We hear about intimacy often, but what actually is it, and how do we foster it in relationships?
Intimacy is a term that often gets confused with being physical and sexual with a partner. While sex can be a form of intimacy, it’s not the whole story.
People can be sexual without being intimate - think friends with benefits, or one night stands, where the main purpose is to get off.
What is Intimacy?
Intimacy is a closeness between people that takes time and effort to build. It is so much more than those initial fireworks and butterflies in your tummy when you meet the one.
It goes beyond intercourse, oral sex, kissing, hand-holding, and other forms of physical and sexual touch.
Have you ever seen a couple lock eyes and share a special moment with each other, from across the room? That loving, romantic, sensual, and genuine stare in which they seem to have an intense exchange of energy in that moment? When, as an on-looker you can feel the love and connection that these individuals share? ... That’s intimacy.
Intimacy is an ongoing practice that involves the deep and mutual exchange of truths and vulnerabilities with a partner. It is the display of respect, love, loyalty, acceptance and understanding of the person or people that you care about.
Intimacy is the deep connection that exists between lovers (and friends and family), and is the continued fostering of a loving, committed, honest and meaningful relationship over time.
The desire and craving for intimacy doesn’t disappear with age. As we get older, it’s common to develop more health issues (ex: dementia, erectile dysfunction, arthritis, heart disease, etc.), and these can make it more difficult to both develop and maintain intimacy.
Humans are social creatures. We crave meaningful connections but don’t always know how to cultivate these kinds of relationships.
Below are some ways of cultivating intimacy, specifically in romantic relationships.
- Share a goodnight kiss and a nighttime routine before going to sleep. Let the end of the day be a time to wind down and reconnect with one another.
- Learn your partner's love language* and start expressing love to them in that form. This is a way to acknowledge and honour your partner's emotional needs. *Check out the Five Languages of Love, by Gary Chapman
- Have bi-weekly check-ins with your partner to make sure you are communicating and sharing your wants, needs, and truth with each other. Ask questions like: am I satisfying your emotional needs? What can I give you more of in order to make you feel loved and appreciated? Is there anything that you want to share with me? How can I support you during this time
- Eat dinner together a couple of times a week - this is an easy way to share something together, make memories, spend quality time together, and to blend your busy life schedules together.
- Plan for a date night at least once a month - this is a great time to plan a special night out with your lover, to show you care, and to make your partner feel special, loved, and appreciated.
- Remember anniversaries and birthdays - whether you give your partner a heartfelt card or diamond earrings, remembering special dates is great way to express love, commitment and dedication to your partner. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to reminisce about your journey together.
- Acknowledge and positively affirm your partners efforts to learn and grow. This helps creates a safe space between partners, where everyone feels valued, respected, comfortable, and seen.
- Embrace conflict. No partnership is perfect and without flaws. See conflict as an opportunity to grow together, to learn about one another’s needs, and to enhance your connection. Learning to listen and really hear what your partner is truly saying is a very useful skill to have and can help you resolve conflicts with more ease.
I think the most important thing to remember about intimacy is that it takes conscious effort to build and maintain it.
If you feel like you relationship is lacking in the intimacy department, ask yourself if you are putting in the effort required to create your ideal relationship - are you having meaningful conversations and sharing your vulnerabilities? Are you spending enough quality time together? Are you reassuring one another that you love, respect and support each other unconditionally?
There is always room for improvement. Always.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read! I hoped you gained some insight or useful tips.
Until next time, babes!
- Talya, xox