Did you know that the largest contributing factor to decreased intimacy in a relationship is stress? This can be any type of stress. From parenting, work demands, family expectations, job loss, the pandemic, etc. In this blog, I am going to explain how stress affects intimacy and give you 3 tips to start rebuilding intimacy in your relationship today.
What happens when you feel stress? Your body releases the stress hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol is meant to help you regulate your stress response, manage metabolism and deal with the inflammatory response of your body during hard times. It’s a powerhouse hormone that is meant to be a short-term solution to a stressful event. However, when stress becomes prolonged it’s not good.
High levels of Cortisol can lead to weight gain, fatigue, irritability, headaches, anxiety, depression, intestinal issues, increased blood pressure, AND (low and behold) a significant decrease in libido. Let’s just say that feeling stressed isn’t sexy and doesn’t get anyone in the mood.
But guess what?! We can counteract these stress hormones with some good hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. How? With intimacy!! Isn’t that ironic? Cortisol will inhibit the sexy hormones needed for intimacy, yet intimacy can help release all those good hormones! Can you see how this presents a challenge in relationships?
But there is a way! Here are the 3 tips to start rebuilding intimacy in your relationship today…
#1 Create some anticipation
We live in a world where we can call and text each other about our day as if it’s a live feed. Instead, save it for when you are face to face so that you have something to talk about at the end of your day.
#2 Talk about desire
We often think that the solution to a problem has to be complex when in reality it can be simple – yet hard. Start from a place of attraction, which will trigger the hormones in your body. Ask yourself – what do you find attractive about your partner? Why did you choose them? What does your partner do to make you feel desired?
After you’ve explored those questions, talk to your partner about them. When we are able to share our desires with our partner we can find a connection to those desires. We’re more likely to seek physical contact and connection when we feel a connection to desire.
#3 Schedule things
Think about what it was like when you first started dating and had a strong desire for the other person. Connect back to that desire again, without an end goal in mind.
We seem to think that after the dating stage we magically enter a relationship that feels and does the same things as when we were dating but without the effort of making plans to actually date. Challenge yourself to think about all the things you did together when you first started dating. Scheduling the date, getting ready, planning what to wear, where to meet, etc. Do this again!
Therapy Tip: the couples that focus on sex will have less of it while those who focus on attraction and desire will have more sex.
Rebuilding physical intimacy can take time but it can be done with small steps towards connection and desire – plus having intimacy reduces the production of the stress hormone, which in today’s world is a REALLY good thing!
I hope this was helpful!
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