Relationships and intimacy have been heavily on my mind recently.
Maybe it’s the heat or the fact that summer seems to be the beginning and end of many relationships, but its been a topic of much conversation between my friends and me.
One of the things that has come up is the difficulty of achieving true intimacy with another person. While many immediately think of sex when they hear the word intimacy, I often think that sex is a barrier to achieving intimacy.
It shouldn’t be the case.
Ideally, sex should bring two people closer together but often times it does the opposite. I am reminded of the Rilo Kiley song “Portions for Foxes”: And the talking leads to touching/ And the touching leads to sex/And then there is no mystery left.
Sadly, that is often what happens especially when the sex comes too early in a relationship. Granted, it’s still a matter of debate when is the right time to have sex in a relationship. I tend to believe that it varies greatly from couple to couple and depends a lot on the situation. However, here are some suggestions on getting intimate with a partner that doesn’t involve sex and can be used by any couple whether they already having sex or not.
Here they are:
1. Make a meal together.
Everyone has heard the expression that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. There is a lot of truth to that. Food can be a great way to get to a man or woman’s heart. A lot has to do with the preparation of food. Even if it is just making a sandwich, food preparation is both an art and a ritual. Inviting someone to share in that is intimate. The sort of food that people like can be very revealing, too. For instance, I once dated a man who never followed recipes and loved to improvise. It was probably no coincidence that he was like this in other areas of his life as well.
2. Photograph each other.
Using photography to get closer to each other doesn’t have to mean erotic photography or staging an elaborate pro-photography session. Just using a simple point-and-shoot or even a camera phone to photograph your significant other doing something very mundane can be a very fun, intimate activity. Looking at someone through a lens or a screen is different than looking at them with naked eyes. I thought it was nonsense when I first heard it, but it is possible to glean what the photographer thinks about his or her subject by how they photograph them. Granted, some people hate to be photographed and get that deer in the headlight look as soon as anyone aims a camera at them, but many take it as an opportunity to clown around or pretend to be someone else. You can learn a lot about someone by how they act in front of the camera.
3. Go for a walk and talk.
I always feel more connected and open when I am walking and talking versus just doing the latter. I find that it’s a lot easier revealing personal, intimate information about myself when I am in motion than when I am still. Maybe it’s psychological because it feels like I can make a run for it if it goes badly. I don’t know. In any case, some of the deepest, most revealing conversations I have had with friends and lovers have occurred when I was walking with them.
4. Watch a sexy movie together.
A “sexy movie,” doesn’t have to mean an X-rated one or even an R-Rated one for that matter. One of my top sexiest movies of all time is the little-seen Possession which has no nudity whatsoever and features two main characters who fall in love via letter writing.
Indeed, if it’s very early in a relationship and you want to hold off on the sex for awhile, it’s probably a good idea to skip the flicks with lots of skin and explicit sex scenes.
Sexy means different things to different people, so it’s important to think about the things you find sexy rather than what the media says even though many entertainment sites have good suggestions if you are at a loss. (By the way, if you are looking for a way to combine #1 with #4, then I highly suggest Like Water for Chocolate. It’s one of the few movie adaptations that is just as good as the novel.)
5. Share each playlists or discuss your favorite albums.
This sounds a tad geeky, and it is, but much like the food someone prefers, a person’s taste in music often speaks volumes about them. Also, there are often stories that accompany a favorite album or song. For instance, do you love a certain song because it was on the soundtrack of your favorite movie in high school? Does listening to Nirvana’s “Nevermind” remind your significant other of that summer he spent abroad right after he graduated college? Stories behind favorite songs are often gateways to deeper conversations and revelations.
Lastly, no matter how you achieve it, remember that intimacy is an on-going process.
It’s probably impossible to ever fully know a person or for that matter fully share yourself with another person, but intimacy is an important part of any true relationship. It can be very scary to go to those places, but it doesn’t have to be. As these tips illustrate, it can even be fun and interesting to get intimate with another person.
Kimberly Lo is a yoga instructor and freelance editor & writer based in Charlottesville, VA. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework, travel, and photography. Connect with her on Facebook.