Charlene Douglas, AKA The Intimacy Coach, shares her thoughts on love, sex, and making time to connect on Happiful’s podcast I am. I have
Psychodynamic Counsellor and Psychosexual Therapist Charlene Douglas is doing all that she can to help people address their concerns and challenges around relationships, sex and intimacy. From her work with individuals and couples, to her appearances on prime time TV; most recently on Married At First Sight UK and The Only Way is Essex.
Now, as a member of the Counselling Directory, Charlene is sharing her advice and expert wisdom with listeners of Happiful’s I am. I have podcast, in the hope that more people can take that first step towards improving the intimacy in their lives and relationships.
Start with yourself!
“So often, we expect our partners to just know what we enjoy,” Charlene shares, when asked where we should begin to address issues around intimacy. “We want them to take the initiative, but we don’t know what we enjoy or like yet! So it’s vital to do that work on ourselves first and then invite a partner into that world, so we’re clear on what we’re communicating with them.”
Charlene explains that carving out space for this is a must, but is aware of the pressures we can face with the plethora of responsibilities many of us have. “It’s difficult to move away from our busy lives and to be really intentional about our sexual and intimate world, because we tell ourselves that there’s no time - but you do have to spend intentional time with yourself to know what you need, what you don’t need, what you like and want you don’t like. If you’re in a relationship, you need to think about how you want to progress that relationship.”
Charlene believes that everyone should aim to spend 10 to 15 minutes by themselves every day, without any pressure, away from everyone and everything. “You give yourself permission to think about what you enjoy and what feels good.”
It’s OK to need professional support
“There are some situations that we go through where we can feel like we’re in a bit of a fog and it’s difficult to see the issue for what it is and sometimes you do need a facilitator to ask those questions that you won’t ask yourselves,” Charlene says.
“I know for some of the couples that I work with, where there are issues around low sexual desire - which is really common - there are some questions that they may never know to ask themselves so they can’t get to the answer,” Charlene continues. “But when they work with someone like myself or another Psychosexual Therapist, we might dig deep into the type of sex they’re having, or whether they feel that what they’ve learnt growing up is impacting how they are sexually, in terms of sexual confidence - because that all plays a part.”
When intimacy has dwindled
“This is probably an unsexy answer,” Charlene laughs. “But communication is key. Communicating with both yourself and your partner so that they know what you want. Again, you need to create that intentional time to fit this in. You have to create space, there’s no magical pill to build psychological desire.”
“If you’re working from home, can you have lunch together, finish work a bit earlier to give each other a massage? Can you really get to know each other's bodies? Do things your way. Don’t follow what society tells you to do, make sex and intimacy work for you.”
Three things to improve intimacy in your relationship
“I guarantee these things work when you really put the effort in!” Charlene notes.
- Spending intentional time alone, thinking about things that can stimulate your senses.
- Connecting with your partner, have those conversations that can be uncomfortable. Maybe use relationship or sex quiz cards as a prompt.
- Together, you have to make time for each other. Make it fun and interactive, it doesn’t always have to be heavy - build upon the emotional as well as physical intimacy.
Listen to the full podcast with Charlene.