It is an undeniable understanding among us all that over time relationships change. The same love that existed at the beginning of a relationship is not the same as the love that exists after five years of marriage — and this is not necessarily a bad thing. Love and intimacy develop over time, and in turn many couple will complain that the intimacy they once had with their partner has changed, or is even gone altogether.
It is important to first understand what intimacy means. There are two types of intimacy: emotional and physical, and they go hand in hand. Emotional intimacy breeds sexual desire, and physical intimacy can generate the comfort and vulnerability required to be emotionally open with each other.
Physical intimacy is generally the sexual connection that you share with a partner. It can feel wonderful to merge with someone and indulge in all the beautiful sensuality that comes with physical intimacy. Emotional intimacy is the bond between two people that is present in any mature, strong relationship that is based on a couple’s ability to trust each other, be vulnerable, feel safe and have confidence in the strength of their bond. While you can have one without the other, to have both is incredibly important when it comes to the strength of your long-term relationship.
While the balance is not always split perfectly down the middle when it comes to physical and emotional intimacy, the presence of both is what matters most. If you want to build a successful long-term relationship, you should have both types of intimacy. Without both, your relationship will always feel shallow, and there may be a looming sense of insecurity within the couple. Together, emotional and physical intimacy will be the glue that holds you together during the smooth and the hard times. If one of these two factors are missing, there is no foundation to rely on, and the relationship will fall apart.
Continue To Have Fun Together
One great way to retain intimacy in your long-term relationship is to prioritize having fun together. Remember the things that you did at the beginning of the relationship, when you two were first falling in love. Maybe you two did weekly trips to the beach, or liked to share commentary while watching your favorite movies, or had a tradition of engaging in flirty and competitive pillow fights. Often, over time, we forget to keep doing those things as we get busy with the hustle and bustle of life, or in the business of raising children. But prioritizing having fun is the secret ingredient to keeping the intimacy alive in any relationship.
Another way to add some fun and spontaneity to your days is by surprising your partner by dressing up in your sexiest nightgown or lingerie every once in a while. Your partner will likely appreciate the added effort, and you will also get the added feel-good hormones brought on from turning your partner on. The change in routine keeps things fun, while all the positive feelings you share with your partner breeds connection and intimacy. They end up associating happy feelings with you, and vice-versa.
On a sexual note, while quickies are often regarded as kinky and fun activities for couples to do, they are usually not the most intimate. If you find that you and your partner are primarily having quickies, keep in mind that slow lovemaking in which you take your time to pleasure your partner and be pleasured by them is a key way of retaining intimacy in your relationship. Try and prioritize things such as foreplay, or sensual activities like taking a bath together or giving each other massages. Sensual and fun activities such as these can make all the difference in retaining intimacy.
Keep Open Communication With Each Other
Sometimes, it can feel easier to ignore your problems and brush them under the rug, rather than face the conflict head on. Many relationships end because of secrets, or the feeling that you and your partner have grown apart. One way to make sure your partner and you are constantly on the same page is by communicating openly with each other frequently. Often, we do not know what is truly going on in our partner’s minds, or how they are feeling. It is important to do thorough mental and relationship check-ins at the very least on a monthly basis, if not more frequently.
To help create connection and intimacy with your partner, you can schedule a phone-free hour every day to minimize distractions and ensure you do not put your relationship in the backseat of your daily life and routine. No checking emails, social media, or catching up on the news — only each other, and the connection you can create between the two of you. By prioritizing the act of filling each other in on your respective days, you are putting in the effort required to ensure that you are not losing touch with your partner.
Many couples think that by ignoring problems or by brushing aside their feelings, they are doing their partner a favor, but this is wrong. All this does is potentially breed resentment and cause problems to fester and potentially grow into even bigger issues. Certainly, sometimes it is good to let things go, but usually after you’ve had some sort of conversation to explain how both partners feel about a certain situation. Open communication allows partners to hear and understand each other’s innermost feelings, vulnerabilities and reservations, which in turn strengthens their intimacy.
Another way to strengthen intimacy through communication is through taking a love language quiz and sharing your results with your partner. Love languages indicate how you and your partner like to show and receive love, and it can offer great insight into what your partner values in terms of relationships and actions. Often, you can think you’re doing so much for your partner, but if it is not one of their love languages, they may not value it as much as you would. If you find out that your partner’s love language is ‘acts of service’, then you can do their laundry or have a home-cooked meal ready for them when they’ve arrived back from a long day of work. Speaking your partner’s love language is the perfect way to retain intimacy and ensure your energy is being spent the right way to optimize results.
Be Open To Trying New Things
Shared new experiences can be incredibly bonding. This can take the form of new activities or hobbies, such as learning a new skill together or trying bungee jumping together for the first time. It can also mean trying new things sexually.
There are plenty of ways to try new things sexually, no matter how long you have been with your partner. It always begins with honest and open communication. Hard limits, soft limits, curiosities, and things you may have even been too embarrassed to mention before. If you cannot be fully honest with your partner, there cannot be true intimacy retained. If you do not know where to start, perhaps fetch yourselves a copy of the Kama Sutra and just rifle through the pages together and see what captures each other’s interest. Practicing this activity while being honest and nonjudgmental with your partner will further foster trust, and therefore stronger intimacy.
Another way to try new things in order to retain intimacy is by introducing new toys into the bedroom. Do your research, and see which adult toys would work well in your relationship. Is one partner curious about BDSM? Have you been wanting to try a new sexual practice, such as edging or pegging? Even though some sex toys come in realistic shapes, there are many others that can help build intimacy and strengthen your relationship. For example, plenty of massagers and cock rings are designed to stimulate both partners at the same time, without creating space or constriction between both lovers.
At the end of the day, when it comes to intimacy and sex in a committed, long-term relationship, each partner is in charge of their own pleasure and communicating these things. You have get in touch with your own sexuality, needs and desired to be able to communicate to your partner what you like and what you want. Great sex makes you feel good about yourself, and makes you in turn be able to be more vulnerable and intimate with your partner. Great sex also happens when you are present in the moment, attentive to your partner, and non-judgmental.
Keep in mind that non-sexual touch can be just as important than sexual touch, if not more crucial as it is often overlooked. Holding hands while watching a movie, hugging each other after work and wrapping your arms around your partner’s waist as they cook are all non-sexual ways of retaining intimacy in your long-term relationship.
At the end of the day, you need to be constantly working on your relationship to keep the intimacy strong and intact. However, if you have good intimacy with your partner, your love will truly be everlasting.