Rekindling Intimacy

Are you concerned that you relationships has fallen into a coma of dullness, with the spark of intimacy going dormant? Taking the first step to resolve this can feel daunting, especially when it involves another person.

When the honeymoon period is replaced by the burden of responsibility, couples lose each other. This happens to the best of us, including those that still love each other dearly. If you never expected to loose interest in sex and now find that you have, you are not alone. Unfortunately, the way most couples manage this can exacerbate the problem. As intimacy slows sex can become a numbers game, discussed in terms of frequency or time. We only did it once last month. It only lasted two minutes. We haven’t done it in a year. 

Truth be known, intimacy doesn’t lend itself to scorekeeping. Some couples can’t bear to bring sex up in conversation. As each sexless evening ticks over, discontent hangs heavily in the empty space yet remains undiscussed. Other couples can’t stop talking about the absence of sex. Unwittingly trapped in a downward spiral of blame. There is nothing less sexy than sex being quantified and used against you as evidence of what a disappointment you are. When sex becomes the tally on a scoreboard, it disrespects boundaries. It’s more likely that these kinds of demands will have the opposite impact on what they were intended to achieve. So if asking for closeness doesn’t work – how do you rekindle intimacy?

Contrary to popular belief, intimacy doesn’t begin in the bedroom. And it certainly has nothing to do with numbers. Intimacy is enchanting; we long for this feeling. Intimacy is most at home in dialogue. It begins with a willingness to listen to the inner world of another. Words are our only sustainable ally when crossing the vast divide between people. Words can bring us closer and tear us apart. Words that evoke intimacy access the core of our being—helping us to feel seen and understood. Admittedly, it can become hard to know how to access the inner world of a person you see every day, but there is a way.

Crossing the divide can begin simply by asking How are you? And actively listening to the answer. Listen with a genuine desire to understand. This kind of conversation requires you to place yourself on hold, look beyond your own story, and empathically imagine what it must be like to experience life through another’s eyes. Genuinely engage, not because you want something, but because you care. Listen with your heart instead of your ears. How do they respond? Do they seem distant, cranky, or frustrated? Then they must be hurting just like you. Chances are they miss you too. They miss ‘us’the same way you do. 

Listening in this way requires you to put aside all presumptions and remain curious about who your lover is in the present moment. Not who they have been or who you want them to be. Accepting them for who they are now, today, this minute. More important than simply hearing is being open to having your questions answered. Putting all judgment aside. Making space for this person to become more in your eyes, not less

Once the conversation has begun, how do you open this doorway a little further? Crossing this minefield takes self-knowing and restraint. The ability to respond instead of reacting is central to successfully pursuing a meaningful conversation. In long-term relationships, we hold our pain close for fear of the ramifications of speaking the truth. Each time we feel hurt or betrayed, the lock tightens. Vulnerability and secrets are hidden away with sexual desire. Yet these pain points are also an opportunity for closeness. Open-ended questions gently loosen the hold of closely held fears. Listening, validating and offering support brings relief. Although this form of communication takes practice, the rewards are endless.

Emotionally mature couples stand together unwavering under the tremendous weight of old wounds without diminishing the pain. When we are self-aware, the desire to defend, lash out or run is replaced by a willingness to take responsibility, offer support and grow.

Beyond conversation, intimacy can be evoked purely by being with what is. Such as noticing how the early warmth of Spring feels on your skin and inviting your lover outside to experience it with you. Intimacy is trying new things, going to new places, making new friends and connecting to past joys. It’s a practice of exploration, curiosity, and connection —physically, energetically, emotionally, and psychologically. The more we engage in intimacy outside the bedroom, the more likely this space will become another location for connection. Sex isn’t just something we do; it’s a place we go—inside ourselves, with another.

If the path opens, tread lightly. Just as an intimate connection is coaxed forward by kindness, it hides from cruelty. Harsh words and judgments quickly wilt the fragility of blossoming love. Intimacy does not grow in a place where we are disappointed in ourselves or each other.

Intimacy blooms from the tension between excitation and inhibition and manifests in the things we say and do, how we act, and how we think. We tend to think of intimacy as a sexual state, but really, it starts with the individual. Love is a dance that requires practice. ​​

If this post leaves you longing to cross the distance between you and the one you love, I encourage you to tell them how much you miss them. If you are both ready to rekindle intimacy but don’t know how to begin, make an appointment and move toward the journey of repair.