Intimacy is a vital interpersonal aspect for any significant relationship and comes in many forms: physical, emotional, and social avenues. All three types of intimacy are fundamental in establishing and maintaining healthy and satisfying relationships however we are going to focus more closely on what makes up emotional intimacy and the role it plays for couples.
So what exactly is emotional intimacy? It is the experience within a relationship in which a deep sense of connection exists through mutual closeness, loving and caring feelings, comfort, understanding, and feelings of affirmation. In order for some level of emotional intimacy to occur and subsist, the presence of a sense of mutual safety and security within the relationship must exist. This means that partners are able to engage in openness and transparency with one another regarding personal beliefs, deep and honest feelings, fears, and dreams. Couples who are able to be vulnerable with one another means that they have the ability to share and tolerate uncomfortable or intimidating thoughts and feelings without it threatening the integrity of the relationship.
Emotional intimacy can be expressed through both verbal and nonverbal communication and is experienced to various degrees and intensity from relationship to relationship. Simply engaging in regular conversation by sharing, listening, and supporting our partner can set the stage for closeness and connection. Or engaging in a task or duty without being told can also indicate to our partner that we care about them.
How can you measure whether emotional intimacy exists in your relationship and to what degree? Here are some helpful questions that can help you evaluate this?
• Does my partner care about me? If so, how do I know?
• Does my partner understand my thoughts and feelings?
• Do I feel affirmed by my partner? If so, how?
• Is my partner willing to do whatever they need to in order to help me when I need it?
• Does my partner accept me for who I am?
• Do I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts and feelings with my partner, even if they are not always positive?