Lack of intimacy in romantic relationships often goes unnoticed


**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.

The first few years of my marriage were blissful. I was young and in love, and we couldn’t get enough of each other. We were constantly touching, kissing, and exploring new ways to be intimate with each other. But then life happened. We had a kid, careers, and other obligations that seemed to take up our time. Intimacy became less and less of a priority until it was almost non-existent.

I missed the intimacy that we used to share. I yearned for those moments when we would be close to each other without having to say a word. But I didn’t know how to get it back. We began to drift farther apart.

Neither of us tried very hard to bring intimacy back into our relationship. We were both so busy with other things that it seemed there was no time for it. But relationships with little to no intimacy are brittle and can easily break. And while I never thought it would happen to us, we eventually divorced.

If you’re in a relationship and feel like intimacy is lacking, it’s essential to do something about it. Here are five signs that you need more intimacy in your relationship:

1. You and your partner are always busy and don’t have time for each other

There is never a shortage of things to do. Work obligations, household chores, and social obligations can quickly fill your schedule. But an excess of busyness can put a strain on your relationship.

You might not be fighting or arguing, but the absence of discord does not mean that you and your partner are in harmony. If you have no time for one another, how can you be? And how can you nurture intimacy if you can’t squeeze out a millisecond to talk, disagree, or be together?

“Conflict is a signal that there is a problem that needs to be solved. Intimacy requires facing problems with courage and with the faith that the relationship is more important than whatever crisis is going on in the moment.” — Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

2. You’re not physically attracted to your partner anymore

Even in the best relationships, attraction ebbs and flows. It’s natural to be less attracted to your partner during specific periods, such as when they’re stressed out or going through a tough time.

But if the loss of attraction is prolonged, it could hint that you need more intimacy in your relationship. Intimacy deprivation sometimes causes the grass-is-greener syndrome.

When you’re intimacy-deprived, you might think about other people or fantasize about what it would be like to be with someone else. And if this goes on long enough, you may eventually struggle to find your partner attractive.

“Physical intimacy refers to body closeness. It can involve hugging, cuddling, kissing, and holding hands, depending on the nature of the relationship.” — Carmen Cusido, PsychCentral

3. You don’t have anything to talk about

When you’re first dating someone, it’s easy to find things to talk about. But after a while, the novelty of your relationship can wear off, and you might find yourself struggling to come up with topics of conversation.

This is normal to some extent. But if you feel you have nothing to say to your partner, it could signify that you need more intimacy. Intimacy is not just about physical contact. It’s also about sharing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with your partner.

“Emotional intimacy can be developed by listening better to the other person and being able to speak clearly and honestly.” — Carmen Cusido, PsychCentral

4. You don’t feel emotionally connected to your partner

Relationships are ecosystems. The state of your relationship reflects the emotional intimacy (or lack thereof) between you and your partner.

If you’re not feeling connected to your partner emotionally, likely, they’re not feeling connected to you either. This can create a vicious cycle in which both partners feel increasingly distant.

Emotional distance can lead to physical distance. And physical space can further increase the emotional distance between you and your partner. This cycle of emotionally pulling away and withdrawing physically can be challenging. But intimacy is often the salve that heals this divide.

“Intimacy grows when people stay emotionally connected, even when there are problems to solve. It doesn’t require that either person walk on eggshells or withhold what they really think in order to stay connected.” — Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

5. You’re constantly fighting with your partner

I previously mentioned that the absence of conflict could signify that you need more intimacy in your relationship. But too much conflict can also be a problem.

Of course, it’s normal to have disagreements with your partner from time to time. But constant fighting is often a sign that one (or both) of you is not getting your needs met.

“Couples who lack intimacy are more distressed. Lack of intimacy is one of the most common reasons people seek couple therapy (Doss, Simpson, & Christensen, 2004).”

Intimacy plays a vital role in relationships. It’s the glue that binds you together and helps you weather the storms. If you lack intimacy, it might be time to talk to your partner about your feelings. Intimacy can help improve communication, foster emotional connection, reignite physical attraction, and reduce conflict. In other words, intimacy is essential for a happy and healthy relationship.

If you’re not sure how to bring up the topic of intimacy with your partner, consider seeking out a relationship counselor, therapist, or coach. A relationship professional can help you and your partner identify the areas in which you need more intimacy and can guide you on improving intimacy in your relationship.

Do you agree that intimacy is essential for a happy and healthy relationship? Let me know in the comments!

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Intimacy & Relationship coach, writer, and creator of The Sensuality Project. I specialize in Relationship-ing (it's a verb).

Los Angeles County, CA

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