20 Questions For Emotional Intimacy In Romantic RelationshipsNov 25, 2023
20 Questions For Emotional Intimacy In Romantic Relationships
In today's world, where it's easy to feel disconnected, finding a deeper connection in our relationships is more crucial than ever. That's where emotional intimacy comes in. It's the real deal, the heart of a strong romantic bond. It's not just about those three little words, hand-holding, or exchanging knowing looks. Emotional intimacy is about really getting to know each other - sharing what's on your mind, your hopes, fears, and dreams, and building a relationship based on trust, understanding, and mutual respect. I first got into questions like this after reading this amazing article about 20 Questions To Fall In Love. Since reading it, I've seen more and more studies coming out that are indicating that questions like these are a great way to improve connection and feelings of closeness.
Achieving this level of intimacy isn't always straightforward. Most of us weren't exactly given a roadmap for this in school, but that doesn't make it any less important. I'm a LIcensed Marriage and Family Therapist and specialize in working with couples and families, and I see the results of this all too often in my office.
In this post, we're taking a page from "Love Actually." You know, that film with a bunch of love stories that show us different sides of emotional connection. It's a great example of how emotional intimacy plays out in real life, with all its ups and downs. I'm going to give you all kinds of questions, inspired by "Love Actually," that are really going to help you get to that deeper level of intimacy with your romantic partner. I find that questions or prompts like this is one of the best ways to guide couples to understand each other better and build a stronger, more meaningful connection.
How Do We Define "Emotional Intimacy" In Relationships?
When we talk about emotional intimacy, we're really getting into the nuts and bolts of what makes a relationship tick. It's not just about those big declarations of love or the physical side of things. Emotional intimacy is about connecting on a deeper level. It's the kind of connection where you feel completely seen and heard by your partner, where you can share your innermost thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. Emotional intimacy is not the same as physical intimacy or sexual intimacy, but I don't imagine in a long-term relationship there's going to be much sex without the emotional connection.
A common misconception is that as long as you're saying "I love you" or showing your affection, your relationship is on solid ground. But here's the thing: in intimate relationships, emotional intimacy is what turns a surface-level relationship into something much more meaningful. It's about understanding each other's fears, desires, and everything in between. It's the difference between just being in a relationship and being in a relationship where you truly understand and support each other.
This kind of deep connection doesn't always come naturally to everyone, and that's okay. It's something you can learn and develop over time, and it's what we're going to explore with these 20 questions. They're designed to help you build that deeper, more meaningful emotional connection with your partner. Asking these will work for long-term relationships and for a new relationship, although you might want to slow down the pace of questions if you're in the honeymoon phase!
The Tool To Build Emotional Connection
Before we get to the deep questions you're going to be asking, we need to have the framework set up in order for you to have intimate conversations with your partner. To help guide you into bringing deeper levels of connection into your relationship, I created an acronym to help you remember what to do and how to do it. The acronym is FEED. It's a straightforward yet powerful approach to developing emotional intimacy in relationships.
It stands for Identify, Express, Ensure, and Delve, and here's a bit more about each step:
Step 1: Identify Your Feelings
The first step, identify, is about tuning into your own emotional state. It's crucial because if you don't know what you're feeling, how can you expect to feel close to anyone? It's our shared understanding of emotional states that leads to intimacy and connections.
This step requires you to slow down and introspect. It's about asking yourself, "What am I really feeling right now?" and "Why might I be feeling this way?" Think of it like being a detective in your own mind, sifting through various emotions. Using tools like a feelings wheel can be incredibly helpful here. It's not just about knowing if you're sad or happy, but understanding the nuances of those emotions.
It's like when Sam in "Love Actually" finally tells Liam Neeson that he's in love, everyone is relieved! Even the super-serious-looking Liam is smiling. Naming a feeling is taming a feeling, it helps to down-regulate it even just by saying it.
Step 2: Express : Once you've identified your emotions, the next step is to Express them.
This is where a lot of people stumble. It's not about just saying something is wrong; it's about being able to say, "I feel [___feelings word____] because [reason]," in a clear and honest way.I feel" statements are key. They prevent blame and encourage understanding. It's about saying, "I feel hurt when you ignore me," instead of "You always ignore me." This step requires courage but is essential for deepening your emotional connection.
Most of us give a thought at this point -"I feel that you always do this" - not a feeling, people!
Look how Mark in "Love Actually" messes it up, so we're not alone (side note, I was mortified to see me do this in one of my own youtube videos, so we all do this!) Mark is trying to share his feelings with Juliet, but ends up sharing a lot of thoughts, like "to me, I THINK you are perfect". Good one Mark, that's cute, but how do you feel?! In romantic relationships, we have to be able to use our feelings words and talk directly about them.
Step 3: Ensure You're Being Heard / Hearing
In Ensure, the focus shifts to communication – ensuring you're not just talking at each other but truly communicating. This involves active listening. It's not just waiting for your turn to speak; it's about really hearing and trying to understand your partner's perspective. It involves empathy, patience, and an open mind. This step is about confirming that both of you are on the same page, or at least understand where the other is coming from. It's about repeating back what you heard, asking clarifying questions, and showing that you're genuinely engaged in the conversation.
It's like when Jamie and Aurelia are trying to communicate in "Love Actually." They're talking, but are they really understanding each other? That's what you're aiming for here - true understanding.
Step 4: Delve Into More Context
Delve is about going deeper into the conversation without losing the emotional connection. It's the art of discussing sensitive topics or deep emotions without escalating the conversation into an argument. This step requires balance – you want to be honest and open, but also mindful of how your words and emotions affect your partner. It's about providing context to your feelings and experiences and connecting them to the present situation. This step is crucial for not only expressing your feelings but also understanding them within the framework of your relationship.
It's a bit like Karen in the movie, who manages to confront Harry about the necklace and potential affair without losing her cool. It's a great example of how she regulates her feelings and stays connected to him, even though it's a confrontation - he manages to stay connected. The meaningful questions in this section are all about a type of intimacy that comes from serious conversations about difficult things, like secrets and confrontation.
Get The Complete 20 Questions For Emotional Intimacy in Romantic Relationships: Love Actually Edition HERE
Conversation Starters: Questions Before The Deeper Questions!
Before you dive into the super personal questions, it might be gentler to use these open-ended questions as a starting point for these conversations. If you're doing this on a date night, we have to be able to create a safe space and part of that is about comfort and open communication with these fun questions. There's no right or wrong way to do these, but I suggest you consider reciprocal self-disclosure so you answer the same question you asked. FYI these are not my questions; they come from the 36 Questions To Fall In Love
- Who would you want as a dinner guest if you could pick anyone dead or alive?
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
- Do you ever practice what you are going to say before you make a telephone call? Why?
- What would constitute a "perfect" day for you?
- When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
- If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
- Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
- We are both different people, but can you name three things we appear to have in common?
- For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
- If you could change anything about your childhood and growing up, what would it be?
- Tell me as much as you can of your life story in the next four minutes.
- If you could wake up with a super-power or enhanced ability of some sort, what would it be and why?
- What do you consider to be the greatest accomplishment of your life?
- What's your favorite memory or most treasured memory from childhood?
- If I had crystal ball that could tell you something you really wanted to know about your future, your life or anything - what would you ask it?
Intimate Questions to Ask Your Partner About Communication
In the story of Jamie and Aurelia from "Love Actually," we see a beautiful depiction of how love can cross language and cultural barriers, often relying on non-verbal cues and emotional communication. However, as compelling as this may be, it only scratches the surface of what true emotional intimacy is all about. To really connect with our partners on a deeper level, we need to use our words, to express our feelings clearly and vulnerably. This means moving beyond just gestures and looks to having open, honest conversations where we share our innermost thoughts and emotions. Let's explore some questions that can help us achieve this level of intimacy:
- "Can you share a time when you struggled to express your feelings to me and what you wished had happened instead?"
- "What are your deepest fears about being open and vulnerable in our relationship, and how can I help alleviate those fears?"
- "When do you feel most loved by me?"
- "How do you think you normally express your warm and 'yummy' feelings to me?"
Emotional Intimacy Questions To Ask About Complex Emotions:
Mark & Juliet - The tale of Mark and Juliet in "Love Actually" is a classic example of unrequited love and the emotional turmoil it brings. Mark's inability to express his feelings leads to a kind of emotional disaster. He keeps his feelings bottled up, acting cold and distant rather than being open. This subplot teaches us about the importance of expressing complex emotions rather than suppressing them. Here are some questions inspired by their story:
- "In what ways can unexpressed feelings impact our relationship?"
- "How can we ensure that unexpressed feelings don't create misunderstandings or resentment?"
- "If you were never to see me again, what would you regret not telling me?"
- "What is the thing that you are or were most scared to tell me?"
- There are more questions on the worksheet here.
These questions are designed to encourage partners to open up about difficult emotions, fostering emotional maturity and deeper intimacy.
Intimate Conversations Around Differences
David & Natalie David and Natalie's relationship, featuring the charming Martine McCutcheon, highlights the dynamics of differing social backgrounds in a relationship. It's about bridging the gap between different worlds, as seen in their love story. Here are some questions inspired by their relationship:
- "Has there been a time when acknowledging your own weaknesses or mistakes led to us feeling more connected or a deeper understanding?"
- "What are the subjects we avoid talking about and why?"
- "What is the one thing that most people don't know about you?"
- Get all 20 questions in the pdf download right here.
These questions aim to explore how acknowledging and discussing differences and vulnerabilities can strengthen a relationship.
Deep Questions To Generate Feelings of Closeness
The heartwarming storyline between Daniel and Sam illustrates the power of support and encouragement in a relationship. Here are some questions inspired by their bond:
- "Can you share a moment when you felt my support significantly contributed to your personal growth?"
- "What can we do to improve the way we encourage and support each other?"
- "Who is the person in your family or life that you most need to repair your relationship with, and how can I support you in that?"
- Get the full set of questions here as a pdf here.
These questions focus on how partners can be a source of support and growth for each other, echoing the nurturing relationship between Daniel and Sam.
Healthy Relationships Have Uncomfortable Conversations
Harry and Karen's relationship is a complex narrative of secrets, unspoken sexual needs, and hurt feelings. Meaningful conversations like the ones we're discussing have to be able to approach heavy conversations, these deeper conversations are more challenging but if handled appropriately, can facilitate healing and connection. Here are some questions to delve deeper into these themes:
- "What has been the impact of keeping secrets on our relationship?"
- "In what ways do we need to improve how we talk about sex and desire to ensure we're both heard and satisfied?"
- "What's really hard for you to talk about in our relationship?"
- Get the complete list here.
These questions are tailored to address the challenges of maintaining honesty and addressing sensitive topics within a relationship.
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