Couple intimacy can take different forms
Allowing ourselves to become intimate with someone can be one of the healthiest and most rewarding experiences we can have. Letting someone into our personal space and inner world, showing them all the parts of ourselves – good, bad, beautiful, messy – creates a unique bond with that other person(s), and can lead to a deeper sense of trust and fulfilment in a relationship.
Being intimate can be an overwhelming prospect; being vulnerable in front of someone else can feel uncomfortable, like you are walking into unknown territory. It is important to communicate with your partner(s) to ensure a positive, safe space in which to explore one another. With something as delicate as our inner-most selves, it is vital to ensure all parties are on the same page in terms of boundaries, being sure to respect one another’s feelings and wishes on the journey.
Intimacy comes in many forms, not simply the physical as we are often led to believe. Here at the Therapy Room we recognise all the wonderfully varied levels of intimacy, and work to guide and inform clients on how to start exploring these within their relationships. Closeness and connection with others is one of the most beautiful facets of humanity, something we have been denied over the last few years, and which may take some time getting used to again in this post-pandemic world.
Physical intimacy is probably what most people think of when they hear the word ‘intimate’. Our bodies are our vessels, they carry us from day to day, heal us, make us laugh or dance or cry – they belong fully to us, and so allowing someone else to encroach on this personal space can be daunting and anxiety-inducing.
Physical intimacy is not solely sexual. There are many forms of physical intimacy that do not pertain to sex but which can be just as pleasurable:
- general skin-to-skin contact
- caressing and focussing on different parts of the body
- holding hands
- simply just being in close proximity to one another.
All these forms of physical intimacy have merit, and different things will feel right for different people. Each party can take it in turns to give and receive physical touch, being sure to listen to the other person to find what brings them excitement and pleasure, and vice versa.
The most important thing is for each party to communicate their feelings, wants and boundaries to one another in order to maintain a pleasant, safe space in which to try things out and discover what feels good.
Listening to and validating the emotions of others, whether past, present or future is vital in the creation of closeness and connection with another person. We are ALWAYS feeling – whether happy, sad, angry, worried or even ambivalent, our emotions are with us 24/7, and even the smallest of waves can feel like the biggest knock to the boat.
Sharing our innermost feelings and fears with someone is one of the biggest steps we can take in any relationship. We are not mind-readers, and so opening up about what goes on inside you can be incredibly liberating and allows others to fully see and hear you.
If we share our feelings and they are not respectfully received, it can leave us feeling embarrassed or off-kilter, and less likely to open up in future.
Emotional intimacy works on the basis of three main pillars:
- Communication – there must be a safe, open line of communication where those involved can speak about what is on their mind without fear of judgement.
- Empathy – offering understanding and generosity of spirit when someone is sharing their personal feelings and thoughts with you. It is a courageous thing to open up to someone else in this capacity, and so receiving and handling these feelings with care and kindness will make for the best outcome.
- Respect – respect for the feelings and experiences of others is paramount, even if we cannot empathise with their experience, respecting someone else’s narrative and how they have gotten to where they are is basic. It is important to recognise that this person felt comfortable enough to open up to you, thus entrusting you with a private part of themselves.
Intellectual and mental intimacy is one of the things that keeps a relationship fresh and thriving. Having similar interests, opinions and passions which lead to stimulating conversation and rapport, that’s the good stuff – the ‘talking till the bar closes, chatting on the kitchen floor at 1am, long phone calls spent laughing until your sides are sore’ kind of good that comes from proper compatibility. This back and forth of mental connectivity will always keep things interesting.
Shared experience is one of the most effective ways of bringing people together. Whether the experiences are good, bad or in-between, living through something alongside another person(s) gives you a personal connection with them that only you and they share.
Intimacy on a spiritual level can mean something different to everyone. It can imply shared faith or religion, similar energies or vibes, as well as aligned morals and values. This is a deep level of intimacy in which to explore with your partner(s) to find our what your spiritual connection looks and feels like.
At the Therapy Room, we want to get you and your relationship back to good, whatever good looks like for you. We encourage open communication and honesty in order to make way for a healthy and pleasurable intimate connection, in whatever form that takes.