When you think of healthy physical intimacy what images come to mind? Unfortunately, many individuals grew up with images of physical intimacy in the media that were diluted at best, and all too often completely warped. So, what does healthy sex look like?
Healthy sex is more than physical mechanics. It is whole-hearted and felt emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Healthy sex is not about receiving physical pleasure alone, it’s about conscientiously loving another. The best sex isn’t a duty to be fulfilled, and it is never degrading or exploiting. Healthy sex is a journey of respect, honesty, vulnerability, connection, and love. Healthy intimacy is based on what happens outside the bedroom, not in the bedroom. Here are three building blocks of healthy intimacy:
#1 Be there for each other. How well couples respond to each other outside the bedroom can be a strong predictor of what happens inside. A willingness to share in another person’s journey without defensiveness, criticism, and judgment is important. We all experience life differently. We all need comfort at different times. Take the time to respond to your partner in a way that works for them.
#2 Remember to keep friendship alive. Remember the good old days of dating when you would talk for hours like good friends? Do you know what your partner’s goals and dreams are for the future? Are you supporting your partner in those goals and dreams? If not this could be impacting your sexuality. Friendship in the relationship is essential to romantic life. Find out what your partner is thinking on a deeper level.
#3 Be trustworthy. The very foundation of healthy sexuality is trust. If partners are not able to share their most vulnerable parts because of broken trust, sexuality will be impacted. Gottman (2011) suggests that honesty, transparency, accountability, ethics, and alliance are ways we can evaluate trustworthiness (p. 336). Make it a point to show your partner that you are trustworthy.
You can have healthy intimacy. Remember to take the time to be there for your partner and build friendship. Being trustworthy makes all the difference. Enjoy the journey together!
Reference: Gottman, J.M. (2011). The science of trust. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc..