A wellness practice focused on intimate touch appears to enhance relationship closeness for both romantic and non-romantic partners, according to a new study published in PLOS One.
“We were interested in whether a structured intimacy practice called Orgasmic Meditation (OM) would improve closeness,” explained study author Nicole Prause, the founder of Liberos.
“OM includes a 15-minute practice of manual-genital touching with the only goal to ‘experience sensations.’ Further, we investigated whether an existing romantic relationship would be necessary between the members of the couple in the exercise to experience increases in closeness.”
In the study, 125 couples completed a series of psychological assessments before and after participating in a three-hour experiment, which included a 15-minute OM session together. The couples were all experienced in the practice, having engaged in similar sessions at least 10 times before, but only about half of the participants were romantic partners. The other half were not in a romantic relationship, but did regularly engage in OM together.
The researchers found that participants felt closer to their partner after the OM session. In addition, they found that closeness increased among the non-romantic partners compared to the romantic partners.
“We have long known that positive, shared exciting experiences increase relationship closeness, and this adds information about the components of those experiences that may be important,” Prause told PsyPost.
“Specifically, the structured intimacy practice did not require explicit verbal communication or an existing romantic relationship to increase closeness. Also, genital touch that occurs between partners who are not in an established romantic relationship did not appear harmful, which has been suggested by some therapists and therapies.”
But the study — like all research — includes some limitations.
“The main caveat is that these were individuals who already had experience in the practice we tested. Ideally, we would test the effects in a group introduced to the practice as a part of a study,” Prause said.
“Most participants in our study did not experience physical climax. We are studying the impact of physiological orgasm in separate studies,” she added.
The study, “Partner intimate touch is associated with increased interpersonal closeness, especially in non-romantic partners“, was authored by Nicole Prause, Greg J. Siegle, and James Coan.