Most people have differing definitions of what intimacy means. You can find up to 5 different definitions of intimacy in a modern dictionary, so this is no surprise. In addition, most individuals like to show or receive love in very different ways, often based on how we were shown love in our childhoods and other past experiences with love. These conflicting opinions on intimacy in a relationship often cause issues, as one person may show and expect love in one way. Yet, at the same time, their partner may give and expect love very differently.
Many couples encounter relationship troubles when the level of understanding on how to express love to one another and communicate effectively seems impossible to achieve. This disconnect is eerily similar to when two people experience a language barrier. It can be frustrating and nearly impossible to understand one another without a translator. Individuals may have difficulties recognizing when a partner lacks the tools to express love the way it is expected and can easily dismiss their partner’s authentic attempts at showing love. This often leads to emotional warfare because of feelings of rejection due to the assumption that a partner does not care about the other’s feelings. This regularly leads to a lack of intimacy in the relationship, which is almost always a symptom of misunderstanding each other’s love languages. It also often leads to the need for professional intervention. Orlando Thrive Therapy is the premier source for relationship counseling in the Orlando area and stands ready to help couples through these relationship troubles.
When couples decide on therapy, both parties often express their frustration with a lack of intimacy in the relationship. They tend to present examples and raw emotions connected with how that loss of intimacy has negatively impacted their life together. Before a therapist dives into the process of healing the relationship, they are likely first to help the couple realize each person’s definition of intimacy and explore each other’s expectations on love. How does each show love to their partner? How does each partner perceive that the other is showing them love? How would each of them feel more loved and supported? How were they shown safety and love in their family as children? How does each person communicate what they need from their partner?
After openly discussing the topic of intimacy in therapy and clarifying simple words that are used regularly, most couples realize that their definitions are entirely different. Furthermore, they often begin to understand these differences and conclude that it isn’t that their partner does not care about them or love them. Instead, it’s that they have been avoiding opportunities to connect due to misunderstanding.
This is a meaningful conversation because it is common for individuals to define intimacy in relationships differently. For example, some partners relate intimacy to sex and insist they need sex to feel connected to their partner emotionally. Other individuals may convey intimacy in relationships to acknowledgment and expect to be acknowledged to feel connected to a partner physically and emotionally. Some people can also connect intimacy to just being close to each other on the couch and watching movies.
Whatever an individual's definition of intimacy in relationships or how they show and expect love, it is highly likely that it may differ significantly from their partner. There are no right or wrong answers here, as each person’s needs are natural and essential in strengthening relationships. However, openly discussing this topic can save a relationship from distress and, in the long run, may assist a couple in building a mutually beneficial understanding of how to meet each other’s needs effectively and lovingly. Visit orlandothrivetherapy.com to take the next step toward a healthier partnership with relationship counseling in Orlando and communities in the area.
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.