Human relationships are some of the most significant things in anyone’s life, but they can feel so mysterious. What makes them tick? What makes a healthy relationship, and why do some fizzle out? Why do some relationships sustain their connection, and why do some get more and more distant? How do you increase intimacy in a relationship?
These questions can be overwhelming, but there are some simple and practical ways that you can work on your relationships and draw closer to the ones you love. In this article we’ll be talking about increasing intimacy in a romantic relationship with a life partner. However, it’s worth saying that you can work on your emotional intimacy with any of your important connections. The tools we talk about here can be used for increasing intimacy in a relationship with a parent, sibling, or friend. So, let’s have a look!
How to increase intimacy in a relationship
#1 - Listen without problem solving
Intimacy is the experience of being fully seen and known, and being loved in that place. When people begin to lose intimacy in a relationship, it is often because they don’t feel safe enough to allow themselves to be fully known. So, it follows that if you want to increase intimacy in a relationship, it’s important to create space for you and your partner to express yourselves without judgement or interruption.
One of the best things to do to create intimacy in a relationship is to spend time dedicated to talking and sharing without an agenda. Commit to listening without criticism or interruption. Now, you might feel like offering solutions to problems is a loving way to respond, but lots of people actually find that when they’re sharing something vulnerable, they don’t want to be told what to do. Focus on offering validation and support.
Building a habit of sharing your thoughts and feelings with one another is going to help you feel so much more connected and safe. If that’s something you find hard, start small and keep at it; doing something a lot will always make it feel more natural over time.
#2 - Set reminders to show love
Sure, having to set a reminder to show your love might not sound all that romantic. In reality, when you think about it, putting in effort to intentionally create the structure you need to cultivate intimacy in a relationship is... pretty romantic. The truth is that you probably have far more thoughts and ideas about showing your love to your partner than you ever actually follow through on. That’s pretty normal. It’s easy for us to have good ideas that we forget or get too busy to accomplish. That’s where setting reminders to help you comes in.
They can be on a daily or weekly basis, or even longer. When you’re driving to work in the morning and you have the idea to bring home flowers that evening, set a reminder for when you leave work. Maybe this could turn into a recurring reminder for you to pick something up every week if that’s what works for you.
Another example is for when your partner tells you about a specific situation they’re dealing with, big or small. Set a reminder to check in with them about it in a few days. Remembering and following up on little details is a great way to make your partner feel valued and known, which is the key to building intimacy in a relationship.
#3 - Small things often
If you're brainstorming ways to build intimacy in a relationship, you might naturally think of big romantic gestures or elaborate gifts. These things have their place in a relationship, for sure, but it’s not going to be a huge romantic weekend getaway that’s going to boost the intimacy in a relationship. Those things will make you feel closer for a little while, but if the everyday fabric of the relationship doesn’t support intimacy, then eventually the glow from your big gesture will fade and you’ll be back to square one.
The key to intimacy in a relationship is creating a life where closeness and affection are regularly prioritized and expressed. Think about it: when do you feel closest to your partner? Is it when you’re making each other laugh? Is it when they bring you coffee in the morning? Is it in the bedroom? Identify the little things that bring you closer and then figure out how to make them happen consistently. This often looks like two things: habit building and scheduling. Agree on one habit to do weekly that will increase intimacy in a relationship, and repeat it until it becomes part of your life. Paying attention to the little things that pull you closer is going to set you up for a long, intimate relationship.
#4 - Celebrate your history
One of the things that binds you together in your relationship is the memories that only the two of you share. Reminiscing over what you’ve been through together - the good and the bad, the wonderful memories and the hard times - helps to increase intimacy in a relationship. When you share good memories, you invite the old feelings of affection and happiness back, and when you look back on the hard times you’ve weathered together, it helps you to appreciate where you are now.
Celebrating your history together helps you to reconnect with your appreciation for all that your partner has brought into your life. It enables you to be proud of what you’ve achieved together, and it bonds you by reminding you of all that you share. All of these things release dopamine into your brain, boosting your mood and the feeling of closeness between you.
Four keystones to increase intimacy in a relationship
These four keys to increase intimacy in a relationship: listening and sharing without agenda, setting reminders to show love, creating the habits for small gestures often, and celebrating your history together are an amazing starting point for building closeness. We can’t recommend them enough! For more ideas on how to improve your relationships, check out our blog, and for some incredible ideas for things to do to have fun with your significant other, take a look at The Adventure Challenge: Couples Edition.
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