It's no myth that sex, whether kinky or romantic, is a powerful way to increase intimacy with your partner.
Even science says so. During sex, your brain floods your body with hormones and neurochemicals, especially oxytocin, which is best known as the "love hormone"—and with good reason. Oxytocin decreases feelings of stress and dramatically increases feelings of trust, security, bonding, and love, says California-based couples therapist Mary Kay Cocharo.
Skin to skin touching triggers the release of these hormones, making stripping down with your partner one of the quickest and easiest ways to deepen your relationship. Want to take things a step further? Here are seven simple—and sexy—things that will make your next romp more intimate.
Keeping quiet during sex means you’re missing out on an opportunity to build your bond with your partner. Tell them what feels good and what doesn't—and vocalize the pleasure you're experiencing, Cocharo says. “Whether it's through words or moans and groans, you want to show that you're in the present moment with each other.”
Breathing deeply communicates pleasure and doing so in tandem with your partner can help heighten arousal, Cocharo explains. “In tantric sex, we teach people to breathe together to create more connection and more eroticism.”
Avoid distractions at all costs. Make sure the television is off and your phone is silent—your texts and voicemails can wait. During sex, you and your partner should be solely focused on each other, says Cocharo. If you're not, you're missing out on an opportunity to bond, or even worse, you risk offending your partner.
REMOVE PETS FROM THE BEDROOM.
A lot of people sleep with their pets in their bed, but it can be a major buzzkill to have your dog or cat staring at you while you have sex. Not to mention, really awkward.
“If you're trying to look into your partner's eyes and you glance over, and your dog's looking into your eyes, it kind of breaks the mood,” Cocharo points out.
Snuggle with your pets later.
MAKE YOUR BEDROOM A WORK-FREE ZONE.
You sleep in your bedroom, and you have sex in your bedroom. It's not, however, a place to do work, pay bills, or talk on the phone, says Cocharo. She suggests removing computers and charging your cellphone overnight somewhere else. They will only distract you from paying attention to your partner.
OPEN YOUR EYES.
Try focusing on making eye contact next time you're in bed. “There is neuroscience that shows that when two people gaze into each other's eyes, at a close distance—say 18 or 20 inches—that the reactive part of the brain, the limbic brain, calms and allows people to experience a deeper connection,” Cocharo explains.
Just be conscious about breaking that stare if it starts to feel awkward. You don't want to kill the vibe by bordering on creepy.
PLAN A ROMANTIC EVENING.
Let's put it like this: Not every meal needs to be a five-course dinner. A quick burger can really hit the spot sometimes, but too much fast food is never a good thing, either.
During sex, not every romp needs to be quick and intense, sometimes you need to slow down and savor the intimate moments, too. That takes time and requires some planning on your part, Cocharo says. So make sure you carve out time for foreplay and set the mood—she'll notice the effort.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health