Many seniors seek partners who are capable of true emotional intimacy, if they understand what that is and how important it is.
They want to live out their lives with someone who is supportive, empathetic and caring.
These desired character traits in a partner usually go hand-in-hand with emotional intimacy.
Have you wondered whether someone you’re dating is capable of emotional intimacy?
Here are some things to consider.
Let’s say you have a relationship that’s going pretty well on most counts:
- You get along pretty well.
- You enjoy doing similar things pretty much.
- Your personalities sync pretty well.
- The sexual connection is pretty good.
Overall, things are okay. No major complaints.
But somehow, it just doesn’t feel like a whole relationship. Something is missing.
Even with all the positive things about the relationship, you don’t feel a close bond with them. And maybe you don’t feel like your authentic self with them.
That missing piece may be true emotional intimacy.
What is emotional intimacy?
I don’t mean the kind of intimacy revolving around sex and other physicality.
An article in The Good Men Project describes the misconceptions about intimacy:
“So often, we use the term ‘intimate’ in a purely physical context. We refer to a couple as ‘intimate’ in order to express that they are in a sexual relationship. In fact, this is a narrow and somewhat misleading use of the term, and experts tell us there are several types of intimacy:
- Intellectual (a rich meeting of the minds)
- Experiential (closeness in activity such that you are in sync)
- Sexual (characterized by shared sensual and sexual expression)
- Emotional (characterized by shared feelings, trust, vulnerability)”
Not everyone is capable of emotional intimacy.
For instance, an emotionally immature man most likely does not have it in them.
And a narcissist, by their very nature, is self-centered and incapable of changing and becoming emotionally intimate.
Do you want emotional intimacy in your partner?
Not everyone cares if they have this kind of intimacy in their relationships.
But if it’s something you must have, it’s best to determine early in the relationship whether or not it’s possible.
If someone you’re dating won’t be able to give you the deep emotional connection you need, it’s probably best to break it off as soon as this is clear.
It may take some time for some of the indicators of emotional intimacy to be apparent. Some won’t be evident until you’ve been physically intimate and, if you’re wise, you haven’t rushed into that. You’ve waited several months before having sex.
But other indicators will be obvious after knowing someone for only a short time.
Keep your eyes and ears open to signals about emotional intimacy.
Be attentive to these signals so you can move on from someone who doesn’t fit the bill, leaving yourself open to meet someone who can meet this important need.
In a Psychology Today article, clinical psychologist Jill P. Weber, Ph.D. suggests that couples can only achieve emotional intimacy if they’re able to be vulnerable with each other.
She offered 4 ways to determine whether you or your partner can be vulnerable in love:
1. Can you admit your faults?
If you can say you’ve made a mistake, you show your partner that you’re self-aware and don’t view yourself as superior. And owning your own shortcomings encourages your partner to be vulnerable and authentic.
2. Can you hear your partner’s needs, emotions, or difficulties without immediately going into problem-solving mode?
Most of us want to feel that we’re being heard when we share a problem or issue. We want our pain or hurt to be acknowledged with empathy.
We DON’T want to be told that it isn’t a big deal, or to snap out of it. Soothing your partner’s distress by being a good listener will help them get over the bad feelings sooner.
3. Can you let go?
It’s not good for one of you to always be the controlling partner. Be willing to share the decision-making on activities. Allow your partner to take the lead equally.
4. Can you be UNembarrassed about being strong?
Embrace your strengths. Don’t bolster your partner’s confidence by dumbing yourself down. Conversely, don’t expect your partner to make you feel good about yourself. Connect with your strength.
Why should you want emotional intimacy?
Linda and Charlie Bloom described the benefits of having emotional intimacy in a Psychology Today article:
“Deep intimacy requires a high level of transparency and openness.
Couples who engage in this level of connectivity enjoy a sense of being at peace within themselves and with each other. They are willing to share their worst failures and mistakes, their most embarrassing moments, their feelings of inadequacy, their dark shadow side as well as their loftiest dreams, visions and hopes for their lives. They are also likely to more freely express gratitude and appreciation towards each other.”
7 questions to help you determine whether your relationship is emotionally intimate
Suzannah Weiss offered this list in a Bustle article. Answering “yes” to all 7 of them means you probably DO have an emotionally intimate relationship:
- Are you sharing your “head” and “heart”?
- Do you tell them your secrets?
- Would you trust them with your life?
- Do you accept all of each other?
- Do you tell them big news?
- Do you talk about your relationship?
- Do you make lots of small talk?