How to build emotional intimacy with your partner

It’s all about empathy, respect, and communication.

20 April, 2024
How to build emotional intimacy with your partner

As humans, we are wired for connection and will often seek it out in different ways. When it comes to getting intimate with a partner, the first thought that pops into our head is sexual intimacy—hugs, kisses, or other physical acts. But the intimacy between two people and how it is fostered is so much more than that. There’s physical and sexual intimacy, spiritual intimacy, and intellectual intimacy, where you and your partner share the same ideas and beliefs, and engage in intellectually stimulating conversations and activities. Now the smart ones know, the one we’ve left out may just be the most important one yet—emotional intimacy. It's when you connect with your partner on a much deeper level—through empathy, respect, and communication.

The absence of emotional intimacy in a relationship can make one or both partners feel a complete lack of support and disconnect. Not to mention an increase in arguments, feelings of loneliness, disconnection, decreased trust, and empathy. One way you can fix this is by engaging in conversations that are open and honest. You can let your partner know how you’re feeling. Being open and vulnerable can help build trust with your partner, which is a stepping stone towards a long-lasting relationship. 

Talking about your feelings and emotions is never easy. It takes a lot of time to trust the person you’re in a relationship with and building that trust and emotional intimacy doesn’t just happen at the snap of a finger. But it is possible.

Here’s how you can foster emotional intimacy with your partner. 

Set your expectations and intentions beforehand

Wanting to work on improving your intimacy is a great goal. But you must know what you want out of it and make your intentions clear with your partner. For example, you may want to trust your partner, make them feel like they can share their deep, darkest secrets with you, or come to you for help when they’re facing a problem. Knowing what you want before you speak to your partner is a good place to start as it will take you a step closer to where you eventually want to get. 

Do things where you know how they think and feel

You’re going to learn a lot about the way your partner thinks and feels when you’re building emotional intimacy with them. One way to achieve that is by giving them your undivided attention and asking questions that make them feel seen and important, and help you understand them better in the long run. People open up when they feel vulnerable. You can get them to let their guard down by first doing that for yourself. Take the time out to learn something new about your partner when you spend time with them. For example, you can talk about what happened at work, something about your past that you haven’t shared with anyone, etc. Another great way to increase emotional intimacy is by doing things that make you laugh together—cracking inside jokes or binge-watching a show that you both like. 

Communicate and listen

Communication is about actively listening to everything your partner has to say and considering their feelings and emotions before you reply. Put yourself in their shoes and try to get an understanding of what they’re asking from you. It might be tough at the start, but if you’ve got to build emotional intimacy with your partner you’ll just have to start being an active listener with them. Moreover, your partner will open up to you if you listen to them without cutting them off when they’re speaking, going on the defensive, or getting angry. 

Furthermore, it’s not just how you talk and listen, but the words you choose as well. Use statements and sentences with ‘I’ in them instead of ‘you’. This sees you take accountability for your feelings and not make it about them. It’s a small change that will make a big difference. 

And do so with a lot of empathy

Being an active listener helps you and your partner to relate to each other’s feelings, which is an integral part of emotional intimacy. Being empathetic and trying to view a situation from their perspective helps you understand them better which will eventually help you earn their trust. It makes it easier to understand and be there for your partner—especially when you’re going through a bad time, by knowing how they’re feeling and what it’ll take to make them better and improve the situation. 

Affection and compliments

Another way to be emotionally available and help foster intimacy is by showing and showering your partner with love and affection—be it physical acts like hugs and kisses or simple acts of kindness that help them feel appreciated. When it comes to the things they do, identify these actions and speak to them about how they affect you and why you appreciate them. For example, ‘Thanks for picking me up from work today. You’ve made my evening a whole lot better because I don’t have to travel by train’.  You can also talk about the qualities that them taking an action revealed to you. ‘I can’t thank you enough for paying the bills on time. You’re extremely responsible and are always on top of these things when it comes to the house.’ Doing so adds a sense of security to the relationship. 

Lead image credits: Netflix

Also read: Non-sexual forms of intimacy that will strengthen your relationship

Also read: Here’s what your favourite form of intimacy says about you