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How to Rebuild Emotional Intimacy When It Feels Impossible

Updated on November 12, 2019
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Dina is a caring inhabitant of planet Earth who introduces alternative ways of living through writing.

A couple sharing an intimate kiss. Photo by Jared Sluyter on Unsplash.
A couple sharing an intimate kiss. Photo by Jared Sluyter on Unsplash.

Do you feel like your relationship lacks emotional intimacy?

Well, you're not alone.

Most of us have experienced feelings of distance and emotional disconnect from our partners.

It can happen at the very beginning of our relationships when we still feel a bit guarded and may not be overly enthusiastic about letting someone in.

But it can also happen in long-term relationships, especially after having kids and other obligations that need to be taken care of, but that don’t leave a lot of room for feeling close to our partners.

A man and a woman standing together. Photo by Marcelo Matarazzo on Unsplash.
A man and a woman standing together. Photo by Marcelo Matarazzo on Unsplash.

Rebuilding Emotional Intimacy Is Up to You

You always have a choice.

If you want to rebuild emotional intimacy in your relationship, you can do it.

But you'll have to take initiative.

As Ruiz said in his book The Mastery of Love, the only way to gain love is to practice it.

Still, you might be waiting for your partner to make the first move. You might even be blaming them for creating the distance between you two.

The lack of emotional intimacy leads to vulnerability and defensiveness.

And, maybe, you're running away from the fact that there's two of you in your relationship.

But don't beat yourself up because of this.

If anything, it's normal you react in this way.

Lack of emotional intimacy can lead to feelings of insecurity.

You're not so sure that your partner returns the love you give them.

Much like our ancestors, we retreat to our safe place when we feel threatened. Your safe place might be your inner world.

You don't want to share all those nauseating feelings. You don't want to acknowledge the influence your partner has on you.

But...

Remember that before you started this competition, you were a part of a team. The ultimate goal? A high-quality relationship with your significant other.

Put your pride aside and take that first step. It doesn't mean you lost. If anything, you're trying to win!

4 Steps to Improving Your Relationship

When you open your heart and reach out to your partner, you are likely to be surprised by their willingness to work on the relationship as well.

Here are 4 actionable tips you can take right now to rebuild emotional intimacy and start enjoying your relationship once again.

1. Recognize and Appreciate the Small Things

As our relationship progresses, we tend to take our partner for granted.

We get used to our partner being loving and caring, and we begin to crave more.

This is perfectly normal, so don’t beat yourself up because of this.

The key is to get back on track and to remind yourself of why you love your partner and how great they really are.

Recognize and appreciate all the little things they do to express their love and devotion to you. Don’t hold all that gratitude in, but make sure that you express it both verbally and physically to your partner.

Show your gratitude both verbally and physically, and don't underestimate the value of the little gifts of appreciation. Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash.
Show your gratitude both verbally and physically, and don't underestimate the value of the little gifts of appreciation. Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash.

2. Have a Heart-to-Heart Conversation

The reason you feel distant from your partner may be that your conversations seem to boil down to mundane, everyday concerns like what to eat or what to buy.

This isn’t how we connect with other people because it’s not how we really express who we are, nor does it contribute to our understanding of the other person.

Emotional intimacy requires transparency.

Spend some time on a weekly or even daily basis having a heart-to-heart conversation where you and your partner share personal needs, dreams, fears, etc.
You can even prepare for this by making notes in your journal, making sure you don’t forget to mention something important.

When you and your partner do have this conversation, don’t just throw everything that was said out the window. Remember what your partner shared and ask them about it later, showing them that you genuinely care about them.

3. Reconnect with Yourself First

Often, we shut down our own feelings and we even perceive them as more of a nuisance than as practical indicators of our well-being. We tend to sweep our emotions under the carpet, especially those that make us feel uncomfortable, angry, or sad.

However, it is important to reconnect with your authentic self in order to be able to express what you’re feeling.

Only by speaking your mind can you create an atmosphere of emotional intimacy with your partner, and when you finally do, you’ll probably be surprised how much your partner wanted to share similar thoughts with you.

Spend some time alone to get in touch with your own feelings first. Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash.
Spend some time alone to get in touch with your own feelings first. Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash.

4. Make Plans

Surprise your partner with an elaborate date night plan that is tailored exactly according to both of your preferences.

When we put thought into planning something special for our significant other, we show them how much we appreciate them and how much we want to make them happy.

Don’t just google “date night ideas”, but really think about what your partner loves and enjoys.

After that first date night, encourage your partner to do the same for you.
You can even take turns each week and surprise each other with personally tailored plans!

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that emotional disconnection doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s the accumulation of the little, but constant problems that causes it.

The same goes for reconnection. Don’t expect it to happen in an instant (though if it does, great for you!). It will take some time and patience to rebuild your relationship and to earn your partner’s trust once again.

If you want to learn more about building emotional intimacy, I recommend Joel D. Block's book Naked Intimacy: How to Increase True Openness in Your Relationship that offers some insightful remarks on the value of honesty and great tips on cultivating loving and open relationships with others.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Dina Sostarec

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