Humans are social animals, and people need to believe that they are worthy of feeling love. Everyone needs to feel connected with someone. The closer a person is to another person, both physically and emotionally, the more connected and intimate the relationship becomes. Intimacy is always a hot topic of conversation, and most of us have the desire to be intimate, but what is intimacy? Why do people even have the desire? How do people achieve intimacy? Do people always feel intimate with their partner? Along with providing a few tips, the following paragraphs will be discussing these various questions.
What is Intimacy?
Intimacy is a relationship with another person that develops over time. There are many different forms of intimacy: Intellectual Intimacy is when people share thoughts and ideas and both parties simply enjoy the process of exploring. Sharing activities brings about the second type of intimacy which is related to sharing a common recreation, whether it is playing a game of baseball or joining a knitting group. Psychological or emotional intimacy is when people share and discuss their thoughts, feelings and beliefs in depth. Sexual Intimacy is the leading theme in most conversations and involves the physical contact of all forms with another person.
The Desire to be Intimate
The brain releases Endorphins which are neurotransmitters that reward people, the same way opiates or heroin induces people into a euphoric state. These natural opioid chemicals are released during sex, physical exercise and entertaining life events (Watching a comedy, reading a comic book, laughing with friends). This release of the endorphins is physically and emotionally addictive, which is why people crave all four attachment states, along with a basic desire to feel connected with other people in life. Humans are social beings and instinctively tend to follow each other in groups. There are many other physiological responses or chemicals/hormones released, along with the endorphins which create a “love soup”, as intimacy is linked to peoples’ biochemistry.
Do Partners Always feel Intimate?
Conversations can be quite awkward when relationships are just forming. Learning how to resolve differences increases the intimacy in the relationship, as it brings about the idea of accepting the other person for who they truly are. Couples do not always feel intimate with their significant others, and it is not an uncommon feeling, especially at the beginning of a relationship, when people are just beginning to get to know each other and feel comfortable. However, during stressful times not all couples are able to communicate effectively or accept their partner for their short comings, without an objective person to guide. This is the time when the couple may want to seek out-side assistance.
Intimacy in any relationship takes time, effort, and motivation, and ALL forms require action and emotional work. Intimacy fluctuates throughout certain stages of the relationship, during times of crisis, and even during the positive transitions in life (birth of a child, buying a new house). However, people have specific behaviors that they are in charge of developing. Therefore, it is possible for everyone to achieve intimacy of all types as there are physiological, psychological and behavior components.
How to Achieve Intimacy
Spend Quality Time with your partner. Intimacy takes time to develop, and someone who is not willing to spend time with another person will obviously not be able to develop an intimate relationship! Communication at times is the key to success, therefore, explain that you want full attention.
Active Listening: Focus all of your attention on what your partner is saying and do not respond until you fully understand what he or she is trying to explain. Pay close attention to what the other person is actually saying. Communication verbal and nonverbal is what we are in charge of and it is one of the main factors in establishing any relationship.
Be Sincere and Speak the Truth without hurting your partners’ feelings, be as clear and straightforward as possible. People, who are afraid of intimacy, do not share their sensitive side, attempt to take the risk and share a few warm, soft “fuzzy” feelings. Acknowledge, evaluate and accept the sentimental side. If one is sad express it verbally, as feeling sadness rather than anger, irritability or frustration.
Have Pleasurable Physical Contact which includes hand holding, kissing, eye gazing, back rubbing, etc. and of course sex (I am sure you get the idea), as long as the physical contact is consensual.
Accepting Your Partner relates to understanding and at times forgiving them for their imperfections. People cannot achieve intimacy of any kind, if acceptance of each other is lacking. It is necessary to have self-acceptance, because it is difficult to trust anyone else if people do not have the ability to accept their own short comings. If people disagree with an issue, learn how to acknowledge the fact that there is a discrepancy, accept it, and move on to another topic of conversation.
Taking Individual, Personal Time, follows the saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Personal time allows for the space to reflect on the relationship, and this observation creates a greater desire to more intimate.
Schedule Play Dates means just having fun. No serious discussions, no talk of work, no talk of the children or anything else that is off the topic of play. This time is only for the two of you to enjoy. Have fun in the moment, as there is nothing wrong with at times, being spontaneous.
In conclusion, at this time, the divorce rate in the United States is 50%, and this large of a number suggests that people are not working on ways, to achieve intimacy. Human biology has not changed, as the endorphins continue to flow and the human social instinct has not changed, as people continue to strive to be included in the pack. However, what people do with each other, how people treat each other, and how much time people spend with each other has indeed changed over the years. People can choose to change behaviors and strive for different types of intimacy in all relationships. To make the decision to change a communication style or a behavior, allows hope for the relationship and for people to achieve the love that they desire in life.
Dr. Cheryl MacDonald, RN., Psy’D.
Health Psychology of San Diego