“Intimacy transcends the physical. It is a feeling of closeness that isn’t about proximity, but of belonging. It is a beautiful emotional space in which two become one.”
~ Steve Maraboli
Women love to share emotions.
Sharing emotions is how women connect in their relationships. Because it comes naturally, chances are it works well in their relationships with mothers and daughters, and in their friendships.
Naturally, women want to do the same with the men in their life. But because men and women experience intimacy differently, this is often a source of conflict between couples.
There are several reasons why women encounter roadblocks to intimacy with their partner.
One reason is most men connect and relate through a physical connection, while women don’t need to meet a physical need to feel an emotional connection.
In general, women can share emotions with their partners in regular conversation to create closer bonds, while men may need a physical connection to do so.
When women do what comes natural, they are sometimes met with silence, non-validation and what appears to be disinterest by their partner. Often this leaves the woman feeling frustrated, unloved and disconnected.
This does not mean that men are less emotional than women. In fact, research shows that men are more emotional than women, but since they are less likely to express it, women feel men are not.
So given these fundamental differences, what can you do to bridge the gap?
Here are 6 tips that can help you connect with the man in your life:
1. Respect the differences
Often women are described as the “overemotional gender” because of their need to share. Men, on the other hand, don’t have the desire to express emotions as much, but relate differently by sharing the events of the day, for example.
In the absence of men sharing their emotions as openly as women, women feel there isn’t an emotional connection when there actually is.
If you can respect that the genders are different, you are less likely to set yourself up for disappointment when your partner doesn’t behave in the way you would expect.
2. Appreciate his way
Women get caught up in “how ” things are getting done. Down to household chores or changing a baby’s diaper, the “manner in which it’s getting done” becomes a sole area of disagreement.
This is also true for “how” time is spent together.
Women focus on if “one-on-one time” involves meaningful conversation and sharing of emotions. Men on the other hand may want to engage in an activity together.
Begin by allowing him to express himself in a way that he feels comfortable.
An emotional connection may not be looking into your eyes on a romantic date and telling you he loves you.
It very well might be when he’s watching a T.V. show and he reaches over and holds your hand. Let him take the lead in how he connects with you.
3. Express without expectation
But even though women are the more communicative gender, they too worry about what’s going to happen if they share how they feel. This is especially true if their partner has not responded in the way they expected (reciprocate emotionally or validate their feelings.)
Some fears women have are:
“What if he judges me?” or “What if I get overemotional?” or “What if he doesn’t reassure me?”
Speak from the heart.
Trust that your heart will lead you and let go of what’s going to happen next. The man in your life will be glad that you shared even though he may not respond in the way you hoped.
4. Allow for a transition
Share with him when the timing is right. Don’t start expressing how stressed you are about your workday, annoyances with your co-worker or argument with your friend right when he walks in the door.
Give him space.
Likewise, don’t dump everything on him when he’s busy doing something, when he’s told you he needs to take care of something, is engaged in an chore, trying to relax, or doing something he enjoys.
Yes, timing is everything. By no means am I telling you to tip-toe around him. Just know when it actually is bad timing. If you pay close attention, usually there is a “better” time. The man in your life will be more receptive if you’ve respected his boundaries.
5. Show interest in him
It feels good when all the attention is on you. Our egos love it. But that creates an unhealthy imbalance in relationships. Begin by showing interest in him.
Ask him questions about his work, family and friends. Pay attention to when he shares and how he does that. Show that you value what he cares about by listening, asking questions and providing support.
6. Do things together
Research shows that couples who do things together on a regular basis feel more connected and have deeper intimacy.
Men feel more emotionally connected when they are involved in an activity and have a physical connection with their partner (going to the movies, having sex, holding hands, etc.).
Get involved in activities that he likes. Give it a try. You may like it, too.
View your relationship as broader than verbal communication. Our emotions can be expressed and experienced in different ways.
Experiences bring people together.
When we experience things our senses are activated. When we feel, hear, smell, taste and touch, we connect to ourselves to our basic human core. When we connect to ourselves, we connect to others through our shared experience.
Studies show that couples who make regularly time to connect on an emotional level have more satisfying relationships.
They are also better able to get through difficult times and periods of conflict. Intimacy can be complicated but keeping it simple has its rewards.
Notice the little things that connects him to you and you to him.
Focus on what you can do and let go of how you expect the relationship should be. Accept him for who he is. He’ll feel closer to you in the long run if you do.
Kavita A. Hatten, MS, LPC – www.phoenixcounseling.net
Women tend to be relational by nature and often thrive off having deep connections with others.
A woman’s sense of worth is often tied up with their relationships. Whereas, a male’s sense of worth is often connected with what they achieve, accomplish, and succeed at.
To connect with your partner on a deep and emotional level, perhaps consider engaging in conversation first about what matters to him.
Start by entering his world first through conversation. To deepen your connection in your relationship, plan to accompany your partner to a place or by engaging in activities that matters to them.
Within relationships, we could feel triggered and become emotionally reactive.
By practicing staying emotionally connected with ourselves and being in our loving adult self as opposed to our wounded self also brings a sense of connection.
By having a curious nature and being interested in your partner will help foster a deep connection.
Also, by creating space and time to connect, share, and be open as two loving adults fosters a strong bond.
Sharing vulnerability is important for your partner and you to develop trust.
It’s important that you are operating from your loving adult self to connect deeply with others.
When you’re not setting healthy boundaries, taking personal responsibility over your actions, and not behaving in an emotionally reactive way, then can have the energy to form a deep connection with others.
Brooke Campbell, MA, RDT-BCT, LCAT – www.creativekinections.com
As human beings, most of us crave some kind of connection.
I often hear from clients of all genders that they are yearning for a deep, emotional connection with another person. But if most people want that kind of connection, why does it feel so difficult to create?
I hope the following ideas can give some guidance:
1. Be open-minded.
Connecting emotionally may look or feel different to every person. When one person has an expectation of what an emotional connection is like, it may not match that of their partners.
Be open-minded around the different ways you might be able to connect.
For instance, some people connect emotionally over art, music, or theatre. Others might feel connected when they are sharing feelings about their own past or their spirituality. Some find sexual play a great way to connect on an emotional level and others may enjoy observing nature together.
Be creative when learning about yourself and your partner.
You don’t need to fall into the trap of believing that societal norms or Hollywood knows more about emotional connection than you do.
2. Choose wisely.
Not every potential partner is open to connecting emotionally. For some, they have not yet reached that place in their journey and for others, they may have built an emotional wall because of past hurt.
Often people who have been in therapy are more comfortable opening up emotionally. You may also want to meet potential partners who have similar interests that you have emotional connections to.
For instance, if you feel emotionally connected to nature, joining a group of like-minded people increases the chance you may meet a potential partner who can also connect in that way.
3. Embrace vulnerability.
Perhaps one of the toughest parts of connecting emotionally to a partner is letting yourself be vulnerable and encouraging your partner to do the same. Being vulnerable can be scary because it’s the act of taking off your mask and asking your partner to love and accept your true, raw self.
This is a nerve-wracking ask! “What if my partner doesn’t like what he sees?” “What if I show her my true self and she can’t handle it?” Embracing your vulnerability and giving your partner permission to do the same can be a slow, collaborative process. It doesn’t need to happen over night.
4. Share feelings with honesty.
Practice expressing your experience, your feelings, and your thoughts with honesty and kindness. Learning to put language to your inner world might feel difficult, but it is also a wonderful way to share your inner life with a partner.
5. Show empathy.
When you begin connecting on this deep and emotional level, empathy for your partner’s experience is very important. Just the simple act of trying to walk in their shoes shows a profound level of connection and acceptance. It is often a very healing and sometimes rarely felt experience to be with someone who is committed to show you a deep level of empathy.
6. Be present.
While there are countless ways to connect emotionally, most of them involve being present. When you are in the present moment with your partner, you are co-creating an experience together which can lead to feeling incredibly connected.
If you have trouble staying in the present, try to notice how your breath and body movements interact with each other.
It’s ok for your attention to stray, but practice noticing what it feels like to bring your attention back to the present that you and your partner are experiencing together.
Jodi Erin Rabinowitz, MA, LPC – www.jodierin.com
Sometimes it seems a senseless and hopeless endeavor trying to connect with the opposite sex on an emotional level.
Am I right? Either they lack emotional expression or they are overly sensitive to literally everything. Yeah, I get it. It certainly can feel like a roller coaster ride that never ends and be honest, sometimes the question arises if all of the ups and downs are even worth keeping a relationship alive. Sometimes it tends to make your stomach feel queasy.
Before we dive deeper into how to connect with HIM on an emotional level, let’s first look at how to connect more with YOURSELF on an emotional level to establish successful, kind and loving relationships.
The word “emotion” comes from the Latin word “emotus”, “emovere” which means to move outward or flow outward. Often people also refer to them as “energy in motion.”
As you may know, everything in life flows.
Everything is based on giving and receiving so that the world stays balanced. Imagine, you are living close to a lake. If the water of the lake stagnates it starts to grow algae, it smells, bacteria grows, CO2 levels rise and everything in it slowly dies. Guess what? Your body is made of about 60% of water.
If you stop allowing yourself to feel all of those emotions by pushing them down, ignoring them or avoiding them all together, they get stuck within your body.
Their energy can’t move anywhere and eventually distracts your organs, muscles etc. and influence their proper function. These unexpressed emotions slowly poison your mind, body, and soul, just like that lake.
What often follows is that internally your emotional world, which is connected to your heart, tries to get your attention through more obvious signs such as becoming sick – mentally, physically and emotionally – with the hope, you will stop for a minute and take the time to reflect inward.
You may find that you have avoided feeling your emotions for so long that they make themselves known by breaking out of you in noticeable ways. We call this “vomiting your emotional energy all over the place”. For example, you may find yourself screaming or weeping when a minor incident occurs. As we all know, that certainly doesn’t feel good and leads to tensions.
This kind of emotional roller coaster doesn’t have to be your normal.
What is needed is a change in your perspective of your relationship with your emotions before your most important inter-personal relationships can improve.
Over the past few decades, the topic of emotions has been increasingly discussed and many psychologists and sociologists have concluded that we’ve become emotionally so disconnected that our emotional world is ruling our lives instead of enhancing our experience of life. For thousands of years, humankind squeezed the meaning of each emotion into a small box and put a label on them, leading to more misunderstanding than connection.
So, what to do to connect more deeply?
1. Get to know yourself deeply and fully by creating awareness about your emotional world.
Acknowledge them, recognize where they show up in your body and ask internal questions such as: “What is anger, that I experience right now, trying to communicate with me? Where have I abandoned my boundaries? What do I need right now?” Emotions are not good or bad. They simply are messengers that reflect your heart’s desires and hold you accountable to your own path in life.
2. Learn to express your emotional needs in healthy ways before you become overwhelmed or frustrated.
Otherwise, you can get stuck in your head and have a hard time to communicate in a clear, non-demanding way what your needs, hopes, and desires are. Do the internal work for yourself to avoid hurting or verbally attacking someone.
3. Practice understanding and communicating your own needs better and clearly so that you can shine your light even brighter.
Please be aware that we are not talking about self-centered, narcissistic needs but needs that enhance your life as well as the life of those around you.
4. Don’t get upset right away or withdraw when he “doesn’t get it”.
You as a woman have been given the gift of nurture, care and heightened intuition which gives you even greater access to hearing the messages your emotions and your soul are trying to communicate with you.
Men have those qualities, as well, but we know that often they are more focused on fixing and “handling” things to make you feel better – even if there is nothing to be fixed.
5. Keep in mind that due to the social stigma most men were raised with the belief that showing or expressing your emotions is wrong.
Men, in many cases, believe that showing emotions broadcasts weakness to other males. This results in them becoming the targets of bullying or bad behavior, even as adults. Therefore, it is often difficult for them to connect on that emotional level that you desire.
Don’t ask them “How was your day?” (being perceptive), ask them “Tell me about your day.” (doing). Be patient and make sure that you respectfully express what you need from them without judgment or blame. But also listen to their needs.
6. Last, but not least: Stop worrying about the future or regret the past.
Nothing matters more than the present moment. Learn to be present, to be still and to listen.
The more knowledge you gain the more reflective and less reactive you become which leads to better and deeper relationships we all benefit from.
You’ve got this!
Isabel Hundt, Sociologist – www.isabelhundt.com
Connecting with anyone on a deep emotional level may take some time because this type of intimacy doesn’t tend to happen overnight.
A strong emotional connection grows out of a solid relationship that supports both people and has a future with goals that both people feel positive working towards together.
It feels great to really connect with another person and feel like you can share all of yourself. That’s the kind of relationship we all dream of.
Emotional intimacy develops over time and requires a certain amount of attention.
Both parties have to be willing to take risks in order to access the rewards. Intimacy starts by being open and honest about how you feel, what you want out of your relationship and your life, and being able to hear that coming from you partner in a non-judgmental way.
We build intimacy by seeing how the other person handles our sensitive and personal or private information and deciding if we feel they are trustworthy.
We tend to give out intimate details a little bit at a time and then see how they are received by the other. We also need to respect that we are handling our partner’s very sensitive information and we need to be careful how we use it.
Trust is the key to a good emotional connection, and trust must be earned over and over again by both big and small actions that we do every day.
Once we know we can trust each other, we can continue to grow our emotional connection. Deep emotional connections happen when we communicate well with each other, when we aren’t afraid to hear what our partner really needs or desires and when we aren’t afraid to tell them what we really need. It’s scary sometimes to admit these things out loud to another person.
We might be afraid that the things we say or want will be thought of a strange or crazy by others, and it is risky to say them to someone else, but this is the only way to create a deep connection. Someone who loves us will be willing to understand, and may even be more accepting that we thought anyone could be.
We also have to be willing to ask and to listen to the answers about what our partner wants.
They may be things we feel we are incapable of giving or really just don’t understand. It’s less important that we can give them what they want than that we listen with our whole heart and respect where those requests are coming from.
Emotional connection takes time and practice.
If you haven’t been having these kinds of conversations, it may be difficult to initiate them and event to say what you really mean to say. Scripting out a difficult conversation is a great way to start.
Set aside time to create connection by doing activities just the two of you and making those more important than anything else on the calendar. And have fun. Be playful and don’t take things so seriously. You should enjoy this process.
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.com
Women are generally very intuitive creatures, we are taught to be so from a young age and often will illicit from our close friends and children what they are feeling when they, themselves do not even know.
When it comes to relationships however, we often lose this ability because we have a tendency to over-think things.
Over-thinking can resemble lines of thought that result in some of the more annoying behaviors in a relationship such as pressing for why your partner is angry with you when there is no substantial evidence that they are in fact angry with you or projecting our own emotional state onto our partner and insisting that they feel something that may or may not exist in reality.
Here are some tips to manage this and to build intimacy within your relationship and a deeper emotional connection in general.
First, while paying attention to body language can lead to misinterpretation, it is often a good indicator of when your partner is available emotionally to have a meaningful conversation.
Look for cues such as open posture and leaning toward you, eye contact, and facial expression. Make sure you don’t just use this as an opportunity to talk about yourself. Some people are slow to come to the surface, this is not your opportunity to fill the air with self -reflection.
If you want to have deeper and more meaningful interactions with others in general, you need to allow them the space to talk about themselves and work toward not judging it when they do.
Remember that emotions are not always rational but are always valid and when we try to talk someone out of feeling what they do we create distance through invalidation.
Second, listen to what is being said to you and ask for clarification to make sure that you have understood what has been said to you.
None of us relays what we mean accurately 100% of the time and neither does your partner. You will grow intimacy and understanding by reflecting back to them your understanding of what they are telling you.
For example; if they come home from work and complain about a scenario with another employee.
Don’t offer advice for fixing the situation, listen and reflect back how this experience may have made them feel. They will correct you if you are incorrect or if they left details out that illicit a deeper level of understanding.
By all means do not join in being angry with the situation as it is not helpful nor does it lead to feeling supported.
Also, what happens when you attend the holiday party with your partner and this person is there and turns out to be a potential friend or networking opportunity? Addressing the underlying emotional state in a situation is validating, supportive, and intimacy building.
Encouragement and support will always work better than needlessly escalating an already difficult situation.
If your partner is particularly stoic, this offers them the opportunity to have an emotional self as well which can be a great way to increase emotional connection in your relationship.
Last, don’t zone out when they are talking to you regardless of whether or not you think the topic is interesting.
If your partner is really into racing and you are not, pay attention anyway and ask questions to deepen your level of understanding as to why it is important to them. Make eye contact and try not to appear disinterested.
Pay attention to your body language as well to make sure you are appearing open to theirs.
We communicate a lot through our body language before anything comes out of our mouths.
Again, don’t use this as an opportunity to talk about yourself or to re-direct the conversation to you, make sure you are listening and responding to what the other person is saying.
Having deeper emotional connections with others is part understanding, part compassion/ empathy, and the rest is communication.
They are all connected and when we improve one area the others tend to follow.
Kate Kelly, MSW LCSW – www.willowcreekwellness.com
Love Him in His Language
If you feel emotionally distant from your partner, it’s important to ask yourself if you’ve been showing him love in the language HE prefers. So often we love in the language that is our own personal preference.
Start with a simple question of “What can I do that makes you feel loved and appreciated?” and then try to implement that more in your daily lives. The more loved he feels, the more likely he is to reciprocate. It’s a win-win for both of you!
When you make plans for the future and dream together, it creates intimacy between you. Make sure that you are having conversations about goals you both have.
- Is it a certain place you want to visit, a Bucket List item, or an experience you want to have?
- Is it a financial goal?
- How will you accomplish it together?
This encourages you to work as a team to help your individual and combined dreams come true.
Men thrive off of feeling appreciated and respected. When neither of these are present, they may struggle to connect emotionally.
Have you shown your partner gratitude recently?
This can be something as simple as a “Thank you”, or “I appreciate that you took the trash out”. It can be a note left on the counter, a sweet text in the middle of the day, or bringing home their favorite drink or candy bar. The point you want to communicate is “I see you and I appreciate you!”
Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW – www.journeytojoycounseling.com
Physical attraction is often the first thing that draws two people together, but when that initial lust fizzles out, and an emotional connection is not formed; the relationship will most likely end.
In order to build an emotional connection, take an interest in your partner.
Ask questions and listen to the answers.
- What does he like, dislike?
- What are his beliefs, fears, and values?
- What is his family dynamic?
- What kind of support system does he have?
- What are his goals, and future plans?
Obviously it is not natural to just sit on a first date and ask these questions one by one; but these type of questions should naturally arise as the relationship progresses. When he responds, reflect back what he is saying, so he knows your listening.
Conversations and relationships go both ways meaning, he too should want to know about you. If you are finding he is not asking anything about who you are as a person, or not remembering anything about you, then perhaps he isn’t interested in taking the relationship to another level.
Another key element in building an emotional connection is trusting your partner and being able to be vulnerable with that person.
It can be scary to share your feelings for someone especially if your not sure how they feel ; however by doing so, you will build the emotional connection. Usually you can tell when feelings are being reciprocated but sometimes we don’t always know and of course , we can get hurt.
In order to create a deep emotional connection, we need to let our guard down and share an emotional side of ourselves as well.
The more you and your partner are able to do this; the deeper the emotional connection will be.
Lastly, remember that our partners can not, and should not be the person to meet all our emotional needs.
It is important to have a support system outside your partner, and to develop coping strategies on your own, or with a therapist, to help yourself when you are stressed or anxious. With that said, your partner should definitely be one of the people in your support network. I hope these strategies are useful to you and your partner.
Trisha Swinton, LPC, LMFT – www.trishaswintoncounseling.com
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