For a healthy, long-lasting relationship to thrive, there needs to be a healthy dose of emotional intelligence. There are many reasons why you’d want to build emotional intimacy in a relationship. Perhaps the relationship is new and you’re seeking better ways to connect with your partner. Or perhaps you’ve been married for decades and believe the emotional connection you once had is fading.
Whatever the case, building emotional intimacy takes time and effort. Here are eight things you can do:
Embrace that Having Lots of Feelings Is Good For Your Health
There is a major stigma among males regarding emotion. Men are raised to be tough and told to “man up” if they display any signs of emotion. Before you can begin building emotional intimacy, you’ve got to remove the barriers that surround you, and sometimes those barriers are sociocultural and can easily lead to toxic masculinity.
Ignore the society that tells you men are only allowed to express themselves in four ways: through sex, work, sports, and violence.
Vulnerability is too instrumental to emotional connection because it’s the ability to be open with your partner; it’s about having the courage to put yourself out there to another human. The vulnerability can give you a strong sense of belonging, but it’s not easy for everyone to do. Many people struggle with vulnerability because they believe that their deepest, innermost thoughts will lead to rejection. But getting past this barrier may surprise you.
Talk About Fears
One of the biggest benefits of working on emotional intimacy is that it allows you to build security in the relationship. If you lack emotional intimacy in the relationship, then it’s not uncommon for one or both of you to feel insecure in the relationship and to feel a lack of safety and overall support.
If there are things you are afraid of—whether these “things” manifest themselves as real fear or insecure thoughts—now is a great time to try expressing them. Perhaps you’re scared of your financial future or are worried your partner is growing attracted to you. Discuss these fears openly and be receptive to hearing your partner’s fears in return.
Emphasize Sexual Satisfaction of Both of You
Numerous studies have shown that couples who are sexually satisfied are more likely to feel a greater emotional connection with their partner. Sexual intercourse won’t be a cure-all for any major emotional connection issues you have, but it’s certainly a healthy way to solidify and grow your emotional bond. If you want to spice things up in the bedroom, explore sex toys for couples or try different positions. Ask your partner to tell you more about their fantasies and desires and be open to learning more about what one another likes.
Offer Compliments & Affirmations
Make it a habit of offering daily compliments and affirmations. No matter how long you’ve been in a relationship, compliments and affirmations allow you to highlight the things you enjoy about your partner and show them regular appreciation. Compliments can make anyone feel valued and cherished, and goes a long way towards building a healthy relationship.
Cultivate a Friendship
After a while, it’s not uncommon to become so absorbed and entrenched in the relationship that you forget about the foundation of friendship. Start thinking about the different ways you can become a better friend to your partner. This might mean focusing on how you can have more fun together or how you can support their extracurricular activities and interests. Either way, being a better friend can help you feel more emotionally connected.
Explore Common Values
Shared values are what help us feel connected to another person. Take the time to explore more of your common values. Communication, loyalty, support, and generosity are just a few examples. If both you and your partner enjoy the gift of giving, why not go volunteer somewhere together? If family is of the utmost importance to the both of you, why not put together more family-oriented events?
Use the Socratic Method
The Socratic Method is a form of dialogue that focuses on cooperative argument. It uses the process of answering and asking relevant questions to help stimulate critical thinking.
Used in moderation, the socratic method can be a great way to help better understand your partner and practice the ability to exchange thoughts on different topics, even if you don’t necessarily agree.
For example, let’s say you’re discussing love using the socratic method. One question might be, “How do you define love?” From here, you would ask questions that implore both of you to think more deeply about your answers, weeding through cookie-cutter responses or contradictions.