Developing Intimate Relationships

By Denae Stallings 

Whether you are single or in a romantic partnership, the feeling of wanting intimacy within our friendships, family and romantic connections are shared as a basic need. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, the need to feel love and belonging ranks third on the list just after needing food, water, shelter, and safety. For many of us, the need to have a deep sense of connection with other human beings is essential to our overall sense of well-being. Although this may ring true, this task is often challenged by past experiences of childhood trauma, emotional neglect, abuse, and or rejection.

What is intimacy?
According to Dr. Nicole LePera, author of “How to Do the Work”, intimacy is a feeling of emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical closeness within a relationship. Although intimacy is often looked as a dynamic that takes place in a romantic relationship, I teach my clients how to develop intimacy within their platonic and familial relationships as well.

How can I build intimacy within my connections?
1. Find time to explore your own sense of independence.
It is important for each member of a relationship to show up with something to add to the mutual experience. Having time to yourself is critical to your growth as an individual and supports your ability to maintain a sense of identity. If you struggle with trauma or neglect, you can use your independent time to exercise and self-regulate your emotions so that you avoid dumping them into your relationships (expression should be mutual). Through this form self-awareness we become better communicators, listeners, and more emotionally engaged.

2. Develop a secure attachment within your connection. In your relationship it is important to feel a sense of trust. You can develop this through the art of active listening and by creating a safe space for your person to feel vulnerable. In your relationship, you should also feel seen and heard. For some of us, feelings of abandonment or rejection are real, it is important that you both feel safe enough to disclose your feelings, ideas, and interests.

3. Express mutual appreciation for the connection.
Admiration through compliments and affirmation helps deepen the level of connection within a relationship because it validates the experience. Admiration can also motivate your partner, friend or family member to self-improve and want to continue to organically add to the connection.

4. Respect for one another sense of boundaries.
Respect is essential for any connection. It is important for individuals within a relationship to clearly express and commit to boundaries within the connection. This practice can help the relationship maintain a sense of safety and quality.

5. Explore the world together.
A relationship should provide space for mutual evolution. In order for your relationship to evolve and deepen there should be new experiences explored. Through these experiences you may find new passions you both to enjoy. This could look like, starting a new hobby, taking trips to new destinations, trying restaurants, engaging in a creative activity or simply finding new ways to explore self-care.

Although creating intimacy within our relationships can sometimes be a difficult process, you do not have to go through it alone. Should you need additional support building intimate relationships, please contact our office to schedule a session with me.