couple having sex

Is Safe the New Sexy? The Link Between Safety and Intimacy

Our deep desire for intimacy lies at the very core of human relationships. It's something most of us crave and seek. Yet for so many of us, even in a “good” relationship with regular sex, we may still have a yearning for something more.

The word intimacy is often used interchangeably with “sex”, but they are not exactly the same. At LIT, we believe true intimacy is feeling close, understood, emotionally connected, and valued. And intimacy is the magic ingredient to truly toe-curling, mind-blowing, and life-altering sex and relationships.

Developing intimacy requires a nurturing environment. And no, sorry to disappoint, that “nurturing environment” isn’t just massages that we hope lead to something more!

At the heart of this environment lies a critical element - safety. In this article, we’ll explore the integral role of safety in creating a foundation for intimacy and how the tenets of SPARK (Sensuality, Presence, Affirmation, Reverence, and Kink) can guide you in creating a safe space for intimacy to thrive.

The Foundation: Safety as a Bedrock

Before diving into SPARK, let’s understand why safety is so crucial. Feeling safe with your partner means knowing that you can be your true self, share your deepest emotions, and explore new experiences without fear of judgment, criticism, or betrayal. When safety is present, partners feel free to express themselves, leading to a richer, deeper, and more fulfilling intimate connection.
You might be thinking to yourself, “Hey, of course my partner knows they can be their true self with me!” That may be true on a certain level, but unless you are regularly and intentionally setting aside time and space, and most importantly, an invitation, chances are there is still SO MUCH here to explore. What if creating safety in your relationship didn’t feel like a chore, but a super exciting and even sexy way of relating to one another? The following is a journey that you can go on with your partner to start to create safety in just one evening. For best effectiveness, try focusing on just one partner in a session.

S - Sensuality: A Safe Space for the Senses

Sensuality is about engaging all the senses to awaken the body and emotions. It’s something that doesn’t take a great deal of time, but is such an important element. And just like when you’re under the bright lights of a dentist chair, you don’t feel very sensual (unless that’s your kink ;), chances are if you take the time to create an inviting atmosphere, you will feel like opening up more quickly. Warm, low lighting signals the body to relax. Soft music can wake up the emotions, and a clean space can let us focus on connecting rather than chores. Mist some lavender to calm the nervous system, brew a warm, soothing drink, and sit down facing each other. There is a part of being human that naturally responds to ritual, pomp, and circumstance. Take some time to make this extra special. You won’t regret it.

P - Presence: Being Here, Being Real

Presence is about being completely in the moment with your partner. It’s about putting away devices and distractions and really focusing on each other. Presence is a key element to safety because your partner really needs to feel seen by you. To really “see” someone, you need to tune into their breath, watch their eyes, and listen fully. Make the moment about witnessing their experience, not about you.
Try asking your partner “What’s alive for you right now?” This question tunes them into their experience in the moment. Next: It’s time to show up for your partner as a therapist or the Dalai Lama would. Using your imagination to pretend to be someone else isn’t a cop out, it’s a tool to help distance yourself from your own ego showing up in the moment. So when your partner says something like, “I am having a really hard time keeping up with work, the kids, and the house and I’m struggling to find time for myself.” Hopefully what you won’t hear is, “You need to carry your share of the housework, you lazy SOB.” You’re the Dalai Lama, remember? You are all wise and understanding and you just want to help this person in front of you feel safe to be seen in their authentic experience. Ask questions with curiosity to gain greater understanding and empathize with your partner by reflecting what they say. “Ahhh, yes, that feels hard…” Or “sad” or whatever honors their experience. You’re not trying to fix them or solve their problem. you’re letting them know it’s totally safe to feel their true feelings as they are.
Two men cuddling in bed, one with his hand on the other's heart

A - Affirmation: The Power of Positive Words 

Affirmation involves expressing appreciation and validation openly and frequently. If we were to carry on from the previous example, then an appropriate response might be, “I see that you are carrying so much, and you are working so hard. You deserve time for yourself. You deserve to relax and feel loved and appreciated. I see you. I’m here for you.”
You don’t need to discuss the ways in which you will work to find time for the above now, unless it feels right. Most people just need to be witnessed and held in their pain and suffering. Just being seen in this way creates a well of safety. To know that they can say what they are truly feeling and there not be a negative outcome is so powerful. This positive reinforcement strengthens trust, which is a cornerstone of safety and intimacy.

R - Reverence: Honoring Each Other in a Sacred Space

Reverence is about cherishing your partner through acts of devotion and admiration. Safety is established more deeply when partners treat each other with respect and honor. This can include small acts of service, thoughtful gestures, or rituals that show appreciation and admiration. Our favorite way to do this is by using different types of non-sexual touch to explore each other’s bodies. By non-sexual, I don’t mean that this isn’t sensual. I mean that the aim isn’t sex (whatever that means in your relationship). In a sacred, safe space, combined with presence and affirmation, this can be a transformative experience.
Lead your partner to a comfortable space, where they can disrobe to their comfort level. Caress their face, run your fingers through their hair, whisper all the things you love about them in their ear. Use your fingertips to gently explore every part of their body. Try ice, warm or cool breath, your lips, and your hair. We’ll be releasing a line of sensual touch tools to enhance this experience soon. Stay tuned!

K - Kink: Embracing Surrender, Play, and Exploration

Kink, to us, represents the playful and adventurous side of intimacy. Maybe it seems a little out of place in this list? In this particular framework of creating safety, we are exploring trust, surrender, and playfulness. The partner in this scenario is the one being worshiped, held and seen, and the “kinky” part in this regard is freeing yourself from the notion that you need to reciprocate in some way. I know, not so wild, right? But it can be a surprisingly difficult thing to do in practice…to not only receive sensual pleasure without reciprocating immediately, but also to open yourself to fully receiving the affirmation, reverence, and presence that you deserve. In my mind, practicing surrender in this way also means not letting weird, sneaky self-talk into the picture. Don’t doubt or question the wonderful things your partner says to you, just let it in. Let it penetrate you first, before anything else does. *wink*

Nurturing The Flame

Safety and intimacy are intimately entwined. Through the principles of SPARK, we can see how creating a safe space allows for deeper connection, authentic expression, and joyful exploration and expansion within a relationship. So, as you venture into the realms of deepening intimacy, remember to keep the torch of safety burning brightly. By doing this, you are laying the foundations for a relationship that is not only secure but also passionately alive in every sense of the word.
Stay LIT, my friends.
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