Get Closer to Your Guy: 6 Simple Steps to Increasing Intimacy

Forget sending flowers and candy to the one you love for Valentine's Day. The best gift -- and the heart and soul of romance, for that matter -- is good communication. Everyone wants to be understood, heard and accepted. But few know how to find the right way to express what is inside, and even fewer know how to listen.

The greatest barrier to emotional intimacy is the feeling that you have to be someone different than who you are. Once you change that attitude, you will be on the road to better communication. The next step is learning how to talk and listen in ways that can help you get closer to your partner -- more and more each day. By following six simple steps, you can increase intimacy and open the proverbial emotional doors that might be standing between you:

1. Accept your partner as he is -- and do the same for yourself. Stop telling your partner what is wrong with him. When a person feels judged or criticized, he can never open up and become close to you. Drop the desire to change him, and say to yourself, I will let this person be as he is and let go of my wish to control him.

2. Focus on what's right about your partner -- and tell him about it. Realize that you fell in love with your partner for a reason. Focus on whatever it was that drew you to him in the first place. Was it that wacky sense of humor? His potential to be a great father? That sweet smile? Then, remind him of all the things he does to make you happy. So often, we communicate the complaints but keep silent about the compliments. Instead, make a point of letting your partner know whenever he does something to please you, or when there is something about him that you genuinely like and respect. The rewards are twofold: First, you are giving your partner a confidence boost, and second, your praise clues him in to what qualities are meaningful to you.

Click here to discover the four other steps to increasing intimacy and getting closer to your guy:
3. Listen with love: How to truly "hear" your partner
4. Smart talk: How to express your feelings
5. Ask and ye shall receive
6. Become your own best friend

3. Listen with love. Want to know a secret? When a person feels as though he is really being heard, he feels loved. Listening means turning off our own inner monologue and drama and really being there for another person. The person should feel free to say whatever is on his mind. You do not correct, interrupt or bring up another instance when you thought that he was wrong. Instead, by really listening you create an environment where the other feels and is "heard."

To practice this exercise, clear your mind and focus only on your partner and what he is saying to you. Offer no response. Listen carefully and then paraphrase what he said to you, so he knows you are following him. For example, you could say, "I heard you say that you feel you need more space." Stop yourself from commenting or analyzing the statement. Just let him know that you heard him -- and that you're not thinking of ways to criticize or change what he had to say.

4. Smart talk. Many people keep things to themselves -- minor grievances, disappointments, wishes. They believe that if they are really in love, their partners should automatically know what's going on, much like a child's expectations of her parents. As an adult who is communicating to achieve intimacy, you should do the reverse. Let the person know how you are truly feeling, what you need, what hopes you harbor. In this way, you are sharing your true self. But don't blame your partner if something hurts or disappoints you. Instead, take responsibility for your own feelings.

5. Ask and ye shall receive. Some people seem to think that if they ask their partner for something -- a hug, more help around the house, better sex -- they will be rejected or shamed. Confessing your true wants and needs requires the willingness to be open and vulnerable -- but the rewards will make it all worth it.

Once you ask for what you want, allow yourself to receive it and offer thanks. When you forget to express gratitude, you leave the giver feeling a bit like a failure. Make sure you let your partner know how much his gifts mean to you. Of course, this goes both ways. Find out what your partner truly desires, and see if you can fulfill his wishes. If either of you has trouble meeting the other's wants and needs, openly discuss what is preventing you from doing so -- and how you might be able to compromise.

6. Become your own best friend. You will never get close to a partner unless you like and respect yourself. Self-rejection is one of the major stumbling blocks in a relationship. Often, people blame their partners for the things they dislike about themselves.

The first step in overcoming this: Make a list of things you like and respect about yourself and the things you have to offer in a relationship. What exactly do you want from your partner? Can you give it to yourself? After you answer these questions, decide to focus on the good you have to offer and to slowly eliminate the bad. Treat yourself with kindness and patience. This is wonderful preparation for intimate relationships. When you come to your partner feeling good about yourself, he will feel good about you as well.

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