Helping Clients with Intimacy
When helping clients with intimacy I often ask, “What was your best sexual encounter?” I do this to help them understand what it was that made it “the best” and what pieces of that we might recycle. Almost all their stories share an underlying feeling of being desired by their partner. They were chased and felt wanted, loved, and valued.
I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t enjoy being desired. (I might someday, but it hasn’t happened yet.) Assuming your partner enjoys being desired, approaching may increase the enjoyment. This could be a quick peck as you walk past. Or maybe a sneak attack hug from behind while your partner’s hands are busy with the dishes. When you and your partner hold hands, who initiates? Be the initiator. Be the instigator. Grab their hand often; say I love you often. Pay attention to what gets a good response, or simply ask, “Do you like it when I do this?” or, “What can I do for you that would make you feel loved?” A task, perhaps, or a thoughtful gift that shows you know your partner’s preferences? Maybe they desire touch. If you are approaching with hand-holding, you are already there. What else can you do? Do you know your partner’s love language? Be careful not to impose your own love language on them and become disappointed when you don’t get the response you’re hoping for.
Texting how excited you are about a date is not only a form of approach, but a communication of your desire for your partner’s presence, and it builds anticipation for the evening ahead. Does looking forward to being with your partner on your date turn you on? Then use that. Build arousal for yourself, pass on your desire to your partner. If anticipation is also a turn-on for your partner, this is a double-whammy recipe for fun-to-come later. (Yes, pun intended.)
When is it not a good idea to approach? I can speak from my own experience. Years back I had a partner who got up early for work. Around 4 am as he was just waking up for his day, he would reach out and touch me, fondle me. At 4 am I am fully unconscious, and my unconscious mind would prompt me to pull away or roll over. After this happened over and over again, guess what? He stopped approaching. One day he told me he was tired of always being rejected for sex. At the time of this conversation I was fully awake and functioning, and my conscious brain said, “What???” (Actually, WTF???) “What are you talking about?” I had no idea how I was unconsciously reacting. This learning was an enormous breakthrough for both of us. He was feeling resentful and rejected and I was totally unaware of it. Having that conversation was essential to clearing out the negative feelings.
Nowadays we are very task-oriented, often splitting attention between our electronic devices. If your partner is like me, unless you get them to pause, you really don’t have their attention. Your approach will probably go unnoticed.
What I’ve learned and shared with my partner is how to gently and lovingly draw me out of my task to give him my full attention. Do a drive-by kiss or a loving squeeze. Catch my eye and pause for a breath so I can see you. Let me know that when I’m done, or reach a stopping point, that you’d like to be with me. This is what makes me feel loved, understood, and desired. I usually find a stopping point pretty quickly when I’m approached this way. It serves my love language.
What is the best time to approach your partner? Maybe when NOT to is easier to determine. Most of us, unfortunately, remember the bad situations far more than the good ones. The bad ones hurt, causing a reaction we want to avoid having again. Ok, note those circumstances. Was it the time of day you approached? Was it the environment? Was there someone else around? Don’t stop approaching; just adjust. I’m not awake at 4 am, but at 2 pm on a Saturday I would love to have your full attention and reply in kind.
Continuing to learn about your partner keeps the relationship growing and deepening. It’s constant work. But the results are well worth it. Showing you care and are interested in learning about your partner’s likes and dislikes can heal wounds of “I’m not lovable,” “I’m not enough,” because — Wow, I am seen and understood and valued and loved!!