How Intimacy Relates to Women’s Desires

How Intimacy Relates to Women’s Desires

As a Sex, Love and Relationship Coach, I’ve done my fair share of reading and learning about intimacy and the part it plays in arousal and desire, especially for women. With that being said, this article is for both men and women. In my reading and training, I have learned and have such an awareness of my own desire and/or lack of desire. Men, it would definitely be helpful for you to understand how women’s desire works. This article just covers the basics, if you are interested in learning more, I have some great books I can recommend.


We get mixed messages about what intimacy really is. We hear about partners being “intimate”, which is usually a polite way to say they had sex. But intimacy is SO much more than just sex.

When you hear the word intimacy, what do you think of? What is your definition?

By definition, intimacy is any act that creates emotional closeness. This could mean a deep and personal conversation, hugging, being vulnerable with someone, holding hands, kissing, or staring into each other eyes. The list goes on. Intimacy is not limited to romantic relationships, but for our purposes here, that is what we are going to focus on.

Most of us have experienced the excitement of a brand-new relationship. You’re just getting to know one another, and sex is amazing. There is a lot of sex. It’s as though you can’t keep your hands off of each other. All those feel-good hormones are coursing through your veins and you are in complete lust for each other. You want to learn everything about each other. Their past, their hopes and dreams.

But as time goes on and you’re together for a long time, perhaps you get married or live together, something changes for most people. Now, I know that this is where some of you are going to say, “But nothing changed for us. We still have sex all the time.” Congratulations!!! I am so happy for you!! But I’d like to invite you to continue reading and see if you can see yourself and/or your relationship in what I’m about to talk about. Perhaps you’ll see that you and your partner embody intimacy on all levels.

Where Does the Desire Go?

Why does sex wane over time in so many relationships? To answer that, let’s look at what happens early in the relationship when sex is hot and heavy. What’s going on?

In the beginning, the level of intimacy is a constant and increasingly gets deeper as you get to know each other more. You’re holding hands, you’re snuggling & kissing all the time AND you are having those deep, vulnerable conversations to get to know each other better. There are a lot of intimate moments outside of sex. Intimacy outside of sex creates an opening to sex.

Almost ALL women need one key element to ignite their desire and keep it going. Do you know what that is?

Women need to feel safe. Yes, physically safe, but also mentally and emotionally safe.

Women need to know that they can reveal themselves, be open, and be heard. Women want to know that they can be loved and accepted for who they are. Women want intimacy outside of the bedroom - intimacy that is not a means to having or getting sex. And sexually, a woman needs to know that she is safe to say “no”, when she really doesn’t want to have sex or is not feeling well and know that she will not suffer any repercussions.

What are the repercussions women face for saying no? A lot of men have been conditioned to believe they deserve sex or that sex is transactional. Most of these men are not abusive or bad men, it’s just what they have learned.

Women are guilted and told that “men have needs”, it’s our duty and it’s something we just have to do (yes, women are still being told this in 2022). Some men pout & beg until they get their way, because, you know, women don’t really mean no when they say no. We are threatened that if we don’t have sex, he’ll go find someone else that will. Women are made to feel that there is something wrong with them if they don’t want sex.

Some men will get angry. Angry for a woman being tired, not feeling well or even for having their period! Some men even act out violently. All of these things are called sexual coercion and are a way to get a woman to have sex when she doesn’t want to. It happens in and out of relationships and marriage. And what’s it called when women have sex they don’t want to have? Think about it.

**Tip for the men: when a woman has intimacy outside of the bedroom and feels 100% safe to say no, she says YES, a lot more often!

Here are some real-life examples of things I have personally experienced (from more than 1 relationship). Out of total concern, I was told there must be something wrong with me because I didn’t want sex all the time and I should talk to my doctor. Our kitchen calendar was marked with an X for each day we didn’t have sex, just in case I didn’t realize how long it was between having sex. I wouldn’t see him all day long and then he’d spend the evening in another part of the house and at 10 pm come stand in the doorway and say “So, you wanna fuck?” and was shocked & disappointed when I wasn’t instantly turned on and dripping wet for him. I was told that “he’s the kind of man that needs sex every day” which meant, if he was cheating on me, it was my fault (this happened after accusing of him cheating on me and later found out he was). Snuggling & kissing always had to lead to sex (I LOVE to kiss and sometimes just want to make out!).

So, what happened in my relationships and what happens in many others? The intimacy is lost. Real-life sets in and time is not given to creating and sustaining true intimacy in the relationship. People work long hours; they are exhausted; kids are added to the equation and the priority is not given to the relationship. Partners stop feeling connected, but still expect that there should be a lot of sex. It just does not work that way.

I can’t tell you how many men I’ve heard complain that their wife just doesn’t want to have sex anymore. I always ask if they’ve talked to their wife, does their wife feel safe in their relationship (they always say “of course”, but I encourage them to ask their wife and also look at how they react when she says no), and what do they do as a couple to keep their intimate connection outside of the bedroom?

Another major thing that affects desire is stress! Are you ready for this? For 80-90% of people, stress lowers sexual desire! For that other 10-20%, it can actually increase their sexual desire and they are even more horny!!

Now, are you ready for this fun fact? For 100% of people, stress lowers their perception of pleasure! Have you ever experienced or known of a couple who has gone on a romantic vacation and all of a sudden the “spark is rekindled” and the sex is the best it’s been in years?

It’s because not only is there increased intimacy and focus on each other, but because they are away from their daily life, their stress level drops, and they actually feel more pleasure!!! Intimacy plus reduced stress can mean, not just more sex, but mind-blowing sex!

Are there other reasons for a drop in sexual desire? Of course. Hormones – women’s hormones fluctuate throughout the month and their life! Certain medications, illnesses and trauma can affect both women and men.

Can Anything Be Done?

The good news is that there is always something that can be done. No, you don’t have to go away on some extravagant romantic vacation (even though if you can, do it!). Below is a list, in no particular order, of things that can be done:

  • Make it a priority to create quality alone time just for the two of you. What does that look like? No kids, no TV, turn off your phones, no video games, etc. Just the two of you with NO expectations of sex. If it happens, great. But that is not the goal.
  • What to do with your quality alone time? Go out to dinner; go to a park; take a walk or hike; if the kids can go to a relative or friend, stay home; if you have kids, agree to not talk about the kids – this is your time, be adults. (Note that I did not mention sex. Again, if it happens organically, great, but no expectations of sex)
  • If you have kids and you don’t have family or friends they can go to, schedule time after they are in bed. Laundry, dishes, and any household chores can wait – your household will not fall apart if it’s not done for one evening.
  • Have deep talks. If it’s been a while since you really connected, find out how your partner really feels, and what’s really going on inside of them. Is there somewhere in their daily life they are struggling? How can you help or support them?
  • Listen. Really listen. Hold space for your partner while they talk. What does that mean?
    • Eliminate all distractions and listen.
    • It’s ok to hold hands or touch them in a reassuring way.
    • Be empathetic, understanding and validate their feelings. Say things like, “That sounds difficult/challenging/scary/etc.” or “It’s understandable that you are upset.”
    • Do NOT try to fix anything or offer advice.
    • Do NOT interrupt them.
    • Do NOT try to make them feel better by making light of their experiences or feelings like it’s not really a big deal. Do not tell them things could be worse or give examples of worse circumstances – yours or anyone else’s – this invalidates their experience and feelings.
    • Have I mentioned listening and not giving advice or trying to fix anything?
    • However, it is OK to ask if they would like advice or if they just want or need to be heard...and do not give advice if they do not ask for it – this can be very challenging!!!
    • Offer support by saying things like, “I’m here for you” or “How can I support you?”
    • Ask if they want or need a hug when they are finished talking.
    • Thank them for sharing with you and let them know how much you love them and appreciate them opening up to you.
  • Not sure what to talk about? Google conversation starters for couples. Or each of you writes down questions on individual pieces of paper and takes turns randomly picking one.
  • Make a date with each other – put it on the calendar and make it a priority to keep it. Scheduling time together is not the most romantic way to do it, but it’s a great way to get some time set aside and the more you do it, the less it will need to be scheduled. On your first date, discuss how often you would like to have dates – once a week, twice a month, once a month, etc. And take turns planning them.
  • If one or both of you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, discuss how to support each other and what you can do to lessen the stress.
  • Be playful. Have fun. Whatever that means. Whether it’s playing Putt Putt Golf, going bowling, putting on music and dancing, or playing a board game – just do it!
  • Men, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Share your fears, your stress, your worries or anything else on your mind. It’s ok to share your feelings and even get emotional.
  • At the bare minimum, check in with each other at least once a week to connect and see how each of you is doing.
  • Do the exercise below whenever you and your partner need to reconnect.
  • Let's deepen your intimacy and create connection!!!

    The following exercise is one that I have given to all couples I have coached. It can actually be used with anyone, friends, relatives, and children and they have done experiments with strangers doing it. It sounds very simple to do, but it can be challenging. Keep with it – it’s super powerful and transformational.

    Eye gazing is an easy and quick way to reconnect, get vulnerable and deepen the intimacy with your partner. This is a great exercise to do any time you and your partner are feeling disconnected from each other or to create a deeper connection before sex!

    HOW TO:

    Set a timer for five to ten minutes. Sit facing each other and be close enough that you can hold hands if you want to. Start your timer and gaze into each other’s eyes.

    Just know that you may experience strong emotions, and feelings of vulnerability, or you may even begin to laugh or cry. It's all OK! Do your best to not look away. Remember this is your partner that loves you. Allow your partner to see the beauty in what you experience!

    Take a few minutes when you're done to talk about what you each experienced, hold each other, or get as intimate as you want!!

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