The word intimacy gets used in a lot of ways to mean a lot of related things, but generally speaking, emotional intimacy is a feeling of closeness or familiarity that is coupled with a willingness to share deep or personal thoughts and feelings.
You’re likely to feel the most comfortable sharing real intimacy with people you’ve known for a while and people who make you feel like you can be your authentic self. That’s totally normal and natural for pretty much all of us.
Have you ever noticed though, that some people are quicker to form connections with others and more willing to share who they are, while others hide the deeper pieces of themselves and feel like true intimacy is scary. (Don’t worry if you’re one of those people who backs away from intimacy a bit. You can grow stronger in this and start to develop more meaningful connections over time.)
The most authentic people are typically those who are also more willing to share intimacy—and that makes sense, right? If you feel good about who you are and like you can be yourself, you’re more willing to let other people get to know you.
Because of this, taking a good look at your own level of authenticity can be really helpful, as can challenging yourself in needed ways to develop a stronger sense of self (which can in turn help you learn to grow closer to others).
But it can also be helpful to assess your own capacity for intimate connection and what areas of intimacy might be challenging for you so that you can get a better feel for needed areas of growth if you want to form deeper connections with others.
This emotional intimacy assessment covers 5 different (though related) areas of intimacy that you can reflect on in relation to yourself. Maybe you’re strong in some ways but weaker in others. You can ask yourself why that’s happening and work to become more comfortable sharing yourself in those ways.
This inventory is something that I am working to develop in my research for my PhD, so it will likely be adjusted over time. You don’t need to rate yourself on any sort of scale for these, just think through each one and consider how you feel about them.
Mark some that you feel like you are really strong in (maybe in one color) and then others that you feel are a struggle for you (in another color). Then consider what it is that differs between those and how able you think you are to share deep intimacy with others.
Here’s a printable version if you’d prefer to write on it: Capacity for Intimate Connection Inventory
These items are about how comfortable you feel sharing your own deep emotions with other people and how comfortable you are with others sharing their own deep feelings with you. (The ones that say reverse after them should be considered in the opposite direction. If you identify with them, you might have a lot of discomfort with the emotional aspect of intmacy).
- I am comfortable talking about my deepest emotions with other people
- I am comfortable being with someone who is feeling strong emotions (grief, fear, despair)
- I feel comfortable when others share their deep emotions with me
- It is easy for me to disclose my deeper feelings to others
- I am usually able to put my own emotions into words
- I often try to diffuse an emotional situation by making a joke (reverse)
- When I share something vulnerable with another person, I feel depleted afterwards (reverse)
- I cringe when someone wants to have a deep conversation (reverse)
- My deeper feelings are painful, so I don’t want to go there (reverse)
- It makes me look/feel needy when I talk too much about my feelings (reverse)
These items relate to how comfortable you feel sharing close physical contact or expresssion with other people or how aware you are of your body’s reactions to intimacy.
- I feel comfortable looking another person in the eye while talking
- I am comfortable giving and receiving hugs
- I feel comfortable saying “I love you” to other people
- In general, I’m aware of what I feel
- I enjoy giving a heartfelt compliment
- I enjoy receiving a heartfelt compliment
- Crying in front of another person would be humiliating (reverse)
How comfortable are you forming frienships and connections with others? Do you feel like you connect with people easily or is it a stretch for you?
- I seek out connections with other people
- I have deep friendships in my life
- Other people feel comfortable sharing their innermost feelings with me
- I am able to accept help and service from others
- My relationships with others often break down and I’m not sure why (reverse)
- I often feel lonely (reverse)
- I feel comfortable reaching out for support when having a bad day
- I am comfortable when people start to share personal details
- I find that I try to manage other people’s feelings and emotions (reverse)
- I am comfortable asking others about their personal feelings or perspectives
Developing intimacy always takes time, but some people are more capable of trusting others with their personal thoughts and feelings. Consider how this happens (or doesn’t happen) for you.
- I tend to trust other people
- It takes me a long time to form connections with other people (reverse)
- I feel comfortable trusting other people with my deepest thoughts and emotions
- I tend to fear rejection by other people (reverse)
- I have trouble trusting other people to treat my deeper feelings with compassion (reverse)
- I tend to feel emotionally safe with other people
- It makes me feel weak to be too self-disclosing (reverse)
I big part of intimacy, as I mentioned, is feeling good about who you are so that you are willing to let others truly know you.
- I am comfortable with who I am
- I am at ease being around myself
- I enjoy it when others succeed, and like to celebrate their success
- There are things about me that I hide from other people (reverse)
- If people knew the real me, they wouldn’t like me (reverse)
- I ruminate over things I have said in everyday social interactions (reverse)
- I have many great qualities that make me worth knowing
- I feel judged by others (reverse)
What do you think? Are there some areas where you are doing great and others that are a struggle? See if you can identify some areas of growth that matter to you that you’d like to work on. Read more about emotional intimacy here.
One of the best ways to boost your capacity for intimacy and connection is to work on your authenticity. Ready to take a deep-dive on this and consider how you can more fully accept yourself, without looking to others for constant validation? Join my Authentically YOU class and start this journey with me.