Where did all the intimacy go?

Originally Posted on Some Kind of Therapy

This title is a question I have been pondering for a while now; and I’m not just talking about the intimacy in our private lives, but in relationships in general. As I handed over my passport at Heathrow airport the other day, I asked the man how he was, and he seemed surprised and then remarked that it was the first time someone had asked all day……it was 6.30pm. When did we stop this simple exchange — that three word question, how are you? Do we actually spend more time looking down at our screens than into the eyes of others? Eye-contact with a stranger on the tube can be alarming and many feel it must be avoided at all costs, but that also means that there is so much we don’t see as we constantly have our eyes lowered. In a world where we are so connected, almost constantly so by technology, are we actually quite distant?

Working as a Psychosexual & Couples Therapist perhaps I see the impact of this more than most. I sit and talk to people for just under an hour every week, with no technology or interruptions. There is a goal to us being there of course, which is to discuss, reflect and help my clients in obtaining the changes that they are looking for in their lives; but nowadays this kind of experience is rare.

We communicate through technology, even if we are right in front of each other. It’s all around us, every restaurant has at least two people both on their phones, paying each other and the delicious food that they have paid for absolutely no attention whatsoever. It’s like we’re often absent, we are not mindful of the food in front of us but play close attention to the supper of another on Instagram.

Depending on your personal definition of intimacy you might not be overly concerned with what I am talking about. Many of us are happy with our relationships just the way they are, and why shouldn’t you be? But many aren’t but don’t really know why or how to change it. People describe a lack of closeness, and not just sex but this elusive word intimacy. It’s just a feeling that makes that particular relationship special. If you consider the word literally it’s into-me-see it allows that person to see the real us, it expresses a trust and vulnerability that differentiates to how we feel about others.

But many feel that their relationships are missing some of this, or that there certainly isn’t as much intimacy as there were at the start of the relationship. But isn’t this just one of those things that everyone says happens?

Relationships go on, and the longer they go on for the less sex you have for sure, but also is there less intimacy? The media reports that couples are having much less sex than 30 years ago But why? And more importantly why don’t we do anything about it?

At the start of relationships we invest, we make the effort and we go above and beyond to secure that relationship. We know we really like this person and we want to keep them close to us. We want to be close with them so we present our best versions of ourselves; we bite our tongue about things that irritate us and try to show that we are unaffected by the little hurts.

So what changes? The longer we are in relationships the more we build trust and security — we start to realise that person can take the fact that you disagree on politics; and that if you display your true emotions in an argument that they won’t just give up and run for the hills. But alongside this we forget to take the notice we used to of that person in front of us. We get lazy, not intentionally, but just because there is so much to think about. Work, Life, Mortgage Payments, trying to fit in going to the gym, catching up with friends and going to visit our parents, how are we meant to do it all?

Unintentionally our relationships make way for the other things we need to fit into our lives, but this doesn’t mean we have to jeopardise them. Often I encourage people I work with to think about the small things and how hey can impact. Making the effort to spend 2 minutes when you say goodbye in the morning and get home at night actually talking about how each other are, and looking into each others eyes or hugging. These little

moments of connectivity can be magic and can make us realise how special we are, they are, and what we have together.

This is exactly the reason we made Pillow Play. We wanted to help show couples how easy it can be to set aside five minutes to invest in your relationship, and how worth it that it can be. To pay attention to the simple things to touch, to gaze, to kiss, to giggle. To add that element of playfulness back into our busy lives and use technology for a different reason to bring us together and look away from the screen and into the eyes of our partner.

Take five minutes this week just to tell your partner why they are so special, and what you love about them. Hold them in your arms and allow yourself to hold and be held, pay attention, notice and don’t let the intimacy go.

Kate Moyle is A Partner at Pillow Play App (www.pillow.io) and is a Psychosexual & Relationship Therapist based in Central London.