What is Your ‘Comfort Zone’ for Intimacy and Connection?
Do you want more hugging, sex or intimacy than your spouse?
Would you like more connection than your dates or relationship partner wants to give?
Do you need more space or independence in your relationship?
We each have a different comfort level for connection and intimacy. This is our ability to stay connected before we need space or when the level of closeness with a partner activates fear.
The difference in our comfort zones come from each person’s childhood experiences, past relationships, traumas, and support that they have had or not have in their lives.
For some people, it’s 3 seconds of eye contact or a short hug. For others, it can be a longer period of affection, eye contact or time spent together.
When partners have the same ability or desire to connect, then the relationship can be one of ease. There is a natural ebb and ––– a natural “contact” and then “withdrawal.”
However, with many couples or dating partners there is an imbalance. One partner wants more intimacy or needs more ‘space.’ If each person doesn’t understand the needs of the other, this can lead to tension, yearning or frustration.
Sue and Jason have been married for ten years. She wanted to spend most of her free time with him and do all their activities together. She didn’t understand when he needed time alone. She felt hurt, rejected and then acted angry toward him. They were in vicious cycle; both withdrawing and then not talking for days.
In our coaching together, we explored Sue’s feelings of hurt and rejection which came from deeper issues. We came up with different responses that she could have when Jason needed time alone. I also taught her a compassionate communication method so she could tell Jason how to help her to feel more secure in their relationship.
As a result, she was able to also understand Jason’s needs. Sue then reconnected with friends and found activities that she really enjoys instead of “waiting around” for him to spend time with her. Their relationship has changed dramatically for the better and she is enjoying a fuller life.
Marianne is a single woman in her 40’s. She met an attractive guy at a party and they immediately connected. They talked for hours and she was having a fabulous time!
However, she also had a stressful day at work and several drinks at the party. Suddenly, Marianne felt exhausted. Not having recognized the signs of the connection overwhelm, it took her by surprise.
She liked the guy but needed to sleep and didn’t’t know how to break away. All she knew was that she need to “leave now.”
In her overwhelmed state she couldn’t think clearly. Marianne got up abruptly, broke their connection and said, “I need to go home now.” She forgot to give the guy her number or ask for his. She only knew his first name, and was upset that never saw him again.
In our work together I helped Marianne to recognize her signs of “connection overwhelm” and to express her need for a break before reaching her ‘point of no return.’
Connection and Touch
Vanessa grew up in a house where there was very little touch. Her parents didn’t hug each other, nor did they hug Vanessa and her brother.
Her boyfriend Carl’s family is very expressive. They hug every time they say hello and goodbye.
When Vanessa and Carl watched TV, he put her arm around her or placed his hand on her leg. Before understanding their differences for intimacy and touch, she though he was just “needy.” She didn’t have a reference point for pure physical affection.
Now that she realizes it’s about connection, she reaches out and touches him more. As a result they have become closer and feel more bonded.
If you are dating:
If you’re dating or in between relationships, then it’s the perfect time to access your own needs and values. This way you can look for a partner whose ‘comfort zone’ for intimacy is similar to yours. Ask yourself:
Do l need a lot of hugging, cuddling, affection?
Do I want a partner to call, see and text me often?
Do I like to have a lot of independence and space in my relationships?
When you refine your own needs up front, you can circumvent longing or discontent in the long run.
If you are married or in a relationship and want to expand your own ‘comfort zone’ to create more intimacy, here are 7 steps to follow:
- Be open to exploring your own fears related to intimacy or becoming too close with a partner.
- Be willing to have more intimacy and connection with your partner.
- Understand the differences in each other’s ‘comfort zones.’
- Have love and compassion for yourself and your partner.
- Create more safety in the relationship so that more intimacy can develop.
- Decide what you need from your partner.
- Learn a compassionate communication method so that you can discuss your needs and requests without blame or judgment. Then come up with small steps that you each can take.
Note: With Vanessa, our coaching was individual and she brought the changes back into their relationship. With some clients, it’s working with the couple together.
If you expand your comfort zone with the help of these steps you can enjoy a greater level of intimacy with your partner.