Intimacy in Relationships

Intimacy in Relationships

Human beings are social creatures who crave and thrive upon close relationships.  People have a tendency to seek intimate relationships to satisfy this craving.  As a new relationship develops, intense feelings of physical attraction drive the relationship, but as they relationship matures, emotional and physical intimacies develop and feed the relationship so it can thrive.  

To develop long sustaining intimacy in your relationship, it is essential that you clearly voice your expectations and also make your partner comfortable enough to be able to do the same.

Presumptions and guesswork are a big no-no. A relationship that has one partner willing to cross the threshold of the past baggage be intimate; while the other doesn’t, is a deal breaker.

To make the relationship successful it is important that the couple is on the same page and does not have the lopsided preferences where one of the partners is just succumbing to the pressure of getting intimate, without feeling it from deep within.

Here’s why you need to halt and take stock of things to build a warm and loving relationship minus the glitches.

When the ‘spark’ fades

However, over time many couples feel that the “spark” disappears from the relationships they share with their partner or spouse. Many couples feel that there is a tangible space between them. This space can create feelings of confusion, solitude, resentment, strain, and loneliness in the relationship. This space may be a result of lack of intimacy in the relationship.

Emotional and physical intimacy in a relationship is similar to the engine in a car. A car cannot run or move forward without the engine. Healthy, loving relationships struggle to thrive without intimacy. Intimacy keeps the relationship moving.

Intimacy keeps the relationship alive.  

Intimacy is much more than sex

Many individuals struggle with some form of sexual dysfunction.  A couple can have a highly intimate relationship without engaging in sexual intercourse.  Emotional intimacy is defined by the closeness a couple shares feeling comforted, supported, and loved through openness and acceptance while revealing their deepest vulnerability without feeling judged.  As emotional intimacy is nurtured, physical intimacy is enhanced. Physical intimacy can be anything from holding hands, snuggling in bed, kissing, hugging, embracing, touching, caressing, playfulness, and all forms of sex.  Both have an enormous impact on one another when nurtured by the couple.

However, couples oftentimes “lose the spark” when complacency sets into the relationship. With life’s hectic demands of work, financial responsibility and/or strain, family commitments or conflict, and stress related to child rearing, couples may feel that the relationship they share with their partner has become more like a business relationship. The distance this creates in a relationship can be devastating to a couple. This can lead to infidelity or divorce.

So how do couples get that “engine” running again?  

Therapeutic treatment can help couples reignite that “spark” by helping them to explore the problems and identify the barriers.  Therapy can provide the couple with the opportunity to work through fears, trust issues, misunderstanding and misperception, disappointments, and problems with communication.  Resolving these issues can increase couple’s level of intimacy to restore the love and affection they share with each other, thus saving their relationship.

Ring in the forgiveness, ring out the blame game

The importance of forgiveness cannot be emphasized enough.

Inculcate a habit of forgiving, sparing a few exceptions where the magnitude of mistake is really big – Infidelity, repeated occurrence of betrayal, violence or major financial discrepancies.

Fretting over petty issues can lead to unnecessary negativity, which is the biggest intimacy killer.

As soon as you start sensing that the discussion is spiraling towards an argument, it’s time to stop, before things go out of hand. Take some time out, look for a channel where you can vent out your energies or anger – errands, workout or just plain timeout. The result? Very soon you will be shrugging off the whole issue, looking back at it as a trivial stuff that needs no attention or energy. As a positive outcome, you will be saving yourself and your partner some serious heartburn and will have more room for intimacy.

Building up walls is an emotional divorce

Sounds grave? When there is too much resentment or blame game going on in its full swing and intimacy goes for a toss. You tend to build walls, so your partner can’t reach out to you, or you have your partner who does it, so there is no room to listen, talk or just communicate in general. Such emotional divorce sounds the death knell for intimacy and connection in general.

You don’t want to tread this road. Consider all those years you have spent nurturing this relationship. Not for nothing!

If any of the above resonates with you, now’s the best time for you to start working on building an emotional and physical intimacy, before the relationship goes dysfunctional. Relationships are a lot of hard work, but it’s totally worth it. You have it in both of you, to set a precedent for not just others, but yourself to make it work out just fine.

Kim is an experienced Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degree from University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. She helps people struggling with chronic illnesses and multiple health problems, as well as those suffering from depression and anxiety associated with life’s challenges and transitions. She has worked with diverse individuals and families at different stages of their lives.