When you're building a relationship with your partner, especially if it's one that will (or, at least, you hope) last long-term, you're going to have to be vulnerable, at least sometimes. And one of the ways that you can be vulnerable and put yourself out there is to do things that are maybe a little bit — or a lot — embarrassing. Though you might not think that would help your relationship at all, doing these 10 embarrassing things together is proven to make couples fall more in love, because vulnerability and embarrassment can actually help build intimacy.
"When you put yourself in a position where you’re going to be a little bit vulnerable, you also get to see how the other person handles that," Bianca L. Rodriguez, M.A., Ed.M., L.M.F.T, tells Romper. "And that is a reflection of how they handle their own vulnerability and that is the number one ingredient for emotional intimacy. It’s really about being willing to expose maybe the not-so-perfect and put-together parts of yourself because what’s embarrassing for one person may not be embarrassing for another person." In addition to being willing to be vulnerable, Rodriguez suggests that you be straightforward and honest that you're nervous, embarrassed, or otherwise "freaking out." Otherwise, your partner will wonder why you're acting strangely.
It's also important to do these things even if you've been together for a while. "Intimacy [is] an important and integral aspect of the marital relationship, as its development and maintenance is dependent upon continued connection between spouses," Dr. Saudia L. Twine, Ph.D., NCC, LLPC, LLMFT, a marriage and family therapist tells Romper in an email exchange. "So couples must continue to court each other (i.e. doing the things that you did in the beginning which made you fall in love in the first place)."
Safe, mutual embarrassment and vulnerability can make the bond between the two of you grow stronger, and make the two of you fall more in love.
Lara McElderry, the host of Married to Doctors, a podcast, says that she and her husband, who's training to be a trauma surgeon, like to make their grocery shopping trips more fun. The two try their best to make it the entire trip without speaking to each other in English, their shared language, instead relying on body language, the few foreign languages one or the other knows, and even made up "languages" like pig Latin to get everything on their list.
McElderry says that having fun together, even when they're embarrassing themselves in public, helps ease the stress related to jobs and co-parenting five kids. "[L]aughter and choosing to enjoy something that simple is like the refresh button on your internet browser," she says. "You’re just like, 'OK, I can reboot, I can do this again.'"
Singing in front of other people, especially if you're not a great singer, is another thing that you can do to strengthen the bond you have with your partner. "Song and our connection through music is as old as humankind itself," Dr. James V. Córdova, Ph.D., a psychology professor and the chair of the psychology department at Clark University, tells Romper by email. "So, even if it’s just a few lines from your favorite love song, take your partner in your arms. And sing."
Plus, singing in front of strangers, at a karaoke bar, can be especially cringe-inducing — in a good way. "Nothing bonds people like getting up in front of strangers and singing (erm, screeching?) your favorite cheesy love song," Stephanie Churma, relationship coach and founder of The Good Love Company, tells Romper by email. Pick your favorite song and shake off the nerves.
Not all couples will be ready for an activity like naked yoga, but nakedness can make a lot of new-to-you things a little bit more embarrassing. "Yes, this date night is not for the faint of heart, but when you do things out of your comfort zone, together, it becomes a bonded memory and a hilarious story guaranteed to raise a few eyebrows," Churma says.
If yoga isn't right for you, mixing things up in the bedroom or even showering together can do the trick, as Rhonda Milrad, L.C.S.W., the founder of online relationship community, Relationup, and a relationship therapist, tells Romper by email. Nakedness automatically makes you vulnerable and can bring you closer together if done in a way that you both still feel safe (that's the most important thing).
"Of course you look cute as a toddler, but everyone goes through nasty phases in their looks, especially during preteen and teenage years," Milrad says. "It is very bonding (and hysterical) to share all your photos of your awkward phases and your poor hairstyle or clothing choices." You weren't always as put together as you try to appear now. Everyone had awkward phases and showing your partner pictures of that is (relatively) low-risk.
If you're looking for something subtle, but still a bit out of the ordinary, you can also try role playing in public. "It can be embarrassing and so fun," Rori Sassoon, a matchmaker and the CEO of Platinum Poire, tells Romper via email. "It will bring some mystery and playfulness to your relationship and also bring you closer."
"Curiosity helps to create intimacy and in turn, it helps us even see ourselves more clearly in our relationship," Deborah J. Cohan, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort, tells Romper in an email exchange. "It can help clarify our needs and priorities. This might involve asking your partner more probing and intimate questions, not in a digging, nagging, or aggressive way, but in a way that holds the person in a tender place to be heard and then in turn prompts the other person to be curious about us."
Sometimes the embarrassing thing you do together doesn't have to be as extreme or obviously embarrassing as you might think, it just has to be something that makes you a bit vulnerable and brings you closer together.
Sure, this might not be the most obvious embarrassing thing that you can do together to strengthen the bond the two of you have, "What's great is that you can have as much or as little interaction as possible, but the show in itself is a tad over the top and slightly cringeworthy — but that's the fun," Churma says. Bonus: it'll be something you both can giggle about together for years to come.
Playing truth or dare to learn more about one another or asking each other about your most embarrassing moments can also help you bond. "Talking about your childhood definitely brings up a lot of embarrassing stuff because sharing about our histories is another way that we build trust and that sort of foundation in a relationship," Rodriguez says. "So you can always just ask." Everyone has embarrassing life moments, so you should both be able to share.
Trying something new, whatever that new thing may be, can definitely be a bit embarrassing, yet bring you both closer together. Rodriguez says that whether it's something that's new to both of you or something that one can teach or coach the other, trying new things is a great way to build intimacy in your relationship. Since people usually aren't great at new things right off the bat, it'll make you feel bonded, but also be something fun and funny that you'll (hopefully) be able laugh about moving forward.
"[E]verybody looks kind of ridiculous with a face mask on," Rodriguez says. Masks, pore strips, and more can all be fun and slightly embarrassing things you can do together. Plus, pore strips can be kind of gross, Rodriguez says, so even tossing out the strip after removing it can be a bit embarrassing. Everyone leave your ego at the door.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.