12 Ways to Build Intimacy in a Romantic Relationship
Most people at some point believe that real-life love should look like the fictional relationships we see play out in movies, television shows, and books. We think our romantic relationships aren’t measuring up if we don’t experience that type of fairy-tale connection. But relationships are not romance movies.
Maybe that’s why we keep meeting frogs.
As many women do, I dated a lot of men before I got married. Throughout my 20s and early 30s, I had a fairy-tale notion of what true love would look like. I believed that all would be well in my life if I met my perfect prince, and we would together live out our happy ever after.
I did end up marrying my prince. But he’s also human. He has issues and faults just like everybody else has, regardless of how wonderful he is.
At some point, I had to grow up and learn to release my false expectation of finding true happiness through romantic love. Yes, it was a letdown to discover that no knight was coming to rescue this damsel in distress. Sadly, that’s a myth.
But look at it this way: We’re all familiar with Romeo and Juliet. Stories like theirs are so relatable because the inaccessibility adds to the romance. This type of romantic story only works when a lover is absent. The love is unrequited. Sometimes someone has to die at the end of the story to make it fit into this model of romance. Other times we wait to see if they get to live out their happily ever after, but we often don’t find out if they do.
The fantasy of this type of romantic love is a substitute for vulnerable, connected, true intimacy. So, how do we stay happy and make our relationships succeed?
First, we must understand what true love is. Only then are we able to update and redefine fairytale romance into a more realistic and healthier interpretation of love.
Here are 12 ways to find true love, create genuine intimacy, and be fully satisfied in your romantic relationship:
- Use the relationship to learn how to be whole.
Relationships aren’t supposed to be based on your partner completing you. Rather, each partner needs to enter the relationship already whole. Only then can they share their lives synergistically. Releasing the romantic notion of merging into “one” will teach you to love being yourself as much as you love being in the relationship.
- Perceive each other as you truly are.
Viewing your partner as your ideal of what they should be will only lead to heartbreak. When you accept that you may not truly know your partner, you can begin discovering who they are, which frees you both to grow and mature both independently and together.
- Open yourself up to learning from one another.
Think of your partner as a mirror. Let the reflection you see in them show you the areas in which you could become a better partner and person.
- Be comfortable with yourself.
Learning to spend time by yourself will teach you to accept that love can’t rescue you from loneliness. Feeling secure and protected by yourself within the context of the relationship will help you will feel whole, happy, and complete.
- Analyze what you fight about.
Some couples try to create intimacy by repeatedly fighting and then reconciling. But all they’re doing is creating drama, which leads to avoidance of true intimacy. If you know what frightens you when it comes to intimacy, you can gain a clearer sense of what you’re fighting about. You’ll probably also fight less frequently.
- Be yourself.
People often cling to romantic love because they yearn for something that’s out of their reach—something in somebody else that they think they don’t possess within ourselves. Then when they finally do find love, they realize that they didn’t find what they were actually looking for.
You will only find true love if you first love yourself. You will only receive from a partner if you’re prepared to give.
- Embrace the mundane.
When the exciting fairy-tale stage of a new relationship draws to a close, we settle back into our ordinary day-to-day mode. The trick isn’t to avoid the mundane. Instead, understand that ordinariness is the true catalyst of intimacy. Sharing day-to-day life can, and does, become special.
- Open your heart.
People inherently long to be happy. For most of us, this happiness involves a desire to become close to somebody in an intimate way. To create true intimacy, explore the enormous capacity of your heart and be aware of the good that’s already in you.
- Focus on the love you can give.
Happiness isn’t rooted in the good feelings we have about ourselves because we’re loved by others. Instead, it’s based on the unconditional love we have toward ourselves and others. An unintended consequence of loving others unconditionally is that we will be loved more deeply in return.
- Release your expectations.
You may constantly be seeking companionship and romance in an attempt to fill a personal void. This will only lead to heartbreak. If you’re unconsciously avoiding loving yourself by expecting to receive love in a certain way, you’re wrapping up your sense of self in somebody else.
- Look within.
It becomes easier to perceive the good things about your partner when you see and appreciate the good within you. Draw upon your inner resources to provide yourself nurturing, attention, and love when you need it. This will let love naturally come to you instead of setting up expectations about how you think it should appear.
- Don’t lay blame on each other.
When you get upset or fight, don’t blame each other or point fingers. Instead, awaken yourself to what inside of you may be causing the conflict.
By no means is this an exhaustive list of ways to create true intimacy. How do you build intimate connections with your romantic partner?