Couples often share with me that their partner(s) is no longer satisfied with their intimate relationship. When I inquire about their definition of intimacy, it almost always sounds like this; "We don't have enough sex."
When did the ideology of intimacy become so superficial and linear? The four components of intimacy can be viewed as: emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual. Intimacy is all-encompassing. But somehow, our view of intimacy within our North American society has been reduced to having sex or not.
The hormones testosterone and estrogen heavily influence the development of additional neurotransmitters like dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin that contribute to our pleasure response. Ok, understood! External factors, such as our mental state, emotional connection with our partner(s) and physical well-being, become principal influencers in reaching peak pleasure. According to Dr Emily Nagoski, there are two ways to regulate a sexual response: Labelled as the accelerator and the brake. Our brake takes note of all the reasons why we shouldn't turn on at that time, while our accelerator reacts and brings awareness to all sexually pertinent information in our environment. So, what do we do with this information? Together with our partner(s), we can begin to determine our collective “ons” and “offs" to create the best possible opportunity for optimal arousal.
Do not be intimidated; this should be enjoyable! Here are some simple tips to increase your intimate relationship with your partner(s):
- Attune to your partner. Acknowledge that you notice your partner(s) emotional experience, and hold space for them. People often want to feel seen, heard and understood.
- Bring awareness to your mental state. If left unaddressed, anxiety, stress, and carrying a large mental load can become a brick wall barrier to intimacy.
- Focus on kissing- just kissing. Touch for pleasure instead of intention to an end goal.
- Offer vulnerability to your partner(s). Making your intimate interests, needs, and fears known reduces the possibility of assumptions and false narratives developing.
- PLAY! Step outside your comfort zone with one another, and incorporate inventiveness into your intimate routine. Examples of curious exploration may look like: - visiting a sexy social club - watching sensual movies - reading erotica - incorporate a (mutually agreed upon) new “kink” each month - Shopping for one another at a sexual wellness store during date night
Jessica is currently pursuing her licensing as a sex therapist with BESTCO (Board of Examiners in Sex Therapy & Counselling in Ontario).
She is also a wife and mother :D