If you feel lonely in your relationship, you’ll be inspired by these tips on how to increase emotional intimacy. The fear of being emotionally intimate is natural because it involves vulnerability and risk. On my article about overcoming fear of intimacy, a reader shared her experience and asked for help…
“I need to know more about emotional intimacy,” says Michel on How to Overcome Fear of Intimacy. “My boyfriend is scared of being emotionally intimate, and he admits it. But how do we actually learn how to increase emotional intimacy? He was burned in a past relationship and doesn’t want to open up again. How do we move forward? He says he loves me and wants to work on our relationship but we don’t know how.”
Sometimes learning how to increase emotional intimacy in a relationship requires more in-depth work, such as individual counseling or marriage therapy. Other times we just need an idea or two to open the floodgates and release the flow intimacy and love! Here are a few ideas; tell me what you think…
How to Increase Emotional Intimacy in Your Relationship
Every couple is different – and there are different reasons for not being emotionally available in a relationship. Sometimes emotional intimacy is blocked because of past issues in this relationship. Sometimes the problem lies in the distant past, such as with Michel’s boyfriend.
The first step is to figure out what the root of the problem is. Then, you need to do some work to heal it. The next step is learning the best ways to increase emotional intimacy as both a couple and individuals.
Learn what “emotional intimacy” is
Different couples experience intimacy in different ways – but there is always trust, respect, love, compassion, empathy, and communication in a relationship that is healthy emotionally.
I believe my marriage is emotionally intimate because:
- We talk about the strengths and weaknesses of our relationship
- I tell my husband what I’m scared of or anxious about, and why
- I trust my husband to respond in a supportive, kind, compassionate way. If he doesn’t, I feel able to talk to him about his response
- I welcome his problems, fears, and even his feedback about me
- When we disappoint or hurt each other, we talk about it
- We genuinely try to understand the other person’s perspective
- We share our successes, achievements, and joys
- We pray together
There is still work for us to do, for sure! I don’t believe my husband and I are 100% emotionally available to one another. I’m not sure if any person can be 100% emotionally available to another human being. We love each other and wouldn’t trade our marriage for all the sunken treasures in all the oceans on earth…but no couple can be completely and selflessly there for each other all the time.
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What does “emotional intimacy” mean to you? What changes would you like to see in your relationship?
Discover why your boyfriend isn’t available emotionally
When you talk about the feeling of being disconnected in your relationship, what does your boyfriend say? Ask him why he doesn’t seem to be emotionally bonding with you. The most difficult scenario is that he says “I don’t know.” If he doesn’t know why he can’t experience emotional intimacy, then you won’t be able to take your relationship farther. You simply won’t know how.
Another difficult scenario is if your boyfriend isn’t interested in learning how to increase emotional intimacy in your relationship. It may not be as bad as your boyfriend saying he doesn’t love you anymore, but it is an obstacle. If he’s happy with your relationship the way it is, then you might not be able to increase your feeling of connection with him. You can’t do increase emotional intimacy in a relationship by yourself (unless you yourself are the obstacle that is preventing intimacy!).
Give intimacy time to unfold and grow
Learning how to increase emotional intimacy is one thing; the actual process of increasing it is another.
For example, you may know that being emotionally intimate means talking your feelings of shame or guilt about something you did. But actually taking the risk and being vulnerable enough to tell your boyfriend what you did and how you feel is another level. It takes time to learn whether you can trust him to respond with love and compassion.
Increasing emotional intimacy in your relationship is like peeling layers of an onion. Each layer takes you closer to the heart…but it’s better to peel slowly instead of brutally chopping it open.
Choose to work on your relationship as a couple
What do you and your boyfriend need to do? This, only you can answer. Maybe you need to learn more about how to increase emotional intimacy. Maybe you need to talk to a counselor about your relationship expectations, needs, and goals. Maybe your boyfriend needs help with communication and emotional availability.
What can you do to improve your relationship? Focus on the power you have and the choices you can make. You can’t change your boyfriend’s habits, personality, communication style, or ways of interacting with you. But, you can change how you respond to him. You can look at your relationship objectively and decide what you need and want.
What to Do Next
Write down what you expect from your relationship. Who has to change in order for this to happen? Do you have the power to make those changes? Are your expectations realistic?
Read The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved by Matthew Kelly. You’ll learn that many of us avoid emotional intimacy because being intimate means exposing our secrets. Increasing emotional intimacy involves sharing the secrets of our hearts, minds, and souls with another fragile and imperfect human being. Emotional intimacy requires that we allow another person to discover what moves us, what inspires us, what drives us, what eats at us, what we are running toward, what we are running from, what self-destructive enemies lie within us, and what wild and wonderful dreams we hold in our hearts. It’s not easy to learn how to increase emotional intimacy in a relationship, but it is worthwhile!
Share your thoughts. How has your understanding of increasing emotional intimacy in your relationship changed? Take time to think about what’s holding you back and how you might work towards a healthier relationship.
While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience of emotionally intimate relationships. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.