Updated: Nov 29, 2019
People often talk about wanting more intimacy in their relationship. Yet, when asked what they mean, can seem confused or even shocked by the question. Doesn't "being intimate" mean having sex? Well, yes-and no. That said, Let's talk a little about intimacy, what it looks like, and what difference it can mean in the relationship.
Merriam-Webster defines intimacy two ways: 1 "the state of being intimate : familiarity" and 2 "something of a personal or private nature." (Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 June 2018). Though the first definition provides some information, it's sill not really enough when we're looking at complex human relationships. Let's expand, shall we? We've already covered that intimacy can be the very act of having sex. However, the second definition gives us a little more to work with. "Something of a personal or private nature." In other words, sharing something just between the two of you. In this sense, intimacy can be not only our bodies but our desires, our hopes, our dreams, our greatest fears, traumatic memories/experiences, etc. The idea is that a special bubble is created around the relationship in which things occur or information that is shared that others are not privy to.
So what does this MEAN for relationships? Well, when we share something exclusive, we feel more connected to that person. That connection can impact not only our emotional but physical being as well. So, it shouldn't be a shocker that having more intimacy might mean having more sex or better sex! On the other hand, when intimacy lacks in a relationship or a partner has the perception that there is more intimacy in a relationship outside of the marriage, this can lead to increased risk of blurred boundaries and potential for loss, or in some cases, infidelity.
You might be asking yourself, "So what can I do bring my partner closer (increase intimacy)?" Here are a few strategies that may help/begin the process.
1) Make it a point to share something intimate with your partner on a daily basis. This can look many different ways. However, a common one is to share your high and low for the day. In other words, what brought you the most joy that day? What drained your energy or happiness?
Though many couples often ask their partner how their day went. This is a little different as it leads the other person to really think and offers the partner the opportunity to support
2) Playing a game. Something along the line of 20 questions can be fun as it breaks up the everyday conversation. For example, you could ask your partner what was something they saw that surprised them or made them laugh. What was the last article they read or meme or video they saw?
Though these things might seem silly, it can open up conversation and keep things interesting.
3) Massage. This is a physical form of intimacy but also good to incorporate. With our busy lives (work, kids, etc.) sometimes we're just too tired to have sex. It happens but it doesn't mean we have to lose that physical connection with our partner.It doesn't necessarily have to be an our long session.
A simple 5 minutes at the end of a tough day can help relieve tension and do each partner well in maintaining that connection and affection.
* As I mentioned before, relationships are complex and sometimes there are tough issues past/present blocking the intimacy from taking place. In some cases, they might be related to the relationship. Other times, they might be on an individual basis impacting the relationship. In either situation, seeking relationship counseling can be beneficial to tackle those difficult problems and make room for intimacy to occur.