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Emotional intimacy is an aspect of interpersonal relationships that varies in intensity from one relationship to another and varies from one time to another, much like physical intimacy. Emotional intimacy involves a perception of closeness to another that allows sharing of personal feelings, accompanied by expectations of understanding, affirmation, and demonstration of caring. Affect, emotion and feeling may refer to different phenomena. Emotional intimacy may refer to any or all of those in both a lay or a professional context.
Emotional intimacy can be expressed in verbal and non-verbal communication. The degree of comfort, effectiveness, and mutual experience of closeness might indicate emotional intimacy between individuals. Intimate communication is both expressed (e.g. talking) and implied (e.g. friends sitting close on a park bench in silence).
Emotional intimacy depends primarily on trust, as well as the nature of the relationship and the culture in which it is observed. Emotional intimacy is different from sexual intimacy. Sexual intimacy can take place with or without emotional intimacy, which differs from emotional intimacy because it often does not occur within any kind of sexual context. Emotional intimacy is a psychological event that happens when trust levels and communication between two people are such that it fosters the mutual sharing of one another's deepest selves. Depending on the background and conventions of the participants, emotional intimacy might involve disclosing thoughts, feelings and emotions in order to reach an understanding, offer mutual support or build a sense of community. Or it might involve sharing a duty, without commentary.
Deep intimacy requires a high level of transparency and openness. Conversation is a key point in every emotional intimate relationship. For example, a long-distance relationship is purely based on conversation. A long-distance relationship can be stronger, in comparison to a normal one, because it forces the two partners to enhance the conversation process. This involves a degree of vulnerability that can feel uncomfortable or anxiety-producing to many individuals. These feelings do, however, tend to diminish and even dissolve over time and with practice. Couples who partake in this act of emotional intimacy are able to be more comfortable with each other. They feel they can share their dreams and their positive characteristics, along with the negative characteristics that they may have. There are great moments and also tough moments that come along within a relationship. Emotional intimacy is being able to communicate your feelings to show how much you care. It is important to practice emotional intimacy in relationships. A lack of emotional intimacy could be solved by taking the time to be with your partner throughout the duration of your relationships. Many websites suggest that talking about problems as soon as they arise is wise to continue emotional intimacy. Being honest, expressing appreciation, and routinely communicating also keeps stable emotional intimacy.
Link with society
This is a social phenomenon so, it is influenced by society but it also has an influence on the society. There is an evolution of the norms with the evolution of intimacy. For example, the new family laws allow individuals to go away of the nuclear family model.
The interdependence between all the individuals contains our freedom. By maintaining a strong relationship, individuals need to follow written and unwritten rules to permit a community life. They also ask for services to different people to fulfill the mandatory aspects of their life. It is impossible for an individual to occupy all the positions in society that he needs, to be able to live in this society. So, the individual is constantly forced to be dependent of people that he did not choose or he has selected by default. But, according to Hegel, the individual chooses with whom he is going to have an intimate relationship, and thus he can have more freedom and choice to be "ourselves". This freedom is even more important because it allows the individual not to be the subject of public property or of private secrecy. The emotional intimacy can be seen as a bubble, an exception which permits to separate the individual. Paradoxically, this intimacy, with Love for example, creates a stronger self-confidence which is developed by a process of socialization. So emotional intimacy also permits to be easily integrated in society. The individual stays dependent of the social process because the intimate relationships can be framed by society. For example, a family or a couple needs to declare their status and follow government laws.
Being more emotionally invested in a relationship than the other partner can be considered as a loss of power. Emotional intimacy can also enhance the physical and physiologic well-being. The individual is stronger to be a part of the social process and thus, he can have a more powerful impact to make evolve the values’ system of the society. Emotional intimacy can be shared with not just your partner in life, but with friends, family, colleagues, even pets.
Emotional intimacy is difficult to create because of social barriers or norms. For example, emotional intimacy between men is hard to create owing to the role of masculinity in society: the competition pressure, the fear of vulnerability, being homophobe. Men have a lot of best friends of the same sex but a big majority discuss important topics and decisions with their female friends. Society determines or at least has a strong influence on the building of an emotional intimate relationship.
Emotional Intimacy Scale
The 5-item Emotional Intimacy Scale (EIS) is a scale which enables to evaluate the emotional intimacy in a relationship. Its goal is to predict the different outcomes produced by the existence of an intimate relationship.
This scale is created with a study of different items which are fundamental components of an intimate relationship. Some persons need to answer to a questionnaire. They answer to judge the degree of truth of each of these components in comparison with their actual situation. They are five of them:
- This person completely accepts me as I am
- I can openly share my deepest thoughts and feelings with this person
- This person cares deeply for me
- This person would willingly help me in any way
- My thoughts and feelings are understood and affirmed by this person
These results are putting in correlation with specific values which characterize an individual such as psychological and physical well-being, social support, and health.
The results provided by the scale prove a positive relationship between an increase of EIS and an increase for the individual of social support, self-efficiency, life satisfaction and other positive effects. It also shows the negative relation between a decrease of EIS and an increase of stress, pain, and fatigue for the individual. An intimate relationship gives a sentiment of purpose and belonging which increases the physiological and psychological well-being.
It is important to practice emotional intimacy in relationships. A lack of emotional intimacy could be solved by taking the time to be with your partner throughout the duration of your relationships. Many websites suggest that talking about problems as soon as they arise is wise to continue emotional intimacy. Being honest, expressing appreciation, and routinely communicating also keeps stable emotional intimacy.
- Dahms, Alan M. (1972). Emotional Intimacy: Overlooked Requirement for Survival. Pruett Publishers. ISBN 978-0871081841.
- Sinclair, Development and validation of the Emotional Intimacy Scale, ISSN 1061-3749, Vol 13.
- Jurkane-Hobein, Ivet (2015). "Imagining the Absent Partner: Intimacy and Imagination in Long-distance relationships". Innovative Issues and appraoches in social sciences.
- "Emotional Intimacy". Psychologytoday.com. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
- "Restoring Emotional Intimacy". Marriage.com.
- Blatterer, Harry (2015). Everyday Friendships: Intimacy as Freedom in a Complex World. Palgrave Macmillan.