While you and your partner likely talk all the time, there's a lot more you can say to each other in order to
help strengthen intimacy in your relationship. Whether that means talking more about how you feel, asking if they need help, or even just saying "thank you" more often, these things can bring you closer. And it may even strengthen your relationship.
"Intimacy is a sense of incredible closeness between two people,"
Lauren Cook, MMFT, a clinician practicing emotionally-focused therapy, tells Bustle. And one of the best ways to maintain it is through this type of communication, which will open you up and get you both talking about meaningful things.
"Communication certainly helps
create a sense of intimacy," Cook says. "Namely, it is not just sharing vulnerable content, but also noticing the process and experience of being vulnerable with one another. Acknowledging one another’s willingness to openly engage in the relationship can especially create intimacy."
For even more benefit, "strive to
make eye contact when you listen to your partner or communicate in any way," clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly, tells Bustle. "Loving, attentive eye contact is one of the best ways to maintain true intimacy." With these tips in mind, read on for a few things you may want to say to each other, according to experts, in order to maintain your connection.
"What About Today Was Difficult?"
partner open-ended questions — whether it's about their day, what they want out of life, etc. — can help keep you close. Not only does it take the conversation beyond easy "yes" or "no" answers, but it can help you get to know each other even better.
"Being curious about one’s partner is a sign of caring affection," Manly says. "As such, open-ended questions [...] show that you care and want to be intimately involved in your partner’s life." So if it's been a minute since the last time you got a good convo going, an open-ended question may be in order.
While it's always helpful to check in with each other, this is something you'll definitely want to ask if you sense something is off about with partner.
"If your partner appears to be sad, anxious, or irritated, loving comments and questions can be very healing," Manly says. "Rather than ignoring the palpable emotions, it’s often helpful to say, 'It seems like you are hurting (sad, anxious, etc.) right now. Would you like to talk about what’s going on? I’m here for you.'"
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"Life gets busy and it is easy to [look past] the small
things your partner does for you and for the relationship," Massiel Bradbury, LPC, a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship issues, tells Bustle. But that's precisely why it's something you'll want to say to each other more often.
"Pause when you can and pay attention to the small effort your partner puts into the relationship on a day-to-day basis," Bradbury says. By showing appreciation even for the little, everyday things they do — like taking out the trash, or washing dishes — it'll help keep you connected.
"What Can I Help You With?"
While you both have your own busy lives going on, it's still nice to take the time to ask how you can help each other out. "This question is a constant reminder that you are a team and you're in this together,"
Jenna Palumbo, LCPC, a mental health therapist with Evergreen Therapy, tells Bustle.
You might ask what you can help with in terms of a project, chores, errands, etc. "Asking if they need help will also give them permission to lean on you in the future if they do need help," she says, "making it more likely they'll ask for help, rather than getting upset that you didn't notice."
"What Do You Need From Me?'
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Similarly, if your partner is going through a tough time, asking what they might need from you emotionally can mean the world.
"What this tells your partner is that even though you don't know how to help them in the moment you are willing to try," Palumbo says. "You can say this when your partner is telling you about the bad day they had, the fight they got into with their mom, or when you're upset with each other."
Moments like these often require extra emotional support, and asking this question assures your partner you're there for them.
"I'll Always Choose You"
Saying this, or any variation of it, can be a great way to reaffirm your relationship. "While there may be times when we feel closer to our partner than others, being an in a committed relationship requires
choice." Cook says. "Telling your partner that you are consciously deciding to be with them, especially in the face of conflict, affirms a sense of closeness and safety in the relationship. It conveys to your partner that you will be there through the good and bad times and not just when it’s easy."
According to Cook, using the word "we" more often can lead to a
greater sense of closeness and increased satisfaction in your relationship, instead of always using the word "I."
"This does not mean that you should lose your own sense of identity within the relationship," Cook says, "rather, forming that healthy, interdependent bond builds an increased level of connection."
By saying things like "we make a great team," you're essentially saying you're a unit who can take on anything together. And that can make you feel even
more connected in our relationship.
"What Do You Need In Our Relationship?"
You can't meet each other's needs if you don't ever talk about them, so if you aren't sure, go ahead and ask. "By asking what your partner needs in the relationship and trying your best to meet those needs, you're strengthening your bond as a couple," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at
Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle.
For instance, both of you should know the basics of what the other needs in order to feel secure and happy in the relationship. Do you needs lots of one-on-one time? Do they need to feel understood? Once you know, you'll both be more likely to meet them.
"How Can We Have More Fun?"
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Of course, one of the best and simplest ways to maintain intimacy in your relationship is by having more fun. "Intimacy is more than sex and physical connection," Bradbury says, though it definitely includes that. It's also about being close and
having a good time together.
If you're sensing a low point in your relationship, talk about ways to have more fun. Do you need more date nights? A vacation? A new experience? Set about doing those things.
There are lots of ways to maintain intimacy, and communication plays an important role in that, Bradbury says. By talking more often, whether it's by asking questions to find out what you both need, talking about ways to have fun, or simply showing more appreciation, you can stay close.