How close for comfort?

Aug 20, 2013, 07:57 IST | Kanika Sharma

You might be swooning at his sight or have poured your heart out in the first month. Your sack chemistry has no parallel and you know all his secrets...if you think that is intimacy. Think again. The guide asks two reputed psychologists on what makes a relationship's heart beat together?

1. 24X7 on call
No calls, texts and even Facebook tags lead people to believe that their relationship is doomed. After all, intimacy is all about getting clued into each other’s thoughts 24X7. Intimacy is about giving each other space and rejuvenating the relationship by exploring your self. If you have been mulling over that three times a week, number. Dr Chulani cajoles you to give the number no heed. “Do not believe what you hear. People make up stories and comparing will leave you feeling inadequate. Go with whatever amount is good for you. Your frequency depends on variables that are not necessarily commonwith your friends,” she says.

2. Fit like a glove
Intimacy can be bewildering when naturally perfect sex doesn’t happen! If you weren’t made for each other in bed, how will you keep that love and understanding alive after many years. Doesn’t bedroom talk tell it all? Dr Varkha Chulani, shares, “Nothing is more damaging that this idea. Because with this myth when one has to ‘work’ at good sexual intimacy one gets agitated and upset because he/she expects it to not only be ‘natural’ but to also expects it to be perfect! So sex is perfectly natural but rarely naturally perfect!”

3. Gone with the wind
One might be reeling under the effect he has on one and experiencing a racing heartbeat whenever he is close but does that define a true connection? Walker says, “Early relationships can often feel emotionally charged and powerful. It is often unlikely that intimacy is present.” But, what about figuring so much about each other, one might question. The doc counsels, “When falling in love, we often only reveal the best parts of ourselves, or we may divulge our whole life story in two dates. This reflects a great desire to experience intimacy without being willing to take the steps required. Intimacy requires gradual building of trust, and gentle letting go of boundaries; this trust develops over time involving vulnerability.

4. Sex is good...
Sex has a lot to do with desire and the compatibility to sate it together. Dr Susan Walker evaluates it: “True intimacy is the experience of knowing another person. It is a two-way street....the more one partner risks, trusts and shares the deepest parts of themselves, the more the other will reciprocate and intimacy can be built.....Sex can often be a purely physical act, and without the prescience of intimacy between partners can be a very one-dimensional experience .”

5. You complete me?
“Sometimes partners feel that because they are in a ‘committed’ relationship, and that they are sexually active together, their other half should be willing and able to fulfill every want and need,” informs Walker. Stressing on “trust, vulnerability and respect of the other” is a nodal point, she feels. Dr Walker also urges one to understand one’s partner’s boundariesin order to make the partner feel comfortable.

6. Gmail password, check.
It is easy to think there is trust when all secrets, bank and social media networking passwords and like are known to each other. “Having the need to know everything about your partner is often more about control and insecurity that a desire to develop intimacy. Intimacy is about communication; becoming aware of your partners needs and fears, their insecurities and their strengths, and being there to support them and share with them as the relationship develops.

7. One is boring!
You might feel that intimacy is a concept that comes with its own expiry date. After all, how you can be glued to one person forever? On the contrary, intimacy is all about building trust and respecting each other’s differences, opines Dr Walker. Dr Chulani, says, “Change for change's sake? Or change because one enjoys and likes to innovate.” About being sexually involved with one person for life is fruitful: “You can have satisfying and exciting sexual life with the same partner if you use your mind creatively, maintain a level of fitness and look to make the encounters different.”

Case study
30-year-old banker Natasha Shah is unable to comprehend why her 35-year-old businessman husband Bhavesh doesn't talk when there's an issue between them. Whenever they spend their free weekends together she does household chores as Bhavesh doesn't consider them important enough. In bed, often, there’s lack of foreplay and she also feels pain, which she doesn't communicate, thinking that they are finally getting close. Bhavesh mostly withdraws , each time he has a problem. He feels judged and nagged. Sexually, Natasha calls him an animal who doesn't get emotionally involved.
Names have been changed to protect identities

The doc says>>
This case study gives us a clear example of how relationships may stagnate and even break down without honest and open communication. As mentioned above, this is a requisite for the development of true intimacy. Without that, a relationship can begin to feel like a chore. Intimacy also requires trust and the willingness to be vulnerable, which means that the couple will need to take a risk, and remove their defenses . It often starts with a visit to a counsellor or perhaps an elder they both trust.

Dr. Varkha  Chulani, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist, Lilavati Hospital

Natasha and Bhavesh are aware that things are “not right”, however, they do not have the skills to directly address this. Bhavesh has chosen to withdraw and try to ignore the issues, whilst Natasha, rather than honestly share what’s bothering her, chooses to mask her disappointment by becoming negative.

Dr Susan Walker, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist

This results in the classic “ turtle and octopus" scenario....the more the octopus reaches out, albeit negatively, the more the turtle retreats. In this case, sex becomes a chore. To encourage emotional honesty, the couple should be encouraged to use a positive framework for communication.

> When you........(describe action), for eg: leave me to do all the chores.

> I feel.........(describe emotion) for eg: sad that we’re not spending that time together.

> Why don’t we......(suggest an alternative) share the onus of the chore and decide to do something together later on.


Use of this formula often works like magic if stuck to meticulously, as all blame is removed. Bharat and Natasha would also be encouraged to forgo full sexual intercourse for a few weeks , andi nstead give each other individual massages on alternate occasions. This removes the pressure of performing and instead encourages each to find out more about the others body, focusing on learning more about what pleases them, rather than fulfilling their own needs. True intimacy can then begin to evolve, and sex will again become holistic.

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