Experts Explain What Emotional Intimacy In A Relationship Actually Looks Like

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When you think of intimacy, you often think of sex. But emotional intimacy is just as important to a relationship. If you and your partner are emotionally distant, you won’t get much out of your interactions, and you may even start to resent each other. But if you can open up and disclose your deepest thoughts and emotions, you’ll be constantly learning about yourself and your partner, which can only make your connection stronger.

“Emotional intimacy is a sense of closeness developed with another person over time,” Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed psychologist in Colorado, tells Bustle. “Usually it involves a feeling of safety and having your inner thoughts and feelings known and accepted. Everyone desires a different level of emotional intimacy based on their attachment experiences growing up and what their ‘normal’ was. Therefore, there's no hard and fast rule on what's enough.”

However, there is such thing as the right amount of emotional intimacy for your relationship — and if you fall short of it, your love life and your sex life will both probably suffer. To find out whether you and your partner are getting enough emotional intimacy, here are some questions that you can ask yourself.


Are You Sharing Your “Head” And “Heart”?


If you want more emotional intimacy, Fisher recommends you both share your “head” and “heart” with each other each day. “Head is their agenda and heart is what they are feeling and why,” Fisher says. “For example, are they feeling mad, sad, glad, or fear, and why?” It’s easy to forget about these conversations when you’re busy, so make a point to check in after work, at the dinner table, or before bed.


Do You Tell Them Your Secrets?

There’s a reason telling secrets is considered the ultimate sign of closeness. “There is no greater title than Keeper o’ the Secrets,” relationship expert J. Hope Suis tells Bustle. Your partner should be one of the people who knows the most about you, including the things you tend to keep from everyone else.


Would You Trust Them With Your Life?

The biggest measure of a relationship’s strength is whether you can lean on each other when times get tough. “You and your partner must work on developing faith that you will always have each other’s back,” says Suis.


Do You Accept All Of Each Other?

In order to feel safe with each other, you both need to feel unconditionally accepted. This means that even if there are things about your partner you wish were different, you don’t love them any less for them. And on the flip side, even if parts of you bother them, you feel confident that they’re not going to leave you over these things. “We all need someone that truly knows us and takes the good with the bad,” says Suis. “Being able to let our guard down and still feel valued and loved is a gift that some never receive.”


Do You Tell Them Big News?

Your partner should be among the first to learn about a promotion or other major life event, Kait Scalisi, MPH, sex educator, tells Bustle. Even if it’s in an area of your life they’re not a part of or don’t totally understand, they should be excited that you’re excited.


Do You Talk About Your Relationship?

Ashley Batz/Bustle

The closest couples don’t keep it to themselves when they’re doubting their relationships or feeling upset with each other, says Scalisi. They understand that it’s through these tough conversations that relationships grow.


Do You Make Lots Of Small Talk?

It’s normal to ask each other about how your days went, but if the majority of your conversation is about mundane things, you’re probably not connecting as much as you could, says Scalisi. People get closer by sharing their deepest feelings, hopes, dreams, and fears.

“All of these fluctuate throughout your relationship,” says Scalisi. “But as long as more often than not, you lean on, share with, and are open with each other, there's enough emotional intimacy.”


Dr. Wyatt Fisher, licensed marriage counselor

Risa Williams, licensed marriage and family therapist

Mollie Birney, clinical coach and relationship expert

Kait Scalisi, MPH, sex educator

Nikki Loscalzo, Ed. M., RLT certified therapeutic relationship coach

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