According to the Urban Dictionary, pillow talk is the conversation that happens during, before, or after intimacy. The dictionary says: “It’s definitely better than normal conversation because there’s touching involved.”
I wonder what the person who wrote this definition meant by “better.” Better than what? Conversation during an intimate dinner? The way I view pillow talk is that it’s the conversation that occurs before, during, and after intimacy as a way to increase the physical and emotional bonding between two individuals during this bonding period. At best, it should involve deep listening by both partners, which includes listening to the words, the silence, and the messages being communicated. It also involves an awareness of the energy transfer between the two and the heightened emotional state. One thing we sometimes forget to do is listen to the other person while we’re talking. Chances are they are sending messages to us, too, both verbally and emotionally.
A recent study by Denes (2012) found that pillow talk is associated with the release of the bonding hormone, oxytocin, which used to be associated with its role in childbirth. Recent studies have shown that it plays a role in stress reduction as well—decreasing perceptions of social threats—and increases bonding and the ability to read emotional cues. The Denes study showed that revealing positive feelings for one’s partner after intimacy is associated with increased trust, relationship satisfaction, and closeness.
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, intimacy is crucial to happiness, as is communication. Intimate communication involves emotional, physical, and spiritual components; and pillow talk seems to bring it all together, contributing to an overall sense of well-being.
In her compelling book, Talk Dirty to Me, Sallie Tisdale writes about how sex and intimacy changes the way we see ourselves, breaking down boundaries in both our body and mind. She says, “Sex turns us literally inside out, molds and subverts fundamental assumptions.” As we turn inside out, we not only become more vulnerable, but we allow ourselves to be more open and exposed.
Being mentally naked is as important as being physically naked. Further, being emotionally naked is contagious. As soon as one person reveals intimate or secret musings, it inspires his or her partner to do the same. In his book Transformation Through Intimacy, Robert Augustus Masters offers these tips for sex in intimate relationships, but I also see them as ways to increase communication through intimacy:
In summary, intimacy should begin way before entering the bedroom or wherever the intimate act occurs. It’s about maintaining an emotional connection that heightens sexual desire and encompasses the mind-body-spirit connection between both individuals.
Denes, Amanda (2012). “Pillow talk: exploring disclosures after sexual activity.” Western Journal of Communication. Vol 76. Issue 2. pp. 91–108.
Floyd, K., Judd, J, and Hesse, C. (2008). “Affection exchange theory: A bio-evolutionary look at affectionate communication in L.A. Baxter & B.M. Montgomery (Eds). Engaging theories in interpersonal communication. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 285-94.
Masters, R. A. (2011). Transformation Through Intimacy. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Tisdale, S. (1995). Talk Dirty to Me. New York: NY, Anchor Books.