Holding your ground with your partner can be an intimacy-builder!

What do you think of, when you are asked what creates intimacy between you and your partner? Many of us think of physical intimacy (including sex), and emotional intimacy (connecting time to talk, spending quality time together doing things we enjoy etc). Research shows, though, that not only is conflict inevitable in relationships, but it can actually promote closeness and strengthen relationships when it is managed skilfully, and where issues can either be resolved or at least left open for ongoing discussion. Sometimes when we complain that our partner is distant, or not tuned into our needs, we want empathy and a listening ear, Other times though, we need to know what he or she really wants from us - even if it may be hard to hear and hard to respond to. Knowing what we need and being able to assertively let our partner know is vital to creating intimacy with each other. If we fall into the trap of thinking we need to hide what we really want, for fear of upsetting our partner, our partner may feel that we are not being honest, that we are hiding things (we are!). These are the very things that work AGAINST intimacy! Of course, we need to be safe in order to make ourselves vulnerable in this way - to say what we need and take the risk that our partner won't understand or be able to meet our needs. The good news is - even when we can't meet each other's needs (and often we can't, for reasons that may be outside our control) it builds intimacy and connection to be able to talk about needs, and to feel completely heard, understood and empathised with. Speaking openly and honestly in this way can even lead to working together to creatively find solutions to how our needs may be met - if not in the way we might have initially thought! Speaking directly about what we need, and what our bottom line is, may not lead to easy conversations. It WILL lead to greater understanding and connection, no matter how difficult solutions may be to find.

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