Long-distance relationships have always been a challenge, but with the onset of COVID-19, more and more couples are faced with the challenge of building intimacy when they can’t physically be together.
The challenge of building intimacy
By definition, intimacy is about building a close relationship, and creating a private connection. Most of the time that bond develops through subtle touches, or simply sharing experiences together. That becomes difficult when you are physically separated.
It absolutely can be done. You just have to work a bit hard to build intimacy in a long distance relationship.
Go beyond the phone
While many couples make a point of speaking every day, that’s not enough. Think back to when your mom asked about your day at the dinner table. Your standard response was, “It was fine.”
Sure there was some teenage angst in there, but beyond that when you’re put on the spot, your mind goes blank and you don’t know what to say. The same is true when you’re on the phone with your partner trying to give a run down of your day. You forget things, or don’t think the little things are worth mentioning.
Yet, it’s the little things that create the bond. When you spend regular time together, the small wins or frustration of your day are more likely to come up, and sharing those moments is what creates intimacy.
So the trick is to find ways to spend time “together.”
We know how important play dates are for kids, yet many adults seem to forget how important it is to have fun. While it may seem trivial, or something you don’t really have time for, don’t diminish the value of playtime – especially for your relationships.
Playing together brings joy into the relationship and helps build resilience. Through regular playtime, you learn to trust one another and feel safe.
Why? When you’re relaxed and enjoy the moment, you’re more likely to share stories or things about yourself that you wouldn’t think to bring up in a regular conversation. Making a conscious effort to bring humor and regular play into relationships makes a difference.
You can play charades and 20 questions over Skype, just as easily as you can in your living room. Choose your favorite game, make a date and enjoy time to just be silly with your partner.
Have a weekly viewing party
Most couples tend to develop into routines, and that includes watching certain shows together. While this may feel like the boring part of couplehood, it’s an important part of relationship building.
Wisecracks about the story, or sharing a laugh helps build a connection. As does simply spending regular, relaxed time in each other’s presence without the pressure of making conversation.
Pick a time, pick a show and make a standing date on Zoom to spend time together.
Focus on pillow talk
Most people associate intimacy with sex, and yes, physical contact is a big part of intimacy, but so too are the whispered things you share lying in a bed together.
Even if you don’t have the luxury of laying next to your partner (or perhaps are not ready to take that step), you can still create an intimate environment to share secrets.
Plan to have a good-night call with your partner when you’re both in bed. Pull up Facetime and lay the phone on the pillow next to you, so you can look at your partner as if you’re lying side-by-side.
This is not a time to force confidences, but rather strengthen your connection at a time when you’re both relaxed. Maybe ask your partner to tell you a “bedtime story,” and ask them to tell you the best thing that happened to them that day.
While there’s no substitute for physical contact in a relationship, taking advantage of the growing number of video apps available can help you build intimacy with a partner over long distance.
Have more questions about intimacy and relationships? Contact us today.