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Defining Emotional Intimacy






Defining Emotional Intimacy

We all crave intimacy.

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 mind 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’s important that we not only acknowledge the difference, but understand that emotional intimacy is the foundation on which you can build more loving physical intimacy.

To help define emotional intimacy, it’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 closeness in terms of love and understanding. There’s a connection between two people because of how they feel about each other.

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…that’s emotional intimacy.

What does emotional intimacy look like?

Emotional intimacy can take many forms, 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:

1. Love

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.

2. Trust

When trust is shown between two emotionally intimate people, you see that they trust each other with their lives. There is no hesitation in their trust. It has been built over time to a point of unbreakable standards. They know that they could turn a blind eye to their partners actions and they wouldn’t be deceived.

Defining Emotional Intimacy

3. Respect

When respect is on display in an emotionally intimate relationship, you can tell that the two individuals hold each other in very high regard. It is an honor for each party to be loved by the other, and they show that honor in everything they do. They will do anything and everything for their spouse because they respect them so much.

4. Passion

Passion is the fuel to 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’s most loving form. People can grow old and still cohabitate without being emotionally intimate, but it won’t be a marriage with 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’s important to note that it takes two parties to become emotionally intimate. A husband could pour on the love, the 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, 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 travelling down. She is simply an observer to 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. As men, we tend to stay closed off. We don’t let too many people in, so we are often the party that gets in the way of true emotional intimacy. If a man were to open himself up, then their 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.

We all 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 being open? Are you practicing vulnerability? If you’re not, then start their. You can’t get closer to your partner by keeping them at a safe distance.


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