The 6 Most Common Enemies of Intimacy in a relationship
… and why it’s not too late to defeat them.
In the beginning of an intimate relationship, new partners strive to give it all they can. They want to love deeply, give from their hearts, and for their partners to express themselves similarly in return. They are very careful to practice those behaviors that keep their lovers close and intimacy strong.
Sadly, as their relationship matures, new behaviors all-too-often erode the love they’ve created. As more time goes by, two people who once felt loved and treasured now feel distant and unsafe to each other — and suddenly, they realize their in a relationship without intimacy. And very often they don’t even realize how they’ve gotten that way.
Identifying and recognizing these six behaviors is the first step to healing, but it is only the beginning.
It takes commitment and hard work on the part of both partners to stop these enemies of intimacy from undermining their positive feelings towards each other along, with a mutually sacred promise to keep these behaviors at bay in the future.
The following examples illustrate what a partner senses when each of these behaviors happen. (Either partner may be the first to notice them, so I’ve alternated between male and female genders.)
Here are 6 ways you and your partner could be ruining the intimacy in your relationship:
1. Disconnection: You’re increasingly distant and keep pulling further away.
Remember that man who couldn’t get enough of you? He dropped everything when you needed him and turned his attention to you immediately.
Nothing else took precedence over your desires, no matter how small. He kept a list in his mind of anything that was important to you and made sure it was available even before you remembered yourself.
But over time, things changed. Now, he’s often preoccupied with matters that clearly come before you and the relationship. Yes, you can still get his attention but it takes work, justification, and presenting your needs at “just the right time”.
He tells you that he feels terrible when he forgets an important date, and you are supportive. Yet, those times you don’t feel central to his life anymore are increasing.
You don’t want to seem needy, but you’re feeling more and more neglected and sometimes ignored completely.
Where is that guy who put you first no matter what? He tells you that he still loves you, but he’s just not available the way he was. You can’t pretend anymore. He is definitely more disconnected.
2. Dissing: You’re super critical about every little thing your partner does or says.
That amazing, compassionate woman you fell in love with now seems like someone you can’t please anymore. You try to talk to her about things you’re upset about, and she responds by telling you that you’re being too reactive, or preaches about what you could have done differently.
When you try to get her in the present, to care and to listen, she flips it and tells you that you’re in the wrong for wanting what you want. It seems that you can’t do anything right anymore.
She finds fault where she used to give support, and then challenges your responses by telling you that you’re being oversensitive.
When you ask her what’s wrong, she says it’s nothing and accuses you of being overly concerned. When she wants you, she is very seductive and engaging, but it’s less and less often, and you definitely do not like the direction this is taking.
3. Domination: You’re using intimidation and domination to get your way.
He was so exciting when you first connected — a really take-charge guy who could handle anything that came his way. He was protective of you and so confident. The best of testosterone in abundance, he swept you off your feet.
You, of course, completely adored and supported the way he felt and acted. Yes, he probably didn’t take any prisoners when challenged, but you saw that as a plus. No one could defeat him or get in his way, and he did it all with a charming edge.
After the honeymoon waned a bit, you realized that you didn’t always agree with him and sometimes wanted or thought something that he didn’t like. If anything didn’t work the way it should, there was only one good guy, and it wasn’t likely you.
It was great when you were on the same team, but as an enemy he’s merciless. On top of everything else, he sees nothing wrong with his behavior and fully expects that you’ll still love him the same way when it’s time for sex.
4. Mistrust : One of you is being secretive about your true feelings.
She had a lot of relationships before she decided you were the one, and she was very convincing when she agreed she was yours forever. Lately, though, she’s telling you some half-truths that don’t always add up.
Where she was so transparent and offering of herself before, now she avoids some of your questions and gives you answers that leave you wondering.
She’s still very warm and sexually available, so maybe you shouldn’t raise unnecessary concern, but there’s this nagging voice in you that wonders if you’re missing something.
You keep trying to put the pieces together in a way that feels more secure and puts your doubts out of your mind, but you also aren’t a fool.
She adamantly denies any wrong-doing, but you’re wary. Maybe people can change. When you gently ask her if she’s bored with you or the relationship, she swears that nothing has changed. It’s her intense voice that seems a little defensive.
5. Same Old, Same Old: You’re not sharing anything new with your partner.
At the beginning of your relationship, you couldn’t say anything that he didn’t find fascinating. You were pretty hyped at his great sense of humor, his innovative ways of looking at things, and his amazing intuition.
You stayed up all night, talking endlessly when you weren’t making love. There was never a moment in which you weren’t transfixed by his way of looking at the world and it seemed as if it would last forever. You lived in a mutual world of constant discovery.
You remember the first night he told you the same joke. It seemed a little odd that he didn’t notice your laugh was a little strained. As time went by, he did and said so much you’d heard before.
As the repeated stories became increasingly stale, you tried hard to find reasons to excuse them. Maybe it was just career battle fatigue or secure familiarity that made him stop trying to keep you interested and challenged. You even playfully tried to help him see that he was getting a little too predictable, but it didn’t seem to help.
He acknowledges that you are happier exploring new options, but says he’s really fine the way he is.
6. Diminishing Nostalgia: You’ve abandoned your shared memories.
When times were a little hard in your past, she would always remind you how important it was to hold on to the things you loved about each other and the great memories from the past.
She would make you focus on the delicious moment when you first chose each other, and share those feelings as if they were happening in the moment.
Once, when there wasn’t enough money in your mutual bank account, she found that special book you loved as a child. You’ll never forget her funny, squeaky laugh when she found the puppy in the middle of the bed that you’d seen at the pound.
She knew you didn’t have a mom to nurse you when you were sick as a kid. At the slightest mention that something was not quite right, she’d immediately take care of you no matter what she had to let go of to do so.
She always made you feel that everything would be okay, even when the situation seemed irresolvable. Now, she doesn’t seem to want to go there anymore.
She’s only focused on what’s missing and why the future isn’t brighter. No matter what you do to lighten the moment, or to bring back nostalgia, she is all about the practical, how to just fix what’s wrong, and then get on with it.
You often find yourself alone in your sweet memories and unable to get her to experience them with you anymore. You still love each other enough but wonder how you’ll keep regenerating when things don’t go as planned if you can’t hold on to what was once sacred.
Even just one of these warning signs can signal a relationship that is in trouble.
Intensity, frequency, and duration are further dimensions. You may experience several of these behaviors simultaneously, but they happen rarely, last a short time, and are far apart.
“In between” commitment, love, and regeneration fill your relationship. If that is so, you have no reason for concern. If, however, even one of them is happening over and over and increasing in intensity and duration, it sometimes is a stronger indication of an underlying problem.
The earlier you are able to identify a partner who is disconnecting more often—finding fault with many of your behaviors, increasing his or her need to control, acting in suspicious ways, living in old rituals and patterns, or forgetting the sacred things you share—you owe it to each other to bring those behaviors to light and ask your partner for help.
When you are courageous enough to face these warning signs of diminishing intimacy before they get out of hand, it will be easier for you and your partner to turn things around.
Intimacy is the act of living in the heart of your beloved.
When relationships move from intertwined to parallel, that bond weakens. But it doesn’t have to break. If you and your partner become aware that you are losing the intimacy that once fed that bond, you can change your behavior and bring back the closeness you once treasured.
Dr. Randi’s free advice e-newsletter, Heroic Love, shows you how to avoid the common pitfalls that keep people from finding romantic love and how to avoid the dreaded “honeymoon is over” phenomenon.
Related Video: Physical Intimacy And Aural Energy
Become a Contributor at The Minds Journal
Written by Randi Gunther
You may also like:
- 10 Signs You’re Stuck In A Dead End Relationship, Even If You Love Your Partner
- 3 Common Relationship Complaints You Should Never Ignore
- 5 Signs Your Relationship Is Already Over and It’s Time To Let Go
- How Technology Is Ruining Marriage And Relationships
- The #1 Way to Avoid Contempt in Your Relationship