What’s the barrier?
So you see, a lack of intimacy is rarely an isolated issue. It almost always seeps out into other aspects of your relationship because it presents an existential threat to your need of being accepted and loved - physically and emotionally.
And yet, most couples don’t like to talk about it, not even with their partner. They try to avoid the awkwardness of having that conversation with their partner, by trying to find a reason on their own, and the biggest reason for that is shame.
Over time, this shame becomes the primary emotion driving your mind, And when the topic does eventually come-up, this shame that has been sitting in your mind for so long makes it difficult to open-up and share how you really feel, and is instead masked with defensiveness, like shouting and yelling, or dismissing the topic altogether.
And all of this because people often take the lack of intimacy in a relationship personally - as if the person who chose to be with you in a relationship, suddenly changed their mind and is no longer attracted to you. What people often miss is that the lack of intimacy in a relationship is often not a real problem, but rather a symptom of something deeper, something emotional.
How to resolve the lack of intimacy?
So can a relationship survive without intimacy? The answer is no, a relationship can not survive without sex. At least not unless that’s something that both you and your partner talk about and agree upon. But the bigger, real question is why is there a lack of intimacy in the relationship in the first place?
For most people, the reason isn’t because they don’t want sex, but rather because the conditions for feeling the desire to have sex, to feel the emotionally pull are not being met or communicated. Usually, the person who doesn’t seem to want sex are withholding some thoughts or emotions.
They might be feeling not in the mood because of some stressors outside of bedroom, where they don’t feel heard or supported by their partner. Remember that the mood for intimacy, the tone of the relationship is set outside of the bedroom. The mood for intimacy is established by how comfortable and supported you feel in the relationship, how understood you feel by your partner. Sex is just a manifestation of that emotional closeness and comfort.
Now that doesn’t mean that conversation about your sex life is something to be ignored. We live in a society where sex is such a taboo that people often don’t talk about it even with their partner. But it’s important to learn what works for one another to ensure that intimacy is equally fulfilling for both partners. Often times, there are fantasies and desires that people withhold because they feel ashamed or fear being judged by their partner, but that only leads to an unsatisfactory sex life, which eventually leads to lack of intimacy in a relationship.
Communication and meeting each other half-way is a good place to start. Some couples find it helpful to first write-out all that they want their partner to hear and understand in the form of a letter, and share that with each other. Then take some time to read and absorb what your partner wrote in the letter, reflect on your emotions in response to what your partner share with you. It’s likely that you will find that you wrote similar things in your letter and that you both want similar things that were just not being communicated, and some things that make it clear where the gaps between you and your partner are, that you can work on bridging together.
Once you both have communicated your desires and read your partner’s desires in the form of a letter, it will be much easier to talk about things face-to-face.
And remember that calm and respect are very important when approaching this issue. It also helps tp keep in mind that two people rarely want the exact same thing, even when it comes to emotional and physical intimacy in a relationship. Finding a modest middle ground between what you want and what your partner wants is where you both are likely to find your happiness.