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The Pendulum of Intimacy


Intimacy refers to a deep and mutual connection; a place where one can be emotionally vulnerable and sexually satisfied. Intimacy is dynamic with emotional, intellectual, spiritual, sexual, and physical components.


When a long-term-committed relationship is without intimacy, partners can feel more like roommates and less like partners. With less intentionality, the pendulum of connection has swung away from intimacy and towards complacency.


How can a couple gain momentum and swing that pendulum towards intimacy?


  1. Foster emotional closeness. Focus on meeting your partner’s needs and communicating your needs in a loving, respectful way. Express positive needs using I-statements (e.g., “I feel…” and “I need…”). Replace resentment with empathy.
  2. Have some spontaneous fun. Routine is predictable and reliable, but boring. Introduce novelty through surprise. Do something to deviate from the norm to generate new energy. Say yes instead of no. Play games. Exercise together. Tell jokes. Role-play in the bedroom.
  3. Be curious. Operating in certainty does not give the relationship freedom to grow and learn. Ask open-ended questions. For example: “What was one of your best childhood experiences?”; “Who do you admire?”; “Do you have a secret ambition? What is it?”; “When do you feel most confident?”
  4. Deepen intellectual connection. Swing the pendulum away from complacency by learning and sharing with your partner. Read, listen to podcasts, or watch documentaries. Open a dialogue, share ideas, and expand your knowledge together. This will make you more interesting and thus deepen intimacy.
  5. Reclaim intimate physical behaviour. When first dating many couples cannot keep their hands off each other. The fun often atrophies. Take 6 seconds to kiss your partner without expectation of sex. Give a foot or hand massage. Snuggle in front of a movie. Find small ways to be physically affectionate.


These are just a few ways to heighten intimacy and swing away from complacency, thus stamping out roommate syndrome. The accumulation of small efforts can make a significant difference over time, moving towards a nurturing and more intimate bond.



Jodie Purnell, MC, is a Registered Provisional Psychologist with the College of Alberta Psychologists and specializes in the areas of stress management and personal growth, as well as many others. For more information on Jodie and her work click here to link to her full bio page.