Like many words that relate to sexuality, we often talk about intimacy as if everyone is in complete agreement about what that means. Sometimes people use the word intimacy to mean 'having sex.’ While intimacy often involves sex, physical intimacy is only part of the picture. Intimacy in a relationship is also about being emotionally close to a partner - being able to let our guard down.
Intimacy is about letting your partner know how you feel, but also about hearing and accepting your partner's feelings. Intimacy builds up over time when two people feel safe enough in their relationship to reveal their true feelings, thoughts, fears and hopes to each other.
Some thoughts about creating a strong, intimate relationship:
- Intimacy can build through working or playing side-by-side whether it's doing chores together or pursuing a new hobby or activity together. Intimacy grows when couples have fun together.
- Intimacy is not about giving up your independence. It's about balancing the sense of yourself with being connected to your partner. At the same time, intimacy often involves thinking about "us."
- Real intimacy always involves some degree of vulnerability. It can be scary to talk about important feelings, fears, and hopes.
- It is possible to enjoy physical intimacy without emotional or intellectual intimacy. Problems arise if one person in the relationship wants more than physical intimacy and the other person isn't interested in more.
- See your partner for who he or she really is. People sometimes fall in love with the idea of a person. Being in a relationship that is working toward intimacy involves accepting and respecting where you and your partner differ in your values or beliefs.
- Be willing to learn from each other. Having a partner who exposes you to different perspectives and dreams can enhance your life.
- Be willing to have the difficult conversations. Working together to solve relationship problems builds intimacy.
- Be able to give all of your attention when your partner wants to talk. Putting down the remote control or cell phone, looking at your partner and saying, "What would you like to talk about?" can make your partner feel loved and important.
- Accept the ordinary. Some people think the "fantasy romance" phase of their relationship should last forever - there's something wrong if it doesn't. In reality, it is in the sharing of day-to-day life where intimacy starts to grow.