About two years I went through a short but intense season of loss. For two weeks, I did nothing but say temporary and permanent farewells. As you can imagine, it was heartbreaking.
Beneath the pain, though, there was an undercurrent of appreciation. Gratitude that on the day I said farewell to my partner (again), a great opportunity presented itself. That I had the means to make a last minute trip and support my friend during a rough time. That I still had so many loved ones in my life.
Focusing on gratitude had an positive if unexpected side effect: all of my relationships became deeper and more intimate. This got me thinking about the power of appreciation to improve your sex life and relationship. Here’s what I realized:
Expressing appreciation is one of the most powerful (and sexiest) things you can do.
Here’s the thing: your feelings and actions are directly linked. So you feel the way you act and you act the way you feel. That means if you act in a warm, grateful way then you’re gonna feel more connected, grateful and affectionate. And also if you think grateful, loving thoughts you’ll act that way more too.
Secondly, appreciating a person says to them, “I see you.” At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want most? To be seen and acknowledged and loved?
So how can use the power of appreciation to deepen your intimacy? Here are four ideas to get you started.
4 Ways to Practice Appreciation
- Begin with yourself. Instead of criticizing yourself, thank your body, mind, and spirit for all it does. When you look in the mirror or make a mistake, catch the negative thoughts that come up. You don’t have to try and change them yet, just notice. When noticing becomes the norm, challenge the thoughts with facts. So “I’m so stupid” becomes “I made a mistake” and “Why are my thighs so big?!” becomes “My thighs let me walk miles every day.” Then, when that becomes the norm, transform the thoughts to gratitude a la “Thank you for this mistake so I can learn what I need” and “Thank you thighs for literally supporting me every step of the way.” I admit- this isn’t the easiest practice. It takes time, patience, and courage. It also has the power to drastically uplift your relationship with yourself and with your partner. When you appreciate yourself more, you can be more present with your partner and focus your energy on enjoying your time together instead of berating or questioning yourself.
- Give silent thanks. Take a few minutes each day to silently thank those who matter to you. If you have a meditation practice, you can work it into that. Otherwise, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, think about who and what you appreciate, and let your heart overflow with love and gratitude. You can also try this with people you have a strained relationship with. Believe it or not (and I definitely didn’t at first!) even just thinking about emotions helps you feel them. Plus your thoughts control your feelings which control your actions so now we’re back to why appreciation works: we tend to feel the way we act. Pretty cool, huh?
- Tell others. Challenge yourself to tell at least one person a day how much you appreciate them. If the idea of this makes you freeze deer-in-headlights style, start with low-stakes folks like your neighbors and acquaintances. As you become comfortable expressing gratitude, begin to share these thoughts with those closest to you like your partner, besties, and family.
- Use it as foreplay. Though most people think of foreplay as only being physical, it’s anything that gets you and your sweetie in the mood. Think: intellectually-stimulating conversation, a solo bath (with wine obviously), or expressing appreciation. Here are two ideas to get you started:
- With words: Tell your partner how much you appreciate that part of their body. You know, the one that drives them wild. Maybe you even give them a detailed description of what you want to do to there.
- With actions: Appreciate their body with kisses, strokes, licks, sucks, and murmured words of endearment.
Giving appreciation uplifts everyone.
Think of how good it feels when someone thanks you. It’s awesome right?! The best part about appreciation is that it brightens someone else’s day as well as your own. Some say this is selfish or not genuine. But really when you’re happier, that spreads to everyone around you. Same with appreciation or any emotion.
So why not give it a go?
If you do, leave a comment below and tell me what you did + how it went.