A relationship described as close typically involves a mesh of both physical and emotional intimacy. While both of these types of intimacy are important pieces in a loving relationship with a partner, emotional intimacy supports a solid foundation with an emotional bond that encourages deep connection.
When you have trust, honesty, compassion, open communication, a balance of power, and your own lives, you’re able to cultivate emotional intimacy in your relationship.
Emotional Intimacy means that you’re able to tell each other just about anything – including sharing and understanding one’s feelings, as well as talking openly about your relationship, and telling your partner about the things that are important to you.
Most of all, emotional intimacy creates a deep sense of security within your relationship, allowing you to be wholly yourself, without feeling as if you’re putting the relationship itself at risk by doing so.
Emotional intimacy is one of the Five Elements of a Healthy Relationship.
Creating Intimacy in Relationships
Relationships are enriched through simple intimate responses that happen spontaneously and subtly (led by emotions and thoughts), but also by more deliberate actions.
Here are 10 ways to create intimacy with your partner (that aren’t just sexual):
Increase Your Time Together (and Put Away the Electronics)
This does not mean that 100% of your awake time should be spent together. What this does mean is striking a balance and creating deliberate time to promote togetherness.
Put the electronics away. This is healthy for both your marriage and your mental health.
You can’t break away from your corporate phone? Sure, you can! “Out of office” or “In a Meeting” works perfectly well when blocking off time for your loved one.
Read more at Making Marriage an Every Day Decision, Not an Afterthought (Finding Time to Prioritize – Even When Life is Too Busy…)
2. Be Emotionally Available
Be emotionally available. This may consist of working on oneself (developing a mindset) for the benefit of your relationship.
When we are emotionally available, we create an atmosphere where we are ready to listen and respond to our partner’s needs.
3. Allow Vulnerability (Create Emotional Safety)
Being emotionally available involves being vulnerable. We also support our partner’s emotional needs when we allow our partner to be open, honest, and vulnerable.
We stand up for our partner even when they cannot stand up for themself. Our own fears are diminished, and we create a partnership with a landing place that is intimate and emotionally safe.
4. Create and Enjoy Routines
Sometimes, routines are a large part of what intimate couples treasure.
Routines can show up in many places – how morning coffee is made for two, words that are shared before turning out the lights, or even routine meals that create an atmosphere of comfort in the home.
Set aside the time to talk about the routines that you and your partner enjoy. Make a list and continue doing what supports your relationship.
5. Break Routines
Sometimes, “bad” routines lead to frustration and unhappiness, and then they can easily become a part of our daily existence.
When you sit down together and make a list of the routines that enrich your relationship, determine which routines also lead to unpleasantness. They need to go!
Agree to break (or change) the routines that cause grief in your relationship.
6. Give Compliments
We all have weaknesses, strengths, and things that we do well…and some not so well.
Make it a practice, a mindset, to give compliments to your partner regularly. This helps your partner to feel loved and worthy. It helps your partner to see what you love about them.
7. Have Fun Together
Naomi Brower, MFHD, CFLE, Utah State University Extension, writes:
“Playing together increases bonding, communication, conflict resolution, and relationship satisfaction. Play can also promote spontaneity when life seems routine, serve as a reminder of positive relationship history, and promote intimacy.”
Naomi lists ways to overcome the common barriers to play:
Schedule some fun (make it happen)
Get active (make a plan to eat right and get physically active)
Give yourself permission to be a kid again (let your partner know your fears and trust him or her to help you overcome them…do fun things that you feel comfortable with)
Be open to trying new things (be open-minded and willing to compromise)
Protect fun from conflict and resentment (have fun and discuss important issues and conflicts at another time)
Focus on teamwork (have fun as a team and drop competitiveness)
Budget for some fun (having fun does not require a lot of money)
Make having fun more of a priority (play strengthens partnerships and can be added into any routine…and will create many lasting memories)
8. Touch More
Touching more isn’t just about being sexual. Gestures are an important way to communicate meaning without words.
The gentle touching of an arm, patting or holding a hand, nodding your head, giving a thumbs up, or signaling with an “okay” gesture, are all ways to give approval, support, and increase unspoken words and intimacy between partners.
9. Love Yourself
When you love yourself, it isn’t about putting yourself on a pedestal or putting yourself first.
Loving yourself means being present in your life. When you live a life of awareness, you engage with your emotions, you recognize your feelings. You trust who you are when you love yourself, and you lead a happier and healthier life with your partner, which encourages emotional intimacy
“I honestly think happiness is being present and finding the joy in every moment.” – Aimff Marino
10. Appreciate the Little Things
When we slow down and notice the small positive aspects of our partner, it helps us to be more appreciative and this inherently nourishes our relationship.
Appreciating the small things takes deliberate effort, but it works. It deepens the connection with our partner. It helps us to clearly see the qualities that our loved one lives by – the way they support us, and the way that they connect with us.
Read more at Appreciating the Small Things in a Relationship.
Do you need help with creating intimacy in your relationship?
It can be difficult to break through the pattern of “just living life” vs. cultivating and nourishing emotional intimacy in a relationship.
You may be wondering, where do I start? And then, you may feel that you have done everything that you can do to heal your relationship, and it may be time to reach out for help.
This LoveWorks is more than therapy – it is a process of relational transformation that takes advantage of the most relevant, accessible, understandable, and up-to-date information available.
We want to help you and your partner to develop a deeper intimate connection, recognize and fight dysfunction, and heal your relationship.