How to build intimacy in your relationship

Intimacy is your sense of closeness with your partner, and it’s a key component of successful romantic relationships. You can build it by sharing thoughts, ideas, experiences, and emotions, and through physical touch. The level of shared intimacy in your romantic relationship makes it different from other relationships too. Many couples report greater relationship satisfaction when they share intimacy, while others tend to seek therapy when they lack intimacy.

So, how do you build intimacy in your relationship?

  • Communicate with your partner. Positive communication leads to higher levels of intimacy. It builds when you discuss your own vulnerabilities, and your partner listens and strives to understand your experiences. This can be challenging for Warfighters who train to not share information. To work through this, practice being assertive and a good listener. Intimacy builds when you share things that are deeply personal and your partner listens, honors, and respects what you’re saying.
  • Choose the “right” time to talk. An important piece of good communication is timing—and knowing when your partner is able to fully listen. Asking your partner, “Do you have some time to talk?” can help you determine that “right” time to talk things over. If distance makes it hard to find time to talk, written communication can be very effective if it’s assertive and received with respect.
  • Enjoy time together. You also can build intimacy by spending time doing mutually enjoyable activities. Experiencing new things with your partner can create a shared sense of intimacy as you encounter obstacles and solve problems together.
  • Explore physical touch. Sex and physical touch make your romantic relationship unique. To build intimacy, talk about your sex needs and listen to your partner as well. Sharing physical intimacy helps couples feel close and connected.

Intimacy builds over time and through multiple experiences, so it requires an ongoing investment from you. And remember it’s common for couples to experience peaks and valleys of intimacy levels in their long-term relationships.


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References

Doss, B. D., Simpson, L. E., & Christensen, A. (2004). Why do couples seek marital therapy? Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 35(6), 608–614. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.35.6.608

Epstein, N. B., & Baucom, D. H. (2002). Enhanced Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Couples: A Contextual Approach. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

P. Greeff, H. L. M. A. (2001). Intimacy and marital satisfaction in spouses. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 27(3), 247–257. doi:10.1080/009262301750257100

Yoo, H., Bartle-Haring, S., Day, R. D., & Gangamma, R. (2013). Couple communication, emotional and sexual intimacy, and relationship satisfaction. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 40(4), 275–293. doi:10.1080/0092623x.2012.751072