I don’t care if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, young or old, single or married; we all want the feeling of being close to another human being.
Many people quarantine intimacy in their minds as being purely physical. If you hear someone say that they’ve gotten intimate with another person, your mind probably takes you right into their bedroom. It’s a natural reaction, but it isn’t correct.
Intimacy can be both physical and emotional. It is essential that we not only acknowledge the difference but understand that emotional intimacy is the foundation on which you can build more loving physical intimacy.
What is emotional intimacy in a relationship?
To help define emotional intimacy, it’s’s probably easiest to use our general understanding of physical intimacy as a launching pad. When two people are physically intimate, they’re kissing, holding, and touching in close proximity. They’re connected, whether it be making love or cuddling up on the couch.
Emotional intimacy is the same but without the physical body. It’s’s closeness in terms of love and understanding. There’s a connection between two people because of how they feel about each other.
And, we all long for emotional closeness, for intimacy and relationships to go hand in hand.
In an article from the Focus on the Family website, Shana Schutte refers to intimacy playfully as the phrase “in-to-me-see.” When someone can see into you and love you for that person that lives deep within, and this is the apt emotional intimacy definition.
What does emotional intimacy look like?
If you are wondering how to be emotionally intimate, there are a lot of ways through which you can convey your heartfelt emotions to your partner. But, the meaning of emotional intimacy isn’t the same for everyone.
The definition of emotional intimacy can vary from person to person since a human can have a wide range of emotions. Let’s look at the emotions commonly associated with relationships and marriage and look at them through the lens of emotional intimacy.
When love is showcased in the form of emotional intimacy, the two people involved are head over heels for each other. When you’re in their presence, you can feel their connection and their deep love for each other.
When trust is shown in an emotionally intimate relationship, you see that they trust each other with their lives. There is no hesitation in their trust. It has been built over time to the point of unbreakable standards.
They know that they could turn a blind eye to their partner’s actions, and they wouldn’t be deceived.
Passion is the fuel for many emotionally intimate couples. Think of this emotion as the bridge between emotional intimacy and physical intimacy. Couples who have a great deal of passion see each other in their rawest form and still love them fiercely.
Can a relationship or marriage survive without emotional intimacy?
In short, no. At least not in it is the most loving form. People can grow old and still cohabitate without being emotionally intimate, but it won’t be a marriage with a deep connection and passion.
Have you ever heard your partner, or maybe a friend, express the disconnect within their relationship? That disconnect is a lack of emotional intimacy. It means that the couple has either gone so long without working to stay close or never bothered to do that work in the first place.
To go back to Schutte’s statement of intimacy being viewed through the lens of “in-to-me-see,” it is essential to note that it takes two parties to become emotionally intimate. A husband could pour on the love, respect, and passion to his wife, but if she’s not open to it, he will never get as close as he’d like.
She has to allow her partner to look into her, and she has to be open to her husband and allow him to see all the good and bad things about her. Without opening that door to allow her partner to look in, it becomes a one-way street that only he is traveling down.
She is simply an observer of his actions within the relationship.
A wife can show up every day with love, admiration, respect, and trust in her husband, but he, too, must be open to receiving it. Men tend to stay closed off. They don’t let too many people in, so they are often the party that gets in the way of true emotional intimacy.
If a man were to open himself up, then his wife can truly see who he is. The beauty, the flaws, the pieces that aren’t whole. Everything!
But it takes him being vulnerable and open for that intimacy to happen.
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We all long for intimacy, but some of us are too afraid to do the work required. It takes vulnerability with each step towards the person you’re becoming intimate with.
Emotional intimacy is not for the strong-willed or stubborn. It only comes to those that are willing to soften their hard exterior, allow others to take a look inside, and love them for who they are. Without this initial act of courage, the level of emotional intimacy will never reach its true potential.
So, if you and your spouse are feeling disconnected and want to be more emotionally intimate, take a second and look inward.
Are you open? Are you practicing vulnerability? If you’re not, then start there. You can’t get closer to your partner by keeping them at a safe distance.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle Read more in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.