If after months of working, eating, breathing, and desperate with your partner you’re feeling more like roommates than lovers, you may need to focus on your intimacy, says Dana McNeil, licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of The Relationship Place.
Sexual and emotional intimacy makes you feel connected to another person. This is how we measure whether we are in a satisfactory relationship. Without them, you can feel alone, unsupported, or like your sex life has lost its spark. It’s normal to go up and down, especially in the face of the 2020 dumpster fire. When you are stressed, your body focuses its energy on dealing with this threat and diverting the power from everything else, including the brain.
“The brain is an erogenous zone, and without the ability to access these intimacy tools, the desire, sex drive, and ability to work lovingly with your partner will go out the window,” says McNeil.
However, having strong emotional intimacy is critical to mental health as it helps us feel safe when we are stressed, adds Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., director of the Intimacy Institute in Boulder, CO. Studies also show a lack of intimacy is a leading cause of divorce.
For now, skip your instincts: men often initiate sex to feel emotionally connected. But in a straight relationship, if a woman doesn’t feel that bond, she doesn’t want to be physically vulnerable, McNeil explains. This makes everyone feel more alone.
Instead, you normalize listening and sexual intimacy follows. Skyler suggests playing “crazy, sad, happy,” with the two of you sharing one thing that stirs each of those emotions. It can be a sentence or a rant. Remember that while men are very solution-oriented in conversations, your partner may just need someone to listen – so ask what they need.
Either way, quit what you’re excited about – studies show that gratitude increases relationship and relationship satisfaction.
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