Nurturing intimacy involves moving closer to your partner, or pulling your partner closer to you. Assuming that you want this, how can you do it?

Not surprisingly, communication is the key. Moving closer means making yourself more available.

Talk more about yourself — not stories about who said or did what to whom, but information about you. How did you or do you feel? What does the world look like to you these days? What makes you glad you’re you? Where do you feel you’re headed and how do you feel about it? How was today different than you thought it would be?

Talking about yourself in these ways may seem strange, but most people are eager to get to know their partners and stay updated. When we care for someone, we want to look through their eyes as best we can. Ultimately, it’s a primitive, futile wish — all the more reason that we’re grateful for the few glimpses our partner helps us get.

There are two ways to pull your partner closer to you. One involves getting to know your partner better. Be more curious: ask about those gaps in your mate’s life. Ask about what today felt like, instead of what happened. Find out why a certain movie, word or sweater is so meaningful. Discover another movie, word or sweater that has meaning you didn’t know about.

The second way to pull a partner closer involves spending time together. There’s just no substitute for sharing experiences, even trivial ones. Keeping someone company (without being asked) or inviting someone to join you (before she or he offers) conveys a powerful message that you desire their companionship, and prefer it to other things — the TV, telephone or alone time.

If you do spend time with your partner, focus on what you like about them. And if you do talk, tell the truth. The harder it is to do it, the more important it is. Don’t forget to laugh together.

And if you can’t figure out anything else, say, “I want us to feel closer.” That’s the clearest message of all.

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What is intimacy and why are some of us so uncomfortable with it?

No single definition of intimacy can satisfy everyone, but here’s one that works for many people: intimacy is the feeling of being known. It’s a feeling that someone else knows your true self, and the trust that there’s a joint commitment to maintaining your connection even when it’s difficult.

Intimacy takes many forms: verbal, physical, sexual, spiritual. A relationship is all the more powerful — and intimate — when it features more than one of these forms.

Unfortunately, people may focus on different aspects of intimacy. I often hear couples complain that one is only interested in sex while the other is only interested in talking.

Everyone needs intimacy. It is so stressful for people to feel isolated that they inevitably find ways of connecting with others — even if it’s only over whiskey with strangers in a bar.

Not everyone is aware that they need intimacy. Some people are so defended against their fear of dependence, exposure or loss, that they truly believe they need no one. Sadly, they are just fooling themselves.

When relationships are troubled by serious problems with sex, affection, nagging or chronic conflict, the cause is frequently a power struggle about intimacy.

What forms will it take? What are acceptable limits? What will people have to pay in order to get what they need? In healthy relationships, people discuss these questions in various ways, and they are flexible enough to accommodate each other’s needs.

In unhealthy relationships, people attack, criticize and blame each other for the mess they’re in, rather than seeing their mess as a joint creation.

People face a fundamental dilemma: we need intimacy, but we’re afraid of it. The way in which we handle this internal struggle defines our personality and relationship style.

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How can you get closer to the one you’re with? By understanding the many ways to ignite intimacy.

Intimacy takes many forms: verbal, physical, sexual, spiritual, says Klein. A relationship is all the more powerful — and intimate — when it features more than one of these forms.

Begin your exploration of intimacy with the verbal variety. There are two revealing questions you must first ask of yourself, and then a third you must ask of a loved one.

Once you’ve considered your feelings about getting close, you’re ready to hear the truth about intimacy. Everyone from Oprah to your best friend to Aunt Mabel has a different definition of it, and they’re not always right.

After you put the myths about intimacy aside, you’re ready to draw your partner closer. Spend time getting to know your partner’s dreams and desires. Learn to nurture your relationship, and you’ll keep the sparks flying.

Enough talking. Isn’t sex a part of intimacy? Our readers want to know and we have the answer.

If there’s one thing sure to spoil intimacy, it’s jealously. While occasional pangs of the stuff are natural in most loving relationships,persistent jealously will put out the flame in hearts once afire.

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