We are biologically wired to connect with others. Human beings are a social species, and we have a need to belong and bond with others. To foster and maintain these relationships, emotional intimacy is essential. There is not one exact definition, but basically it boils down to being able to connect deeply with others by expressing feelings, being vulnerable, and making space for another individual’s feelings and vulnerability.
When we feel safe enough to share our deepest thoughts and emotions (negative and positive), along with our hopes and dreams, we cultivate an environment of trust and sense of security. We feel close and connected, and emotionally supported. It is when we can be emotionally intimate that we can fully be ourselves.
It takes effort and dedication to implement emotional intimacy in our relationships, and sometimes it can be easier said than done. Low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, personal and family history, for example, can make it difficult to be emotionally intimate with another person. However, research supports the idea that being connected to others is a way to help heal those exact problems. Social connection allows us to regulate our emotions, heighten our self-esteem, and decrease anxiety and depression.
If emotional intimacy is hard for you or someone you care about there are ways to learn and practice. Therapy is a great place to start, whether that be individual or couples/family counseling. The therapeutic relationship allows connection, communication and support which creates an environment to heal and gain the confidence to create meaningful relationships with others.