Intimacy is the key to a happy and long-lasting relationship. All couples will experience many types of intimacy and it’s important that all of these are maintained. When the connection is lacking or lost, it can cause resentment and isolation within the couple, ultimately resulting in the end of the relationship. To improve intimacy and form stronger bonds, consider these tips.
What Causes Loss of Intimacy in a Relationship?
A loss of intimacy in a relationship can be caused by a variety of factors. In long-term relationships, everyday stresses and issues can put a strain of a couple’s closeness and cause the intimacy between them to decrease. Additionally, traumatic life events can severely impact a relationship, especially when they affect only one person in the couple.
Everyone changes over time, and if you have been with one person for years, they are unlikely to be the same as the day you met them. This change is good and normal, but sometimes it can impact a couple’s closeness. Problems can arise in a relationship with the passing of time, such as changes in a person’s self-esteem and body image, changes in their ideas and values, and changes in their priorities. Any of these may cause stress, resentment and difficulties in maintaining a relationship.
Sometimes, a loss of intimacy in a relationship is caused by a traumatic event. Many couples struggle to get through big life changes such as a terminal diagnosis or the loss of a child. It can be worse if the event affects the people in the couple differently; for example, women often feel the loss of a miscarriage more acutely than their male partners. Often, psychological help will be required to assist partners through these sorts of events. Working with an experienced counsellor is recommended.
Improving Physical Intimacy
Physical intimacy isn’t just about sex. All physical touching is intimate and is an important part of being close to someone. Touch is a basic human need that keeps us happy and healthy, and so when this disappears in our relationship, it can cause more problems.
If you feel that you are lacking physical intimacy, make a conscious effort to touch more. This could be rubbing your partner’s shoulders when they’re sitting down watching television, or laying a hand on their leg. It may be making sure you kiss each other goodbye before you go to work in the morning.
If sex is missing or infrequent in your relationship, it may be an indicator that the fun and friendship part of your relationship needs some work. Sexual intimacy is hard to improve if you haven’t first addressed any communication issues and if your friendship is lacking.
Improving Emotional Intimacy
Emotional intimacy involves sharing our emotions and showing love and acceptance. Sometimes emotional intimacy can disappear when we stop feeling comfortable sharing with our partner, or we feel less inclined to show compassion and empathy towards them.
Showing appreciation can assist to improve emotional intimacy. Even if your partner makes you a coffee every morning, saying thank you and showing how much that means can do a lot. Simple acts of kindness and love can help to deepen intimacy and strengthen your bond.
Being vulnerable and open will also encourage your partner to do the same. In an emotionally intimate relationship, open and clear communication between the couple is a priority. Showing our difference and having difficult conversations isn’t easy, however there are skills you can both learn to assist your communication with each other.
Improving Intellectual Intimacy
Intellectual intimacy can suffer when a couple disagrees on important issues. When it comes to topics such as buying property or having children, it’s important that a couple are in agreement on things that affect them both. You may have different core values and it is important to find this out early in your relationship. If you are disagreeing on these elements within your relationship, try to have a frank discussion about them. Listen to and respect the other person’s opinion. Never dismiss their ideas as stupid or ignorant. Remember that a partnership involves sharing thoughts and insights and learning from each other equally. You can also improve your intellectual intimacy by ensuring you have a life outside the partnership. Maintaining your own interests and encouraging your partner to do the same gives you more to talk about and to share with your partner. Bringing new ideas into the relationship can strengthen your intellectual intimacy.
Improving Experiential Intimacy
A great way to improve your experiential intimacy (fun and friendship) is to go out and have more experiences together! Every couple can fall into the same boring daily routine. Break things up by organising weekends away, holidays to new destinations, or even just trying a new restaurant. Sometimes getting outside of your comfort zone is the best way to kickstart things between you – even if you both don’t like it much, you have shared the experience and got through it together!
You can also reminisce about past times you have shared. Laughing about funny moments or reliving memorable times in the early days of your relationship is a great way to build closeness.