5 Pieces of Advice for Increasing Emotional Intimacy in Your Relationships

January 24, 2016

Emotional intimacy is a feeling of closeness towards another person. It’s a real, mutual feeling based on empathy. When we are in an emotionally intimate relationship, we can share personal feelings without feeling judged, unaccepted, or uncomfortable about not doing or thinking the supposedly right thing.

This type of intimacy is typical of true friendship, and it should be present in any personal relationship aspiring to be authentic.

Couple at Sundown over Beach

Emotional intimacy can exist between friends, in family relationships, and in romantic relationships. Some people even feel it with their pet. The feeling of shared intimacy is important both for physical and mental health,  gives us security, it reinforces our self-esteem, and it helps us trust others.

Emotional intimacy is important in relationships, but sometimes it ends up being rather difficult to feel close or intimate with the people we are supposed to feel intimate with. The following advice will help you to form a more profound connection with the important people in your life.

Girls in Sunglasses

1. Figure out why you hold people at a distance

Do you know why you hold people at a distance in the emotional sense? There is some reason why you push people away. It may be something that made you lose your trust in people or some disappointment from the past. Maybe it is because you grew up in an environment where there was a distinct lack of intimacy or because you have developed a cynical attitude towards others.

Whatever the reason may be, you will have to figure it out so that you can move forward. There may be real reasons not to want to be intimate with someone. In that case, do not move forward. However, there may be other hidden reasons that have nothing to do with that and that may be standing in the way of your personal relationships.

2. Increase physical contact, little by little

Emotional intimacy has an important physical component in any type of relationship. Look at your relationships and the relationships of people around you. People with strong emotional intimacy touch one another. 

To keep increasing emotional intimacy little by little, it is necessary to start touching one another, to start rebuilding trust. And that contact must be sincere, not forced. It must be done in baby steps, because when intimacy has been lost or when a wall has been built between people, it is very hard to overcome these problems.

3. Understand the difference between physical and emotional intimacy

The prolific romance novel writer Barbara Cartland once wrote: “Among men, sex sometimes results in intimacy; among women, intimacy sometimes results in sex.” How much of this is true?

Maybe it is the fact that, in general, men can disconnect their feelings and feel like sex is just sex, while women may feel that sex is a bridge towards greater intimacy.

Couple with Umbrella at Sundown

Of course, this is not an absolute rule, but it does help us to see how physical and sexual intimacy can be understood from two different points of view. In any case, it is an error to suppose that being physically intimate will inevitably lead to feeling emotionally intimate, especially if it is not accompanied by relationship building outside the physical aspect.

In non-romantic relationships, we can apply the same principle. The presence of contact between people does not imply anything if this contact takes places purely out of obligation or habit. In any case, with emotional intimacy, it is not a matter of being physically close. The way in which you relate to others also determines the levels of intimacy.

4. Share with others, little by little

Another aspect that it is necessary to work on little by little with others is sharing our feelings, ideas, desires, dreams, or frustrations with them. It is in this way that people begin to really know one another, opening up little by little.

On the other hand, if you launch into personal speech right away, it is easy for the other person to shut down and distance themselves, especially if you focus on the negative. A good way to start is by sharing what you think about something in particular at the opportune time. Make a habit of telling people how you feel about things, what you think, what you hope… little by little and at the right time.

5. Do not force things

At the beginning, we said that emotional intimacy is a two-way path. If you try to force the situation, you may find yourself in a difficult situation. Emotional intimacy must be allowed to evolve in a natural way. It is also necessary to know how to back away or slow things down when this is needed. Do not be too demanding of the other person if you do not want to spoil everything.