- in Intimacy
“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace."
~ Brené Brown
When we refer to intimacy it is important to remember that intimacy does not just mean sex.
The definition of intimacy is a close, familiar and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship. It is important to keep intimacy in your relationship and often it feels it is missing or just not a big enough part. Many couples get busy with work, daily life, children and the many other things that have to be tended to, and feel it is impossible to have any time together let alone intimate time.
If you want to increase intimacy in our current relationship; first you need to communicate this to your partner.
If we make it a priority in our relationship then we can make the time for it. Think about what you need to feel connected to your partner. How do you know that you are meeting his needs? How does he know that he is meeting yours? Scheduling time to talk and discuss topics such as this can be very beneficial. Most people (women more so) don’t feel they can be intimate when they are arguing about something or upset about something. How do you and your partner handle conflicts?
If you have children, it is important to schedule a date night or alone time to do something you both enjoy.
The more connected we feel to our partner, the easier it is to increase intimacy.
Even if you are sitting on the couch watching a movie, intimacy can occur. Are you connecting? Are you holding hands, rubbing his/her back? There are plenty of opportunities throughout the day to do these things yet we may not make them a priority. We also don’t always speak our partners love language.
I highly recommend the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It is so helpful to figure out what your own love language is and communicate this to your partner. For example if your love language is words of affirmation and his is physical touch; it would be important for him to know that you need to hear that he loves, cares and appreciates you in order for you to feel connected. It will be important to know that he may need physical touch from you to feel connected, such as a hug, kiss, holding hands and sex.
Lastly, going to a couples counselor can be beneficial in helping you increase intimacy and the connection between you and your partner. Many people think you only go to counseling if something is wrong with your relationship or if you are thinking about divorce, but that not the case. Just like going to a doctor for preventive care, going to a couples counselor to learn strategies to communicate, increase intimacy or anything else that could better your relationship can be extremely useful.
Trisha Swinton, LPC, LMFT – www.trishaswintoncounseling.com
Building an intimate relationship involves many factors. And once you have a comfortable, close relationship, you need to continue to nurture it so that it stays that way. Intimacy doesn’t just happen. You need to have all the right ingredients.
Here are some important ones:
#1. You need to be able to be vulnerable and allow intimacy
So many people go out looking for intimacy as if they could find it in someone else, but never think about the qualities that make them open to and capable of intimacy. If you’re afraid of opening up to other people, trusting them, or letting them see the real you, you’re not ready for intimacy. Intimacy is based on the ability to get—and stay—up close and very personal.
#2. You need to find someone who is comfortable with intimacy
If you’re the first part of the equation, your partner is the second part. Too many people say they want intimacy, then manage to hook up with romantic partners who not only aren’t able to tolerate it, but who aren’t looking for it. Maybe they’re sweet and kind and gentle, and really into you, but they aren’t interested in a deep, lasting relationship in which you’d get to know each other fully. Remember, not everyone is seeking intimacy.
#3. Intimacy takes time to build
For any more than pseudo-intimacy, which I’d call infatuation, we need time together—and sometimes time apart. We need to be with a person in all kinds of situations, including routine ones and on adventures, alone and with other people, in our best moods and in our worst ones. We need to see how the other person operates and handles problems. The goal in relationships is not to avoid problems, but to grow closer because of them.
#4. Intimacy takes focused attention
To stay close with someone means making meaningful connections with them. A quick peck on the cheek before running out the door won’t cut it, nor will getting lost in your own interests. Many couples build intimacy in the beginning of their relationships and lose it along the way when they get too involved in “I” rather than “we.” To keep close, you will need to share from the heart as well as do things you both enjoy. Learning to do new things together also fosters intimacy, but only if one of your goals is doing it to strengthen your bonds.
Intimacy may be a place you arrive at, but you will have to put in effort to stay there. It means a deep, emotional connection that is often mistaken for spending a great deal of time together. Rather than measuring it in time, use measures of trust, empathy, respect, happiness, kindness and, most of all, the desire to love and be loved.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
The word "intimacy" conjures many ideas and if 100 people were asked the question, "What is the definition of "intimacy?", you would likely get 100 different answers.
For the purposes of this article, I use the word to describe the powerful feeling that develops between romantic partners that engenders a sense of connection, trust and "knowing."
But how do we develop a sustainable level of intimacy in a long term relationship?
Two exercises can get you there.
Date nights and time together are imperative but first, to deeply know another, we must first know ourselves. True intimacy can only flourish and thrive when we are aware of our needs, our triggers and our feelings so that they can be communicated to our partner (and vice versa). If you feel like you need a little inner work or 'self study' before sharing with your mate, try journaling.
Need a little jump start?
Try the questions below to get your mind (and heart) twirling:
-What is your heart longing to express?
- What feelings/emotions do you have bottled up inside that you want to let out?
- Are your feelings worthy of being expressed? Why or why not?
- What burden(s) are you carrying on your shoulders? Who put them there? How does that make you feel?
- What makes you unique? What do you wish more people would notice about you?
- Are you “pushing back” your feelings? If so, which ones?
- What would make you feel spiritually fulfilled?
- What are the three things that you crave most in a romantic relationship?
- The most disappointed I've ever been was...
- What scares you, emotionally?
- Do you feel fulfilled sexually?
- What is the dominant emotion in your life at this time? How do you handle it?
- What are the three things you can't go without, emotionally speaking, in life? What is it about those three things?
- How did your parents model love for others?
- Are you getting stuck in old emotional places? If so, what are you holding on to and what are you afraid of?
- What would you like to tell your past and future self if you had the chance?
-What personal needs can you fulfill for yourself?
Once you feel aware and in touch with your feelings, your second step will be to create a "Sunday Sit Down" ritual.
Once a week, take a moment with your partner to check in and see how you each felt that the week went; what went wrong, what went right and what can be improved upon. Maybe there's a need to spend more time together or perhaps, you had a fight that highlighted a need to work on your mutual communication skills.
Setting a consistent time to debrief ensures that you address issues (and celebrate wins) in a timely manner. Successful resolution of struggles prevents resentment from building up and lays the groundwork for solid, maintainable intimacy.
Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT - www.lifeissuespsychotherapy.com
Intimacy means that there is no privacy. You don't carry anything private now; at least with the person you are intimate with, you drop your privacy. You are nude and naked - good, bad, whatsoever you are, and you open your heart. And whatever the cost you pay for it; whatever the trouble you go through with it. That brings growth.
A relationship that endures through life’s challenges begins with the creation of a strong emotionally intimate bond.
You feel emotionally intimate with your man when you can share a sense of real closeness, a closeness that allows for mutual sharing of personal feelings, thoughts and dreams, without harsh judgment or dismissal. Empathy is encountered on both sides even when the parties agree to disagree. Acceptance is the glue that bolsters your relationship’s foundation, making you feel safe and secure.
This special person can be described as being your best friend who you share your life with. However, sometimes it’s hard to be open and honest about disclosing your feelings to your partner because you’ve been hurt in the past. Your feelings may have been previously stepped on and discarded, which caused you great pain.
Try to figure out why it may be difficult to share your feelings with your man.
If he is being emotionally or physically abusive in anyway, seek professional help and take steps to leave the relationship if need be. If your hesitation is in rooted in your childhood, i.e., dismissive or abusive father or a previous bad relationship, realize that he’s not the person who betrayed you, move on and follow the ten tips below to create the emotional intimacy you deserve.
How to create emotional intimacy, deepen your bond and grow closer in your relationship:
1. Try to increase the amount of non-sexual touching. The skin is the biggest organ in your body and the sense of touch gives enormous feelings of warmth and caring. Spontaneous hugs, holding hands, giving massages, snuggle, tickles and kisses all promote closeness in your relationship.
2. Tell him you love him every day shows him where you stand with him every day.
3. Little by little, disclose your feelings to him, using “I” statements. Men can be closed off to feelings so this opens up a new world of sharing. Being vulnerable can be scary at times but it helps deepen the closeness in a relationship.
4. Make time to date in order to put romance in your life. Make romance a priority. Do what pleases your partner. Ask him what makes him feel loved and special in a nonsexual way.
5. Find creative ways to show your love, i.e., put love notes in special places; give spontaneous small gifts or surprise outings just because you love him.
6. Look into each other’s eyes for 2 minutes without talking. Then share what you felt with each other.
7. Tell him what you appreciate about him. Give him a lot of positive attention, be a good listener and share special, happy memories together.
8. Say positive things about him, particularly in public. Do not use language that criticizes or castes blame.
9. Try to develop a hobby you both can do together.
10. Lastly, laugh together. Watch a funny movie as shared humor increases a couples’ bonding and emotional intimacy immensely. Enjoy the closeness as you melt in each other’s arms in laughter.
Dr. Joanne Wendt – www.drjoannewendt.com
Perhaps one of the most effective things to learn in order to create and sustain intimacy is the practice of forgiveness.
When you are at peace with yourself and your partner from the experience of being forgiving, you operate from a place of great respect, lovingkindness, gratitude, and deep compassion for the other. These qualities are key to building a lasting and deeply intimate relationship. Through forgiveness, you discover the peace that leads to intimacy.
Defined in one way, forgiveness is the choice you make to hurt and suffer less, even though you’re wounded.
When made, it’s a choice that brings you immense freedom from resentment and, therefore, peace. Your lack of resentment allows you to approach your mate in a different light, with a softer, more gentle and open heart. You become able to live in a state of grace in forgiveness, which incorporates the practice of lovingkindness, compassion, and gratitude.
To make it sound as if forgiveness just happens when you decide to do it would be misleading.
The fact is, getting to forgiveness is a process, one in which you participate first with willingness and then with surrender, or letting go, and, finally, with gratitude. It takes learning a new mindset so you can see things from a different perspective, with fresh eyes.
Achieving forgiveness begins with exploring the story you are telling yourself that keeps you small, or the story you’re telling others in which you blame another for your feelings and behaviors.
When you can identify your story and apply a fresh mindset to it, this will change your life and the life of your relationship! Doing that, getting to a place of peace and freedom with all relationships, allows you to bring more peace and intimacy to your significant other.
You may feel guilt, and it may be directly proportional to your level of intimacy because you guard your feelings and don’t share what you’re experiencing, ashamed you did what you did, or said what you said. This energy is toxic to an intimate bond.
Instead of beating yourself up, consider what Colin Tipping of Radical Self-Forgiveness invites, which is to consider yourself a divine messenger for the person you offended or harmed. Your words or behavior provided a spiritual lesson for them, from which they could learn and heal. The question Tipping poses is, can you accept the role and responsibility that goes along with being a divine messenger? If you can, there is no need for guilt and you can forgive yourself.
Forgiveness is a lovely way to cultivate a truly intimate relationship - with others and yourself.
It frees you deep within, as I have experienced in my life after spending thirty years as an angry, bitter, blaming victim. Stumbling upon a way to create forgiveness changed my story, and that changed my life forever. You, too, can begin to identify stories that are keeping you from forgiving. Once you identify them and work through a process, you begin to experience the freedom and peace that comes through forgiveness. You can forgive your way to deeper intimacy…
Carolyn CJ Jones, Forgiveness Expert and Guide – www.carolyncjjones.com
Intimacy in a relationship involves two people and it can be on a physical and emotional level.
On a physical level, sex can increase the connection and intimacy between you and your partner, however, emotional intimacy with your partner increases the likelihood of your relationship lasting long-term.
On an emotional level, intimacy can be interpreted as, “Into Me I See”. When your partner connects with you in a deep and meaningful way, you are allowing him to see the ‘true you’; it is the ultimate experience when it comes to intimacy. Emotional intimacy is therefore considered a much deeper level of connection than physical intimacy.
To have a deep and meaningful intimate relationship, you will need to be open and honest with your partner.
You’ll need to be willing, and prepared, to express and show your deepest fears, and share your wants and needs. Your partner is not a ‘mind reader’, and if you want, or need, or fear, something in your relationship, you will need to tell him.
Expressing your deepest fears can be pretty scary, particularly if you’re not used to doing it. You might worry that your partner will think less of you for exposing your negative side and reject you because you’re ‘less than perfect’. You might feel very vulnerable and wonder whether or not you’ve done the right thing.
However…..if you don’t express your true and authentic self to your partner, you are denying and rejecting ‘you’. You are saying:
“you’re not important”, and
“you are not worthy” and
“you are not lovable as you are”; and you are trying to be someone you’re not!
Eventually, if you continue being unauthentic, you can become resentful and your relationship will suffer, or end.
When you keep your fears to yourself, you are putting up emotional barriers that create a division between you and your partner because you don’t want to risk losing him by exposing your authentic and vulnerable self; you want to ‘appear – perfect’! These emotional barriers that you put up (because you believe you’re ‘protecting yourself’) actually reduce the emotional intimacy between you and your partner.
When you expose and share your vulnerability with your partner, it increases trust in your relationship. Your partner will get to see the true and authentic you; when this happens, he will trust you with his feelings. The more you open up to your partner, the more he will open up to you! You will be able to have a relationship that is based on deep and meaningful intimacy that is reciprocated.
- Love yourself!
- Love your fears – do not make them wrong!
- Value your wants and needs in a relationship – they are ALL valid
- If discussing your fears is something new to you, start off slowly. Share your ideas and opinions about neutral subjects to develop trust.
- Be authentic and share your fears and worries with your partner.
- Tell your partner what you want and need in the relationship, he’s not a mind reader!
- Listen to your partner – do not judge him, or condemn him, for his fears, wants and needs.
- If you find exposing your vulnerable side and disclosing your fears difficult, tell your partner.
- Plan with your partner how you can both share your fears so you feel safe to do this in a loving and supportive way.
- Spend time each week with your partner to discuss and share: hopes, dreams, plans, wants, needs, fears, worries, and experiences where you know you won’t be disturbed.
Sharon Craig, Relationship Coach – www.coach2connect.co
“I just want to know what will make this relationship work”, is a comment I commonly hear on a regular basis in my office. As a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I work with countless amounts of couples and individuals seeking to create healthier, happier relationships in their lives. However, there is no manual handed out to you once you start a relationship, and looking for ways to improve your dynamics with your partner can sometimes leave you frustrated, confused and may have you wondering why you’re in a relationship in the first place.
Before you’re ready to give up or jump ship, read these 6 key factors that can help you and your partner begin to have the best relationship of your lives:
1. Learn to compromise. You are bound to have disagreements, and learning to compromise is critical. Keep in mind that you are not the only one in the relationship with needs and wants, so pick and choose your battles and learn how you can best support your partner and the relationship overall.
2. Create rituals. At the end of the night, my husband and I share our “high and low” for the day, and it is something I look forward to each day. Creating something that you and your partner can do on a regular basis will help deepen your connection and form intimacy amongst each other, so get creative and have fun with coming up with rituals for the two of you!
3. Communicate. Often I meet people where they expect their partner to know everything about them, and visa versa. The truth is that we should not make assumptions; rather, we need to bring up our wants, needs, concerns, and things that are working in the relationship to form an open dialogue that communicates respect, empathy and understanding amongst each other. A big piece of this also means learning how to become a great listener, so practice reflective listening and empathy with your partner.
4. Have time apart. It is vital to every relationship that you develop your own identity and learn about yourself. This means take time on your own, spend time with friends, and do things without your partner so that you can personally grow and identify what makes you happy in life.
5. Laugh. You two are bound to have difficult times both in and out of the relationship, and having moments of fun and laughter will deepen your connection and remind the two of you why you are in the relationship in the first place. Be playful and have fun!
6. Learn your partners love language(s). Every person that I work with in my practice must learn about the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Chapman discusses that we each have a love language, and learning how to speak your partner’s will help you build trust and connection. Visit the website www.5lovelanguages.com to take the short quiz to learn about your love languages.
Melissa Risso, LMFT – www.rissocounseling.com
Intimacy can be challenging if this is not something you grew up witnessing or experiencing.
As creatures who learn from observation well before we have direct communication skills, we need first hand exposure with others who are comfortable with such levels of connection. When this is not the case within relationships with your primary caregivers such as you with your parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. it can be quite awkward by the time you reach a romantic relationship. To overcome the fear of judgment, rejection, and abandonment it is good practice to start small and increase the level of risk incrementally.
For example, if you want to be closer emotionally, you may ask your partner if you can talk after work or have quality time together doing something you both enjoy. Regardless of the activity, it is about you identifying your own needs and asking for what you want. If you’d rather connect physically, perhaps you ask to hold your partner’s hand or request a massage.
The key here is communication of your wants and needs, which may be new and uncomfortable but greatly increases the likelihood of getting such needs met.
It’s okay if your partner is not in the mood to connect. Don’t take that personally. If it brings up great fear, sadness, or shame this is an invitation to heal some past wounds or examine the nature of the overall relationship if it is a recurring theme.
Intimacy is born of the willingness to be vulnerable for the sake of deeper connection.
If you can learn to communicate your desires more regularly with love and kindness, you invite your partner to do the same. Over time, this becomes a win-win situation. Coming to know your partner deeply and having it be reciprocated is the magic of relationships. Learning each other’s interests, preferences, and greatest desires through different levels of connection such as the mental, emotional, and sensual allows you both to feel seen and known.
This is the gift and healing power of intimacy, but it requires the courage to be yourself, ask for what you want, and also be willing to give as well as receive with acceptance of limitations when you are not available to one another at any given moment. It can be helpful to remain flexible and express appreciation when your partner does make the effort to meet your needs. Over time, you can provide gentle feedback if there is something you’d like to be done different. This is where humor, play, and creativity come in handy.
Life is full of responsibilities and adult business, but you don’t have to take you or your partner too seriously.
Maintaining a light heart and playful attitude are incredibly helpful within a relationship as well as the bedroom. Remaining open with a willingness to explore new approaches is crucial for keeping the relationship fresh and creating less pressure with more love. This perspective and position is what creates the safety necessary for exploration, learning, and deeper understandings in all matters of life.
Alanya (Lanie) Smith, MPS, ATR - www.integrativearttherapy.net
1. Define the Purpose of Your Relationship.
Each relationship has a purpose, spoken or unspoken. For instance, you might get together to have children, build a community, create a partnership in which you also pursue business together, come together to experience sexual expansion, personal growth, or just plain fun. The more we can define the relational purpose, the more clarity and definition we can apply to the way we love, have sex, and create. Often relationships get stale when the purpose is not defined or has changed in one partner. Once you are aligned in your relational purpose you can create the practices and actions that support the deepening and growth you desire.
2. Discover Your Natural Sexual Essence.
Each human has masculine and feminine aspects with them. To be a full and deep human being it is important to express both. But we all have a place we call “home,” where we rest happily and feel the fullest expression. That does not mean we need to live there all the time, but it is the place we return to when we want to recharge and it is the disposition we offer our lover as a gift to create passion.
If you have a masculine essence, you prefer the structure of time and space over the wild chaos of existence. You enjoy spiritual pursuits that bring you towards emptiness, and activities that result in a blissful moment of nothingness. You enjoy creating schedules, objectives, and accomplishing goals. Your whole life is aligned with your purpose.
If you have a feminine essence, you love the chaotic swirl of life, nature, bliss, color, texture, flavor, and communion. You love to relate, exchange, dance, celebrate, adorn and deepen into the fullness of existence.
3. Practice Offering Your Essence as a Gift.
Once you have defined your “home base,” your sexual essence, you can begin to practice the bodily expression of that essence as a gift to your partner. Like an artist or a musician you practice the offering of your gift. As a masculine essence, you deepen into meditation to still your mind, exercise to strengthen your body, breath, and stamina. You relax into being unwavering in the face of chaos and learn how to take charge, guide well, and pursue your purpose with integrity.
As a feminine essence you relax into the ever changing swirls of emotion and texture, movement, and sound. You practice experiencing pleasure in your body and showing that pleasure to your chosen partner. You cultivate ways to move energy through your body and learn how to become responsive and give instant feedback.
The number one “passion killer” is tightness and strain. Open and relax your body, then have some humor. Most of what we hold in our minds as a “problem” is really more an artifact of our past. Relationships and sex are not perfect and the need to “get it right” and “perform well” keeps us from being creative and uninhibited.
Breath is life force. Breath is also the vehicle of connection and bodily communication. Learn how to breathe into your belly, not just into your chest. Let your belly expand, which brings energy into your lower body where sex actually happens…Once you know how to breathe without constriction you can breathe together and create depth and incredible connection.
6. Use Eye Contact to Open.
Our eyes are really the windows to our souls. Falling into each other through eye contact, while our bodies are open and unguarded is delicious (and yes, a bit scary). Practice looking at each other, while staying relaxed, breathing and simply noticing when you have reached a threshold where it’s just a bit too intimate. Hang out there for a bit and you will find that this can be as good as sex!
7. Connect Heart to Heart.
Locate the tension in your chest and soften the actual muscles around your heart. Put your hands over your heart and imagine that the whole area relaxes and opens. Imagine your heart radiating outwards to your partner. Feel your own heart and it’s joys and sufferings, then feel your partner’s heart. Connect with utmost care and compassion.
8. Expand Your Repertoire.
Most of us have strong habits as to how we connect and how we have sex. We offer a similar invitation and “flavor” each time. Make the effort to learn different ways to entice your partner. You can get a good idea of what your partner is craving by watching what they like in movies, actors, and other public figures. You don’t have to live up to those types per se, a little bit goes a long way. The same goes for actual sexual offerings.
Mix it up, risk something new or unpack an old and almost forgotten favorite. Learn some new techniques and have fun and humor experimenting again. And finally, make friends with your “dark side.” Nothing enlivens intimacy more. Go beyond the “love and light” flavors and live out some of what has always been there but has not seen the light of day in a while, if ever. Talk dirty, go dark, risk something. Just don’t forget to keep the heart in it…
9. Be Adventurous.
When we first meet, every date is an adventure, carefully planned for maximum effect. Remember that when you want to have wild passion the most important element is new-ness and surprise. Create a complete scenario, that includes something new, something out of your habitual ways, something that stimulates both conversation and opens your bodies and hearts.
10.Create a Sacred Space.
Set the scene. Put some creation into the space you are going to be intimate in. Just setting the space gets you out of the old habits. You can induce a state by creating a sacred space. This does not have to mean special linens, candles and music, even though that never hurts. It could be just turning various electronic devices off, making sure you are uninterrupted and having a shower or bath to end the workday. If you are playing with new flavors or experimenting you might go all out and decorate. Or go away to a different location… or nature… the options are unlimited.
Michaela Boehm, Intimacy Teacher - www.michaelaboehm.com
Most relationships don’t end due to a lack of love.
It is a lack of intimacy that breaks relationships apart. This defining factor separates friendship from a spouse, lover, partner, etc. Intimacy is essential in keeping your relationship healthy and successful.
The main characteristic of intimacy is an emotional connection.
What does connection mean?
It shows that your partner will be there for you, and you can count on them. It provides a level of dependability. Research by Dr. Sue Johnson shows if you have this connection in your relationship, all other matters can be sorted out. The most common complaint I hear from women is that they are lonely. Loneliness is a red flag and signals a weak connection in a relationship.
EFT, or Emotionally Focused Therapy, is one of the most empirically proven modalities in the field of marriage counseling. It is based on attachment theory and states that humans are hard-wired to bond with only a few people. We need to be able to trust and depend on these people.
According to Dr. Sue Johnson, the founder of EFT, the strongest indicator of whether a relationship will last is how emotionally connected and responsive partners are with each other. This means happiness in a relationship directly correlates to the connection you share.
Intimacy, or connection, is created when we are fully open and show vulnerability with a partner. This can be alarming, but it is extremely rewarding! One way to promote this is to be present and non-judgmental. Empathy brings people closer together.
Do you remember what it feels like to fall in love?
We share everything with our new found love, including an excitement to learn about each other. Being understood and accepted are key factors in creating a bond. Does your partner get you at the core? Do they understand what motivates you and what causes you stress? Do they understand the way you need to be loved? Without this understanding, you are bound to feel lonely and lost.
No couple is connected 100% of the time. A feeling of connection and disconnection is normal in any relationship. The secret to a successful relationship is understanding how to re-connect. Often one partner must put aside their anger and choose to take responsibility for the sake of the relationship. Discussions about hurt feelings etc. can happen later, but it’s important to make repair a priority.
Try spending quality time together (without children) and have fun. Show an interest in your spouse’s hobbies and start connecting through these activities. You have to spend time together to connect. In fact, I often advise couples to stop talking about their problems and start having fun again.
The cause of fighting is often due to a feeling of being rejected or abandoned.
Try to look for the “hidden” meaning in what your partner is trying to express and re-assure them. For example, if they say “You are never home. You are always playing golf.” What lies underneath is, “I miss you and I want to spend more time with you.” If you are the communicator, ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” These are a few examples of how to make being connected the goal versus being right.
It is hard to write an article about intimacy and not touch on sex. Sex is a vital part of a romantic relationship. So, why do many couples end up in my office who have not had sex in years? It is because they have lost their emotional connection. Research shows by improving your connection, your sex life will naturally follow suit. What an incredible benefit!!
Love is about tuning into someone else. So, pull up your antenna and be the best partner you can be!
Alana Rothschild, MA - www.pathwaycoaches.com
Johnson, Susan M. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. New York: Little, Brown, 2008. Print.
Gottman, John Mordechai., and Nan Silver. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York: Crown, 1999. Print
So many ingredients make the soup of intimacy: sharing, vulnerability, kindness. In fact, a recent New York Times article suggests we learn a more generous, humorous approach to marriage – accept the fact that we’re not going to feel intimate all, or even most, of the time.
But we can feel it some of the time. Here’s what I see most often that helps couples get there: SOFTENING.
1. Softening = deep breathing while your partner talks, even if they’re saying something ridiculous; making warm, steady eye contact.
2. Softening = really listening between the lines, trying to understand how your partner feels right now.
3. Softening = suspending judgment for a while, so you can see it from your partner’s perspective.
4. Softening = imagining the much-younger (child) version of your partner, who might be scared or sad.
5. Softening = waiting patiently for your partner to pull away for a while when they need space.
This sounds easy, right?
Try it for a day and notice how complex it is to soften and soothe yourself into full empathy for your partner – especially when he’s being his most selfish, distant, unreasonable self.
When one partner does this, the other tends to follow. Then, the two suddenly find themselves in the same cozy (if temporary) space: a space of no judgment, a space of no rejection, a space of safety. I notice that when women soften on a regular basis, over time, it feeds a permanent safe zone to which we can return again and again. Our partners crave this as much as we do.
Dr. Deborah Cox – www.deborahlcox.com
In the 20 years that I have been counseling single women, not once did I observe a relationship fall apart because the couple waited too long to have sex.
However, I have seen dozens and dozens fall apart because the couple had sex too soon. Often women have the idea that quick sex is going to lead to a relationship. And it’s understandable why they might feel that way. When you have sex, there’s a sense of false, premature intimacy. You kiss and touch and the level of intensity is ratcheted way up. If you have been dating for a while and feel lonely, it’s very tempting to jump into sex after a first or second date.
However, having sex before you actually know the person you are having sex with, is the quickest way for ensure that a relationship goes nowhere. There are no real short cuts in life or in relationships. If you want to get to know someone well and build up true intimacy, you really need to do it the old fashioned way. Go on a date, ask them about themselves, talk about yourself. Get to know each other at a slower, more natural paced way.
The other important thing to consider is that sex is significantly better with someone who you know and who you have a relationship with.
The women who find themselves having sex very early on, usually complain that the sex is lousy. Of course it’s lousy, you two don’t know each other and aren’t really comfortable enough with each other to discuss what you want and what you like.
So if you are someone who has had trouble connecting and building intimacy in a relationship - try slowing things down.
A good yardstick about when to take the relationship to a deeper, physical level is when you are assured of having another phone call and another date. If you are still at the stage when you don't know if you are every going to see the guy again, bringing sex into the equation tends to hurt much more than it helps.
Aimee Hartstein, LCSW – www.aimeehartstein.com
The first consideration is that looking to a man to make you strong is the myth to bust, it makes sense, and one would hope, however the reality is, that men look to women for strength of character, intimacy, health and bonding. Therefore, women would ideally embrace learning how to nurture the strength they embody and maintain a healthy balance of strength and femininity that men are innately drawn to.
The ways to potentially strengthen this aspect of the self, is to create a healthy self care plan, including eating for nutrition, getting appropriate hours of sleep, regular strength training exercise as well as mindfulness practice, including meditation or some kind of spiritual work (whatever is comfortable for the woman), help oriented work, or work that creates healthy strong outcomes, and building consistent mastery of trying something new daily. These are practices that create a healthy foundation for her and embrace qualities and strength that only she can nurture.
Once the foundation is being consistently tended to, she can then give to another and receive from her man his qualities of strength and intimacy, which can create a healthy relationship that is designed for longevity. Both partners, give and take, meaning there is a balance of reciprocal exchange, neither is a rescuer or an enabler of the other being weak, or less strong.
Lisa Bahar, MA, LMFT - www.lcbahar.wix.com
From my own past personal experience and my work with clients, I see communication as one of the biggest areas for improvement in intimacy. When needs and feelings go unspoken, especially over long periods of time, fertile ground is created for misunderstanding and feelings of hurt between the two precious people in a relationship.
Examples of what commonly results from not communicating our needs and feelings are: resentment, a feeling of being misunderstood, the belief that our needs are not being met by our partner because he doesn’t care, and very commonly- a feeling of “not being seen” by the very person we want to feel closest to.
Communicating our needs and feelings clearly is actually a skill that many of us never learned, but you can learn! Instead of communicating needs and feelings clearly, many women: hold them in until they brew into anger and release in an emotional outburst, stay silent for fear that expressing their needs and feelings will push their partner away, and express their needs and feelings as demands instead of declarations of clarity.
Take a moment to tune in to your own patterning- how do you tend to suppress or inappropriately express your needs and feelings? If you can, also tune in to why you tend to suppress or inappropriately express them? Do you suppress because you are afraid that you will be disappointed with the response that you receive from him when you tell him how you really feel? Or were you taught through your upbringing that it is inappropriate and burdensome to others when you speak up? What behavior was modeled for you in this department by your own mother or mother figure?
Now that we have discussed a few of the ways that no communication, poor communication or demanding communication can take the place of clear communication and why, let’s outline some good guidelines for clear and respectful expression. And when I say respectful, I mean respectful to your partner (not accusatory or demanding) AND, very importantly, I also mean respectful to yourself. To listen to our body and heart when they tell us what we truly need and feel, and then to communicate this to our intimate partner, is an act of honoring our self that grows our beauty as women every single time we do it.
1. Don’t assume. Don’t assume that your partner knows how you really feel if you have never expressed it with absolute, clear statements. Because we tend to be highly intuitive, women communicate a lot with one another through body language, passive implication and even tone of voice. Many men are not strong interpreters of these passive signals and they shouldn’t have to be!
2. Get clear about the need or feeling that you want your partner to understand. Before you bring it to the table with your partner, get clear on what your core need or statement to him is. Make sure you are simply preparing to express your own feelings or a need that wants to be fulfilled, and that you are not actually getting ready to off-load your feelings by accusing him of something. Okay: “I realized that after you told me you didn’t want to attend my sister’s graduation party with me, I felt disappointed and also concerned that my family isn’t a priority to you. I’d like to know what is true for you around this so that we can discuss it and both of our needs can be heard and hopefully met.” Not okay: “You don’t care about me or my family because you didn’t even want to attend the graduation party. I need you to show up for events like this, otherwise you clearly don’t value me or this relationship enough!”
3. Say it! These guidelines are great preparation for you to say what you need and feel with clarity and with room for your partner to respond in a way that is true for him. If you are expressing yourself clearly and without a tone of demand, and you consistently feel that your requests are neglected or that your partner is dis-interested in hearing them, it is probably an issue that good communication will not fix. Some men (and women too of course) are unwilling to listen to, appreciate, honor and acknowledge the needs of their partner or other people in their life. As difficult as it may be, I encourage you to ask yourself if this is the type of person you would like to spend your life with.
In many ways, these guidelines only scratch the surface of healthy communication in relationship. But, if you follow them you really will avoid many of the traps that lead us to feel un-seen and un-heard, and possibly hurt or even resentful. You will also start to feel the transformative effect that clear communication creates in partnership, which is increased intimacy and the wonderful knowing that you are supported and loved.
I cannot over-state how poor communication can cause distrust, resentment, and a trepidation to speak honestly between partners. Especially when a man has been exposed to emotional outbursts, accusations and demands from his partner, will he grow guarded and distant from the woman who desperately wants him to come closer. One time that you can express your needs clearly and with spaciousness for him to respond truthfully, and you have already gained a large amount of his trust and intimacy back. Two times, three times that you can do it, and you are truly beginning to build a relationship that can hold deep intimacy, trust and security.
Alexandra Davis, L.Ac, Dipl.Ac, MTCM – www.diamondstaracupuncture.com
Let me begin with a confession. Over the years, I’ve made some monumental mistakes in my choices of men. Today, just having made it past the 11th Wedding Anniversary with my beloved husband, I am now willing to offer some tentative insights. In addition to my own personal testimony, I propose 7 steps to intimacy grounded in my research as a social anthropologist on a relationship-centered model of healing and transformation that my colleagues and I share in Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life.
Step 1: Answer the Call to Genuine Intimacy
The yearning we feel for intimacy can be a profound wakeup call. It is an invitation to engage in what gives us true meaning and purpose. The best first step in a deep and lasting relationship is to discover who you are and what gives you genuine joy. From this place, you prepare yourself to fully enter a relationship as your most authentic self.
Step 2: Open Yourself to a New Perspective
If things in your relationships haven’t worked well in the past, its time to reflect on your worldview—the built in models of reality that we all carry around in our minds and bodies. Explore. Practice curiosity. See with new eyes. Reverse patterns you have long held—the path you walk on or the time of day you eat. Take sacred time for yourself so that you can learn new things and meet new people. What do you want to bring to your relationship and how do you want to be met by another?
Step 3: Engage in Transformative Practices
Build practices that open you and your partner to transformation. This involves 5 elements. Set intention to live in love and intimacy. Pay attention to what you say and do, giving more and expecting less in order to find a perfect and respectful balance. Build new habits of being together in ways that support your personal and relational growth; put reminders around your home and office that help you remember your true intentions for intimacy. Seek guidance from trusted others, such as reading books (and blogs), attending classes with experts, and taking personal time to seek your own inner guidance through silence, mediation, time in nature—alone and together. And fifth, practice acceptance. No one and nothing is perfect, and therein lies potential for gratefulness about what is so, rather than what we think it should be.
Step 4: Life is Practice
Shifts in how you view yourself and your partner affect all aspects of your daily experiences. While your intimate relationship may seem separate from the rest of your life, it provides the grounding for how you engage with others at work and at play. Learning to find deep and authentic connections throughout the day informs what you bring to the table during your intimate moments at home, and impacts your sense of well-being and helps you polish any rough edges that get in the way of how you can be with each other—even during tough times.
Step 5: Move to We – While Keeping a Healthy Me
Genuine intimacy is a transpersonal experience that transports you beyond your own ego. You may begin to dissolve boundaries, transcend fears about intimacy, and move smoothly into a place of interconnectedness. At the same time, the more you embrace true intimacy, the more you can be authentic. You can fully show up with deep appreciation for what you and your beloved each bring to your relationship. In this process, you can find a lasting love that rests in contentment and clear purpose.
Step 6: Go deep into intimacy
Honoring the transformative process allows you to see your relationship as sacred. With practice, you can gain glimpses of the divine in your time together—and with that foundation—in your work in the world. The light of your love can fill the world, impacting each moment of each day. Staying awake and aware of your intimacy can ripple out into all aspects of who you are and what you want to be, both individually and as a couple. Treating your relationship with reverence offers you something to cherish and preserve, minute by minute and day by day.
Step 7: Connect, Engage, Stay Active
The benefits of genuine intimacy go beyond yourself and your partner. Finding common goals, being of service to others, reaching out to family and friends, can serve to ground your relationship. If your relationship is just a floating cloud, protected in a bubble away from the world, you may miss out on the true gifts of intimacy that involve sharing your blessings. Together and in the company of others, you can fully embrace the mystery and adventures that give our lives true purpose and meaning. Why settle for less?
Marilyn Schlitz, M.A., Ph.D. – www.marilynschlitz.com
The one thing I find most ironic, about building intimacy in a relationship, is that in order for intimacy to be at it’s peak in a relationship, you need to have a closer relationship with yourself first.
You cannot GIVE and show love freely, if you don’t show it to yourself first.
After being in many failed relationships throughout my early adult years, looking back, it is so easy for me to pin point exactly why they failed. Although I was very quick to point the finger and blame who ever I was with at the time for the relationship not working out, and although we both played a part, it is knowing what I know now, that has changed my relationship with my soul mate. Yes, that’s right, even after so many failed relationships, I have found my soul mate. Hind sight is such a beautiful thing, and when you can look back and LEARN from past mistakes and grow, your relationships and life in general will flourish.
Here at 3 steps you can start today, to build intimacy in your relationship with your significant other.
1. Strengthen the relationship with yourself first
This goes back to my very first point I mentioned above. You cannot give love, if you don't feel it yourself. This is also why my past relationships failed. I was trying to love, and show intimacy with someone when I didn’t even feel it within myself. Instead, I was riddled with fear, insecurity, and a failing relationship with myself. My relationships were a direct reflection of how I treated myself. And I only had myself to blame for the outcome.
Look in the mirror. At your own reflection. Do you love and accept who you are? Or are you sabotaging the relationships in your life because you are failing to work through your ‘stuff’ first. When your cup is full, only then can you give.
2. Take responsibility for how you are showing up
How are you showing up in the relationship? Have you ever heard the saying, ‘if you want more love, give more love’? If your relationship is lacking intimacy, firstly you need to address this with your partner. You need to be able to open the lines of communication in your relationship, and if you can’t do that - then this is something you need to address first (but that is a topic for another day) There is something I learnt a long time ago, and it was a game changer for my relationship.
Have you ever even asked your partner what intimacy even means to them? It isn’t just what you may think it is - sex. When I asked my partner what intimacy meant to him (a part from the obvious) he said ‘Just being able to have you sit next to me and watch a good movie’ It blew my mind when I understood this, and how much we actually don't ask this question yet it is SO crucial in a relationship and probably one of the most important questions you could ask your partner. Instead of pointing the finger at your partner, take responsibility for how YOU are showing up.
3. What are you grateful for about your partner?
This one may or may not seem relevant, but believe me when I say, IT IS. Here is why. When you are annoyed, frustrated, upset or angry with your partner, the last thing you feel like doing is being intimate, right?
Remember just like you, your partner just wants to be appreciated and loved. In fact, the number one thing humans crave is connection. When you find yourself annoyed and upset with your partner, flip it. Remind yourself WHY you love them, and all the things they do bring to the relationship. Instantly this will change everything. The chemistry in your brain is re-wired and you can’t help but want to show your partner love.
Alissa Buttiglieri, Coach, Speaker – www.alissabuttiglieri.com
When a relationship is new and you're falling in love, building intimacy with your man can be one of the most exciting roller coaster rides of your life. However, as the infatuation inevitably wanes and you become more comfortable with one another, you may worry that the closeness you felt during the honeymoon phase is fading. Each time you ask him to share more of himself, it seems to drive him further and further away.
So what’s a girl to do?
Instead of asking him to share his feelings, try introducing more playfulness into your relationship. When you’re playful, you give him permission to be himself. If he feels comfortable showing you his fun and silly side, it will be easier for him to open up and be vulnerable with you about his emotions. Playfulness can bring down walls, defenses, and inhibitions, allowing for a deeper connection to be made. Play evokes positive emotions that can help you neutralize conflict, soothe tension, and weather adversity, thus giving your relationship a deeper bond and more staying power.
To cultivate playfulness in your relationship, try the following tips:
1. Play games - Plan a game night with your favorite childhood board games or grab a sexy game from an adult store. Challenge him to bowling, mini golf, or skee ball, and incorporate games into your daily activities like thumb wrestling when you’re holding hands, water fights while you’re washing the dishes, or pillow fights when you’re tucking into bed.
2. Get silly, and don’t take him or yourself too seriously. Whether it’s making a funny face or singing at the top of your lungs, say or do something that you know will make him laugh, regardless of how silly you might look. Playfully tease him (never in a mean way), and don’t get offended if he teases you back. Instead, show that you can laugh at yourself.
3. Plan adventures and shared experiences. Instead of your usual date spots, get a change of scenery and do something new together. Take an archery class, crash a hotel hot tub, plan a surprise weekend trip, or picnic in a treehouse. Join him in his favorite hobby (fishing, golf, surfing, etc.), and have fun doing so.
4. Create inside jokes. Make him laugh with certain words or phrases that only the two of you understand; for example, something that reminds you of a funny memory, or whispering a perfectly timed “that’s what she said” in his ear.
5. Get flirty and sexy. Let him know what you’re looking forward to doing with him later, whether it’s kissing, cuddling, or sexy time. Discreetly brush up against him in a crowded room, or build your own romantic or sexual language with a secret hand gesture, a look, or code words to let him know he’s turning you on.
If you focus on showing him your playful side, you’ll be surprised at how easy (and fun) it will be to create intimate moments that bring the two of you closer together than ever before.
Kristi Allain, Dating Coach – www.kristiallain.com
Women yearn to create strong and intimate bonds with the men in their lives but often struggle to make it all happen. At times, it seems almost impossible to accomplish, but it’s really a simple formula if you know what to do. It just takes three simple steps to make it all happen.
Note that I didn’t say three easy steps. Creating strong intimacy takes risk, and it’s by no means easy. But it is worth it if you’re willing to do the work.
Here’s where you might be stumbling and how to set yourself on the right path:
Step 1: Recognize Control
Ask yourself if you have had any significant disappointments in your past. Perhaps you had a previous divorce, a rough childhood, or a traumatic past event in your life. If you’ve been significantly disappointed in the past, you probably subconsciously believe that if you control everything in your life, you will not have to suffer further losses or disappointments. This, of course, is untrue.
The more you control, the less intimacy you will achieve with the man in your life.
The truth is that you don’t have any control over preventing heartache, loss, or trauma now or in your future. In fact, if you don’t let go of that control, heartache is much more likely in the end.
Step 2: Be Vulnerable
When you refuse to be vulnerable with your man, you are telling him, “I don’t trust you.” In most instances, you do this because you’re scared. You don’t want to be disappointed again so you try to manage as much as you can in the relationship.
To create strong intimacy with your man, you have to start to trust him.
Don’t double-check on him.
Don’t make back-up plans.
Let go of manipulation and domination. Expect that not everything will work out just as you want. That’s part of life. Instead, anticipate the best outcome. If something goes wrong, trust your man to tackle the problem with you instead.
Step 3: Do Something Different
Change is simple. You don’t have to feel a certain way to behave a certain way. Your feelings don’t have to dominate your behaviors. You can choose to act differently despite your need to control and despite your fear of vulnerability. Isn’t that empowering?
Give it a try. Give up control for a month and take a risk with being vulnerable, and see what happens. If you always make the plans, let your man take control of this month’s activities. If you’re always encouraging your man to finish that college degree, stop for the month and say nothing. If you haven’t told him how you really feel about him, let him know. Whatever your fear tells you that you can’t do, do it anyway.
I realize completing all three steps can be scary.
But consider the alternative. If you expect a negative response, you will probably get one. Isn’t that why you control or refuse to be vulnerable in the first place? Because you don't think your man will live up to your expectations? You’re disappointed when you expect disappointment. So do something different, no matter what your fear tells you. It’s worth the risk.
Dr. Kat Peoples – www.drkatpeoples.com
A little can go a long way.
It can feel stressful to create an intimate marriage; schedules, work, kids, parents, social obligations and the rest of life require our attention leaving intimacy at the bottom of the list. Even though intimacy in relationships can create some of the deepest feelings of well being it’s often overlooked as other responsibilities get in the way.
It doesn’t take a lot to infuse a relationship with a greater bond and closeness.
See intimacy as a requirement just as you see your other priorities.
This may seem unromantic but planning to put aside time for this important part of your life is effective. Scheduling dates to see your friends and to get together with family is the way we stay connected and maintain and nurture our many relationships. These events are scheduled and anticipated with eagerness. It’s how we continue to stay close and derive support and joy form these many valuable connections.
Borrowing this behavior and applying it to your relationship can have a tremendous impact on the strength of your connection with your significant other. Recognize that the planning is simply a tactical strategy and unrelated to the spontaneity of the actual event. By maintaining this perspective you can remove the sense that planned intimacy feels forced or lacks authenticity.
Any type of connection can be scheduled; date night, watching a favorite show together at home, a weekend away, driving together to do weekly errands, sex, massages the list can go on. What is most important is that you simply adopt the strategy to schedule connection. The small connection points are just as important as the more significant ones. Determine what makes your relationship most enjoyable and schedule experiences into your week. You will increase the connection in your relationship and strengthen its bond for the long term.
Tegan Sorvino, MSW, LCSW – www.inspiredtherapy.net
Without emotional intimacy there is no joy in a relationship.
Share your full selves with each other. Be open, honest, express what you want and need. We need to belong, to experience meaning and purpose with each other. That’s why we’re here. Vulnerability is necessary for intimacy, for belonging, for connection with others. Shame is the fear of isolation, disconnection, of not being accepted and loved as we are. Are you afraid that you aren’t worthy of another’s love? There is no one more worthy of love than you.
None of us is perfect; yet it takes courage to be imperfect and compassion to connect with imperfection.
Are you comfortable confiding in each other, expressing your needs, acknowledging your weaknesses and mistakes. These “confessions” evoke a softness. Can you forgive yourself and the ones you love? Do you trust that you won’t be judged, ridiculed, or rejected? Can you admit that you’re having a hard time, that you need help? Is together a safe place? It’s OK to have differences, to disagree. You can validate each other without losing yourselves.
Your relationship is an investment in closeness.
This takes time that you spend together. As this unfolds, your sexual relationship will become a full bodied expression of an intimacy that is already there.
Dr. Mary Ella Viehe, PhD, LMFT - www.makingloveinmarriage.com
“Intimacy is not a happy medium. It is a way of being in which the tension between distance and closeness is dissolved and a new horizon appears. Intimacy is beyond fear.” -Henri Nouwen
I was reading something it was talking about how fear is intimacy’s enemy, and love is it’s friend. This is very true because intimacy causes a person to break down their most inner most layers, revealing their true selves. People are like onions, they have many layers that when are peeled back, exposes a person’s inner core.
What happens when a person’s inner core is exposed for another to see?
Well, they become more vulnerable to the person by opening themselves up to be hurt. In fact, intimacy is defined as a closeness familiarity or friendship among people. Intimacy can be achieved in many ways, both in a physical and non physical sense. Some people feel that they don’t have the amount of time that is required to create the level of intimacy in their relationship that is needed, but that is not true. Intimacy can be achieved and maintained with just as little as five minutes a day.
Being in a long distance relationship, my partner and I are all too familiar with trying to maintain intimacy in our relationship. There may be physical distance between us, but our emotional closeness is as solid as ever. When you are close to someone, you think about them, so why not let them know?
My partner and I send each other daily texts consisting of quotes, I love you’s, and/or just simply, thinking of you.
These texts are random and unexpected, causing a smile to cross my face. Sending a text message only takes a few minutes. Text message too impersonal? How about a phone call? Hearing your loved one’s voice, even if it is only for a little while, can work wonders. Again, it doesn’t have to be a lengthy phone call, just enough to let the person know they are on your mind. I have to admit, my partner and I still have to master limiting our phone calls to five minutes, but due to the distance, we tend to get a bit carried away when we talk to each other.
When walking around, have you ever came across a love struck couple, who were constantly gazing into each other’s eyes?
According to many studies, gazing into your partner’s eyes for about five minutes can increase the level of closeness between two people.
They say that they eyes are the gateway to a person’s soul. What can be more intimate than that? If staring into your partners eyes for five minutes seems daunting, try starting with a couple of minutes. Non verbals are very telling.
Finally, sit in silence with your partner.
You can cuddle, hold hands, etc. Just make sure that there is some type of physical touch. Physical touch has been proven to lower stress and make a person feel calm, especially if it is from a loved one. I love laying my head on my partner’s chest and hearing his heartbeat. Being that close to him makes me feel relaxed, and everything seem right in the world. It is not necessarily all about what you say, but rather do.
In addition to the mentioned suggestions, you can be creative and think of others, such as taking a walk around the block or expressing gratitude for something that day. The take away message is that achieving intimacy in five minutes is possible, so no excuses.
Robin Ennis, LSW, CPC – www.prominentpathways.org
A relationship is a living breathing thing and it is almost always evolving.
Adjustments are often necessary to learn how to live together and accommodate each other´s needs. Relationships take work and discipline. It is important to take the time to nourish and develop your relationship. For this, you must put time and energy into it. Once the honeymoon phase is over and the novelty of a new relationship fades, the reality of who you are with settles in. It is important to be mindful about taking your time to start and enter a new relationship. Don’t be in a hurry and be mindful not to rush into a situation you will later regret.
Know that a relationship takes dedication, especially if you´re in it for the long term.
Take your time and savor the different aspects of your relationship as they evolve. Savor the process of getting to know each other and strengthening your relationship. Know that you will have conflict and disagreements that can challenge your relationship. If you can work through this conflict, it can grow and strengthen your relationship. Talk about your needs with each other and make room in your life for the each other.
Think before you speak.
Be respectful of and to each other. Set your boundaries and work on making sure you both get your needs met. Attend premarital counseling if you think it might help address issues that might come up in your budding relationship. Be honest about your issues and the emotional baggage you both bring to the relationship. Identify tools that will help you manage conflict more productively. Encourage each other to find ways to resolve problems in a healthy way. Be mindful of drama and behavior that escalates conflict.
It is easy to get bored with the same thing.
So it is up to the both you to keep the fire going. Set time aside for a regularly scheduled date night. Do things that bring you closer. Take time to talk to each other in an environment without distractions. Turn off your phones, television and computer. When it is time to focus on each other, do it mindfully and with the intention of giving your partner your full attention. Spend quality time together and don’t neglect each other.
The longer you go without checking in and attending to each other, the harder it is to get back to that feeling of being connected.
If you find yourselves struggling with issues, look for a therapist that specializes in couple´s or marriage therapy and schedule an appointment. Be prepared to discuss the goals for your relationship and what you both want to get out of therapy. Keep the lines of communication open and work on your individual issues as needed.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net
Intimacy is one of those tricky aspects of a relationship that is constantly being tested. It takes time and patience with many hurdles to overcome along the way.
Here are some best practices that can build connections and help sustain intimacy.
1. Communication - You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, communication is KEY. Communication is how you create connections, establish understanding, and express our inner-self. Each person communicates differently, so learning how to share our needs, expectations, and experiences with our partner is critical in building intimacy. Embrace the concept of “agree to disagree” and choose your battles when you can to help avoid unnecessary conflict. Learning how to communicate effectively fosters the capability to find your way back to being on the same page as your partner.
2. Trust - Trust is the anchor of intimacy. It’s the glue that holds together all of the components of a healthy relationship. Trust is earned through honesty, respect, and supporting your partner. It means listening in a non-judgmental way and working through the most challenging situations as a team. It develops over time and needs to be consistently shown through your words and more importantly your actions.
3. Openness - Openness is the capacity to share and create space for growth, learning, and change within a relationship. A simple, “how was your day?”, can present a chance to check-in and connect. By doing so you allow yourself to be vulnerable which creates a deeper and more meaningful interaction thus improving intimacy. When you close yourself off it creates a disconnect which undermines potential growth and maturation of your relationship.
4. Special moments - Set aside time to create and enjoy special moments together. Whether it’s cuddling on the couch, bringing home their favorite dessert or planning a surprise getaway, the most important thing is prioritizing and spending quality time with your partner. Break up the monotony of your weekly routine by spicing it up and giving yourself something to look forward to and excited about. Be spontaneous, fun, and silly or have a night of “sexy time”. This helps sustain intimacy by welcoming new experiences that can be shared together.
It takes a great effort to build, maintain, and sustain long lasting intimacy. Relationships require constant work in order experience the fulfillment that comes from a truly healthy and meaningful relationship.
Shannon Behar, MFT – www.shannonbehar.com
Often when we hear the word intimacy our minds automatically go to sex.
This is sad because intimacy is about so much more. Also it will not even play the role it does in sex if we have not built it in our relationship in other ways. So what exactly do I mean about intimacy being created outside of sex in many other ways?
One of the most important components of intimacy is trust.
If we truly trust the person we are with we can be open, vulnerable and able to relax and be as close to another person as possible. If we do not trust our significant other all intimacy is lost as we are too guarded to allow ourselves any closeness at all. It is foolish to think we have this immediately and therefore are capable of being intimate with someone upon meeting. Trust can be built over time with consistent actions, and honesty. Trust is a crucial component in creating closeness and vulnerability which are two other key pieces in being intimate.
Vulnerability allows us to truly let down our guards and allow the person to really know and love us.
We let them see our greatest moments as well as our worst. When they react in a supportive loving way we feel that we can be open emotionally which in of itself creates some vulnerability. As terrifying as this can be it can also be amazingly rewarding as it leads to a closeness that truly defines being intimate with another human being.
The closeness I described above is true intimacy.
It is feeling closer to your partner then you have ever felt to another human being. It is sitting in complete comfort and safety with this person and not even thinking about it or forcing it. It is feeling that calm in the storm and knowing it is mutual. When you feel these things and know that you have complete and utter trust with this person you have reached intimacy.
Without all of the pieces discussed above you cannot have true intimacy in sex or any other area of your life.
The components of trust, closeness and vulnerability are essential to intimacy in any form. Being truly and completely intimate with another person involves so much behind the scenes work but results in the most amazing feelings you can experience in your life. It is relationship work that is paid back in emotional, physical and psychological comfort. Intimacy is taking that deep breath, relaxing and feeling like you are home.
Neesha Lenzini, MS - www.relationshipsinneed.com
In any relationship, be it romantic or otherwise, the foundation of intimacy resides in each person’s ability to stay connected to our own self-- our own feelings, desires, and inner experience. My grandmother’s wisdom stands the test of time here, “You have to be a ‘me’, before you’re a ‘we’.” While this saying is cute and, perhaps pithy, it is, nonetheless, true. And it is supported by current attachment theory and research that is exploring how we attach to one another and build intimacy in relationships.
Let’s start at the opposite end of the spectrum: merging.
In new intimate relationships, it’s usual for us to feel the “urge to merge,” that is to become the other person by knowing EVERYTHING about them, feeling what they feel, and, if kept up for the long haul, destroying any semblance of eroticism along the way.
Merging with someone else is not the same thing as true intimacy. Intimacy requires respect for ourselves that allows for space, breathing room, and mystery. Intimacy asks that we stay connected to our own experience in order to be able to know what we feel, to be able to discern and express whether we are enjoying time with our partner, and to be able to set boundaries as needed to maintain our own agency.
So, in order to build intimacy in a relationship, start with your own body, emotions, and experience:
- The next time you’re out to dinner, tune into your own senses from the inside, out: How does the food taste? Do you enjoy it? Is it sweet, bitter, sour, rich? How do you feel in your body? Relaxed, excited, anxious, at ease? Do you enjoy the atmosphere of the restaurant? Become aware of your felt experience (and you could even share this with your partner).
- The next time you’re with your partner, notice how your body responds as your person gets closer and farther away—what happens when you touch? 1-2 feet away? Across the room?
- When you’re making plans with your partner, how do you feel? As you’re texting or emailing or calling, notice your body, emotions, and thoughts. Do you have a preference for what to do planning-wise? See if you can stay connected to your own preference and express it. This is a vital component of building intimacy—taking up space, having preference, and communicating needs effectively.
- Communicate: As an experiment, notice what it’s like to share your own feelings, desires, and thoughts with your partner. And see if you can be curious instead of assuming or predicting of theirs as well.
Ultimately, intimacy is an inside job.
Being able to stay connected to our own felt experience while with others is the first step to being able to get our needs met and to meeting others’ needs in relationship. It’s also very sexy to be able to feel your body, know what you like, and to ask for it….try it.
Kathryn Holt, LCSW - www.kathryncholt.com
Building a strong, intimate relationship with a man starts when you meet.
When you’re first dating, allow the man to tell you who he is. I often hear women say “all he did was talk about himself!” – as if this is a bad thing.
Pay attention to what he is saying!
Does he have a job? Great! Good information. You don’t have to pay for him.
He likes it? Perfect! He won’t come home complaining. Instead he will be invigorated to do well.
If a man is ready to commit, talking about who he is and where he came from are his way of handing you his “resume” for position of husband. He wants to show you he is deserving of your long-term love and devotion.
When he turns questions to you, he’s interviewing you for the role of wife.
Don’t give your “Facebook” version of yourself.
If you have your guard up and talk about all the cool things you’ve done or places you’ve been, you aren’t talking about the core of who you are.
If you hide behind a veil, what is that about? Are you afraid that once he gets to know the real you, he won’t find you loveable?
If so, you aren’t alone with that fear. Get help and do the work so that you walk into your next relationship knowing you are a loveable and worthy woman. The more you accept yourself, the more you will be able to accept someone else.
Eric Berne, father of Transactional Analysis, said everyone has the right to be, to feel, to think, and to share exactly who they are. Radical acceptance of the man in front of you is so liberating for him.
Accept who he is and what he says without judgment. If he says something you don’t like, dig further first. Ask “what causes you to think that way?” Do not assume you have a bad guy on your hands.
Get the back story to understand.
Get to know him in an open and honest way without judging until all the facts are in. However, don’t take on any hurt or pain he’s feeling. If you take on someone else’s pain, you only hurt yourself.
One of the things I think is great to do is to use games like Table Topics to ask questions to get to know each other. In fact, in my own relationship, I did this once with a guy who did not like “playing” and thought the questions were “stupid” and not very fun to answer.
The man I married found those same questions to be interesting starting points for conversations. It wasn’t about the actual questions. Well, it was a little in that they didn’t seem loaded or manipulative because they came from a game. They were just the instigator of dialogs that we probably would not have gotten to on our own.
At the time, playing this game was not a pre-meditated “strategy.” Looking back, I realized what valuable information we both received.
We talked about childhood experiences, values, goals, and ideas. Doing so gave us both the opportunity to be seen, known, heard and understood, all core to having an intimate relationship.
The more authentic and real you are, the more confident the man can be that he doesn’t have to be afraid or cautious about talking to you or that some game is being played. Building a trustworthy record together is key to getting to intimacy.
Dr. Sharon Cohen - www.drsharoncohen.com
“He’s handsome, he’s dreamy, he’s everything I wanted!”, are words used to express feelings about the new flame, because he’s so hot.
Every quality I’m hoping this guy possesses resides, in detail, in my subconscious, but it doesn’t make it up the elevator to consciousness. It lies hidden in assumptions and expectations, hopes, and assurance that “He’ll change for me” or “I’ll get him to change.” Only after the relationship has jostled too far down a rocky road, do we stop to evaluate the contrast between the idealized relationship and the one unfolding in reality.
Too many lament after yet another failed relationship, “I just want to be happy!” When asked to define what happiness would look like, words fail. I got to thinking about my current happy life compared to the years of unhappiness I had experienced. What was different? These characteristics surfaced for my ideal relationship.
Maybe you want these too:
- I want to be free to be me – to be accepted fully with all my faults, flaws, and failures. I want to be loved and still occasionally be weird, odd, strange, and curious.
- I want honesty, to know how he’s feeling, even if it means he tells me how upset he is with me. That requires having the emotional maturity to accept that I may have said or done something wrong and resist becoming defensive.
- To do things together, with friends, and separately. And to feel free and not obligated.
- For the other person to be free to be themselves, which means I need to avoid attacking, criticizing and blaming.
- To not control or be controlled.
- To get through conflict peacefully and with satisfactory resolution. For both. Most of us didn’t get a good model for working though disagreements without arguing, yelling, leaving, or sweeping it under the rug.
- To be on the same page with my faith.
- To have a passionate relationship that lasts a lifetime.
- To get along with most people
- To trust, knowing that I let those around me down sometimes, so I accept imperfections in my guy without belittling or criticisms.
- To generally feeling positive about my life, experiences, and relationships. It includes occasional disagreements, things not going as planned, and other hick-ups.
- To be able to express how I feel without being told how I should feel or what I ought to do, how I have it a lot better than others so I shouldn’t complain, or how I should fix it.
- To accept how the other person feels without attacking or defending, even when he is upset with me, and it was my fault.
To find out how to achieve those qualities that may be missing in your relationship, find a qualified therapist who can help.
Charlene Benson, LPC, NCC - www.bensontherapist.com
To create a strong, intimate relationship with another person, we must understand how our past relationships can play a significant role in our perception of present relationships.
When we have been hurt or abused by others in the past, it is easy to perceive people in the present as having similar intentions, even if they don’t. Dr. Sigmund Freud called this Transference after he noticed many of his patients were treating him as though he was someone from their past. This is a common, yet not often discussed, phenomenon that can become stronger the more intimate a relationship becomes.
The phenomenon is really a subtle conditioning of our brain over time, as well as a continuous hyper-anxious state, which can occur especially after an abusive or tumultuous relationship.
For example, let’s say that you had a boyfriend in the past who cheated on you. In future relationships, you are much more hyper-vigilant about men that might cheat, right? Conditioned thoughts might be, “he’s probably cheating on me” or “I’m not good enough and he wants more.” These thoughts lead to feelings of sadness and overwhelm, usually causing a rift in the relationship, as we pull away from our loved one in fear.
Alternatively, if your significant other is constantly trying to prove to you that he isn’t cheating, it eventually gets frustrating and he may begin to think that he might as well be cheating since his girlfriend believes it so fervently. The transference can force the same relationship dynamic to repeat.
If you have had a relationship that was difficult or traumatic, work to clear your mind of this anxiety and heal the past.
We can be cautious in our relationships, but not anxious. Be mindful of your thoughts about others. As humans, we are assumption makers. We make assumptions all the time. Be careful of what assumptions you are making about your significant other. What is the evidence for thoughts about him/her? Check it out and be clear about your concerns. If you are seeing clear cut red flags, your intuition may be correct. If you are not seeing a lot of concrete evidence and your hunch is centered in anxiety, then there could possibly be a transference going on.
When you are seeing similar patterns in several of your past relationships, there is one common denominator here – you!
Work to see the bigger picture and consider what you are bringing into each relationship. Get an objective opinion from others you trust such as a therapist or a close friend. Take the time to reflect within and heal inner afflictions brought on by past trauma and continued transferences. With patience and more self-awareness, you can free yourself to create many strong intimate relationships in your life.
Dr. Lisa M. Templeton, Phd - www.interpersonalhealing.com
You may not, except with express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.