Can a relationship survive without intimacy?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Keeley Townsend BA (Hons), MNCS (Acc) 14th December, 2009
A relationship needs intimacy. Regardless of whether it’s a physical intimacy or an emotional intimacy, your relationship will slowly wither and die without it. This is where it gets tricky, because your relationship actually needs both types of intimacy.
You cannot create a physical intimacy without the emotional intimacy, nor can you have complete emotional intimacy without the physical aspect as well. This is where many couples find their relationship in trouble.
It’s very common for one type of intimacy to be more important to one partner than the other, then they both find themselves going along thinking everything is fine until their partner finally speaks up and lets them know that the intimacy levels are not what they should be. Or, even more tragic, is when neither partner says anything and they find themselves ending the relationship without really knowing why.
If you can’t be intimate with your partner, whether physically or emotionally- or both, you cannot expect to having a lasting relationship with your partner. The reason for this is quite simple. Without the emotional and physical bond between mates, there’s nothing to hold onto when things get rough and both partners find themselves feeling as though they’ve got no anchor to keep them safe in the rocky ocean of life.
Human beings require intimacy. This is why simple physical affections- such as hand-holding, cuddling, hugs and kisses are important to your relationship. These simple actions let you and your partner know that you’re there for one another, that you matter to the other. If you know you can give your partner a “look” from across the room, and that he or she will return that special wink or smile, and then you’ve developed an intimacy in your relationship. Your relationship cannot survive without intimacy, because intimacy is the foundation of any relationship. Perhaps that’s not quite accurate, intimacy is what helps love to survive through the toughest of times, and makes us continue to want to love and be loved by our partners. Intimacy helps both partners to know that they are loved, that love is “worth it.” The need to be as close as possible emotionally, to the one person we’ve promised to spend the rest of our lives with is important to fulfil us.
Without intimacy, the outlook for a life-long relationship with a partner is pretty dim- and quite frankly, completely unappealing.
Most couples have developed an intimacy by the time they actually commit to a long-term relationship, or marry, but what most don’t realize is that it’s essential to your relationship to continue to build that intimacy. Everyone wants to be accepted and loved for who they are, regardless of what they might do.
Most don’t intend to hurt their significant other and most don’t want to doubt their partner. Without intimacy, there is never the security in the relationship of knowing that the other person is there for you, or of knowing that they truly love you. This is why a relationship without intimacy on both levels is pretty much doomed to failure.
Sure, a relationship can survive without intimacy- but it will become a real struggle for both partners as time goes on. When a relationship is struggling due to a lack of intimacy, neither partner will be happy or feel secure in the relationship. Without happiness and security, the vicious cycle continues.
Because of one simple fact- No one wants to even attempt to be intimate- on a physical or emotional level- with a person they are unhappy with.
Once intimacy is lost or if it never existed in the relationship, it takes a lot of determination and commitment to get intimacy back in the relationship. But it’s not impossible. After all, intimacy in a relationship is what human-beings crave; it’s a basic need that must be met for any relationship to succeed. Even animals recognize this.