February is the month of love. With Valentines Day only a week away, people are frantically trying to find the perfect gift or plan the perfect date. When some just need to tap into their emotional intimacy. Typically when someone says the word ‘intimacy’ people automatically think of it in a sexual way. There are actually multiple types of intimacy, emotional, physical (sexual), experimental and spiritual. It is not all about sex!
What is emotional intimacy?
As humans, we have the need to love and be loved. This requires connection, communication and closeness. This is where emotional intimacy comes in, this is solely based on trust. It is the act of letting someone in on an emotional level and willing to be
vulnerable. Vulnerability is the ability to feel connected and to feel good about opening up to your partner and allow yourself to be seen through your emotions.
Emotional intimacy is the part of a relationship that often makes people feel vulnerable. You could be married to a person for years and never reach the level of emotional intimacy. It is so easy for us to have conversations with our spouses that do not reach a certain emotional level. This can be topics such as talking about your day, discussing the kids school etc. Even though these are still very important topics in a relationship, it is easy to get into a loop of only having these ‘superficial’ conversations.
This form of intimacy is not only about verbal communication, it is also about non-verbal communication. This can be as small as sitting next to each on the couch, touching your partners shoulder or arm while speaking.
Sexual intimacy vs emotional intimacy
Sexual or physical intimacy is the urge for sexual connection. It is human nature to have sexual urges, but the emotional aspect does not necessarily have to be present for that to happen (i.e. a one night stand or ‘hook-up’). The sexual intimacy alone often does not bring two people closer, that is where emotional intimacy steps in.
When people hear the word intimacy they usually automatically think of sexual intimacy, but
they are very different. Emotional and sexual intimacy do not need one or the other to exist. It is possible to have physical intimacy without the emotional aspect and have emotional
without the physical. Although, in the case of a relationship both are needed to
Ways to improve your emotional intimacy
There is many different ways to improve emotional intimacy. Here are are a few ideas to start:
- Take time together: While a regular date night is great, if it is the same thing every week where you go to dinner and discuss the same things you would discuss at home, it is not helping your relationship. To improve intimacy, do something new each date night to keep things exciting. Something that keeps your attention on each other but also deepening your connection. Trying something new with your partner is a great example. It can be a new adventurous thing that you do together. Creating new memories and sparking new conversations that you’ve never had before.
- Write a list: whether this is together or on your own write a list of WHY you love being with your partner. Write the lists together and share what you wrote, or write them on your own to remember why it is that you love this person so much. This is a great reminder for when you might feel like you are losing that connection.
- Do something special: This doesn’t have to be an extravagant gesture like a diamond necklace or a fancy watch. This can be simply doing a chore that your spouse typically does or enjoying something they enjoy. If you don’t like sports but your partner does, try watching their favourite game while sitting next to them
and asking questions and involving yourself. Small gestures like these go a long way in a relationship. Most people in relationships will have different likes and dislikes, making an effort to take part in something you dislike but your partner likes can be extremely beneficial to for your emotional intimacy.
- Be open and honest with each-other: chances are you are pretty open with your partner if you are in a long term relationship. But people go through years without telling their partner certain things. Often times, there may be something your partner does that you do not like, this could be the smallest thing such as leaving the lid off the toothpaste.