How to Fix Intimacy Issues: A Step-by-Step Process
When it comes to how to fix intimacy issues, one of the first things to realize is that intimacy can mean many different things, depending on who asks the question. To make matters worse, most people hold a limited, if not flawed, definition of intimacy. So, before we can answer the question, before we can define a personal and practical approach for how to overcome intimacy issues, we have to understand the actual experience you desire when you think of intimacy.
When you get clear and very conscious of the specific ways you feel a lack of intimacy – your kind of intimacy – then, and only then, can we understand how to fix intimacy issues – the ones in your world.
This is where the question gets even more interesting, and sometimes more complicated. First, not everyone facing intimacy issues has a partner. Intimacy issues arise during dating as well as in committed relationships and if you are in a relationship, both you and your partner may be saying “we have intimacy issues in our relationship.” However, your statements may mean two totally different things.
Let’s unpack this a bit.
How to fix intimacy issues: The two hidden questions
If you Googled the question, how to fix intimacy issues, you could have one of several very different pictures in your mind, which is why we said, you need to know what intimacy means to you first.
For those in heterosexual relationships, you might also benefit from an exploration, “What does intimacy mean to a man?” and “What does intimacy mean to a woman?” because the answers can be quite different.
While none of the following stands absolutely true across the board, we will tend to see common perspectives in men and women or in feminine beings and masculine beings.
Women, or more particularly feminine energy people, tend to think of intimacy from their heart. They long for closeness, deep sharing. Ultimately, although often not consciously, they seek unity or the end of separation. Feminine beings tend to think in terms of emotional intimacy and and physical closeness – touch, cuddling, affection – but not necessarily sex.
When many men, or more specifically those with a predominate masculine energy, think of intimacy, their mind more often forms images of sex and lovemaking. Those with a masculine sexual essence frequently think of sex and intimacy as one and the same. Which means that when masculine beings hear words like “I’m longing for intimacy” from their partner, their first thought isn’t likely to be cuddling on the couch by candlelight or talking about the love they feel; yet, that might be exactly what their feminine partner desires.
Can you see the problem here?
How to bring intimacy back into a relationship
Let’s break this down…
Once you begin to get conscious of what intimacy means to you personally, developing a deeper understanding of the depth and breadth of possibilities for intimacy in romantic relationships will help you more effectively understand how to fix intimacy issues in your relationship.
Intimate relationships, by definition, have a quality of closeness, connection, and even unity. That closeness and unity can happen even when the two people aren’t having sex. Of course, while physical and sexual intimacy matters in a lasting romantic relationship, and it can certainly deepen and enhance the quality of intimacy, it is not required for a profoundly intimate connection.
Intimacy means that you let another see into you. If another person is being intimate they offer you a window into themselves. In other words, when someone is being intimate with you, they reveal their inner being, their inner world, to you. Sometimes that includes the physically naked body, but it also includes the naked heart.
The cosmic joke of all relationships, especially heterosexual ones, is that the masculine gets to the heart through the body and the feminine gets to the body through the heart. Which means both partners can easily feel and experience a lack of intimacy. While the masculine tends to find affection and emotional intimacy through sex and the feminine tends to access sexuality through emotional connection and affection. Hence, many couples repeatedly have the sex vs affection debate (or argument.)
So, again, not to be redundant, but to be perfectly clear, any way we approach overcoming intimacy issues, we must consider both the masculine and feminine perspective in our approach.
How to overcome intimacy issues: Setting the stage
Whether you’ve recognized that you feel a lack of intimacy, you suspect your partner has intimacy issues, or want to know how to get close to someone with intimacy issues, the process is the same, with one critical caveat.
No matter the motivation, when you want to know how to overcome intimacy issues in a relationship, you must know that you cannot change another person. While you cannot help them get over their intimacy issues, you can, however, be a supportive presence as they discover how to fix intimacy issues for themselves – in their own way, in their own timing. Your opportunity is to be a role model with your own open embodied relationship to intimacy and you are encouraged to find safety within yourself to be intimate even when they are not. (Then be careful not to unconsciously expect, or even demand, that they follow your lead.)
Because authentic intimacy requires vulnerability, if you push, the person you are pushing, or strongly encouraging, will, in all likelihood, be less intimate. They will close instead of open.
You want to focus on your own intimate expression first. You want to be intimate. It’s a setup for disappointment if you wait for your partner to get intimate first or to try to make it “equal.” When you want to understand and master how to get close to someone with intimacy issues, the most important things you can do are…
1) Be intimate yourself
2) Create a space where they can feel comfortable being vulnerable
3) Do not push
How to overcome intimacy issues: The detailed steps
Remember that in our process of overcoming intimacy issues we want to include and embrace as many different types of intimacy as possible. The more ways you can connect intimately, the deeper and more profound the union. This means that we do need to embrace and include both masculine and feminine perspectives on intimacy, to create a fulfilling relationship for both partners.
The 9 Steps
These steps are laid out sequentially and, in general, following this order will allow you to set a foundation and then build upon it. With that being said, you will need to revisit the first few steps repeatedly as you build your intimacy with intimacy.
- Understand your personal “definition” of intimacy. As we explored above, your definition of intimacy may be different from the definition held by the one you love or the type of person you want to love. Get to know what intimacy has meant to you historically.
- Identify your primary sexual essence: Are you more masculine or feminine? Understanding your own natural and innate masculine and feminine energies will help you more effectively understand your perspectives, approach, and needs for differing types of intimacy.
- Expand your definition of intimacy. With the understanding of how you have viewed intimacy, combined with knowing your masculine or feminine sexual essence, use the resources here or elsewhere to develop a fuller and more complete definition of intimacy and all of its dimensions. This will lead to a richer and more fulfilling experience of intimacy for you and your partner, or future partner. Additionally, when you understand how the type of person you are attracted to might view intimacy differently than you, you will likely begin to drop judgment and misunderstanding, while developing more compassion and appreciation for their intimate desires.
- Identify your personal fears of intimacy. Because intimacy requires vulnerability in revealing and exposing ourselves to another, we naturally, in the process of learning how to fix intimacy issues, come up against all of our fears. We might fear rejection or abandonment if we are authentic. We might fear being too much or too needy. We might fear getting hurt or being judged. We might have body image patterns that create a fear of intimacy. Any of these fears or avoidances will create significant barriers to intimacy, and to love for that matter. Begin to work through your fears, so that you can find comfort in opening and being seen.
- Unite heart, mind, body and spirit. The richest, deepest and most profound intimacy unites heart, mind, body, spirit and soul within ourselves and then unites those with our partner. Some believe that we can have profound physical intimacy without opening our hearts, without having emotional intimacy. Yet those who know, know that in a romantic relationship, emotional intimacy without physical intimacy is only so good. And, physical intimacy without emotional intimacy only goes so far. The best love and intimacy unites all parts of ourselves, within, between, and beyond our bodies.
- Get comfortable with physical and sexual intimacy. If we are going to unite all aspects of ourselves, it is necessary to look specifically at how we relate to physical intimacy and the barriers or blocks we have to it. Be especially conscious with, and attentive to, this one. In our passion and sexuality retreats, while some participants arrive knowing they want to overcome physical intimacy issues, many others arrive thinking they’re pretty open when it comes to sexuality, only to be shocked at how much they also limit their full sexual expression.
- Develop your emotional vocabulary. In the same way that many are surprised to discover they have barriers to sexual intimacy, many are also surprised to find out they are not as emotionally available and open as they thought they were. Emotions are the language of intimacy so developing an emotional consciousness will serve your relationships well. Yes, your sex life will improve when you have an emotional vocabulary to express yourself intimately and understand your partner’s emotional heart.
- Talk about it. Simply put, talk about intimacy. Talk about your fears of intimacy. Talk about your desires for intimacy. Be a part of a community that talks about intimacy. Talk with your friends and most importantly talk about intimacy with the one you want to share intimacy with. Because intimacy is exposing and hence vulnerable, too often our discomfort gets in the way and this is one of the biggest reasons intimacy issues don’t change. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to change what is hidden. Bring intimacy into the light of love, and immediately you’ll begin to know more intimacy. It really is that simple.
- Go slow. Be gentle. Again, we can’t say it enough, intimacy requires vulnerability. Do not push. Do not push yourself or your partner. Be kind, it takes time – and courage – to open, especially after a long time of being closed. It takes time to trust when we haven’t trusted in a while. Overcoming intimacy issues is one of those places where we need to go slow to go fast.
Be a safe space – with kindness, gentleness and compassion – first for you as you discover how to fix intimacy issues in yourself. (Remember, you first.) Then when you are being a support for another, as they attempt to overcome intimacy issues within themselves, be a conscious, patient, and non-judgmental container for them as well.
Getting intimate with this thing called intimacy and becoming skillful in its expression and embodiment will serve you and your heart well. It will serve the happiness, passion, and sustained love in your romantic relationships.
Intimacy, practiced well, will take you to the edges of ecstasy and beyond.
Since 2006, highly conscious men and women, with a commitment to extraordinary relationships, have chosen Ecstatic Intimacy to find and cultivate Soul Partnerships from their bedrooms to their boardrooms. Ecstatic Intimacy believes in coveted relationships, for all.
You too, are invited…
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.