Welcome back to part six of my relationship intimacy series! I cannot even believe that we are already on the fifth type of relationship intimacy; these weeks, I have been so into the things I am teaching, learning, and putting into action that time has gone by quickly. Digging into this series has also created a deeper level of wisdom in my own life around how I show up in my relationship and the dynamic of the intimacy dance between partners. Today we wrap up the series by talking about how to increase physical intimacy in your relationship. Then I’m going to take a little break from the intimacy topic before coming back to explore a few different aspects of physical intimacy that will help you right where you are in your relationship so you can sensitively take steps of exploring where you want to go from there.
In review, if you haven’t listened to my previous teachings on intimacy, please take some time to go back and listen, starting six weeks back with the first episode on What Is Relationship Intimacy.
Let’s start with looking at the definition of physical intimacy.
Intimacy: showing a close union or combination of particles or elements: an intimate mixture.
Physical: relating to the body.
Physical intimacy is a close union of the body, an intimate mixture of physicality.
An intimate mixture of our bodies most certainly brings about a mental image of a couple having sexual intimacy, which most certainly is an intimate mixture, and I don’t think any of us will argue with that, but that is not the only way to be physically intimate with our partners. If we are only intimate in a sexual way, without including other forms of physical connection, we might be having sex in a transaction form, meaning it is being done as a “transaction” or duty rather than for intimacy and connection.
There are many other forms of physical intimacy that we want to consider to build trust and desire for our relationship, physical intimacy, and our desire for sex that isn’t transactional. Touching your partner in ways that let them know that you see them, in ways that aren’t sexual or making the other feel sexually threatened, in ways that don’t tell your spouse that “it’s time to have sex.” These could be touching their shoulder when they walk by, making eye contact when you talk, holding their hands, touching in bed without the intention of it leading to sex, putting your hand on their knee when sitting together, sitting close enough to touch. All of these forms of touch are important in letting your partner know you care about them and making them feel safe. If you are only touching your partner when you want sex, that can create a habit of withdrawal; your partner could take that to mean that the only time you want connection is with the intention of having sex.
How to increase physical intimacy in your relationship.
The pattern you’ve noticed in this series is intention. If you want more physical intimacy in your relationship, you must be intentional about creating it and creating it safely. It’s good to understand that many people have experienced some sexual trauma in their lives, which is a great place to start communication. Opening up about our physical desires and our fears can make us feel vulnerable, and that is what this whole series has been about, being open to the discomfort around exposing our fears and desires. Starting the conversation is a good place to start, always knowing how someone else is acting in your relationship has everything to do with them and their life experience and nothing to do with you. It’s important to be sensitive to this truth.
Start small and be open to exploring what is going on for each other and knowing that you are not responsible for how someone feels. We are always responsible for how we feel; if our partners aren’t initiating the connection, it is about something they are struggling with; it is never about you and your lovability or attractiveness.
Another place to start is implementing physical touch forms that feel safe for you and then observing what happens in your body when you implement these strategies. Talk to your partner about what you are feeling and why; as you explore what is happening for you, you’ll start creating awareness, and you might be surprised about what you discover about yourself. As you start to introduce other forms of touch, you build trust and connection, connection to yourself first; from here, you can start exploring each other in the bedroom as well. You can start observing what you are thinking and feeling when having sex; this in itself can reveal a clearer picture of what might be getting in the way of enjoying sex. Taking time to explore what is going on inside of you will help you take steps towards developing a physically intimate relationship that feels real instead of forced or obligational.
Let’s look at some examples of how you can increase physical intimacy in your relationship.
- Start small and ask yourself what you would like more of; maybe you want to start with increasing physical intimacy, not through touch but physical presence, eye contact, and awareness. Maybe the two of you aren’t spending much time together; ask yourself how you can increase time together. In many relationships, the less time you are together, the further apart you grow, making it difficult to connect when you are together, again we’re looking at creating intention and talking about it together as a couple.
- As you start intentionally creating more physical intimacy in your relationship, please pay attention to how you feel, what you are thinking, and how you are showing up, be curious about it. If you’re feeling withdrawn or defensive, ask yourself why. If you don’t know what to talk about, refer back to previous articles, like creating a connection in your marriage and planning things to talk about. Start small, plan short times together if you haven’t been spending intentional time together. Many of my clients start implementing a weekly huddle; you can read about the relationship huddle here.
- Then experiment with other forms of physical intimacy and touch, continue to explore what happens for you as you practice. Think about these exercises like learning how to weight train and build muscle, but you are building your mind, mental fitness. Try something and see what results you get; if you like the results build on your practice.
- When it comes to sex, it will be the same; start introducing something different; it could be as simple as exploring how you might want to make suggestions to make the time more pleasurable for yourself. Notice how you think, feel and act while stepping into a bit of empowerment and discomfort; use it to learn and grow instead of seeing how it might appear not to be working.
Learn how to take ownership over what you want and start creating it, remembering that change takes time, one uncomfortable step at a time.
People often ask me why they can’t have the relationship they had when they were dating, and that’s a great question; let’s look at it for a moment. I want you to go back and think about times when you’ve “fallen in love” with someone. Remember how you were willing to do things with them that you might not consider doing with someone else, all because you were “in love.” What often happens when we meet someone and “fall for them” is letting go of our normal relationship boundaries. We let people into our space and “let our guard down” for the sake of love, passionate connection, and the magical moment. The natural progression is for our personal boundaries to snap back into place. When they do, these personal boundaries will keep us from expanding in our love relationship unless we intentionally do the work of stretching them. The work of stretching them is the culmination of all of the things we talked about over this intimacy series.
Intimate relationships are an intimate mixture of two humans with two different sets of relationship boundaries. To grow more intimately connected, work and discomfort are required; if we choose to avoid the hard work, we choose to stay where we are in our relationship. We choose to have a stagnant relationship where we don’t explore ourselves, our discomforts, and our boundaries. Doing the uncomfortable work of growing together creates a dynamic, intimate relationship that keeps growing, that each couple contributes themselves to, looking forward to what tomorrow might bring.
I hope that as you have worked through this series with me, you have been exploring the first four forms of creating intimacy in your relationship. If you have been exploring emotional, mental, spiritual, and experiential intimacy, I imagine you have been experiencing some interesting emotions along the way; it’s even possible that some of those emotions have stopped your progress in creating a more intimate connection with your partner. If this is the case, I want to encourage you to keep moving forward, to look at the steps you have taken as progress, not a failure, and to use what you have done as a way to continue learning about yourself and your partner.
As we start uncovering layers of ourselves and learn more about who we have been in the past when we put ourselves out there, it feels uncomfortable, and our brains want to bring us back to our comfort zone. This isn’t a problem; it’s doing what it has been conditioned to do; the important thing for you is to recognize this pattern and reassure yourself that nothing has gone wrong, that you aren’t in danger, and that you are actually taking these steps to grow and learn. Over time you will build self-confidence brick by brick and see the progress you have made. Remember and remind yourself that you have your own best interest in mind, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
If this series has been helpful for you and your desire to increase intimacy in your relationship, I’d love to hear from you; I’d love to hear how it is helping you and what you might be running up against that might have you holding back from taking future steps forward.
Through this series, I have found a couple of other topics that I would like to explore with you, so please come back over the next couple of weeks as I continue to dig into physical intimacy and affection. Together let’s build relationships that we are proud of, proud because we did the bold work of stepping into what we want to create with our partners.
I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true self. My process isn’t about changing your partner, it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.