Most of us have experienced sex without intimacy at some point in our lives. You may have had sex when you were emotionally disconnected and felt nothing. And although you can be sexually responsive even when you are upset or angry, there is little or no emotional connection.
In contrast, true sexual intimacy gratifies our entire being. It is a sharing of ourselves and our deepest feelings as well as our physical bodies, often with a sense of spirituality.
To achieve deeper intimacy, one must become more aware of the different levels of intimacy. When a couple identifies sexual desire as a problem, often it’s that each person wants a different level of emotional intimacy. Couples need to find their own level of desire and nurture that, noting what is pleasurable for each of them. Likewise, some couples want only a moderate amount of closeness, while others desire intense emotional intimacy.
For example, one woman may say, “My husband is my best friend. There is nothing I won’t tell him. We became very close early in our relationship and we haven’t lost that.”
While another woman may say, “We fight a lot, but the make-up sex is great! It almost makes the fighting worth the effort.”
However, there are other ways to express intimacy besides genital-focused sexuality. Sharing thoughts and feelings, being affectionate, cuddling, disclosing hopes, fears and dreams are all part of building trust, respect and appreciation for one another, which is at the very core of intimacy.
Sometimes when I ask couples what intimacy means to them, they say they really don’t know. So you may want to ask each other what it means for the two of you. How did you learn about intimacy? What pictures come to mind when you think of intimacy? How would you like to experience intimacy? What do you want it to look and feel like?
This allows you to be more aware when you are intimate and better identify what intimacy means to you. Being intimate with another person is something so special that we can’t always articulate our thoughts, but we know when we are in the throes of truly connecting with our partners because we feel it with every part of our being.