Many people ask their partners for a more intimate relationship without really being sure what they want. If you are unclear about what you would like to see change, it is hard to bring about a satisfying result. Emotional intimacy is different from sexual intimacy. If sexual intimacy in-volves physical closeness and the sharing of sexual pleasure, then emotional intimacy might be defined as the closeness that develops from the sharing of authentic feeling
Many people find it difficult to verbalize how they are affected by their experiences, and many others have difficulty listening and responding constructively. Emotional intimacy is the two part process which involves identifying and expressing your feelings, and having those feelings un-derstood and accepted. Doing so allows you to know each other on a deeper level, beyond re-actions or actions. Accepting that you and your partner can have different, yet equally valid, emotional responses to a given experience is the cornerstone of listening with empathy.
Sometimes when people ask for emotional intimacy, they are really trying to get their partner to express feelings about them or their relationship. They may be in need of some attention or as-surance. Expressing love and commitment through action without the accompanying words can leave your partner wanting for more definition. Remember to verbalize the thought behind the action “You mean so much to me,” “your happiness is important to me,” “I value you,” or simply, “I love you”. Emotional intimacy can be the pillow talk couples have before sleep or around lovemaking. Sometimes it is the type of supportive, loving discussion that occurs at life’s mile-stones, but would actually be beneficial to have more frequently.
Emotional intimacy may include sharing early memories and your feelings about them. This al-lows your partner to understand your emotional history and the influences that defined the per-son you are today. Revealing your daydreams or creating fantasies together is another way of adding lightness toward emotional intimacy. (Be careful to avoid sharing sexual fantasies un-less you are convinced that they will not be interpreted as hurtful.) Another facet of emotional intimacy involves being able to talk about your inner fears or emotional triggers, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Taking this risk can be infinitely healing and bonding when your part-ner’s response is compassionate and nonjudgmental.
Sometimes emotional intimacy can be a non-verbal communication, the unspoken conveyance of heartfelt emotion. It can be expressed in the depth in which you look into each other’s eyes. It can be the exchanged smile that is read as a bond of love. It can be a wink that defines you as lovers. It is the tender touch to show that neither of you need to face the world alone. Emo-tional intimacy creates a connection between partners; it is like a secret language that neither of you share with anyone else.
There is an interesting dynamic about emotional intimacy for couples; if there is a loving rela-tionship it easier to create emotional intimacy, and if there is emotional intimacy it is easier to create a loving relationship. Being emotionally available requires that we take down the walls that protect our egos from the possibility of rejection or abandonment, that we conquer the risk of feeling criticized or judged, and that we open our hearts and our souls to let another person engage and embrace us on a metaphysical level.
Leslie Fabian is a NYS licensed Individuals and Couples Psychotherapist with over 22 years of private practice. Leslie Fabian, MSW, LCSW, The Lighthouse Retreat and Wellness Center in Croton on Hudson, 24 East 12th St., New York, NY, [email protected], (917) 620-0524. lesliefabianlcsw.com & FB: Leslie Fabian, LCSW-R