Improve Intimacy

Ways to Improve Intimacy

Things you can do individually:

  • Importance of Self-Acceptance
    • Self-acceptance and confidence are important factors that impact intimacy. Some people with NF have found that meeting with support groups or individual counseling sessions can have positive impacts on self-acceptance and confidence. 
  • Learn About Yourself 
    • It can be important to learn more about your own body and what feels good to you. Body mapping involves exploring your body head to toe for the purpose of identifying places that feel good or give you pleasure and learning the kinds of touch that you prefer. Learning this important information about yourself will prepare you for educating a partner.  
      • For this exercise, find a comfortable place and spend around 15 minutes touching all areas of your body. Pay attention to what you are feeling when touching different areas of your body. 

Things you can do with a partner:

  • Healthy Communication
    • Intimacy starts with communication. Listening as well as talking, sharing feelings and concerns, discussing goals and expectations, and problem-solving together are all acts of intimacy.
    • Talking about possible intimacy concerns may feel uncomfortable or awkward, but finding ways to be honest and open with your partner is the first step in effective problem solving. 
    • As NF can change over time, it can introduce uncertainty into everyday life. It is important to keep in mind that sexual feelings and responses may change over time due to NF1, normal aging and hormonal changes, among other things. Being able to communicate these changes can be important for both you and your partner. It is important to work together as a team to ensure each person is comfortable. 
  • Learn About Each Other’s Body
    • After completing the body mapping experience described above, spend time with your partner sharing this important information and demonstrating what feels good and pleasurable for you.
    • Encouraging your partner to engage in similar self-learning will help ensure that you are both meeting each other’s needs.
  • Discover Unique Opportunities for Intimacy 
    • Although NF1 may create challenges related to intimacy, there are many unique ways to overcome these challenges and foster healthy intimate relationships. We are all so conditioned to think about sexual intimacy as a one-way street from foreplay to intercourse and orgasm, but there are many different ways to express and experience sexual feelings. Sexual intimacy can continue to be pleasurable and gratifying even though it may be necessary to do things a bit differently than before.  This may include finding ways to improve intellectual intimacy, or even asking you partner to look at parts of your body that you can’t see to notice if there are any changes.