7 Ways to Deepen Your Intimate Connection With Your Partner By: Danielle Graves, M.A.

Have you ever experienced a strong attraction (good chemistry) towards your
partner but felt like the intimacy and connection were lacking? Maybe you’re
wondering why you are feeling unfulfilled in your relationship and if there is
something more that can be done. There could be a few possible reasons for this.

Let’s think about relationships like tending a garden. They need a certain level of de-
weeding, and fertilizing to grow, not to mention consistent sunlight and watering. You
can only imagine what the garden would look like if left alone.

There are certain plants that need more attention than others, and when the
responsibility for tending the garden is shared to align with the strengths of each person,
it will surely continue to thrive.

Like tending a garden, the best relationships happen when both partners invest their
time and energy into growing the relationship and are open to adapting when
necessary. Then it becomes an experience that both of partners co-create; it becomes
an experience done together.

In order for you to experience a deeper, more intimate connection with your partner,
attraction and affection need to be present. Having one instead of the other can almost
determine the longevity of a relationship. Attraction is based on the sexual and romantic
desire that brought you two together. Affection is the fondness and care that keeps you
together. If attraction were the type of flowers you have growing in your garden, then
affection is the tending and fertilizer.

Once that is established, there are many ways that you can enhance the intimate
connection in your relationship. Intimacy can be divided up into categories such as
sexual, emotional, romantic, intellectual, and so on. Decide what is important for each
person and build on that. Whether you’ve been seeing someone new and are still
getting to know each other on a deeper level, or if you are with a long-term partner(s)
and looking to re-ignite the spark, the following suggestions will surely lead to a stronger
bond.

1. Open and Honest Communication to Build Trust
Communication is the key to all the categories of intimacy, and self-reflection is crucial
because it reveals your desires so that you can better communicate them.

First, explore what it is you believe you need in order to feel a deeper connection with
your partner and then learn how to voice that to them. Give them the space to voice
their needs and desires as well.

For example, when reflecting on sexual intimacy, if what you are craving is more
foreplay, more cuddles, more pillow talk, etc. then being able to communicate that to
your partner is essential. Sometimes communication can be difficult, especially in newer
relationships. If you find that to be the case, consider using a card game inspired for
opening up more intimate conversations in a fun way. I came across this card game
called ‘Connect’ and it is designed to be played by couples to discuss topics that truly
matter and which foster connection and closeness. You can purchase your own deck
online or use some of these prompts from the deck as thought-starters.
● What I really admire about you is…
● When appreciative friends discuss us, what do you think they might celebrate in
us?
● How would you like to come back together again at the end of every day?
● The trick to understanding why I can sometimes be difficult is to remember that…

For those of you whose partner(s) is a bit of a mystery, this game will give them the
opportunity to share more about themselves. If they don’t like the idea then try the other
methods for connection first.

2. Speak each other’s ‘Love Languages’

Gary Chapman who authored the book “The 5 Love Languages” came up with five
general ways that romantic partners express and experience love. Oftentimes we
assume that our partner wants to receive love in the same way that we do, and this can
lead to frustration and disappointment when your kind gestures are not as deeply
appreciated. The 5 ways we experience love are through Words of Affirmation, Acts
of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
If your partner’s love language is quality time but you are too busy working and keep
buying them expensive gifts instead, they aren’t going to be satisfied in the long-term.

3. Kiss More &  Kiss for Longer

Recreate those passionate movie kisses to build attraction and connection. A 2013
study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior reported that frequent kissing is correlated with
a couple’s perception of the quality of their relationship and specifically, the more
kissing there is, the higher levels of happiness that is reported. However, kissing can
start fading the longer a relationship goes. One study found that 1 in 5 couples don’t
even kiss at all. So, try not to forget the most powerful kissing moments you had at the
start of your relationship and make kissing a regular part of your relationship.

Kissing is commonly the first event that often takes place before engaging in other
sexual activity. It helps you decide your sexual compatibility and desire for this person
before sex and gives you both more time to build up that sexual anticipation. Be mindful
of why you kiss though because kissing that is done in order to initiate sex does not
always turn out favorably when one partner is not in the mood and would prefer to
connect in other ways. Kissing throughout the day and during sex is a sign of affection.

4. Explore sensuality without the goal of orgasm

To continue on the topic of sexual intimacy, take your time exploring each other’s
bodies and fantasies without orgasm being the only goal. By taking your time, you will
learn to appreciate each other more on both an emotional and physical level. Going
back to my gardening example, flowers need time to grow before they blossom. Enjoy
every moment of growth that brings you closer to reaching the full potential of the
relationship and your connection.

Good communication will come in handy when discussing what ways you like to engage
in foreplay and what ways don’t get you as turned on. Here are some ideas you can
incorporate into your next enhanced foreplay session:
● Try giving each other full body oil massages
● Introduce some fantasies through role play
● Experience physical closeness through cuddling and talking in the place you
most associate with sexual intimacy, without the intention of doing more.

6. Seek Advice from a Couple’s or Sex Therapist

There may be deeper rooted issues that keep us blocked from deepening our
connection and receiving counseling can reveal our own (or our partner’s) fears of
intimacy or more fully understand what is going on.

7. Form New Relationship Habits

To conclude, my final suggestion is to use all this advice to develop new habits in your
relationship. If you don’t like the way things have been flowing, then changing a few
behaviors might just improve the whole pattern.
For example, instead of jumping out of bed to take a shower immediately after sex, lay
there for a while and enjoy the afterglow together. Talk about what you enjoyed the
most from the experience to keep it lasting longer. Develop a shared morning or
evening ritual that allows you to expand upon the type of intimacy or affection you need
most.

This article was intended to reveal some of the many ways that you can use to improve
your relationship. Be creative and try what works best for you and your partner(s) while
seeking outside guidance from a therapist who specializes in sex and relationships, if
you feel stuck.

 

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Psychological Effects

Positive Psychological Effects of March Madness

The Positive Psychological Effects of March Madness

By: Melissa Fogel, Psy.D.(Psychological Effects)

That magical time of year for sports fans is just around the corner as we enter the month of March and approach March Madness. March Madness is the NCAA basketball tournament that lasts for three weeks and impacts everything from businesses productivity to interpersonal relationships.

In the month of March the amount of vasectomies performed increase by 50 percent due to the opportunity to rest and recover from surgery while watching the tournament. Besides affecting the rates of medical procedures, March Madness has a significant effect on businesses.(Psychological Effects)

In 2013 studies showed that the tournament will cost businesses $134 million in just the first two days. Approximately 3 million U.S. employees will spend one to three hours at work watching the games, and two-thirds of all workers will follow the tournament at some point during work hours.

Overall, this does not seem to negatively effect overall perspective of the tournament by employers. According to a survey by OfficeTeam, when office managers and executives were asked whether the NCAA basketball tournament had a negative effect on employee productivity, 75% said there was no impact, and 16% said there was either a very positive or somewhat positive impact.(Psychological Effects)

The opportunity for bonds to form in the workplace surrounding the tournament increase. This results from things such as office pools, discussions about the previous night’s games and team rivalries.

These bonds have been shown to build morale and inspire teamwork

Regardless of the loss or gains in business, the excitement surrounding March Madness results in psychological happiness for the fans who watch it.(Psychological Effects)

According to Daniel Wann, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Murray State University in Kentucky “Being a fan gives us something to talk about, to share and bond with others. And for the vast majority of people, it’s psychologically healthier when you can increase social connections with others.”

According to Wann who has conducted 200 studies in the past twenty years, the results are consistent: people who identify themselves as sports fans tend to have lower rates of depression and higher self-esteem than those who don’t.(Psychological Effects)

The three week tournament brings us a greater opportunity to connect with others, which is a key factor in psychological happiness. Chris Peterson, one of the founders of positive psychology states: “Other people matter”.

Many studies have shown that both the quality and quantity of social connections have an impact on our health and longevity as well as psychological wellbeing.

While the Super Bowl is a sporting event that brings both sports fans and normally uninterested parties together,

the Super Bowl is a culmination of a season and only lasts one night.

On the other hand, the tournament gives us a longer-lasting event that provides more opportunities

to participate in social opportunities and connections. And Wann states

“bonds tend to be stronger with a longer passage of time.”

Regardless of whether you watch the tournament with others or alone, this sporting

event brings about a distraction from the mundane routine of everyday life and can shift the

focus from one’s daily stressors and worries. Watching sports is appealing to us in the

same way movies are. They provide an escape to the viewers, even if for a couple of hours.

The element of excitement and uncertainty in the tournament is also a key factor leading to happiness.

The nature of the tournament; progressing as early games affect later ones leads to a

sense of excitement. Cinderella teams and big upsets provide unpredictability and

an aura of excitement throughout the three weeks.

The psychological concept of affects, or the source of emotions, is biological and remains constant. The affect of interest-excitement can motivate auras of happiness. Without the activation of excitement we can feel tired and lifeless.

Studies show that two to four percent of marriages are negatively affected when one spouse is an ardent sports fan, however being a sports fan can have a positive effect on relationships.

The tournament gives couples an opportunity to participate in an event together, be it going out to

watch the games or starting their own bracket pool.

It also can give couples time apart, with one partner being able to leave and socialize on their own.

Both these situations can positively affect a couple’s happiness.

So as March Madness approaches, enjoy the positive results to your emotional wellbeing and relationships and let the games begin.

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