The 12-Steps to Intimacy

Imagine walking out in a public area when you come across a young couple locked in a passionate embrace. The man's arms surrounds the woman as he expertly moves his lips across hers. You walk steadily pass them, fascinated if not a little bashful by the sight. You steal another glimpse at the affection couple only to realize the scene before you is not that of a loving couple. It more of a woman who, just by the look in her eyes, is suffering miserably through her dates sloppy kisses.

Well this is a scene I got the displeasure of witnessing. It was clear to everyone except the Sloppy-Kissing Gentleman that the woman found his kissing insufferable. The entire scene just looked painfully awkward and I couldn't figure out who I was most embarrassed for. But it was clear from their interaction that no connection had been established between them.

I later realized that along the way our Sloppy-Kissing Gentleman must have forgotten - or disregarded - the 12 steps to intimacy. Not to say that this works for every woman because some need little time or sometimes months before they become sexually attracted or comfortable with a man. But men, as natural aggressors, need to learn to read a woman's body language which will help them naturally progress from mere eye contact to full-on caressing.

As a writer who's job is to build sexual tension between two people, it's important to let the intimacy progress as fast or as slow as your characters dictate. And the 12 steps to intimacy (provided below) serves as a guide to writers who are building intimacy and sensual tension between their romantic characters. These steps can be used all at once but is most effective when it is weaved throughout the story.

All I can hope for is that men take note of these steps when they are making their initial advances on a woman and to remember that women need to be physically and emotional comfortable with a man before she can become intimate with him.

The 12-Steps to Intimacy*:

1. Eye to Body Contact (the “once over”)
2. Eye to Eye Contact (followed by a smile if its instant attraction)
3. Voice to Voice (reacting to the other’s timbre)
4. Hand to Hand Contact (men can improvise by touching arm or elbow)
5. Arm to Shoulder (is not sexual but brings the bodies together; think movie theater arm stretch)
6. Arm to Waist Contact (sexual move to get closer to intimate parts)
7. Mouth to Mouth Contact (kissing reinforces the sexual bond)
8. Hand to Head Contact (usually occurs during a kiss; signals a major intimate move)
9. Hand to Body Contact (usually touching the breast)
10. Mouth to Breast (can lead to sensitivity or orgasm)
11. Hand to Genital (major bonding happening here)
12. Genital to Genital (full intercourse; solidifies the emotional and physical intimacy)

*"The 12-Steps of Intimacy" are originally from a workshop given by Linda Howard at the 2010 RWA National conference. Above are my notes from that workshop.