Emotional Intimacy Successful Relationships


 BUILDING SUCCESSFUL RELATIONSHIPS


EMOTIONAL INTIMACY PART 1 – WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTIMACY?

‘Oh the miraculous energy that flows between two people who care enough to get beyond surfaces and games, who are willing to take the risks of being totally open, of listening, of responding with the whole heart.  How much we can do for each other'

Alex Noble

 

We all need to feel connected, to have someone in our lives to love, care for and hang out with.  We are after all social creatures and our relationships can give our lives juice, passion and meaning.   Our relationships can also give us pain, fear and upset.   Couples visit my practice because they are having difficulties, and individuals visit my practice because they want to leave an unsatisfactory relationship, form a new relationship or because they have experienced a break-up.  We are all in this together, all striving for the same thing, and yet loving relationships seem to cause us so many difficulties.  It is my job to pinpoint why, to find out if there is some element to look for which determines whether a relationship will be successful or unsuccessful.  That element, the key to creating and sustaining a long-term loving relationship, is Emotional Intimacy.  A lack of this one key element is one of the biggest predictors of divorce.

Emotional intimacy occurs when there is enough trust and communication between two people, that they feel safe to share their innermost selves.  When we are emotionally intimate we feel accepted, respected and admired in our partner’s eyes, even when they know our innermost struggles and failures.  Without intimacy a marriage will become empty and lifeless and distance will be felt between a couple.

The cornerstones of an Emotionally Intimate relationship are Care and Mutuality:

Partners deeply care about each other when truly intimate.  Note that this is different to ‘loving’ each other which has many definitions.  Care in this case can be defined as wanting the best for and ‘feeling and exhibiting concern and empathy for each other’.

Emotionally intimate relationships have a sense of mutuality, which means you are as concerned with your partner’s satisfaction and happiness as with your own.  You want to see your partner fulfilled emotionally, intellectually, socially, physically and professionally.  There is a strong sense of fairness in your relationship and you each take pleasure in each other’s successes, pleasures and happiness.

 

 When truly intimate with your partner you can:

TALK ABOUT WHO YOU TRULY ARE

Each wishes to understand and be understood by their partner.  Both are open and desire to share themselves, their feelings, thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams.

Each can share their vulnerabilities and be heard, without feeling judged or criticised for their thoughts or feelings.  Each puts effort into understanding rather than dismissing or criticising each other’s point of view.

Respect is given to each other’s map of the world.  This means that differences are accepted, each is entitled to their own opinion, experience of the world, feelings, wants and needs and these are respected.  At a basic level each loves to learn from and about the other.


SAY WHAT YOU NEED AND WANT, AND BE HEARD

With a desire to understand each other’s wants and needs, partners work together to ensure they are both emotionally fulfilled.  This might be through giving each other the space and freedom to fulfil something that makes us happy, or by working together or for each other to achieve it.  Partners wants and needs are given equal merit and where clashes occur, compromises are reached in a caring and supportive environment whenever possible.


HAVE YOUR BOUNDARIES RESPECTED

Partners strive to see each other in the best light, but are honest and will tell each other when they feel hurt or upset.  Constructive criticism is a cornerstone of this type of relationship.

Neither tolerates unfair treatment or abuse of any kind, if you are in a relationship with an emotionally intimate person they will call you on your bullshit.  They will also give you a chance to explain yourself and work with you in a supportive way to work things out.


SIGNS OF EMOTINALLY INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP


Communication is open and honest with each partner sharing their thoughts and feelings in a safe, caring and supportive environment.

Partners show each other empathy, responding with care and concern when the other is hurting.

Partners take responsibility for their own behaviour and the impact of their behaviour on their partner.  Sincere apologies are free and easy.

The relationship is stable and each wants the other to feel secure.  If either feels insecure, ignored, rejected or pushed away they are able to voice their concern and be heard, supported and comforted.  Expressed thoughts and feelings are taken seriously.

Your partner is dependable, you know where you are in the relationship.  Trust is built with a sense of predictability, dependability and emotional presence.

When you spend time with your partner you feel fulfilled.  You ensure that you have some regular quality time where you focus on each other exclusively, building a sense of connection and shared experience.

There is a sense of equality in your relationship.  Each person's wants and needs are considered equally and fair compromises are made. 

Decisions that affect both of your lives are made together, taking each other's opinions into account.  Partners make personal decisions independently but take the other partners input seriously.