There are many factors that contribute to a successful long-term relationship. Among these, however, maintaining intimacy through both physical touch and conversation stand as the most relevant to long-term happiness and growth as a couple.
Also known as “love talk” intimate conversations take place when partner connect with one another on a deep, personal level, feeling free to share hopes, dreams, fears, hurts, and more. In general, intimate conversation happens frequently at the beginning stages of a relationship, when partner are just getting to know one another and their degree of interest in the other person and their relationship is highest. However, as relationships age, this level of interest and investment in the relationship as such diminishes. As a result, love talk falters and intimate conversations are often let go.
This does not need to spell the end of a relationship, though. In fact, by understanding the art of intimate conversations, including what facilitates them and what impedes them, as well as using some basic tools and conversation starters, you can achieve a greater level of intimacy in your relationship no matter how long you have been a couple. [Related: The Secret to Creating Real Intimacy With Your Spouse]
Facilitators and Disruptors: The Key Elements of an Intimate Conversation
When it comes to having a tete-a-tete with your love, you need to understand the attitudes, environments, and frames of mind that both help and hurt intimacy. Unlike the early relationship love talks that many couples have, a shared history, past disagreements, and festering problems can all end intimate conversations before they even start. Here are the key facilitators and disruptors of intimate conversations between partners. The next time you sit down to talk, check yourself for them:
Intimate Conversation Facilitators
- Balance – both partners need to talk (and listen!) throughout the conversation
- Attentiveness – be sure that all external stimuli including the TV, cell phones, and other people are gone so you can focus solely on one another
- Purpose – intimate conversations are all about learning. Go into one with the object of learning more about your partner and understanding him/her better
- Interest – either develop an interest in one another’s favorite topics or discover new, common interests together. It is important for both partners to care about what they discuss.
Intimate Conversation Disruptors
- Being Right – forcing your partner to agree with you not only kills the flow of conversation, but breeds resentment. The point is to be heard, not to be right.
- The Past – dwelling on past mistakes, transgressions, and slip-ups puts the focus on blame and that which we cannot change rather than change and that which we can (the future)
- Mal-Intent – intimate conversations should be about closeness, not punishment. Don’t talk about something specifically to agitate your partner or prove you are right (i.e. see above)
How to Start an Intimate Conversation
When you are in a long-term relationship, having an intimate conversation may need to be conscious, and therefore you need to take deliberate steps to start that conversation and guide it into deeper territory. After setting the scene (i.e. eliminating distractions, blocking out time, etc.) use one of these questions to get the conversation started and see where it takes you. If you pause for too long, try another topic.
- Where do you see us in a year from now? 5 years?
- Who is the one person who has had the greatest impact on your life?
- What is one thing you have always wanted to do, but haven’t? What is stopping you?
- What would your perfect day be?
- What is the thing you admire most about yourself? About me?
- If you could start again, what would you do after high school?
- What are the top three places you want to see before you die?
- If you could start your own business (and had the capital to do it right) what would it be?
- How would you spend one million dollars (other than pay bills!)?
- What is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done? Looking back, would you do it again?
These are just a few ideas and many naturally lead into more conversation topics and avenues as you look into yourselves and share ideas and dreams.
Sometimes, You Just Need to Talk
Ask any professional therapist or couples’ counsellor and you will likely hear the same prescription for an ailing relationship: just talk. The act of talking and talking and talking and talking is incredibly important because it is talk that leads to communication and communication which leads to intimacy. Other than avoiding the major disruptors to an intimate conversation, simply talking is the simplest and most natural way to have an intimate conversation with your partner. Plus, the more you do it, the better you’ll get and soon you won’t even have to think about it at all.
If you’re having barriers to communication or for some reason, always end up arguing with your partner each time you talk about important matters, it’s time to detoxify your relationship before things fall apart or one of you breaks up with the other. Sign up for a one-on-one coaching session with me and I’ll walk you through the steps in getting your relationship back on track. Talk soon!