What is Intimacy?
Intimacy in relationships is often thought to simply mean sex, but true intimacy means much more than that. Intimacy encompasses an entire way of being, acting, and thinking. It is a place of commitment, vulnerability, and trust. Intimacy is when both spouses understand each other while simultaneously feeling understood. If true intimacy is missing in a relationship then fulfilling and satisfying sex is one of the first things to go.
Men and women often need very different things in order to feel the sense of intimacy with their partner. It is critical to find out and deliver what each partner needs. In doing so, you and your partner achieve and maintain that special ‘best-friend’ or ‘soul-mate’ type of relationship which is indicative of true intimacy.
Signs & Symptoms
Intimacy issues can arise for a variety of different reasons, as described below:
- Fear of intimacy. Building intimacy is difficult when fear of intimacy exists. Potential indicators of fear of intimacy include:
- Reluctance to share thoughts and feelings with your lover or spouse
- Refusal to talk about personal or even superficial events with your friends or family
- Prolonged singlehood
- Multiple dates or sexual partners, with no emotional ties
- Affairs or one-night stands, with no chance of building intimacy
- Mismatched libidos. Many couples have different libidos causing one partner’s sexual needs to not be met, while the other partner feels pressured into having sex when they are not in the mood. Not only does the bedroom become a battlefield, but couples become emotionally distant, refusing to talk about the situation, allowing resentments and bitterness to fester.
- Loss of attraction. Most people barely have time for date night, let alone sex. As the passion dies, so do the sparks, and couples find themselves treating each other like platonic roommates rather than lovers. While some loss of excitement is a natural part of a long-term relationship, it is very important to make sure that you and your partner still keep that sexual part of your love life alive to avoid losing your sense of intimacy.
Diagnosis & Treatment Options
While intimacy is a unique connection between two people, its successful beginning is with the individual and their ability to be open, vulnerable, and to trust. Counselling provides individuals a safe environment to explore and discover the issues that cause a lack of intimacy in relationships. Many times our trust has been broken or our openness taken for granted resulting in us protecting our heart by putting up barriers to stop anyone from coming in and causing further damage. Rebuilding intimacy takes time and positive experiences for it to be reestablished and validated. Here are some suggestions to help increase the intimacy in your relationship:
- Make your partner feel special:
- Make time for talking:
- Be open and honest about your activites
- Have fun together
- Be affectionate with words and touch
In healthy intimate relationships, you don’t lose yourself. Rather, you share yourself and learn about your partner and yourself. If you’re concerned about a fear of intimacy, know that overcoming fear of intimacy is possible, especially by building connections and intimacy through
- Acceptance. Both you and your partner need to feel accepted. Learn to share your true thoughts about another’s actions and opinions without judging or condemning them.
- Surrendering. Come out from behind your walls and put down the armor. Building intimacy is about stepping forward and being known.
- Risks. Share your feelings about work, traffic, the weather, sports, or other small stuff. If you feel uncomfortable but accepted, start talking about the big stuff like resentment, fear of intimacy, or even abuse.
- Participating. When your partner shares feelings, discuss them. Avoid emotional distance by asking a few questions and listening to the answers. Open up on the same level and to the same degree if possible.
There Is Hope!
With marriage counseling, you can learn how to connect emotionally with your partner or spouse in deeper, more profound ways. Building intimacy, like any other skill, can be learned, practiced, and mastered. Call our office today to set up an appointment to speak with a marriage counselor about intimacy.