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Intimacy in a Relationship, what it is All About?

Reveals Couples Therapist Shivani Misri Sadhoo what defines intimacy between couples

According to The Oxford English Dictionary intimacy has been defined as the “inmost thoughts or feelings; proceeding from, concerning, or impacting one’s inmost self: closely personal.”

While couples therapist Shivani Sadhoo says, from a psychological or relationship’s view intimacy generally, denotes mutual vulnerability, openness, and sharing. It is mostly present in close, loving relationships like in marriages and friendships. The word is also at times used to refer to sexual interactions, but intimacy does not have to be restricted to be sexual only.

Though intimacy could undoubtedly exist beyond romantic relationships, it most usually pertains to dating and marriage. The word intimacy has been derived from Latin word “intimus,” which means ‘inner’ or ‘innermost. In the majority of romance languages, the word intimate refers to an individual’s innermost qualities.

Intimacy lets people bond with each other on multiple levels. Therefore, it is a mandatory component of healthy relationships.

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Through this blog, India’s eminent marriage counselor Shivani Sadhoo covers the different forms of intimacy and how you can make more of it in your relationship.

Types of intimacy that exists in a relationship

Upon hearing the word, most of you perhaps instantly jumped to thinking about physical intimacy, but other forms of intimacy are simply as important, particularly when it comes to romantic relationships. Let’s have a look at some different kinds of intimacy.

Physical intimacy

While holding a hand or hugging are both examples of physical intimacy, this form is most commonly used in reference to sex. And while sex is integral in relationships, you can also showcase physical intimacy through kissing, holding hands, cuddling, and skin-to-skin contact.

While these minor physical displays of affection might seem mundane, they can actually help you and your partner cultivate a feeling of bonding and closeness.

With reference to sex, a part of intimacy is also about feeling safe enough with your partner to share your likes and dislikes. Make certain that you are asking for the same piece of information from your partner. In this manner, you can facilitate a safe haven where both of you will feel comfortable sharing your deepest thoughts, needs, and desires.

Emotional

Emotional intimacy can also be one of the most vital aspects of a relationship. One specific journal defined emotional intimacy as involving “a perception of closeness to another that lets sharing of personal feelings, accompanied through expectations of understanding, affirmation, and demonstrations of caring.

To harvest emotional intimacy, take the proper time to listen to and share with your partner every day. Also, make notes of special moments or things that remind you of your special one so that you can let them know you are also thinking about them.

Studies have suggested that self-disclosure helps build feelings of intimacy inside marriages, which will make your bond even stronger. A big part of it is sharing your thoughts and feelings with transparency, honesty, and listening to your loved ones when they do the same.

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Experiential

While couples do not have to be joined at the hip, shared experiences are essential in healthy relationships. They are also mostly the way that relationships start, so experiences could even add an aspect of nostalgia for long-term partners.

If you are looking to deepen your experiential intimacy, this is an excellent moment to book a trip or try out a fun new date spot or activity in your city. Try to learn something new with regard to your partner.

Intellectual

See, you do not have to watch a specific TV show together every single night, but it could be fun to have intellectual conversations with your significant other, mainly if you work in different fields. Find new topics to discuss; simple website searches pull up tons of conversation starters.

If you put good effort into having conversations beyond the everyday monotony, it will keep things fresh within your relationship.

Spiritual

While this could be referring to religious ideas and beliefs, it also means something way more profound, such as sharing actual beliefs and values. Your values and beliefs could align with religion or even general health and wellness. Regardless, it is necessary to share these vital aspects of your life with your partner.

This could also be an opportunity for you and your partner to talk about what role you exactly want spirituality to play in your lives if you have a family.

Methods to form intimacy

Not an issue of how long you two have been together, it is always important to develop your intimacy levels. Here are certain simple, practical methods to enhance and expand your levels of intimacy in your relationship:

  • If you are not in the mood or are extremely exhausted from having sex or even talking, cuddle on the couch.
  • Plan for a trip to a place neither of you has earlier been to. It is fun to experience new things for the first time.
  • Keep aside the gadgets even if it is only during a meal or while you and your partner watch a show together. Rather, make certain to do this if your partner is talking to you about their day or a specific experience.
  • While listening to your partner, make yourself completely emotionally present to them. If you at all cannot manage to do this when they are talking to you, calmly explain your case why and then set aside a specific time in the future to listen to what they have to say.
  • Send each other articles so that both of you can have fun and something new to discuss. This also assists in building intellectual intimacy, and it could provide you a much-required mental break if you have kids, or a caregiver to another loved one in the extended family.

Related Blog Post on Intimacy and Relationship

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Do You Need to Heal, Before Starting a New Relationship?

Avantika’s Story (Not real name)

Hardly a couple of years went into their marriage when Avantika and Rohan (not real names) were thinking about getting a divorce. Avantika was pondering where she went wrong. She analysed back the last couple of years of her marital life and the destruction of her first marriage and then how she met another man named Vishal (name changed) after some time post her divorce. Like Avantika, Vishal too was divorced and they found comfort and distraction both in each other’s company, which eventually turned into likeliness for each other.

Then, suddenly Avantika was feeling as if she had moved on too quickly, and more importantly, has she been able to completely heal from her last broken relationship prior to jumping into the next.

She posed a question to her and also to me when she came for the counseling, says Shivani Sadhoo. The question was “does she completely need to heal before initiating a new relationship”?

The process of grief and healing

Shivani says first, one needs to delve deeper into the question. What do you mean by healing? Does anyone ever “fully” heal? How can one know when they are ready to begin again?

Grief is a cluster of emotions one experiences when one loses someone with whom they had emotional attachments. The feelings one has when grieving is usual, but the majority of the time, they are unpleasant. People look to want them to go away. What requires to be understood though is that these feelings have a reason. Sadness assists you to step away from others and see inward. It presents you with time to analyze yourself and come to realities with your own responsibilities and mistakes. It lends you time to think about the future you wish for and to gradually take steps forward.

There are other feelings while you grieve. Anger is a potent emotion that helps one make changes, but it mostly becomes a source of bonding that could cause problems. Grieving people could join with one another in a relationship formed on their anger at their ex-partners and rapidly bond over that commonality. These relationships may grow fast and feel very powerful, but they require much more than simply shared anger as a basis.

William Worden in his book “Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy” talks of recovery as a four-step First, you should accept the reality of the loss and start to see the opportunities for a new future. Secondly, one needs to feel the feelings of loss. This is the step majorly avoided but it is necessary. Third, you should adjust to the facts of life without the other. The fourth process is letting go of the lost partner and searching for a new, meaningful relationship. These new relationships may be romantic or they could be something else.

Last thought

How much time does it take? People attempt to put a time frame on this procedure, but it’s difficult to measure things in that manner. You might never feel “totally healed.” If you wait for that, you might never move ahead. How do you get to know you are healed enough? When are you actually ready? When the feelings of sadness and loss start to lift when one is alone with their thoughts, and their imagination begins accepting thoughts of a brighter future… one is starting to get there.

This blog is written by top relationship and marriage counselor Shivani Misri Sadhoo.

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How to Fall in Love Again, Post Coming Out of a Traumatic Relationship?

Scenario: You look back on life post your last, specifically toxic breakup with a newfound sense of contentment and peace. You were in a relationship with someone who hardly ever valued your time and was never emotionally present. Then started the gaslighting: denying your feelings, not acknowledging at all the very real issues plaguing your relationship, always looking for an easier way out. Sounds familiar? Perhaps for many.

Your relationship always hurts you and you are still trying to come to terms with reality. You are not thinking about falling in love again, since it is out of the question for you now. You are now terrified of love. Fearing if you fall in love again, someone may again take the part of you and turn their back

Shivani says individuals who have had traumatic breakups show physical and emotional signs of distress. In several cases, intrusive thoughts occur. The abandonment issues simply got worse while a few lose the ability to care about others and keep a distance. In certain scenarios, trauma is not mandatorily a by-product of a bad romantic relationship but has deeper roots during childhood.

India’s eminent Couples Therapist Shivani Misri Sadhoo shares some ways to come out of trauma and fall in love again.

Unmask and counter the traumatic experiences

People are mostly unaware of the patterns that are an outcome of traumatic experiences. If you are fearful of falling in love again, it could be because you are holding on to a pattern of mistrust. Actively acknowledging, addressing, and countering your trauma with a therapist is the first healthy measure in the process. Find a qualified counselor who can navigate how many levels of trauma can impact you. It is a journey you should take in a safe environment. Do not lose patience. Unmask your traumas in a systematic and gradual method rather than startling yourself into it.

Understand trauma is just a part, not your complete self

A parts approach to navigate through traumas. Trauma never completely goes away and anyone telling you the same otherwise is only deluding you. But you can regulate it. You start by acknowledging that your traumas do not form the whole of you but just a part of you. Otherwise, you will end up giving your traumas plenty of power.

Re-develop your self-esteem

Once you acknowledge and understand your trauma plenty of healing can begin happening. Coming out of a traumatic relationship not just means the ostensible loss of the relationship itself, but also a loss of your sense of future. It is essential to keep the two separate in order to re-cultivate a healthy relationship with yourself. Your identity gets attached to them and you cannot imagine your life without them. This is why, it is vital to stay away from any addictions, specifically, casual sex and hookups. Everyone wants to heal quickly and move on swiftly but there is a shortcut. Take your time to heal. A break-up is a good time to reset. Search inward and begin with trusting yourself again.

Form a healthy support mechanism

People mostly become victims of confirmation bias—seeking and concentrating just on those experiences around them that confirm their fears. Let’s say you had a break-up and you constantly surround yourself with people who also faced a break-up and they are constantly feeding your mind with something. This is in spite of the fact that your circumstances are completely different from theirs. After all, all break-ups are not the same. This is an outcome of confirmation bias and you need to avoid validating your fears. It is important that you do not surround yourself with people who will belittle your experiences or gaslight you. Surround yourself with positive people or at best seek a therapist.

Be rational with evaluating the threat

Probably the sole bright thing about coming out of traumas, specifically in romantic relationships, is that you end up being truly aware of any red flags. That is if you are not repeating the same pattern again. But mostly, in the process of avoiding any red flags, people end up being overly cautious with potential partners. It is vital to not be hyperactive. You need to distinguish between red flags and the normal imperfections in any relationship.

Probe yourself, and how it serves you

When you end up isolating yourself because of bad past experiences, that way you simply end up further hurting yourself in that process. You need to interrogate yourself: What are you safeguarding yourself from? By living in an illusion, that no one will have the ability to hurt you if you do not go out, you are anyway still going to hurt because of the loneliness that comes with that mindset.

Do you think your relationship is healthy

Do You Think Your Relationship is Healthy? 

Couples Therapist Shivani Sadhoo shares 3 must-have qualities for long-lasting love

A healthy relationship or marriage is commonly defined by the couple’s bonding condition where both the partners feel connected to each other and they feel satisfied with how the relationship is growing. A healthy relationship is best suited to travel through all difficult stages of life and survive the iron of time. But unfortunately, that does not happen too often. Many a time we witness couples who are happy today face issues like infidelity, breakups, and disinterest in sex in the future.

So many may, question, why relationships that are happy and fine today, can break tomorrow?

India’s leading marriage counselor Shivani Misri Sadhoo suggests it happens because many times, couples fail to identify if their current non-problematic relationship is actually healthy or not? They fail to identify unhealthy relationships on time and thus fail to take correction steps, effectively on time.

In today’s blog, Shivani Sadhoo shares 5 key qualities of a healthy relationship, that can help couples if something.

1.  Both the partners can communicate clearly
Many a time, one partner does all the talking and the other just listens, the person who does the most talking may identify the relationship as healthy, but what about the partner who might have stopped expressing him or herself. Thus, clear and direct communication by both partners is the first sign of a healthy relationship.

2. Partner’s trust

The second sign of a healthy relationship, is the partner’s complete trust for each other in all key areas of marital life like money, investment, parenting style, faithfulness, and others. Plus, each partner respects the other’s decision on these matters.

3. Partner feels independent

A healthy relationship does not mean staying happy together at cost of sacrificing self-identity and personal space. It’s important that the couples have their own identity independent of their partners. This means having your own interests and hobbies, or your own friendship circle that is separate from your relationship.

But this also doesn’t mean that the husband goes to a party every Saturday night while the wife waits at home and she takes care of home chores and children alone. Make it a collaborative effort, husband must understand and express the gratitude for wife’s contribution if she is a housewife and alternately both husband and wife should take out time to spend quality time together as well as to spend some time for their individual interests.

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Signs You May be Suffering Due to Poor Personal Boundaries

Personal boundaries are the “limits” that a person needs in his/her life and relationship, to dictate to other people how they should treat and behave with them and what they can expect from them. Unfortunately, a lot of people set poor personal boundaries and suffer, day and night in their friendship, professions, and relationships.

The problem lies in the fact that as toddlers and children, society teaches us to say “Yes” to elders, be it in school or at home. Society at large appreciates obedience and does not encourage kids and teenagers to ask questions, which in fact is the foundation of a free mind, self-belief, and bravery.

The problem starts when this obedient child, grows-ups and enters the throat-cutting competitive world, find himself/herself in a group of peers, or finds a partner with poor morals and weak self-belief, and fails to say “NO” against emotional, psychological, and materialistic worldly exploitations.

In today’s blog, India’s eminent psychologist and couples therapist Shivani Sadhoo signs that can help you identify if you are suffering in your life due to poor personal boundaries.

1. You completely hate it when you let others down

It means that you mostly go along with the other person’s plans and say yes to all the things you wouldn’t normally choose to do, and possibly do not want to do. Joining added committees, agreeing to visit restaurants where you know you will not be able to avail anything for your kid’s health restrictions on the menu, opting to go along with a messy schedule at work in an attempt to accommodate your boss’ new whim.

2. You are continuously tired and don’t even know the reason

And every mother said, “Yes” Though it is completely different from “mom-tired,” it is incredibly common. It occurs as you are giving all your energy away by continuously tending to everyone else’s wishes and needs and putting your own interest on the shelf.

3. You feel like how other person feels is solely up to you

You always worry whether they are having a good time and feeling good. You go beyond your limits to make certain this is the case. It means you feel guilty and anxious quite regularly. You seldom feel settled because there is always going to be an individual who is upset or a blame to put out. And you ought to be the one to do it.

4. It’s simple for others to take advantage of you

It’s simply for others to take advantage of you. You are pretty certain that is not what you agreed to, but you would rather not say anything. And they also, know you won’t either. You might even wonder if you are being manipulated by those who are actually closest to you.

5. Deep within you think no one respects you

This is perhaps because you have been pushed over far too many times, so they never think they need to.

6. It is too difficult for you to take and make decisions on the basis of your own needs

You are not able to take any stand for yourself because you feel what others want or will feel.  Eventually, when you truly decide for yourself, you find it overwhelming or exhausting.

7. You are not certain who you are or what you like

Perhaps you may feel like having an identity crisis. You do not know what you prefer or love. How it feels to make a decision on your own interests. Rather you are preoccupied with what others want you to do.

Stay tuned to Saarthi’s blog because we will be posting soon the article by Shivani Misri Sadhoo on ways one can set their personal boundaries correctly.