Can staring into someone’s eyes change the trajectory of a relationship? Dr. Stan Tatkin says ‘yes’.
By Deauna Roane
Written on Nov 09, 2023
Photo: nads0404 / Nadia Samra’s Images and imustbedead / Pexels via Canva
There are days when some of us feel very, very disconnected from our partners. While most of the time we’re very connected, I know there are days when I feel my husband is a million miles away, even when he’s sitting on the couch right next to me.
So what can we do?
According to Dr. Stan Tatkin, founder of PACT — a fusion of attachment theory, developmental neuroscience, and arousal regulation — there is a “pose” that holds the power to rekindle the flames of passion and mystery within relationships by creating a deeper and more intimate connection. And the best part? It’s a cuddle position!
What is the Lover’s Pose?
According to Dr. Tatkin, Lover’s Pose is a cuddling position that prioritizes emotional and physical closeness. When it is practiced in other loving relationships, it can be called the caregiver-infant pose, or the “inner child pose”.
One of the defining features of the Lover’s Pose and other trance-inducing romantic poses is the emphasis on maintaining direct eye contact. This aspect of the pose is particularly significant as it deepens the emotional connection between partners. While cuddling in this intimate position, make sure to look into each other’s eyes.
Dr. Tatkin explained on the YourTango Podcast Open Relationships: Transforming Together, “It’s like Tony And Maria at the dance, everything else fades away and the only thing that exists is you and I.”
One of the best ways to demonstrate the pose is via the Pietá, the death pose, which is similar to Lover’s Pose. The difference, of course, is that the two members of the couple should be gazing at one another in Lover’s Pose.
Unlike traditional spooning or other cuddling positions, the Lover’s Pose emphasizes the connection between partners on both an emotional and physical level. It involves a specific arrangement of bodies that facilitates a sense of safety, comfort, and affection between two individuals.
There are other trance-inducing romantic poses that couples can use to bond, but the essence of any of them lies in gazing in one another’s eyes for an extended period of time — long enough to let thoughts and concerns fade away, and to truly bond.
How to fall into a romantic trance with your partner, in four steps:
1. Lie down face-to-face.
Start by lying down in a comfortable position with your partner. Both of you should be lying on your sides, facing each other.
This face-to-face orientation allows for direct eye contact, which can deepen emotional connection and communication.
(There is another version where one partner is sitting in the other’s lap facing each other. Pick what feel best for you as a couple.)
2. Intertwine your limbs.
In the Lover’s Pose, partners should interlock their arms and legs, creating a sense of intertwined unity.
Your top arm gently drapes over your partner’s upper body, while your top leg comfortably rests on their legs. This physical connection symbolizes a harmonious blending of two individuals.
3. Match your partner’s breathing.
To enhance the intimacy of the Lover’s Pose, focus on synchronizing your breath with your partner’s. Gently inhale and exhale together, creating a sense of rhythm and harmony. This shared breath can evoke a profound sense of togetherness and relaxation.
4. Look into each other’s eyes.
This gazing creates a profound sense of intimacy and vulnerability, allowing you to communicate on a level that goes beyond words.
Eye-gazing can be key to bonding
The Lover’s Pose is not just a cuddling position; it’s a powerful tool for maintaining a healthy and thriving relationship. Dr. Tatkin emphasizes its significance because of the positive impact it can have on your relationship. It creates a strong emotional and physical bond between partners, making them feel more connected and secure in their relationship.
The direct eye contact while cuddling in the Lover’s Pose promotes better communication, allowing partners to share their thoughts, feelings, and desires more openly. It’s almost as if being in this position tugs at you to talk to each other. Maintaining eye contact during the Lover’s Pose can evoke a strong sense of emotional connection, trust, and understanding.
The science of extended eye contact
Neuroscientists are still trying to understand exactly why extended eye-gazing is so effective and sometimes incredibly emotional.
From Discover Magazine:
“There’s something in that looking that has meaning, sustainable meaning,” says Joy Hirsch, a neuroscientist at Yale School of Medicine and founder of the school’s Brain Function Laboratory. “The mechanism for connection has never really been understood.”
But Hirsch and her team are working to advance that understanding, using tools like the fMRI and eye-tracking software on computers. The Discover Magazine article continues, explaining that, “[s]everal years ago, her team developed a neuroimaging tool called functional near-infrared spectroscopy, or fNIRS, for the purpose of analyzing the brains of two people simultaneously during natural interactions. With these dual-brain imaging tools, or a dyad-based approach, Hirsch is expanding the social neuroscience field into what she calls ‘the science of two.'”
Relaxation and Lover’s Pose
The sense of safety and relaxation provided by the Lover’s Pose can even reduce stress and anxiety, enabling partners to handle life’s challenges more effectively without sniping at each other during difficult times. The science behind physical touch and stress-reduction is well-established, and it only makes sense that a combination of touch and eye-gazing in poses like Lover’s Pose would help couples reduce anxiety and calm their nerves.
Another great benefit of this pose is that by emphasizing emotional and physical closeness, this cuddling position enhances the intimacy of your relationship, leading to greater satisfaction and fulfillment in life.
This cuddle position is a valuable tool for couples looking to deepen their connection and maintain a healthy, loving relationship. Practicing the pose can help you and your partner experience numerous benefits and bring greater intimacy, trust, and understanding into your partnership.
So, embrace the Lover’s Pose, and watch your relationship flourish by simply lying with your partner.
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Deauna Roane is a writer and the Editorial Project Manager for YourTango. She’s had bylines in Emerson College’s literary magazine, Generic, and MSN.