We’re always looking for ways to connect with each other, especially in our romantic relationships. Maintaining emotional intimacy is positively linked to sustained sexual desire.1 An easy way to increase intimacy is by asking questions that help you get to know a person better and as a result, trust them more and feel more comfortable being vulnerable with them.
What Is Emotional Intimacy?
Emotional intimacy is the feeling of being connected and understood by your partner. It’s a deep knowledge of the other person and what they find important. Their sadness is your sadness, and their happiness is your happiness. Achieving emotional intimacy also leads to developing and maintaining healthy communication practices.2 Emotional intimacy is only achieved through an investment of time and when both people are intentionally committed to the relationship. It can also suffer in a relationship if one or both partners becomes distracted for an extended period and are unable to tend to the relationship duties.
Benefits of Emotional Intimacy in a Relationship
There are many benefits of emotional intimacy but the largest benefit is that it leads to higher rates of relationship satisfaction and longevity. Couples who are emotionally connected are better equipped to handle stress and manage conflict within the relationship. While emotional intimacy can look different depending on the relationship, a common characteristic is that partners feel more trusting of each other and have a renewed sense of commitment to the relationship—even when they face conflict. Additionally, it gives partners a deeper understanding of each other and their individual vulnerabilities. Emotional intimacy adds to the quality of a relationship and aids both partners in feeling supported and understood.
Intimate Questions to Ask Your Partner
If you’re feeling a little distant from your partner or just want a fun way to strengthen your relationship, asking each other thought-provoking questions can help build emotional intimacy. Make sure your questions go beyond simple “yes” and “no” answers, and set aside enough time to get into deeper conversation. Having daily conversations, spending quality time with your partner, and making time for intentional self-reflection can help alleviate relationship stress and grow emotional intimacy.3
Here’s a list of 50 intimate questions for couples:
- What’s one thing you’re afraid to tell anyone else?
- What are three things about me that attracted you to me when we first met?
- When did you know you loved me?
- What does the perfect day look like for you?
- What is something you’ve always wanted to ask me but haven’t?
- What have I done that has made you proud? When was it?
- What is your biggest regret?
- If you could relive one day of our relationship what day would it be?
- What do you like about our physical relationship? How could we improve?
- Which of the five senses are most sensual to you?
- What do you need most in a friend right now?
- What do you believe is missing from your life?
- How have you evolved in the last 5 years?
- What are your goals for our relationship?
- What are some of your dreams for your life?
- How would you like to change in the next year?
- What legacy do you want to leave behind?
- Where in your life do you feel most unfulfilled?
- What would you change about your financial situation and why?
- Where would you like us to travel to and why?
- What is an adventure you want to have before you die?
- How has your perspective on the world changed in the last two years?
- If you could have dinner with one person living or dead, who would it be and why?
- If you could have someone else’s life, who would it be?
- What historical event would you want to be present for and why?
- If we lived for 100 years, what would you want our lives to look like?
- How do you feel about monogamy?
- What career would you choose if you had unlimited money?
- What were some of the highlights of your childhood?
- What is your favorite memory of us?
- What has been your happiest moment this year so far?
- Which relative are you closest to and why?
- Who is the most difficult person in your life to get along with and why?
- What influenced your decision to have kids or not have kids?
- Who is your childhood hero and why?
- If you could change us into an animal pair, which one would you choose?
- If you could choose any country for us to live in, which one would you choose?
- What do you think is the best part about our relationship?
- If you could change one of your characteristics, which one would it be?
- What would you change about the way we met?
- What is the biggest adversity you’ve had in the last 5 years and how did you overcome it?
- What is your philosophy for living a happy life?
- How do your daily habits change when you’re feeling stressed?
- What are you doing currently that your future self would thank you for?
- What would be the theme song of our relationship?
- What have you learned about relationships from your parents?
- What are your top 3 values?
- What is your timeline for our relationship (marriage, children, career, retirement, etc)
- How am I similar to your parent(s)?
- How do you need support from me when you’re sad or frustrated?
Why Emotional Intimacy Matters in Relationships
Emotional intimacy, heartfelt conversations and vulnerability can help partners to feel more connection, understanding, and support from each other. While many people may equate sexual intimacy to emotional intimacy, the truth is that the two are connected but are also different in nature. Having physical chemistry is great, but real intimacy occurs when a couple learn how to communicate and can have vulnerable conversations with each other about their intimate life, emotions, and perspectives. Increased vulnerability means acknowledging our humanity and listening to our partner with an open mind.4
Every relationship has ups and downs. The people closest to us are most likely to see us in the moments when we’re not being the best version of ourselves. Having emotional intimacy can mean that you and your partner have an open and trusting connection. Asking questions and self-disclosing your thoughts, dreams, feelings, and emotions can help in maintaining a healthy level of emotional intimacy.5 One of the ways to preserve this connection is through maintaining an environment of mutual respect where both partners are willing to have courageous conversations with each other and dialogue about their differences.
When to Seek Professional Help
Relationships can be challenging and experiencing a loss of emotional intimacy could be a sign that it’s time to reach out for additional support. You could try a self-guided couples counseling tool to help you and your partner improve communication skills, such as the Lasting App. Couples therapy can also give you and your partner clarity and understanding on how to better support and engage with each other6 and can be a great way to uncover hidden emotions and find out what adjustments and changes are needed to build and maintain emotional intimacy.
While there are many options available, consider finding a marriage and couples therapist that works as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) or has received specialized training in couples therapy.7 A great place to start searching for a couples therapist is through an online therapist directory.
Therapy for addressing a lack of intimacy in a relationship may include:
- Individual therapy – Individual psychotherapy gives both partners some time apart to focus on what they want individually in the relationship and identify areas for self growth.
- Couples counseling – Online couples counseling gives both partners time together to discuss their relationship and develop a healthy routine of communication. Having a therapist present can help both individuals to stay on topic and keep the conversation solution oriented.
- Online therapy – Engaging in therapy through a virtual platform for online therapy can be helpful for individuals who may be immune-compromised or may just prefer not having to leave their home. Online therapy can help to address the continuing stigma surrounding mental health and offers you the opportunity to receive support while in the comfort of your home.
- Group therapy – Online group therapy or support groups can be helpful for couples who want to build emotional intimacy and are open to receiving support from other individuals or couples who are going through a similar experience.
- Couples therapy retreats -Taking a weekend or a few days away from your daily obligations and focusing on your relationship while working with a licensed therapist can have a positive impact on the emotional intimacy in your relationship. Couples therapy retreats are designed as a time to reconnect, rejuvenate and recharge your relationship and oftentimes involves traveling to another state or country to truly get away from it all.
Emotional intimacy is important to a relationship, and it can also be a strong protective factor. Maintaining a healthy relationship can be challenging due to external factors and stressors.8 Quality time and asking bonding questions are ways to increase emotional intimacy within a relationship and to help you feel more connected and understood by your partner. Without emotional intimacy, it’s difficult to maintain mutual respect and partners can easily become disenchanted, stressed, and frustrated with the relationship. Reaching out to a licensed therapist can help you better understand your relationship dynamic and identify additional tools to build emotional intimacy between you and your partner.