- in Intimacy
“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace."
~ Brené Brown
Emotional intimacy is something every woman desires yet is challenged with developing. When the stress of everyday life gets in the way, it can cause you to isolate yourself, speak in a tone that rubs your man the wrong way, or cause you to feel uncertain about your relationship. All of those things create more distance, making emotional intimacy seem far away.
The good news is you can definitely develop emotional intimacy with these three specific practices. When consistently implemented, you and your man will feel a deeper connection.
Three Practices for Developing Emotional Intimacy
1. Be vulnerable with your man by sharing your true thoughts, feelings and desires.
When you express your true self, you get to be seen, known, and loved for who you are – the good, the quirky, and the parts you try to hide from others. Feeling loved for who you are creates a deep bond which translates into emotional intimacy.
2. Create a safe space for him to open up by sharing your true self.
When you’re open with your man and receptive to what he’s sharing, he’ll continue to open up even more. Unlike women, men don’t tend to share deep thoughts and feelings with their guy friends. Creating a safe place for him builds the foundation for emotional intimacy to grow.
3. Accept your man for who he is (unless he’s immoral or unethical) by being non-judgmental and respectful.
This means not trying to control or change him, but to let him be who he is and do things his way. When your man feels accepted, you’ll feel accepted by him. This means you’re not trying to say and do things to please and appease each other. When you’re saying and doing things that are true to who you are, emotional intimacy deepens.
Emotional intimacy is one of the best skills you can develop. It deepens your bond, strengthens your relationship, and lets you live your happily ever after.
Janet Ong Zimmerman, Founder of Love for Successful Women – www.loveforsuccessfulwomen.com
Confession: I have struggled in every relationship to develop the level of emotional intimacy I have craved.
As I currently find myself in the beginning of a relationship with someone who also admits to struggling with emotional intimacy, I’ve made the decision to do something differently. I realized I cannot force emotional intimacy and I cannot want emotional intimacy enough for both of us. I have no control over my partner and the more I focus on not getting the emotional intimacy I want, I’m pushing them further away from me. I have created the blocks that I’ve thought I was trying to break down.
Here’s the thing, people express their love in different ways and what I believe to be emotional intimacy may not be what another considers emotional intimacy.
Going forward, I am consciously making the effort to focus on the ways my partner shows me love, affection and intimacy. I am redefining what emotional intimacy is for me. It doesn’t have to be long conversations of our deepest fears and hopes (even though that would be incredible), emotional intimacy can be all those moments that are shared that we forget about – brushing our teeth together, driving in the car running errands, looking at each other when passing each other at home, holding hands while on the couch. Noticing those little moments and appreciating that they are choosing to share those moments with me. Knowing those little touches, smiles, eye contacts are emotional intimacy. It’s just doing them intentionally– recognizing them and sending loving energy towards them.
Appreciating little things will create a ripple effect into emotional intimacy.
It allows tensions to break, creates safety and comfort, and opens the door for deeper connection. Appreciating the little things is a way of accepting who they are at each moment and what they can give you. It’s realizing they are enough as they are just as you are enough as you are.
Yes, I believe doing this is easier said than done and there will probably be times when I get frustrated. So this is what I plan to do when that happens, again because I can only control myself. I’ll utilize my outlets for deeper connection – yoga, meditation, my spiritual center and my deep thinking friends. I will express to my partner what I need but allow them to give that to me in a way that is comfortable for them. I will recognize that my way isn’t necessarily the right or only way.
But two things that I find helpful in creating emotional intimacy is: go to bed at the same time together without distractions and to do what I call “best part/worst part”; where we share the best and worst part of our day. This is a simple way to be connected, get to know each other, and express what is going on for you.
Time will tell if I will have success with this, but this approach feels right.
Shannon Dee, BSW, Certified Life Coach - www.shannondee.ca
Wait a second, are we saying we have a need here? A need to be more intimate in our relationship?
As women, so often we pretend that we don’t have needs. We want to seem cool, easy going. We don’t want to rock the boat, or scare the guy away, making him think we’re getting too serious too fast. The ultimate truth is, he won’t know you have a need until you tell him you do. See, that is the thing about men. So often, they aren’t aware of our needs as women, because they are not mind readers!
And many women have a chronic delusion that men should have all the answers, and should know what to do or say, or how to act to make us happy, all the time. And when they don’t, (because aside from Disney or your imagination, most men won’t), we get angry and go into defensive mode because we feel unheard, unseen, and misunderstood. We feel a lack of intimacy. That’s not to say that men cannot tell when something is wrong, or that men are not emotionally in tune. But it does mean that when you have a need, you should, quite literally, spell it out for them.
It's called communication. And another thing? It builds intimacy!
So, by all means, state your needs. A few tips: be sure that you are coming to the table in a mature way, (i.e., don’t tell him in a way that might feel like you are attacking his character or placing him in the wrong). Of course, it will depend on the guy, but he might even need help with understanding what intimacy is, exactly. You can start by having an easy dialogue.
If he is a ready and willing participant in the art of relationship, he will be open to hearing you out.
Do you feel close to certain people in your life?
Do you feel like you can really share things with others?
Do you feel safe enough to share things with me?
What do you think we could both do to become closer?
What could I do that would make you feel more safe with me?
These are all valid and interesting questions to see where your guy is at in terms of intimacy.
If straight up, barebones communication is too scary for you, you might use something like a couples’ board game. There are many great options online, and trust me when I say... share a nice dinner or get a little wine flowing, and a game like this will open you both up, bringing you closer to knowing one another on a deeper level.
Ultimately, if they are ready for deepening relationship, many men would like to build more intimacy.
They need it too; just ask them! (If communicating your needs sounds too painful for you, you may want to check in with your sense of self-esteem. Sorry-- I had to! I’ve been there, and you’re certainly not alone.)
Natalie DeFay, MA, LAMFT - www.integrativearttherapy.net
The key to deep intimacy in relationship is listening, but listening in a radically new way.
Most of us, when listening, are doing one of two things and sometimes both. First, we are scanning for danger: is there something that our partner is expressing that conflicts with what we experience or believe. If so, then we think that our own different experience or belief is threatened, as is the relationship itself. We are taught that our partner’s truth must align with our own or else someone’s truth and thus someone must be wrong.
We listen with the word “but” as our guide.
If our partner shares an experience or thought that is different from our own, we connect the two experiences with the word “but” which implies that the experience on one side or the other is invalid, rejected, and thus unworthy of compassion.
If we are not scanning our partner’s words for danger, we are figuring out the problem we need to fix—what we need to do about what is being shared rather than listening to what is actually being shared. Having to fix our partner’s experience then prevents being truly with our partner, knowing them through understanding what they are living, unfixed.
The path to deep intimacy is to shift our whole way of listening so that “and” replaces “but” as our way of connecting differing experiences and truths.
In order to create true intimacy, we must trust that our experience and our partner’s need not be one and the same nor even similar, and can in fact coexist peacefully even when radically different. You experience it this way and I experience it that way. Both are true and both are deserving of kindness and attention.
In most relationships, only half truths are told and we feel only partially known.
Too much of what we experience about the other, the relationship or just life in general feels threatening to the safety of the union. We don’t trust that we can be fully honest and still loved, and, that the relationship can include all the differing truths that coexist, and still remain intact. And so we hide our truths, tuck them away inside ourselves, protect ourselves from being fully known, protect the relationship form its inconsistencies, all of which is the death knoll for intimacy.
In order to feel genuinely close with our partner, we must feel genuinely known.
We must feel safe to express how we experience ourselves, each other, the relationship, and our lives. In order to create this intimacy, we must learn to listen to each other with true curiosity, with the goal of understanding and caring about our partner’s experience regardless of whether we like, agree with, or even fully understand its content.
Real intimacy is created when we offer each other the space and respect to have different and equally true experiences of life, even the same elements of life.
We feel deeply in union when we can understand and accept what is true for our partner, regardless of whether we share that truth. When our experience is welcome and offered the space to be heard as it is, without agreement, we feel truly known, which is intimacy in action.
Nancy Colier, LCSW, Author of 'The Power of Off' - www.nancycolier.com
We hear the term emotional intimacy a great deal, but may not know what it means. Is it about getting along well with your romantic partner? Does it naturally occur just from loving someone?
Here are some tips for developing emotional intimacy in a romantic relationship.
#1. Recognize what emotional intimacy isn’t
You’re not necessarily experiencing emotional closeness merely because you and your partner sat “I love you” all the time and can’t keep your hands off each other. Nor is swearing fidelity and promising to love each other forever what creates intimacy. It is also not about getting along perfectly or never having an argument.
Many couples gush endearments at each other, but have only a superficial attachment. This is also true of couples who spend every spare minute together and are great companions. How ideal a relationship looks to outsiders has little to do with the depth of emotional intimacy between partners.
#2. Emotional intimacy isn’t just rapid bonding
Once in a while you meet people and boom, you’re telling them your deepest, darkest secrets within minutes. This is one type of emotional intimacy, but it’s not the same as the more durable kind that grows over time, as you and your partner go through experiences together, celebrate good times, and struggle through bad times.
Another thing intimacy isn’t is agreeing with your partner all the time. Intimacy requires honesty (as well as tact) which can’t happen if you’re more interested in pleasing your partner than in sharing what’s on your mind.
#3. Recognize what emotional intimacy is
It starts with the ability to be vulnerable and value vulnerability and the sharing of openness between partners. Being vulnerable means you aren’t worried every minute about saying the right thing, looking or sounding foolish, spouting what you think your partner wants to hear, or being in control. In fact, these are all impediments to emotional vulnerability.
Intimacy comes from two people being their authentic selves and enjoying the closeness produced by this interaction. Couples often talk about how uncomfortable it feels to air grievances, especially those they’ve held onto for a long time, as well as how moving it is to share a sense of appreciation of differences which makes a relationship stronger. I know this is true of my own many decades of marriage. Emotional intimacy grows out of knowing that you are loved for the whole package you present, your worst, as well as your best moments.
#4. Move toward emotional intimacy
To feel this closeness, you must first trust your partner, that is, know that you will not be invalidated, shamed, or criticized for what you feel or say. And it means that you also must be trustworthy and value as precious the attempts your partner makes to share honest expression. As you each take baby steps to test this trust, intimacy builds and deepens.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
Emotional Intimacy is a key component to having a happy and healthy relationship.
One way to increase this is by being vulnerable and sharing personal experiences about yourself. Asking your partner questions about their life experiences and getting to know each other on a deeper level also increases emotional intimacy. As you meet someone; let the relationship develop naturally. You do not need to share your life story on the first date or expect to hear everything about them ; however enjoy the process of getting to know each other.
Trust is a key component to building emotional intimacy.
If you trust your partner; it is easier to open up and show your true self. If your partner feels safe with you; they should be more comfortable expressing and sharing intimate parts of themselves. Many woman find there physical desire increases as they feel more emotionally connected to there partner. Some men may find it easier to connect in a physical way which may then in turn lead to emotional intimacy. There is no right or wrong way to build emotional intimacy. The nice thing is that it is important enough to you that you are seeking out information on how to make your relationship stronger.
When you connect on an emotional level you connect on a deeper perhaps more meaningful level.
After you have been physically intimate ( and I know it's hard especially if you have children and jobs and I'm sure 100 things that you " should" be doing) try to take a few minutes lying in bed with your partner and just talk. Talk about other things besides the household routine, bath, bedtime, grocery shopping, bills to pay.
We all have the things that must get discussed and must get done; but have you asked your spouse about something that you know is of interest to him although it might not be to you? How is his favorite football team doing? Has he read any good books lately? Think about what connected you to each other when you first met. Do you share common interests? It might be nice to set up a date night and reconnect.
Emotional intimacy is just as important as physical intimacy.
If you have both in your relationship you should be proud of your relationship and the work you have done and are willing to do to make it a happy and healthy one!
Trisha Swinton, LPC, LMFT – www.trishaswintoncounseling.com
Probably one of the most frustrating relationship experiences for just about any of us is a lack of emotional availability on the part of our partner.
Lack of emotional availability can create considerable conflict in a relationship, but it doesn’t have to. Rather, using that conflict creatively can be a starting point for you and your partner to deepen intimacy and nurture the heart of your relationship.
There are many reasons why people are or become emotional unavailable.
It may be that your partner never learned to access his or her emotions. On the other hand, people who have experienced some sort of emotional trauma may wall off their emotions for fear of getting hurt again. Sometimes it’s as simple as someone finding it hard to express difficult emotions—in other words, just not having the words.
Using conflict creatively to foster emotional intimacy in your relationship starts with a willingness to respect each other, as well as hold space for each other’s imperfection.
This kind of open and compassionate attitude toward one another encourages respect, and helps develop trust. When a partner who has trouble revealing his or her emotions feels safe, it provides them with a space to be more open and authentic not only with themselves, but with you.
How can you and your partner make this happen in your relationship?
The first thing to do is to drop your judgment of one another.
Within the context of relationship, it’s very important to remember that it’s always a level playing field. Neither one of you is more or less right, or knows more or less than the other. You must strive to be partners in every sense of the word. This is at the heart of dropping judgment.
When you drop judgment of each other, then there is no fear attached to sharing your hopes, fears, dreams or your craziest ideas about anything and everything. More importantly, there is no fear of expressing your deepest emotions to one another because there is no fear of being judged. Creating this experience of a level playing field for one another also creates a balance of giving and receiving.
IN other words, foster vulnerability for one another.
When you and your partner strike this kind of balance, it opens both of you to the possibility of creating an open, honest relationship grounded in genuine sharing, rather than fear.
Dr. Dori Gatter - www.drdorigatter.com
As a relationship and sex therapist, I spend much of my time helping couples be more honest, firstly with themselves, and then with each other.
Honesty is the root of developing emotional intimacy.
But in order to have an honest relationship you need to be able to compose yourself. Why? Well, if you are going to encourage your partner to be truly honest, you will sometimes hear things that you don’t like! You need to be able to listen to their thoughts, ideas and perspectives, even if you disagree with them, without flying off the handle or withdrawing.
I remember my friend Janet talking on the telephone to her seventeen-year-old son. She placed a high value on honesty but was frustrated that he didn’t always tell her the whole story. I could see why, when he confessed that he’d been drunk the night before and vomited in the street. Suddenly she was screaming down the phone, enraged at his behavior and embarrassed in case her friends had seen him. No wonder that he didn’t always tell her the whole truth! Remember, that we teach each other how to treat us! She had taught him that being honest was dangerous.
I imagine that that this childhood pattern would affect him when he got married ten years later. Having learnt to withhold the truth because his mother couldn’t cope with it, it would be very hard for him to be open with his new wife. He would expect her to ‘blow up’ if he told her something that she didn’t like, just as his mother had.
Our childhood history has a huge impact on us as adults, and sets the template for our core ways of relating.
The best way I know to clear these unhelpful childhood patterns is through a method called Pesso Boyden System Psychotherapy – which is a fast and effective route.
What my friend, Janet needed to do instead of shouting was to calm herself, by slowing and deepening her breathing, and breathing out to the very end of the out-breath. We all know the adage, ‘Count to ten’. It is even better if you accompany this with positive self-talk. Any phrase that calms you, such as, ‘Just relax’ or, ‘You are doing fine’, will be helpful.
Being unruffled enables us to access both our thinking and our feeling so that we can move easily and appropriately from one to the other and back again.
We can only do this when we are composed. Then we can both speak our truth, even when we are not sure how that will be received, and listen to someone else’s truth, even when it is uncomfortable. This level of honesty leads to a deepening of emotional intimacy.
Juliet Grayson, Psychotherapist – www.therapyandcounselling.co.uk
Look for opportunities to spend time together doing things you both enjoy.
Stretch a bit and do something he enjoys and ask him to do the same with you. Be mindful of involving friends on every outing, date or event. You need time and space to develop your emotional connection.
Share things that are important to you like your goals and values.
Take time to be present for each other. Spend time together without other distractions such as the television, computer or phone. Turn off the electronic devices and focus on each other. Cook meals together and shop for the ingredients together. Go for a walk or a picnic in the park. Look for opportunities where you can spend time together and avoid unnecessary interruptions.
Pay attention to what he says when he is talking.
What does he like? How does he spend his free time? What are his hobbies? If you want him to get to know you, get to know him too. The details are important and remembering them tells him that he matters to you. Opening up and trusting each other enough to be emotionally vulnerable with each other won´t happen overnight. Getting to know each other will take time.
Be mindful not spend every waking moment together.
It is important to keep a little mystery going and some healthy space never hurts. Pay attention to the cues regarding space because he needs to trust that you will give it to him when he needs it. It helps him trust that you are okay without him and can be apart from him without getting needy.
Be honest from the beginning about who you are.
Do your best to be authentic from the get go. Being yourself keeps you in your integrity. If you are who you say you are and back it up with your actions, then he can trust you. Be mindful that we all want to put our best foot forward, but be careful not to misrepresent yourself and what you are about. You want him to be honest with you, so create good karma and be honest with him.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net
“I hate solitude, but I'm afraid of intimacy.” -Iris Murdoch
In order to have intimacy in your relationship, you need to have the desire to achieve it.
It all starts with you. Intimacy causes a person to break down their most inner most layers, revealing their true selves. People are like onions, they have many layers that when are peeled back, exposes a person’s inner core. Are you ready to reveal yourself to another person? If not, then you are not trusting yourself and your partner. Without trust, there cannot be intimacy.
Intimacy knocks down barriers and walls, allowing a person to be vulnerable to another, by opening themselves up to be hurt.
In fact, intimacy is defined as a closeness familiarity or friendship among people. Intimacy can be achieved in many ways, both in a physical and non physical sense.
Sure it can be scary letting someone in because it gives them the opportunity to hurt you, but you don’t experience love, unless you are open to all that it has to offer.
So, let’s start with a few things that you can do to create intimacy in your relationship.
The first one is simple, if you are thinking about your partner, let them know.
When you are close to someone, you think about them, so why not let them know? One action can brighten a person’s day. Sending a text message only takes a few minutes. What about a phone call? Hearing your loved one’s voice, even if it is only for a little while, can work wonders. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy phone call, just enough to let the person know they are on your mind.
The second thing you can do is sit in silence with your partner.
You can cuddle, hold hands, etc. Just make sure that there is some type of physical touch. Physical touch has been proven to lower stress and make a person feel calm, especially if it is from a loved one.
These steps are basic, thus achievable and not awkward. The more you practice them, the easier it will get, and you can deepen the interactions along the way.
Robin Ennis, LMSW, CPC – www.prominentpathways.org
One of the biggest facets of building emotional intimacy in relationships is sharing who we are, how we feel and what we need.
There are many people in relationships that acquiesce to others, hide their needs and don’t share honestly. Many who are in relationships like that end up in my office upset that their relationship is not working out.
We must be mindfully assertiveness in our relationships.
What exactly does this mean? It means that we are sharing who we are, what we are feeling and being assertive with our needs. To do this, you first have to be aware of what it is that you are really thinking and feeling and then sharing this with your loved one. Some may cringe considering this expecting conflict. The key is how you choose to frame the words to express what you feel.
It can be tough to frame your words in love, especially depending on how long you have held your thoughts and feelings.
Much like a boiling pot of water, when we hold in negative thoughts and emotions with people we love, it will at some point, boil over. This could lead to sharing one’s thoughts and feelings in a short, angry way riddled with expectations for our partner that we are only initially sharing with them. Our loved ones cannot read our minds and sometimes they just don’t see how their behavior may look to others. When we stay aware and share lovingly in the moment that is comes up, we can increase the emotional intimacy.
Once something is bothering you, mindfully notice this within you and begin to think of loving ways to communicate this.
Lovingly and gently let your partner know. For example, perhaps your partner leaves his/her clothes everywhere and it gets on your nerves.
The best way to express might be, “Hey, I am feeling overwhelmed with these clothes laying around, is it possible that you could put your dirty clothes in a hamper? It would really make me feel less overwhelmed when I go into the bedroom.”
Have a conversation with your partner about it with curiosity and the intention of learning about him/her and what’s behind the behavior. You may both trouble-shoot different ideas to move forward with. Speak in love and stay aware of any defensiveness. If defensiveness begins, name it with your partner and remind him/her that you are not intending to attack, but just get your needs addressed and get closer with him/her.
If you start a conversation with the intention of love, sharing internal fears, needs and wants, more intimacy blossoms.
It may be a bit uncomfortable, especially if you are not used to sharing, but it will be positive in the end because your partner is getting to know you and you are getting to know your partner. With mindful assertiveness, we have the opportunity to use our outlets, blossom emotional intimacy and practice connecting in love and compassion.
Dr. Lisa M. Templeton, Phd - www.interpersonalhealing.com
Emotional intimacy by its very definition is about how two people are relating to each other in a particular moment in time.
It’s a subjective experience. You can be sitting or standing next to one another and feel completely alone and disconnected from one another. Or conversely, you can be far apart at your respective places of employment, for example, and feel a deep sense of connection.
We need to be able to identify and communicate our intimacy needs first to ourselves and then our partners in a clear and effective manner in order to have a chance at having these needs met.
Here are some of the key words and phrases couples use when describing a feeling of emotional intimacy with their partner:
· Having a sense of connection, closeness, or togetherness
· Being kindred spirits, “getting” one another
· Feeling understood/secure/safe/cared for
On the other hand, when couples I see in counseling describe a lack of intimacy, they use words like:
· He seems distant, closed off, shut down, or far away
· We don’t talk anymore
· I feel alone in this relationship
· I can’t reach/connect with him anymore
You need to capture your thoughts and feelings in easy to understand words and phrases. The more we have clarity of thought and the better the communication skills we possess, the higher the probability he will be able to change his behavior to move your relationship to the level of emotional intimacy you desire.
Here are five key points to recognize regarding emotional intimacy:
1. Intimacy is rarely stagnant.
It generally ebbs and flows even in happy, healthy relationships with individuals subtly moving toward and away from one another. We all get into relationship ruts—this is very natural and to be expected.
2. A lack of intimacy will take its toll on your relationship.
The continued state of an intimacy deficiency can color your thoughts of one another in a negative way. Often times this disconnectedness spills over into other facets of your relationship. For example, you may experience the same repetitive fights over the smallest things.
3. Your intimacy needs may be different.
To create relational harmony, we must respect and accept each other’s differences and negotiate a middle ground in terms of one wanting more intimacy that the other. While there’s no right or wrong, conflict, disagreement, and resentment can arise when an imbalance exists.
4. Your intimacy “hows” may be different, too.
What makes you feel close and connected to your partner may be different than the things that bring him closer to you. Do you know what makes you feel deeply connected to him and vice versa?
5. Unresolved hurts will block intimacy.
For instance, one of you is holding on to anger that occurred in the past or is feeling judged by the other. These issues must be resolved before true emotional intimacy can take hold.
While we may wish for this, couples cannot exist in a continual state of connection. Ruptures will happen. There is conflict in all relationships… even healthy ones. The difference is: happy couples know how to repair the relationship and reconnect. Research shows that the repairing of the breaks in intimacy are the most important actions that help couples to reconnect with one another.
Intimacy should be co-created by you and your partner. Being able to communicate your needs, wants, and desires in a caring, respectful way can make emotional intimacy a healthy part of your romantic relationship.
Deb Daufeldt, MA, MBA, NCC - www.newchaptersolutions.com
Do you know that healthy anger can enhance intimacy?
Anger doesn’t have to be negative. It can be a bridge to a more intimate connection.
In unhealthy anger the goal is getting someone else to change. You blame others for how you feel and avoid your own behavior as a result. That’s why unhealthy anger escalates so fast!
If anger is avoided, relationships get strained because when you hold onto anger, it festers into resentment. And that takes a toll on relationships.
Healthy anger tells you when something isn’t right and it creates the opportunity to evaluate what’s happening.
In healthy anger the focus is on taking care of you.
It’s expressing what you need and sharing your point of view without making the other person wrong. Your expectations then are based on what you do rather than someone else's behavior.
For instance, your partner says something that offends you. You say nothing and stuff the hurt. Resentment builds and you begin to feel distant. As a result, you don’t want to spend time much together. That’s when relationships start to fall apart.
By keeping quiet conflict is avoided. That’s why most people do it, because it is easier then facing it. And it works…for awhile. But it comes at a price of increased stress and feeling disconnected in relationships.
When you take the risk to express yourself assertively, the other person has the opportunity to know what's important to you.
You have the chance to be fully known and authentic. You can say what you mean without saying it mean. This is how relationships heal - by giving the other person a chance to hear you out.
In a healthy relationship both people care about what hurts. That's why anger is a gift. It helps the other person know the impact of their behavior. Or, it clears up misunderstandings. By being honest you address the hurt while preserving the connection. That's why healthy anger works!
Michelle Farris, LMFT – www.counselingrecovery.com
When we first fall in love we like everything about each other. We want to understand every little thing our partner thinks and feels. We touch, we kiss, we play, we laugh, we make love, and we cry together. We merge.
As time goes by however, these things can fade away. That attention to each other can gradually erode. We can take each other for granted. We can lose our passion. Those loving bonds that were so strong in the beginning can start to fray, and the beautiful, radiant couple you started out as, begins to dim.
To keep your relationship passionate, fulfilling, and flourishing, there are three main ways to encourage a continuing and growing connection that keep the doors of intimacy wide open.
The three basics of intimacy are: PHYSICAL, MENTAL, and EMOTIONAL.
It’s obvious when you think of it, but like in any art – and love is an art – these values are in all of them. Like 1-2-3, or A-B-C, these core components are the underpinnings of any long-lasting relationship, and it’s important to connect in all three ways.
The first is physical.
Believe it or not, the sparky, sparkly, hyper-passionate physical aspect of love can wane. We can grow complacent with each other. We can lose interest and become indifferent, or just perfunctorily go through the motions. We forget to hold hands. We forget to touch each other in all those intimate ways that we did when we first met. Like sitting really close on the same side of the table telling each other long stories about our day, or snuggled into each other’s arms while watching the big game, these constant little touches make continual loving connections that reinforce the relationship. They bond us.
And, those things that you first fell in love with like his eyes, his scent, or the sound of his voice – are still there.
But we need to remember to notice them. It’s easy to take each other for granted. You can forget how his crooked smile makes you laugh, or that when he’s nervous he stands very straight and serious. All those little quirks and nuances are endearing!
A simple touch, a soft smile, or a little kiss can go a long way. It’s easy to forget the importance of these little demonstrations of love. Holding hands, looking into his eyes, touching his arm softly while you are talking together, are all little acts of love. These loving touches are the physical demonstration of a deeper connection. It is the first layer, and it’s an important one.
The second layer is mental.
It’s important to stay mentally connected. We need to continue to learn and grow together. Socializing, camping, reading, taking walks together, cooking together, raising children together, are all examples of a growing connection that is stimulating and compelling, and finally life-history making.
Most especially, we need to nurture easy and open communication so we are able to talk through problems, differences of opinions, and can come to consensus over the myriad challenges that come up in life.
Finally, the third layer is emotional.
This might be the most important of all, for this is the glue that binds a relationship into something more. An emotional connection creates the safety and security that allows you to laugh together and cry together. So much so that when you simply look into into each other’s eyes you feel safe, you feel loved, and you feel seen – and he does too.
There is so much to all of this, but remembering these basic ABC’s are the basis for a sound and growing and continually loving relationship.
Diana Lang, Counselor and Author of Opening to Meditation – www.dianalang.com
Love is complex.
One way for couples to gain clarity is to map out an understanding of how each partner gives and receives love.
What is your partner’s love language? Does he enjoy receiving gifts, positive affirmations or gratitude, or physical gestures and affection?
It is key to pinpoint the way you give love and how you like to receive love.
Is it through gifts, positive words, or with gestures and affection?
Emotional intimacy is built on a firm foundation of trust. Once we can identify and practice showing our partner love in his language, this will build deeper emotional intimacy within the relationship.
Practicing small acts of kindness on a consistent basis builds trust and will strengthen intimacy within relationships.
Brooke Campbell, MA, LCAT - www.creativekinections.com
1. Ask Questions
Sometimes our insecurities create anxiety about asking certain questions or having certain discussions. In order to develop emotional intimacy, it's important not to give in to this anxiety. Ask your partner about his past relationships and why they didn't work out; ask him about what he wants in a partner and what his future goals are. Make sure to talk about all the things that are important to you.
A common fear women have about brining up these topics is scaring the guy away, but remember, the right guy won't be scared off. It's also important not to bombard him with these questions, do it slowly and at various times get this information.
2. Open Up
Our insecurities also can keep us from opening up. However, keeping walls up and not disclosing more intimate details about yourself can be a big roadblock to creating intimacy. It may create a disconnect between the two people involved. Share with him the same answers you are seeking from him (i.e. past relationships, future goals, etc.). Think about the details about you and your life that color who you are and define you as a person and make sure to divulge all these things throughout the course of the relationship.
3. Talk about the relationship and what emotional intimacy means
Part of developing emotional intimacy is making sure you both are on similar pages. It is important to know where your partner stands and what he is thinking in regards to the relationship. Additionally, understanding what emotional intimacy is to your partner and expressing to him what it means for you can help to facilitate such intimacy. It is important to do this periodically, and can be especially helpful if you are feeling that there is a current lack of intimacy.
4. Express your needs
A big part of experiencing emotional intimacy is feeling safe and comfortable in the relationship. Remember that people are not mind readers, and you can't assume your partner knows what you want and need from him. Therefore, let him know. Whether there is something specific to this relationship or more general to you as a person, it is important to communicate your needs, wants, and feelings in order to develop emotional intimacy and create a successful relationship.
Alyssa Mairanz, LMHC - www.alyssamairanztherapy.com
Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a few months or many years it can be difficult to establish or maintain emotional intimacy with your partner.
Physical intimacy does not necessarily translate to emotional intimacy, and bridging the gap can seem confusing. So what’s the secret to feeling emotionally close to your partner? In one word: communication. So often we talk without listening or hear without understanding. Relationships are often plagued with miscommunications, assumptions and accusations.
When improving communication there are no quick fixes.
It takes work. However, it’s worth it to feel close to your partner and have the best relationship possible.
Firstly, pay attention to your partner’s bids for attention.
So often we reach out to each other in small ways asking for intimacy and feel rebuffed. The problem is that these bids for attention are often non-verbal, so they can be easy to miss. Additionally, a big part of healthy communication is validating your partner and acknowledging their opinions. Compliments and appreciation also go a long way.
Another problem is when we focus on “you” instead of “I” statements.
Conflict is a part of any relationship and it’s actually a good thing if it’s done in a constructive way. However, conflict can quickly get out of hand when you or your partner start blaming each other for the problem or past wrongs. Instead, focus on your feelings and needs and what you want to get out of the conversation. For example, “I get overwhelmed after work and sometimes need help with the dishes,” is more effective than, “I always do the dishes and you never do anything!”
Additionally, keeping conflict in the present instead of the past increases your chances of success.
If you and your partner can resolve conflict constructively, then you both will feel safe expressing your emotions and your connection will deepen. In order to show our vulnerability we have to feel safe, so making your relationship a safe place to share emotions is important.
Working on your communication in a relationship is a great investment and will yield dividends in terms of knowing and understanding your partner on a deeper level. Follow the above tips to become closer than you’ve ever been to your partner.
Elizabeth Cobb, LCSW - www.cobbpsychotherapy.com
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