When we feel like someone understands us, it can become a tight bond. A soulful bond. How else do you explain being immediate friends with someone you just met? Shared experience becomes more powerful in the context of sexual or romantic relationships.

Join us as we take a candid look at emotional intimacy. We’ll look at its role in both physical intimacy and sexual fulfillment. We’ll also explore ways to enrich those connections with partners.

What is emotional intimacy?

Have you ever known someone who made you feel seen, understood, and valued? That’s the heart of emotional intimacy. It’s like having someone who can read your mind and still likes you!

This kind of connection goes way beyond having fun together or liking the same things. You feel safe enough to share your deepest thoughts and feelings. You know they won’t laugh at you or tell you you’re blowing things out of proportion.

Imagine telling your partner about a dream you have. Maybe you want to start your own business or go back to school. Instead of brushing it off, they listen. They ask questions, share your excitement, and help you plan how to make it happen.

That’s emotional intimacy. 

It’s not just sharing the good things in life. It’s being able to say, “I’m having a really hard time.” Instead of trying to fix it, they just sit with you in it. They understand that sometimes being there is enough.

Emotional intimacy strengthens the bond you feel from physical intimacy. Can you have a satisfying relationship based on physical encounters? Sure. But emotional intimacy makes the difference between “it’s just sex” and emotional connection. Sex then becomes an expression of your closeness. 

So, what is emotional intimacy? It’s the secret ingredient that makes relationships rich and fulfilling.

Emotional intimacy and sex work together for more pleasure.

Researchers have long sought to learn why we do what we do. Their studies point to the major role that emotional intimacy plays in relationships.  This article in Frontiers in Psychology reports on one such study. This article in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships reports on another.

The more emotionally intimate the relationship is, the better the sex. The better the sex, the more satisfied you and your partner are with the relationship. If you’re emotionally and sexually satisfied, well, the sky’s the limit!

Open communication is important in life, love, and sex.

Believe it or not, open and honest communication is key to a better sex life. It builds trust, increasing long-term relationship satisfaction. It helps you move toward deeper understanding, acceptance, and connection. Couples who communicate well have higher levels of emotional intimacy.

This deeper, unguarded connection is vital. Sex becomes a journey where we explore together and not a race to the finish line.

So, how do you build open communication?

A good starting point is active listening. When you listen actively, you pay close attention to what your partner says instead of figuring out what you’ll say in response. This mode of listening shows a real interest in your partner’s thoughts and feelings.

Open communication also takes learning how to talk about emotions without judgment. This means building a safe space where you and your partner feel at ease sharing your deepest fears and desires. It’s not enough that you listen to your partner without judgment. You need to be honest about your own wants and needs.

Let’s not skip over the power of non-verbal communication. Simple gestures like holding hands, hugging, or a reassuring touch can say “I care” and “I love you” as much as words and gifts. These acts of affection strengthen your bond. In turn, your spoken conversations mean that much more.

Building emotional intimacy and open communication is a journey that requires patience, effort, and commitment. But the rewards are well worth it. For the price of being vulnerable, you gain a deeper emotional connection. That connection leads to a more satisfying sexual relationship and a stronger partnership.

Strengthen your relationship by building on your emotional connection.

When emotional connection is a part of your sexual activities, it makes the experience better. It has the major side-benefit of making your relationship stronger. Ready to learn how to build on that bond?

Make foreplay the main event.

Foreplay isn’t just a way to warm up; it’s a chance to get closer. It’s hard to have intrusive thoughts when you’re looking into each other’s eyes. Eye contact, gentle touching or kissing slowly builds emotional closeness and deeper connection.

Openly talk about your desires.

Share your sexual tastes and fantasies. Tell your partner what you like and dislike.

What do you want to try? What makes you feel uncomfortable? If you don’t have any specific wants right now, encourage them to share theirs. This should be an ongoing conversation as your wants and needs shift.

Show affection for each other.

Whether you’re in the bedroom or out of it, regularly show your affection. Share how much you appreciate each other. We feel valued and loved when we get compliments, expressions of thanks, and loving touches.

Try new things together.

New, thrilling experiences can make your emotional connection stronger. These could be new sexual activities or positions. They could also be non-sexual adventures, like camping together. The key is the shared adventure and the excitement it brings.

Be present.

Let’s face it. When you’re both there, mentally and emotionally, the sex is just… better. Being present, rather than distracted or stressed, makes the experience better for both of you. Focus on the sensations, emotions, and connections you’re experiencing instead of letting your mind wander.

Emotional Intimacy + Sex + Mental Health

Emotional intimacy also positively affects your mental health. When you feel understood and connected to your partner, you feel an enhanced sense of security and belonging. You feel less lonely, less anxious. There’s less depression because you have more emotional support and a higher sense of self worth. All of these feelings boost your mental health.

But what about sex? Does sex help with your mental health, too?

The answer is “absolutely!” A healthy sex life can lower stress, raise your mood, and improve sleep. All of these boost your mental health.

Quality, not quantity.

You (or your partner) might think that more sex is the way to fix your sex life. However, as with most things, it’s how good it is, not how often you get it, that matters most.

If you’ve previously had poor experiences, they can build up on each other, causing intrusive thoughts or a drop in desire. And it makes sense, right? When you rush or are distracted, you’re less likely to enjoy the moment. But when you slow down and make enjoyment the point rather than the orgasm, you’re more likely to enjoy sex and build that emotional connection with your partner. 

Can you have a healthy sex life without emotional intimacy?

Some of us struggle with closeness. We shy away from opening up about ourselves. If this is you, don’t worry. You can still have a healthy sex life!

Sexual health involves safe, consensual, satisfying sexual experiences. For some, this can exist in a casual encounter where the emotional bond may not be as deep. What a “healthy” sex life is can vary greatly from one person to another.

Final Thoughts

The path to emotional intimacy is challenging.  We have to let our guard down, which can be scary, and open up about our thoughts and feelings. However, the rewards of taking these steps are huge. 

With emotional intimacy, we don’t just feel more pleasure during sex with a partner. We fortify the foundation of our relationships, making them stronger and more satisfying. 

 So, work on emotional intimacy.  Put open communication and emotional connection  front and center. These are the keys to unlocking better sex with your partner.