Once upon a time in your relationship, you and your partner barely came up for air.
The excitement of falling and being in love meant you were all blissed out on a cocktail of feel-good hormones and an effortless urge to be in each other’s pockets all day long.
You remember them — the early days of infatuation, physical affection and sexual overdrive.
The romance was so easy and natural…until it wasn’t.
Sometimes, that euphoric state eventually wanes as the more mundane realities of life set in.
These days, you might have to really work at passion.
This is a common struggle among hard-working couples that happen to be balancing jobs, mortgages, parenting, study and their relationships with others and each other. Couples who have a strong emotional connection, a profound commitment to one another — they still really like one another — but they just don’t feel that sexual spark anymore.
It’s the great paradox of being deeply in love, but not intimate.
It’s not unusual for couples with busy lives to drift apart emotionally and sexually, but the good news is you can rediscover intimacy again. It’s important to note that while fulfilling lovemaking is an important element of a deep and lasting relationship, it’s not the only definition of intimacy.
Intimacy is really about a sense of familiarity and closeness honoured through sexual and non-sexual displays of affection. A tender touch, a hug, a kiss. Minutes spent between the sheets. Hours spent between the sheets. An arm slipped around the waist. Handholding.
Intimacy can be a subjective topic, and it’s this misunderstanding that can lead to couples not being on the same page.
It’s normal to feel a sense of disappointment when our desire for sexual intimacy doesn’t match our partner’s or vice versa. It’s easier to assume the worst.
There’s an abundance of possible explanations for a lack of intimacy and the sad reality is that some can be fatal to a relationship. But there can also be a range of less dramatic and totally fixable causes behind the lull.
Here are six steps you and your partner can take together — and as individuals — to strengthen your connection and ultimately bring sexy back:
Talking and listening are the vital components of intimacy, so take a look at the foundations your relationship is built upon. How are all the other elements — such as trust, respect and joy —holding up?
Create a safe space to initiate a calm and loving conversation where you can be honest and open with each other, without judgment.
Commit to working on your sex life in the same way you do in other areas of your personal development, such as health and career.
Together, explore any underlying emotional issues or areas of conflict that might be affecting your mojo.
If you can identify the root of the problem, you’re then able to brainstorm ways to overcome it and in turn make intimacy more desirable.
Whether it was a broken heart, abuse or infidelity, taking negative experiences from a past love life and projecting them onto your present relationship can be incredibly destructive.
The pain we might have experienced in the past has the potential to transform into resentment in our current relationship if it’s not released in a healthy, effective or timely way. More importantly, it can manifest as new or repeated and equally unhealthy patterns of behaviour.
On the same note, comparing experiences with your current lover to the good times you had with past lovers can also be a bad move.
Whatever the case you need to be able to let go of old relationship stories in order to be completely present and committed to your current partner. This may take a lot of inner work, vulnerability and surrender, but once you forgive, you will stop letting your past dictate your present.
And if you can’t forgive, at least acknowledge and accept your past, be grateful for the lessons it has taught you and give yourself permission to move on.
Often, a lack of intimacy comes down to us being uncomfortable in our own skin.
The list goes on.
If you’re unable to love yourself, it becomes near impossible to allow yourself to feel physically uninhibited toward your partner.
So, put energy into implementing regular rituals of self love and self care that will boost your
confidence and level of self-worth.
Feel-good activities that raise your libido, feed your spirit and your mind and remind you of your inner and outer beauty.
Move your body and nourish it with wholesome food. Wear clothes that make you look good — and feel good. Pamper yourself.
Tell yourself you’re beautiful — and actually believe it.
Remember to make the effort to make your partner feel attractive too, because chances are they’ll reciprocate the love.
Sometimes, all it takes is some quality time together and seeing each other through fresh eyes to reignite the spark you’ve been missing and get you excited again.
Create your own definition of romance and strive towards it, together, every single day.
It’s important to note that this reconnecting part isn’t just about sex — non-sexual bonding deserves just as much recognition when it comes to successfully bringing partners closer together.
Explore the many different ways of showing affection. Increase your daily quota of hugs, smooches and handholding. Ramp up the shameless PDA and not-so-PDA.
Choose stirring and thought-provoking conversations over superficial chitchat. Work on understanding each other’s needs and wants. Remind yourselves of what brought you together. Reflect. Make plans for the future. Declare your love. Put it into words. Say, “I love you” — don’t just assume they already know it.
Really hear what the other has to say.
Book a weekend away or have a staycation at home. Switch off, unplug. Cook. Move your bodies and let off some steam. Slow down and be present.
It goes without saying; stress, exhaustion and worry are definitely mood killers.
It’s hard to get cozy with your other half when your mind is running over tomorrow’s to-do list, so add some weekly or daily practices into your calendar to let off steam.
Run, yoga, journal, meditate, catch up with girlfriends.
You’ll return to your little love sanctuary fully present, with a clear mind and replenished energy.
Of course, spontaneity is where it’s at, but when all of life’s commitments start to jostle for attention, intimacy often gets put on the back-burner.
Don’t stop being lovers just because you wear other hats, such as parent, colleague or friend.
Simply plan ahead and create opportunities for alone time. This isn’t to say you should book in every Thursday at 8.30 pm — just be bit more mindful of what’s kyboshing potential moments of intimacy. Say no to other commitments if necessary.
A good place to start is going to bed at the same time. Don’t keep watching TV or checking emails from the couch once your partner says goodnight. Hit the hay at the same time — this is one of the rare times of day where you actually have time to be alone, talk, hold each other and be intimate.
End your day, together.
Has a lack of intimacy ever been a problem in your relationship? What did you do to fix it? Share with us in the comments below!