I hear a lot of people complain about the loss of intimacy and passion in their relationships. This also affects their sex life most of the time.
So the question is: How does a once fiery relationship become passive though the partners still love each other?
Let’s start with knowing what intimacy is: Intimacy in a relationship is a feeling of being close and emotionally connected and supported. This means you are comfortable enough with this person to share your deepest thoughts, feelings and experiences. It calls for openness and vulnerability. Letting your guard down and expressing your fears, desires and hopes with someone else.
Intimacy requires patience and a conscious effort from both partners because it is built up over time. Discovering and maintaining intimacy with someone you love can be one of the most rewarding aspects of a relationship.
Apart from emotional and sexual intimacy, you can also be intimate intellectually, recreationally, financially, spiritually, creatively (for example, renovating your home) and at times of crisis (working as a team during tough times).
Intimacy is achieved when you feel accepted and reassured of the other person’s love and there’s no fear of judgment. Children usually develop intimacy with their parents and peers. As adults, we seek intimacy in close relationships with other adults, friends, family, and with a partner.
It is important to share a whole range of emotions with a partner, otherwise one can begin to feel lonely and isolated regardless of how good the sexual experiences may be.
In a relationship, making love involves a sense of intimacy and emotional closeness. An intimate sexual relationship involves trust and being vulnerable with each other. Closeness during sex is also linked to other forms of intimacy, including emotional and spiritual intimacy. Intercourse is only part of sexual intimacy, which involves foreplay and other forms of physical intimacy.
It is crucial to explore ways of sharing love and affection without sex. Usually, the more a couple is intimate with each other in ways other than sex, the more fulfilling their sex life becomes.
It is important to note that some couples have some level of intimacy at the start of their relationship, but gradually lose it, while some couples have difficulty achieving it at all. Here are some reasons why some people find it difficult to achieve and maintain intimacy in their relationships:
1. Communication issues: When partners do not communicate their feelings and needs to each other, then there’s going to be a problem. If you do not feel understood by your partner then intimacy will be hard to create or maintain. It’s important to talk to your partner about what you need and to check in with them about how they are feeling. This act alone can create a feeling of being connected and intimate.
2. Conflict: When there is an ongoing rift in your relationship, it can be difficult to develop intimacy. It is not easy to feel close to someone you are arguing with. Anger, hurt, resentment, lack of trust, or a sense of being unappreciated can all affect intimacy.
3. Practical issues: Practical issues and life stressors such as financial worries, pressures at work, concerns about children, or a busy schedule can affect intimacy. There are times in a relationship when the needs of the couple have to be put aside while more pressing issues are dealt with, but it is important to try and carve out time together as a couple, even if it is a five minutes check-in or having a cup of tea together. Small moments of feeling close to each other all add up to a greater feeling of intimacy
4. Abuse or violence: Intimacy is damaged when one partner uses power inappropriately over the other. Abuse or violence in a relationship destroys trust and signals that the relationship is in trouble.
5. Negative childhood experiences: Bad childhood experiences will most times affect adult relationships. It brings issues like insecurity and a lack of trust, which can impede intimacy between partners.
6. Past and current traumas: People who have experienced some form of trauma find it difficult to connect with their partners.
7. Health issues: Some health issues can make intimacy difficult, but it’s all up to the couple to find a level ground.
We all have some barriers to intimacy. Couples must work together to overcome these barriers.
Building and maintaining intimacy in a relationship takes time and it takes some people longer than others. Often, the harder you work at developing intimacy in your relationship, the more rewarding it is.
Here are some suggestions for developing intimacy in your relationship:
i. Celebrate the good things in your relationship. Tell your partner, in words and actions, how much you love and appreciate them. Let your partner know what you value about them and the relationship. Put it into words and don’t assume they already know. Everybody likes to be told that they are appreciated and loved.
ii. Talk openly about your feelings and what you need from the relationship.
iii. Create opportunities for intimacy. Take time out to be together as a couple when you can focus on each other and your relationship. The harder it is to do this because of children, work or other commitments, the more important it is that you do it. Try to plan a regular evening, day or weekend for the two of you to be alone.
iv. Accept that your relationship will have highs and lows. Continue to explore new ways of finding a deeper level of intimacy. These moments don’t need to be grand gestures of love. Taking time, even small moments, together is just as important as going on a date together.
v. Be positive and grateful about what you have in your relationship.
vi. Be aware that both parties in a relationship need to initiate opportunities for creating intimacy.
Sometimes you may need to seek help or guidance to sort through some of the problems, feelings and thoughts you have about your relationship. You could talk to a relationship counsellor or go to a course or workshop that will help you and your partner overcome some of your relationship problems.
Remember, it is normal to have ups and downs in your relationship, and building and maintaining intimacy is part of having a fulfilling relationship.
I would love to get feedback, questions and recommendations on the topics you would want me to shed light on.
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