Feel like the intimacy in your relationship has plateaued over the years? You’re not alone!
Many relationships start to feel stagnant after the excitement from dating wears off and the years roll by. Life happens, jobs become more demanding and responsibilities pile in. There are new expectations with marriage, and once children come into the picture… well, your priorities undoubtedly shift and privacy becomes a thing of the past.
With what may seem like the odds stacked against you, it’s no surprise that the passion and carefree nature of a relationship can fizzle into predictability and boredom over time.
If you’re craving a deeper connection and are wondering if you can ever get back to the way things used to feel, keep reading. Your relationship doesn’t have to continue to suffer!
Where did we get stuck?
Even the most successful relationships can go through periods of predictability and reduced intimacy. It’s easy to get so caught up in errands, projects and other distractions that you stop spending time together simply holding hands and playfully chatting about your day.
To revive the feeling of excitement in your relationship, intimacy is a great place to start.
So, what exactly does reviving intimacy entail?
When you think of increasing intimacy in a romantic relationship, what initially comes to mind? For most people, it’s sex. But intimacy and sex AREN’T the same thing. Yes, sex can be an expression of intimacy, but it’s not all there is to it.
The best way to describe intimacy is to think of it as a connection. It’s sharing experiences with your partner, laughing together and playfully touching one another. It’s taking the time to compliment your partner and catch up with them at the end of each day. Most of all, it’s building a sense of trust and emotional connection in your relationship.
Intimacy is when you deepen the connection you have with your partner in an authentic way and feel comfortable enough to expose your whole self.
Intimacy doesn’t just happen—it has to be built and nurtured.
Not to point out the obvious, but every healthy relationship requires a good amount of work. Relationships don’t just magically keep thriving. They require you to think about your partner’s needs as much as you think of your own, and vice versa—and inevitability that takes awareness and effort.
Like a flower, a relationship needs to be nourished to grow. If you (as a couple) have allowed your relationship to wilt, it’ll take time to restore those “blossoms of love.” And, even after that, you’ll have to continue to nurture your relationship’s growth.
Intimacy is something you have to continue to cultivate over time.
There needs to be a mutual display of commitment.
The good news is, being in a rut doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. But there has to be a mutual commitment to wanting to make it work. As long as you’re both willing to put forth the effort, there’s a great chance you’ll be able to start taking the steps to move forward.
“Like” typically attracts “like.”
If your partner isn’t as eager as you, don’t immediately give up. While you can’t force them to become more open and vulnerable, you can still make a solid effort to be kind, compassionate and vulnerable and see if it moves your relationship in the right direction.
Depending on the current status of your relationship, especially if there’s been a violation of trust, seeing the effects of your efforts could take weeks or even months. So, tenacity and patience are key!
How to increase intimacy in your relationship
Fostering intimacy is an ongoing practice and, like many things, takes some time to master. However, there are a few things you can do—starting today—to improve the connection you have with your partner. Below are three types of intimacy you and your partner can focus on to create a more authentic connection and closeness.
1. Emotional intimacy (a.k.a. the PERFECT place to start!)
Feeling safe and comfortable with sharing your feelings, deepest fears, biggest dreams and most complicated emotions truly is the foundation of any solid relationship. For this reason, emotional intimacy really becomes a no-brainer for you to initially invest your energy into building and nurturing. From there, you’ll see ALL aspects of intimacy flourish.
You see, until you and your partner are able to regain an emotional connection, it can be extremely difficult to break down your walls and feel completely vulnerable with one another again, especially in the boudoir. Emotional intimacy is like foreplay’s foreplay—it’s what primes the pump and ignites the desire to become more physical.
Think of emotional intimacy as strengthening trust so you both feel safe enough to let your guard down.
Tips to increase emotional intimacy
Two simple, yet sure-fire ways to increase emotional intimacy are by giving your partner compliments and making an effort to be more open and vulnerable.
Start by complimenting, building up and encouraging one another.
Think about it, have you ever felt unappreciated or emotionally starved in your relationship? Over time, these feelings often lead to resentment. Making a conscious effort to let your partner know you value them can be an absolute game changer.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you need to spend hours a day expressing how wonderful your partner is. Just one or two positive affirmations each day can completely change the vibe between the two of you and provide motivation for a MUCH more positive atmosphere.
It can be as simple as saying, “I really appreciate you doing x, y, z.”
Next, work on breaking down your personal walls.
We get it, vulnerability can be difficult and feel extremely scary, but like anything, it becomes easier with practice.
Start by sharing one simple thing a day.
Maybe that’s opening up about a stressful incident you experienced at work, or maybe it’s revealing something about yourself or a desire you have that you haven’t shared in the past.
The more you open up over time, the more you’ll create a deep sense of security within your relationship and an ability to be your authentic self without feeling like you’ll jeopardize the relationship itself.
Being authentic is how we really develop genuine, heartfelt and deep intimacy.
If you’re the one sharing: When expressing your feelings, especially if they involve your partner, own your feelings instead of blaming your partner for something you aren’t experiencing. Carefully word your statements so they come without ANY blame. “I would really like it if we tried x, y, z,” rather than, “I’d be happier if you did this or that.”
If you’re the one listening: Always be careful not to invalidate your partner’s feelings. Ask them thoughtful questions and show interest in what they’re thinking and feeling. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with what they’re saying, refrain from being judgmental or making them feel personally attacked for sharing their feelings.
The goal is to establish an environment that’s conducive to open, honest dialogue.
Finally, if (and when) you’re there, make your partner feel special with a flirty comment that helps them feel wanted and more connected.
For example: “Wow, you look amazing in that shirt.” “I saw you leave the house this morning in your suit and all I could think about was taking it off of you.”
One easy, yet super effective way to increase emotional intimacy in your relationship until it becomes more natural is to put a daily reminder in your schedule, just as you would any other priority. Something as simple as “compliment and reconnect” works.
2. Experiential intimacy
The essence of this type of intimacy is that you and your partner feel a sense of intimacy from simply spending time together during leisurely activities.
Whether it’s a weekly date night, doing tasks around the house as a team, exercising together, embarking on a new adventure or going on a nightly walk, connecting through experiences will help you create memories that strengthen your bond and bring you closer together.
Tips to increase experiential intimacy
Come up with a few things you can do with your partner to create shared memories without any distraction. Aim for at least one a week and bump it up from there.
These can be experiences that:
- Help foster teamwork (such as cooking or cleaning together—pour some wine, crack a beer or make some hot tea and put on some tunes)
- You both enjoy (a date night, dancing in the kitchen, going to a coffee shop, wine tasting or a walk)
- Push you to try something new (going to a cooking class or climbnasium together)
- Allow you to encourage and motivate one another while working toward an achievement (like training for a 5k together)
3. Physical intimacy: beyond just sex!
Lastly, there’s physical intimacy. This type of intimacy is about touch and physical closeness between you and your partner.
It might include touching your beau casually as you pass in the kitchen, holding hands as you walk together through the grocery store, cuddling up on the couch after a hectic day or a good old-fashioned make-out sesh after sneaking away from your kids. It can but doesn’t necessarily have to mean having sex.
Tips to increase physical intimacy
This type of intimacy typically flourishes alongside of, or after, emotional and experiential intimacy are achieved in your relationship—so don’t rush it.
Try to cultivate sexiness with your partner both in and out of the bedroom. Make an effort to flirt and hold hands, cuddle up on the couch, kiss, and touch one another… whether that’s something as simple as a quick hug as you walk out the door or heading into the bedroom for some steamy sex.
What to do about fear of intimacy
The trust-building process is a slow one. If you or your partner have trouble opening up to each other, start slow with the easy stuff.
Foster a “safe space” and sense of security by listening to one another without judgment or disrespect. As your trust builds, you’ll find it less scary to talk about the difficult stuff and you’ll have more of a desire to become physically intimate.
If you and your partner struggle to get closer to each other through these techniques, or if you feel like you’re not on the same page, your relationship may benefit from additional support, such as a couples counseling. While some people avoid therapy because they feel like it’s a sign of weakness, nothing could be further from the truth.
There’s NO shame in getting help from someone with professional experience—especially if it has the ability to help strengthen communication, solve misunderstandings and overcome fears that may be holding you and your partner back from the relationship you both desire.
The bottom line
From letting your guard down by sharing something you may have otherwise held in, to creating memories through experiences, flirting and making an effort to touch and snuggle with your partner, elevating intimacy in your relationship is possible as long as you and your partner are willing to prioritize it.
What we can tell you is by building intimacy outside of the bedroom, your relationship will flourish and the sexual chemistry inside the bedroom will thrive as a result.