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How to Become Closer as a Couple
Dear Lori,What can I do to help my boyfriend and me become closer? I want to know if there are more questions we should be asking each other.
-- Contributed by: Ryokogrg6
The way you and your boyfriend can develop feelings of closeness is by creating memories together. You create memories by sharing experiences, i.e., doing things together. By sharing events, holidays, activities, dates, etc. with your boyfriend, you are creating memories. It is not the questions you ask of him or he of you that will bring you closer, it is 'doing' something together that brings you closer.
When all you do is talk or ask questions of each other, you build a wall between you. Talking requires one person to listen while the other person talks. When you 'do' something with your boyfriend both of you get the chance to share in the activity. The sharing strengthens a relationship and brings two people together. Your feelings will grow stronger every time you and your boyfriend retell the stories of the experience you've shared.
I have been in a wonderful relationship for just shy of eight months and recently we moved in together. However, over the past four months my girlfriend has had some difficulties in her life. First, as many other people have, she lost her job. She had built a career and watched fifteen years of hard work be discarded. Obviously finding a new job has been difficult. She has also had to deal with the loss of some friendships. Several of her nearest friends had to relocate to stay employed. This has brought on some understandable depression. Consequently, she has gained a substantial amount of weight. I really don't care. I love her and think she is still sexy. She definitely does not feel the same about herself. I am loving and attentive. I always am touching her and giving her plenty of physical attention. She has substantially withdrawn intimately. When we are intimate, things are great. However, what was once a daily occurrence is now maybe twice a week and often requires some coercion. If we had been together for ten years, I wouldn't be quite as concerned about our reduced intimacy. However, at eight months we should be more active. I feel certain that she just doesn't FEEL sexy. How do I help her to feel positive again? -- Contributed by: Brian
In order to help your girlfriend through a difficult time, keep in mind that stress affects men and women differently and as a result, each deals with it differently. Men traditionally look for solutions to problems and are often able to compartmentalize the effects of stress. For men who are able to compartmentalize, sex can be a stress reliever. Women on the other hand process stress on a more emotional level. For many women stress affects everything including relationships, physical and psychological health, and yes, this includes intimacy.
You're reaching out to soothe and support your girlfriend. She on the other hand is turning inward and using food to comfort her emotions. Her reason for turning inward may be the way she has coped with stress in the past. The problem with using food to de-stress is it only feels good for a short period. Once the food is eaten the temporary comfort is replaced with remorse, regret and possibly even guilt at her loss of control. This cycle only increases her stress level. It seems as though your girlfriend is spinning. The more she pulls in, the more she pulls away from you. Intimacy and sex only add to the stress and negative feelings about herself, her circumstances and her lack of control.
While her method for handling stress has worked for her in the last fifteen years, it does not work effectively in a couple relationship. The solution isn't a matter of dieting or you telling her she is sexy, it requires looking at all areas affected by job loss (i.e. mood swings, appetite increases and decreases, social isolation, emotions, etc). Rather than focusing on resolving one issue at a time, focus on several. Moreover, think about which areas she can take steps on her own and which you can get involved in too.
To get the conversation started try, "I can never know how you feel about losing your job and some of your friends, but I do know how I would feel if it were me. I would feel frustrated, angry and at times even sad and helpless. I also know that in the past, you have handled all your stress on your own, but things are different now. Now what affects you also affects me because I love you. So, it seems to me that how we manage this current set back affecting us should be as a team". Be careful to not try and fix things for your girlfriend. A relationship is collaboration and the solution is to work as partners.