Intimacy can be a terrifying experience. Whether it’s sexual, emotional, or spiritual, being intimate with someone can make you feel extremely vulnerable. We all crave acceptance. As such, opening yourself to someone is scary, especially if you’re worried that they might not be receptive or may even react poorly. This article will give you an insight on how to allow yourself to become more intimate, both with yourself and with your loved ones.
Here Are 5 Ways to Teach Yourself to be More Intimate
“Intimacy is not a happy medium. It is a way of being in which the tension between distance and closeness is dissolved and a new horizon appears. Intimacy is beyond fear.” – Henri Nouwen
1. Make Time for Emotional Conversations
Having these crucial conversations can be anxiety-inducing, especially if you lack practice. Love Life Solved has a three-step formula for helping yourself get better at having emotional conversations in a way that allows your partner to respond with emotion as well. It takes time to grow comfortable with participating in emotional conversations. Psychology Today suggests that setting a time limit, making a list of things to talk about, and acknowledging your partner’s willingness to talk all help to make emotional conversations easier.
2. Actively Listen to Your Partner
Listen to learn from your partner. Active listening is the act of hearing your partner’s meaning instead of just their words. Try to understand the emotions behind what they’re saying to you. If you can’t do that without more context, ask questions. Phrases like, “To me, it sounds like … , is that how you see it?” are clarifying and helpful. Such open questions also show that you’re trying to understand where your partner is coming from.
3. Become More Intimate with Yourself
Understanding your own meaning is just as important as understanding your partner’s meaning. In fact, it’s possibly even more important. It’s difficult to become more open with someone when you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve. Psychology Today says that there are three types of intimacy: self-intimacy, conflict intimacy, and affection intimacy.
- Self-Intimacy is about understanding yourself and the reasons behind your feelings. This is an ongoing process for everyone. It’s one thing to understand that you’re upset, but another to unpack why you’re upset. It’s also important to understand how your feelings influence your behavior and how it can affect those around you.
- Conflict Intimacy is about learning to have important and difficult interactions without becoming defensive or aggressive. It is crucial that you make the environment between you and your partner a safe place for discussions. Authors Joseph Grenny and Kerry Patterson wrote the book Crucial Conversations about this particular subject. Focusing on the facts, recognizing emotion but not letting it take over, and understanding each other’s points of view are critical for having constructive, intimate conversations.
- Affection Intimacy is the typical intimacy connotation; words of affirmation, expressions of love, and sexual intimacy. Though this is an important part of being intimate with your partner, it shouldn’t be your main focus. Once you begin to be more open emotionally, this form of intimacy will become even more meaningful to you and your partner.
4. Touch Your Partner While You’re Talking
Touch creates a physical connection during conversations. It doesn’t have to be a conversation of heightened emotion; it could be a gentle touch to their hand as you tell them about something exciting or a kiss on the forehead as you say goodbye for work. Touch is one of the first connections we make as infants, and it sticks with us throughout our lives.
Nonverbal communication makes up more of our interactions than verbal communication, so touching is a critical part of our relationships. Making more eye contact and smiling also increases the intimacy of communication nonverbally.
5. End Things on a Good Note
There’s nothing worse than walking away from an interaction still upset. For starters, it’s not constructive. What is more, unresolved, negative emotions can cause both you and your partner to let things build up inside. This could lead to more animosity and even decrease the level of intimacy between you. Emotional upset leads to a lack of physical connection, which will only harm your personal connection.
Huffington Posts suggests starting a new ritual of ending things with a kiss or another form of physical affection. This should start with small, positive interactions on a daily basis so that during conflicts or heightened emotional states, you won’t forget about it.
Intimacy can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Letting your partner know that you’re working on the way you communicate and show affection is one of the first steps to enhancing your relationship. Working on intimacy together can become a couple activity as well. Sometimes, the scariest and hardest things are the most important to do.