How to Develop True Emotional Intimacy between Friends
“Real connection and intimacy is like a meal, not a sugar fix.” ~ Kristin Armstrong
Does the idea of being emotionally intimate sound amazing or scary to you? Fear keeps many people distant from others. As a result, they become loners or social butterflies that flit from one encounter to another, collecting acquaintances but no real friendships.
We all need close friends who are there for us through good times and bad. They are the people who love and accept us for who we are. But, for you, how close is close enough? Do you keep people at arm’s length? Or do you embrace them wholeheartedly? Or is your comfort zone somewhere in between?
True emotional intimacy between friends takes mindful intentions and intentional actions that build over time. There are techniques for developing relationship skills, but success truly depends on what’s in your heart. It starts with how much emotional intimacy you have with yourself, then it can radiate out to others.
If you carry fear, be assured that it’s possible to get rid of the fear. You can experience the exquisite joy of connecting with another person emotionally, intellectually and spiritually – that endeavor we call intimacy.
There are two things that will help you be more comfortable forming intimate relationships.
First, you need to accept yourself the way you are.
When you learn to be mindful, fully aware of yourself, you can be authentic and open with others. When you learn to listen to yourself and trust yourself then you can truly listen and trust others.
“Intimacy simply means that the doors of the heart are open for you, you are welcome to come in and be a guest. But that is possible only if you have a heart which is not stinking with repressed sexuality, which is not boiling with all kinds of perversions, which is natural – as natural as trees, as innocent as children. Then there is no fear of intimacy.” ~ Osho
If you long for intimacy, you have to be willing to drop your defenses, repressions, and inhibitions and be vulnerable. If you’re living a simple, natural life there will be no fear of intimacy, only abundant joy and fulfillment. But if there are scars and wounds that you’re trying to hide, these will need to be healed and mended. Otherwise, you’ll always be afraid that someone will “find out”.
These hurts will no longer have power over you when you let them go, because you’ve rid yourself of self-condemnation and judgment. You accept that you don’t have to be perfect. You no longer lose respect, greatness, or ego, because you’re not focused on those things any longer.
Second, you must open up fully to others and let them get to know the person you are inside.
Platonic intimacy goes deeper than everyday ‘small talk’. It takes time. Emotional intimacy between friends grows from having a common interest or shared passion. It’s not that you want to sleep together, but you want to work together towards a common goal. And your differences in opinion and outlook bring richness to the friendship.
Look at the friends or acquaintances you already have and see if there isn’t someone you’d like to get to know better on a deeper level. Look for your common ground and start sharing deeper thoughts and feelings on that topic. Remember, intimacy takes willingness to be vulnerable, to share yourself and risk hurt and rejection. You’ll achieve it when you’re being deliberate, consistent and exquisitely attentive.
If building emotional intimacy between friends is particularly difficult for you, please don’t give up trying! If you’d like my help while working on this, feel free to contact me and schedule a one-on-one 30-minute complimentary consultation, to see if we’re a good fit for working together.
Thank you for the photo Sam Manns