You may look at the holidays with a sense of nostalgia. The season conjures images of homemade cookies, lights gleaming behind frosted windows, and family gathered to celebrate. It’s a time of year when people strive to feel a sense of love and intimacy with those they care about.
But in reality, you may not feel that way during the holiday season.
The holidays rarely match the idealized version on TV. Not only is it a financially stressful time, it’s a time that often falls short of expectations.
Recovering from a sex addiction heightens the difficulty of the holiday season. There’s tremendous pressure to feel happy and connected to others. Fulfilling your urges may seem like a substitute for genuine intimacy. But it is possible to re-establish your relationships during the holiday season.
Triggers during the Holidays
Even though you may find yourself in a room full of people, the holidays can be incredibly lonely. Whether you’re standing in the back of the room at the office holiday party or listening to your uncles argue about politics at the Thanksgiving table, it’s easy to see why many people feel an extreme sense of loneliness at this time of year. And when you feel like your holiday experience doesn’t match the version you see on TV or your friends’ social media accounts, this loneliness intensifies.
The holidays come at the end of the year, which also means processing the stress of the time. You may find yourself wishing a lost loved one was sitting next to you at the dinner table. The holidays are supposed to be a moment of gratitude and celebration. But they’re often a time of processing grief as well. And not every family member is suited to have conversations about grief. So, you may find yourself feeling isolated when no one wants to mention the elephant in the room.
And even though you’re an adult, you may find yourself trying to reach the expectations your loved ones have for you. Holidays often mean unwelcome conversations about why you don’t make more money, have a significant other, or act more like so-and-so.
Understanding Love and Intimacy
Intimacy encompasses so many aspects of a healthy relationship. It’s not only a sense of closeness with someone, but it’s also a mutual sense of love and respect. It can take a long time to build, but it’s worth it.
There are four types of intimacy:
- Emotional Intimacy. Emotional intimacy is the ability to be vulnerable when sharing your life with someone. It’s the ability to let your guard down in a relationship and to know that the person you’re being emotionally intimate with will hold space for your vulnerability.
- Intellectual Intimacy. This type of intimacy is when you feel safe sharing your viewpoints with someone else. Usually, it happens in deep, thought-provoking conversations. You aren’t worried about starting a potential conflict for sharing your beliefs.
- Spiritual Intimacy. Spiritual intimacy doesn’t require a shared religion. Instead, it’s a transcendent connection with someone. It can happen when you share a special moment, like watching the sunrise or taking a walk together.
- Physical Intimacy. While it can be sexual, physical intimacy doesn’t have to be. It can be as simple as the sense of joy you get from holding hands, hugging, or cuddling with someone.
When you’re recovering from sex addiction, re-establishing love and intimacy is essential to rebuild the emotional connection. Intimate relationships require emotional vulnerability. That vulnerability can help build a genuine connection.
Re-establishing Love and Intimacy during the Holidays
Someone recovering from sex addiction can use the holidays to re-establish love and intimacy. There are some simple practices you can put in place to make progress on your recovery journey.
Spend Time with Others
Don’t isolate yourself. Instead, let trusted people in your life know where you stand on your journey. Plan to spend time with people who can support the healthy lifestyle you’re looking for. And remember, structure is key. You want to make the best choices for you when spending time with others during the holiday season.
Make sure you focus on the things that make you feel your best. The holidays are a season full of sugary desserts and alcoholic drinks. And the parties and gatherings you attend may mess with your sleep schedule. Instead, prioritize your well-being. Keep up with your exercise routine, and make sure you get plenty of rest. Try to be conscious of what you eat and drink. And recognize when what you consume may have a triggering effect on you.
Have realistic expectations for your relationships. Remember that holiday movies aren’t real. Even though you may feel a sense of pressure to have the perfect holiday gathering, it probably won’t happen. Instead, focus on being present and enjoying the company of others. And if you need some alone time for self-care, take it.
When it comes to your partner, remember that patience and communication are vital. You may find yourself feeling a little irritable with the stress and routine disruptions of the holiday. Make sure you share how you feel with your partner. Talk openly about your needs. This openness means communicating your boundaries and how important they are to you at this time.
Signs of Love and Intimacy
When it comes to love and intimacy, remember that it takes time. You build intimacy with a combination of actions, choices, and vulnerability.
Love and intimacy can look like sexual intercourse that gives a feeling of well-being, safety, and connection. Both partners feel physical and emotional sensations.
And the holidays offer lots of opportunities for connection without sex. Simply spending time with your partner and finding ways to be emotionally vulnerable is a great way to build intimacy. Swap stories of your favorite holiday memories, or make new ones together by holding hands while looking at Christmas lights.
Remember, stress is a part of life and the holiday season. Even if it’s present, you can still re-establish intimacy this holiday season.
If you’d like some support on your recovery journey, reach out to Begin Again Institute for help this holiday season.