Everyone agrees that effective and consistent communication is the key to any lasting and healthy relationship. When we communicate with friends, family, or romantic partners, we open ourselves up to being heard and understood. On the contrary, when we refuse to discuss the things that are important to us since “they should just know what I’m thinking” we run the risk of breeding feelings of resentment and angst.
That’s why I love Khalid’s song Location. My favorite part is the first line of the chorus, “Send me your location, Let's focus on communicatin' 'cause I just need the time and place to come through.” The rest of the song encourages clear communication about romantic feelings and intentions for a budding relationship. All to hopefully avoid heartbreak if the feelings aren’t mutual. He goes on to say “so don't take advantage, don't leave my heart damaged, To understand that things go a little bit better when you plan it.”
The reality is, people are not mind-readers. Folks can not always predict what you need and assume that you are going to enjoy it. This leads to automatic disappointment when they do not meet your expectations. So why not reduce your chances of being frustrated and tell them what you want...what you really really want (sorry, I couldn’t help it).
It can be helpful to take some time to think about and write out what you need when it comes to sexual intimacy. Explore for yourself what it means to be sexually intimate. What does it look like? How does it feel? What sensations increase/decrease your pleasure? Who is involved? What physical places (i.e. bedroom, kitchen, sex club, etc.) do you enjoy being sexually intimate?
When it comes to communicating your sexual and intimacy needs, it’s also important to note that sex ≠ intimacy. Sex is actually only one of several forms of intimacy. There is Experiential Intimacy which is focused on actively doing things with your loved one that creates memorable experiences. It can be as simple as going on a walk or as exotic as attending a burlesque show together. Emotional Intimacy which is being able to be vulnerable and share secrets, fears, goals and fantasies. Intellectual Intimacy includes exploring new ideas and beliefs systems while respecting differences in opinions between you and your loved one. This can be in the form of reading a book together, debating about social issues, learning a new language, or attending an event that is important to your loved one. Spiritual Intimacy occurs when we are able to share the same values, ethics, morals, and spiritual or religious beliefs. Activities such as praying, attending a house of worship, or connecting with nature together are ways to increase spiritual intimacy. Conflict Intimacy is achieved when you and your loved one are able to respectfully work through challenges that naturally occur throughout life. For example, navigating an emotional loss, transitioning between careers, or everyday household arguments. Lastly, Physical Intimacy is different from sexual intimacy. Physical intimacy focuses on more non-sexual touches. This includes hugging, kissing, handholding, and cuddling.
These levels of intimacy can be just as important, if not more important for some folks, as sexual intimacy. I encourage you to explore and write down your intimacy needs on all of these levels. Then, when you are ready, share these with your partner(s) or loved ones. If you feel like you need more support and guidance with how to have this conversation, try scheduling sessions with a sex and relationship therapist or coach.