Intimacy tips for people with a TBI

Julia Mecklenburg
Julia Mecklenburg

By Julia Mecklenburg 

Intimacy is such an important aspect of the human experience. Intimacy can improve self-esteem and confidence, help a person feel respected, wanted, and loved and further develop communication between partners. After a traumatic brain injury (TBI) it may be difficult to be intimate with your partner. Hopefully you have progressed in your rehabilitation to the point where you are ready to start being intimate with your significant other. Here are some tips for resuming sexual activity after your TBI:

  • Talk about your expectations, fears, and feelings. Communication is key.
  • Arrange a non-distracting environment.
    • If the partner with the TBI has a difficult time focusing, turn off the lights, music, and any other distractions to ensure that the partner has the best chance to focus.
  • Take it easy, and try not to put too much pressure on yourselves.
  • Focus on pleasure, rather than technique.
    • After someone experiences a TBI, they may not be able to do the same things they used to. Be patient and try to figure out what works for both partners now.
  • Intimacy doesn’t have to mean sex. It can simply be touching or just being with your partner.
  • Minimize fatigue/tiredness.
    • Decide what time of day/night works best. The significant other with the TBI may get very tired in the afternoon but typically has energy in the morning, so scheduling intimacy around their levels of energy may work well.
  • Concentrate on boosting the romance in your relationship.
    • Maintaining a loving relationship doesn’t just have to be about intimacy at home. Don’t forget to show how you care for your partner during the day. Sending a quick loving text or calling them over lunch just to tell them how much you care can make all the difference.

Julia Mecklenburg has been working with people with disabilities for the past 10 years. She earned her undergraduate degree in social work from Colorado State University and later received her master’s degree in social work from University of Denver with a focus in community and leadership. Julia has had an interest in promoting intimacy and positive relationships among people with disabilities ever since she earned her master’s degree. Julia has been working at Rocky Mountain Human Services for five years and with their Brain Injury Support program for the past year and a half. She thoroughly enjoys doing outreach in the community for this program as well as orientations with new clients.


  1. What “ruffles my feathers” more often than not, is the annoyance that it feels really difficult in any relationship, to be able to connect on the same level of unanimity, before a moment in question. But, perhaps that relates to the unwed more relevantly? Enlightened insight for what lies ahead, nonetheless! Thanks for the post, Shannon

  2. I agree that communication is key, and I find this to be the most difficult part for me. When and if I do open up I find that most people do not fully understand, are not patient enough to fully understand or are scared away.
    Thank you for writing and sharing this article because it re-enforces 2 things, 1) to not be afraid myself and 2) that I am not alone.

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