Have you ever experienced a strong attraction (good chemistry) toward 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. The 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 a 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.