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Emotional Intimacy

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Coleen L. Lawrence
Emotional intimacy is not the same as sexual intimacy. Sexual intimacy can take place with or without emotional intimacy, and emotional intimacy often does not occur within any kind of sexual context.

Emotional intimacy is a psychological event that occurs when the trust level and communication between two people is such that it fosters the mutual sharing of each other's innermost selves. It is unbridled mutual self disclosure.

Sadly, a lacking of emotional intimacy in relationships is common, and as a result we pay a heavy a price. Its absence can easily be witnessed by way of strained and failed relationships of those all around us, and in a larger context, reflected within the staggering divorce rates.

In our most intimate relationships we seek to feel wholly accepted, respected, worthy, and even admired in the eyes of our mate. We would like our relationship to be a comfortable place for us when we are weary. A place of compassion and support. Emotional intimacy is needed for these feelings to develop and continue, and when there is a lacking of it the relationship breaks down.

One or both parties might even seek to have these needs filled outside of the relationship, and this of course only makes matters much worse. Why is this quality so often missing from our relationships?

If emotional intimacy is the glue that holds our unions together, why do we seem to avoid it like the plague?

The majority of people have difficulty practicing openness and allowing themselves to be completely vulnerable with someone. Due to gender socialization, generally speaking, this might be a more trying process for men. However, both genders can struggle immensely with divulging how they really think and feel, for fear of the ultimate rejection, the rejection of our true selves.

We can especially be afraid to expose our real selves to someone who's opinion really matters to us. What if we were criticized, laughed at, or seen as undesirable for our expression of who we authentically are, by someone very close and important to us? Though these are the people that it is hardest to reveal our inner truths to, ironically these are the very people that we need most to do it with.

Since we have shied away from emotional intimacy for so long we have not developed adequate communication skills in the area of intimate disclosure. We lack the ability to verbalize what our true emotional wants and needs are to our partner. It might be difficult to find exactly the right words to communicate our feelings accurately. In fact, it might even be difficult for us to formulate our wants and needs to our own selves. We might struggle to get in touch with such a truthful place within, when we are not used to dwelling there.
Coleen L. Lawrence

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