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  • Top 23 Tips to Start 2023 Better – Day 23

Written by Elisa Di Napoli / Updated on January 5, 2023  Reading Time minutes 

deepen your relationship


Tip#23 for Today

Ten ways to increase your emotional intimacy for stronger and better relationships. 

What is intimacy? Sex? Cuddling? Being able to open up to your partner? Although all the above can be expressions of intimacy, how comfortable you are with them will differ depending on the relationship you are in.  

Intimacy can deteriorate over time, particularly when life gets stressful. Intimacy is often the first to go when a couple becomes painfully estranged due to work pressures, financial difficulties, and interactions that erode trust.

Despite this, couples can reestablish intimacy and meet their needs.

What Is Emotional Intimacy?

Emotional intimacy could be defined as allowing yourself to connect deeply with your partner through actions that express feelings, vulnerabilities, and trust. When you share your secrets, talk about the relationship or break important news to your partner and you feel you can understand and accept each other's feelings, you are building intimacy. 

Emotional intimacy fosters a sense of security within your relationship so you can be free to be authentically you, flaws and all, without worrying that you might endanger the relationship.

Here are ten ways to build your emotional intimacy within any kind of relationship.

Appreciate

A lot of couples fall into the trap of complacency. They stop complimenting each other, believing they have said everything. Instead, let your partner know how much you appreciate and value them. Don’t be shy about expressing your affection. Offer five compliments or words of praise for each criticism or pushback. Don't speak up only when things go wrong. Instead, thank your partner daily for all the things they do right. This will build a culture of respect and appreciation and will encourage them to keep doing what works. 

Contemplate their Death

It might seem strange, but contemplating the death of your loved ones can increase emotional intimacy with them. Thinking about your own mortality can also make you more present and appreciative. I am not suggesting worrying about your partner's or your own death. What I am advising you to do is to consider how you would feel if they weren't around. Then remember they are, so that you can appreciate more fully that their presence in your life is an important gift.  

Be there for Your Partner

Emotional intimacy is a two-way street. Show your partner that you are there for them. When they share something sensitive or challenging with you, simply be present and listen. Be compassionate or supportive when you respond. Don't fix them, they are not broken! Afterwards, you can either ask them if they’d like to tell you more or validate their feelings by saying something like, “I can understand why you’d feel that way.” If it feels appropriate, you can share a little of your own experience to show them you’re not alone (but don't make this about you), or ask how you can help.”

Learn to Handle your Conflicts Better

Handling conflict is a skill that can be learnt. Don’t simply avoid conflict or pretend everything is ok when it is not. Instead, learn about non-violent communication or Terry Real relational life training courses in order to become more skilled in conflict resolution. Or get in touch with me.

Don't take it personally

Different people crave different levels of intimacy. Some of us need less contact than others to prevent loneliness and may become over stimulated easily. Others may need more intimacy and will try harder to maintain intimate contact with their partners, paying closer attention and encouraging their partners to express themselves more. If your partner needs less intimacy or more intimacy than you do, don't jump to conclusions. Try to stay curious instead of judgmental. 

Make it Hard to Walk Away

When Susan Tyler Hitchcock and her husband’s marriage showed signs of distress, they went on a year-long sailing trip in the Caribbean together. According to Susan, they felt “pulled together” as soon as they decided to go and started making plans for the journey. The pattern of him withdrawing and her expressing anger was broken. Because neither of them could leave the sailboat, her tendency to cut off a conversation whenever she felt threatened by a confrontation also stopped and they learned to develop more honest and in-depth conversations.

Introduce variety

Relationships go stale when we keep on doing the same old thing every day and don't introduce variety into your relationship patterns. When everything becomes too routine, it is easy to feel numb and to feel no emotion. A lot of us wait until situations have become unbearable to take drastic action so we can feel alive again. This could be deciding to take a holiday alone, or even having an affair. However, why not shake things up on purpose by introducing new elements regularly rather than wait for a major disruption to wake you up? 

Routine isn’t always bad

When we first meet, everything we learn is unexpected, and that is why we can feel such powerful emotions at the beginning of a relationship. However, overtime we become more predictable to one another and this can make us feel very comfortable and deepen our mutual trust. This is because we feel such mutual acceptance and trust that we can relax in each other's presence naturally and easily and feel connected without having to try very hard. 

Be more transparent and vulnerable

Sometimes it can be difficult for us to recognise our own defense mechanisms because of blind spots. For instance, we may choose to suppress our emotions rather than talk about them because we don't want to risk appearing vulnerable. Perhaps we avoid talking about sadness because we don't want to cry in front of our partner. This may be an automatic pattern that has been in place for so long it does not even come to mind as a barrier. 

Ask your partner, closest friends, and members of your family what they think of your ability to be vulnerable. Their observations may provide a wealth of useful information on how to lower your guard so you can interact with your partner more openly.

It takes a lot of courage to let your partner see you fully, but doing so may also open up a level of intimacy that is not possible to achieve in any other way. As you work on being more transparent, think about how you can encourage your partner to follow suit. 

Find out how you can help them feel comfortable being completely honest and open with you. 

In Conclusion: 

Relationships are like plants. They need sustenance to keep thriving. To keep the bond strong, you both need to take care of it

When you are in a long-term relationship, you risk seeing your partner as an extension of yourself. Don't assume that they know you love them and that they know what you need or want

Recognise your partner is unique and apart from yourself. Express your love in explicit ways and work on vulnerability and openness.

Stay engaged. Keep the relationship fresh by reflecting on 'the state of your relationship' regularly together, discussing what needs improving and appreciating what works.

Don't wait for the plant to start dying before you give it water and sunlight! Make sure it is fed every day and it will grow strong for as long as it lives! 

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