2 Ways To Cultivate Intimacy In A New Relationship

One of the most common issues or challenges couples come to me with is that of maintaining intimacy, & not just sexual intimacy, in long term relationship. One of the easy ways of reducing challenges in the future is to lay a solid foundation at the very beginning of a relationship; here are two ways I'm suggesting you can do that.

Very often in the early stages of new relationships, or the rekindling of old ones, we are so excited and happy to simply be together that we don't think, or even want to think, any further into the future than the blissful state of ecstasy and/or limerence that we're feeling at that time, however, there are things we can do in those early stages that will consciously support a deepening of intimacy that may support an emotionally richer & more sustainable relationship (assuming that's what's wanted by everyone concerned) in the long term.

1. Share Vulnerabilities
It may feel counter-intuitive to share things about yourself that make you feel vulnerable with someone new, but, vulnerability is key to intimacy. Vulnerability shows us that this person we are connecting with is 'real' and human, just like us, that they are not perfect on a pedestal, and, perhaps most importantly, that they are willing to trust us with a piece of information that's important to them or to show us a side to them that may result in rejection; they are taking a courageous emotional risk & this is something to respect.

Of course balance is advised, it's undesirable to share every detail of every single awful thing that's happened to us or every insecurity we have, this will, and should, make our new love-interest run a mile as it indicates that perhaps we are looking for a therapist or friend rather than a lover who's our equal, that we're looking for someone to collapse into, someone to dump our worries onto, someone to carry our emotional burdens for us rather than share life with us as a partner, it indicates that maybe we're not emotionally healthy & therefore emotionally available to another person.

The key here is to share a vulnerability while still being someone who isn't needy, someone who doesn't need their partner to 'fix' this issue or challenge, it is simply being shared as a way to see more deeply into each other with no expectation nor demand. It is held lightly & let go of easily. If we are the kind of person who 'dumps' our worries & concerns & shares information about all the terrible things that have happened in our life in the early stages of a new relationship then perhaps questioning what the purpose of a relationship is for us and if it's the right place for that, would be useful.

Sharing vulnerabilities in the early stages, maybe one that feels like a risk every two or three dates, is a great way to see if your new person is trustworthy, for example if they then share this information with others on Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter then that's a clear indication that your sharing has not been appreciated & held in the trust & respect that it deserves - turn around, walk away & don't look back!
Equally, if the other person does not share any of their vulnerabilities with you after several of your sharings then it's time to ask yourself why you're investing in this way and they are not; equal investment is another key component in happy, healthy & sustainable long term relationship.

2. Take Sex Slowly, Really Slowly!
People have sex in new relationships at different times in the life of the relationship according to their own religious, moral & social reasons. For some, sex before marriage is a 'no-no', for others they'll happily, and with no guilt, have sex on a first, & maybe only, date. It's my belief that neither is 'right' nor 'wrong' but what you're looking for from the connection should influence & inform how you engage with each other sexually, including how quickly.

If you're looking for a longer term relationship, or, you don't yet know what this connection will turn out to be but you're open to the possibility of long term relationship, then my suggestion is to slow sexual connection down, to slow it way down, like much further down than you thought possible!

I'm not going to say it should be date 7 or 20 or not until marriage, the amount of time is up to you & what feels authentically right for you. What I am going to suggest is having more conversation about sex & your attraction to each other before having what feels like 'sex' to you. I'm going to suggest exploring the sexual chemistry between you in a way that allows you both learn, at a comfortable pace, what the other likes as a way to both deepen intimacy & connection while also keeping the sexual tension fizzing!

I've learned a lot about sex, sexuality & human relationships in 32 years of professional work in the field and one of the most important things I can share with you is that often, very often, people jump into 'having sex' with each other before even know what sex means to the other person, or even themselves! 

What is 'sex'? what activities or experiences, to you, equal ''sex''? This is not the same for everyone & how can we be in sexual relationship & connection with someone when we don't know this fundamental thing about them, when we don't know what sex & sexual experience means or represents to them?

''How do you like to be touched?'' is a question I encourage clients to ask their lovers. It's met with a wide variety of responses from an incredulous ''what?!'' to ''I don't know, no one's ever asked me that before'' to ''anything, anywhere!'', but none of these are of much use or value when it comes to knowing how to pleasure a partner or how to ask for what we would like. Give your partner the gift of knowing yourself & knowing what you enjoy so you can share that with them.

Equally, ''I would love if you......'' or ''I love it when someone.....'' can often also be met with confusion, sometimes annoyance even, as it's not necessarily something many people feel comfortable saying to a new lover, or a lover one has been with for some time but never expressly voiced what is wanted. We don't want to bruise our lover's ego, however, we also both want sexual experiences to be mutually satisfying, enjoyable & hot, right? right! So know what you want & ask for it in a way that is sensitive to your lover's experience, which may be significantly different to yours.

Take time to explore kissing, feel the tension & arousal build, hold that tension over days or weeks, feel it grow & allow it simply be there without need to 'take it further'. If your new person isn't able to hold that tension or to respect your boundary then there may be serious questions to ask about their ability to respect all your boundaries & to have a mutually satisfying sexual relationship.

You have time, what's your hurry? If you're building relationship, long term relationship, then those kisses & learning what you both enjoy, the tension of 'waiting', will still be there weeks from now, that said if you're solely looking for a sexual experience, go for it! but if long term relationship is what you're after then I invite you to take your time, slow down, enjoy the fresh discovery of each other's bodies, likes, dislikes & the conversations where you learn about your experiences, desires, dislikes & values. You only get to begin like this once, savour it!

Ask each other what 'sex' means to you, what constitutes 'sex', what do you enjoy & not enjoy, how important sex is in a relationship for you, what about orgasm? What does it mean to you if someone doesn't orgasm? Is orgasm the purpose of sex or is it about connection & pleasure, both, something else? Do you feel like sex hasn't been good if you don't orgasm or if your partner doesn't? This isn't about people pleasing, far from it, it's simply about understanding the different sexual languages we speak & the different sexual landscapes we occupy so that you can both be better informed & the connection between you strengthened. I guarantee that the other person's answers will not match yours 100% - this is important information to ensure mutually pleasurable connected sexual experience. 

We can't undo sexual sharing or experiences with each other, we can't wind back the clock, often first times together can feel awkward, sometimes there's alcohol or maybe other drugs involved that numb the physical senses & the emotions, but we can reduce that awkwardness by taking things slowly, really slowly, and discovering each other's bodies playfully & pleasurably in the process, this will help create a foundation of intimacy, real intimacy, in the relationship, emotional & sexual, whether it's lasting or not, that can be built on in the coming days, weeks, months & years.