Sustaining Love: The Importance Of Emotional IntimacyBy Dr. Margaret Paul
September 12, 2016
Emotional intimacy is essential for sustaining love in a committed relationship. Discover how to create and nourish this deep connection.
Think back to times you felt 'in love.' Aside from chemistry, what was it that drew you to the other person? Usually, my clients say things like:
- We talked for hours on our first date.
- We felt an immediate connection with each other, like we've always known each other.
- At the beginning of our relationship, we could talk about everything.
What these people are talking about is that they felt emotionally connected with each other. Love flourished because of their emotional intimacy. If they hadn't felt this emotional connection and intimacy, they likely wouldn't have fallen in love with each other. Even if they were physically attracted, this likely wouldn't have lasted long without the emotional intimacy.
Then what happens?
Often, after a relatively short time, underlying fears of rejection surface and the individuals in the relationship start trying to have control over not being rejected by each other – which may mean that they are not as open and vulnerable with each other as they were at the beginning of their relationship.
Richard wrote me the following:
"My wife and I are separated. She said she lost her emotional connection to me. We may go to couples counseling to help understand what that means and how we do that. I am trying to understand what it means as emotional intimacy is synonymous with love to her."
What Richard is saying is that he and his wife did feel emotionally connected with each other at the beginning of their relationship, or they wouldn't have move forward with their relationship. But somewhere along the way, one or both of them stopped sharing their heart and soul, and they become disconnected from each other.
What Is Emotional Intimacy?
We feel emotionally intimate with each other when we feel safe to share our feelings – our painful and joyful feelings, our fears and our love. Emotional intimacy flourishes when we feel free to keep our heart open and spontaneously express ourselves with each other. The safer we feel to be fully ourselves with each other, the more our emotional intimacy and feelings of love grow.
However, in order to share our feelings, we have to be aware of them. From what Richard is asking, it seems that he is, or has become, unaware of his feelings.
This is a big problem for many people. If you grew up in a family where feelings were judged, or where your painful feelings were too big to manage due to various forms of abuse or neglect, then you learned to suppress your feelings.
For Richard to emotionally connect with his wife, he needs to learn to emotionally connect with himself. And this takes practice – the practice of Step One of Inner Bonding.
If Richard were to diligently practice Step One of Inner Bonding - staying present in his body with his physical sensations - he would start to become more aware of his feelings. And if he were to open to learning from his feelings – Step Two of Inner Bonding – and then explore in Step Three what his feelings are telling him regarding whether he is loving himself or abandoning himself, he would then be able to share his feelings with his wife, as well as be interested in her feelings.
This is what creates emotional intimacy, and this is essential to sustain love and passion in committed relationships.
We cannot emotionally connect with each other from our heads. We can have intellectual conversations from our head, but emotional intimacy comes from sharing our heart and soul with each other. Your heart opens naturally when you move into an intent to learn about your own feelings and those of your partner. If you want your love to flourish, then start to practice Inner Bonding!
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Relationships Course: "Loving Relationships: A 30-Day Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul - For people who are partnered and people who want to be partnered."
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When being loving, we are not grasping, demanding, needy or clingy, because love has nothing to do with getting or taking. We give freely, to ourselves and to others. We also receive graciously when the gift is freely given. When being unloving, we may try to manipulate a gift - whether it be of time, money, attention, emotional support, approval, sex or affection - but when we are loving we know that a gift not freely given is not really a gift. Notice when you are being loving or unloving.
By Dr. Margaret Paul