Written by: Courtney Kershaw.
The word “intimacy” can easily conjure images like a montage of scenes from a romantic comedy. A couple laughing and embracing, seeming so in love without a care in the world and everything they do has a soft glow of romance. But so rarely does real life mirror this idealized version of intimacy. Sure, occasionally big romantic experience happen and they can feel very intimate and connective, but what about all the time in between? How do relationships foster intimacy between the blockbuster moments?
Let’s look at the components of what intimacy is. In one form, intimacy is a way to talk about connection. You feel close with your partner or something has given you the feeling that you’re on the same wavelength—in sync.
Being connected with someone often means two things: you see them, and you feel seen by them. When your partner remembers that snack you got one time from the grocery store that you really liked and remembered to pick it up for you just because they were thinking of you, it can make you feel seen. They were paying attention to a detail and they just showed you. Similarly, seeing your partner can feel intimate. When you can tell your partner is tired or stressed, and you walk up and give them a hug and they just melt into it, you feel like you saw what they needed and it can give you a sense of closeness being able to read their needs.
Intimacy can also be verbal or nonverbal. Meaning it can look like spontaneously hearing from you partner that they love you or they ask you if you need anything, or it could look like making silent eye contact when someone says something hilarious and you and your partner share a look that says you both heard it the same way.
Intimacy is how you know your person is there with you, in more ways than one. Intimacy also include an element of trust, because if someone is seeing you, showing you they are there with you, and showing up for you, all of those include and reinforce connection through trust.
Do you and your partner talk about intimacy? Do you know what intimacy looks like to you?
It can vary for everyone, much like any other part of a personality. A great way to build or enhance intimacy with your partner is actually identifying with each other what makes you feel connected and why.
Some common ways people experience intimacy with their partners:
- Intellectually: Do you enjoy discussing art, literature, economics, politics, religion, history, etc? Does having engaging conversation make you feel closer with your partner? Can you talk about big picture things and silly things? Do you get vulnerable with each other?
- Emotionally: Can you show and discuss your emotions? What is it like for you when your partner sees your emotional experience and meets your needs? What is it like for you to be able to do that for your partner?
- Physically: Do you like working on projects together? Do you plan together? Do you both feel comfortable discussing your sex life and your wants/needs? Do you have different ways of communicating your needs to each other besides talking? Do you know how to be silent together comfortably?
Discussing ways that you feel connected and intimate with your partner can be a great way to add to areas of the relationship that you want to grow, and highlight areas where you already feel strong. And if you discover that you would like more support with growing your intimacy in your relationship, couples therapy can be a great resource!
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