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How to Build Intimacy in Any Relationship

Photo by Cindy Loughridge
The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart. ~Helen Keller

You know how things can get so busy sometimes, that not only do we forget to connect with ourselves, but also forget to connect with the people we love most? People like our spouses, our children, our parents, our friends. I mean, we may see them, but we don’t necessarily take time to connect with them. We often tell ourselves that we can make it up to them once our busy schedule slows down. Funny thing is, our schedule never slows down. We really have to schedule our most important priorities first. I am always on the lookout for simple tools I can use to maintain my close relationships.

Reader Chris Sharp shared with me a daily routine him and his wife use. They call it their Daily Wins And Realizations; a time set aside to connect with their loved one every day. I didn’t ask for details, but I was inspired by the name and was intrigued by the possibilities and positive effects it could have on a relationship. I suggested to my partner, that we share our Wins and Realizations every evening after dinner. We have found the process to be enriching and deeply rewarding. It gives us a time and space to connect every day, deliberately. The exercise has been beautiful to observe and I wanted to share it with you.

Before diving further, I wanted to point out that this isn’t just effective in a romantic relationship, but in all relationships. Open communication, sharing and understanding is at the core of intimacy in any relationship and friendship. Try it for a few days with your mom (warning: you will melt her heart with love). This will also be an effective practice in friendship building with trusted friends. The word intimacy in this context is not referring to sexual intimacy, but the closeness and trust between two people through exchange of their inner most thoughts and values. I’m sure you can relate, that some of the most rewarding relationships are built this way.

Here are the reason why we fell in love with this daily routine:

  • It gives us an opportunity to express ourselves freely.
  • We get to be listened to and supported emotionally by another person.
  • You are important – You become a priority and focus of attention.
  • It is a deeply intimate experience where we connect at the soul level as spiritual beings.
  • I find that as I am expressing myself, that I’ll come up with even more realizations. I gain clarity as I articulate out my daily realizations and learning.
  • Gratitude is a pleasant side effect of this practice. Sharing your wins is like giving gratitude for things you are thankful for today.
  • Show the other person how important they are.
  • Enjoy the purity and innocence in your partner.
  • Practice open communication
  • Sharing the things you’ve learned with the other person and learning from their realizations.
  • The moment is highly energizing. When we’re done with our ‘daily wins and realizations’, I feel so full of positive energy that I’m ready to save the world. I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean. I often follow the evening with something productively creative, like writing a new article or designing a new layout.
  • Both parties will leave feeling great about themselves and their relationship with the other person.

Here’s a beautiful quote from Steve Pavlina when speaking about empowered relationships:

Everyone you meet in your life – even total strangers – are already intimately connected to you. The idea that we are all separate and distinct beings is nothing but an illusion. We are all parts of a larger whole, like individual cells in a body. (…) When you look at other people, you’re really looking at yourself.

– Steve Pavlina

The following tips explain how we adopted “Daily Wins & Realizations“. Feel free to adapt these concepts, as the process is not as important as the moment of expression.

1. Time – set aside time for time to connect. We’ve been setting aside 10 minutes after dinner, but have managed to go well past 10 minutes every day. It’s been so much fun, that we sometimes start new discussions based on topics shared.

2. Place – Find somewhere comfortable that’s not a bed, so you don’t fall asleep. :) We use the couch or sometimes do so at a restaurant.

3. One Person Asks the Question – Person A asks, “What are some of your wins and realizations today?” as person B answers. Sometimes, person B may have a hard time answering this, you can change the question slightly to “What did you learn today?” or “What are you Thankful for today?” Our wins and realizations have been anything from things we are grateful for today, to a realization about ourselves, to a summary of what we learned from a TED talk we watched, to something we read today.

4. No Interruptions – As person B answers, person A should not be interrupting. If you feel an urge to jump in, bite your tongue, write it down or save it for when it’s your turn. It is important to fully listen to the person speaking with openness and compassion, it is their time to express themselves, give them that time and space without interruption.

“Nature gave us one tongue and two ears
so we could hear twice as much as we speak.”


5. Thank the Speaker – When person B is done. Person A will say something encourage acknowledging what’s been said. Something like “That’s great! Those are some great realizations and big wins!“, “Thank you for sharing!

6. Repeat – Repeat steps 3 to 5 with the persons reversed. Person B will ask the same question to person A.

7. “Cuddle Fest” – Give each other a big Hug with sincerity and love. We call it the ‘cuddle fest’, Tommy (our 8lb fluffy dog) typically will join in the celebration as well.

Simple, huh? If both people are open, non-judgmental, and genuine, you will find the result to be phenomenal in building intimacy with your partner or your friend. Let me know how this practice will turn out in your relationships. I can’t wait to hear them.

Any practices you’ve found useful in building intimacy and closeness with your loved one? Do share in the comments!

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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49 thoughts on How to Build Intimacy in Any Relationship

  1. Yes good reminder Tina. We can be so caught up with our work and daily lives, that we forget that what makes this place a better place to live is the love we can offer and receive from people around us too.

    Love from my heart

  2. Hi Tina
    I recently discovered your blog and really like the thoughts and ideas you are sharing. It seems to me that making time to share our feelings with another, as you have suggested in this post, is showing our appreciation for that person and reminding them of their importance in our life. Always worth doing to keep relationships strong.

  3. Tina:

    What an amazing writer you are! Thanks for not only continuing to provide excellent articles but for also giving me some link love. I really appreciate that!

    Did you enjoy your holiday with those you are close with? I hope so!

  4. I found that expressing gratitude is the best way to build closeness with your loved ones.

    Most of the time, we take things for granted. The other day, I told my mom that I love her and I thanked her for everything she has done for me. She just broke down. It was tears of joy. She said she had been waiting for me to say that all her life!

  5. Hi Tina,

    My Wife and I went through a time,13 years ago, when we were using escapism (put your own spin on that) to avoid dealing with issues that disconnected us.

    We loved each other. We had a deep and basic core to our relationship, but we made the mistake of denying ownership of our shortcomings. We took the easy and oh so common route in dealing with relationship problems — we disconnected rather than face them.

    My personal solution was to act on a close and beautiful relationship with a friend. I took that wonderful friendship and allowed it to progress into a romantic relationship. I Just wanted to love, and be loved.

    If our’s were the average relationship, we would have divorced, but we didn’t. We came through it. We re-connected to the core of our relationship; we have learned to own our shortcomings, and most importantly we have created a fabulous communication between us. This year we celebrated our 33rd anniversary.

    How did we do it? What I am about to tell you may sound simplistic or naive, but sometimes the simplest actions are the most powerful. What we did was …

    We made a daily pact that we would meet somewhere for coffee. That’s it. The only rules were that it couldn’t be at home, because at home we would become distracted into our usual avoidance routines, and we had to commit to these meetings for several months. For the first while, we just sat there opposite one another, awkward and silent. But coffee (especially some good Starbucks French roast) can pry even the stubbornest lips apart. Your mind is stimulated; you can’t help but talk.

    Soon we had to face the inevitable; that person on the other side of the table. And we did. We began talking, and then we began communicating — really communicating — from that core of why we committed to each other in the first place.

    Since that time we have deepened our understanding of ourselves and one another. Our relationship now is every bit and more, how we imagined it to be when we married back in 1974.

    We could have left it behind us. We could have moved on. But do you know what? You get to encounter the same lessons in the next relationship that you didn’t resolve and understand in the first.

    My advice is to keep it simple, keep it pure, and be honest with yourself. If you can quickly articulate a reason why you love your partner and it cuts to the core of who you are, then it is worth taking the coffee challenge.

    I sure hope you don’t mind this rather long comment, but I know that this simple commitment can not only save a failing relationship, but it can build the basis of all further growth.

    I hope this touches a couple out there somewhere. The world is so complex, but the answers are often so simple.

    Lots of love from,

  6. @Gamy Rachel: Thank you for speaking from your heart. :)

    @Roger Knight: I agree that it’s something worth doing to keep the relationship strong. I’ve seen the results of lack of communication and attention for a partner in relationships. Thank you for reading. I’m so happy that you’ve found and connected with this blog. :) Welcome!

    @Stephen: I did have a great holiday with my little family. :) Thank you for asking. It’s so nice to kick back, relax, eat lots of food, laugh… I love holidays. Can’t wait for Christmas.
    Hope you enjoyed the holidays this week with your loved ones!

    @Richgrad: Awww… that’s so sweet! I could see her doing that, wow. Thank you for sharing. That’s such a simple yet powerful reminder to not only be grateful for the ones we love, but to Tell Them! Let them know that. I will do that when I speak to my mom next. She might do the same. :)

  7. @John Rocheleau:

    Wow John, what a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I appreciate your openness and love for giving this gift to us.

    Reading your story made me smile, and felt very warm inside. Thank you for making my evening with this heart-felt story.

    I especially love the “keep it simple, keep it pure, and be honest with yourself” advice. Very simple and powerful.

    The starbucks date is a great idea, being in a different environment away from the usually place where you interact is such a smart move. And you are both there, open, nothing else to distract you or gives you a reason to not face the person sitting in front of you.

    Owning our shortcomings is also an important point you brought up. Many times the lack of owning up and the quick to blame the other person is our way of reactively protecting our ego, but when we are observing what we are really doing, and how it is really hurting our relationships, it becomes so apparent and silly. :) Owning our shortcomings is not natural for our human-animal…. but with practice, we can habituate it into our lives, and improve the quality of our lives through our self-understanding and our relationships.

    Congrads on 33 years. I look forward to that in my own relationship. Thank you for the inspiration.
    By the way, love your paintings. I especially enjoyed “Rhapsody for leaves in Yellow”.

    Love & Gratitude,

  8. Thanks so much for your response to my comment Tina. I was concerned that wrote such a long one. Must try to be briefer :-)

    I’m glad you liked my little story. I hope it helps a few people to dig deeper in their relationship. Sometimes we are too much in our head because we are trying to run away from how we feel. Sometimes we just need the courage to be vulnerable; to look into out partners eyes and communicate, a little more each day.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and everyone out there. Thank you also for your comments on my paintings.


  9. Pam

    Tina, many thanks to you for the wonderful reminder to slow down and truly make connection with someone important. As I was reading, I was also thinking how one could participate in this exercise with themselves. It reminded me that building intimacy can also begin from the inside and work outward. We often forget to also take time to slow down and connect with ourselves and celebrate our own wins. Thank you again!!

  10. once again, tina, i’m thoroughly impressed with your posts. time is definitely a huge factor in relationships and i find myself guilty of the “we’ll hang out next time” syndrome. i learn a lot every time i read your blog :)

  11. Wow! Thanks for sharing the idea. I never thought about it and I can really feel how powerful this method is.

  12. This would be my first time to comment on blogs..While reading your post I came to realize how important to maintain a good relationship.Your Post is really a help for me and a guide for me to have healthy relationship with others..thank you

  13. @Pam: That’s a great idea Pam! Yes, we can participate in this exercise with ourselves. :) Thanks for the clever thought.

    @gale: Thank you Gale! I appreciate your readership and continued support.

    @Raymond: hey, I never thought about the idea until I heard it from Chris. I thought it was brilliant, tried it out in my own love life and wanted to share with y’all. :)

    @Nina: Hi Nina, thanks for the thoughtful and encouraging comment. I’m honored that you made your first comment here. It makes me really happy to hear your words. Thank you for that.

  14. Thanks for this post. Just seeing the picture on this article made me smile and think of my mom and sister. My mom’s making some big changes in her life right now, and I felt it would be a perfect time to share some support. I wrote her an email telling her of things in the past that she’s accomplished and that I’m proud of her. I hadn’t taken the time to do this before, and it really made her day.

    Do something unexpected for someone you love – it will make both of you happy. Thanks for making me think of it.

  15. For an intimate relationship, it’s important to be committed.

    I read a book before that giving us an analogy that we all like porcupine, when we’re closer to each other, we are going to hurt each other.
    We all like as-is stuffs, produced with all the limitations we have. Somebody willing to be intimate with each other, must be willing to receive all the as-is that we have.

    That’s why it’s being committed that is important, not giving up when things don’t go well, but being frank to each other and develop each other to become better. Seek not to fix the other person, but seek to fix the relationship, and that may include fixing you yourself.

    Thanks, and it’s really another great article from you.

  16. It is important to balance work and social relationships. This is the way to true happiness, for sure. Great article…many thanks.

  17. I love this article! When I as reading it, I thought of my relationship with my mom and how I’d like to take time to be with her and get to know her more. Thanks so much!

    My Diet & Health Blog,

  18. A very good suggestion, Tina. I fully agree with the Steve Pavlina quote. In the greater picture, this time taken to build a relationship with another is indirectly building our relationship with our self. In the smaller scope, this process (a bit of introspection) would also improve one’s relationship with onself.
    Peace and wonder,

  19. Tina, I came across your blog through your most recent post about healthy posture (which is a very useful post!!) – and I really liked the idea of sharing daily wins and realization. Truly agree with you that we ought to make time for relationship and this is such a simple yet powerful thing to help strengthen any relationship.
    Thanks again for a great post! :)

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