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How to Have Intimacy in a Relationship

by Freddie Silver

People often think of the sexual aspect of a relationship when they think about intimacy, but intimacy actually means being emotionally close to each other. Having enough trust in each other to be able to share your hopes, dreams and secrets is real intimacy. Honest, open communication between two people who know and understand themselves and each other will help intimacy flourish.

Understand Intimacy

Intimacy means loving and supporting your partner. It means having a deep commitment toward the physical and emotional well-being of each other. Be aware of gender differences when trying to understand intimacy. Women tend to crave the closeness of staring into their partner's eyes and confiding in each other, writes Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University, who has written extensively on love and intimate relationships. Men, she writes in the Oprah.com article "How to Build Intimacy in Your Relationship," tend to prefer talking while standing side by side.

Know and Love Yourself

Spend some alone time focusing on what you know to be true about yourself. Reflect upon what you're feeling and why you're feeling that way. Everyone needs to know that her feelings are being listened to and that she is understood by her partner. It's necessary to identify your deepest emotions and believe in your own self-worth before you can share your emotional needs with a partner, cautions therapist and author Paul Dunion in the Huffington Post article "Relationship Rx: 9 Tips for Establishing Emotional Intimacy."

Engage in Open Communication

It's impossible to increase the intimacy in your relationship without keeping the lines of communication wide open. Both partners must be willing to express themselves clearly and freely. Don't make assumptions about what your partner might or might not mean and frequently state your love for each other. Make clear requests for what you need or want. Debrief after an argument, openly discussing how you felt and why. Honesty helps build trust, so don't be evasive and don't lie. Recognize when it's time to stop talking and listen. Pay attention to your nonverbal communication; standing close and touching each other enhances intimacy while rolling your eyes or shrugging your shoulders suggests hostility.

Start Slowly and Be Patient

Don't expect intimacy too early in a new relationship -- it takes time to build. Start with the things you're most comfortable with. Designate time to build intimacy. For example, arrange a weekend getaway where the two of you can be alone together and focus on deepening the relationship. Confide your thoughts and feelings to your partner, then ask your partner to do the same. Put some extra thought into details that show you know and care about your partner's likes and dislikes. A willingness to compromise when necessary demonstrates you care about your partner.

About the Author

Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.

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