Every connection requires work and attention to stay strong. The cracks appear long after the problems first arise. Ask a couple about lack of closeness and they probably can’t pinpoint when it all started. It might even feel like one day they were a team but the next day, there was a distance.
Of course, the reality doesn’t have to match the feeling. The reality is more likely a slow withdrawal of sorts. We’re not looking to lose closeness but we may not even be aware of the behaviors that lead to such an outcome.
How Does Intimacy and Closeness Fade?
The reasons vary as widely as the individuals in each relationship. Yet, there are some almost universal patterns that can be identified and — hopefully — avoided. For example:
Life gets in the way: From jobs to kids to running a household, everyday life can slowly eat away at the quality of your intimacy.
Tech distractions: It’s now a stand-up comedy punch line. No one talks anymore. We just stare at phones. But there’s really nothing funny about it.
Underlying resentments: On some level, you may really want to touch and get closer, but there’s so much baggage in the way. To your partner, this can feel like coldness or even rejection and thus create an ongoing and unexamined cycle.
Poor communication: Your communication muscles atrophy without practice and use. Healthy, productive communication is a process, not a destination.
The good news is that couples with a strong foundation and a desire to grow and improve can take steps to reclaim their connection.
5 Ways to Overcome Your Intimacy Issues
1. Commit to Better Communication
As mentioned above, this is a major part of staying close. Building a sense of deep, respectful, and trusting communication opens the door for conversations that may now feel impossible.
2. Rethink How You See Closeness and Intimacy
From everything from pop culture to the spread of Internet porn, we’ve developed a skewed idea of what intimacy looks and feels like. Each of you can make a list of what turns them on — not just sexually but also sensually. Everything from eye contact to playful nicknames to holding hands and cuddling can ramp up the closeness as much or more than getting naked.
3. Create Tech Ground Rules
The smartphone and social media problems are not going to solve themselves. This requires planning and commitment. Set rules and enforce them. Mindfulness creates closeness. Stay present with your spouse.
4. Schedule It, If You Have To
If life has you overwhelmed, get out your planner and schedule some couple-time. Sure, in theory, it’s way sexier to be spontaneous but how’s that working out for you? What starts out as something that requires scheduling may become more natural over time.
5. Resolve Underlying Issues
Creating a weekly date night is awesome but it won’t fix a relationship if deeper issues exist. Be honest with yourself and your partner if there are concerns that get in the way. Don’t hesitate to seek help in the form of couples counseling.
You Don’t Have to Reinvent the Wheel
Intimacy issues aren’t new and rarely require a revolutionary new approach. But that doesn’t automatically mean we know where and how to start.
Fortunately, you have couples therapy available to you. Counseling is a proven path toward creating, strengthening, and rebuilding relationships. You get to work with an experienced and unbiased guide as you explore “what went wrong” or more likely: How can we do better? In fact, the act of committing to regular sessions together is, in itself, a way to create closeness.
Don’t take intimacy for granted. Ask for help and be ready to work. Isn’t your relationship worth it?