The Scoop: Some argue that technology is tearing us apart; this app seeks to bring us back together, in the bedroom.
Ah, technology. Our generation is constantly inundated with new apps and services to seemingly simplify our lives. In many ways, it feels like technology is pulling us apart — we're constantly on our phones, and not always present in the moment. However, there are countless ways in which technology has the power to facilitate connection, and strengthen the human experience. We talked to Kate Moyle, the insightful Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist behind Pillow Play, to understand how the company is using technology to create "the easiest way to build intimacy in a relationship."
What was the inspiration behind Pillow Play? What problem are you solving for?
The inspiration was largely because we felt that there were so many products for making couples, but not many that help keep couples together. Darren J Smith our Founder saw an opportunity to use technology to bring couples together and to help them focus on each other rather than their screens, so when we met and were discussing how we could make this happen we looked at the common problems facing couples today. I was finding that many of the people I was working with in my Psychosexual & Relationship Therapy Practice were citing that technology was one of the things getting in the way of intimacy, and so after hours and hours of talking and brainstorming we made a plan and out of that came Pillow Play.
The problem we are tackling is that couples are sitting in bed together on their phones, connecting with everyone apart from the person that they are in bed with. Date nights are spoilt by having phones on the table meaning that couples are being constantly interrupted, and that their focus, that should be on each other (that’s the point of a date night!) isn’t. Often in long term relationships couples don't pay as much attention to nurturing their intimate and sexual lives as they did at the start, life gets in the way, work, kids, mortgage etc and so unintentionally our relationships slip down the priority list. This is often not deliberate or intended, but we see that person the most, they are in front of us every day or sleeping in bed next to us, and because they are always there we forget to appreciate that.
So Pillow Play is about being mindful and focused and shows couples that it takes as little as five minutes to connect, but also its about being creative with intimacy, trying new things and revisiting some of the old ones – it can be as simple as gazing into your partner’s eyes, but we forget to do it, and on top of that we often spend more time looking at our screens than each other.
Can you explain a bit about how the app works?
It's a 30 day intimacy shakeup for couples. We want to encourage couples to do something different in their relationship and commit to spending the quality time together. We know that if you do something more than once then it's effective and so we have created a series of audio-guided follow-along intimacy episodes that are focused around different types of intimacy. Think Simon Says! But with sensual touch, eye-contact, hugging, sensory deprivation, communication, hugging and much more. There really is something for everyone and there are guest episodes from experts in intimacy, sex and relationships. Some of the episodes last five minutes, and some up to twenty they are designed to be fitted into the busy lifestyles of the users, and they don’t all have to be in the bedroom – we even have one for the bath!
The message is clear, take time for your relationship, connect with each other with no distractions and it doesn’t take a lot – everyone can find a little time a day to nurture their relationship, and when you do it feels amazing.
What goes into the creation of each episode?
The creative process is a collaboration between the writer and the Pillow Team in which there are mixed backgrounds from the world of sexuality and intimacy. There is a theme for every episode and we work hard to ensure that each episode is different whilst still making sure that intimacy and the goal of couples feeling closer is at the core of every one. The episodes are designed to be fun and playful and we have both a male and female voice artist. It’s also important that people have the choice of voice, but also that we use no gender pronouns so that everyone can use Pillow Play.
For someone who is more shy, what advice would you give for approaching their partner to try Pillow Play?
Pillow Play is designed for all couples, and it is just like trying anything new a new outfit, restaurant, date idea, sex toy or sex position. You don’t have to be having problems in your relationship to use it, it’s just another way of bringing something new into your relationship and to have fun with. For the shy among us, I would recommend checking it out on your own first, but it's very gentle and if you don't like the sound of one of the episodes then you don't have to do it - the choice is yours.
Your focus is on couples, but do you see room for guided self-intimacy?
The focus currently is on couples, but there is no knowing what might happen in the future! This is the first of what potentially may be other apps or products tackling different problems; but really at the moment it’s a different way for users to get access to content in an accessible and use at home way, and to create a platform for sex, intimacy and relationship experts to share their content with the world. There are so many great apps like Headspace to help with being mindful and self-aware as an individual, and so I suppose I would consider self-intimacy to come under that umbrella of self-care but there is no reason that someone couldn’t listen to Pillow Play and do the touch episodes solo.
What are the ways in which you see technology helping and hurting relationships?
I think it’s about the attention, technology is an interruption and that creates a barrier between face to face interactions. When people are talking and a phone goes off it breaks the connection that was there. It takes our attention away from the person we are with, and I think that is a really sad thing. Everyone deserves to be listened to and heard and conversations are at their best when they are focused. We are more aware of fundamental social cues such as eye-contact and facial expressions and those can be missed if we are distracted. I also consider it to get in the way of couple time, rarely are we alone together anymore- technology becomes a permanent third wheel in our relationships, and so much of what is special about close relationships is that bond between people. But the flip side of this is that technology allows us to connect with relationships all around the world – we can Facetime or Skype someone in Australia when we are in London and it feels like they are right there with us, and that is pretty magical.
What is your vision for Pillow Play, and how does it fit into the future of tech?
Our vision is to help one million couples get closer and have fun with intimacy using Pillow Play. I think it fits into the future of tech and the sex tech movement pretty well. What makes us different is that in a strange way we are trying to go back to basics and get back in touch with something that happened more before tech existed; but we understand that the world and future is tech heavy so it’s about trying to work creatively to make sure that intimacy and human connection don’t get lost in that.
Kate Moyle is a Founding Partner of Pillow Play alongside her work in London as a Psychosexual & Relationship Therapist. She believes in helping people get to a place of sexual wellbeing, health and happiness and bringing them together to help get the sexual and intimate lives that they want, in whatever form that may look like for them.
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