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Spice up Your Relationship : Emotional Intimacy

Edging can be fun but your emotions are not supposed to be toyed with.

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You would be lying if you have not heard phrases similar to these complaints :

“I really like them but they only ever talk about themselves.”

“The sex is SO GOOD and I like them, but I don’t miss them.”

“We slept together this weekend, now we patched up!”

“They really can’t talk outside the bedroom.”

You might have tried all positions and kinks to spice up your relationship but it still did not ignite that spark. One of the reasons could be that the relationship is lacking emotional intimacy. In simple words, great sex and vibes but you don’t know what makes them happy when they’re sad. So no matter how spicy the bedroom life is, your relationship will seem bland.

What is emotional intimacy?

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Emotional intimacy refers to the feeling of trust, vulnerability, and safety shared with a partner or friends. As easy as it sounds, emotional intimacy is difficult to achieve in any relationship unless everyone involved works on it together.

I conducted an interview with Dr. Karen Stewart, a Los Angeles based renowned clinical psychologist, specializing in Sex and Couples therapy. We discussed some ground rules that help build emotional intimacy in a relationship. I won’t bore you with any dry foreplay, let’s get straight into the ground rules of how to build emotional intimacy.

1. In-Person Communication

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Yes, we started off the interview with one of the cringiest topics: communication. But let’s face it, communication is the most important factor in any relationship. Most of us know it and yet we fail miserably when it comes to communication in a relationship. Dr Stewart identifies that most of Gen-Z struggles with in-person conversation as a result of technology. We hide behind our screens. It must have happened to you at some point. You were a big flirt with your match on Hinge, but blanked out when you met them in person.

“What is great about text message is we can take a couple seconds or minutes to respond, so we can filter it and change it. What is so intimidating about face to face conversation is that what comes out of your mouth is out of your mouth!”

Dr. Karen Stewart

Knowing how to communicate in person is important to building strong emotional intimacy. Texting gives you time to think and respond, but it is not the same in reality, especially if you are dealing with something emotionally heavy. You can’t show the text to your friends and ask for advice, it is all up to you in that moment. Dr. Stewart suggests the best way to navigate emotions if one is triggered is to use “I” statements.

Instead of saying, “You are a jerk!”, try saying, “I feel hurt when you say…”. In this, you are communicating your feelings and emotions instead of blaming the other person straight on. By doing so, you can give each other insight into how you’re feeling instead of telling each other how “wrong” they are.

As one can say, being able to communicate can be as sexy as dirty talk.

2. Vulnerability

Pexels/Trung Nguyen

Some of us would share our bodies so comfortably, but when we need “to talk”, we bolt like a flash.

To challenge a relationship, you need to be able to tolerate the anxiety of being uncomfortable. When you are hurt, you might not tell the other person for days and let the anger cook very well. Perhaps it’s because you feel you might not get another date or lose this person. Yet by sitting on these feelings, it creates more strain on the relationship.

Dr. Stewart says it’s important to know what you want before you stand up for yourself. You need to be confident enough to say what you need in a relationship and put your preferences on the table. If someone just got out of a break-up and is only looking to get under someone to get over their ex, and you want a long-term relationship – it’s not really a match.

Being vulnerable about what you want, feel, like, and dislike is the first step to building emotional intimacy. To do so, you need to be comfortable to get a little uncomfortable and honest. And what would help you be vulnerable? You got it, communication! Preferably with clothes on so you can bolt fast if needed.

3. Empathy

Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto

When it comes to navigating each other’s feelings, it is much harder than navigating their fingers. People are lost when it comes to being empathetic in a relationship. Maybe something is bothering your partner, maybe you just had an argument and hurtful words were said. Yes, it is important to comfort them, but first you need ask them what is bothering them.

Dr. Stewart offered some examples of empathetic statements:

  • “I’m sorry that you are hurting, what can I do to make you feel better?”
  • “Please talk me through how you are feeling”
  • “I may not understand how you are feeling, could you describe it to me?”
  • “I noticed you are sad, could you tell me what brought up these emotions?”

Sometimes, it’s natural to freeze up when you are dealing with heavy emotions. It is perfectly normal. But you need to communicate those feelings of “I don’t know how to help/react but I do care”. This way your partner knows that you care, and handling emotions is something you are learning.

Empathy is the root that carries emotional intimacy. When you are empathic with someone, you are sending the message that you feel safe and comfortable in being vulnerable and trusting that person. If this isn’t the biggest turn on, I don’t know what is.

4. Emotional Intimacy and Sex

Pexels/ Dainis Graveris

To be intimate and to feel intimate are two very different things.

Dr. Stewart mentioned one of the clients who approached her had a very good bedroom life, but they didn’t know how to function as a couple without the “crazy sex.” After they worked on some basic emotional ground, it strengthened their relationship and they reported that their sex life got even better.

Just like foreplay makes sex even better, having a strong sense of emotional intimacy can also make those orgasms better. Yes, I am referring to the saying that emotional intimacy makes people orgasm better, especially women and AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth) persons.

And I have some good news for you. It’s true!

Shutterstock/sangriana

Emotional Intimacy Wins…

Yes, you can orgasm by yourself, from a one-night stand, or just any way that suits you. But humans are emotional creatures. When your brain feels that emotional intimacy and connection with the person you are intimate with, your best buddy “oxytocin” comes into play. Otherwise known as the infamous ‘love hormone’. It’s not necessarily referring to the traditional meaning of love, rather to the feelings of safety and trust that are brought upon by sharing the emotional intimacy. So orgasm and oxytocin (double big O), would result in what Dr. Stewart puts it as the “ultimate pleasure.”

Emotional intimacy strengthens the roots of a relationship. Think of it as “the foreplay of the heart”. Without a genuine connection in a relationship, how will everything else feel as good as it should?

So make sure to nurture and embrace each other emotionally. Your sex life will not only thank you, but you can also enjoy that oxytocin glow!

Written By

BA English Literature student at UCL. I love to write, what else can I say?

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