Physical Intimacy: Characteristics, Body Language, Benefits and Step-by-Step Guide to Initiating Intimacy

Stefan Speaks

Stefan Speaks


Table of Contents

This time it’s all about mushy body language –

Physical intimacy is probably the most direct expression of affection we have. And with no surprise, it revolves mainly around tactile sensations and gestures.

In this post we will go through some points to consider:

  • What does it means being intimate in terms of body language?
  • Does it have to include sex (or even touch)?
  • Is it the same for everyone?
  • And of course – what we can benefit from it?

But first of all

How are Intimacy and Body Language Connected?

It’s a fair question – and therefore I’ll give not one, but 2 explanations:

1. We express intimacy through our body language.  Our desire to being close to the ones we love is a major factor we cannot ignore, both when reading body language of others, and understanding our own.Did you ever wonder who just wants plain sex and who wants something more? Maybe the answer is in the subtle signals.

2. It’s a sensual communication. I believe one of the reasons we study body language is because we want to have a better romantic relationships. A key to an awesome relationship is a good communication, right? And is there a better way to communicate we love someone if not being physically close to him\her?

What exactly is physical intimacy?

It’s truly a hard question, because it’s quite similar to asking “what is love?” I can try to explain this by words, but to truly understand it – you need to experience it.

First of all, physical intimacy is both the end result AND the mean to express our warm emotions. It’s like a bubble of love – feeding on its own energy. The more you have – the more it grows.

On the paper it looks simple – it’s our basic sexual desire to being close, and probably touch, someone we like. The meaning behind such gestures, however, can vary: from a pure sexual craving to a deep expression of affection reflected in a physical form.

Physical intimacy gestures include:

  • Standing close (in each other’s intimate space)
  • “Deep” eye contact
  • Holding hands
  • Hugging
  • Cuddling
  • Caressing
  • Kissing
  • Keeping heads together
  • And of course, sexual intercourse

As you can, physical affection doesn’t need to include touching, sometimes it’s just enough to stand close and “dive” into our loved one’s eyes. But touch is a more “advanced” and sensual form of intimacy; A healthy relationship should include some tactile gestures to show affection and strengthen the bond.

There’s an actual process, a “ladder” of steps involving escalating gestures of intimacy that ultimately leads to intercourse. You may call it the human mating dance, and the specific steps were described by Desmond Morris – an English author and researcher. I will discuss it in the final part of the series, or if you really can’t wait – you can jump right to it.

What about Sex and Body Language?

As we know, sex isn’t always an indicator to feelings of affection. Sometimes it’s just the end result, the final step in our “ladder”. In other words, physical intimacy doesn’t always mean that there is emotional intimacy.

So how can we distinguish between a pure sexual desire and “true” feelings of affection?The steps in both cases are pretty much the same, but when it’s only a sexual desire, the end result – the sex, is the peak.

The gestures will escalate fast from a simple eye contact and “innocent” touching to more intimate gestures, kissing, and finally you can find yourself lying in bed with a complete stranger.When there is affection, then the couple will enjoy the physical intimacy for the sake of it – being close together is enough. There is no rush, and even after the sex they will enjoy being together.

That’s why there’s so much misunderstanding in couples with different desires, the guy may want to skip to the “important part” as he feels stuck and not getting anywhere; while the girl might enjoy the intimacy, so she slows down the process.

I’m not implying here that it’s better to have affection before sex, and that “meaningless” sex is bad. Not at all, we have physical desires, and sometimes we prefer to release them without the emotional package.

Is it Physical Intimacy the same for everyone?

As you might already guess – it’s not.

While the steps that lead to physical intimacy are pretty much the same for everyone (it’s not ok to French kiss someone you just met, not even if you’re in France) our sexual preferences may vary entirely.

When it comes to love and sex, it’s really hard to put the finger on what’s right and what’s wrong for each relationship. If your boyfriend doesn’t like to hold hands it doesn’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t like you – he might just prefer more space.

There is also the cultural factor in play, especially when it comes to public display of affection. What is appropriate to do, and what not. These things often have deep psychological roots – because we learn about love and sex mostly from our culture.

For example, in Japan, kissing is considered to be a very erotic act and therefore you will rarely see in public.So when you want to determine “how much does s\he loves me?” try to get the big picture; is it something about your specific relationship, or is it something that comes from personal preferences or culture.

Benefits of Physical Intimacy

In other words – what’s in it for me?

Even if you’re a purely a cold hearted utilitarian, there are some benefits that might be worth your while to get a little “attached”:

1. It allows us to communicate on entirely different level. It’s even beyond body language, when we know someone so intimately we can almost read their thoughts only through a look in their eyes.What happens actually is that we become experts in reading body language of that specific person, because we watched him\her so many times. We know the little quirks and expressions that will mean almost nothing to strangers.

2. It has health benefits, a lot of them. Being touched by our loved ones can result in the release of 3 very cool hormones:

  • Oxytocin – AKA the love hormone. This hormone is what makes the love last. It increases our feelings of sympathy and keeps the relationship strong.
  • Dopamine – this one has many roles, involving our attention and learning functions. It’s also reward related hormone that released when we have a great time, or consume drugs.
  • Serotonin – this is the “feel-good” hormone”. It’s a hormone that helps relay signals between our brain cells and increase the function of our body. It’s also believed to help prevent depression and therefore included in many anti-depressant drugs – like Prozac.

So one of the natural ways to increase your serotonin levels without swallowing pills is to be in a good company.  I recommend reading more on serotonin here.

A side note: don’t you like the fact that science can explain the things we intuitively know to be true? I mean, who thought that being surrounded by your loved ones helps prevent depression?

To Sum Things Up

Physical intimacy is great, we all want it and we always strive to get closer to the people we love. How close and how “sticky” the relationship is determined by the parties involved, there’s no right or wrong here. I had a relationship where I was “forced” to be attached and I hated it, and another where I had so much “freedom” that I wasn’t sure we were actually a couple. So finding the right amount of intimacy is a balancing act and it should be comfortable for both sides.

How to get to physical intimacy

Let’s discuss “the ladder” to physical intimacy that I mentioned before. This is the process of gradually escalating gestures and actions that starts in making acquaintance and ends with sex. You may call it the human mating dance.

Kino escalation is exactly that. It’s a term taken from a pick-up artist lingo, and it describes the technique and routines that the pickup artist uses to create attraction and rapport with his potential target for seduction.

Note: “Kino” comes from “Kinesthetic” and it means that of a physical feel.

In this post we’ll go step by step and see how tension and closeness are gradually built, plus we’ll look at the technique pickup artists use.It’s time to get some perspective on touching in a relationship, especially if you’re a man, no more mystery behind “what should I do next?” or “is it allowed?”

The 12 steps to Intimacy

Don’t worry! It’s not some withdrawal program.

Desmond Morris, an English author and researcher of socio-biology, (and painter and a zoologist – an accomplished man) purposed a series of 12 steps that humans make from first contact to intercourse – the peak of physical intimacy. This is by no means a rigid routine that must follow every time, but rather a guide to how closeness built gradually.

The steps are:

1. Eye to body – before we make any contact we observe our “target” from a distance right? Men are very direct at this, and therefore getting “caught” more, but girls also check the boys out, only they have a subtler way of doing it.

2. Eye to Eye – the first “true” contact, a lot can be said from a single look. A girl that is interested in a certain guy will often make and break eye contact several times to signal her interest. Men just stare directly and hope for the best.

3. Voice to Voice – Now we’re talking…

4. Hand to Hand – this is the first physical contact. It goes for the hand, the elbow or the upper arm – a more neutral place. It should be casual, we don’t want to imply anything just yet – we just test the waters.

5. Arm around Shoulder – it’s getting closer. It’s almost a hug, but still can be considered as a friendly gesture if it’s a short.

6. Arm to Waist or lower back – This is a major step guys, and this is almost always a clear sign to sexual interest. It can be done more subtly – by leading a girl through the door, for example.

7. Mouth to Mouth – AKA the Kiss! Before the kiss is actually initiated there are plenty of signals floating – the intense eye contact, loose lips, a little inclination of the head to the side, the hand on the back or behind the back. If you’re aware enough, you will know the moment is right.

8. Hand to Head, or Head to Head. This is deep, there’s no escape but to look into the eyes. It can be even a little overwhelming if you’re not really into it. Otherwise, it’s the classic moment in every romantic movie.

9. Hand to Body – the foreplay: fondling, groping, caressing. This of course can be either intense or gentle and soft.
10. Mouth to Body – now the mouth does the work: kissing the body, especially the breasts.
11. Hand to Gentiles. If this step actually comes sooner, when the female gropes the “package” of the male – it shows interest, but also control. It’s like saying “I know what you want, but not so fast, I got you by the balls”
12. The Sex. In any form you like, including oral sex.

So these are the steps, you may skip some of them, but this usually the line things go along.

This steps can always help to determine “what should I do next?” if you’re not sure instinctively. It helps built tension and attraction gradually and smoothly, so it won’t feel awkward to jump to the kiss part, or when you’re not sure what you’re allowed to touch.

How Pickup Artists use Kino Escalation

Pick up artists took this formula and adapted it into their routines.

They learn the signals and have a system (the kino escalation ladder) by which they know when, where and how they should touch their target of interest.

This process involves the different types of touch we mentioned above, in an escalating manner, and therefore the name. Experienced pickup artists often can sense instinctively where they are in “the ladder” and how they can get to the next stage.

Just to clarify – I’m not a pick-up artist myself. I have a lot of interest in how they work and think, but I don’t actively learn and practice their techniques. I’m not saying it’s wrong, it’s just not exactly my cup of tea. It doesn’t mean that we can’t learn a thing or two from them, now does it? Yes, even if you’re a girl, maybe especially if you’re a girl…

What’s the process of Kino Escalation?

Pick up artist will start with a lot of “casual” touch, and if it’s a group setting (called “a set” in their lingo) they will touch all members of the group equally.

Their touch will be light and quick, just to build some physical tension, but not too much to repulse.Why all members? At this point they don’t want to betray their interest, but to create an impression that this is their norm – to touch others freely and casually.

This initial contact is actually the basis for their work, because touch automatically bonds people (as long as it’s appropriate). So the artist is moving up the ladder, and tests the water at this stage.

After some tension is built, the touch will become more deliberate, personal and will last longer. It’s still not a deep intimacy, but this time is about creating more rapport rather than tension.

The last stage in the Kino escalation ladder will involve seductive gestures; this time there’s no mistake about the intention .E.g. The hand behind the back or the waist, preparing for the kiss.

What happens if she suddenly backs off?

If the artist will sense a resignation or hesitation from the girl, he will back off himself several steps. Why? To create more tension and to show that he has not fully committed. This act confuses the girl, and as reverse psychology goes, this only makes her want him more, we automatically desire what is hard to get.

And if she’s not – it’s not a big deal, the pickup artist still left with his dignity, if anything – it looks as if he lost interest, not her.

Take Aways

In one sentence: Kino escalation is a great tool, you can use it, even if you’re not a pickup artist. After all, it’s based on our natural process of sexuality.

If you know how to create this tension smoothly – you avoid awkward scenarios when you’re not sure what is going on. Moreover, it leaves the reins in you hands – if you know the steps you can control how intimate things get.

I know that this final part feels more directed for men, and it kind of is, because we’re often oblivious to the different signs the ladies send. But a woman, interested in a man, can actually take this process and guide the man to what he should do next if he seems lost (nonverbally of course).

That’s it, I hope this series on physical intimacy helped you get more perspective and enriched your life


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