What are some ways you can develop intimacy in relationships?
Honesty and sharing are essential in developing intimacy and meaningful relationships between couples (as well as friends and family). Whether you are married or in a domestic partnership, share with each other how you feel— upset, happy, anxious, and so forth—rather than hide your emotions. In a committed relationship, you should feel safe to express any fears you have about the relationship, or personal struggles you are dealing with. Both people must be willing to admit their own faults rather than pointing out the faults of their partner. Doing these things may seem scary at first, because they require vulnerability; however, these actions illustrate trust in each other.
Besides being open and honest with each other, learn to be a good listener. This will help your husband, wife, or partner feel comfortable sharing his or her feelings. This may mean developing tolerance so that you are willing to hear the other person’s point of view. It may also be necessary to compromise when disagreements arise. Couples can create opportunities to listen and share, such as going for walks or out to dinner.
If you have broken a partner’s trust in the past, you may need to illustrate with your actions that you have changed. For instance, you can show that you have changed by no longer drinking and using, by seeking counseling, and by making amends to others you have harmed. It may take time for trust to be restored, so be patient.
How does addiction affect intimacy?
Addiction can hinder the development of intimacy. One of the priorities of an addict is to conceal his or her actions, whether they involve drinking, sexual behaviors, or drug use. If you hide your addiction, you will only feel lonely, ashamed, and isolated, while your husband, wife, or significant other may feel betrayed or ignored. When you were in active addiction you likely found that your time was consumed with addictive behavior, leaving less time to spend with family and friends to develop meaningful relationships.
When you were in active addiction, alcohol and other drugs affected your judgment, causing you to act in ways that were not considerate of other people’s feelings or needs. As substance abusers, many people acquire inconsiderate habits and traits such as infidelity, chronic lateness or absence, and rude or harsh language, just to mention a few. These behaviors lead to lack of trust and integrity. Now that you are in recovery, you will need to be patient and work hard to regain that trust. The best thing you can do for yourself and for a present or future relationship is to work on yourself—to be the best you possible.
Is intimacy different than sex?
Intimacy is more than physical actions; it involves a feeling of connectedness and closeness. For two people to be intimate, they need to be honest and willing to share their emotions and thoughts with each other. Real intimacy requires getting to know someone deeply, including that person’s fears, inadequacies, and strengths. We can always have sexual relationships without such disclosure, but these types of relationships don’t allow us to contribute the best that we have to offer. They don’t let us face our fears of acceptance.