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I have developed a list of eight “T words” that are a part of expressing love to a partner. Each contributes to our mutual pleasure and sense of intimacy with another we love.

  1. Teasing: It can be harmless fun, but it is necessary to take care, so no one feels hurt or insulted.
  2. Time: As our most precious commodity, sharing time with someone we love is a great gift. Try to make every moment count, and express appreciation. It goes a long way in increasing intimacy.
  3. Television: Our in-home passive entertainment, snuggling before the TV, can be both stimulating and relaxing. For many, it is an easy way to share time.
  4. Trust: Intimacy requires trust in yourself and your partner. It is the central dimension in building a long-term love between two people. 
  5. Talk: Often “just talking” is the pathway to deeper forms of joint pleasure or comfort. Many people go out of their way to make time for conversing during meals or walks, which can enhance a relationship's strength.
  6. Telephone: Cell phones have become an extension of our self.  We can use them to connect with others through voice, texts, emails or video chats. All can increase closeness and pleasure.
  7. Travel: Spending time exploring our world is invaluable in bringing family members together. That travel can be a simple drive to a new beach or a trip across the globe.
  8. Touch: The touch between a mother and her infant is as intimate as two people can be. Touch is the language of closeness. It must be deeply respected.

As you look at the list, which of these words seems to be essential in the art of intimacy with friends and family, and the magic of coupling as it is practiced by couples who deeply love one another? Four of these words do not seem as central as touch, talk, trust, and time.

1. Time is the great equalizer.  If couples, family members and friends do not make time for one another, they cannot enjoy one another. Sometimes, I have busy couples who say to me, “We try to spend at least 10 minutes a day with each other when we're not talking about kids or business or other things."

I reply by saying 10 minutes is barely time to say hello, let alone time to figure out how a couple can enjoy a level of intimacy together.

2. Trust is a sense that someone will not hurt us. We feel secure that we can rely on them to l look out for our welfare and to mutually champion us that we can be comfortable in their presence. 

Without trust, sex becomes a game. It can be a pleasurable game, but it is even more crucial to our wellbeing if it is part of a trusting relationship that assumes each partner will do all they can do enhance the life of the other.

3. When we talk about sex, we also talk about how to enhance our partner's life. Intimacy is increased when we talk about how we feel. This can be challenging if you feel angry, but you need a way to work this out. This is often why couples seek professional help.

4. Touch is the least understood dimension of intimacy. It can be magical, whether we press hard with our fingers when massaging someone's back or barely tickle our fingers in a flutter motion. Tracking the reaction of the other person is essential for knowing that talk and time builds confidence with trust. 

For example, it is crucial to know whether your partner wants to be touched, and how. Learn to touch your partner in a way that feels wonderful to them.

To Consider: Do you and those you love most share in touch, talking and time?  If so, does that build trust between you? If not, what might you want to do about this?

To Explore: Many thought leaders in the art of loving have YouTube channels that permit quick learning about centrally important topics. Those experts include John and Julie Gottman (www.gottman.com), Esther Peril (www.estherperel.com), and myself.

ED. NOTE: Dr. Coche practices clinical psychology in Stone Harbor and Philadelphia. She invites responses through her website, www.cochecenter.com.