Dr. David Hawkins, Director of The Marriage Recovery Center, shares the three foundational necessities for intimacy in your relationship: safety, trust and vulnerability. He shares that without them, intimacy is impossible. He shares how to look for and measure their presence in your relationship.
How to Measure Intimacy in Your Relationship
Intimacy is a concept that everyone desires in their romantic relationships. It’s the deep emotional connection, the feeling of being truly understood and cherished by your partner, and the sense of safety and trust that allows you to be vulnerable with them. In this article, we will explore the three essential building blocks of intimacy and provide guidance on how to measure and cultivate intimacy in your relationship.
I. Intimacy Building Blocks
Before delving into the ways to measure intimacy in your relationship, let’s understand the three fundamental building blocks that serve as the foundation for intimacy:
Safety is the first and foremost building block of intimacy. To be intimate with someone, you must feel safe in their presence. It means having the confidence that your partner has your back and that you, in turn, have their support and protection. In a relationship where safety is present, you can freely share your thoughts, feelings, and desires without the fear of judgment or rejection.
- Feeling Secure: Safety involves feeling secure in your relationship. When you trust that your partner won’t harm you emotionally or physically, it creates a sense of stability and comfort.
- Emotional Safety: Emotional safety means that you can open up to your partner without the fear of ridicule or negative consequences. You know that your emotions will be respected and understood.
- Freedom to Be Yourself: Safety allows you to be your authentic self in the relationship. You don’t have to put on a facade or hide your true feelings and thoughts.
Trust is the second building block of intimacy. It is the belief that your partner will keep their promises, be honest, and have your best interests at heart. Trust forms the basis of faith in your partner’s intentions and actions.
- Honesty: Trust is built upon honesty and transparency. Both partners should feel that they can rely on the truthfulness of the other.
- Reliability: Trust includes the belief that your partner will be there for you when needed and will follow through on commitments and agreements.
- Mutual Respect: Trust also implies mutual respect. You respect your partner’s boundaries, and they respect yours, creating a healthy and trusting environment.
The third building block of intimacy is vulnerability. Vulnerability is the willingness to be open and exposed with your partner, sharing your innermost thoughts, feelings, and insecurities. It is the act of letting your partner see “into” you, thus forming a deep emotional connection.
- Sharing Emotions: Vulnerability involves expressing your emotions and feelings honestly, whether they are positive or negative.
- Expressing Desires: You openly communicate your desires and needs, allowing your partner to understand what makes you happy and satisfied.
- Deep Connection: Vulnerability fosters a deep connection as both partners let down their guard and truly connect on a profound level.
II. Measuring Intimacy in Your Relationship
Now that we’ve explored the three essential building blocks of intimacy, let’s discuss how you can measure and cultivate intimacy in your relationship.
A. Assessing Safety
- Self-Reflection: Take some time to reflect on your relationship and ask yourself if you feel safe with your partner. Do you trust that they have your back, and do you have theirs?
- Communication: Open and honest communication is key to assessing safety. Talk to your partner about your feelings and concerns. Discuss what can be done to improve the sense of safety in your relationship.
- Boundaries: Ensure that you and your partner respect each other’s boundaries. Discuss and set boundaries that make both of you feel comfortable and secure.
B. Evaluating Trust
- Honesty Check: Reflect on the honesty and transparency in your relationship. Are there any areas where trust might be lacking due to dishonesty or lack of communication? Discuss these issues openly with your partner.
- Reliability: Consider the reliability of your partner. Have they consistently followed through on commitments and agreements? Address any concerns if reliability is an issue.
- Mutual Respect: Assess whether your relationship is built on mutual respect. Do you and your partner respect each other’s opinions and decisions? If not, work on fostering a more respectful environment.
C. Cultivating Vulnerability
- Self-Reflection: Evaluate your own willingness to be vulnerable with your partner. Are there fears or insecurities that are holding you back from being open and honest?
- Encourage Openness: Encourage your partner to be open and honest about their thoughts and feelings. Show empathy and support when they do share.
- Create a Safe Space: Make your relationship a safe space for vulnerability. Ensure that when either of you opens up, it’s met with understanding, not judgment.
Intimacy in a relationship is a beautiful and vital aspect of a healthy and fulfilling partnership. To achieve true intimacy, you must establish safety, trust, and vulnerability. These building blocks are the foundation upon which a deep and meaningful connection is built.
As you assess your relationship, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I feel safe with my partner?
- Can I trust my partner completely?
- Am I willing to be vulnerable and open with my partner?
Creating a strong foundation of safety and trust while fostering vulnerability takes effort and dedication. However, the rewards of an intimate relationship, where you feel truly alive and connected, are well worth the work. Take the time to measure these elements in your relationship, and if needed, make a conscious effort to improve and strengthen them. Intimacy is a journey, and with the right building blocks in place, it can lead to a deeply fulfilling and lasting bond with your partner.
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.