It’s amazing that you can be surrounded by friends, by loved ones and even by a loving romantic partner and still sometimes lack true intimacy in your life. I’m not talking about the ‘intimate times’ in that sense but rather true emotional intimacy – the ability to sit down and have an in-depth heart to heart with someone and to really feel a connection that goes beyond the surface.
This is something that everyone needs in their life and something that can contribute greatly to feelings of happiness and contentment. But where does such a feeling come from and what can you do to cultivate it? How do you know when you find it?
Do You Have Emotional Intimacy
Emotional intimacy is not something you can only have with a romantic partner. You can have an emotionally intimate relationship with a friend or a parent even. What this really means, is that you have the ability to speak openly and freely without holding back. It means you feel a connection and are able to express yourself freely.
Have you ever had a really great conversation with a friend that you didn’t expect? Often alcohol is involved – you sit down in a pub somewhere and you put the world to rights. You express how you’re really feeling, you let them do the same and you realize that actually you’re both going through many of the same things. Suddenly, you don’t feel so alone. You feel like you know that friend that much better and crucially, you feel much better about whatever it was that was giving you sleepless nights before.
That is emotional intimacy and if it’s something you experience often, then you are fortunate to have it.
This is the opposite of small talk and almost all our conversations and relationships fall somewhere between the two on the spectrum.
If you have a large number of friends but aren’t particularly close with any one of them, then you might find that you don’t really share that deeper connection. Maybe when you’re on your own together, you aren’t really sure what to say.
And you can actually feel this way with a romantic partner either. If you never talk about any really deep emotions. If you only ever discuss your friends, the news, and the weather, then that’s not true emotional intimacy.
If you have regularly been incredibly stressed or upset but not felt you have anyone you can really share it with – then that suggests you lack that emotional intimacy in your life.
How to Cultivate and Find Emotional Intimacy
So, the question then becomes: how do you go about finding that emotional intimacy in your relationships and how do you build it?
The first thing you need to do, is to learn to be accepting and non-judgemental of others. If you are to open yourself up to your friends and loved ones, then they need to feel comfortable to open themselves up to you. And that means that you can’t judge.
If you have a ‘tough guy’ persona and you judge your friends for being emotional or for sharing their emotions, then you are not going to be who they come to when they’re having a hard day and thus you might find that there are more things you don’t know about them as a result.
Likewise, if you are someone who is outwardly shocked or judgemental when friends admit things they’re not proud of, or if you tease, then again you won’t have the opportunity to make that connection. And of course gossiping is also not going to win you any favors in this regard!
That doesn’t mean you have to be super sensitive all the time – it simply means that you have to have that more sensitive and accepting side too. You can tease and poke fun – but just let them know that you can also be a supportive ear when they need one.
As mentioned, this is a two way street. If you are honest with someone, then they will be honest with you. And it is this honest and frank exchange of ideas that will help you to really connect and feel as though you’re gaining a greater understanding of each other.
Again, don’t be that macho guy (or gal). Don’t try and posture and pose. Don’t try and seem invincible. Don’t be afraid to share your emotions in case you get teased or in case it changes their perception of you. Just be open, honest and frank and speak your mind openly.
You’ll be amazed at what happens when you do this and how much of a deeper friendship you can build. The same goes for your romantic relationships: be honest, open up and show your sensitive side. You might just be surprised at how much deeper your understanding of one another becomes and how this can improve every aspect of your lives – even your sex life!
It’s also highly important that you have the opportunity to interact with friends on a one-to-one basis. If you’re very much an extrovert, then chances are that you will interact mainly in large groups and engage in larger events that involve lots of people and perhaps some kind of activity for the whole group to partake in.
This is all fine, except that it will remove the opportunity for you to really have a frank and deep discussion with each of your friends. This is how you develop deeper friendships and that will allow you to spend time with them individually rather than only ever in a large group.
Don’t Force It!
Finally, when trying to build deeper relationships, don’t try and force it. Some people will be resistant to the idea of building deeper relationships. Some people won’t like the idea. And some people will need a bit of warming up.
Instead then, just allow the situation to occur naturally by creating a comfortable environment in which to chat. While you should not rely on it meanwhile, a little alcohol certainly can loosen people up and help you to talk more honestly and frankly as well!