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  • Writer's pictureAnnelisa MacBean

Cultivating Intimacy

How to Grow Intimacy in Relationships

No matter how long you have been together, it's always important to cultivate and grow your intimacy levels. As mentioned in the previous blog, intimacy with self is the foundation of connection and closeness with your partner. Before seeking your partner's interest and acceptance of you, spend some time developing your own capacity for self-acceptance and self-love. Meditation, exercise, sleep, creative outlets and hobbies are some of the ways you can develop intimacy, self-awareness and self-acceptance. Below are some easy, practical ways to up-level the intimacy in your relationship:

Improve Physical Intimacy

Feeling safe to share your experience of yourself is essential. Creating safety for your partner to share their self-perception is crucial, as well. Are you communicating about what you love and enjoy and want more of? Make sure that you are discovering the same about your partner. The ways you are hesitant or even self-rejecting are critical elements of intimate communication. That kind of vulnerability and openness fosters tenderness, appreciation and compassion. When you are both safe enough to expose yourselves to each other an even safer environment is created in which you can both feel comfortable sharing your deeper passions, desires and love.

Remember that increasing physical intimacy isn't about having more sex. It's all the small moments in the car, or on the phone or when you're apart and you think of the other and send them a heart emoji. It's noticing the other wash the dishes and very lightly kissing their neck or shoulder with appreciation for all they do for you. Letting yourself be touched by the very smallest expression of beauty or vulnerability in the other is the spark of appreciation and gratitude that will light the fire of your love-making.

Increase Emotional Intimacy

Developing a practice of meditation, increasing your own body-awareness, cultivating awareness of the ways your emotions surface and express will greatly enhance your capacity to be present as an active, curious listener when your partner seeks to share their experience with you. Keep track of the themes or patterns, the repeating expressions of joy or fear your partner is articulating. It may not register as significant for you, but the repetition is telling you something about your partner. Make notes of the ways you are positively affected by your partner so that you can let them know you're thinking about them, that you're appreciative and grateful, that your life is better because they are in it with you.

Experiment with revealing your loneliness, your sense of inadequacy, your fear of failure, or your general concerns about not being good enough. Without asking your partner to say or do anything for relief from the pain, just let the pain stand, exposed. Wait. Let your partner come to you, rather than asking them to perform a hug or take an action or say a word.

Self-disclosure builds feelings of intimacy in marriages, which will enhance your bond and connection. Intimacy is largely about sharing your thoughts and feelings bravely and honestly and listening to your partner when they do the same.

Eliminate technology during meals or while you and your partner watch a show together. Absolutely, make sure to ignore your phone or computer when your partner is talking to you about their day, their feelings or an experience.

Deepen Experiential Intimacy

If you're looking to deepen your experiential intimacy, this is an excellent time to book a trip or try out a fun new date spot or activity in your city. Attempt to learn something new about your partner. Challenging yourselves to be in new circumstances or unexpected situations will give you the opportunity to appreciate anew the strength and beauty of the person you have chosen to go through your life with.

Plan a trip to a place neither of you has been. Plan a dinner at a restaurant that serves food you've never eaten. Go to a spa where you can be naked together. It's fun to experience new things for the first time. It creates a sense of shared history and experience. Even something as simple as a weekly date night can be a great way to foster increased experiential intimacy in your relationship.

Boost Intellectual Intimacy

Send each other articles, links to podcasts, YouTube videos or share the reading of a book on relationships before going to bed. Intentionally enliven those areas where you have shared or diverging interests. Learn about what the other is interested and why it's so important to them. Politics and children are not necessarily the topics to go for first. What are your personal interests? What are you discovering in the world that you want to learn more about? This kind of contact and interaction can provide a much-needed mental break if you have kids or are a caregiver to another loved one. It also serves to remind you that you partner is interested and interesting!! More gratitude and appreciation!

Strengthen Spiritual Intimacy

What are your personal values and beliefs? Why do you get up every morning and do the work you do to support each other and your families? What's the point of all this anyway? What do you both want more than anything else? Are you aligned? Are you looking in two different directions? How can you get more aligned and connected on what gives meaning to your life together?

This can be an opportunity to talk about the role of spirituality in your lives. If you have children, discuss the values and beliefs you want to instill in them. Are you modeling the ideals that bring you a sense or joy and fulfillment? Are your children seeing you be happy? If not, exploring what's broken or not working, and collaborating on seeking support and help can signal to each other your willingness and desire for a deeper connection. Intimacy seeds, planted and growing!

Remember that spiritual intimacy doesn't necessarily involve religion. It often comes down to your shared values and includes your ability to bond over experiences you find awe-inspiring, whether that involves a religious practice, meditation, or love of nature.

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