Intimacy: You hold onto it, but you lose it. You demand it, but that destroys it. You want to keep it at arm’s length, but your partner smothers you with it. You withhold it, but then you miss it…

What you need to know about intimacy

Intimacy as part of relationships is such a new idea that we don’t have a good rule-book about it!
Intimacy is different from sex. We can have sex without being intimate and we can be intimate without having sex. Do you know the difference? Do you have one or the other, are they connected, or do they have a life of their own? Does one depend on the other? Do you exert power over your partner by withholding it or do they exert power over you? Do you manipulate, coerce or seduce your partner into intimacy? Is that actually possible???

We all dance around this topic with different agendas. Most modern-world couples take intimacy as an integral part of their relationship for granted although that idea is not even a hundred years old! No wonder, we can’t handle it very well.


Some couples never have intimacy, don’t miss it and are fine. Others have it and then lose it and have no idea what happened. Others have an imbalance from the day go: one wants it, the other withholds it or doesn’t know what intimacy is…

What happens to your relationship if you have no intimacy?

Most couples have one of three constellations when it comes to intimacy: Either one wants it more than the other, or both are fine without it or both want it but don’s know how to foster it in their relationship. Obviously, it depends which category you fall into, whether your relationship may suffer due to a lack or loss of this kind of gentle, caring, supportive, warm connection. Since our outside world has become more complex, faster, more disconnected and more unsafe, intimacy within our romantic relationships has stepped up in importance as it counterbalances the crazyness of our lives with its danger of feeling fundamentally unsafe.

If coming back to your partner fails to provide you with the connection you need, distance, dishonesty, resentment and frustration might begin to take hold in your relationship. But, as I said earlier, intimacy is a complex experience and you may find your partner’s need for it smothering and constricting. This is where exploration, honesty and the willingness to become vulnerable within your relationship begin to play a big part.

This is what you can do to work towards a more fulfilling intimate experience in your relationship

Whatever the case for you, it is important to know that intimacy is a bit like a tender plant: it needs a particular mix of fertile ground in order to sprout, grow and thrive in a relationship. The most important ingredients are safety, trust, connection and time. Take any one of these away, and intimacy will suffer. Then, you need to add some skills to the daily watering of your intimacy plant: You need to be able to ask for it, to receive it and to give it. You need to be able to describe what it is you want, and how you can best receive it.


For example, you might love to cuddle up to your partner on the couch and watch a movie together while feeling their body close to yours. Does your partner know that? Do you know what they understand by intimacy and what their needs are around that? Do you or your partner feel that intimacy is always connected to sex?

Explore the rules of intimacy you bring to your relationship!

As you can see by the myriad of questions I am asking you, it is a topic that needs exploring with each other. Intimacy is one of the many things we take for granted in our relationships most of the time without ever talking about what it is, how we experience it, what our needs are around it or how we can cultivate it.


And yet, it’s a great topic to talk about with curiosity, openness and fun.


Our childhood shapes a lot of the how and what we experience around intimacy and consequently, how our partner expresses it (or not) has more to do with what they got or did not get when they were little then it has with you as their partner today!!

If you want to delve into deeper exploration of this intriguing concept, you can download the exercise below in order to begin a process of discovery that might deepen your understanding of each other’s history, habits and needs when it comes to intimacy.

Have fun with it!

Happy exploring!

Alternatively, if you need more help to explore what is not working in your relationship, want to make changes that bring you relationship into the amazing shape it can have and are committed to do the work you can book a free 45-minute session here to find out how.