We’ve all heard that intimacy can be the key to healthy, long-term relationships. But what is “intimacy”? It certainly doesn’t only imply sexual relationships. The definition of intimacy is a "close familiarity or friendship; closeness." It's only in the euphemistic description of intimacy that implies the more typical meaning of purely sexual relations.
True intimacy in a relationship is, yes, about physical compatibility and attraction…but equally important is the necessary emotional connection to make it all work. When ANY level of intimacy is off track, it can make relationships very difficult to navigate and rock commitment to its core. Are you feeling lonely in your primary relationship? Are you noticing signs of resentment cropping up in daily life? A big part of our well-being is highly dependent upon our emotional intimacy with others. If you are struggling in relationship with your partner, here are some suggestions that might help:
It may seem a small, natural gesture…to text each other during the day but you’d be surprised how often we tend to neglect this simple form of frequent communication. Even if it’s just a note to say “Hi” or “How is your day?”. Do you text your friends more than your partner? Letting each other know how your day is going to leaving simple little notes around for them is a great way to stay connected amidst the chaos of life.
Once a day, verbally check in with each other. Talk about things that matter to you and not just about household duties, children, or schedules. Share your “story” of your day and listen to your partners’. A great way to feel connected while sharing is to look each other in the eye while talking.
These little gestures can go a long way in helping you feel connected which will naturally improve intimacy. Consistency is important as you’ll see the intimacy continue to grow the more you do it.
Talk about your first date. Talk about the birth of your first child, talk about the fond memories you have had with each other. Not only does this remind your partner of your connection, it reminds you when you reminisce and then listen to their fondest memories. Diving into your history together will bring about the emotions you felt in those moments and reinforce not only your ability to connect but the potential to connect again. Be sure to stick to the “feel good” moments, not the negative ones. Positive memories tend to take a back seat in our minds and hearts when we aren’t feeling connected with our partners. Take turns talking about moments you’ve had that have reflected the love you have for each other and you’ll see your intimacy deepen exponentially.
One way to genuinely feel closer to each other is to step out of your comfort zones and try something new. Routine may be safe and comfortable but it also becomes predictable and….well….boring. Igniting a sense of passion whether it’s in the bedroom, taking a class together, or attempting a new activity together. The feeling of trying or doing something new creates excitement that you can easily share and will stimulate your relationship in a way that brings you closer.
Schedule sex. If your life has you scattered in multiple directions, a sexual connection can often take a back seat. By the time you've made it through your day, the last thing you may feel like you have the energy for is an authentic sexual experience with your partner. Sex needs to be a priority and if you've found that physical intimacy is cooling off in the bedroom, the best way is to get it back is regular sexual connection.
While it may not sound incredibly romantic, if you make sex a part of your scheduled routine, it will be easy to get back in the habit of engaging in this incredibly important level of intimacy. If you lack the security and comfort you use to get from sexual encounters with your partner, learning to make it a priority and part of your routine will inevitably bring the intimacy level up and you’ll likely find that new, spontaneous encounters will start creeping into your adjusted lifestyle.
Make it fun by communicating about your sex date, text each other, talk about how attracted you are to one another, express your desires and listen to your partner's wants and needs. Building up your planned encounter with written and verbal communication will shift your brain into anticipation mode and likely get both of you all fired up!
“People forget that the brain is the biggest erogenous zone.” (The Big Lebowski, 1998),
Are you touching each other regularly? Hand to the small of the back, holding hands, sitting next to each other, hugging, & cuddling…they are all important. Healthy development in humans begins with the sense of touch. Information from this sense enters the nervous system from every part of the body and creates emotional/social meaning for each of us. Whether you are the one touching or the one being touched, both parties will get a release of Oxytocin, the “love hormone”. The more you touch each other affectionately, the further you’ll push the needle on your level of intimacy.
You’ve chosen each other, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend every moment together. You can certainly make your relationship a priority AND life a full life when you aren’t side by side. As a matter of fact, it can be detrimental to relationships to “put all your eggs in one basket” so to speak. It’s important to maintain your personal autonomy so you don’t start to feel like you are just a half to a whole rather than a whole that contributes to another whole. Honoring your individual needs will help prevent you from looking to your partner to fulfill all those needs alone – which can be very damaging.
Spend time with your external family, your friends, doing the things that make you happy and you feel passionate about. The ability to bring these experiences into the relationship allows you to share your excitement with your partner and increase intimacy at the same time.
Do you appreciate your partner? If so, do you tell them? What do you appreciate most about this partner you chose? Making an effort to express your appreciation in words and actions can give your partner a sense of accomplishment and feel encouraged by the most important person in their life. Tell them what you love most about them and compliment them often. Praising your partner creates an irreplaceable feeling of value within them and will certainly deepen your level of intimacy with each other.
Oh, and when your partner compliments you, say “Thank You” and take it to heart. Let it wash through you and fill you up. Kindness goes a long way when attempting to maintain healthy bonds.
If you can’t remember the last time you went on a date that didn’t involve kids in tow or other couples around, it’s time to get it on the calendar. Spending time together whether you are just “doing” or simply “being” will give you the much-needed time to communicate without the typical distractions of life around you. Go out and have fun together, remind yourself that you enjoy each other’s company. Use the time to talk to each other and check in with how you are both feeling. Changing the environment in which you have conversations about your relationship can significantly improve the effectiveness of those conversations and give you the undivided attention you need to help build the emotional and mental bond you crave.
Ask your partner if they need help with anything. When people feel supported in life, their world opens, and they don’t feel alone. When they need you, listen to them intently and ask questions if you don’t understand. Let them know you are there for them and that you support them. When you are needing support from your partner, be sure you are fully present, fully aware, and able to feel the support and love.
Limit distractions and truly engage. When your partner can trust that you will always be there for them, and vice versa, your bond will blossom.
Honesty is imperative to relationships. Most people long to be truly known and accepted and for that to happen, two things need to be at play…honesty and vulnerability. Being vulnerable means being able to openly share who you are without knowing how your partner might respond. Being honest about who you are, opens up a doorway into your deepest layers which, when done in a healthy way, can move mountains in your emotional connection with your partner.
When responding to your partner’s needs, be open, empathetic, and compassionate. Let them know you appreciate their honesty and vulnerability. We are all worthy of deep emotional connection. Make sure your partner knows that and trust yourself enough to know the same.
A healthy connection in relationships is born out of intimacy, both emotional and physical. If you are struggling with any level of intimacy in your relationship or come across barriers that might be preventing you from taking the steps to improve that level of intimacy, I would like to invite you to contact me. I would love to help.
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