There are 3 recurring questions we seem to get when we do Hump Day with the Harts.
“If we are a non-traditional couple, what can we do outside of sex to grow closer?”
“How do we connect on a deeper level if we’re in a lesbian relationship?”
“We’ve done everything sexually, what’s next?”
With these questions at the forefront and this month being Pride Month, we wanted to share ways you can deepen intimacy when you are in a lesbian or queer relationship. Intimacy is what creates the foundation for long-term committed relationships, and due to the heteronormative views of society, it is often difficult to determine what makes deepening intimacy difficult for same-gender couples. The deliberate practice of incorporating intimacy into our relationships can be the determining factor in how well our relationships grow, evolve, and serve us.
First, let’s start with a simple definition of intimacy that you can use as a clear reference point. Intimacy is the closeness and connection one feels to someone else. Oftentimes, intimacy is expressed as what happens before sex and after sex. And, that is partially accurate. However, intimacy is what happens anytime two people are open, honest, vulnerable, and compassionate with each other.
Intimacy is the bridge built between individuals who desire to meet in the middle to build a life together, get through tough times, and to have hot steamy sex. It’s the thread that connects two or more hearts together. Intimacy is the insulation to the home where your soul will reside with another. Intimacy is the ability to share transparent and vulnerable elements of your life with others without feelings of unworthiness, judgment, punishment, or ridicule. Intimacy often begins way before sexual intercourse is initiated.
When working to deepen intimacy as a lesbian or queer woman, it’s imperative not to compare what you both need to what the world says couples are supposed to want or need in a relationship.
Here are 8 ways to deepen intimacy in lesbian or queer relationships:
COMMUNICATE. Be sure to actively communicate with your partner to deepen intimacy. Communication strengthens relationships and creates a soft-landing place for you and your partner when you’re having tough days and difficult times. Communication is a combination of regularly sharing your feelings and fears, actively listening to your partner’s feelings, and devising a plan to ensure that both of you are seen, heard, and safe. The key in intimate communication is developing the plan for all involved parties to feel important.
PLAY. Have some fun. Fun can be defined as “lighthearted pleasure”. It’s anything that garners an enjoyable reaction from you AND your partner. Engaging in activities that give you a dopamine boost can also help you build a positive core memory bank. Having fun may include baking cookies together, trying a new adventure, seeing a concert or performance, or watching a funny movie. It may also include simple things such as telling each other jokes, dancing at home together, or making funny faces until some laughs. The key in intimate play is to make sure BOTH people are enjoying themselves…it’s not fun when one person is harmed or hurt by something deemed fun to their partner.
REFLECT. Deepening intimacy also means slowing down and taking a minute to reflect and show gratitude. Whether it’s pillow talk or date night for you, reflection time within a relationship is a great way to take intimacy to the next level. Reflection time is not about pointing out flaws or mishaps in the relationship. The time you use to reflect should focus on what elements of the relationship you both enjoy, appreciate, honor, and love. Reflect more often than you argue, and the intimacy levels within the relationship will increase.
LISTEN. Intimacy is developed when our friends, family members, and partners feel safe enough to share their most transparent and vulnerable moments with us. Intimacy is deepened even further when our partners know that we are genuinely listening to them versus just hearing them. Listening differs from hearing because listening includes undivided attention, active interaction, and effective validation. Undivided attention means that distractions are minimized and the person talking is being fully acknowledged. Active interaction is the direct response given to the speaker without interrupting. This includes nodding, making eye contact, and mirroring information. Lastly, effective validation is the ability to respect, honor, and support what is being said without shaming, guilting, or dismissing their feelings or experiences.
ASSIST. Helping your spouse with household responsibilities, the children, personal growth, and whatever else they may need is a form of intimacy development. Many times, stress, lack of appreciation, and overwhelm can erode intimacy in a relationship and cause unwanted distance to form. Assisting your partner in everyday life activities can show them you understand what they are dealing with on a daily basis. Understanding where they are in life and what they need help with can deepen your intimacy.
FOCUS. Distractions are all around us and they affect our relationships more than we might think. Choosing to focus on your relationship in the midst of everything happening around you is a great way to cultivate more intimacy in your relationship. You can minimize distractions by setting boundaries with technology (yes that means turning your phone off at a certain time), creating a special time for extracurricular activities that do not include your spouse (keep the pop-up basketball games with the crew to only a few a month), and keeping your promises (date night can’t be canceled every month). Putting your focus on your relationship can help you connect with your partner on a deeper level.
APOLOGIZE. This one is self-explanatory. A genuine apology goes a long way. If you realize you harmed or hurt your partner, apologize. Apologies keep walls from being built in your relationships, and they help to maintain the trust you have with the person/people you love. Remember apologies must be genuine to be effective in building intimacy.
EMPATHIZE. Attempt to understand what your partner is going through regardless of the magnitude of the situation. Whether it’s a tough day at work or a death in the family, your partner should know that you have extreme empathy for them and their situations. Empathy is to feel, identify with, and understand what someone else is going through without having gone through the exact same issue. Deepening intimacy in your relationship relies heavily on empathizing—making sure your partner does not feel alone in their life.
All in all, deepening intimacy begins with a conscious effort to build a stronger connection with the person you love and respect. It’s not an overnight process, and it really has little to do with sex. Intimacy is all the things you do before and after sex to make sure your partner feels loved, cared for, and important to you.
Here are a few games we have at Hart’s Desires to help you begin your journey to deeper intimacy…
Click on each picture to learn more!