Your relationship can survive less sex from time to time. Samantha Burns shows you how to maintain the intimacy.
Sex vs. Intimacy
What if I told you that by not having sex you can actually increase the intimacy in your relationship? You may be thinking, “Hold on a minute! How do you get more intimate than having sex?” or, “Doesn’t no sex mean trouble in paradise?” Sex and intimacy are two very different things, and one is more influential than the other in creating long-term relationship success.
After the initial hot and heavy stage that every couple experiences—when you actually shower, shave, and brush your teeth before each date—things naturally cool off a bit. It’s the stage where you do not need to have sex to feel close and connected. Some people know they have a “marriage material” partner when they have just as much fun being silly in sweatpants together as when it gets hot and heavy in the bedroom.
In my relationship, it was laying in bed talking about past experiences, taking walks discussing our core values, and snuggling on the couch sharing future dreams that formed the bond that is now my happy marriage—these conversations and interactions continue on a daily basis. Great sex at a frequency that satisfies both partners is important for a successful relationship, but it is not the foundation. Intimacy is the key to relational happiness.
Lazy Libidos or Contentedly Connected?
Libidos can stabilize after you’ve been dating a while and you may not be having sex every time you see each other. You’ll find that you can still feel attractive, and attracted, through genuine conversation. It can create an intense emotional bond. Your sexual desire will still be very much alive and you may be surprised to find that you can be totally enthralled and enamored with each other without sex.
I used to use seduction as a means for instant gratification to intimacy—it was a false sense of connection. I know I am not alone in this experience, as our hook-up culture promotes promiscuity. I was trying to use physical intimacy as a way into a man’s heart, but in reality, I was just getting into his pants.
The thing is, not everyone agrees with the stereotypical belief that sex is the most important aspect of a relationship. In fact, many are truly looking for an honest connection outside of the bedroom. Those who are in successful and happy relationships have likely realized the value of ongoing intimacy.
Are You Satisfied?
Couples who lack both emotional and physical intimacy—admiring, appreciating, touching, kissing, caressing, holding, hugging—are at risk. Tune into your relationship dynamic and begin to notice whether on days and dates where sex isn’t happening, if you continue to grow and connect as partners.
Evaluate your feelings about your partner once you have surpassed the blissful honeymoon stage.
- Honestly reflect and ask yourself on a scale of one to 10, what number would you rate your current relationship satisfaction?
- Next, identify areas (examples are companionship, communication, quality time, affection) that are lacking.
- Then, pick an appropriate, stress-free time to engage your partner in a non-defensive, open discussion about ways in which you can meet each other’s identified needs.
If you have stopped having sex and the intimacy is lacking, you have likely experienced major relationship dissatisfaction. If you’re feeling totally disconnected, hopping into the sack may sound like a huge turn off, especially for those who tend to want their emotional needs met before sex. The good news is that with the following tips, you can steer your relationship in a more positive direction.
11 Physical and Emotional Intimacy-Building Ideas to Help You Reconnect:
- Take a nightly stroll around the block, hand in hand
- Give each other a ten-minute massage before bed
- Sit in a park on a shared towel so you’re forced to cozy up
- Send a flirtatious text message that builds anticipation, or one that just lets your partner know you are thinking about him/her
- Lay in bed for twenty minutes of pillow talk when you first get home from work, before total exhaustion kicks in
- Reminisce about your first date, or the first time you slept together
- Cook dinner while dancing to music around the kitchen
- Spend four uninterrupted minutes staring into each other’s eyes without talking, then reflect on the experience
- Exercise together—couples who sweat together stay together
- Make out like you did in the beginning and watch the butterflies flutter back
- Every night express gratitude for one thing your partner did that day—no matter how small the act, just be specific (examples are doing the dishes, grocery shopping, sending a loving text, planning a vacation, your kiss goodbye that morning)
Although intimacy creates chemistry, it’s not rocket science! Tell your partner what attracts you to them. It’s amazing what an arm around each other, a hand on a thigh underneath the table, or a lingering hug hello can do. Share fond memories and discuss the future you are looking forward to having together. Intimacy needs TLC.
Don’t Forget to Communicate
Communication is obviously an essential pillar of intimacy. Ultimately you must communicate about your needs if they are not being met because your partner is not a mind reader. Along with communication comes listening. When is the last time you gave each other undivided attention—just the two of you in the present moment, making eye contact and having a conversation without simultaneously scrolling through your phone, watching TV, or chasing after your kids?
Creating intimacy outside of the bedroom will help you connect inside the bedroom—it’s that simple! If a dry spell is wreaking havoc on your relationship, speak up and take action to reconnect.