If we were to ask you “What does intimacy mean to you?” how would you respond? We think that depending on your sex, it would most likely determine your answer. The follow-up question is then, “How do you build intimacy?”
At our most primal level, we all have a craving to be with someone and be truly known by that person. We want and desire a deeply committed relationship based on honesty, trust, self-disclosure, respect, appreciation, interdependence, and togetherness. We may not consciously know that when we are in our twenties and early thirties, but as we mature, this desire comes to the surface.
Start to Build Intimacy in Your Relationship
While this is a part of all of us, how we define intimacy differs based on our gender. For instance, when women want to draw closer, we will face each other, lock our eyes in what has been called the “anchoring gaze”, and discuss with our girlfriends anything and everything. We will open up about our hopes, dreams, desires and our most intimate of details.
For us ladies, intimacy is talking face-to-face. This behaviour most likely has been a part of us for millions of years. It evolved when ancestral females spent their days nurturing their young. Holding their infants in front of them soothing them with words.
For men, how they define and build intimacy is different. Men regard intimacy as working or playing side-by-side. Yes, there is no question men will discuss portions of their lives with their buddies, things like a bad day at work or possibly even troubles in their love lives. Rarely though will they share their secret dreams and darkest fears. If they do broach this topic, most likely they will attempt to camouflage it in a joking manner.
When men speak to each other, eye contact is anything but looking deeply into each other’s eyes. Again it has evolved, just as ours has from millions of years of evolution. Picture ancestral males gathering behind a bush, quietly staring across the grass in hopes of feeling a passing buffalo. They faced their enemies but sat next to their friends.
This is why for most men when they work to build intimacy in your relationship it stems from doing things together, side by side with their partner.
In a recent informal study conducted on Chemistry.com, 4,786 members were asked the question “What would you do as an intimate activity with a partner?” and were offered multiple choices to choose from.
Many of the men responded they found “debating” as intimate. This came as little surprise as intimacy requires one to be in their comfort zone, and as men’s testosterone levels are associated with competitiveness, this activity suits both very well.
Conversely, the women of the group were more likely to choose “organizing a neighbourhood or community party together” and “taking a vacation together with a crowd of your closest friends” as ways to be close. This falls directly in-line with an expected outcome as estrogen is associated with social skills and nurturing.
What was unexpected in the responses was that 95 percent of all respondents rated “talking heart-to-heart with your partner about your relationship” as something they’d do to be intimate, while 94 percent felt that “doing something adventurous together”, with hardly any difference between the sexes. These results seem to be an indication men are learning to appreciate women’s need to talk, while women are understanding the male way of showing love (“actions speak louder than words”).
There are, of course, many other things you can do to cultivate togetherness. Help your partner achieve their goals. Face your problems as a team. Develop a private spiritual or religious world. Choose a new interest to pursue jointly. Do chores together. Play.
Don’t forget to the oxytocin flowing. Oxytocin is a brain chemical that produces feelings of trust and attachment. Men get a blast of it when they kiss, women feel a rush when they hold a lover’s hand, and during orgasm, both partners are flooded with the powerful substance. So last but not least, enjoy each other physically. Good sex really does build intimacy.