By: Terry A Rifkin L.C.S.W.

Intimacy and closeness are very important in any relationship, but these are not easily achieved. Some people think that having a long relationship already equates to closeness, but the truth is that not all relationships have that much-needed closeness. Intimacy and closeness, in fact, are often present during the early stages of a relationship, but as time goes by and both partners neglect the closeness, it gradually diminishes, sometimes quite unnoticeably.

Take a look at the divorce rate nowadays. Each couple who gets a divorce had intimacy at the beginning; after all, without that, two people will not be compelled by their emotions to get married. But the intimacy disappears eventually if it is not worked on.

Intimacy in a relationship is characterized by both emotional and physical closeness. To achieve intimacy in a relationship, it takes dedication and work from both sides. If you want to create closeness in your relationship, you should try to have the following five characteristics:

Openness –Openness or the ability to be honest and to talk openly with one another is the most important ingredient of a close relationship. This allows the two partners to know one another in a deeper level, in a way that is more real than what is seen in the surface by other people. Openness also allows each side to divulge negative emotions or observations, and this helps release the repressed tension between both parties.

Listening and Understanding – But for openness to work effectively, each side should be willing to listen to the other and to understand. Some people are discouraged from opening up to their partners because they are afraid that their partner won’t listen or won’t understand. So to encourage openness and create intimacy, you should be ready to listen and to understand.

Trust – And as the one opening up, you also have to trust that your partner is willing to listen and understand. This also encourages openness. This is perhaps the most important thing necessary in a relationship. Without trust between couples, family members, or friends, a close relationship is impossible.

Acceptance – In a relationship, it is normal to focus mostly on the positive sides of both partners, especially at the beginning. In a lot of cases, problems with intimacy begin when the two partners start seeing the negative sides of one another. Most of the time, these become reasons for disagreements and unmet expectations. Thus, for a relationship to take its natural course to intimacy, there should be acceptance. Do not try to change one another. It is important to help each other grow and improve, but shortcomings, weaknesses, or mere differences should not be held against one another. If there are things that need to be changed or improved upon, help the other person through it.

Respect – Usually, the desire to change someone else springs from a lack of respect. Respecting means having a high opinion of the other person. If you don’t have respect for a partner, chances are that you’d expect him or her to change into something you think is better and you will, even unconsciously, look down on that person. On the other hand, respecting leads to appreciation. And appreciating one another is important in building closeness in a relationship.

Terry is an author and highly sought out expert on eating disorders, depression and anxiety. She frequently speaks to special groups and businesses in the Southern California area and can be followed on her blog at this link.