The Essential Ingredient for True Intimacy In A Relationship

 / 

essential ingredient for true intimacy in a relationship

True intimacy in a relationship is lost when attraction diminishes. Read on to know what it takes to achieve true intimacy and how to create a foundation for emotional and sexual intimacy.

It takes more than love to build a thriving partnership and meaningful friendship. It also takes emotional safety. In romantic relationships, love is a good start. But if we want to enjoy the secure and enduring connection of mature love, we need to feel safe, which creates a foundation for emotional and sexual intimacy.

True intimacy in a relationship

Emotional Safety Is An Essential Ingredient For True Intimacy In A Relationship

We’re wired with a longing for safe, satisfying connections. But sadly, we may not be fully aware of how we disrupt the intimacy we want. If we can understand how intimacy gets derailed, we can become more mindful of what it takes to create emotionally safe connections.

Feeling emotionally safe means feeling internally relaxed and open. When we’re intimate, we feel connected. When we’re not connected, we feel distant, protective, or overly cautious. A nourishing intimacy happens when barriers melt and hearts open (while not neglecting the need for healthy boundaries).

Researcher John Gottman has identified criticism and contempt as all-too-common intimacy-busters. In fact, he describes contempt as the primary predictor of divorce. By diminishing a person through hurtful criticism or sarcasm, we trigger their self-protective mechanism. We activate their fight, flight, freeze response rather than invite the nectar of their love to nourish us.

A flower won’t bloom until conditions are supportive. Similarly, our tender hearts won’t open and reveal its beautiful secrets unless we feel internally safe. Consistent respect, kindness, and appreciation are antidotes to criticism and contempt; they create the necessary conditions for deepening love and intimacy.

Related: 3 Reasons Why Communication Is Crucial For Sustained Intimacy

Intimacy Is Not Something That Just Happens

An Eroding Attraction

Early in a romantic relationship, our emotional and sexual attraction is often strong. We may be baffled that it fades over time, perhaps concluding that this isn’t the right partner. Our dissatisfaction and confusion may prompt us to end the relationship or stray mindlessly into an affair.

One reason that our attraction may diminish is the loss of emotional safety and connection. Trust is a fragile flower that takes time to build and is easily damaged. If we receive a steady dose of being blamed or shamed rather than respected and cherished, our tender heart is likely to go into hiding to protect our vulnerable self.

We might think we should be stronger and just let things roll off our backs. And in fact, it may help to explore whether we’re taking things too personally, losing perspective, or feeling overly offended by light-hearted teasing. But hurtful teasing or shaming that poke our partner’s tender spots are likely to push him or her away, thereby frustrating our desire to connect.

Related: 3 Damaging Mistakes That Are Keeping You From Finding True Love

An erosion of emotional, sexual, or spiritual intimacy can be caused by many factors. A good starting point for unraveling this mystery may be to explore your possible contribution to the situation. Are you experiencing unmet needs or vulnerable feelings such as hurt, fear, or shame that you are acting out indirectly (perhaps angrily) rather than expressing in a non-blaming, mature way?

To have someone understand your mind is a different kind of intimacy

How well are you listening when your partner expresses feelings or needs that might be uncomfortable to hear? Do you tend to react defensively or not take your partner’s feelings and preferences seriously enough? Are you contributing to emotional disconnection because you insist on being right or feel uncomfortable when you don’t have control over a situation? Is it difficult to soothe yourself when you’re feeling frustrated or do you vent frustrations on others? Are you using words, body language (eye-rolling, head-shaking), or a tone of voice that raises your partner’s shields?

The subtle or not-so-subtle ways we blame, criticize, and shame people are kryptonite to intimacy. We may not be fully aware of the slow, steady drip of harm we inflict on our relationships by lashing out or being snarky in our communication. Building emotional safety in relationships begins by becoming mindful about what not to do in relationships.

Feeling emotionally safe frees us to share our feelings, thoughts, and desires without an intimacy-stifling fear. It takes mindfulness and courage to work with the shadow parts of us that might sabotage our longing for love and connection. When two people are committed to developing the skills necessary to create a safe climate for intimacy (perhaps with the help of a skilled couples therapist), relationships are more likely to thrive.

© John Amodeo

Please share this article with anyone who you may think will find it valuable and helpful.

Written by:John Amodeo, Ph.D., MFT
Originally appeared on: Psychology Today 
Republished with Permission

You may access John's free online articles with Psychology Today and check out his books by visiting his website:www.johnamodeo.com
essential ingredient for true intimacy in a relationship pinex
essential ingredient for true intimacy in a relationship pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply



Up Next

15+ Quotes From “Bridgerton” That Depict Obsessive Yearning

Best Bridgerton Quotes About Love And Romance

If you like romances and things from the Regency era, these Bridgerton quotes show how obsession can be a form of longing. This Netflix series features several love stories in which the characters experience intense desire and emotions.

Through eloquent dialogues and passionate interactions, “Bridgerton” powerfully reveals the aspirations that motivate its characters.

The series effectively frames the relationship between Daphne and Simon as an embodiment of smouldering attraction while at the same time conveying other major figures’ secretly yearning for each other.

Here are some Bridgerton quotes about love that perfectly sum up obsessive yearning.<



Up Next

TikTok’s Ultimate Couples Psychometrics Test: Which Iconic Pair Are You and Your Partner?

Couples Psychometrics Test: Fun Results Of Fictional Couples

Do you want to explore your relationship dynamics in a fun and insightful way? Take this Couples Psychometrics Test, the newest sensation making waves on social media, particularly TikTok!

Forget zodiac signs and typical personality quizzes; this one goes further to study your compatibility with your partner’s and give a famous fictional couple from TV shows or movies as your match.

This is a test attempts to find the perfect on-screen duo for you. It checks out our personalities, styles of communication and other oddities that make us real-life couples.

For those of you who are just wondering about which legendary pair represents your love story in th



Up Next

10 Signs You Are A Rebound And Nothing More

Signs You Are A Rebound And Nothing More

The dating world can sometimes feel like you are on a wild roller coaster ride of emotions, full of exhilarating highs and heart breaking lows. And you might find yourself unknowingly become someone’s rebound. But how do you gauge that? What are the signs you are a rebound, and nothing more?

Being someone’s rebound means being an emotional pit stop for them; it’s like they are taking a short break where they are seeking temporary solace before moving on for good. It’s not a good place to be in, honestly.

Today, we are talking to talk about all those glaring signs you are a rebound, so that it’s easier for you to decide if you want to remain one, or let go and wait for someone who gives you the love and respect you deserve.



Up Next

What Are Yellow Flags In A Relationship? Is Your Relationship Sending Warning Signals?

Identifying Yellow Flags In A Relationship and How To Deal

Have you ever felt a tinge of uncertainty in your romantic relationship? A flickering doubt, a slight unease? Relationships are complex, and it’s normal for them to have ups and downs. However, it’s crucial to pay attention to the subtle yellow flags in a relationship that may indicate potential issues down the road. 

These early warning signs can offer insights into the health and sustainability of a relationship. Let us explore what does a yellow flag mean, how to identify them, and most importantly, how to deal with yellow flags to foster a stronger and healthier connection.

What Does a Yellow Flag Mean in a Relationship?

A yellow flag in a relationship is a cautionary sign that som



Up Next

Mirroring In Relationships: How It Shapes Romance

Mirroring In A Relationship: Examples Of Love And Support

Do you ever feel that you could almost read your partner’s mind, or have you ever experienced the baffling feeling of finishing each other’s sentences? If yes, you must have encountered a mysterious human behavior called mirroring in a relationship.

So, What Is Mirroring Behavior In Relationships?

Mirroring behavior psychology is an unintentional process in which people imitate one another’s actions, gestures, and emotions.



Up Next

8 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Want To Avoid Marrying The Wrong Person

Marrying The Wrong Person? Important Questions To Ask

Picture this: you’re standing at the altar, surrounded by beaming friends and family, moments away from saying “I do” to the person who you thought was your soulmate and the love of your life. But deep down, you can’t ignore the nagging feeling that something doesn’t feel right. Could it be possible that you’re marrying the wrong person?

The fear of marrying the wrong person lingers in the hearts of many, and it’s a fear worth exploring, because this is your life we are talking about. In this article, we’ll dive into eight essential questions that you should ask yourself before taking that leap into forever.

So, grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and let’s unravel how to avoid marrying the wrong person.



Up Next

63 Conversation Starters For Deep Dialogues With Your Partner

Conversation Starters For Deep Dialogues With Your Partner

Why conversation starters? Over time conversations with your partner might begin to feel shallow and focused more on the daily grind than topics that actually matter. This is normal. It’s probably not a dangerous red flag that your relationship is about to end, but it is likely unsatisfying and monotonous.

It’s quite easy to reignite the spark with your partner by enjoying deeper and more meaningful conversations just by becoming more intentional in carving out time to talk.

We all know that communication is key to a healthy relationship, but let’s be honest; talking about what’s for dinner or whose turn it is to walk the dog just won’t cut it.

If you’re yearning for a deeper connection, it’s worth dedicating ten to fifteen minutes a day to one of the most important people in your life.