Remember when your relationship was a sizzling ‘hands- on, pants-off, anytime, anywhere’ affair? When the delicious anticipation of kisses made you weak at the knees? Remember gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes and hanging on every sweet nothing? Nope! Got you confused with someone else?
This old love
Inevitably, after those heady early days, a relationship settles into its contented, happily-ever-after rhythm: not too hot, not too cold, juuuuust right. If this was a fairytale, it would wrap up right there. But real-life relationships are hard work. You can get caught up and complacent. Intimacy can slowly slink off until one day you realise you’re sharing a bed with somebody that you used to know. Sure, you still love them – it’s not like your bags are packed – but it’s gone a bit ‘meh’. Sound familiar? Time to stoke the fire and bring back the spark!
What is intimacy?
Real, honest-to-goodness intimacy is a certain something that cements a relationship and makes it special. It’s a feeling of being heard, valued, loved. It’s wanting to know someone’s heart, and caring what they think and feel. It’s having their back, even on their worst days. It’s working through tough times, sharing hopes and dreams, laughing together and crying together. Clue: if you often feel like you might prefer to punch something rather than look in their eyes or hear their voice, intimacy may have left the building!
Q: Isn’t it about sex?
A: Yes and no. You can have sex without any intimacy whatsoever. But sex is just infinitely better with it! A lack of deep intimacy can also lead to sex avoidance, which can create a tricky catch-22 situation.
Intimacy’s worst enemies
There’s a long list of intimacy stealers. It might begin with a combination of hectic schedules, exhaustion or something as simple as forgetting to say thank you often enough. Other, potentially more damaging, intimacy killers are:
• Complacency ‘I don’t have to work at this anymore.’
• Selfishness ‘You’re not important.’
• Resentment ‘You never, I always.’
• Boredom ‘Same old, same old.’
• Ingratitude ‘You don’t appreciate me.’
• Belittlement ‘You’ve got no idea.’
• Apathy ‘Whatever, I don’t care.’
Libido? What libido?
If your desire for sex has gone MIA and sexy undies, grown-up toys and warming ‘massage’ gels still don’t get you there, it might be time to visit your GP. Mood swings, your overall health and certain medications can really mess with your mojo so your doc may be able to help.
There’s still no sign on our shores of ‘female Viagra’, Addyi (flibanserin), which received Food and Drug Administration approval in the US last year. Unlike the little blue pill, which works on male… uh… hardware, this drug targets neurotransmitters in the brain to treat low desire. Stay tuned!
10 ways to get it back
Spend time together
Relationship experts say lack of meaningful, quality time together is the number one intimacy wrecker. The way couples spend time together matters too. Watching TV or going to a movie doesn’t give you a chance to connect in any real way, nor does spending time together talking about the kids or household finances. Your mission: schedule in regular ‘date’ nights. Use the time to catch up like you would with a cherished friend. When was the last time you asked your partner, ‘No, really, how ARE you?’ Find out!
Get touchy feely
And not just in the bedroom. Hold hands when you’re out and about, get tangled up watching telly, casually stroke their arm as you walk by, playfully pinch their bum and plant a kiss on the back of their neck. Hug hello and goodbye, kiss good morning and goodnight. Touch is a powerful, physiological human need affecting overall wellbeing… neglect it at your peril!
Few things are more intimate and just plain sexy than a long, slow, deep kiss. Lips are hotbeds of nerve endings. Have you stopped smooching? Get back to it!
Don’t keep secrets
Learn how to talk and listen to each other again. When you hold back from sharing things like hopes and fears, it creates a wall between you and the very person you should be most able to trust with your vulnerable self. Open up to your loved one and bring down the wall.
Little niggles and petty grievances can fester and become a big deal. Are you mad about something? Say so.
Revisit the beginning
What brought you together? What made you fall in love? What did you find irresistible once upon a time? Talk about the old days and what you miss about them. Tap into your shared past for clues you can use to secure your future.
The ‘serious business’ of being an adult benefits enormously from finding the funny side wherever and whenever you can. Be silly and playful together; this creates intimacy like nothing else.
You don’t always have to be right. Bite your tongue every now and then instead of having the last word. Remember to also say sorry when it’s the right thing to do.
The little things count. For no reason at all, bring your special someone a small gift or do something for them you know they’ll appreciate but would never ask for or expect. Surprise can be a good thing.
Notice each other
Try this intimacy-building exercise: at least once a day, say something kind or compliment your other half. ‘You smell so good,’ ‘dinner was amazing,’ ‘thank you for working so hard for our family’… The right words are worth their weight in romance gold.