Eroticism and Intimacy : Why Some Couples Struggle

Eroticism and Intimacy : How to Merge the Two in a Longterm Relationship

Many couples struggle with blending eroticism and intimacy in their committed relationship. Many couples report the sexual honeymoon stage of their relationship fizzling after a few months of dating and after years of cultivating a more emotional and intimate relationship, they struggle with feeling sexual desire and excitement.

Before we dive into the causes of this, I would like to elaborate on my definitions of “eroticism and intimacy” in this article so you understand what I am referring. When I say “eroticism” I am referring to the desire to be sexual and the excitement of pleasure. This can include fetishes, fantasies or kinks. It can also include playfulness and allowing yourself to be open minded during sex, rather than stuck in your head. Eroticism requires you to know what you like sexually or at least be open to exploring; it requires sexual expression and confidence. Eroticism does not always coincide with emotions or love, but it can.

Actually, we often see eroticism as an opposite of love, which is part of the problem. 

Now, when I refer to “intimacy” in this article, I am referring to emotional closeness. Everyone experiences intimacy differently. Maybe you find yourselves feeling really emotionally close to each other when you talk deeply about fears, dreams and insecurities. Maybe you feel really emotionally close when you have had to rely on your partner and they supported you; or maybe you feel emotionally close to them when they touch you non-sexually and give you a loving compliment. Intimacy does not mean sex, although it can be a experienced during sex.

It’s common for my clients to describe eroticism as “porn sex.” Almost like an outlet for people who are just sexual to experiment with each other only for the purpose of arousal and orgasm. Many of my clients struggle with bringing that concept and level of desire and excitement into the bedroom with their long term partner, because they are afraid of “disrespecting them,” or afraid of expressing themselves in a way that may lead to judgement.

Sometimes, my clients report only experiencing “porn-like sex” with each other and crave a more emotional, intimate connection during sex and after sex.

Again, eroticism and intimacy can be a challenging gap to bridge.

So why does this happen?

How is it that you can feel so emotionally close to your partner, but not sexually erotic or sexually open with them? Or how is it that you can feel so sexually connected with your partner, but struggle with feeling emotionally secure? How is it that one of these does not automatically translate to the other?

In my professional opinion, experiencing difficulty blending eroticism and intimacy is a very common dilemma that can be caused by a few different factors:

1: You’ve stopped nurturing the creative, sexual component of your relationship because you prioritize other things, (such as work, home life, children, etc).

2: You have convinced yourselves that the “honeymoon stage” of your relationship is long gone and it will never come back or have the same level of intensity. You’re comfortable being good companions and the hot sex was just a phase.

3. You are subconsciously or consciously afraid of being sexually and/or emotionally vulnerable.

4. You don’t know how to be sexually vulnerable or erotic; you have no idea what your sexual desires or fantasies are and the thought may intimidate you.

5. You have sex mostly to satisfy your partner and to feel loved by them, but you don’t experience orgasm or much physical pleasure during it.

6. You don’t know how to initiate intimate  conversations around sex with your partner.

7. You lack self confidence.

8. You’re overwhelmed and/or stressed in your personal life.

9. You and your partner are not connecting in an emotionally intimate way, and/or you are too connected emotionally that you don’t leave much room to expand on the physical intimacy.

10. You struggle with letting your partner completely in emotionally.

11. You struggle with trust, letting go of control and/or being vulnerable.

12. You’ve never experienced eroticism and emotional closeness with a partner and have no idea what that would look like.

Of course these aren’t the only causes that affect your relationship, but here is a good starting point. If you find yourself relating to any of these, then you may ask yourself immediately, “Now, what  can I do to change it?”

Well to start, please take a deep breath and kindly reassure yourself that nothing is wrong with you! Blending sexual eroticism and emotional intimacy can be challenging for most of us, simply because sex and emotions are complex. It’s difficult to expose all of our vulnerable pieces to one person. It can be scary!

Start by asking yourselves the following questions:

  1. What does sex represent to me?
  2. What does emotional intimacy represent to me?
  3. What messages did I learn about sex and gender related sexual roles at the different stages of my life? (Childhood, teenage years, college life, “love” partners, etc). Where did these messages come from? (Community, religion, parents, partners, peers, internet?) How authentic are they to my own beliefs?
  4. What does being “sexual” look like? Are their any negative emotions that are associated with this?
  5. What does being “emotionally close” look like? Are their any negative emotions that are associated with this?
  6. Where do I tend to go (mentally) during sex? Am I present, am I stuck in my insecurities and/or thoughts? Why?
  7. Do I preform during sex because I assume my partner needs or wants something from me? If so, how may this be negatively impacting my ability to be authentic sexually, with myself and my partner?
  8. Do I know what I like sexually? If so, do I have any negative feelings toward acting them out and/or expressing them?
  9. What are my insecurities or fears around sex?
  10. If the sexual honeymoon stage of my relationship has changed, can I identify why?
  11. Do you feel emotionally intimate with my partner when we are having sex? Why or why not?
  12. List off all sexual expectations you have of yourself and your relationship. How many of these are pressured filled and cause anxiety and/or avoidance?
  13. Does sex make me uncomfortable in any way? If so, how?

Try this Intimacy Guide for more questions!

Once you start understanding yourself better, you can have more insight as to the personal setbacks you may have and what direction you can go to start exploring the emergence of eroticism and intimacy in your relationship. Ultimately, what this all comes down to regardless of your own personal insecurities, fears and/or beliefs, is vulnerability. 

I often discuss vulnerability in my articles, because it is the core of many of our behaviors, protections and defensives. It subconsciously motivates us to push people or experiences away in fear of exposing it. Vulnerability also has the potential to support us in ways that help us feel extremely safe and secure once we have exposed it and find acceptance and nurturing. Bridging intimacy and eroticism is extremely complicated, but it does in fact require vulnerability, because each part requires openness. 

Without openness we cannot be vulnerable.

Without vulnerability, we cannot explore what we like sexually in order to be erotic.

Without vulnerability, we cannot explore our emotions and connect with our partner intimately.

So what we can start doing is working on being more open and mindful around our insecurities, assumptions and expectations of ourselves and our partner.

Photo credit: Danis Graveris Sex Educator and Relationship Coach

53 thoughts on “Eroticism and Intimacy : Why Some Couples Struggle

  1. The most important thing for any couple is communication, both mentally and physically. The main reason for unsuccessful relationship is lack of communication. The best way to solve this problem is to talk about it with your partner. This blog is really helpful, if you love someone you should feel free to show it. Remind your partner how much you love him. Small gestures of yours can make her happy.

    1. What if I understand all the above mentioned points and I feel we need to talk. What if I have begged for proper communication but he never gives it a sh*t. And pretends he is damn busy busy busy what to do. L love him but I feel underrated all the time

      1. What if he is really busy??So you make it a point that you remind him that you both have to talk it out and settle things..take him for a dinner or to a late night walk or a weekend evening to a beach..make it work and your efforts might make a statement that you don’t want to be underrated anymore..good luck

        1. The information given in this blog, no doubt is outstanding. A few years back I lost track of my beloved Husband who only used to give reasons of workload and was keeping off me. Finally my best friend Lisa gave me something powerful that saved my marriage life forever! Thanks Lisa! Here I want to share it to you this info: . I hope it will help you, like hundreds of women got benefited from. Best of luck dear!

    2. Right its true. I agree with you. I think relationships depends on Equal Amount Of Effort From Both People, trust your partner and communicate with love and care. This 3 things if you follow then your relationship is strong and no one can break.

  2. Communication is absolutely essential in any relationship. Have you ever noticed how the happiest couples always seem to have great communication?

    1. Exactly, I couldn’t agree more! Since I’ve realized this simple truth, the quality of my relationship just skyrocketed. And also they say couples who play together stay together and they are right.

  3. wonderful article quite elaborate on the topic. Partners cheating has never been a good thing to the heart and i do not encourage such in my own heart.

  4. Nobody can predict the future. You just have to give your all to the relationship you are in and do your best to take care of your partner, communicate and give them every last drop of love you have. I think one of the most important things in a relationship is caring for your significant other through good times and bad.

  5. I have been married for 15 years and both intimacy and eroticism are something you have to work to maintain. Sometimes it seems like we expect not to have to work in these areas but anything important to you is worth the work.

    1. Thanks for sharing! Yes, it is something we have to work on constantly. Sex, intimacy, eroticism and our feelings about sex/our bodies/our partner’s bodies/our connection are constantly changing!

  6. Awesome post. I agree eroticism and intimacy look like similar but they both have the different meanings. You explained it very well in this article. It will help lots of people to improve their relationship.


  7. best article,the points are also very good .The main problem is the not communicating with each other after a period of time.because the don’t have time they both busy in there daily life routine.It is also a part of life.

  8. Hello,

    I want to do a guest blog on your love and relationship blog site. How is that done? or do you allow guest blogs?

    Thank you
    Ann Shannon

  9. I enjoyed the article very much. This is my first attempt to seek help in waking up my sexual self. My first blog read and responsed. After 33 years of marriage with lots of ups and downs I need to try something different to get sexually connected with him and myself. There is a lot to ask myself and to discover.
    Thank you.

  10. When ur really in love it can’t be a struggle. My suggestions are random gifts just because, bathe together and travel together. Candles, movies, massages, etc.

  11. This is very educational content and written well for a change. It’s nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post!

  12. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful article. We have a lot of points but in short word I think Relationships depend on Equal Amount Of Effort From Both People, trust your partner and communicate with love and care. This 3 things if you follow then your relationship is strong and no one can break. It’s my opinion.

  13. I know it’s tough to face relationship issues, I managed it well with a little help. You can also overcome this tough time, it’s easy as ABC.

  14. “Why Some Couples Struggle” is a really good article, I read it over and over again. Hope it helps some others!

  15. Hello, it s very interesting article.. i think honestly it s the most important thing, we should be honest always with partner and all

  16. Very interesting article.

    Could it make a difference if your spouse and you are from different parts of the world, say America vs. Asia?

  17. This post offers valuable insights into the challenges many couples face when trying to merge eroticism and intimacy in a long-term relationship. The author acknowledges the complexity of human emotions and sexuality, as well as the importance of vulnerability in building strong connections between partners.

    One of the key takeaways from this article is that couples need to communicate openly and honestly about their desires, insecurities, and fears surrounding sex and emotional intimacy. By engaging in self-reflection and asking introspective questions, individuals can gain a better understanding of their own beliefs and expectations, which can pave the way for more fulfilling relationships.

    The post also emphasizes the importance of vulnerability, as it is essential for cultivating emotional intimacy and exploring personal erotic desires. Couples may need to work on being more open and mindful of their insecurities and expectations in order to create a safe space where both eroticism and intimacy can coexist.

    Overall, the article provides a thoughtful perspective on the common struggles couples experience in their relationships and offers practical advice for addressing these issues. It serves as a helpful reminder that it’s normal for relationships to evolve and that it’s important for partners to actively work together to nurture both emotional and sexual aspects of their connection.

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