Developing connected relationships with those around you is a critical part of having a meaningful life. But, as much as many of us might like the idea of emotional intimacy, it isn’t always easy to create.
What is Intimacy?
One reason for this is that intimacy is all about being known—and that entails some vulnerability through sharing about who we are, how we feel.
Intimacy is also about:
- knowing the other person,
- hearing and seeing another’s perceptions, experiences,
- recognizing places of commonality and those of major differences
This list inevitably includes things that are hard to hear.
Intimacy can also be challenging because people are not static beings—we are ever changing and having more life experiences.
So in a sense, intimacy is not just about getting to know another and be known by him/her, but about the ongoing process of knowing ourselves, knowing others, and the sharing of that experience relationally.
How to Build Greater Intimacy in Relationships with those Around You
Courage and curiosity are essential qualities you need to call upon. Have the courage to risk some sharing of yourself, and have the curiosity to reach for the other person’s experience through your questions.
Ulitmately, you want to:
- ask questions and listen to what it is like to be the other person
- help them to know what it is like to be you in the world
- recognize that there are good reasons why people see things differently
- move away from “I’m right / you’re wrong”
- move toward “it’s normal that we would view and feel about some things very differently”
Questions to Assess Your Current Relationship Intimacy
When couples in my counselling practice are looking to build their intimacy, here are some examples of questions I might give for homework. The questions should be asked of and shared by each partner about how they see things in a back and forth dialogue together.
What would it be like for someone to be in a relationship with me? What would be the desireable parts, and the challenges?
Recently, in what ways have I expressed my caring for my partner? How do they receive or experience it?
What are the top three most important events that have occurred in my partner’s day-to-day life in the last week?
In what ways is my partner growing and/or changing –what hopes and aspirations is he/she wanting to work towards in her life at this time? In what ways do I acknowledge and support this?
Have I hurt my partner or been hurt by him/her lately?
To what extent do we have a process of being able to communicate and repair those hurts in our relationship?
These questions are designed for couples, but you can easily modify the questions to suit other kinds of people connections in your life. Give them a try!