Building emotional connection and intimacy in a relationship can be difficult. Whether it’s with family members, friends, or a romantic partner, fostering emotional connection and intimacy can come with challenges. Balancing our own needs with others needs is tough enough. This is further made complicated by any insecurities and anxieties one may have. Often, people get caught up in wondering how other people perceive them and if they are being judged negatively. This inhibits building emotional connection and intimacy because it takes away from the focus of the relationship. For example, if you let the anxiety rule your actions, you may be wary to express your feelings (i.e. tell someone that you appreciate their friendship and/or love them), which is an important part of building emotional connection and intimacy. Furthermore, both of you may be doing the same thing, and letting the anxiety build can lead to no longer putting effort in the relationship.
Building emotional connection and intimacy can also be difficult simply because you don’t know how to do it. Unfortunately, we are not taught how to build and maintain relationships. As children, our friendships are often handed to us based off of who’s in our class and children of our parent’s friends. Then, when we enter adulthood and would like to create new relationships, we have no clue how to do it. This can then lead to further anxiety around relationships.
HOW TO BUILD EMOTIONAL CONNECTION AND INTIMACY
- Express your needs: A big part of building connection and intimacy is feeling safe and comfortable in the relationship. Remember that people are not mind readers, and you can’t assume others know what you want and need from them. Therefore, let them know. Whether there is something specific to that relationship or more general to you as a person, it is important to communicate your needs, wants, and feelings as a way to deepen the relationship and create more connection and intimacy.
- Open Up: Our insecurities can keep us from opening up. However, keeping walls up and not disclosing more intimate details about yourself can be a big roadblock to building connection and intimacy in any relationship. It may create a disconnect between the two people involved. Share thoughts, feelings, and details about you and your life that color who you are and define you as a person. This is a gradual process and does not have to be done all at once. Slowly share this information as you feel more comfortable and the relationship grows.
- Practice active listening: Expressing you needs and opening up is important, but you also need that from the other person. You can help them feel safe and comfortable doing so by actively listening. Active listening shows the other person that you care. It also provides the necessary validation the person needs to open up. Steps to active listening:
- Pay attention- don’t multitask or space out.
- Ask questions about what was shared.
- Follow up with a statement showing that you heard and understood them.
- Delve into the feelings behind whatever they are talking about and empathize.
- Things to ask yourself to help with all of the above: What is this person saying? How does this person feel about what they’re talking about? What have I done that’s similar to what they’re talking about? When did I feel like this?
- Voice appreciation and gratitude: This is another component of helping the other person feel safe and comfortable to open up to you. Let people know what you like about them and why you value the relationship.
- Stop focusing on the negative: People can have a tendency to focus on things they dislike about someone or problems in the relationship. This can also be an anxiety defense mechanism to protect yourself against being vulnerable to others. This just takes away from building the relationship and furthering the connection. Therefore, instead of thinking about the negative, focus on the positive. Think about what you like about that person and why you want them in your life.
- Learn to love yourself: It’s difficult to expect love and support from others when you don’t provide that for yourself or feel you deserve it. Therefore, it is important to do things that build self-esteem and help you feel good about yourself. Building self-love is key to building connection and intimacy with others.
The key to building connection and intimacy in relationships is not letting anxiety be in control. Utilizing the above steps will help ensure that you being proactive in building the relationships that matter, keeping anxiety and insecurity in check. It will also help to balance your needs with that of the other person’s, which is the other main factor when it comes to deepening relationships.