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How to build intimacy in a relationship

Intimacy in any relationship isn’t an automatic connection, but a gradual development that occurs over time. It is built from feelings and experiences shared between a couple. Intimacy doesn’t remain at a permanent level and is susceptible to rising and falling, depending on the internal and external events of a relationship.

Whether starting a new relationship, feeling less connected to your current partner or trying to restore your relationship after infidelity, there is a general process to enhance the intimacy of your relationship.

A couple hugging closely and smiling

Types of intimacy

There are various forms of intimacy. It can refer to an emotional connection or a physical one which comes from displays of affection and sex.

For some people, sex counselling is a favourable option to help restore sexual and physical intimacy. However, there are also other ways to improve levels of intimacy in a relationship which may naturally improve sexual intimacy, and much of it relies on building or re-building trust.

For more of an overview on intimacy, read up on it in our blog how to bring back intimacy in a relationship.

Infidelity

If your relationship has infidelity issues, the restoration of intimacy can be a much more delicate and sensitive process.

It may require more time for both partners to feel ready to work through intimacy issues as there will be many heightened and conflicting emotions after the discovery of an affair.

For specific advice on restoring intimacy after an affair, take a look at our blog and our website which offers tailored guidance.

The role of vulnerability

A key component of building intimacy is vulnerability.

Being vulnerable, in this sense, refers to opening up regarding personal and private thoughts and feelings with your partner.

Encouraging someone else to be vulnerable is challenging, and can only really derive from feelings of safety and trust, and from reciprocity.

A great place to start is by offering your own vulnerabilities to your partner.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be vulnerable about every part of your life, but by starting with one aspect that you may not usually share with someone can be a significant step forward.

Not only does it show that you trust the other person, but it also opens up the conversation for them to share something back when they are ready.

As previously mentioned, this is unlikely to be an overnight leap, and it may take a while before your partner feels prepared to share their feelings or to pick up the conversation again.

Remainly has created a diverse selection of pathways which help to build trust and promote communication. Our videos work to introduce and support deep and meaningful conversations between couples in the aim of improving your relationship.

A couple hugging and locking hands

Promoting trust

Creating a safe environment which promotes trust depends on a variety of factors.

There are both small and big changes you can make when having meaningful conversations with your partner. They will not only improve focus during discussions but also help to create a dedicated and calming atmosphere which encourages each person to feel safe to talk.

Remove all distractions

Firstly, choosing how and where you have your conversations will help. For example, a private location is unsurprisingly better than a public one.

Ensuring that you are not with your phone or laptop is also another help when creating a distraction-free zone.

It will keep the mind in the present and also displays dedication and desire to hear what each other have to say.

Removing all external distractions promotes the feeling of importance by providing an exclusive environment which, in turn, heightens the sense of commitment and therefore, trust.

Attentive listening

It is very disappointing when having the courage to talk to someone about something meaningful, and they are not listening or, even worse, speak over you.

Listening is as simple as it sounds. However, humans are known to over complicate things, and we tend to panic about providing the right response or feel like our thoughts are more important to share.

The best thing you can do when listening to your partner is to avoid giving advice, try and keep an unbiased perspective and encourage your partner to speak. This should be the case whenever they share information with you, whether big, small, personal or trivial.

The smallest conversations help to build your relationship as a whole, and it is integral that you encourage your partner to talk rather than offer advice.

Emotional support

Attentive listening is part of providing emotional support as a caring partner. Emotional support contributes to the well-being of two people when discussing issues, and without it, it’s impossible to build intimacy as it depends on trust and acceptance.

Open communication

Being open and honest when having a meaningful conversation is easier said than done. For many, it can feel daunting.

However, honesty is hard to fake, therefore honesty promotes authenticity, and can automatically put people at ease.

Shared activities

Intimacy is not all about words, actions are just as necessary. Physical intimacy may be in displays of affections such as hugging and hand-holding, and it could also apply to shared activities and experiences.

Introducing your partner to an activity which is meaningful to you is a great way to promote the feeling of inclusion. It may also become a unique and significant moment.

Furthermore, experiencing things out of your usual routine also shows that you are dedicated to getting to know your partner at a deeper level by committing time.

Hopefully, we may provide you with the initial steps to getting to know your partner on a deeper level. Intimacy can require time and patience and is an essential part of the bonding process between couples.

Remainly is a video-based, online service which is devoted to improving relationships. All our pathways are guided by our lead relationship psychologist,  Andreas Løes Narum and can be accessed anywhere in the world at your own pace at any time!

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