How Long It Takes To Develop Emotional Intimacy In A New Relationship

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The early stages of a new relationship — when you're still getting to know each other and relishing every moment you spend together — can be some of the most exciting, romantic times you share with your partner. You're discovering new facets of each other's personalities and making lasting memories, all while building an intimate, personal connection — but developing emotional intimacy in a new relationship doesn't happen overnight.

"Emotional intimacy in a new relationship is slow in coming," Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, tells Bustle. "True intimacy must be built with patience and mortar brick by brick to lay a solid foundation in your relationship without cracks."

If you're an impatient person, that might not be the most welcome news, but it is the truth. Even though you might feel super close to your partner from day one, being able to truly open up and be vulnerable with someone naturally takes time, because emotional intimacy requires a deep level of trust — which comes only with the passage of time.

"Opening up to someone; using your voice and body; being fragile, frail, afraid, and vulnerable — these are the building blocks of intimacy and trust," Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle.

When Should You Expect To Feel Emotional Intimacy With A New Partner?

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

If you're in a healthy relationship, your emotional connection with your partner will only get stronger and deeper with time. But that doesn't happen without an active effort on the part of both partners: you have to be willing to be totally open, honest, and trusting of each other for the relationship to really evolve into something deep.

"The longer the relationship gets, the stronger your shared bonds are," Backe says. "But it is not just a factor of time and quantity, but also of quality and spirit of the experiences. If you are a very intense couple, and you enjoy living on your respective edges, you may find that you become very close, very fast, and discover an intimacy the least of which is physical."

When it comes to developing emotional intimacy, every couple will move at their own pace. It doesn't matter how slowly or quickly it happens for you and your new partner: all that matters is that you're both comfortable with the pace you're moving at, and willing to put in the work to build healthy emotional intimacy.  

Once you do fully trust and open up to your partner, though, it's an incredibly freeing feeling. "When you are close as only a couple can be, you are suddenly in each other’s future, and in each other’s fantasy for tomorrow," Backe says. "This is so amazing when you first realize it, though sometimes it hits you like a ton of bricks."

What A Lack Of Emotional Intimacy In A New Relationship Means

But what if you haven't had that "a-ha" moment of intimacy with your new partner yet? When you're dating someone new, it's easy to overanalyze every aspect of your young relationship, and worry that your connection isn't strong enough. But if you feel like it's taking more time than you'd like for you and your partner to form a mutually strong emotional bond, it doesn't necessarily spell doom for your relationship — it simply means you have to communicate with your new partner to figure out how you can get on the same page emotionally.  

"A lack of emotional intimacy in a new relationship may or may not be problematic," Backe says. "In new relationships, many times there is someone who is putting in more time, calls more, plans more, and is involved more. Not having an emotional connection may be indicative of some type [of] incompatibility, or it can also mean that one side of this relationship has difficulties expressing things which do exist and which are compatible. It needs to be addressed. Both partners need to be on the same page."

While it's fine for things to be a little lopsided in the beginning, if you want the relationship to last long-term, you'll have to find a balance eventually, that way neither of you feels alone in the relationship. After all, it's never fun to feel like you're in a one-sided relationship, and it can be scary to feel like you might be developing deep feelings for your partner at a faster rate than them.

"You can’t have a truly emotionally intimate relationship where one person is kind of 'all in' and the other is 'meh, I could take it or leave it,'" Backe says. "Something will have to change at some point, or shift to an area where there is more equilibrium. This differs from one couple to another."

Ultimately, the healthiest, most fulfilling relationships are those in which both partners are equally devoted to one another, and to working together to ensure their bond is constantly growing stronger. So yes, it will take both time and effort to develop a true sense of trust and intimacy with a new partner — but don't forget to enjoy the journey of building that intimacy together in the first place.