The Anatomy of Initmacy


The way to a woman’s body, is through her heart.  The way to a man’s heart, is through his body.  (This is a generalization, of course)

I am going to speak in this article within the frame of heterosexual partnerships, where the woman is closed in her availability to give herself sexually to her man.  Though this information can be useful in other contexts as well, to people in various relationship orientations.

I invite you to take in the essence of what is said here and if it can be helpful to you in any way, then mission accomplished.

The Anatomy of Intimacy

It is like a flower, with delicate and delightful layers.  Outer petals leading into the center point of physicality where everything is joined together in a cohesive foundation.  In this article, we are going to address the “middle and outer layers of the flower” here together, as these are highly missed by the awareness within our sex culture in the world, yet are essential layers for true and sustained physical intimacy to thrive (especially for women in long term domestic relationships).

My hope in sharing this is that it supports couples in how to keep the spark of romance and connection alive in the partnership, or how to reignite it if it needs a revival.  At the same time, I’m aware of my limitations within this post, that what influences each persons feelings of desire and availability for sex with their partner has so many facets, of which aren’t possible for me to touch on in this article.

I want to encourage you to grab onto even just one small step within all of this info and guidance, and start experimenting with how it works for you with your partner.  Make it your own, and let it be a creative sexy collaboration between you two.

Typically the degradation of sexual intimacy happens over a longer span of time (for women).  So please know that just because you try something new a few times and it doesn’t “fix the problem,” that you’re probably dealing with a more multifaceted situation, that’s also got some history behind it, and is going to need an equally multifaceted structure of support to create repair.  More on this topic on other articles…

The Most Outer Petals of the Flower of Love

News flash – Foreplay begins outside the bedroom for women.  Men, please pause and take that in for a second.

“Foreplay begins after the last orgasm.” – Esther Perel

Foreplay, for a woman, includes all of the ways the couple moves together through the moment to moment daily life activities, and moves through the world together.  All the simple moments of experiences  connecting with and considering each other.  They are giving her drops, streams, or floods of sensual and emotional nectar into her well of sexual energy she has to share with her man.

These outer petals are more energetic, and are created from the emotional and logistical tending.  The way this happens communicates to each person about the value, care, attention, consideration, reciprocity, fulfillment, and respect each person feels for the other, and for all that he or she brings to their experience of life together.

This layer of intimacy is one that often dwindles or gets overlooked as a relationship progresses in time.  Before the couple is domestic, they each typically have a more abundant well of emotional and physical affections to share with each other.   While moving in together is exciting, it also brings in a whole other layer of processing together – daily life logistics.

While being a great team on these logistics can confirm how well the couple team plays together, let’s face it – managing daily logistics together isn’t the sexy part of a relationship.  In fact, it can easily drain the juice out of the connection.  It’s so easy for domestic couples to fall into pits of stagnancy, because once they are living together, ironically, they actually have to work harder to keep the magic of their connection alive.

Women are naturally more likely to be the multitasking masters of the relationship (just the way women’s brains are wired), and so women often end up taking on a lot more of the daily logistical responsibilities than the man does, which can easily lead to depletion of their feminine affectionate energy and can lead to resentment.  This piece here is going to be it’s own article, there’s way too much to say about this than I have ability to really give it the justice it deserves.

Relationship research done by The Hoffman Institute shows that men perceive their contribution to the daily logistics to be 4x more than what it actually is, and along with it, they perceive the woman’s contributions to be 4x less than what it really is.  I have also anecdotally observed this in my clients’ relationships, friend and family relationships, as well as my own.  Again, this piece will be getting it’s own article…

Men, if you are struggling with a lack of sexual intimacy with your woman, this is a great place to back-track to, and see where there is room to refine and nurture these outer petals of intimacy with your woman.  Many men won’t be very excited about this step of the process, as it doesn’t seemingly connect directly to the topic of sexual intimacy with their woman.

Part of my work is about helping men to understand more about the complexity of the woman’s psyche – it’s less of a linear pathway and more as a web of connection.  Each strand holding the others around it in place.  No single thread exists without all of the others around it.

3 Guidance Points to tend to these outer petals:

  • Invite your partner into a reflective process of any ways this aspect of the relationship could be more supportive for you both personally and the relationship.
  • This layer of intimacy includes building different daily patterns of awareness and behaviors, it can take time.  Be patient, and start with small steps that work together towards your shared relationship goals.
  • Celebrate seemingly “small wins.”  It’s not realistic to expect perfection right out the gate, yet praises can still be offered to each other for the efforts made towards the new patterns being developed.  Make sure you each are attentive enough to notice and acknowledge the efforts offered and to authentically feel and express gratitude to the other for it.

The Middle Layer Petals of the Flower of Love

If the outer petals of the “intimacy flower” are well supported, you are then more likely to experience success in this next layer in towards the center.

Sensual tending – all ways of sharing intimacy that includes clothes on, and is sensual yet not directly sexual in nature.  This layer is essential for women’s longevity of sexual energy and replenishment of it in her body (physically and energetically), to fill her well so she can then give from a place of overflowing juicy goodness. Umm, yes please!

This layer of intimacy can either be peppered into the day, or can have spacious time dedicated to it.  The important thing to understand for this layer, as with the outer layers, is daily consistency.  When there is time for a spacious experience, let it be soft, slow, meandering.  Part of what makes sensual experiences work is the shift of pace and intentionality, in contrast to the daily grind.

Some examples of sensual tending are:

  • Gentle long petting strokes on the back, belly, hips
  • Massage – get a massage table!!
  • Playing with hair
  • The daily rituals of transition points throughout the day: waking and going to sleep,  and when people head out for work or come home – to be something soft, sweet, beautiful, honoring, loving
  • Meditate and breathing exercises together
  • Gently caressing face
  • long melting hugs
  • Eye gazing
  • Partner yoga (acro yoga)
  • Soak in a bath together (light the candles, flowers are essential oils in the bath water, music… you know – set the stage)
  • Open communication about your love and intimacy, sharing desires and needs, acknowledging each other for ways that you feel supported and considered

Focus on experiences of intimacy that don’t involve being naked, kissing, breasts, and genitals.  Think back to when you first met, before you made love for the first time.  Recall the ways you were affectionate then, to give you ideas about what can work in this realm of intimacy.

(Psssst!) Get a massage table!  This investment will greatly increase the quality and quantity of your sensual connection, which will likely transfer over well into the sexual connection.  You can have sex on it in other positions that are fun, and that are a bit harder to do on a bed.  It also adds variety as another designated place for sexy time, rather than it always being confined to just the bed.  They fold up and store easily, and you can buy online and have it delivered to your door.  If not a table, get a mat of some kind to share sensual/sexual intimacy together.  I prefer a table, because as the giver it’s far more comfy to do with a table, and the more comfy the giver is, the better quality the massage or sensual experience will be.

Men – Please hear me on this!!  Don’t do all of this strictly with the goal in mind just to get your beloved to open to you sexually.  Doing so turns your giving into a transactional experience, which will be felt by your partner and will be a huge turn-off for her.  Don’t try something once or twice, and then think the green light is on and you should make your move to take it further.  Give to her because you want to support her and make her feel good, simply from the desire to give without any expectation for a return.

Women need to feel this quality of giving from our men.  All women have had, or are having an experience of her man always giving from a place of expecting to be given to in return.  This must change. I cannot say this enough.

If you care about the longevity of your connection, you will use this as an opportunity to practice this higher form of giving, and your relationship will blossom from it in many ways, and support sustainable intimacy for you both.

Be patient, curious, and creative.

It may take time for her sense of connection to rebuild, and for her to know and feel that her man is really there for her in the ways she needs, in order for her to feel connected and want to open to him sexually.

Guys, I want to gently let you know – if your woman is not giving herself sexually to you, it’s most likely that is because you haven’t given to her in the ways she truly needs, for a long time.  I’m not saying “it’s your fault,” but I am saying you most likely are a main contributing factor, even if unintentionally.  Her well of sexual energy may have been dried up for a while, for one reason or another, often due to life and/or relationship transitional stresses and resentments.

The book titled “The 5 Love Languages”, by Gary Chapman, is an excellent resource:

  • Words of affection
  • Touch
  • Gifts
  • Acts of service
  • Quality time

Make the effort.  It is disempowering to tell yourself that there is no time in the day to share love with your beloved.  Create a more appealing and supportive love story for you two to enjoy, be supported and  nourished by.

Your communication is a major key to greater intimacy.  I cannot say this enough. I do a lot of relationship counseling in my work, and across the board, when I ask my clients what their partner says when they brings up a topic of concern, I get told they don’t talk about it.  How can you expect to go deeper when you aren’t even talking about the issues at hand?

Effort is needed to change the quality of intimacy in your relationship.  It’s like an art project co-created between people’s love.  It’s an act of creation.  If there’s no effort to keep it progressing, it just ends up being a pile of junk in the corner, collecting dust.  The good thing is you can always blow the dust off, reset your creative platform and continue developing your project.

Though, it is not enough for just 1 person in the game to play.  Both need to be on deck for the ship to sail and enjoy the journey together.

The Center of the Intimacy Flower

Once these outer and middle petals of intimacy have been well tended to on a consistent basis and in wonderfully nourishing ways, then mutual fulfillment in the “center of the flower” is more likely.  This is where the experience of intimate creation, soul on soul, can dance in the physicality of bodies.  There are many resources available on this topic, if you are searching.  One that I can recommend is “The Art of Sexual Ecstasy” by Margo Anand.

3 Tips for mutually fulfilling sustainable sexual intimacy:

  • Variety – positions, the pathways to orgasm, place, time of day, duration, balance of routine and novel experiences
  • Ritual – create a regular and intentional time to connect sexually.  Think of what you can enjoy weekly,  monthly, quarterly, and yearly.
  • Communicate and update – build a check-in communication into your ritual, maybe have it has part of your monthly or quarterly ritual about this part of your connection

And so, the flower blossoms and fills the room with a decadent fragrance, colors, and textures to captivate the senses.  Cheers to your sweet precious love!

Excerpts below are from “The Book of Courtesans”, by Susan Griffin, for your inspiration:

“Carnal Knowledge…  The realm of sexual pleasure is also the realm of the psyche.  To loved or be loved, to touch, be touched, feel pleasure, passion, ecstasy, to surrender and release engages every human faculty, not sensual adroitness alone but intelligence of every kind.

As well as being able to give pleasure, a good lover must be sensitive and aware, registering what kind of touch, for instance, on which part of the body arouses desire, knowing which mood calls for a robust approach, which moment requires gentleness, able to laugh or tease while at the same time probing both the mind and body of the loved one.”

“The desire to give pleasure is, however, not the only motive.  The deepest ardor of the lover is the desire to know the beloved: to test, feel, see, taste, smell, witness every response, every shade of sensation… In recognizing even the subtlest desires of the beloved or in answering these desires with a delicate precision, the lover is providing a mirror for what the beloved feels.

The beloved feels known, even ravished by this intense reflection.  And in turn the one who is loved feels an echoing need to know, because being a lover as well as being the beloved, the desire is to please by knowledge… The urge to consume knowledge can be consuming in itself.

Though in an afternoon of lovemaking desire may arc and come to fruition, the desire to know is inexhaustible.  The wish is for an impossible thoroughness, a complete union between the knower and the known.”

Here are two more blogs I’ve written that are complimentary to this one that you may also enjoy:

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