What comes to mind when you hear the word intimacy? Some people think of sex. Others might think of intimacy as being emotionally close to someone – sharing feelings, having a deep sense of trust and security. Some research suggests that up to 90% of men believe sex to be the most important element in a relationship. Typically speaking men tend to associate intimacy with sex and women associate being intimate with getting their emotional needs met. This is because often men and women seek intimacy in different ways. This can cause a lot of confusion and misunderstanding for a lot couples.
Women often experience love through emotional connection and when their emotional needs are met, they are more inclined to be interested in meeting their partners physical needs. Men, on the other hand, experience love through physical connection and when their needs are met, they are more likely to be open and willing to connect on an emotional level. Often when one person isn’t getting what they need, they shut down, stop giving their partner what they need and couples find themselves in a “stand off.”
So what can you do to make sure you keep getting your needs met?
Understand what your partner wants and needs.
The best way to find this information? Ask. Give them feedback when they do things that fulfill your needs as well. Not one of us is a mind reader, yet we so often assume our partner should just know what we need. They don’t and it’s highly likely you may not know what they need either. Ask them what they need and tell them what you need.
Sometimes you have to give a little to get a little.
When you think to yourself that your partner is not listening to you so why on earth would you want to have sex with them, your partner is probably thinking “She won’t have sex with me so why would I want to talk to her about her feelings” – and there’s the stand off. Someone has to be willing to give a little in order to reset the cycle and get things back on track. Sometimes that might be you, sometimes it might be your partner but don’t be afraid to take the initiative. If you aren’t sure what you can do for them, ask.
You are different.
In fact, you are likely very different. Men often need space to process their thoughts and feelings about things. Women often want to feel connected to their partner so they try to move closer which can feel frustrating or suffocating to a man. Women identify wanting to feel safe, heard, understood and emotionally connected. Men often say they want to feel respected and know that they add value to the relationship – they thrive on what they feel familiar with, what is predictable and what they feel confident in – that’s usually not talking about emotions.
If you know men and women seek intimacy in different ways, communicating with your partner can help you better connect. Help your partner understand how you think and feel. Be open to exploring what makes them tick and feel successful in the relationship. Doing these things can help you improve your physical and emotional intimacy. If there is one thing to take away from this, it is communicate, communicate, communicate. You might not always execute it perfectly and that’s okay but remember the best way to be intimately connected to your partner is to understand them. You develop that understanding by communicating.
If you find that you are struggling with intimacy, communicating or connecting with your partner, we would love to help you find happiness and fulfillment in your relationship. Learn more about exploring those possibilities with our highly recommended team of relationship experts. You might also find that our Luxe Couple’s Retreat could be the perfect fit for you and your partner. Spend a week at an all inclusive resort with our very own, Dr. Tabitha, learning how to be intentional in your relationship while improving your communication, connection and intimacy.