feelings of love can emerge especially quickly when someone deliberately changes his or her behavior to accommodate our needs
  • Forgiveness often causes mutual bonding, because when one forgives, one shows vulnerability.

Touch and sexuality.

  • The simplest touch can produce warm, positive feelings, and a backrub can work wonders.
  • Even getting very near someone without actually touching can have an effect.
  • Sexuality can make people feel closer emotionally, especially for women
  • Sexual attraction should not be confused with feelings of love.

Commitment

  • Commitment is an essential element in building love
  • People whose commitments are shaky interpret their partners’ behavior more negatively
  • Covenant marriage is a new kind of marriage (emerging from the evangelical Christian movement) involving a very strong commitment: couples agree to premarital counseling and limited grounds for divorce

Source: Fall in Love and Stay That Way

19 comments

  1. Lovely pictures! Lovely post! Some of these I haven’t ever heard before and I’m so gonna try them ,when I meet my darling!😀 Thx!
    If you are interested, then you should also read Helen Fisher’s ‘Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love’ and of course you can find ted talks of her…marvellous ones…she claims that one reason that nowadays is more difficult to start and retain a relationship are anti-depressants. The drugs contain a substance that decreases the substance responsible for love…
    And thx for the comments on my blog. I hope you come back to see the response every time…I don’t know how to activate a mail notification…:(


    • oh and one more excercise! I read it in ’11 minutes’ by Paulo Coehlo. You and your partner can blindfold yourselves and while naked exploring the other’s body slowly, like taking notes on its geography. Of course, you can always follow the old recipe ‘love goes through stomach’ and try together new tastes or savour some old in a relaxed and beautiful setting😀


      • Oh, I have not read this one as well – sounds interesting. Yes, you can do many things blindfolded😛

        Beautiful setting and excellent food will certainly lighten any bleak mood😀


    • I am glad this post was informative, and you liked my selection of pictures🙂

      I watched Helen Fisher’s TED talks a while ago, but have not read her book – thank you for mentioning it🙂 One thing I don’t like about her view is that she puts too much emphasis on chemistry and biology. These may be important, but, as we see with arranged marriages, only to some extent. Match in personality and values is more important in my opinion.
      This reminded me of this related lecture by Mary Roach: 10 things you didn’t know about orgasm

      Yes, I come back to check your replies to my comments🙂


      • oh I’ve watched her. I understand your qualms about how everything can be interpreted by chemistry. I think that she doesn’t deny personality but on contrary she accepts it – through a chemical interpretation ,that is!
        Check this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEHHKV-xkFw&feature=fvsr

        “We are programmed/ wired to experience love” – we are supplied with the right ‘detectors *wink*

        (although a not so romantic idea, and a bit generalising, I think that’s the truth behind our feelings- after all don’t forget that our biggest sex organ is between our ears- so perhaps brain is the main controler)


        • Oh, thank you for this link🙂

          Ok, let’s see…

          Most things can’t be reduced to only one parameter and depend on biological, psychological, and social factors.

          She is making the terms sound appealing by including names of fancy neurotransmitters that she has not really measured in the population.

          She is making a big deal out of something that is covered in most personality psychology classes, trying to say as if there was a mystery and she solved it! Not really – we already know quite well why people like others!

          Moreover, there are several dimension to true love…


  2. Uwaii! This is so informative! Thank you for sharing!😀


    • You are welcome🙂


  3. *clap* I hope I never have to use these! (jk) … Seems vulnerability is a big ticket item with relationships, which leads me to believe that I shouldn’t keep a cold guard about me in public places where I may potentially meet a nice stranger…. dunno😄


    • Yes, you need to be more vulnerable, and more girls will like you😀


  4. ooooo, so suggestive….Candy Boy pic of the 2 Sakurai-san(s) under the category “Inhibitions”???

    how are you doing, kitsune-san?


    • hehe The format of this post is Picture-Category, but it must have been confusing or the pictures don’t fit well… The picture from Candy Boy was meant to illustrate Soul Gazing…

      I am… quite busy these days… going to move relatively soon… How about you, Mei?


      • oh…enjoy your new surroundings, hopefully it’s inspirational/soothing/relaxing…
        busy times busy times, but it’s always a joy to look at all the nice art you put up.
        thanks a bunch, kitsune-san🙂


        • Thank you, Mei! I am glad you are enjoying my posts🙂

          I hope this summer you’ll be able to take a break from your busy life and relax on a nice vacation🙂


  5. […] Original here – Thanks, Kitsune […]


  6. So many beautiful pictures!

    Interesting post. I linked my boyfriend to it. I remember reading about some of these before, but I’d forgotten about it.


    • Thank you🙂

      Good, I hope this will be helpful🙂


  7. This is so… sweet that it’s lame.
    sorry my cold heart doesn’t warm to such things. haha! I have no interest in relationships… and all this is sickly sweet stuff, it’s like “gahh dude..!” I’d never do that stuff ! esp standing apart and moving together, and looking in to eachothers eye. nuh-uh don’t like people looking at me anyway or being near me xd

    But I like the pictures.


    • You are a strong person – you don’t need another to support you in your life! That’s good!

      I wonder if your opinion will change later.

      Thank you, it took me a while to find and select those pictures🙂



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