What is relationship intimacy?

Relationship intimacy is a feeling of being close, emotionally connected and supported by your partner. It means being able to share a whole range of thoughts, feelings and experiences that we have as human beings. It involves being open and talking through your thoughts and emotions, letting your guard down (being vulnerable), and showing someone else how you feel and what your hopes and dreams are.

Intimacy is built up over time, and it requires patience and effort from both partners to create and maintain. Discovering intimacy with someone you love can be one of the most rewarding aspects of a relationship.

Apart from emotional and sexual intimacy, you can also be intimate intellectually, recreationally, financially, spiritually, creatively (for example, renovating your home) and at times of crisis (working as a team during tough times).

Intimacy is achieved when we become close to someone else and are reassured that we are loved and accepted for who we are. Children usually develop intimacy with parents and peers. As adults, we seek intimacy in close relationships with other adults, friends, family and with a partner.

Why is intimacy so difficult?

Some couples find it difficult to achieve intimacy in their relationship. Others can find that after achieving intimacy it seems to slip away. There are many reasons why you find it difficult to achieve intimacy in your relationship. This is commonly the result of problems such as:

Communication Issues If you  are not communicating with  each other what your feelings and needs are, then they are not likely to be met. If you do not feel understood by your partner, then intimacy is hard to create or maintain. It’s important to talk to your partner about what you need and to check in with them about how they are feeling. This act alone can create a feeling of being connected and intimate.

Conflict If there is ongoing conflict in your relationship, it can be difficult to develop intimacy. It is not easy to feel close to someone you are arguing with. Anger, hurt, resentment, lack of trust, or a sense of being unappreciated can all affect intimacy.

Practical Issues Practical issues and life stressors such as financial worries, pressures at work, concerns about children, or just being too busy to really connect with each other can affect intimacy. There are times in a couple’s relationship when the needs of the couple have to be put aside while more pressing issues are dealt with, but it is important to try and carve out time together as a couple, even if it is a five-minute check in or having a cup of tea together. Small moments of feeling close to each other all add up to a greater feeling of intimacy.

Isn’t intimacy just sex?

It is important to share a whole range of emotions with a partner, otherwise some people begin to feel lonely and isolated regardless of how good their sexual experiences may be.

For many couples, ‘making love’ involves a sense of intimacy and emotional closeness. An intimate sexual relationship involves trust and being vulnerable with each other. Closeness during sex is also linked to other forms of intimacy including emotional and spiritual intimacy. Intercourse is only part of sexual intimacy which involves foreplay and other forms of physical intimacy. Often, the more a couple is intimate with each other in ways other than sex, the more fulfilling their sex life becomes.

Intimacy builds over time

Building and maintaining intimacy in a relationship takes time, and it takes some people longer than others. Often, the harder you work at developing intimacy in your relationship, the more rewarding it is.

Building and maintaining intimacy is part of having a fulfilling relationship. Sometimes you may need help to sort through some of the problems, feelings and thoughts you have about your relationship. Intimacy counselling for couples is a transformative journey that can nurture and elevate your relationship to new heights. Get in touch today, and let our counsellors help with your intimacy concerns.