All relationships at one point in time have complications and intimacy issues. Fixing these complications would be the smart and right thing to do for a healthy, happy, successful relationship. However, many people resist and put off communicating with their partner about their problems which can lead to your intimate relationship struggling. Through personal experience and as a certified sex coach, I have coached hundreds of couples on intimacy issues and how to fix them.
1. Lack of trust
The number one intimacy issue that I have noticed from coaching clients is the lack of trust in a partner. Many times, people don’t see the harm in telling white lies which leads to bigger white lies, and before you know it you get caught lying or maybe cheating.
Losing trust in a partner is especially crucial when it comes to orgasm. Many times, women can only orgasm and fully let go if they trust their partner. Now, do you see why a lack of trust in a partner is the most acute intimacy issue?
Many clients say when a partner is dishonest they are less likely to be intimate with their partner. The reasoning, being intimate and having intercourse makes you open up and be vulnerable and share a part of their body with them. Many people feel if a partner is not being honest with them then they do not want to open up to their partner physically. If this issue is preventing you from being intimate it is highly suggested that you communicate your feelings about the dishonesty that is occurring in your relationship.
A previous client stated to me: “I love when my husband helps out around the house but I hate how he cleans, I am afraid to let him know because I think he will stop cleaning and I will have to do it.” This scenario is more common than you think, however she was not being honest with herself. She was appreciative when her husband attempted to clean but she was not satisfied with the outcome. As a result, she was unable to orgasm with her husband because she was not being honest about how she really felt.
3. Lack of communication
Your partner can’t read your mind; we have to rely on them to communicate with us their wants, desires, needs, and feelings. By sharing what is important to us, we have a higher chance of our getting our needs met. Without communication one partner typically feels shut out.
One might think that by now inventors would have learned how to make communication easier and for the most part they have. From writing electronic letters and sending messages to cellphones you may think communication has gotten easier. However, technology has actually made communication in a relationship more difficult and there is an increase of problems in relationships. First of all, if you are communicating through technology such as a cellphone through text or email, the person on the receiving end does not know the tone you are trying to use. Not only that but many things can be misconceived which can lead to even bigger intimacy issues. Let’s use “I want to talk to you later” as an example. Some may conceive this as something negative and maybe think the breakup conversation is coming but maybe it was something great like a promotion at work, or something remarkable that your child did at school. Bottom line, set aside time to talk to each other.
4. Poor listening skills
Did you know there are two parts to communication, one communicating and the other listening? There are many different levels of listening. Many people listen to what we will call level one listening, where the awareness is on ourselves and we typically listen to other people and interpret what we heard on a level of what it means to us personally. Another level of listening is when we are listening but we are thinking of how we are going to respond which leads us to miss information someone is telling us. For example, say your partner is venting about her best friend and you heard similar stories a billion times and you automatically come back with “she is such a bitch” or “this is the same old story, why are you even friends with her.” Typically, after the comment, one person feels like they weren’t even heard or really didn’t want to hear the comment or advice.
Many times, in relationships one partner has a bad day and wants to vent or let’s say there is an issue with a family member or friend. Before bringing up a conversation if you want your partner to listen to you without feedback, saying something along the lines of “I really need someone to just listen and not give advice right now. Can you be that person?” This sets the stage for someone to just listen and you feel heard.
5. Desire to change people
You don’t have to like everything about your significant other but trying to change your partner into something you want them to be could make your partner feel like you do not accept them for who they are. Most people need to feel accepted to be intimate on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. I commonly see couples where one person is introvert and the other is extrovert. It is extremely common where one partner says “I wish he/she would get out of the house more, get more friends, find a hobby” or a big one “I wish they would go get counseling for their depression or anxiety.”
From 11 years working in mental health, I can tell you people do not change, unless they are ready to and the more a person pushes someone to change the more they will not change. I agree that sometimes people need a little nudge or someone to plant the seed but being annoying about something is not going to get you anywhere especially if the person does not want to change. The more you want to change someone the less they are likely to open up and be intimate. My question to you, if you are trying to change someone why are you with them?
A romantic relationship has two people involved. You need to have a healthy balance between your partner and yourself. For a healthy relationship, both partners should take into consideration the following: feelings, needs, desires, and wants of each other. Decisions about money, routines, free time, children, etc. should include your partner’s input. Nothing ruins a relationship more than one person making all the decisions based on what they want and not being open to compromise. Typically, I find if one person is self-centered, they are self-centered when it comes to sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is about giving and receiving. If you are all about receiving and not giving I can promise you this will become very old to your partner very quickly which results in being less intimate.
7. Lack of respect
To respect means to hold a high opinion and high value of yourself or another person. If there is a lack of respect for your partner or yourself, chances are your intimacy in the relationship is suffering. Respect can be lost for a variety of reasons, one major one is behavior. For example, many women come to me and tell me how their partner calls them names such as bitch, stupid, slut, etc. They say that their partner apologizes but continues to say these harsh words.
Mistakes happen and sometimes we say things we don’t mean. However, if you continue to do this, why would your partner want to jump in bed with you? Don’t expect to get respect if your actions do not warrant respect.
8. Absence of touch
Being physical is one part of intimacy and can be very important in a relationship. If you do not like being physical, this is a conversation that needs to happen with both people before committing to a serious relationship because for many it is a deal-breaker. You can still be physical without intercourse. Some physical forms of being intimate include: hug, kiss, hold hands, etc. Being physical with someone typically brings on feelings of warmth, safety, and love. Let me be honest for a second, without physical touch all you have is a friendship.
9. Unhealthy arguments
All relationships have disagreements, how you handle those disagreements will have an impact on your intimacy. Unresolved arguments, physical or verbal abuse will destroy intimacy rapidly. Learning how to respectfully and healthily resolve arguments will lead to being more intimate.
A former couple that I coached, would constantly argue. They would start to scream at each other and the wife would walk away when she knew it was getting too intense. The husband on the other hand kept pushing the subject not respecting her boundaries. This leads her to not feeling safe and not wanting to be intimate.
It is important to realize when too much is too much. Know how you are going to handle an argument, meaning walking away before it gets out of hand. Never argue with someone that is under the influence. I personally use a safe word when my partner and I need to stop talking about a situation and we walk away and finish the conversation at a later time when we are both calm.
10. Imbalance of power
A couple is a team. In a team, people are typically seen as equals. If one person feels more important than his or her partner this will cause an imbalance of power in the relationship. This doesn’t mean one isn’t smarter or knowledgeable in certain topics or has greater strengths. It means the difference is not disrespected by one partner. Having a balance of power means there is an equal say and the feelings of each person are equally important.
There are going to be many situations that occur in your relationship and it’s how you and your partner handle it that is going to have an effect on your intimacy. If you feel your intimate relationship is struggling and want to change before it leads you or your partner to end the relationship, you may want to put seeking a certified sex coach or therapist on your to-do list.