The Most Common Physical Intimacy Issues and How to Overcome Them
No matter how compatible the partners, any long-standing, soulful, romantic relationship will face physical intimacy issues during the relationship. Period. Full stop. It’s not uncommon to start facing them in the early weeks of dating, sometimes even the first time we make love, or the first time we intimately touch.
As the relationship progresses over the years and decades, partners will usually face physical intimacy issues and even a lack of physical intimacy, repeatedly. That does not mean the relationship has a problem or isn’t solid. Sexual desire ebbs and flows through life naturally. Problems only occur when one or both partners ignore or deny real issues.
Acknowledging, talking about, and exploring the myriad of physical intimacy issues that can show up for men and women alike, for anyone, indicates a growing, depending and expanding relationship, not a failing one.
As you’ve likely heard before, soulmate relationships, divinely attracted relationships, have challenges and conflicts by design. Soulmates relationships support both partners in evolving their souls. That means the relationship must, by design, bring to light everything that obscures or limits the full soul expression of either partner. This includes bringing up all the resistances, conditioning, and fears either partner holds when it comes to physical love.
Recognizing physical intimacy issues
Before we can resolve any challenges that arise in a relationship, we must actually identify the issues and recognize how they play out in each partner, and in the relationship. In our retreats and programs we call this “bringing the unconscious conscious.” And what those who have experienced dramatic improvements in their relationships and physical intimacy, know is that simply when you bring the unconscious conscious, change happens – automatically.
Yet, so many of us hold conditioning, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, that drives us to deny the issues we face, especially physical intimacy issues. Yet, that very denial, that avoidance, exacerbates the issues ten-fold, if not more. And the truth is, when there is no physical intimacy in a relationship, both people know it, whether they are discussing it or not.
Bottom line, while intimacy is more than physical, physical intimacy in a relationship matters. A lot. And, because it holds such an important space in lasting, happy, satisfying relationships, your ability to recognize and acknowledge when physical intimacy issues arise matters as well.
As you consider your intimate life, you might wonder, what are the effects of lack of physical intimacy in a relationship? The list is long. Distance, heartache, unnecessary upsets and arguments, falling out of love, the friend zone, unhappiness, depression, muscle tension, illness, breakup, divorce, just to name a few.
Because we know it matters, because we know the lack of physical intimacy is costly to both partners and the relationship, let’s consider some of the most common physical intimacy issues and how to identify them.
- Fear of intimacy and fear of physical intimacy – Any fear of being seen or exposed – physically, mentally or emotionally – for any reason will block most opportunities for even the most fundamental of the types of physical intimacy.
- Lack of self acceptance – If we do not accept ourselves as we are we often struggle with self-confidence and insecurity, both of which are needed for truly fulfilling physical intimacy. Any form of self-judgment limits our availability for intimacy – physical or otherwise.
- Body image – A specific form of self-judgment. If we don’t love and accept our bodies as they are, if we don’t love and accept our partner’s body as it is, truly intimate physical love will be challenging at best.
- Past abuse or trauma – Any residue from past experiences of inappropriate or disrespectful physical interaction can make opening to physical intimacy challenging.
- Body function – At times in life, not all of our parts of our bodies will operate the way we want them to. They may not feel the way we want them. These body experiences can create frustration and discomfort. With support and good communication, even whether a couple can still enjoy incredibly fulfilling physical intimacy
- Chasing orgasm – Expectations and attachments to your own orgasm or your partner’s orgasm will block the flow of pleasure within you and between you. Orgasm is not an indicator of performance or ultimate pleasure.
- Lack of foreplay – The feminine in particular, and the female body, need more attention and more time to come to full arousal. If this fact is consistently ignored, physical intimacy issues will arise because, to function well, to experience genuine pleasure, the feminine body must be awakened first.
- Always expecting intercourse whenever you touch or cuddle – Sometimes touch or cuddling needs to be just that. Especially for the feminine. If a feminine being believes that, if she allows any physical touching, that she must offer intercourse, she will typically close down to all types of physical intimacy.
- Lack of polarity – Physical intimacy, and even the non-physical types of intimacy, offers the most pleasure when both partners can sense an underlying tension, polarity, or attraction dynamic between them. Without this polarity, interest in physical intimacy will fade and usually leaves one partner tired of initiating intimacy.
- Lack of trust – When either partner in a relationship feels like they can’t trust for any reason, that lack of trust will always make physical intimacy more difficult. The intimacy, vulnerability, and exposure that creates ecstatic pleasure requires trust.
- Differing Needs – If we have a relationship built on sexuality polarity created through masculine and feminine energy differences and dynamics, the partners will inherently have quite different needs. If we don’t take the time to understand these needs and consider them in our approach to physical loving, we will not just face, but create physical intimacy issues.
- Religious / Family / Societal Conditioning – Our beliefs, values, and perspectives form as a result of those we spend our growing up time with, from those who teach us right and wrong, or at least their perspective on right and wrong. And, if we have desires or turn-ons that don’t fit with our conditioning it creates inner turmoil that shuts down our full engagement with physical intimacy.
- Shame / Embarrassment – Combining our conditioning with our beliefs and expectations about what is good, right, normal, weird, appropriate or inappropriate can significantly limit our access to physical pleasure. If we believe our sexual desires, turn ons, or even actions make us “bad,” we lose access to our authentic sexuality. If we try to avoid any embarrassing moments, we won’t be able to let go into pleasure.
- Expectations – Goals and expectations simply don’t mingle well with physical pleasure. Expecting yourself or your partner to “perform,” expecting them to behave in certain ways or expecting that you or your partner need to orgasm for your lovemaking to be “good” will become turn offs in short order. Accumulated turn-offs over time become physical intimacy issues to resolve.
- Prioritization – If a couple or one partner in a relationship doesn’t, or can’t, make time for physical intimacy, the relationship will suffer. And, quite often it may seem like one partner is less interested or won’t prioritize physical intimacy. Yet, also quite often, the other partner lacks an understanding of, and doesn’t contribute to, what the other partner needs in order to have the time, energy and arousal necessary for satisfying physical intimacy.
- Exhaustion – Related to prioritization, a lack of genuine self-care limits our ability to feel inspired for or aroused by physical intimacy. Quality lovemaking requires quality self-care. If self-care feels challenging for one or both partners, your relationship’s sex life depends on helping each other get your true self-care needs met.
- Stress – Stress reduces libido in men and women. Sustained or chronic stress will inevitably become a physical intimacy issue in and of itself.
- Inexperience – Inexperience itself does not create physical intimacy issues. However when inexperience creates shame or embarrassment, it does become an issue. Hiding inexperience serves no one. The greatest passion happens in honesty, transparency and vulnerability.
- Emotional intimacy issues – Shocking to some, if a relationship has emotional intimacy issues, you can almost bet that relationship also has physical intimacy issues. Great ecstasy unites heart and sex, emotion and pleasure.
- Resentment – The piece de resistance, the #1 physical intimacy issue, eludes most long-term couples. If a couple has incomplete, unresolved upsets, or unspoken feelings between them, there will be a lack of physical intimacy in the relationship. It’s that simple. This is typically the biggest reason most couples stop having sex and, it usually has absolutely nothing to do with what happens in the bedroom.
There’s hope and it’s not about sexual technique
Notice that physical intimacy issues have nothing to do with sexual technique. Contrary to popular belief, problems in the bedroom aren’t caused by inexperience or lack of knowledge (unless, as we said, you deny that lack of experience). It would be the extremely rare couple that resolved their physical intimacy issues by learning sexual techniques.
With that in mind, seldom will you find a relationship impacted by just one of these physical intimacy issues. Challenges may start with one particular issue and when not addressed right away, over time, one issue will lead to another, until you face a complex set of intertwined issues – some related to physical intimacy and many that aren’t.
The good news is that even if your relationship has suffered for years, if at least one of you has a willingness and commitment to work through the issues, you can reverse the effects of a lack of physical intimacy in a relationship.
Although it’s common to feel overwhelmed and even hopeless, you can absolutely work through physical intimacy issues. It actually happens all the time. With that being said, most couples, when the issues have been around for more than a few weeks, need education and support through communities, workshops, and/ or an unbiased third party.
And, more than anything, it’s important to remember, our conditioning often makes it difficult to admit and, even more so, discuss our physical intimacy issues. However not discussing them will cost you much much more – physically, emotionally, mentally, and even financially when you don’t resolve them with little delay.
How to overcome physical intimacy issues
Though we want to respond to issues promptly, resolving them doesn’t happen instantaneously, even if we hope for the magic formula. Resolving them does require a willingness, but that willingness (even in just one partner) is all that is needed to get started. And, as we mentioned above, it actually only requires the willingness of one partner in the relationship. When one person changes, when one person shows up differently, then the relationship dynamics must unfold differently.
Where do you start?
- Get honest with yourself that you’re facing intimacy issues.
- Stop all blame – of yourself or your partner. The challenges are no one’s fault.
- Honestly, with an open heart, feel into your own personal answer to the question “How important is physical intimacy in a relationship?”
- Learn more about intimacy dynamics, what is masculine and feminine energy, and how to have a conscious relationship.
- Consider attending a workshop or working with a coach or therapist.
- Take it ONE step at a time. It took time to get here, it will take time to recover… and slow and steady wins the race.
*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.