Being in a relationship with someone with intimacy issues can be tricky, especially if you’ve never done so before and aren’t sure how to handle the situation or your new partner. However, it’s possible to have a healthy and fulfilling connection with someone who has trauma in their past. It just takes a little more thoughtfulness and sensitivity when it comes to dealing with tough topics. Here’s how to date someone with intimacy issues and help them process.
Don’t pressure or belittle them. Just because you may be further along than they are in terms of how comfortable you are with sex and physical closeness doesn’t mean you can expect your partner to be in the exact same place. Pressuring them to meet you where you are or belittling them for struggling when you’re in the middle of a fight are giant no-nos. Not only will this serve the exact opposite purpose, but you’ll push your partner further away, probably permanently.
Let them go at their own pace. Dating someone with intimacy issues means having to understand that your partner will need to move at a slightly different pace than people you’ve dated before. It’s important that you’re prepared for this and that you accept and support your partner as they navigate their way through these issues and hopefully overcomes them. Your only job is to be understanding and not abandon them.
Encourage them to open up about how they’re feeling. When someone has intimacy issues, there’s a reason for it. Maybe they experienced something traumatic during childhood or even at an adult that made it difficult or even impossible to get physically and/or sexually close with someone. The best way to understand why they feel this way and what they’re dealing with is by being supportive, non-judgmental, and encouraging them to open up to you when they’re ready. Knowing you’re a safe place can help bring you closer.
Offer to attend professional therapy sessions with them. In many instances, intimacy issues go beyond dating difficulties as they’re rooted in deep-seated PTSD. In this case, a professional therapist may be necessary to help them truly process what they’ve been through and develop techniques to overcome their trauma. If they’re ready for this, offer to attend these sessions with them for moral support. It could make all the difference to them personally as well as your relationship as a whole.
Share your own struggles with them. You may not have been through something so bad that it affects your ability to be close to other people, but perhaps one of your close friends has or a family member. While you want to steer clear of making comparisons or resorting to oneupsmanship, there are times that knowing you have experience with some of the issues your partner is dealing with can be a major comfort to them.
Recognize that change won’t be overnight. Hopefully over time, with a little bit of patience and some hard work together, your partner can overcome their dating issues and you can have a happy, fulfilling, close relationship. However, you need to understand that any such change won’t be overnight and takes time. In the meantime, enjoy the journey with them. That’s what’s really important.
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