Romantic Intimacy

Tips on achieving and maintaining the "Spark"

Ten "Killers" to avoid...

1. Lies

It only takes one lie to destroy the trust in a relationship. To be close to someone, we need to be able to share what is true and real about us. And we must be willing to hear someone else's truth. Sometimes we think that it is best to not say anything at all if it means it may hurt our partner. So we silently hang on to our truth or share our truth with the wrong people. When we do this, there is no opportunity for the relationship to grow with integrity. Most times it is all a matter of timing.  If you need to talk, pick a proper time and open up.

2. Loss of trust

Sometimes there is no dishonesty in the relationship, but still a lack of trust has developed. Perhaps real trust has never been a part of your life or relationship. Maybe a painful event in life has fractured your ability to trust. A person must heal from their past and base their decision to trust someone on the overall actions of a person. Consider all people trustworthy until proven otherwise and release the past baggage.

3. A compelling need to change the other

Real intimacy means acceptance. Having acceptance of yourself and your partner is a powerful indicator of intimate love. It does not mean you have to like everything, but you need to let go of the need to change another person. When we lack acceptance of another person's qualities, our tendency is to control. That control manifests itself in subliminal frustration.  Even subtle pressuring people to change will lead to frustration-on both parties. This frustration can fester until it eats away at the core of the relationship. But before you can feel close to another person, you must unconditionally accept who you are with all your faults and qualities.

4. Inability to Express Your Needs and Feelings

Unfortunately most of us do not have the power to read minds. Therefore, we have to rely on our partners to communicate with us and vice versa. It is each person’s duty to express his or her needs and feelings. By sharing who we are and what's important to us, we significantly increase our chances of having our needs met. If we repress our needs and feelings, we block the other person out of our world, and make intimacy impossible.  Quiet private talk over a meal or during a drive is a good place to begin to change this behavior. Another skill is being able to “read” the other person.  If you or your partner cannot express outwardly feelings, neither one of you will be able to read the other.

5. Not honestly listening

Many of us have no problem talking, but listening poses more of a challenge. Really listening is important is all interpersonal communications. As silly as it seems, it could be why we were given two ears and one mouth.  The key to listening is acknowledging what we have heard consciously.  Are you really hearing what your partner is saying? Or are you thinking about how your partner is wrong or how you want to defend yourself? If your partner is constantly communicating the same need or feeling to you over and over, chances are you are not hearing your partner with your heart.

6. Being Self-Centered

The minute you decide to enter into a committed relationship, you must set aside self-centeredness. Intimacy requires there to be a balance between self, the other person and the relationship. It's not about just you anymore. You have to take the feelings and needs of the other person and the relationship into consideration. You must become and maintain the sum of what you are together. Decisions about money, routines, free time, children, time, etc. now have to include your partner's input.

7. Lack of Respect

If you lack respect for your partner, your intimate life will suffer. To respect means you hold a high opinion and high value of both yourself and your partner. You appreciate and show consideration for all people, no just your partner. The closeness of intimacy needs a general feeling of respect for self and your partner. It also means you need to behave in a way that deserves respect. You cannot expect your partner to respect you if your actions do not warrant respect. Respect means, “honor”.  You honor others as well as being honorable yourself.  This one factor applies to all interactions between people.

As human beings, we all have a built in need to be close to someone. But often the very thing we desire is the opposite of what we have. Some of us subconsciously sabotage the relationships we want because of our fear of intimacy. Sometimes we unknowingly and unwillingly drift apart because of our inability to allow ourselves to open up to intimacy. Others avoid intimacy because they carry the baggage of past failures.

Intimacy, physical and emotional closeness, is tough to navigate. It takes skill, hard work and commitment. True intimacy is difficult to achieve, but who says the best gifts come easy?

Here are 10 “Intimacy Killers”.  While it is often not good to focus on the negative, in this regard it is beneficial to point things out that if you recognize yourself doing one or more of these you can reflect on what you can do to change behaviors.

What "kills" intimacy?

8. Angry arguments

All couples have disagreements. The intimacy in your relationship will suffer if you let your arguments get out of hand. Loud angry words, unresolved festering arguments, and inflicting emotional and physical pain will destroy intimacy. Couples that are close learn how to respectfully and healthily resolve their arguments. Talking, not shouting is the only way to keep a lid on disagreements and avoid hurtful behaviors that damage intimacy.

9. Lack of Touch

Although physical intimacy is just a part of total intimacy, it is a very important part. If you don't make a point to hug, kiss, and experience sexual intimacy, your level of intimacy will be affected. You can still be close, but touch adds extra feelings of warmth, safety and love.  This is a aspect that if practices everyday will maintain intimacy.  If  you do not have regular touch with your partner, as time goes by it become more and more difficult to regain those physical feeling between partners.

10. Daily separate lives

Many couples, slowly over time, begin to live separate lives. Either their differences separate them or unawareness or lack of intention causes them to drift apart. Intimacy requires people to spend time together and share in each other's life. A relationship is like a garden. You need to take the time to weed, fertilize and water your garden. In other words, it requires time, love, and a commitment to keep the bad to a minimum.

The key is to nurture yourself, your partner and the relationship. If you want your relationship to be intimate, love and respect one another, do your best to meet each other's needs, share dreams and feelings, and avoid giving in to the intimacy killers.  All relationships go through ebbs and tides.  Remember…do well and good for each other and instead of sink holes; you’ll have speed bumps.

-Counselor Evelynn