Love Coach: Does your Blackberry get more attention than your partnerdoes? Ten Steps to a More Intimate Relationship
Have you always wondered what you would need to do to have a more intimate relationship? In this post, the Love Coach tells you what to do.
1: Find Common Interests and Pursue Them Together
The seven-year itch, the witching hour when couples are said to lose interest in their relationship, isn't necessarily a myth. Nip the boredom bug before it bites by sharing experiences together. What common interests do you have? These experiences not only increase your closeness because you're actively engaging in an activity together but they also give you a shared history, and if you're lucky a few inside jokes.
2: Laugh Together
Laughter is contagious, and when we hear it, our brain automatically wants to get in on the action. we naturally mimic the gestures and facial expressions of those we talk to, a trait that is now also thought to include laughing. We laugh when we hear a funny joke, when we play, when we're tickled … but laughing isn't just an indication we think something is funny. It's also one of the ways we bond with other people. Laughter is universal and a social lubricant, so go ahead and see that new mr bean movie on date night -- not only will your laughter boost your mood, but it just might boost your bonding.
3: Be Supportive
Physical and emotional support: Sharing and listening as well as hand holding and hugging
Esteem: Offering self-esteem boosts and confidence
Informational: General advice-giving.
Tangible: Helping with additional responsibilities or problem solving
The trick is to supply the right kind and level of support as needed -- and to watch out for too much informational support. No one likes to feel they're being told what to do. Everyone has a different idea of the perfect amount -- and type -- of support. So, be sure to let your partner know what type and how much fits your bill -- and listen to what he or she tells you about the support you provide
4: Accept Unconditionally
It's easy to get into a relationship with the idea that you'll be able to encourage your partner to change -- just a little -- to be closer to your ideal. But that idea isn't usually realistic or very fair to you or your partner. On top of that, the little projects you have in mind, like getting your partner to get a haircut, become a fan of your favorite band or stop wearing those awful shirts, are an obstacle to intimacy.
Acceptance goes hand-in-hand with encouraging another person to share the most intimate details of his or her self: hopes, dreams, goals, feelings and personal history. Your partner needs to feel confident that you'll accept and appreciate all those thoughts and feelings, not dismiss or make fun of them. And the same goes in reverse: Your partner should accept your thoughts and feelings, too.
Of course, there are times when change is necessary and important, like if you want to become thriftier so you can save up enough to buy a house, or if you or your partner's habits are causing health problems. But even then, your work should be based on trust and acceptance rather than criticism and judgment.
5: Be Emotionally Available
When you aren't emotionally available to your partner, you're withholding the intimate details of your life: the very opposite of what you should be doing to build a more intimate connection. What comes along with that is a decreased feeling of appreciation and value -- that specialness that comes along with an intimate relationship -- on your partner's behalf. After a while, that can have detrimental effects not only on emotional intimacy but also on sexual intimacy as well. Make it a priority to share the daily details of your life with your partner, such as what's going on in your work life, as well as your secrets. Sharing the feelings and dreams that are unique to you shows your vulnerability as well as how much you trust your partner to accept the real you.
6: Pay Attention
Being emotionally, mentally or physically intimate with a partner begins with listening to what he or she is saying and paying attention to his or her actions. It sounds simple, but it's not. To properly pay attention, you need to tune everything else out ... from your work stress and to-do list to your thoughts about what you'd like for dinner. Tune out your personal immediate needs, and then listen.
Active listening means being attentive, not thinking about what you'd like to say next. Look your partner in the eye. Be silent while your partner is talking, and when you do speak, be courteous and reassuring.
7: Be Spiritual Together
Sharing your faith -- either a specific religion or general feelings of spirituality -- with another person opens life in not only a secular way but spiritually as well. A belief in a specific higher power isn't a requirement: On its own, a shared life philosophy can help build a connection to something greater
8: Be Physically Affectionate
Being physically affectionate not only feels good, but it also triggers our bodies to increase the amount of oxytocin produced. Oxytocin is often affectionately knownas the "love hormone" because of that feel-good effect, but it also helps to promote a monogamous romantic relationship. And physical affection isn't limited to sexual intercourse -- even small gestures like holding hands or hugging count.
In addition to oxytocin, sex also increases the level of a specific neuropeptide -- a molecule in the brain that helps regulate areas such as learning, memory and reward -- called arginine vasopressin (AVP), which also facilitates bonding with your partner. Both substances play an important role not only in promoting intimacy between you and your partner but also in socialization skills.
9: Maintain Eye Contact
The eyes are the window to the soul -- or is it that the eyes are the window to intimacy? When you gaze into the eyes of your partner from across the table, you're doing more than just being attentive in the conversation: You're being intimate.
Eye contact is a key component to how we socialize with other people, and it's one of the most important pieces of creating an intimate relationship, romantic or otherwise. Known as the "anchoring gaze," face-to-face, eye-to-eye communication is a subtle, non-verbal way of making yourself vulnerable to another person. Eye contact shows trust and emotional openness, and it also increases our feeling of being understood by another person.
10: Be Present When You're with Your Partner
Using a cell phone while driving can be dangerous -- but according to a study conducted at the University of Minnesota, it may also put your family relationships at risk Here's why. Using your cell phone may seem like no big deal, but it can make you less available to your partner. When you're multitasking -- driving and talking on the phone, for example -- you're not focusing on the conversation and are unable to pick up on important social cues, which can lead to misunderstandings and a partner who is left feeling emotionally isolated and hurt. You're not present with your partner. You're dividing your time between the phone, the road and the conversation. To build and maintain intimacy, choose one thing at a time.
So, think about it. Does your Blackberry get more attention than your partner does? Do you reach for it despite the fact that you're sharing a meal with your spouse or good friend? Do you bring your BlackBerry to bed? If so, you may find that unplugging gives you more attention to devote to your relationship.