Couples who seek marriage/relationship help (whether through couples counseling, marriage books or online relationship advice articles) are often struggling with the pain of being emotionally disconnected from one another. While there are many different factors that can lead to a lack of emotional intimacy, an important step in keeping your relationship healthy is to become aware of damaging misconceptions that can block intimacy.
5 Common Myths About Intimacy
(see if you or your partner hold any of them)
1. Intimacy should be a constant
This myth is based upon the expectation that feeling connected with your spouse/partner should be continuous, and that if you feel less connected to each other at times, something must be wrong. The truth is that intimacy is an ongoing process that fluctuates along a continuum of deep connection to less connection (and everything in between). Expecting and chasing an ever-present, profoundly emotional connection will only lead to disillusionment and a strained relationship.
Intimacy should be something that evolves and grows and something that you and your partner continue to aspire to, rather than a one-time destination that you arrive at and then forget about.
2. There is a one-size-fits all approach to intimacy
This myth leads you to erroneously believe that what makes your friend, neighbor and sister feel connected to their partner should also make you feel connected to your mate. Intimacy is a very unique and subjective experience, influenced by your particular needs, developmental history and history of relationships, as well as temperamental and biological factors.
The challenge is to find out what in particular makes you feel emotionally connected to your partner.
3. Intimacy is only about feelings
It is this myth that leads many men to cringe whenever they hear the word intimacy. Sharing your deepest feelings and experiences is indeed a powerful way to nurture intimacy, but it’s not the only way. One couple I worked with felt deeply connected to each other while bicycling together (an activity that involved very little emotional sharing). There are a wide range of activities and experiences that might enhance emotional intimacy in your marriage/relationship.
Try to be mindful of the diverse experiences that lead to emotional closeness for you and your partner.
4. Intimacy equals happiness
Too many couples mistakenly believe that their marriage/relationship problems stem from a failure to make each other happy. While a lack of intimacy may increase your unhappiness, feeling emotionally close and connected to your mate isn’t the same thing as feeling happy. Emotional intimacy can bring a sense of security and contentment—a stability that can help you feel more engaged and fulfilled in life.
5. Intimacy should be automatic
This myth stems from the powerful connection couples often experience early on in their relationship (when it feels like you’ve hit the intimacy jackpot). But the fact is that most couples aren’t able to keep that head-over-heels intensity alive over the long haul. If you expect effortless intimacy throughout the life of your marriage/relationship, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
The reality is that at some point in your relationship, intimacy will take some forethought, planning, and effort—but it’s important to remember that the payoff to your efforts is well worth it.
So the first step in bringing you and your partner closer together is to be sure you’re not holding on to any of the above intimacy myths (which are actually quite common). Once you move past any harmful misconceptions about emotional closeness, you’ll be more open to discovering what makes your unique relationship thrive.
Dr. Rich Nicastro