I feel that much of our generation has lost sight of what it really takes to build a strong, long lasting relationship. Even more so, I don’t think that this is a secret. It seems to be pretty widely agreed upon that we have a lot of work to do if we want to break out of the hookup culture that has been created, and create actual meaning in our lives.
I have recently begun to understand the importance of simple things that create intimacy between two people on a deeper, emotional level. I came across a quote the other day that I really liked:
“Intimacy is not who you let touch you. Intimacy is who you text at 3 am about your dreams and fears. Intimacy is giving someone your attention, when ten other people are asking for it. Intimacy is the person always in the back of your mind, no matter how distracted you are.”
Since intimacy is often thought of as just who you sleep with, I think it is important that we define ways to build the closeness that really counts and serves as a foundation for something real. Something fulfilling. Something substantial. Something that will last.
Share your secrets with her.
Of course, some things should be left to mystery and the imagination, but there is an undeniable intimacy in knowing things about a person that nobody else really knows. It is like peeling back an extra layer to them, or accessing a trap door. It is like finding old negatives from film that hasn’t been developed, giving you a behind the scenes look at something that few people have ever seen.
Furthermore, it signifies confidence and trust in a person. It lets her know that you are willing to open this door to her because you are comfortable sharing your passions and emotions with her when you may not be so quick to do so otherwise.
Spend time around each other’s families.
I understand that everyone is different and grew up in various environments, but for me family has always been a big part of my life. So much so, that I have really recently started to understand that if I am going to build something that will really last over time with someone, it is likely that they would need to share this outlook and the values that come along with it.
For that reason, spending time around her family as well as inviting her around yours, is a way to build a deeper connection by exposing her to one of the most central parts of your existence. Families give each other a glimpse of your upbringing, as well as what may be expected for the future.
Plus, my parents have always said when you marry someone, you don’t just marry them – you marry the whole family. So getting to know them is important.
Sleep together, but don’t sleep together.
Ha! I know, right? But no, seriously. While I completely respect any decision by two consenting adults to do the deed as early or late into a relationship as they are both comfortable with, there is also undeniable value in spending nights together that consist of nothing but spending nights together.
Another important point is that if you know you can actually sleep together but not “sleep together,” and still wake up happy, you will have a better shot at your relationship not being based solely on sex – but friendship.
Share new experiences together.
Whether it be something as simple as watching a movie neither of you has seen, or something as extreme as skydiving for the first time together [not that I have ever done that], I have always found value in sharing new experiences with someone. Particularly in a relationship, this is something that your girlfriend or boyfriend has never seen, heard, or felt before. Both of your minds are being opened to something new and unique for the very first time – together.
No matter what happens in the future, you will always be the person associated with the first time he or she experienced that new feeling. That, is intimacy.
Be there for her when she needs you the most.
To quote “That Awkward Moment” (great movie, by the way) – “Being there for someone when they need you, that’s all relationships are.” Building a connection with someone is not just about doing things that are fun, romantic, or enjoyable. Sometimes it’s about doing things that suck. Doing things that you would rather be doing literally anything else in the world. Doing things that you might even hate or make you uncomfortable – but you do them anyway because you’re doing it for her.
Intimacy and real meaning is built when someone knows they can count on you, no matter what. Don’t just be the guy who will stand next to her during the sunny days, be the guy who will be holding the umbrella over her during the rainy days, too.
Do lame errands together.
This one is kind of silly. In fact, I almost didn’t even include it here. It sounds kind of weird, I know. What could possibly be intimate about say, going to pick up some new cologne because you ran out or waiting around at the store for your smartphone upgrade?
Maybe it’s just me, but when a man and woman who are dating do these things together, I think it adds an extra layer of “coupley-ness” to them. They are not just spending time together to go out to dinner or to see a movie or something – they are enjoying each other’s company no matter what they are doing.
When the mundane becomes fun because of the person you are with, that’s when you know you’ve found a keeper.
Just exist together.
Have you ever just…sat with someone, in complete silence? Not as some sort of a challenge or to prove a point, but just because you were completely comfortable and didn’t feel the need to fill a void? I have, and it’s awesome.
Nicholas Sparks said: “Silence is pure. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking.” You will feel no need to say or do anything. You won’t even need to watch TV or play on your phone. In fact, your phone will probably be in another room – because the only person you would want to talk to is right there next to you, but even then, you don’t want to talk to her.
You just want to exist with her. In silence. In the living room. Or in the car. Or on errands. Or at dinner. Or wherever life brings you.
It really doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you’re together.
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