The idea of emotional closeness is propagated just about in every media you can think of. However, an intimate relationship isn’t just gazing into each other’s eyes and holding hands. It’s actually much more!
What Does It Mean to Have an “Intimate Relationship”?
If you have no idea what’s the answer to the question above, don’t worry. Instead, let’s closely examine it. In an intimate relationship, you feel this level of deep understanding and acceptance. You know your partner completely as they know you.
Love manifests itself in physical affection and material gifts, but intimacy is entirely different. Think not of the burning physical passion at the start of the relationship, but rather a slow-burning, persistent fire of love. The feelings that are present in happy long-term couples.
Things We Commonly Mistake for Intimacy
A lot of us often mistake having an intimate relationship for something entirely different. For example, we misinterpret it for being something exclusively physical or material. If you doubt the closeness you have with your partner, consider the most common things people confuse intimacy with:
Although sexual activity can be a sign that the relationship you’re in is intimate, it doesn’t substitute closeness with your partner. It isn’t that uncommon to see “intimate” couples having sex regularly but drifting apart quickly, so how can this happen? The two aspects are interconnected and cannot fully bloom without the other. Sexual activity quenches physical wishes, but emotional closeness takes care of the emotional and mental needs.
Gift giving is a healthy and necessary part of any intimate relationship, but no one can buy closeness with presents. Connecting on a deep level with your partner isn’t a direct relation to how much you spend on them. A strong basis for emotional closeness in the relationship shouldn’t build on the exchange of goods. In such relationships, partners rarely feel intimate with each other.
Something Not Achievable
It is probably the biggest misconception out of all these 3 points. Some people never achieve truly intimate relationships due to a number of unfortunate reasons. So, they start believing that feelings of real closeness are actually unachievable in any relationship — a misbelief they gladly spread. The emotions don’t have to die out between two people after the initial “falling in love” period.
Are You in an Intimate Relationship?
Now, it’s time to look at your own relationship and judge how intimate it is. The only question you should ask yourself is, “Do you feel intimate with your significant other?” — that’s it. If you feel something is wrong, and you feel not reciprocated in the relationship, then something is wrong.
There really are no strict criteria with which you can judge just how intimate you and your partner are. The only thing you should base on is your personal (and your significant other’s) feelings. If something feels not ok — it’s not ok, and a discussion with your partner should be started.
Is It Possible to Improve Intimacy in a Relationship?
Now, if your relationship isn’t as intimate as you would’ve wished, the last thing you want to do is panic. There is no need for loud arguments and premature breakups — nothing is lost at this point. In fact, calmly noticing and acknowledging the issue between the two of you is the first step to fixing it!
Of course, making things more intimate between you and your partner will take some time and effort, but it’s doable. You’ll have to reassess the connection you have with your significant other and gradually build up a strong relationship base. Just simply going through this issue together and not giving up on each other will bring you two incredibly close.
Take an Intimate Journey with Your Other Half
The ultimate goal of turning any relationship intimate is making the two people emotionally and mentally close. How does one achieve that? — the answer lies in learning every little and tiny detail about them. Talk about their favorite things, ideas, hopes, dreams, opinions: this will make you two into both lovers and friends. Also, don’t just interrogate your partner; share your thoughts too, and you’ll have an incredibly intimate relationship.
Now that you know the end goal and way of adding emotional closeness to your relationship, let’s talk about specifics. So, what actual steps should you take to build this base of emotional closeness up? Most importantly, you must create possibilities for getting intimate with your partner, communicating openly, and sharing your true self.
No one can do any of the mentioned points (at least properly) when they’re in a rush to do something. You have to make such situations possible by allowing for some downtime for both of you. Meaning, neither of you have anything urgent, so you’re just taking your time talking about something, just anything you want in the moment.
Remember that such moments don’t require specially devoted time, like a romantic evening or a date out in the town. No, such moments are the best when they’re unplanned and happen in the spur of the moment. Here are some things you can do that’ll facilitate the intimate moment:
Be Attentive to Your Partner
Communication is based around people sharing and discussing each other’s thoughts — seems obvious, right? Well, some people disregard the idea and don’t listen to their partner at all. For your relationship to be intimate, you have to actively listen to your partner.
Don’t Let Other Things Get in the Way
If your significant other says that you don’t listen to them often, you might not be doing it on purpose. Things like TVs and phones do get in the way of communication. So, whenever you start talking with your partner, put away your phone or turn down the TV’s volume.
Show That You Care Physically
No, we don’t mean sexual activity — it’s more about simple caressing, cuddling, or even hugging during appropriate moments. Such actions stimulate both of you to share your inner selves with each other. This is what will greatly facilitate intimate talks and improve your relationship.
Discuss Your Relationship with an Expert
Of course, changing how intimate you’re with your significant other is a difficult task to do. If you’re feeling like you’re having no success in increasing the closeness between your and your partner, don’t fret. In such a case, you should talk to a qualified expert that’ll home in on the problems you’re having in the relationship.
Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has worked in healthcare since 2017. She primarily treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and grief, as well as identity, relationship and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience has focused on individual and group counseling, emergency counseling and outreach.Read more