Intimacy involves feelings of emotional closeness and connectedness with another person. Intimate relationships are often characterized by attitudes of mutual trust, caring, and acceptance.
A part of our sexuality might include intimacy: the ability to love, trust and care for others in both sexual and other types of relationships. We learn about intimacy from those relationships around us, particularly within our families.
Our sexual activities can take place with others where there can be varying degrees of intimacy. We may be sexual with an intimate partner, a casual partner, an anonymous partner, a friend, etc..
Often intimacy with others, involves taking emotional risks where people might share personal details and stories. Emotional intimacy doesn’t automatically occur with sexual intimacy, as people who are sexually involved may not choose to share their innermost thoughts and feelings or the sexual relationship might be one where there is not a high degree of emotional intimacy.
Four key factors
There are four key factors to building an emotionally intimate relationship:
1. Knowing and liking yourself
- Some social scientists suggest that the initial step toward intimacy with others is getting to know and like yourself. By coming to know and value yourself, you identify your innermost feelings and needs and develop the security to share them with others.
2. Trusting and caring
- Two of the most important components of an intimate relationship are trust and caring. When trust exists, partners feel secure that disclosing intimate feelings will not lead to ridicule, rejection, or other harm. Research shows that trust builds gradually as people come to see the other person has made a sincere investment in the relationship.
- Caring is an emotional bond that allows intimacy to develop. When people care about each other, they seek to fulfill each other’s needs and interests.