In A Relationship
1600 words (7–8 mins to read)
Emotional intimacy is a closeness that goes beyond the ordinary fondness felt for friends and family, and most of us can agree that emotional intimacy is important for getting deeply close to someone, but what can you do if it’s difficult for you to get close to others?
And getting close to others, especially your partner, is exactly what you should be trying to do because the degree of emotional intimacy in a relationship is an excellent barometer for evaluating the health of that relationship.
It’s easy to be emotionally intimate at the beginning of a meaningful relationship (the other person is just so perfect and interesting!), but emotional intimacy can become more challenging after 10 years together has taken its toll.
Indeed, emotional intimacy must be encouraged to grow or it will die.
More than this in fact, you should make emotional intimacy a priority in your relationship because it’s difficult to have a good relationship with poor emotional intimacy. Conversely, it’s difficult to have a poor relationship with a high degree of emotional intimacy.
After all, deep relationship building usually occurs outside of just a physical relationship with physical intimacy because having one type of intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have another type, which means the relationship is lacking in those areas.
For sure, some of us are better at emotional intimacy than others, and men can often be guilty of avoiding emotional intimacy more so than women, but emotional intimacy can be nurtured to grow and floruish by anyone, all you need to do is be willing to do so and put in the time required.
Let’s consider some of the methods for how to deepen emotional intimacy in a relationship so we can strengthen our bonds of love.
We maintain intimate relationships with those with whom we share challenging times. And it doesn’t matter what the occasion is, whether it be surviving a horrible boss or training for a marathon, the result is the same if we faced the challenge together.
For example, you could spend time training together at the gym. If you sweat and suffer together your bond will grow.
Most of the obstacles to being more intimately connected with someone are rooted in the past. This is so commonly said that it may sound trite, but we really should just learn from the past and be done with it as the past does not predict the future.
Everyone has been hurt at some point, but that’s not a valid reason to spoil the present. Indeed, the person who hurt us in the past is often not even part of our lives anymore, yet we carry the burden of the encounter with us, weighing us down heavily. Let it go.
Before turning off the light for the night, share what you appreciate about each other. List something you appreciated that day. Even the small things count, like folding your clean pants or stopping by the store for milk.
You’ll be amazed by what happens. You’ll spend the day looking for things to appreciate about your partner, which in and of itself breeds gratitude and the benefits this gains us.
Eventually, you’ll think that your partner has changed into an even more amazing person than they were already, but the truth is that it’s not them who’s changed but you.
Sex counts, but focus on other types of touch, too. Give each other a massage or snuggle together on the couch. Hold hands. Touch them as you walk past.
Touch is a way to convey affection without words, sometimes it’s an even better way.
The ratio appears to be roughly 5:1. That is, it takes five positive experiences to negate the impact of one negative experience. Sounds kind of harsh, and is why we need to get on top of it.
Try to deliver at least 10 positive experiences for each negative experience. Doing this will force the negative away and out of your partner’s mind, making you a perpetually positive experience for them.
We notice the people in our lives who take the time to listen intently to what we have to say (and it can feel like an affront when they do the opposite).
Granted, you might not care about the great deal she got on that pair of heels she’s been eyeing for weeks or the fact that his new carburetor finally arrived in the mail, but you get at least as much as you give when you’re a good listener.
Look your partner in the eye when they’re speaking to you.
Turn off the TV.
Put your phone away.
Take a class or a hike in a new location. Read the same book and share your thoughts. Attend a concert together. Take a trip to someplace new. Be creative and share a new experience together.
Shared experiences like these lead to shared memories, which enhances the emotional intimacy in a relationship and brings you closer together.
By being at your best, you’ll have more to give, to your partner and the relationship in general. Have some goals of your own and spend time each day working on and striving to achieve them.
This goes beyond being a good listener. It actually goes beyond just showing it, too, because we’re good at telling when others are just faking it. After all, you should be interested in your partner’s life.
Be inquisitive and ask your partner about their day. If they just got home from playing sport, ask them about their game. Show a genuine interest.
Building and enhancing any type of intimacy, whether it’s emotional intimacy or otherwise, can be challenging. And adding to the challenge is that fear of intimacy is common due to it being a little daunting to expose and open yourself to another like this.
However, think of it this way, emotional intimacy is important if you want to have a happy and fulfilling life and a deep bond with another.
Even if you’re someone who feels incredibly closed off from the ones you love and can’t see how to get the emotional intimacy that others speak of, you can take a short cut to intimacy by just allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
Almost by magic, being vulnerable automatically opens you up to intimacy with another. Give it a try. It can be exhilarating if you’ve never done it before!
For those of us who being vulnerable makes them nervous you should try taking baby steps to begin. Then, if the other person is responding positively, go a little further.
- Try revealing yourself, even if you start small.
- Sharing private things builds trust and closeness, whereas a lack of sharing is a roadblock to emotional intimacy because it prevents closeness, understanding, and builds a wall.
- Get into the habit of sharing your thoughts and opinions. And when someone has earned your trust, share a little more.
If, after all this, you still really can’t bring yourself to be vulnerable, even to those you love, then you must try and figure out the reason for your reticence.
Where does your fear of intimacy come from? Why are you keeping others at arm’s length? Most likely, there will be something in your past where you’ve been let down before, potentially from a time when your trust was abused.
Whatever the cause for your fear of intimacy, try and get to the root of it. When you know the cause you can begin to think about it rationally.
- Use a journal to note down your thoughts on the issue as getting your thoughts down on the page and in black and white expands our perspective and allows us to see them more objectively.
Moreover, does the person you’re withholding from now have anything to do with the person who betrayed your trust in the past? If not then you’re punishing them for the actions of someone else. Refer to point 2 above: learn to let go.
On the other hand, if you’ve been emotionally intimate with others in the past but are finding yourself struggling with a particular person right now, then maybe they’re the source of the challenge and not you.
Finding the root of these issues is the first step to moving forward, so spend some time on it. And do journal it out.
■ ▲ ●
All the best, and good luck with developing a deep bond with someone!
For your ultimate guide on all types of intimacy, emotional, physical, intellectual, and more, get the book!
■ ▲ ●
Login to your account