We crave relationships in which we can trust our partner and share our deepest feelings without fear, yet, often we stand in our own way. Some of us take a long time to develop intimacy with another person. Others enter a new relationship with an open hear, but start building walls at the first misunderstanding. So how do we create intimacy in our relationships and keep it alive?
1. Accept your partner for who he or she really is
At the start of a relationship we are often blinded by passion. Everything about our partner is perfect and he can’t do anything wrong. But as we get to know each other, we start noticing traits that are not so attractive, we start fights and we try to change the other person. It never works. You can’t change anyone who doesn’t want to change, but you can take the comfortable feeling out of the relationship where each person can be who they are without having to pretend.
2. Appreciate what you have
Rather than focusing on your partner’s imperfection, appreciate all the good things about him and show appreciation often (don’t assume he already knows). You’ll make your partner feel valued and you’ll also take your own focus away from the negative and towards everything that’s going well.
3. Make time for just the two of you
The more difficult it is to find opportunities for intimacy because of work, children or other commitments, the more important it is to consciously create the time for it. It may not be as spontaneous as it once was, but at least if you put it on the calendar, you have a better chance of making it happen.
4. Practice sharing openly
Intimacy is about being able to share your feelings with each other and this doesn’t just mean saying “I love you” often. Each of us has something that leaves us feeling vulnerable and we’d rather keep it to ourselves. Do you express your anger, sadness or frustration and ask for support? Do you talk about sex? Do you sometimes hold back because of fear that your partner will judge you? Start small and build your sharing muscles, and your intimacy will grow, too.
5. Take responsibility for your own issues
Most of us carry around unresolved issues from our past. Ideally, you’d leave them behind and not bring them into a new relationship, but the reality is that healing can take a long time, sometimes a lifetime. There’s no need to wait until you’re over the past before starting a new relationship, but it’s also not fair to make your partner responsible for it. Be aware of your own stuff and when it comes up, share it with your partner, but without expecting him to make everything right for you.
6. Don’t hold grudges
If you’re someone that still brings up negative events from three years ago in your thoughts or in your arguments, stop. You’re undermining your own trust in your relationship and you’re also instilling fear in your partner that he might say and do something wrong, and it will be remembered for years to come. Only because your partner has made a bad judgement once, it doesn’t mean he’ll do it again. And even if he does – no one is perfect.
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly” ~ Sam Keen
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