Photographer: Barbara Nitke
One of the biggest obstacles to intimacy is simply not giving our partner enough attention.
In a committed relationship, it's easy to feel so comfortable that we begin taking each other for granted. Instead of being excited and engaged by our partner like we were at the beginning of the relationship, later on we tend to focus on the things we worry about instead, letting the romance and our fascination with our partner take a backseat to the stresses of daily life. When we do this, though, we cut off the necessary flow of time and energy that nourish a relationship and allow it to thrive. On top of this, checking out of communication with a partner will inevitably lead to miscommunications that can drive a wedge between couples.
Thankfully, the solution is as simple as the original problem. If your relationship is suffering because you and your partner don't give each other enough attention, you need to re-engage and start listening. If you find yourself distracted while your partner is talking, take a second to bring yourself back and remind yourself that the present communication is important. If your distracted state is very obvious, it might not be a bad idea to openly apologize to your partner and take a moment to refocus together. Giving your full attention is not only investing in your partner but the relationship as well, and it will lead to increased feelings of closeness, more intimacy, and better sex.
But the importance of listening goes even farther than that.
Besides focusing on our lover during normal interactions, we also need to really listen when they open up about their sexual needs and desires. Don't just "hear" what they have to say -- really take them to heart. If you plan to be in a monogamous relationship, then realize that you're the one they want to help them fulfill their desires. If your partner opens up to you about their fantasies, don't let the moment pass! Think about their desires and spend time figuring out other nuances you can bring in to enhance the experience for them. A lot of people only focus on their own fantasies, but fulfilling someone else's fantasies can actually be just as exciting, and it's almost sure to lead to your partner experimenting with your own.
This process of fulfilling each other's desires is essential for a healthy, happy relationship, and it will make each individual happier, more confident, less stressed, and healthier (think lower blood pressure for one). For all these wonderful benefits to come true, however, it all comes back to listening.
It's important that you build a safe space where each of you can discuss such desires, especially since sometimes those desires might cross lines that society has decided are taboo. For instance, there are many women who have a rape fantasy. They want their boyfriend or husband to pretend to break into the house, tie them down, and have their way with them. But lots of men have been taught to respect women and therefore feel uncomfortable with this kind of fantasy, even though the situation would be completely consensual.
In this instance, the couple should break down the steps of the fantasy. How does she picture it unfolding? What does he say and do exactly? What props are used? They should listen to one another with open minds, and then work up to it. Perhaps he should start with calling her the bad, dirty names she desires in bed. Next, he could try spanking her or tying her up. Then he can purchase the items needed on the sly and, when both partners are ready, fulfill her fantasy.
This is just one example of a fantasy that some people may have, but regardless of the specific desire, the key is to listen with a positive and nonjudgmental attitude. Show curiosity. Ask questions. What is it about a fantasy that turns them on?
Photographer: Barbara Nitke
Usually through this kind of conversation, negotiation, and taking baby steps, a couple can work up to what each person desires. Be sure to listen carefully and invest your energy in your partner's desires, and in a mutually loving relationship, your happiness, your level of trust, and your sex life will be better than ever.
Sandra LaMorgese Ph.D. is an expert in bridging the gap between sexuality and a lifestyle that focuses on holistic health of the mind, body and spirit. She is the author of Switch: Time for a Change, a memoir of her journey from holistic practitioner to professional dominatrix at 55-years-old, and her passion and purpose is to empower others towards healthy authentic living. To learn more about Sandra and receive your FREE eBook "5 Steps for Better Communication, Sex, and Happiness (Did I mention better sex?) visit www.sandralamorgese.com.