When was the last time or rather first time you hugged or snuggled against a friend for comfort and felt good? And were happy to have such a friend in your life? Its natural, isn’t it? Now what if that friend in your life is of different gender than yours? Would you be awkward if that friend hugs you or gives you a peck to comfort you because he/ she understands you well and you both understand that this friendly gesture has nothing to do with physical intimacy? Its normal between two friends?
Recently I read an article about Rabindra Nath Tagore and his Argentinian muse in bonobology.com. it was a beautiful article about two people understanding each other beyond physicality and distance didn’t matter too. It got me thinking about the concept of emotional intimacy.
This brings up an important question – Is it possible to be emotionally and psychologically intimate without being physically intimate?
Conflict of emotional intimacy vs physical intimacy
The conflict of emotional intimacy vs physical intimacy has been going on for ages and will continue… Only the form and arguments will change. People still believe that a man and woman cannot be friends. But some agree that it’s not impossible. It’s actually a matter of comfort level between two people and then gender becomes secondary. When two people of same gender share the bond, they are called best friends or BAE these days. But when two people of opposite gender become close emotionally, it’s still assumed that they must be sexually involved too. Platonic friendship is a concept not believed by many. But it exists and is called emotional 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.
There are times when we look for an emotional bond – where we are accepted and loved for what we are. A bond where words are not the most important but two people communicate through silence too. A bond where we not only share our happiness, concerns but vulnerability as well. We crave for intimacy which is all about closeness, trust, and comfort at a deeper emotional level. The confidence of having such a person in your life, talking to him/her, a peck on cheek, a pat on back, holding hands and a hug is all you need to face the world again. This is the person who has your back. This is a feeling that can only be felt and not explained in words.
Importance of Emotional intimacy in a marriage
It’s been observed, that at times lack of emotional intimacy is the reason why two people who are married for years or know each other for long drift apart with time. Remaining in a relationship without an emotional intimacy means one or both people will end up feeling as if something is missing. They confuse emotional intimacy with sexual intimacy. In sex, we let down barriers and permit another person into our most private personal spaces. But if the two people haven’t travelled together and understood each other emotionally before entering into each other’s private space, the possibility of relationship getting jaded are faster than two people who understand each other well beyond physical or sexual intimacy.
And when two people are emotionally intimate, their understanding of physical bonding also changes. The degree of comfort, effectiveness, and mutual experience of closeness might indicate emotional intimacy between individuals. There are times, just sitting together besides each other or snuggling against each other is more comforting without leading to sexual act. When two people reach such a comfort level in each other’s company, it’s the most beautiful and pure feeling.
It is very important to practice emotional intimacy to build a strong friendship and relationship too. A lack of emotional intimacy could be solved by taking the time to be with your partner throughout the duration of your relationships. 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.
Are you Emotionally intimate?
Although every individual’s emotions differ, there are various signs of Emotional Intimacy but people just need to identify them. The below list may help you understand yourself and friends better and find out if you are among the few who have moved beyond physical intimacy and attained emotional intimacy with a friend of opposite sex.
- He may finish her sentence or start speaking the same thought at the same time. Is this a deep bond or just coincidence?
- The conversation flows easily from one to the other.
- You are both willing to give each other peeks into childhood dreams and adult aspirations.
- You share funny stories of what happened at work and you share bad days when everything went wrong.
Even in silence, a couple creating a strong emotional bond will feel at ease. You can share anything with your partner without fear that he will flee and he feels the same. Physical attraction is a superficial emotion that begins the journey toward emotional intimacy. Emotional intimacy is so subjective that each person exhibits different emotions and physical feelings. But the most important thing to be kept in mind is that there is a difference between physical attraction and an emotional intimacy.
So, be in a relation based on emotional intimacy to understand the true meaning of friendship without physical connotations. Because once two people, of opposite sex understand that, it’s the most pious and pure relationship, even though rest of the world may not understand!