Emotional Intelligence and Intimacy
By Bernhard Guenther, June 5, 2016
Intimacy is often times mistaken as physical closeness alone: hugging, cuddling, kissing, sex. However, if there is no emotional intimacy (as in emotional relating) and a feeling of safety in a relationship, then physical intimacy can only go that far. In order to truly open up to a partner and go deep we need to feel safe and be able to share emotional intimacy, our fears, mistakes, and pains and receive each other with compassion and empathy. For many people physical intimacy comes easier than emotional intimacy. For others it is the other way around. Often times people avoid emotional intimacy by focusing on physical intimacy, using sex to buffer up their vulnerability.
In order to be emotional intimate with a partner we need to be able to be intimate with ourselves, feeling our vulnerability without judgment and developing healthy self-love. If we are not comfortable with our own vulnerability, we cannot receive the vulnerability of another person fully and emotional intimacy is blocked. No matter how hot the sex and how great physical intimacy is, if we don’t develop or have emotional intimacy and the safety to express ourselves that way, a relationship can go only so far.
We need safety and healthy boundaries in order to establish intimacy on all levels. This safety is more than just feeling “secure” and boundaries don’t mean rejection or avoidance. It is about taking care of ourselves. Our body gives us constantly clues about what is safe for us and what not. The more we are in touch with our bodies, the more we can receive these messages which also puts us in touch with our vulnerability. It’s important to listen to these bodily sensations which go deeper than just sexual feelings. Most often they are buried under layers of “armor”. It’s easy to rationalize these deeper sensations away, judging ourselves for not opening up when it doesn’t feel safe. Don’t listen to the mind, trust your body and don’t judge yourself for however you feel.
Emotional intimacy goes hand in hand with trust, knowing that we can be completely ourselves with all our vulnerability and always be received with compassion and empathy in a safe container by a partner. But before we can receive another person like that ourselves, or even express ourselves that way, we must be able to to be compassionate with ourselves and love ourselves, the dark and light, neither inflating or diminishing ourselves.
Otherwise we will keep looking for the illusory partner, who never comes and whom we want to be a certain way, when in fact this is what we need to give to ourselves first. Sometimes we’re looking for a “savior” in a partner unconsciously but it is a projection of what we have denied or avoided to give ourselves: healthy self-love, vulnerability and inner safety. Before we can develop deeper trust with a partner, we need to be able to trust ourselves and the deeper clues our bodies are giving us.
“You are afraid of being intimate with yourselves—of being alone with the self. Once you develop an intimacy, a silence, a self-love, and a containment of your energy, then you will want to make that aspect of intimacy your standard of intimacy with someone else.”
– Barbara Marciniak, Bringers of the Dawn