When the topic of intimacy arises many blokes tend to think first of sex or physical affection.
Whilst physical intimacy is important, when it comes to long term committed relationships a broader sense of intimacy is necessary.
Men need to dig a little deeper! In my consulting work, I am lucky to listen and guide men in their understanding of intimacy that goes above and beyond the physical.
Some blokes describe intimacy as:
- Being myself in relationship
- Having a strong sense of trust
- Being completely vulnerable
- No judgment
- Empathy, support and patience,
- Experiencing activities together
- Honest and open
- Mutual respect to share
- Freedom to express
- Beyond surface level
What gets in the way?
Many blokes describe how they get in their own way when it comes to emotional intimacy!
Some of common obstacles for many comes in the form of:
- Fear of judgment and criticism
- A struggle to open up old wounds
- Lack of language and awareness of emotions
- Easily distracted, escaping and avoiding deeper conversations
- Tuning out and not listening
- Too dismissive and impatient
As with many a problem most blokes love a good fix!
So here goes!
4 Steps to improve intimacy
The following steps could help you to build or rebuild closeness with your partner.
Not presents like chocolates, flowers or a $500k Mercedes. Although I don’t mind if I do!
Emotional intimacy is deepened where both of you are present.
Yep, no phones or screens!
Essentially being in a non-distracting and genuine discussion. It’s where you join with your partner in talking about the experience of life.
Some of these discussions may include:
- Supporting each other’s work and activities
- Asking open ended questions that reflect curiosity in each other’s opinions
- Listening to each other‘s hopes and dreams
- Taking an interest in each other’s studies, community activities, hobbies.
- Acknowledging each other’s capabilities, and potential for growth.
- Bolstering each other’s confidence with encouragement
Support means being there for your partner when they need you. Sounds obvious, right?
Give support by:
- Listening when your partner is worried
- Being attentive when they are sick
- Helping practically when they’re tired
- Inquiring about your partners feelings
- Staying engaged patiently when your partner is confused
- Discussing and debriefing events of the day together
- Expressing care and/or providing physical comfort when your partner is sad or hurt
3. Show up – more
If, like many men, you keep too much of your personal thoughts and feelings to yourself it’s time to show up sides of yourself you may not show anyone else!
- Share moments of doubt, fear, sadness, and pain
- Seek out your partner’s understanding and empathy
- Remember that all your feelings are normal and needs for connection is valid
4. Handling Conflict gracefully
Couples argue and disagree. It’s normal and even necessary.
When conflict becomes high level it’s important to repair after negative interactions.
It may seem unusual but repairing conflict sustains intimacy.
A couple of ways of you can do this:
- Take responsibility, even if it’s for only your part of the problem
- Avoid criticism or blame, and instead focus on our own needs
Conflict can actually deepen intimacy and bring couples closer together.
When it comes to building stronger emotional intimacy most couples are a work in progress.
Remember that you can improve intimacy in your relationship by:
- Being more present
- Allowing hurt
- Accepting and working through stuff
- Escaping less
- Increasing curiosity about your partner’s experiences
- Listen more
- Supporting more often
- More patience
- More vulnerability
- Normalise feelings
- Take responsibility and avoid blame
- Less trivialising, less dismissive
Indeed, get this right, and often physical intimacy may improve!