What Is Emotional Intimacy & Why Should We Care?

To be intimate with our emotions is no small undertaking; doing so requires far more than simply being able to openly express and talk about them.

Being intimate with our fear, for example, means getting close enough to it to see it clearly—and in detail—in its mental, psychological, and physical dimensions, but not so close that we fuse with our fear or get lost in it. So we remain very slightly separated from our fear even as we openly feel it and closely connect with it, maintaining just enough distance to keep it in focus.

To take this example further, cultivating intimacy with our fear doesn’t necessarily lessen it, but it does put us in a position where we are neither identified with it nor disconnected from it.

We then see our fear for what it is, we sense its location and coursings in our body, we recognize its impact on our thinking processes, we become more aware of our history with it, we register its degree and quality of contractedness.

As such, we become increasingly capable of working with our fear and skillfully sharing it. As we become more intimate with our fear, we lessen our fear of it and eventually adopt a non-problematic orientation toward it.

The more intimate we are with our emotions, the more adept we’ll be in both containing and expressing them, so that their presence serves rather than hinders us and those with whom we’re in contact. In this sense, there are no unwholesome or negative emotions — only unwholesome or negative things we do with them. Emotional intimacy allows us to make the best possible use of all our emotions — and it enhances relationship.

Without emotional intimacy, relationships founder on the reefs of emotional discord or flatness—no matter how heated the sex, no matter how much we hold in common — leaving us marooned from the interpersonal closeness for which we yearn.

All too easily, we may simply act out our unresolved wounds and mishandled needs through our emotional expression or lack thereof, while remaining unaware of what we are doing! Such re-acting keeps our relationships in the shallows, cut off from the emotional depth and resonance needed for genuine intimacy.

When we wake up to this and begin doing what it takes to develop and deepen emotional intimacy, our relationships start to become less of a battlefield or flatland and more of a sacred sanctuary, providing an optimal environment for deep healing and transformation.

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