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9 Tips to Build Emotional Intimacy

No one goes into a dating or marriage relationship excitedly thinking, “I’d like to find a really nice roommate!”

No! People want to have an emotional connection. Couples want to have relationships that are filled with passion, compassion, and care.

But that level of emotional intimacy can dissipate over time. And that is not the thing couples want to ignore.

The good news is that you can take some steps to rebuild that emotional intimacy that can get lost through conflict or apathy. Here are some tips on how to build emotional intimacy in your relationship or marriage.

Tip #1 — Find Things to Appreciate:

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When people have been in a relationship for a little while, they tend to start noticing when things are not going how they would like. Dirty dishes left in the sink. Laundry not getting folded quickly enough. Hopping into the car to discover that the gas tank was left on empty.

There are a hundred things that people look for that will cause frustration.

But people spend less time actively looking for what they appreciate. And appreciation is rarely shared even when it is discovered.

Be on the lookout for things to be thankful for in your partner or spouse. And then share your appreciation with them.

Tip #2 — Remember the Good Times:

Partners and spouses often bring up past grievances into current conflict. It is a way for couples to compare the ledger of injustices or pain caused.

This type of behavior typically causes more pain and separation.

Emotional intimacy is built up through remembering, too. But it is through remembering or recalling memories or experiences of positive interactions that bring emotional warmth up into the relationship.

Spend time remembering the good things in the relationship. Whether it is a memory of how you met, a first date, first kiss, or wedding day.

Tip #3 — Commit to Connection:

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Busyness creeps into life and makes it difficult to spend quality time together.

But the quality time is what creates shared experiences. And it is the shared experiences that create emotional intimacy. Be committed to creating those shared experiences.

Tip #4 — Work Through the Conflict:

Withdrawing or shutting down can be as damaging to intimacy as anger and yelling.

Learning how to stay in conversation and work through conflict can be one of the great gifts to emotional intimacy. It doesn’t guarantee there will be agreement in all things. But it does show your partner or spouse that you are invested in the relationship.

Tip #5 — Practice Being Present with Your Partner:

How are do you spend time with your partner…but you’re not really spending time with your partner?

Do you and your spouse ever spend nights together at home, but both distracted by your cell phones? Or the television? Or work? Or kids?

Or even spend time worrying about the future? Or longing for the past?

Rather than spending the energy distracted, set aside time to be intentionally present with your partner or spouse. Even if it is five minutes at the end of the day of holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes.

Tip #6 — Be Curious About Your Partner:

People are not static. They grow and change. They gain new interests and pick up new hobbies. They experience new emotions.

As your partner grows, continue to be curious about who they are. Practice active listening skills to learn about their hopes and fears.

Don’t rely on past history to inform you. Continue to be interested in who they are.

Tip #7 — Work on Communication:

Communication can be challenging during the best of times. Our experiences with CoVid-19 over the past few years has put an added strain on all relationships. Even those closest to us.

Be committed to work on improving communication. Pay attention to the patterns of your current communication. See if there are any small changes to your interactions that may be beneficial.

Tip #8 — Be Physically Affectionate Without a Planned Purpose:

There are many forms of touch that can build up emotional intimacy. The key is often to do so without any expectations of the touch leading to sex.

Rub your partners shoulders or back. Provide a foot massage. Sit and hold their hand. Hug or cuddle.

But the feeling bargaining for sex is not sexy. Neither is the feeling of being in debt or “I owe you for that foot rub.”

Emotional intimacy tends to grow when there is physical affection minus the feeling of transaction.

Tip #9 — Seek Balance of “Me” & “We”:

Emotional intimacy cannot grow without spending time with your partner or spouse. But anxious relationships can also lead to a low level of trust.

Healthy relationships need healthy individuals. Be sure to spend time on your own personal growth. Maybe you have some of your own mental or emotional hurts that you’d like to spend time focusing on. Or you’ve got some new interests that you’d like to explore.

You can offer that space to explore for your partner or spouse, too.

And you can come back together at the end of the day and share what you’ve experienced or learned.

Who knows? Maybe then your experience will spark the interest of your spouse. And then you two can go and share those experiences together.


Strengthen Emotional Intimacy in Couples Therapy at Wellspace Counseling

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Emotional intimacy can get extinguished when not cared for. And that’s not what couples are looking for in their relationship and marriage. Wellspace Counseling provides marriage counseling and couples therapy for those who desire to rekindle that sense of emotional intimacy.

Wellspace Counseling in Tualatin, Oregon can provide therapy to individuals and couples in Tualatin, Tigard, Lake Oswego, and Portland. Online therapy can also be used for those who live in other areas throughout the state of Oregon.

Schedule your free phone consultation with Jason Wilkinson to start your journey to mental and emotional wellness.


Learning to manage relational conflict is not the only benefit to receiving therapy at Wellspace Counseling in Tualatin, Lake Oswego and throughout Portland, Oregon. Some other services you might be interested in include:


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