Exercises for Building Love

Here are five of the 25 exercises in “Making Love,” a book I am writing that explains how people learn to love. The exercises — which create a sense of vulnerability, the first step toward emotional bonding — can quickly help you and your partner increase the amount of love you feel for each other. In laboratory settings, they even work in varying degrees on total strangers. After you try some of them, imagine doing exercises like these with your partner on a regular basis to make the love you share stronger over time. Better yet, imagine regularly and deliberately participating in a variety of unscripted activities that intensify your and your partner’s vulnerability. How might doing so affect your relationship over a period of months or years?

Soul gazing. Standing or sitting about two feet apart, look deeply into each other’s eyes, trying to look into the very core of your beings. Do this for about two minutes, then talk about what you saw — or just enjoy the feelings you now feel.

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

Falling in love. This is a trust exercise, designed to 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 talk about your feelings.

Let me inside. Stand about four feet apart and focus on each other. Every 10 seconds or so, move a bit closer, until you are well inside each other’s personal space (for most Americans, about 18 inches). Get as close as you can without touching. (This exercise often ends with laughing, kissing or both.)

The secret swap. Write down a deep secret and have your partner do the same. Then trade papers, and talk about what you read. Continue this process until you have run out of secrets, or, better yet, save the untold secrets for another day.

— Robert Epstein

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