If You’re Struggling With Intimacy, These Steps Can Help You Rebuild

Sometimes, in relationships, we experience communication breakdowns. Conversations are hard, tension is high, and you feel less of an attachment to your person. The incapability of talking about it and how to be intimate again can end a relationship. But when we say intimacy, we aren’t solely referring to the physical aspects of a relationship (which may be halted due to issues like vaginal dryness or erectile dysfunction). No, we’re referring to the emotional side, the attachment that comes from connection. Attachment that is born from a foundation of friendship, trust, and care. 

So, how can you practice emotional intimacy with your partner and find your connection again? We have suggestions.


What is Intimacy?  

We often think of intimacy as the same thing as sex, but it’s actually something much more complicated. It can involve a closeness, understanding, and appreciation of another person. It’s about forming a deep relationship based on care, interdependence, and mutual trust. Intimacy often involves a level of commitment to one another related to the understanding that you have with each other.  

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Based on the level of intimacy that you’re willing and able to foster in a relationship, you may have what you might consider a more casual relationship as opposed to the more deep and well-developed intimacy that’s been evolving over 10+ years. Although it doesn’t happen overnight, being intimate may involve a safe space for exploring past histories, dreams, desires, traumas, and fears. These are some ways you can be emotionally intimate:

Listen to Music 

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Music has the power to calm, entertain, and coax a person into a more intimate frame of mind. Why do you think so many people use music to get themselves and their partner into the right mood? You might also remember when your mom or dad sang you lullabies, which is why you probably associate nurturing, caring, and safety with musical melodies.  

After a stressful day, it can feel like heaven to sit and listen to music with a partner. It’s intimate. It’s wonderful, but it also calms your mind and allows you to just enjoy one another’s company. When you listen to music, words aren’t always necessary as you allow the music to wash over you. 

Hold Hands  

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It’s one of the first signs of being intimate and feeling close in a new relationship, even when we’re kids or young adults. Just because you’ve since grown closer does not mean that those earliest signs of affection should end. It may not seem like a particularly intimate act, but the physical touch triggers the release of oxytocin (the “love” hormone). It just feels good to be intimate in this way!  

Holding hands can make you feel wanted, loved, and appreciated. Furthermore, it’s a public statement of a relationship as you walk down a road or path, but it’s also a sign that you’re in sync. You’re walking side by side, without one person walking ahead or behind. Studies also show that this form of being intimate can also alter your perception of pain, anxiety, and stress. 

Talk About It 

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Open communication is the key to a good relationship! So, whether you like it or not, you need to talk about your relationship. But here’s a question…have you ever had a frank and open conversation with your significant other about how you feel about each other, where you see the relationship going, and what you need from each other?  

It’s not always easy to be so open and honest with another person, even someone you’ve known for a long time, and that’s also why communication is often cited as a reason for the end of a relationship. You both need to be willing to risk saying what you really feel, so you can grow closer together, but ALSO so you can give each other what you BOTH need most. 

Stimulate Your Brains 

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There’s more to your significant other than just their body or physical appearance. It’s likely you’re attracted to their brain as well (at least, for intimacy purposes, let’s hope so). Stimulate your brains while enjoying each other’s company as you put together a puzzle, complete a crossword, or play a board game like Chess or Scrabble.  

It can also be fun to read together, alternating who reads the book, or to attend a lecture together. It’s fun to visit a museum together or explore other cultural activities. It’s so easy to get into the habit of work and home that those activities that you both enjoyed have fallen by the wayside. Your relationship should not be predicated on misery or discontent — if you have a hard time making conversation, perhaps it’s because you haven’t enjoyed intellectual stimulation together in a while.

Cook Together 

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Why do you think couple’s cooking classes have become so popular? They’re a great way to explore new cuisine options, spend time together, and enjoy great food. Cooking is one of those utilitarian functions that often leaves one person in the relationship cooking most of the time, and feeling under-appreciated. 

By sharing the cooking experience, you learn so much about each other. You’ll hopefully learn to share more time in the kitchen at other times as well, but it can be a great way to expand our culinary preferences, while enjoying each other’s company. 

Write Love Letters 

There’s the old saying about “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” It can be very true, but only if you take steps to foster intimacy. Have you ever read a love letter from a significant other, or even maybe one from a famous person? Love letters can be full of longing and sharing. It’s an intimate way to tell the other person everyday experiences, thoughts, dreams, and everything in between.  

If you have a hard time talking about your feelings, a love letter is a great way to get all your thoughts and emotions out there on paper, without fear that the other person will judge you. The best part about love letters is that you don’t have to be hundreds of miles apart to send them to each other. Use them as a tool to show appreciation, cheer each other up, or just tell your love that you are thinking about him/her. 

Have Patience

The goal in fostering intimacy in a relationship is not to make each other miserable, so if any of these ideas just won’t work, think about WHY they don’t work. Is it not your thing? Or maybe neither of you is at a place where you want to be that open and vulnerable with another person, even someone you really care about and want to spend time with.  

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It’s ok to be leery of your own vulnerability. Most of us have been hurt more than once when we’ve tried to open up and be ourselves. We sometimes associate being intimate with pain and uncomfortable embarrassment. It sometimes seems like it is easier to fall into the throes of passion. It’s harder to talk about what you BOTH need and want, and how you feel.  

Here’s the thing, too…just because you want to be intimate with your significant other doesn’t mean he/she is ready to reciprocate. It could be that it will take time and honestly, it’s not always possible to achieve the level of intimacy that you want with another person. We get to a certain point in life when we must accept the fact that we’ve all been hurt.  

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We have emotional scars that are sometimes difficult (or even impossible) to overcome. True intimacy must be a shared experience. It’s not something you can force on another person, but you can get help from a counselor if you’re both willing to try.  


Which activity do you enjoy the most, as a way to achieve intimacy? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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