Two common terms when we talk about relationships, especially between two people who share lives, is the words love and intimacy. There is an exciting interplay between these two words.

Most people can agree that it is easier to be intimate, open up and be you completely, if there is a strong love in the relationship. As a contrast we can note that it isn't easy to be intimate with a group of strangers on a bus on the way to work one morning. So if love exists, it is easier to be intimate. We can illustrate in a visual form through the below figure how love leads the way to intimacy.

When there is love it is easier to be intimate

If we turn around this reasoning, most people can probably remember a moment in life when someone opened up and showed sides that they normally wouldn't dare showing. If they did this from a place that was true and genuine within them then you can also probable be sure that this increased the love you had for this person. With this reasoning we can also add to this image that intimacy is the foundation for love.

More intimacy leads to more love

How does the cycle start?

With the above we get a cycle, the question is though, how it starts? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? In this case I think the question will be easier to answer if we take on the perspective that love is a feeling, something that I necessarily cannot fully control in relation to others. It isn't simply just to decide that now I will feel a hot effusive love, or even just strong love for you. It's easily done that with time, weeks, months and years, the love slowly wears off until one day we wake up and realize that our relationship has become a friendship. How did that happen?

The side of the circle that we easiest can affect is how intimate we choose to be. This is where we can make the active choice to create intimacy or undermine the same. This is where we can fertilize the ground where love will grow. This is where we can add dynamic, polarity and new aspects of the relationship that makes love continue to grow and root deeper in to the soil.

In a powerful and healthy relationship where we deepen the relation to each other we can distinguish the following motion.

Love and intimacy spiral

Upward or downward in the spiral

Above is a downward spiral which leads to a deeper relationship through us opening up and giving confidence and intimacy. It strengthens the love if it is received in a good way, which in turn allows room for more intimacy, which in turn will lead to... that's right, increased love. It characterizes a mature relationship.

An immature relationship has the opposite motion, an upward spiral that leads to superficial and plastic relationships, where we one day will wake up with a startle and realize that we have become two strangers that lives under the same roof. A lot of surface or masks, you could say.

This is accomplished by someone keeping something to him/herself that could be good for the other partner to know, it might be because they are a bit unsure of how it would be received if they did tell their partner. Fear and uncertainty creeps up and starts eating on the pillars of love. This will probably lead to that the partner feels that something isn't said, something isn't right. If they then also become uncertain and scared the chance is that they feel less love and the risk is that they become less intimate due to this. The love will then decrease even more and we have ourselves an opposite spiral to the downward one.

Filippa: Sometimes I forget it's my job as a woman to test the man's strength to stand strong and steadfast in his love to me even when I go through a big emotional storm. I can then feel we are drifting apart. When I dare testing his strength and dare open myself up and be honest, dare feeling all that I feel and deliver it without wrapping it up in cotton first, cool things are happening.

He will then use his manliness and be steadfast in his love for me in a calm, steady and loving way. When I try and push him away he will calmly follow. It gives an increased love and intimacy between us. Dare testing your man's strength and you men, stand strong no matter what...

Markus: Sometimes I become lazy and forget in the everyday layers of chores to create intimate moments with my loved one, big or small moments where I show more of my soul, more of the whole me, through playfulness or just by being present and true.

When I remind myself and create space for moments like this in life I can literately feel the roots of love grow stronger and healthier under my feet.

A tool

A tool to really speak from your heart and not your brain is for a couple of minutes place your hand on your heart and breathe from your heart. This means that you are totally focusing on your heart when you are breathing. It will make a big difference when you speak to each other if you first breathe from your heart together for a moment, before you speak. Try it and you'll see!

Homework assignment

Think about what intimacy is for you.

If you live in a relationship today

Think about what your partner does in everyday life that makes you feel more intimate to him/her and that makes the love inside you grow stronger. Equivalent to this, also think about what he/she does that makes you experience less intimacy and might be wearing out the love, that is if there are such things.

A good way to share this with your partner could be that you first ask him/her about what you do that makes him feel more intimacy. Ask your partner to give you feedback first. It usually feels a lot easier and will probably make your partner, out of curiosity, wanting to know how you experience things and what your feedback would be.

If you're not living in a relationship today

Think back to a previous relationship you have been in. What were the moments in this relationship that you experienced more or less intimacy and love? Can you see a pattern, something that you or your previous partner did that lead the intimacy and love to increase and vice versa?

If you haven't had a previous relationship, think of one that you have experienced from the outside, maybe a good friend's relationship or even one that you have seen in a movie. The main thing is that you think yourself in to how two people live in a relationship and the dynamic between them.

Couple with laptop studying relationships