Surprising Signs of True Emotional Intimacy

March 5, 2024

When we talk about how safe and secure we feel with someone we’re in a relationship with – romantic or other – we’re talking about emotional intimacy. It’s that deep connection we create and maintain with the truest version of both they and ourselves.

Today, I’m going to list 16 surprising signs of true emotional intimacy. Surprising because they involve levels of both strength and vulnerability that aren’t often covered in the usual curriculum of personal development.

In this episode, we’re talking about:

  • How to stay connected to yourself
  • The importance of honesty, no matter how painful it is
  • Asking for your needs to be met
  • Asking for help
  • Accepting yourself at your worst
  • How to practice presence
  • Setting boundaries in every relationship
  • Caring for your partner’s wounds
  • Pushing your emotional range

My new book is officially out! It’s called “You Grow Me: The Next Level Human Philosophy of Love, Sex and Romantic Connection” co-written by Dr. Jade Teta (Next Level Human podcast). It’s a big “f**k you” to unrealistic Hollywood love stories, and instead offers a fresh perspective on how personal growth is intertwined with romance. You can buy your copy of You Grow Me on Amazon here. Would love to know what you think! Email me or DM me on Instagram (contacts below).


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Episode 371 | Lessons On Learning How To Receive Love In A Healthy Relationship

Episode 385 | How Much Do You Value Yourself?

Episode 390 | My New Book “You Grow Me” Is Out Today! (Free Preview Of Chapter 1)

Episode 391 | Repairing Conflict In Your Relationship With Kelly Gardner 


 That’s partly what, what interdependence is, which is also a really great indication of, of, uh, emotional intimacy, not being, you know, the super hyper independent being, but instead allowing yourself. Um, to come together with another person and to allow them in, see how they show up for you. And then you show up for them.

And, and it’s this like beautiful dance that you get to have and you get to be supported.

I’m Emily Gough, a human connection, coach, writer. Speaker with an insatiable sense of curiosity and adventure, always asking more questions and using the power of stories to teach, learn, and grow. We boldly explore relationships, connection, and the nuances and complexities of the human experience with compassion, honesty, and a sense of humor.

With both solo episodes and highly curated guests sharing incredible stories, experiences, and expertise. The room to grow podcast takes the entire idea of growth to the next level. All while covering the uncomfortable topics many of us would like to avoid. There’s always more room to grow. Let’s do this.

Hey there. Welcome back to the room to grow podcast. Emily here. And today we are going to talk about the signs of emotional intimacy. And I really want to dig into this one because I’m going to get into the signs that you might not think of because emotional intimacy can feel very, um, emotional intimacy is, is feeling safe and secure with another feeling deeply connected to another human being.

And the thing that I’m going to thread throughout this is that we have to feel that way with ourselves in order to see that reflected in our relationships. So for example, something that I always come back to with my own partner is when I’m feeling disconnected from him. I always go within first. I’m like, okay, am I feeling disconnected from me?

We, we had that a couple weeks ago. There was just like, literally like a day or two where I just felt a little bit more disconnected from him than usual. And I realized right away that it was because I was feeling very discombobulated. I’ve been traveling. I didn’t feel grounded. I was like all over the place.

Um, I was just feeling very out of sorts and I, I took the time to rest, to connect, rest just because that was, that was what I happened to need in that particular moment. So really, like, just going within, listening to what I needed. And when I reconnected to myself, I got into nature, like I went for a long hike, like all those things.

When I reconnected to myself, I, I felt more connected to him without anything ever changing because it, anything ever changing with him, like our relationship essentially stayed the same, but I also shifted the energy that I was bringing to the relationship and that changed things. Now, I’m There are also other moments where if you’re feeling deeply disconnected from someone over the longer term and you are doing, you know, your inner work and everything else, then yes, absolutely, there may be issues going on in the relationship.

I’m not, I’m not negating that, but I am saying that it still starts with us. We still have to go within. So there are a few different signs here that I want to get into around what true emotional intimacy actually really feels like in surprising ways. One of them is the ability to withstand and repair from conflict, the ability to withstand and repair from conflict.

So being able to stand in the fire, to have the argument, to then go in and, and have the repair afterwards, to be able to create that repair with another person and to, to be vulnerable enough to be able to make that happen. And, and repair sometimes will often require again, going within. And looking at parts of ourselves and how we showed up in a particular moment in time or how we treated someone or, or the depths of a wound coming to the surface.

And that’s how the conflict started in the first place. We sometimes have to look at those things in order to repair and, and there’s nothing wrong with conflict. Conflict is healthy. Conflict is, is needed in a lot of ways. It’s the repair that matters. So if you’re running from conflict, you’re also likely running from repair.

And true emotional intimacy means that you can both withstand and repair from the conflict. Another sign is the courage to say the hard, vulnerable thing with no guarantee of a specific outcome. That is the inherent definition of vulnerability. Is, is saying the thing without being able to guarantee the outcome.

And that’s really tough to do. But when you can summon that from within, oof, like that is, that is deeply felt and that creates so much intimacy, allowing yourself to be loved, allowing yourself to be loved is such a sign of not only gross, but, but massive amounts of intimacy. That can sound easy, right?

It’s like, well, why wouldn’t, why wouldn’t I allow myself to be loved? I want to be loved. It can feel deeply confronting when someone is actually presenting love to you and wanting to love you, wanting to be let in. It is confronting. I’ve done, I’ve done podcast episodes about that, that little reference in the show notes that I, a lot of people have really resonated with.

So it’s think about that one, you know, actually putting your guard down to let someone in means that you’re also handing them the keys to hurt you. But you’re trusting that they won’t. That is intimacy. Honesty. Honesty is one of the most underrated forms of intimacy. Even when it’s inconvenient and scary.

I will always come back to this. Honesty. Showing your true authentic self, that’s another one, you know, allowing someone to see the different parts of you, you know, maybe like you’re, you’re a bit of a dork. I totally am. Like you have like a goofy side. Um, you know, you’ve got like these, these like weird little quirky things that you do that, that all of us have, and you actually allow someone else to see that about you.

And it’s like, Ooh, you know, this is, this isn’t like mainstream, this isn’t what the cool kids are doing, whatever the hell the cool kids are doing. And we, when we actually allow someone else to see us in that way, that, that is deeply intimate. Another really big one is asking for your needs to be met.

That is one of, I think it’s one of the hardest things on this list, just for me personally. It’s not for everyone, but I, I find that a lot of people do share this. Asking for your needs to be met. First thing there is being connected enough to yourself to be able to identify what your need even is. And that can be easier said than done.

That, especially if you’re in long held habits of not asking for your needs to be met and accepting the breadcrumbs, or maybe even just asking for the breadcrumbs because you assume that the full meal won’t be given to you. That then requires an enormous amount of you to even figure out what the need is.

Then to actually ask for it, to make the request for it. And a true request rather than demand, and that, that’s even scarier because we’re giving the other person the opportunity to say no. And then what do we make that mean about us if they say no? Like we can, we can take that as a very personal rejection as opposed to looking at where the other person just maybe isn’t able to meet us in that particular moment or, you know, figuring, figuring something out that works for both parties.

But we can very easily switch that into, Oh, they don’t, they don’t love me. They don’t want me. They don’t, they don’t want to meet this need. And we make it about us. We make it really personal. So just the, the idea of asking for your needs to be met is really tough one. And another one here that’s related to that is, is just asking for help.

And an example of this was, uh, a few weeks back, I was, I was in some, some distress and um, I asked my partner to co regulate my nervous system with me. And it felt in that moment, it felt like the most vulnerable thing in the entire world because I was, you know, I still sometimes have the, the threads of, The, the strong independent woman, come on, that’s, that is part of my work, that is part of my medicine is to, you know, integrate those parts of me to become more interdependent and to ask for help when I need it.

And one of the reasons why it was so vulnerable to ask him in that moment is because he and I were in conflict. So he and I had, had, had a disagreement and I was, I was upset, I was distressed. And we, we decided to, you know, spend like 30 minutes apart, you know, in different rooms or something, just doing our own thing.

And normally I can, I can regulate myself. I have a lot of tools, uh, you know, and I was doing all the tools and the tools were not working. And, and the thing is, it wasn’t even like, it was a pretty minor disagreement. It wasn’t like it was anything major. There was just, I don’t know, something, something in me was, was really like triggered and I was having a lot of difficulty calming it down by myself, calming myself down.

So even though I was kind of mad at him, I asked my partner to help me co regulate my nervous system. Um, And he said, you know, of course, like I’m always available for that. And I, you know, I’m, I’m incredibly fortunate. Like I, I asked for the need to be met and he, he met it. He could have said no. And I would have, I would have accepted that as well, uh, because it was a real request.

I wasn’t demanding it of him, but in that moment that would have stung. So that was just a really beautiful moment where I got to experience the true intimacy, but it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t asked for the help in the first place. It’s a really big deal, sometimes, asking for someone to help us.

Before we switch gears, I am so thrilled to announce the release of my first ever book called You Grow Me, co authored with my dear friend Dr. Jade Tita. This book is a big fuck you to unrealistic Hollywood love stories, and instead it offers a fresh perspective on how personal growth is intertwined with romance.

It’s a whole new philosophy of love and relationships. The link to buy the book is in the show notes and you can grab the audio, Kindle, or hard copy over on Amazon. It’s called You Grow Me, the next level human philosophy of love, sex, and romantic connection. I’d love for you to check it out and let me know your takeaways via DM.

Another sign of, of, uh, true intimacy is accepting yourself at your worst and still allowing someone to love you and to witness you in that state, in all of your mess, in all of your. Anti imperfection. And that can also be incredibly scary because so often we want to be seen in a particular way. We put on the masks.

We want people to, to see us, to hold us in a particular, uh, regard, to, to view us a particular way. And anything that deviates from that, that compartmentalized version of us that we present to the world or that we, we choose to present to that particular person, because, you know, everyone will see different versions of us, right?

We’re, we’re, we’re wildly complex beings. And to allow someone to see us at our worst, and not only that, but to accept ourselves at our worst. That. That is, is the biggest part of the intimacy, and that’s the key to allowing someone else to be, to be witness to it and to be okay with that without judging yourself.

Again, I still bump into these things sometimes, like it, there was a few months ago, I was, I was just having all of these fears come up to the surface. And one of the things that I finally realized was holding me back was that I was basically annoyed with myself for feeling fear. And I wasn’t accepting.

That I was feeling that way, my very logical mind was like, no, fuck this. This is stupid. Like, you know, that, that these, these fears are not, are not legit. And, and you’re fine. Like get over it. Essentially what I was telling myself without even being fully conscious to it, that is not how I would have treated someone else.

And I finally realized the discrepancy there. I’m like, Oh, okay, how do, how do I need to talk to the part of me that is scared right now? The part of me that’s hurting, the part of me that is, is worried. That part of me needed some, some love. And it was sort of like, as soon as I, as soon as I accepted it, there was just this sense of relief and the fear is just, they just kind of dissipated.

It felt like a weight lifted. So accepting yourself in, in all of your, your beautiful mess. It’s a really big part of creating intimacy, staying present in the discomfort rather than disconnecting. This is a really big one that I work with clients on a lot. This comes up over and over and over again, where I actually like, like men and women feeling very disconnected from their bodies, disconnected from their emotional experience.

Um, you know, sometimes if, if a conflict comes up or if something, something happens in a, in a relationship that they’re in, they will just kind of ignore it, shove it under the rug. They didn’t really want to deal with it. They’ll kind of have, some of them will maybe have the kind of the conversation, but they’re, they’re not getting to the true need and asking for their need to be met.

Right. So there’s still an avoidance happening, a disconnect, and that, that leads to feeling deeply disconnected. And, and deeply alone in, in your experience of a relationship. So really staying present with that discomfort and, and sometimes that might mean kind of dipping your toe in the water rather than going in fully.

And I’ve done other podcast episodes about this and, and there’s so many nuances to this and it varies with each individual based on your unique history and, and all those things. So it’s easier for me to, to, uh, work with someone kind of in real time around that. And someone that I can get to know, like, your unique story and everything else.

Creating presence with yourself and creating presence with another. And sometimes presence, presence is, presence is simply being there in the moment without distraction and allowing yourself to have the full experience. Even when it’s painful, even when it sucks sometimes, yes, like putting your phone away as part of it, but, but also just giving.

The other person and giving yourself full attention, allowing yourself to, to feel the uncomfortable feelings coming up and yeah, it doesn’t mean 24 seven, you know, like it in the sense that we’ll hear a lot about, you know, I, I’ve said this before, I guess sometimes we do need to Netflix and chill.

Sometimes we need to give our brains a break. You know, we, we can’t be in growth and healing mode like 24 seven. I, I just don’t buy into that. We, we are human beings. We are not human doings. And, and that’s actually one of the issues that I have in the personal development world is that it can seem sort of like, Oh, it’s this hamster wheel of healing.

Like when you do one thing, Oh, there’s one, there’s another thing. And here’s another thing I need to fix. And, and it can feel incredibly heavy. Reses also means enjoying this journey of life and staying present with that. And everything that, that life and relationships and all these things are presenting to you in that particular moment, that is intimacy.

Another one is choosing yourself first. I’ve also done a podcast episode about this one too, um, where I, I really had some breakthroughs a few months ago. I went to an event and had a lot of breakthroughs around that where I thought I had been choosing myself first. But I realized all the ways that I still wasn’t and and part of that ties into not asking for my needs to be met Right, that’s another that’s another big piece of this but it comes back to that basic philosophy around You know, uh, if, if the plane’s going down, put your, put your own oxygen mask on before you put someone else’s on, because you’re not going to be able to help them if you can’t breathe.

And I know that that has started to sound like a cliche these days, but you can’t show up as the highest version of yourself for others. If you are not also showing up as the highest version of yourself for you. And it’s not even about making, making it about other people. Like. You deserve to choose yourself first for your own sake and then you get to allow that, that beautiful ripple effect to come out of you.

And that, that aliveness to be able to be felt from others around you because you are taking care of you. That’s incredibly attractive by the way. That’s whether you are in an existing relationship or, or, uh, whether you’re single right now, it doesn’t matter. We are all in relationship with other humans, whether it’s romantic, platonic, or otherwise.

And choosing yourself first is a big part of that conversation. It doesn’t mean that you don’t make compromises. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments in time where you, you deeply prioritize another human, another relationship, like all these things. But, but still taking care of you at the end of the day.

Part of that is also having boundaries, right? This is another piece of intimacy. Having boundaries, saying no when, when you, when you check in with yourself and you know that a yes would cause resentment to build. That is the biggest key around boundaries. Sometimes I also sometimes explain that something like anger is one of the experiences that we can have that indicates to us that a boundary has been crossed.

If we’re feeling anger, sometimes that can be like, Ooh, okay, where did, where did I say yes, where it was actually a no. Where, where do I need to put in a boundary where I didn’t even maybe know I needed one? These are some of the conversations we need to have with ourselves. And that is again, creating true intimacy.

And it’s, it’s creating the space and like the, the fertile ground for intimacy to bloom in a relationship when you are taking care of, of you, when you’re taking care of you, you’re also taking care of the relationship. And I also don’t buy into like this hyper individualized. Culture that we’re living in because I think that it takes away from the power of human connection.

We are, we are not solo beings walking around the world by ourselves. And there are still moments where it comes down to us. Like we have to do that work ourselves. No one else is going to do it for you. You have to take care of you a really, this is a piece of emotional intimacy that that might be a little bit different.

Giving your partner the path to success. Rather than waiting for them to read your mind. And I hear this time and time and time again. And I, I get it. I get it. Trust me. I, I have absolutely had moments of feeling the same way. Where it’s sort of like this ideal of, uh, well, if they wanted to, they would. Or maybe, I don’t know, let’s say, let’s say you want, um, flowers.

You want your partner to buy you flowers. And he’s, he’s not buying you flowers. And you’re like, you’re, you’re annoyed. Like, well, what the fuck? Like, but you never actually tell him that you want flowers. And this goes in any direction, by the way, this can be applied to a million different scenarios. I’m just using the flowers as an example because it’s the first thing that comes to mind.

Does it, would it mean less to you if, if you want the flowers and you want more importantly what the flowers represent? Your partner giving you flowers likely represents to you that he’s thinking of you, that you’re on his mind, that you’re a priority to him. If you could give him the path to success by letting him know.

And not only would you love flowers, but this is what it means to you. It makes you feel loved, it cared for, and all of those things really getting to the roots of those things. I bet that that could shift things a little bit. And that would, again, create the grounds for intimacy to grow as opposed to pouting because our partner isn’t getting us flowers.

Like, you’re part of a team. Do you want the team to win? Because if you want flowers, but you refuse to ask for the flowers and you refuse to talk to your partner about what the flowers mean to you and what they represent to you and how important they are to you, but then you’re pissed that he never gets you flowers.

Do you see the problem here? Makes it really hard for intimacy to grow. And again, like come back to this over and over again. Like, how can you give your partner the path to success? Another really vulnerable thing is asking for a reminder as to why you’re, you’re awesome, amazing, and loved. Like, maybe you’re having a hard day, and maybe you need to be loved on a little extra.

Ask for that. Just be like, hey, you know what? I’m having a moment. I would love if you could share with me just some of the reasons why you think I’m amazing right now. That would just, it would, it would help me so much right now. That’s really vulnerable, and how beautiful. What a beautiful ask, and I bet that in a lot of cases, the person on the other end would likely be thrilled to tell you all of the reasons why they adore you.

Making it a priority to care for your partner’s wounds. This is a really big key to intimacy, because when we choose a person, when we choose a partner, we are also choosing their wounds. We’re choosing their stories, we’re choosing their trauma, we’re choosing the experiences that they have had in this world.

And part of being in a healthy relationship. It means helping to care for those wounds, being conscious to them, um, you know, having conversations about them, really noticing and, and getting clear on, and having communication around, you know, what, what would support your partner in helping to heal some of those wounds.

You get to do that together. That’s partly what, what interdependence is, which is also a really great indication of, of, uh, emotional intimacy. Is not being, you know, the super hyper independent being, but instead allowing yourself to come together with another person and to allow them in, right? Allow them in a little bit, see how they show up for you and then you show up for them.

And it’s this like beautiful dance that you get to have and you get to be supported. Super quick before we move on, are you ready to deepen your connection and create magic in your relationship? My partner Kelly Gardner and I have spots open now for couples coaching, focused on helping you break down walls and solidify your foundation, have a more deeply connected sex life, and designing the most fulfilling, supportive, and loving relationship you have ever experienced.

We work with couples as a couple, and it’s a safe space where you can heal together and learn to show up with radical honesty and transparency. All the information is in the show notes, or you can jump over to EmilyGoffCoaching. com to submit an application and book a consult call with us. Let’s get back to the show.

The last one that I’ll wrap up with, and there’s, there’s so many more, uh, but the last one I’ll wrap up with for today in terms of the signs of emotional intimacy is emotional range. So if, if you are in a relationship with someone where, again, you, you can allow them to See you at your worst. See you at the best and, and, and to also allow them to see you experiencing particular emotions that might feel really vulnerable in other scenarios.

So for me, that’s anger. Um, I don’t show anger that often. Um, and I have started to show it more because I’ve started to expand my emotional range a lot more. And I also feel safer. Not only within my relationships, but within myself to express the anger and I do so in a healthy way. It still can sometimes feel a little, like a little edgy for me.

Like, ooh, I’m gonna let them see me angry. Like then, then they might think of me a particular way or anything like that. But I don’t actually, I don’t actually feel that way. The, the way that I once did, you know, I, I don’t, I don’t define myself by, oh, if I, if I express anger then they’re, they’re going to think that I’m an angry person.

And that used to really weigh on me. These are, these are some of the ways that we get to expand our, the depths of our relationships and the emotional intimacy with others. So, I’d love to hear which one of these landed for you the most and what you would add to the list. Because this is, this is, can be an ongoing list here.

Sometimes I make lists like this. I’m like, all right, let’s make this like a living document. Let’s go. Let’s, let’s keep adding to this list. This is the room to grow podcast. There’s always more room to grow. So let me know how that lands. I’d love to hear it. And, uh, don’t forget to, uh, check out my brand new book.

You Grow Me with my coauthor, Dr. J Tita. It is now available on Amazon. Super super excited about the, the reviews that have been coming in, have just been Absolutely. Heartwarming. Just incredible to see. Um, I’m still kind of pinching myself and like, wait, what I have a book in the world. So definitely go check it out and have a beautiful day.

We’ll be back. We’ll be back soon.

Thank you so much for listening. If you want more. One of the most common questions I get is where do I even start doing this work to create deeper connections and better relationships? I’ve got a free 15 page guide for you called, where do we begin? This is the very foundation that you need to start building healthy relationships with others.

And with yourself, this is my gift to you. And multiple people have referred to it as life changing. You can find it over a room to grow podcast. com or check the show notes to go download it and have it sent straight to your inbox. Thanks so much. And stay tuned for more episodes weekly.


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