Most of us understanding that intimacy is all about sharing yourself with another individual on a personal level. Intimate relationships revolve around physical, intellectual, and emotional interaction. For some people, the act of intimacy comes naturally. For others, it can trigger uncomfortable thoughts that impel them to proceed with caution. When a relationship suffers due to internal or external factors, it gives way to intimacy issues that lead to emotional and physical health problems.
Some of the intimacy issues arise when couples feel the urge to be more emotionally connected. On the other hand, many problems take root when partners try to be more comfortable in their skin and take the required steps to be physically intimate and affectionate with each other.
Regardless of the origin and severity of the problems, there are always ways to figure out the common intimacy issues a couple might encounter. Once these complications are surfaced, you can work out a plan to acknowledge the tough spots in your relationship and work through them together.
However, before we start discussing the usual intimacy problems and come up with strategic plans to resolve them, let’s talk about how the fear of intimacy can obstruct a relationship unknowingly:
The Fear of Intimacy
The fear of intimacy is defined as the tendency to avoid situations where a person has to share a deep emotional or physical connection with another being. This urge to avoid intimacy emerges when a person starts feeling that a strong link between two people can sabotage their relationship. Understanding and overcoming the fear of intimacy requires time and patience. It can stem from several factors, including specific childhood traumas, history of abuse and neglect, or loss of a parent.
Even though the fear of intimacy is closely intertwined with the fear of vulnerability, both concepts are distinct. Someone living with a fear of intimacy might be comfortable while being vulnerable to their trusted friends and family members. However, the actual problem starts showing its signs when a relationship begins turning too personal.
Three Causes that Relate to Fear of Intimacy
The fear of intimacy may generally relate to past childhood and teenage life experiences. Still, they impact the decisions you make for your relationships solely based on present-time circumstances. Here are three leading causes that develop the fear of intimacy in a person:
1- Fear of Abandonment
People who are afraid of their partners abandoning them don’t allow themselves to connect with others intimately. This fear of abandonment usually takes root when a parent or an incredibly important figure leaves a person, causing them to suffer from severe distressing emotions.
2- Fear of Engulfment
The people who have a fear of engulfment are afraid of being dominated by others. They fear that once they allow themselves to be intimately connected with others, they may lose track of their personality. It doesn’t let them indulge in an intimate act, emotionally or physically. This fear typically stems from growing up in a toxic family.
3- Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is another significant factor that makes people afraid of change, judgment, and rejection. While they may have several friends to speak of, they may not connect with any of them on an intimate level.
Even though the fear of intimacy causes a massive impact on relationships in several cases, it is not the only possible reason when a relationship suffers. Many times, the issues arise because of a lack of communication or trust between couples.
All relationships have their ups and downs, yet many couples manage to successfully jump through the hurdles together as they learn to strategize and develop coping plans for all situations.
Intimate Relationship Issues
The key is to tackle your relationship’s everyday problems before they get out of hand and start complicating other parts of your life. Here are some of the significant intimate relationship issues and what you can do to resolve them capably:
Most of the relationship problems stem from a lack of or poor communication. It has become increasingly challenging in this modern age to make time for others, especially when a relationship is going through a rough patch, and you’d rather ignore it. It is a common sight to see couples sitting together in restaurants engaged with their cell phones rather than taking advantage of that opportunity to talk with each other.
Communication is the first step towards understanding your partner’s beliefs. Unless you know what your other half is going through, you can’t truly be a part of their lives in the ways that matter.
Resolving the Issue
Here are some pointers you can use to resolve the communication issues hindering your intimate relationship:
- Make an appointment with your partner as you do with a therapist. Make sure you select a time when all the house chores are done, and the kids are asleep.
- If you can’t seem to talk to each other rationally without raising your voices, select a public spot to talk. Being in the public eye will force you to behave within limits, so you don’t embarrass yourselves.
- Keep your mobile phones on silent mode and let the voicemails pick up your calls.
- Set up some rules beforehand. For example, you are not to interfere when the other person is speaking.
- While your partner tries to make a point, don’t stop them from using phrases like ‘you always do that,’ as it will compel them to filter their thoughts. You need an honest, raw explanation of each other’s behavior, so it’s better to accept all statements with an open mind.
- Use body language to show your partner you are intently listening. Nod in-between and keep eye contact at all times.
- Once the point has been made, calmly discuss your concerns and emotions. Understand each other’s side and then come up with neutral-ground solutions. Ask what you can do for each other to make it better and then work through it.
Even couples who genuinely love each other can be a mismatch, sexually. Times are changing, yet the self-awareness and educational aspects regarding this topic are not clear to many adults, let alone teenagers. This aspect of an intimate relationship should not be lost as it essentially releases hormones and welcomes a better physical and emotional health for both partners.
Most importantly, it keeps the chemistry thriving between a couple, leading them to a healthy and successful intimate relationship.
Resolving the Issue
To resolve your sex life, you need to develop a plan that works for you and your partner. Here are a few strategies you can implement to get to the factors that may be causing you troubles:
- First of all, educate yourself properly. Take a few sessions with a sex therapist who can help you both address and resolve your issues.
- It’s also essential to change things from time-to-time. The surprise factor may help you both realize the things that have been previously missing in your relationship.
- If you have kids, you can ask your friends or family members to help you out with them on some nights. You may already do that before, but if you want to work out the physical intimacy issues with your partner, you will need to use that time more creatively through pleasing them rather than catching up on house chores.
3- Job and Money
Career and money problems can sometimes start even before you exchange the wedding vows with your partner. While many people can afford the wedding expenses and kid’s tuition fee, not everyone has got their life planned to a T.
Several couples suffer because of this issue, as they don’t think it’s important to discuss seriously. However, job and money-related issues start affecting their lives constantly and usually leads them to break apart.
Resolving the Issue
Here is what you can do to improve your intimate relationship with your partner while opening up about your career and financial breakthroughs:
- Be honest about your current financial circumstances from the start. When you are open about these factors, no unrealistic expectations are set into place.
- Don’t hide your income or the debts you owe to others.
- After marriage, construct a joint account that includes savings for future purposes.
- Split the house bills beforehand, so both parties know what they are responsible for, and it doesn’t come off as a surprise later.
- Plan your short-term and long-term goals. It is alright to have individual goals, as each person has a different set of priorities to tend to.
- Allow your partner to have healthy independence by setting aside money that they can use on themselves.
Trust is one of the essential factors that contribute to a loving, intimate relationship. If certain aspects drive you to doubt your partner, it is a clear indication you have some unresolved issues to deal with as soon as possible.
Resolving the Issue
For earning back trust in a relationship, it is essential to follow some helpful tips that don’t lead to negative notions. Here are some of them:
- Stay consistent with your tasks and make sure to execute each plan as you said you would.
- Don’t lie to your partner, not even when it hurts them. When you become 100% honest with your partner, there is nothing that can break your relationship.
- Refrain yourself from overreacting when things don’t go according to your plan.
- Be fair to your partner in all life matters.
- Avoid saying things in anger that you can’t take back.
- Respect your partner’s boundaries, and don’t dig up old wounds.
- Never be jealous of your partner’s accomplishments.
- Even when you disagree with your partner’s point of view, don’t be insensitive about their beliefs.
- Always be a good listener.
5- Priorities and Conflicts
Relationships should not stop being a focal point once you say ‘I do.’ Keeping your priorities straight is a given and making time for your family comes at the top of that priority list. Conflicts are also part of all intimate relationships that keeps you from moving forward, once left ignored.
If you start feeling like your relationship is getting toxic and losing its value, it is high time to sit down and talk with your partner in a civilized manner.
Resolving the Issue
Here is what you can do to overcome the occasional conflicts and make your relationship a constant priority:
- Do things that you used to do when you started dating.
- Show appreciation and complement each other every day.
- Never play the victim. Relationships require mutual work, and you are always the one in control of your actions and reactions.
- Plan date nights and show interest in each other’s life.
- Show respect for each other. Rather than arguing for the sake of payback, rationally discuss the matter for the sake of conclusion.
- Apologize when you are wrong. It goes a long way for breaking the ice when your partner makes a mistake the next time.
6- Everyday Struggles
Most couples work jobs and handle house chores simultaneously. In this case, you need to divide the labor at home fairly. Many intimate relationships go south when things are not planned as they should.
Resolving the Issue
Here are some pointers on how you can prevent your relationship from everyday struggles:
- Write down the jobs of each person and assign the tasks justly, so no resentment builds.
- Be open to alternate solutions if you both hate doing house chores. For example, hire a cleaning agency and a lawn maintainer to take care of the major tasks.
- In case you hire home chores companies, share the bills equally.
The Bottom Line
Even though there are always going to be problems in a relationship, it doesn’t mean you can’t minimize the factors that affect it badly. Be realistic about your relationship but never take the element of fun out of it. Use humor where you can and learn to let go of things that don’t matter in the long-term. That’s the key to maintain a happy, healthy, and wholesome intimate relationship.
There’s Nothing Wrong with Some Extra Help
Stop listening to everyone else, there is nothing wrong with seeking confidential help to save your marriage or relationship. If you find yourself stuck in the same rut with your partner, despite following the above steps, do not lose hope. All of us need a little extra help sometimes. Having a mediator or third person can vastly help diffuse the situation.