Understanding Intimacy Issues: Troubles with Eroticism and Physical Closeness in Couples
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Understanding Intimacy Issues: Troubles with Eroticism and Physical Closeness in Couples

How to Harmonize Sexual Attraction and Closeness in a Committed Partnership

Many married couples have trouble finding a happy medium between sexual attraction and emotional closeness.

Couples sometimes notice a decline in sexual desire and excitement after a few months of dating and even after years of working on developing a deeper emotional and personal connection with one another.

For clarity, let me define “eroticism” and “intimacy” as I use them in this essay before we get into the root reasons of this phenomenon.

When I talk about “eroticism,” I mean the desire to be sexual and the thrill of experiencing pleasure.

Fetishes, fancies, and kinks all fall under this category.

Also, rather than being too serious or buried in your thoughts, try letting go and having fun with sex.

To be erotically expressive, one must be comfortable expressing one’s sexuality and willing to experiment with new sexual partners.

Although eroticism and sentimentality don’t necessarily go hand in hand, they may.

The fact that sensuality is so frequently seen as the antithesis of love is a major contributing factor to the issue.

In this post, the term “intimacy” refers to a level of emotional connection between two people.

Each person has a unique intimate experience.

When you share your deepest hopes, worries, and doubts with one another, you may discover that you get emotionally close.

You may feel emotionally connected to your spouse when they help you out when you’re in a jam or when they offer you a nonsexual touch and kind praise.

Although it may be experienced during sexual contact, intimacy is not the same thing.

Many of my customers use the term “porn sex” to denote erotica.

It’s almost like a safe space where individuals who are sexual for no other reason than pleasure may try new things with each other.

Fear of “disrespecting” their spouse or expressing oneself in a manner that may lead to judgment prevents many of my clients from bringing that level of want and passion into the bedroom with their long-term relationship.

My customers have complained to me about having only had “porn-like sex” with one another, and they want a deeper, more personal connection both during and after sexual encounters.

The divide between sexiness and closeness is difficult to cross yet again.

What causes this, then?

When did emotional closeness replace erocity and sexual openness in your relationship?

How come you and your lover may have a deep sexual connection, but you can’t seem to find emotional stability?

How come one of them does not just become the other?

In my experience, there are several root causes behind the widespread problem of struggling to find a happy medium between sexiness and closeness.

1. You’ve let other things (work, housework, kids, etc.) take precedence over fostering the imaginative, sexual side of your relationship.

2. You’ve both come to believe that your relationship’s “honeymoon period” is over and that it will never be the same again. You’ve settled into the role of reliable friends, realizing that the steamy sex was simply a phase.

3. You have an irrational or rational fear of showing sexual and/or emotional weakness.

4. You have no concept of how to be sexually open or erotic; you have no notion of what your sexual needs or wants are, and the whole idea of exploring such things may terrify you.

5. You don’t become orgasmic or feel much physical pleasure during sex, but you do it to please your spouse and feel loved by them.

6. You and your partner have trouble starting sexually focused talks.

7. You have no self-assurance.

8. You are experiencing personal stress and/or feeling overwhelmed.

9. You and your spouse are not emotionally intimate with one another, or you are so emotionally close that you allow little opportunity for physical closeness to grow.

10. You have trouble opening yourself emotionally to your lover.

11. You find it hard to trust others, give up control, or show emotion.

12. You have no concept of what it’s like to be physically and emotionally close to another person since you’ve never had that experience.

There are likely more factors at play, but this list should get you thinking in the right direction.

If any of these seem familiar, you may be wondering, “Now what can I do to fix it?”

A good place to start would be to calm down and tell yourself that you’re OK.

Since both sex and emotions are nuanced, it may be difficult to find a happy medium between sexual sensuality and emotional closeness.

It’s challenging to trust someone with all of our weaknesses.

Scary stuff!

Consider the following questions to get started:

1. For me, what does sex symbolize?

2. For me, what does emotional closeness mean?

3. When I look back on my life, I want to know what lessons each stage taught me about the sex roles expected of me based on my gender (Childhood, adolescent years, college life, “love” partners, etc.)? Who or what is behind these transmissions (Family, faith, friends, lovers, classmates, cyberspace)? How true are they to what I really think?

4. How should one define “sexuality”? Do you have any unfavorable feelings about this?

5. What does it mean to be “emotionally close?” Do you have any unfavorable feelings about this?

6. Where do I usually go mentally while I’m having sex? Am I in the here and now or mired in my own self-doubt and/or thoughts? Why?

7. Do I give it my all during sex because I think that’s what my partner wants or needs? If that’s the case, how may it be affecting my capacity to be honest in my sexual interactions with my partner and myself?

8. Do I know my sexual preferences? Do I feel uncomfortable when I give expression to these feelings?

9. How do my doubts and inhibitions affect my sexuality?

10. Can I figure out why my relationship has altered if the sexual honeymoon phase has ended?

11. When you’re having sex with my partner, do you also feel emotionally close to them? Is it so, and if not, why not?

12. Write out what you want from a sexual relationship, both from yourself and from your partner. How many of them are stressful enough to make you anxious or make you want to avoid them completely?

13. Is there anything about sex that bothers me? Does it, and if so, how?

Once you’ve taken the first steps toward self-awareness, you’ll be in a better position to assess any obstacles you have and plot a course toward greater sexual and emotional closeness in your relationship.

In the end, it’s all about being vulnerable, irrespective of your own personal vulnerabilities, concerns, and/or beliefs.

Vulnerability is the foundation of many of our habits, defenses, and safeguards; therefore, I write a lot about it.

It drives us, unconsciously, to avoid situations in which we may have to face it head-on.

Once we uncover our vulnerabilities and are met with love and care, we may experience a profound sense of safety and security.

Although it may seem like an impossible task, being vulnerable is necessary in order to bridge the gap between closeness and sexiness, since both demand openness on your side.

It is impossible to be vulnerable if we are not open.

There can be no erocity in sexual encounters if neither partner is willing to risk revealing their feelings.

Intimacy and emotional exploration are impossible without a willingness to be vulnerable.

The first step is to focus on communicating our fears, assumptions, and hopes for the relationship openly and mindfully.

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