10 Secrets To Cultivating Sexual Intimacy In A New Relationship
Intimacy to a relationship is like breath to your lungs. When we think of intimacy, we think physical touch and sensual pleasure — and we should. What not everyone realizes is that intimacy needs to start from a foundation of intrinsic value. That leads you to a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other.
So, how do you create that feeling of closeness when your relationship is new?
I tell my clients to focus on creating the perfect blend of safety and risk. Make it safe enough to be vulnerable and let go, and just risky enough to be exciting.
I know, this might leave you feeling panicky — I recommend creating a safety net first. Make sure you have support and trust before taking these risks.
Intimacy can be built only once we feel safe.
The first ingredient is trust, which requires emotional attuning, cultivated through meaningful dialogue. Trust can be built and broken in everyday conversations. Especially with our fast-paced lifestyles, it's not uncommon to end up with misconceptions in a new relationship — especially when we're stressed and trying to communicate at a shallow depth.
It becomes easy to unintentionally send damaging messages like, "I'm too stressed to deal with you" instead of engaging in raw and soulful conversations. This will feel risky but will help solidify your emotional bonds and lead you toward feeling a sense of closeness. Here's how to start building that intimacy.
Remember that intimacy is the opposite of fear.
When you feel safe enough to be vulnerable, you can step past your insecurities and connect on a soulful level. In the overstimulating, high-speed world we live in, we're culturally forced into a seemingly limitless barrage of superficial chatter. While small talk is harmless but effective in maintaining an amicable work environment, this nonstop superficial conversation is toxic to intimate relationships. We're so used to small talk that we sometimes don't know our partner at all.
While remaining open to whatever happens, we should speak our truth moment by moment, even if it means changing our minds.
Once you've established a way to continuously foster trust through meaningful dialogue, here are 10 simple strategies to create intimacy in new (and old) relationships:
1. Balance challenge and support.
Speak to the best in each other. If you're like most people, you have a scared, angry, vindictive, or lazy side that limits the quality of your relationship. Fear doesn't need to run your relationship. Instead, operate from the best in you, bringing forth the part of you wanting a better relationship. P.S. This is where the best sex of your life comes from.
2. Develop an attitude of gratitude.
Focus on how grateful you are for the considerate things your partner says and does. Happy partners make a point of noticing even small opportunities to say thank you rather than focusing on mistakes.
3. Test the water before you dive in.
Craving deeper, more open communication with your partner? Work on becoming a self-aware and nonjudgmental listener. Once you've tested the water and found it to be safe, practice being vulnerable and open — discuss your fears, share personal stories, and divulge your dreams and desires. The more you do this, the easier it gets.
4. Practice being sensual without being sexual.
Sleeping naked next to each other forces us to engage in a small amount of daily skin-to-skin contact. It's a great (and a really fun) shortcut to more intimacy.
You can also feed, bathe, or massage each other. Try listening to your partner's heartbeat, dance in the kitchen, or surprise your partner with a hug.
Eroticism occurs in the space between self and other. If we're depleted, we'll never feel desire.
Schedule play dates with your partner(s). The only goal is to have fun! This means no serious discussions or talk of work.
I know it's easy to say we're being spontaneous, but it can make a world of difference if you let yourself relax and enjoy the playful side of sex. Remember, there's no right or wrong way to have sex, and no one's grading you.
6. Embrace your entitlement.
This one might surprise you. Desire is bound up with a healthy dose of entitlement and deserving. If you're shy in this area, you likely struggle with a lack of healthy entitlement and probably find yourself focusing on others' needs before your own. What do you need to feel awesome?
7. Put your phone away ...
... for a little while. I repeatedly tell people in relationships if they simply put their phones away and turn their attention toward each other, they might notice they actually want to enjoy intimacy and sex. Today, we have access to everything on our mobile devices — emails, Pinterest, and Facebook-stalking … the list goes on. I challenge you to ban phones from the bedroom. Stop snooping on what everyone else is doing and focus on your own relationships.
8. Stay connected to the most important person of all — YOU!
Not wanting to let people down can make us afraid to say no. It's important to step back and stay centered — looking after ourselves first. Eroticism occurs in the space between self and other. If we're depleted, we'll never feel desire.
9. Prioritize what turns you on.
Don't be afraid to talk about what pleases you and what you want to try in the bedroom! Once you've talked about it, try it. People worry about whether they're weird or abnormal. In reality, there are no rights or wrongs when it comes to sexual pleasure; as long as there are consensual adults and no one is harmed, go for it.
10. Make eye contact.
The ability to look into another's eyes and hold their gaze shows you're comfortable enough in your own skin to be able to share a moment with another person. Intense eye contact often leaves us feeling vulnerable, and it's a powerful way to connect with your lover in a nonphysical way. It's a skill requiring courage and intense presence because it shows you're invested in your partner and can be trusted.
I know I'm just scratching the surface when it comes to cultivating intimacy in a new relationship, and these are just a place to start. The best guide is the one inside you — it knows what you want.
How have you created intimacy in a new relationship?
Kelly McDonnell-Arnold is a certified sexologist, individual and relationship therapist, masters level registered social worker (RSW) and registered psychotherapist (RP). She is the cofounder of Sexology International and runs Bliss Counselling. She received her double undergraduate degree in psychology and sociology with honors from Wilfrid Laurier University, after which she pursued a master’s degree in forensic sexology at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia. She has completed additional training in EMDR Therapy and holds a certificate in sex therapy from the University of Guelph, and finally a master’s of business administration with a specialization in healthcare administration from Niagara University. Kelly is passionate about providing ‘sex-positive,’ fresh, and reliable sexology information in all its complexity (but in a simple-to-understand message), empowering others to explore and own their sexuality.