Emotional Closeness in Relationships

Building Emotional Closeness https://gumroad.com/l/NSukI figured something out about a month ago. I have been writing and speaking about emotional closeness in relationships for 30 years.

First I taught parents how to build emotional closeness with their children and teens. Then, I taught couples and others to build emotional closeness in their relationships.  Finally, I spoke and wrote about building emotional closeness with ourselves, by practicing self-compassion.

Until recently, I didn’t realize that the thread throughout all I have shared over the last 30 years is the power of emotional closeness to strengthen all relationships. I found my notes from a talk on this important topic I gave a couple of years ago, and wanted to share some of my thoughts with you today. I recorded this talk and will let you know a little later how you can take a listen.

What is Emotional Closeness?

Emotional closeness or intimacy occurs when there is enough trust and communication between you and the other person so that you feel safe and comfortable to share you inner self. Part of what creates closeness is knowing one another’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as fears, hopes and dreams. Emotional closeness fosters compassion and support, providing a firm foundation for both the good times and bad times.

Why is Emotional Closeness so hard to establish?

 There are lots of reasons we struggle to get connected emotionally with ourselves and others. Here’s a few reasons we all struggles with:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Unfamiliarity with our own feelings, needs and wants
  • Not knowing how to express our inner feelings, needs, and wants with another person
  • Without meaning to, we often expect others to “just know”
  • No model growing up that being vulnerable with others is safe

What are signs that Emotional Closeness is low in a relationship?

Here are a few signs that will let you know whether emotional closeness is low in your relationships:

  • Little talking and sharing about daily events and happenings. Communication has decreased and  silence has developed
  • Not a lot of touching and affection
  • Less listening to one another. This leads to bickering, frustration, depression, loneliness, emotional pain, and a sense that the other person doesn’t care about you
  • Forgetting to express appreciation for one another. More focus is spent on noticing and pointing out what the other person isn’t doing
  • More time spent talking about scheduling and carrying out the necessary duties of the day. What is missing is having fun together, talking about emotions, and planning for a positive future together
  • Lack of having meals together, and instead watching TV or reading during meals. This include being on your phone, ipad, internet, computer, texting, Siri, etc.

So, how do we build Emotional Closeness?

Here’s a couple of ways…

1. A decision to move toward the other person, whether that be ourselves, a friend, child, spouse, parent, roommate or co-worker. Part of being a grown-up in a relationship is having a talk with yourself and say, “It’s up to me to do what I can. Waiting for the other person never works. Part of my integrity as a person is moving toward the other person with caring and attention.

2. Learn how to be a safe person for others to open up to:

  • Listen, don’t interrupt
  • Learn how to regulate your emotions so you respond rather than react
  • Validate the emotions of the other person
  • Keep your focus that it is the relationship, and how you are speaking to one another that matters, not the topic at hand

3. Learn what your own thoughts, feelings and wants are, and learn how to share them safely with the other person. As you share the above, don’t let them know how they’ve let you down and disappointed you in the past. I’ve done this, and caused a lot of problems.

4. Set aside time to connect in emotional ways:

  • Take a walk
  • Have coffee and talk
  • Play together (games, fun activities, cook, etc)
  • Take a drive and talk
  • Take the conversation from facts to also include feelings

I wish I could share more, but it would be way too long! Don’t forget that all these tips apply to your relationship with yourself as well. Go back and read the points above and apply these healthy principles to how you treat and care for yourself.

I’ve decided to make the recording of my talk available for $10. This recording of my talk comes as an mp3 recording, an 18-page filled in handout, and several articles and resources to help you Build Emotional Closeness in Your Relationships!  You can go here to get your recording and handout!

Building Emotional Closeness in Your Relationships https://gumroad.com/l/NSuk

I would love to get your input

What do you think about the definition of emotional closeness? What stood out to you in this post? What are ways you build emotional closeness in your relationships?

Please leave your comments below and share on social media or via e-mail with others who might benefit!

8 thoughts on “Emotional Closeness in Relationships

  1. Good morning!
    What an awesome way to start my “computer day”! Your messages are always so timely, wise and thought-provoking. We can all pray for and work toward healthier emotional closeness, especially now!
    May God bless you in abundance for your wisdom and willingness to share it with us. You are a treasured friend and a treasure to us all!
    You are loved, you know!

    1. Thanks so much Ann! I’m so glad this was helpful 🙂 God is blessing me richly. I appreciate your kind words and encouragement!

  2. Thank you Kim . . . and thank you ever so much for your comments on my last comments on the post “Compassionate Friend or Inner Critic?” —Thank you so much!!! I truly appreciate them.

    “What do you think about the definition of emotional closeness? What stood out to you in this post? What are ways you build emotional closeness in your relationships?” . . . I totally agree with that definition. It seems an absolute certainty that no one can know their own beauty or perceive their own sense of worth until it has been reflected back to them in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.

    You say: “. . . . and learn how to share them safely with the other person. As you share the above, don’t let them know how they’ve let you down and disappointed you in the past. I’ve done this, and caused a lot of problems.” —That is brilliant and so true. People know, generally, their issues and they will often self-confess/ self-correct, generally, if they are in a safe, judgement-free zone.

    . . .I say it this way. Get a hold of your spouse and hug them. If you don’t feel what the New Testament calls zōē ζωὴ (bursting with real life, a total zoo!) start asking questions:
    1) Can you really, truly, safely express an opinion that is different from mine?
    2) What am I NOT really hearing? . . . .What do I need to apologize to you for?
    3) What am I NOT doing that you need? . . . . What needs am I not meeting?
    4) What do I do that makes you feel really loved/safe/respected?
    5) Do you feel loved and cared for in our relationship?
    6) Do I show enough interest in you and your needs and interests?
    7) Are you able to express your honest thoughts and feelings with me, —really?
    8) . . .What can I pray with you for? Couples prayer is like the best thing ever. What is it about prayer? It is totally, completely other. . .

    Be such a safe, judgement-free zone. . . .such a palm tree garden oasis so that all their issues are totally free to surface. That should help bring emotional closeness. —And catch them being good (—not “bad”) and express gratitude when they are. I also see emotional closeness as internally being able to soothe, tolerate, and manage my own waves of emotions so that I am not overwhelming others. (Kim this is your point “Learn how to regulate your emotions so you respond rather than react”)

    1. Aleea….What great self-reflection questions you shared. Thanks for blessing us with these great questions 🙂
      We all struggle to be a safe, judgement-free zone. Imagine if we did that with ourselves too!

    1. Thanks Pam…so glad what I shared was practical and gentle…that’s what I was hoping! Thanks for sharing a comment, very glad you are joining our discussion 🙂

  3. Where do you go from here when you’ve followed these principles as closely as possible for many years but are then rejected outright when in your own place of deep and desperate need to be not left alone by everyone (I do mean every single one) you love and care about? Long question I’m sorry, but it’s a big issue to struggle with and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been in this situation or may face it at some time.

    1. Hi Dalma,
      Thanks for question. I’m so sorry to hear of your understandable heartache. I wish I had an answer for you – I can’t even imagine how difficult that has been for you. I do encourage you to continue to build a kind and compassionate with yourself. Sending you best wishes…so glad you are a part of our community.

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