Intimacy means being connected. Sexual intimacy is physical; emotional intimacy is connection of mind, heart and spirit. Great sex is a blast. If you've got it, count your lucky stars but it's not enough to sustain a relationship. For that, you need emotional intimacy and it's the death-by-a-thousand-cuts destruction of that fundamental requirement that is the downfall to many relationships. Great emotional intimacy is the most rewarding aspect of being a couple but to have it, you must pay attention to the basics:

Be 10,000% trustworthy. You will not share private thoughts or make yourself vulnerable to someone you don't trust. If you share an embarrassing moment or dream and your sweetheart makes fun or pours cold water on that dream, you'll think twice before opening up again. Nothing is more devastating than trusting the person you love and having that trust betrayed. Nothing is more conducive to emotional intimacy than knowing you are safe in sharing your innermost thoughts, wishes and dreams.

Don't remodel. If your sweetheart said, "Honey, you would be a better person if you morphed into my image of perfection so here's a list of things you should change," you're not likely to say, "Thanks! I'll get on that right away." Attempting to remodel your partner is tantamount to saying you're better. "Superiority" and "emotional intimacy" are mutually exclusive.

Respect differences. Differences make us interesting-but they don't make us right. I can't imagine that anyone loves beige and finds eggplant scrumptious, but am I justified in calling a beige-loving-eggplant-eater wrong? Of course not. Talk about your differences, debate your differences, but never make your sweetheart wrong for holding an opinion or point of view that differs from yours. To do so is to say you're smarter than your partner. "Judgmental" and "emotional intimacy" are mutually exclusive.

Be nice. You're thinking, "Duh!" Fair enough. But it's worth the reminder that nice goes beyond holding the door, refilling your sweetheart's wine glass, not interrupting, and common courtesy. Being nice includes:

  • Looking for ways to make your sweetheart's day and life better.
  • Looking the other way during your partner's self-indulgently bad behavior
  • Stepping up to the plate when it's time for "the talk"
  • Being supportive
  • Being responsive to your partner's wishes, needs and desires
  • Showing your love in word and deed

In short, being nice means demonstrating that you cherish your sweetheart. "Inconsiderate" and "emotional intimacy" are mutually exclusive.

Know yourself. The more you know about yourself, the more you'll be able to change what's not working and the less likely you'll be to project your self-perception onto your partner. Examples:

  • If you bicker over every decision, big or small, perhaps it's not because your partner is argumentative, but because you are excessively competitive and need to make a change.
  • If you hear constant criticism, perhaps the problem is your self-esteem. If your sweetie says, "The rice is salty," and you hear, "You're a terrible cook," it's time to work on your self-perception instead of complaining that your sweetheart is critical.

"Blissful ignorance" and "emotional intimacy" are mutually exclusive.

Be generous and forgiving. Your sweetheart will hurt and disappoint you, sometimes thoughtlessly and sometimes only through the filter of your self-perception. The flip side is true, too. Be generous and be forgiving because you'll need the same when you screw up. "Unforgiving" and "emotional intimacy" are mutually exclusive.

The relationship crown jewel of emotional intimacy is achieved by laser-beam focus on being, doing, and saying those things that build and sustain it. Start today to have the emotional intimacy that is the hallmark of a truly great relationship.

Author's Bio: 

Shela Dean is a Relationship Happiness Coach, speaker, and Amazon bestselling author of Frequent Foreplay Miles - Your Ticket to Total Intimacy, available through Amazon.com and other booksellers. Shela's common-sense approach to relationship advice has helped many couples improve emotional intimacy and strengthen marital bonds.