Intimacy develops in all of our relationships when we are able to be honest with ourselves, honest with others, and express our vulnerability. Intimacy is often considered as a sentiment shared only by couples or in romantic relationships, but all of our relationships have varying levels of intimacy associated with them dependent on the level of honesty and vulnerability we are willing to exchange. Intimacy is the fiber that connects us to people. When we feel disconnected from ourselves and from others, it is usually intimacy and our intimate connections that need our attention and focus to bring us back into the very desirable state of intimate connection with others.
The following are 10 ways to deepen intimacy in all of your relationships:
1. Your presence matters. When we are completely present in our conversations with others, we show them we value our relationship and our time together. Being present requires that we keep focused on our interaction rather than letting our thoughts wonder from the conversation. Intimacy is a single-tasking event, not a multitasking coincidence.
2. Limit distractions. When you are engaged, avoid the typical distractions of cell phone calls, texts, and alerts by turning off mobile devices so you can engage with your undivided attention and full presence. Interruptions and distractions in our interactions break the flow of connection and intimacy that we have the potential to experience. It is our undivided attention which brings the feelings of deeper intimacy to our relationships, and relays our ability to prioritize what is more important: our relationships.
3. Share your truth. Bring as much truth and honesty to your interactions as your relationships will allow. When we share truth, we move closer into intimate connection with others. Every relationship has an associated context or level of truth, but gradually building shared truth over time develops even deeper levels of intimacy in our relationships.
4. Deeper understanding starts with listening. Allowing a person to speak uninterrupted allows for the back and forth sharing of ideas. Listening, without projecting how you might respond or what you think they might feel or experience, allows you to come closer to deeper understanding of what is being said, and strengthens the connection between you.
5. Be your authentic self. Trying to please other people when it goes against who we are, or what we believe, eventually comes back to hurt us in relationships. When we speak and behave from our authentic self, people know who we are and what we are about, and then can choose how to interact with us accordingly. It is better to be disliked for who you truly are, than liked for who you are not.
“It is better to be disliked for who you truly are, than liked for who you are not.”
6. Words match behaviors. Betrayal of intimacy often occurs when we say one thing, but do another in our relationships. Saying you love or like someone to their face, and then speaking negatively of them to others behind their back betrays intimacy. Keeping our words aligned with our behaviors builds deeper trust and intimacy.
7. Communicate feelings. What you feel, communicates more about you to other people and builds deeper intimacy versus communicating your thoughts alone. When we communicate our feelings, as well as our thoughts about those feelings in our interactions, they feel it, and we feel it, and together we develop deeper, more intimate connections.
8. Resolve conflicts. Conflicts can build deeper intimacy in our relationships, if both sides in a conflict are willing to resolve these amicably to serve the needs of the relationship. Conflict resolution always begins when both sides take personal responsibility for their part in any conflict that arises, apologize for these, and find agreements for how to go forward.
9. Keep commitments. When you fail to keep a commitment, apologize, and when possible make amends for any hurt feelings, disappointment, or disruption this caused the relationship. Repeated failures to keep commitments erodes trust, and ultimately breaks down our intimate connections, whereas making and keeping commitments builds trust and sustains our relationships.
10. Cherish your relationships. Regularly communicate your gratitude for those you cherish and all they bring to your life. When we take for granted the gifts (love, kindness, care, support) of others, we don’t nurture these gifts from them, or the relationship for the future. Regular words or acts of gratitude show how we value and cherish our relationships.
It takes time to develop intimacy in relationships and you cannot force it. When we show up as our authentic self through honesty and vulnerability, we create the space to initiate new intimate relationships and allow those we have to expand. What most of us feel on a regular basis is the human desire to connect with and be accepted by other humans. The connection and acceptance we desire can be reestablished through the development of deeper intimacy in all of our relationships.
Steven DeSalvo is the author of the book "Relationship Dynamics," which looks at how we develop and sustain healthier dynamics in relationships that last a lifetime. Connect with Steven on Twitter at @BecomeAdult or visit www.BecomeAnAdult.com.