12 Ways to Have More Intimacy in Your Relationships

What is “intimate”? It means familiar, private, and personal.

To have more intimacy in your relationships is to build close, meaningful, and deep connections. It makes you healthier, happier, and more fulfilled, especially in the long run.

When you’re young, you might care about being popular and having as many social media followers as possible. You prioritise your study and career before everything else, even at the expense of your relationships. But your perspective changes as you move through different stages of life.

When you get older, your need for meaning and companionship increases. You realise that intimate relationships add a great deal of value to every aspect of your life, and you want them. However, it’s not always easy to make friends or find an emotionally compatible partner as a full-grown adult.

Even if you only maintain a handful of relationships from your early life through to your mid-life, there’s no guarantee that those relationships have the level of quality that satisfies you.

It takes conscious and ongoing efforts to have more intimacy in your life. Here are 12 ways to do exactly that:

1. Be authentic

It’s impossible to build close and personal relationships if you don’t bring your authentic self to the table.

It might be scary to show the real you, but it’s how people can get to know you and feel comfortable to show you the real them in return. It’s also how you can be sure someone chooses you for who you are and those who don’t are not right for you.

2. Have one-on-one meetings

Group hang-outs might be fun, but they are not the best settings to foster intimacy in your relationships.

When you meet people one-on-one, you can have in-depth conversations with them. Even if you already talk to them in a group, it’s a good idea to check in on them privately to show them that you care and increase the familiarity between you too.

3. Listen to understand

If you want to have more intimacy with people in your life, listening to understand instead of waiting for your turn to speak will go along way.

When you slow down and pay attention to what people say, you’re present with them and you make them feel seen. You send the message that the conversation is genuinely about getting to know each other — not stoking anyone’s egos or passing the time. Naturally, people will light up in your presence and feel closer to you.

4. Remember little things

When someone mentions their preferences or sentiments for something, make a mental note of it. You can ask them about it next time or take action on it to pleasantly surprise them.

For example, if your friend says they love Italian food, when you meet up, you can suggest going to a nice Italian restaurant. Or if you know your friend has been working late, you can send flowers and an encouragement note— the gesture will make their day.

5. Pick up the phone

Instead of texting or responding to someone’s posts on social media, give them a call.

Speaking on the phone means you put other things aside to give someone your full attention and they can hear your voice, which makes the interaction so much more intimate. Especially if you want to ask someone out, a phone call will make them feel so much more excited and special than just texts.

6. Reduce time on social media

Being on social media gives you superficial access to someone’s life.

When you meet up with them, you’re under the impression that you already know everything going on with them, so you stop asking personal questions. Or if you ask them again about things they already share on social media like you know nothing about it, they might get offended that you don’t even care to check their online profiles.

It’s good to look at someone’s social media to find talking points, but try to keep your relationships offline because that’s where real intimacy is.

7. Refuse to participate in false intimacy

False intimacy is the opposite of authenticity and genuineness.

People who create false intimacy with you are people who make you think you are closer to them than you actually are. They might use flattery or grand gestures to get you to like them while you barely know anything about them.

If you recognise someone doing it, call them out. When you’re on a dating app, don’t choose people who only tick your superficial boxes, but make sure you have an emotional connection with them.

8. Collaborate

When you work together with someone to achieve a goal, you have to learn about each other’s perspectives and form a shared vision while creating fun, meaningful memories together. It makes bonding natural.

It doesn’t matter whether the goal is big or small, work-related or only trivial — pick an attainable project to do with your friend or your partner (or whoever you want to build intimacy with.) Make sure you reflect on your experience and celebrate it together.

9. Be silly

Having fun and sharing laughter is one of the best ways to have more intimacy in your relationships.

Don’t be afraid to let loose and be silly with your friend or your partner. Letting your guard down and revealing the playful parts of you signals trust and a desire to be seen by them. It’s an act of vulnerability that will pull them closer to you as they join you in the happy moment.

And what’s more, you’ll have fun memories to look back fondly together.

10. Choose relationships based on core values and emotional connections

Not all relationships have high intimacy no matter how much effort you put into it.

For example, relationships that are founded solely on superficial factors such as physical attraction or basic shared interests, or relationships with emotionally unavailable people.

These relationships have a blocker on intimacy right from the get-go — it’s a losing battle.

So, if you want to have more intimacy in your life, it’s best to choose people who are capable of getting intimate and want to be intimate with you.

Some common signs are they’re comfortable with their emotions; they explicitly express a desire to build a relationship with you; they have other close relationships in their life.

11. Quality over quantity

When it comes to intimacy, go for depth instead of breadth.

Don’t try to make as many friends or go on as many dates as possible. Instead, focus your resources on a small number of people who find an emotional connection with. Make them feel special in your presence.

For example, if you’re on a dating app, chat to two or three people at a time at most. Give them proper chances before you decide to move on.

12. Repeat

Real intimacy takes time to build.

So, once you start doing the above eleven things, keep doing them until they become your habits. You will get closer each day to the people who make it feel right and natural to be intimate.

Real intimacy starts with you.

It goes without saying that if you want more intimacy in your life, you should first be in touch with yourself.

And it means understanding your thoughts and emotions and being able to articulate them to other people. It helps you draw healthy boundaries and invites others inside your inner world — or in other words, knowing you on an intimate level.

If you still struggle with this step, you can try to introduce more stability and familiarity in your own life by sticking to a hobby (e.g., journaling) or taking care of something (e.g., plants or a pet). When you feel more solid, it’s time to direct your energy outward and start building your tight-knit social circle.

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