Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Why Intimacy Is Important

Intimacy

The Relate Guide to Sex and Intimacy

Cate Campbell

Allowing someone to get close to you is an achievement. You may want to be intimate, or try to avoid it, but when you find that special someone, you know – and your body knows. It’s not just about goosebumps or tummy flips when that exceptional someone is near; it’s about a gentler, longer-lasting sense of wellbeing that comes from knowing there is someone special in the world who thinks you’re special too. This may not only be a lifelong connection; it may actually extend your life too.

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Intimacy

SEX AND INTIMACY

One of the reasons sex and intimacy are great for your health and your relationship is that they provide an additional form of communication which is missing when you rely entirely on words. Non-verbal touch is sometimes necessary to support what we say or when we just don’t have the words to express what we are feeling. Developing comfort with touching your partner helps you both to develop an additional language, which can be used whenever words are not enough. If you think back to your childhood, hugs rather than words were probably what you found most comforting, and the same is often true in our adult relationships as well.

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Intimacy

SEXUAL TOUCH. INTIMACY

Ironically, though, the more you care about someone, the harder it can be to enjoy the relaxed sensuality of sexual touch, let alone to be experimental or daring. Even if you were once swinging from the chandeliers, carefree and sexually insatiable, you may find yourselves becoming far more sexually reticent once you really start to love each other. By then, sex really matters. With the acknowledgement of love comes an element of risk. Now you are sharing yourself, offering yourself and revealing yourself. The more in love you are, the more scared you may be of getting it wrong. For many couples, this is when sex can become less frequent or stop altogether, and then it may not be easy to begin again. New ways to communicate what is happening need to be found, including new ways to communicate sexually. This is when some couples seek psychosexual therapy, which deals specifically with sexual issues. It is explained in more detail in Chapter Twelve.

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Intimacy

WHAT IS INTIMACY?

It can be difficult to define intimacy with a partner. In adults, the word ‘intimacy’ is often used as a euphemism for sex. However, though sex and intimacy feed each other, they don’t always coexist. Though being sexual together improves feelings of intimacy, and intimacy can lead to being sexual, sex can feel anything but intimate if the circumstances aren’t right. In fact, the reason loss of intimate feelings leads some people to avoid sex altogether is because it just reminds them of what they are missing.

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Intimacy

Anything which affects just the two of you can feel intimate and special. But, more than that, partner intimacy probably gives you a feeling of belonging. You feel safe, you have someone you trust on your side, you can be vulnerable without feeling judged. This allows you to be sexual together in a way which takes into account the special feelings you have for one another. This extraordinary relationship lets you be yourself, knowing that even when you get it wrong with each other, or don’t agree, there are enough shared experiences and enough willingness to support each other to be sure you can get through anything.

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Intimacy

If that all sounds too good to be true it is because there is so much in life which can intrude on relationships and impair intimacy. You may even feel that you can seldom or never relax enough together. If only you just had each other to think about you might never become irritable or moody, feel rejected or misunderstood. However, as well as starting to worry about how we nurture the relationship once we feel it is serious and lasting, all the other responsibilities in our lives – such as children and work – can easily get in the way of intimacy and it can all seem too much.

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Intimacy

Yet sex and intimacy in your relationship are definitely worth striving for, however hard it may be. The benefits are not only those feelings of satisfaction, wellbeing and comfort derived from a physically close relationship. For a start, if you feel good about yourself, it shows. Other people like what they see and this may allow you to be more relaxed and to make the most of all your relationships; even your work or study may benefit. Your children will certainly profit from seeing their parents engaged and cooperating, as well as from the good mood and tolerance that is engendered by a satisfying sex life and supportive intimacy.

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Intimacy

BETTER HEALTH. INTIMACY

There is also considerable evidence that intimate relationships are very good for our physical and mental health. Both are thought to be improved when sex and intimacy are part of our lives. Sex is good mild exercise, which raises the heart rate, and this may help to lower blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular fitness. Sex may also reduce headaches, prevent stomach ulcers in men and osteoporosis in women, help with insomnia and ease tension and stress. Moreover, it may improve memory and reduce the risk of dementia and infections.

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Intimacy

Indeed, sexually active people have been shown to have significantly higher levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A and hormones which both reduce inflammation and promote healing. Arousal and orgasm are thought to ease pain and have been shown to be particularly effective in helping to treat menstrual cramps. Clitoral stimulation can offer some pain relief in childbirth and can also accelerate labour. In women, the increased levels of oestrogen associated with sex may offer protection against heart disease, while regular ejaculation in men is thought to lower the risk of developing prostate cancer.

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Intimacy

Hormones released during arousal and orgasm can even make you look younger, as collagen production is stimulated, which creates smoother-looking, more supple skin. There is also no doubt that sex is a great reliever of tension, associated with reduction of the stress hormone cortisol and increased levels of pleasure-promoting hormones. Even just hugging is believed to reduce stress. People who are less tense and stressed, and who enjoy regular intimacy, tend to feel more confident and relaxed, which probably also helps improve their appearance and boost immune responses.

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Intimacy

 

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