Nurturing Intimacy in Relationships
Growing up, many of us have a skewed view of what a romantic relationship will look like. Regardless of what the relationships around us look like: fairytales, romance novels, romantic comedies, and cheesy love songs all tell a story of what an ideal relationship looks like. These media portrayals of relationships impact our views of what is realistic, what is a deal breaker, and what healthy boundaries are. As we get older and grow as adults, we recognize that these relationships are all works of fiction. Nurturing intimacy is not something that always comes “easy” for us.
Intimacy is something that requires nurturing in any romantic relationship. Intimacy is defined as closeness between people in personal relationships. It is something that can only occur in time, as you get to know and care for one another 1. Intimacy is not exclusive to romantic relationships but is something that develops over time in any personal relationship. With regard to romantic relationships, there are a number of things that you can do for nururing intimacy in the day-to-day.
8 Ways for Nurturing Intimacy in Your Relationship
Expressing Love Physically
Human beings, in general, are creatures of touch. We crave touch, beginning in infancy, as well as throughout our lives. Some people are more particular about what kind of touch they prefer from others, as well as who they are okay with being touched by. However, as an overall ‘rule’, most of us crave human contact. This can be done in a variety of ways: such as hugging, kissing, holding hands, snuggling, and yes, sexual acts. Author, Gary Chapman, believes that physical touch is so imperative that it is one of the five ‘love languages’, which describes the main ways we give and receive love2.
Expressing Appreciation and Admiration
Being in a romantic relationship, especially a domestic partnership involves give and take. This is not always 50/50, but depending on the situation, the split may be 30/70, 60/40, etc. at different times. What this means is that sometimes one person has to pick up the slack if the other is going through something emotionally or is busier than normal. Maybe one person stays home to take care of the kids, while the other works, making the one staying home take on more of the childcare and housework. It is understandable that there will be times in relationships when this happens, but the important aspect is showing one another the appreciation there is for the work they are putting into the different components of their lives. Whether it is telling each other verbally how much you appreciate them, writing them letters, sending a quick message, or sending flowers or gifts on occasion, everyone needs and wants to feel their effort is being appreciated.
Participating in Self-Disclosure
Being in a relationship involves vulnerability, on both sides of relationship. In order for trust to build, it is imperative that both people are transparent with one another. This means disclosing information about oneself, sharing experiences, and being open about feelings with the other. Part of building trust is giving trust to the other person, allowing them to know things about you, and trusting they will keep these things to themselves. Think of how much closer you feel to someone when they tell you something personal about themselves, or when the two of you share a secret. This can create a bond that helps the relationship to grow and become stronger. When we confide in our partner, it is trusting that they will keep that information between the two of you, as well as giving them insight into who you are and what you have experienced in your life.
Offering Emotional Support
We all have moments where the difficulties in life just become too much to bare. These times can feel crushing and can feel like too much to deal with on our own. Being there for one another can be imperative to growing the bond as a couple. Sometimes being there for your partner may come in the form of your partner requesting a hug, letting them cry to you, or just listening to them vent. Other times it may be more about being in tune with their verbal and non-verbal signs and reaching out when something seems off. Many times, when we are feeling emotionally drained we may seem out of sorts, so when your partner does not seem quite like their ‘normal’ selves, it may be a good time to check in and see if they have anything they need from you.
Prioritize Alone Time Together
Relationships, just as everything else in life, require balance. We all have lives outside of our partner, including coworkers, friends, family, children, etc. However, it is important to find time to be together as a couple. Many parents talk about having ‘parental guilt’ for wanting time away from their kids. Yet, the foundation of their family revolves around the parental units. It’s important for couples to be able to have time where they step away from their other roles and can take off their ‘Mom hat’, their ‘job hat’, their ‘homemaker hat’, and can focus on connecting with their partner. This could mean taking trips together, having weekly or monthly date nights, or just having time at the end of the day that is for just the two of you.
Accepting One Another
It is no question that we all are going to get frustrated with our partners at times. No two people are going to always see eye to eye. It is natural for a couple to find things about one another that annoys them. However, it is our job is to accept our loved ones for the person they are, as well as meet them where they are at. Let me be clear: this is not a free pass for everyone to stop growing! We all should constantly be trying to better ourselves and to help our significant other growth, as well. However, we should not go into a relationship wanting to ‘change’ our partner. There will always be things that we do differently, such as the way we clean, or the time of day we take out the garbage. These are things that you may differ on but need to accept about the other person. Loving each other means recognizing that both parties will do annoying things in the other person’s eyes, but that is a part of love: accepting those differences.
Just as self-disclosure can build trust, lying can break that trust. While it may take long periods of time for trust to be built up, it can take only a moment for it to be torn apart. Think of how easy it is to second-guess someone who you know has lied to you before. Once someone lies to you once, it becomes quite easy to question what they say in general going forward.
Consistently Working on Communication
Communication is the source of many disagreements and misunderstandings among couples. Lack of communication accounts for many disputes, as well. It is necessary for both people to work constantly on the way they communicate. This involves the tone that is used, the way things are brought up, and the overall choice to communicate something in general with the other person. If you find yourself struggling to pinpoint what exactly is the source of the problem with miscommunication, check out our article 8 Common Miscommunications Affecting your Relationship.
Getting Additional Help for Nurturing Intimacy
If you are looking for a therapist to discuss ways to better your relationship and communication, our therapists through Online-Therapy.com provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
We have a variety of therapists who would love to help you with mental health concerns. Our platform offers a complete online therapy toolbox for individuals and couples! Our site has multiple options, which involve time with a personal therapist who can support you throughout your journey. If this is something you have an interest in, we would love to hear from you.
When you are ready to discuss your relationship, whether through individual or couples counseling, head over to www.online-therapy.com, to begin nurturing intimacy in your relationship!
Brito, J. (2019, April 16). How to Understand and Build Intimacy in Every Relationship. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/intimacy
Chapman, G. (1992). The Five Love Languages. Northfield Publishing.
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