How to create lasting intimacy in your relationship? Swoon!
What’s the difference between couples who remain madly in love, stay together and work through their differences versus couples who break up?
It’s not dumb luck. It’s … intimacy.
I know, “intimacy” is such a clunky, awkward word. What does it really even mean? I’ll tell you what it isn’t. Intimacy is not just hugging and kissing after sex. How to be intimate with your partner? True intimacy stretches beyond sex and is more about the deep personal connection between two people.
Lasting intimacy (the kind that happily binds people together) involves seeing the other person — really seeing them — in all their imperfect glory and loving them because of it, not in spite of it. It’s seeing them in a spotlight with all their imperfections exposed (from quirky habits to snorted laughter), and wanting, and loving them more for it. Deep intimacy helps you see the true essence in one another, revealing a partner (and a relationship) worth fighting for.
In many ways, the crowning goal of a relationship is establishing and maintaining this deep intimacy. When couples say they broke up because “something” was missing or a spark simply wasn’t there, a lack of deep intimacy is typically the culprit.
So, how do you create this deep connection and grow intimacy with your lover? How do you begin to drop the protective shields and defensive games that keep lasting love at arm’s length?
Here are 9 things truly connected and genuinely happy couples do to create that magical (even if awkwardly named) “intimacy:”
1. They share vulnerable things with each other
Vulnerability is often misunderstood as weakness. But actually, it’s the opposite; it’s essential in a relationship. Acclaimed author and researcher Brene Brown says, “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection
[e.g. intimacy] that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.”
When you’re vulnerable with someone, you give your true self and not just a facade, not just the part that feels safe to show. And that takes incredible courage. But in exchange, you get your lover’s heart. And, you lift your connection to a higher level by creating bonds with your partner in the places you feel most alone … your weaknesses.
Vulnerability is the willingness to say “I love you” first. It’s the decision to invest fully with all of your heart in a relationship when there are no guarantees. It’s leading, even when you risk being wrong, or failing. It’s asking for help, choosing to say how you feel instead of holding it in. It’s discussing the things in your past that make you nervous for your future.
Trusting someone with your heart creates more trust, and trust is like a mirror — it reflects what’s in front of it.
2. They play like kids
As the old adage says: Couples who play together stay together. And now, science backs that up. But why does playfulness keep couples together? Perhaps because play returns us to that carefree time of childhood, long before mortgage payments, 40-hour work weeks, and taxes.
When we play, we’re present, fully focused on the joy of the moment, and curious about what comes next — all the ingredients that make the beautiful cocktail of intimacy.
In playing together, we create a freedom to express ourselves past the persona that we want the world to see. We step into the world of our imagination and connect with our partner in new ways (outside the box).
You don’t have to join a sports team or bust out Candy Land to play together. Simply spraying your partner with water as you wash the dishes or getting in a wrestling match when both of you want the last piece of cake will do the trick.
3. They give, give and give some more
Generosity removes competition from a relationship, unplugging the “scoreboard” and replacing it with support and the feeling that there is more than enough (time, energy, attention, etc.) for each of you to feel abundant in the relationship. Being generous with your partner. You give, not to get … but rather, because giving feels good. Helping your partner, or seeing him or her happy feels good.