Being a part of a couple does not always guarantee the feeling of intimacy.
It is a complicated matter that most of us struggle to understand and even to experience. So, it is worth it to see what the experts have to say on the topic.
How does intimacy look like? What are its main components? Here is a checklist to explore that might be helpful:
First, intimate partners have extensive personal, often confidential, knowledge about each other. Favourite foods, color preferences, family issues and all the details of the other’s lifestyle are things we might be quite familiar with. Knowing someone deeply is one of the important signs of intimacy.
Depending on someone else is what scare many people from entering into a serious relationship. But it is also indicative for the degree of closeness in a couple. Intimate partners take each other’s plans into consideration, they compromise schedules and preferences in order to reach a consensus. Having your life intertwined with that of someone else means affecting and influencing what the other person does and how (s)he feels.
It seems obvious that to be intimate with someone you have to care for her. But sometimes it is that particular element which fades away in long term relationships and compromises the quality of intimacy in the couple. We never actually overcome the need to be cared for. It is primal and it is the closest affect to love.
Trust is not only about obstaining from adultery. In intimate couples trust is about being sure that the other would not ever hurt you intentionally. You can risk being vulnerable with your partner and retain the feeling of basic safety.
As the expert on intimate relationships, Rowland Miller, from Sam Houston State University, writes:
” Intimacy increases when people believe that their partners understand, respect, and appreciate them, being attentively and effectively responsive to their needs and concerned for their welfare. Responsiveness is powerfully rewarding, and the perception that our partners recognize, understand, and support our needs and wishes is a core ingredient of our very best relationships”.
As close ties develop in the course of love, people start to sense their personality is ovelapping with that of their partner. The famous shift from ”I” to ”us” begins to take place and it is a sign of the connection growing stronger. The inclusion of Other in your Self is one of the bravest gestures of intimacy. It means allowing to be changed by someone else and for the sake of someone else.
In order for an intimate relationship to last, it takes the time and efforts of both partners to make it work in the long run. The Romantic idea of love which happens on its own once you have found Mr(s). Right is outdated and unsupported by both science and experience. It is investing your resources daily and not taking the other person for granted that will help your couple thrive.
You don’t have to obtain everything on the checklist for intimate happiness to be present. Love comes in different shapes and colors, of course, but it is helpful to keep in mind what it takes to sustain a long-term relationship.
Miller, R. S., Perlman, D., & Brehm, S. S. (in press). Intimate relationships (4th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.