This post was updated on Feb 11, 2023
Being romantically involved with another human being implies intimacy. Most of us place great importance on physical intimacy, and rightfully so, but there is also a whole other aspect of intimacy that is closely linked to the physical one: emotional intimacy.
At first, it is physical intimacy that we might pay more attention to, especially when we’re infatuated and consumed by a fiery passion for each other. But emotional intimacy is what remains when the honeymoon phase is over and that initial excitement of being madly in love starts to wear out.
When partners lack emotional intimacy in their relationship, they cannot face and overcome conflict and life’s challenges together. Are you dealing with emotional intimacy issues in your relationship? Are you seeing or ignoring the red flags? Learn to recognize the telltale signs.
What does emotional intimacy feel like?
When two partners have emotional intimacy, they have a deep emotional connection. They feel close because they feel free to be themselves around each other and express their feelings openly without being afraid to show their vulnerable side.
What does a lack of intimacy do to a relationship?
Without intimacy at a deeper level, building trust turns into a difficult challenge which could ultimately spell trouble for the future of your whole relationship. Partners who can’t trust each other cannot stay together.
So what are the signs that there are issues with intimacy between you and your partner?
Signs that your relationship lacks emotional intimacy:
Feeling distant and isolated from your partner
If you feel that you can never quite pinpoint what the other person is thinking or how they’re feeling, there may be a distance between you. This can turn into a major problem when conflicts arise, especially if your partner is giving you the silent treatment, making conflict resolution all the more difficult.
Lack of transparency and communication about emotions
When we say that communication between partners is key, it may sound like a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Partners who can communicate their feelings to each other have managed to build emotional intimacy. On the other hand, partners who never discuss their emotions but get into petty arguments all the time are probably not looking at a bright future together.
Imbalance in the degree of sharing
If one person is sharing too much and the other is not sharing enough, it might seem that the other partner is simply a good listener. On the other hand, it may mean that there is an imbalance. The partner who shares less might not feel comfortable enough to express their thoughts and feelings openly.
Inability to listen to each other
Sharing your views, thoughts, and opinions with each other and being able to open up and reveal your feelings and emotions must mean that you have built emotional intimacy, right? Not necessarily. In order to continue to build your emotional intimacy, both partners in a relationship need to practice active listening and show empathy and compassion on an ongoing basis.
If one partner tends to zone out when the other partner is talking about what they’re going through, this might mean the emotional intimacy between them is starting to fade. At this point, partners might start hurting each other indeliberately by forgetting the little things or showing disregard for the other person’s feelings. Little by little, they may start drifting apart.
Lack of support for each other
People in supportive relationships tend to open up with each other about what’s bothering them. Because their relationship is built on trust and understanding, the partner is their go-to person whenever they’re in need of guidance. They feel comfortable enough to ask their partner for help and advice. But in a relationship that lacks emotional intimacy, partners may lack the emotional security to turn to each other for support.
Leading separate lives could indicate a lack of intimacy
Partners who are private and refuse to share information about their lives with each other might be dealing with an emotional distance. It’s fine to lead separate lives and be independent, but keeping a deliberate distance from each other could be a sign of a deeper problem. After all, patterns like long phone calls, texting or talking face-to-face help us get to know each other, and sharing your daily life is a big part of that.
You no longer share similar interests and hobbies
The experiences we share with our partners help us grow as a couple. Whether it’s going to the farmers’ market, cooking a meal or watching black-and-white movies together, these activities help build intimacy and deepen your relationship bond.
When you stop doing the things you used to do with your partner, whether because you no longer care about their likes and interests or because they no longer care about yours, it should really tip you off that emotional intimacy may have started to dissipate and might disappear altogether.
Avoidance of physical closeness
Although a couple that has active sex life is not necessarily in a healthy, supportive relationship, frequent sex is known to benefit couples, both in the emotional and in the physical sense, whereas lack of sex increases the relationship’s vulnerability to detachment. But avoidance of physical touch can happen even to couples who are physically intimate in the bedroom on a regular basis.
When couples have a strong emotional connection, this is manifested in physical closeness. Partners are comfortable touching each other outside the bedroom, whether it’s by holding hands, hugging or kissing, as this is how they express their emotional intimacy.
On the other hand, partners who are reserved and have physical connection issues might be dealing with emotional intimacy issues as well.
Can a relationship survive without emotional intimacy?
When you love someone deeply, you might be willing to overlook any emotional intimacy issues, even put the other person’s needs first to keep the romance alive. But sometimes love alone isn’t enough. Your relationship might last even if you lack emotional intimacy and connection, but is that really what you both want?
You both deserve to have a meaningful relationship that makes you feel loved and fulfilled. Does that mean you are doomed as a couple? Absolutely not. Building emotional intimacy is no easy feat, but it’s not impossible. Some couples may try to work everything out by themselves by working on their communication, while others decide to turn to experts for help.
How to improve intimacy in a relationship? We can help!
Building emotional intimacy is hard work, but that’s just it: you can work on it. If both you and your partner are willing to make it work, we can help you build trust and improve emotional intimacy in one of our workshops that rely on relationship intimacy coaching.
Would you feel more at ease in our individual coaching program or do you think it’s time you give our intensive workshops at The Glass House a go? It’s up to you but one thing is certain: PIVOT Advocates are here for you. We’re ready to help you patch things up with your partner and learn to deal with the intimacy problems in your relationship before they escalate. We’re your key to building healthier relationships.
It’s time to turn the page and the PIVOT process is the way to do it!