When the Fire is Out: How to Reclaim Intimacy

Life happens. Whether you’re part of a long-term friendship, casually dating, or married, life will always throw a curveball or two that will test the waters of your relationships. The excitement you two once felt in each other’s presence will disappear, and you will be left wondering “What happened?”

The passion is gone. The romance is dead. The communication is negligible unless it is a heated argument about something you can barely remember. The intimacy you once shared with your partner seems finished. However, it is possible to reignite your passion with a spark and some work.

First, it is important to understand what intimacy is. In its simplest definitions, intimacy is emotional closeness to another person. It is being vulnerable and open about your desires, thoughts, and feelings, and allowing another person to do the same. Most people equate intimacy with sex, and while it does play a part, real intimacy is stronger than the physical act of intercourse. You don’t only have intimacy with your spouse; you can have it with a relative or close friend.

And when the intimacy is gone, you will notice.

Before you take any steps toward reclaiming intimacy with your partner, you have to ask two big questions.

First, “Do I want to continue this relationship?”

If the answer is no, then attempting to rekindle your lost spark or interest may be futile. If the answer is yes, move on to question number 2.

“What have I done to drive the wedge between us?”

A lot of times when we are locked in an empty relationship, we tend to point fingers at the other person. He never listens to me. She never wants to have sex. She doesn’t want to share her interests with me anymore. He acts like he doesn’t care about the house. While all of that may be valid, you have to ask yourself if there have been anything you have done to cause these actions or prevent them from being fixed. For instance, if she isn’t sharing her interests with you, is it because you stopped asking her about them? Have you stopped showing interest in her or criticized her interests?

The point is simple: Relationships are a joined union of two individuals, and sometimes both people are responsible for not bridging the intimacy gap. You have to be willing to listen to your partner and be prepared to make some hard changes if you want to reclaim your lost spark.

If you and your partner are willing to give things another try, here are some steps you can take to get your intimacy back:

Communicate daily. Remember when you felt you could tell your partner anything without feelings of judgment? That was intimacy. Open your communication. Be vocal about your needs and your thoughts. Discuss your interests. Talk about your day. However, for as much as you speak, you must be willing to listen and show genuine interest in your partner’s words.

Get back to the nonsexual side of intimacy. As previously stated, real intimacy involves more than sex. It takes a lot of trust. Get back into the habit of touching your partner. For friends, a hug can go a long way. For a spouse, a kiss can be an amazing show of affection and appreciation that doesn’t always lead to the bedroom. Give them eye contact. Don’t shy away from them. Instead, marvel at how good it feels to laugh and cuddle.

If sex was a part of your relationship, keep it a part of your relationship. It is completely understandable that with demanding careers, children, or just the monotony of life, sex may seem more like a chore than a way to connect with your partner. But it is a way to connect. On top of being spontaneous, try to set time aside to have sex with your partner. Date nights are great for this. It gives you and your partner time together away from the chaos of life. Add sex on top of that, and you’re on your way to a stronger intimate connection. To keep things interesting, try flirting throughout the day to build up to the moment.

Know when to seek help. Sometimes you need a little guidance to make major changes in a relationship, and that’s okay. This is especially true if the lack of intimacy occurred because of a form of betrayal like infidelity. If you want to get things back to the way they used to be, you have to rebuild the trust that led to intimacy. A counselor can give you tools specific to the needs of your relationship.


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