Physical, emotional and even spiritual connections are often projected as the cornerstones of a balanced, robust relationship. While that assessment is correct, one essential aspect of the connection between couples is often overlooked – intellectual intimacy. Before we delve into why healthy intellectual intimacy can work wonders for any relationship – and how to achieve it – let’s understand what it means to be intellectually intimate with your partner.
What Is Intellectual Intimacy?
Psychologists describe intellectual intimacy the coming together of two people on such level of comfort that they feel no hesitation in sharing their thoughts and ideas, even when their opinions are divergent. When two people have intellectual intimacy, they know each other from the inside, much deeply than anyone else does. In romantic relationships while intimacy is largely perceived to be physical, the fact is that when two people know each other so well that they bond out of that physical sphere they become friends.
A couple who is intellectually intimate would share their hobbies, interests, dreams, and even dark secrets, making theirs’ a successful relationship. And all these intellectual intimacy examples fall outside the sphere of physical intimacy. At times, intimacy can come from intellectual sharing between a couple. In lay terms, intellectual intimacy can be defined as ‘getting each other’. And we all know how reassuring it is to have even one person in your life who gets you. Now imagine, if this person is your partner!
Related Reading: 12 Ways Lack Of Intimacy In Your Marriage Affects You
Why You Need Intellectual Intimacy in Your Relationship?
So, you’ve been told that communication is the spine of a healthy relationship. The ability to share your thoughts, ideas, hopes, passions, deepest darkest desires and fears, expectations and goals in life, for hours on end, is the very pinnacle of excellent communication. That’s precisely what intellectual intimacy helps you achieve.
This form of intimacy is strengthened when couples build on each other’s thoughts and take conversations to a new high of engagement, without either of them feeling bored or zoning out. Receiving, interpreting and processing your partners’ inputs in the right spirit is one of the critical behaviours of increasing intimacy on an intellectual level.
Do You Enjoy Intellectual Intimacy in Your Relationship?
Knowing that harnessing that brain to brain connection can help your relationship augment can get you to wonder if you enjoy intellectual intimacy with your partner. These intellectual intimacy examples will help you figure it out:
- You always look for new things to do together. From trying new dance forms to horse riding, culinary skills to gardening, you have a no holds barred approach toward stuff you both can do together.
- You don’t feel the need to be in a crowd to have a good time. You and your partner can talk about life and plans, and discuss each other’s hopes and dreams for hours together.
- You always ask each other’s opinion on even the smallest things. Also if you’re out to buy new curtains for the house or are getting a new seat covers installed in the car, you want to know what they think of your choice. Not for validation but because their opinion matters to you.
- You can discuss financial matters without either of your feeling edgy or cornered.
- You can confide in each other about things you’d be embarrassed or ashamed to share with anyone else.
- You can tell if something is weighing on your partner’s mind, but they’re not talking about it, and make them feel comfortable enough to let their guard down and speak.
Even if these examples don’t ring true for your relationship, know that it’s never too late to start.
How Do You Develop Intellectual Intimacy?
The extent to which a couple can stimulate each other cerebrally and connect on an intellectual level can be governed by a variety of factors such as your core value system, your educational backgrounds, and your ability to vocalise your thoughts. And not every couple can achieve a gold standard of intellectual intimacy, just like not every couple can check all the boxes for emotional, sexual, spiritual or intentional intimacy.
That said, with conscious, persistent efforts, you can indeed get started on the right path of nourishing intellectual intimacy. Here are 12 ways to do it:
1. Share similar attitudes
Attitude is one’s outlook toward life. If you and your partner view things in life differently, trying to find common ground or keeping an open mind toward one another’s approach toward things such as life goals, financial planning, career paths can be a good start point to cultivate intellectual intimacy in the relationship.
2. Cultivate shared interests
My uncle and aunt shared love for long walks. Soon, it became their thing. For 23 years of their married life, till he lost her to cancer, they’d set out for that 45-minute evening walk every single day, rain or sunshine. This common interest was their escape from the mundane demands of everyday life, and their marriage was stronger for it.
Cultivating any interest that you can pursue as a couple can transform the connection you feel with your partner on an intellectual level.
3. Read together
A couple that reads together would never need to wonder how do you develop intellectual intimacy? Books are this fantastic treasure trove that keeps your grey cells ticking. So cultivating a habit to read together and then discuss the book can help bring intellectually closer to your partner.
4. Align your values
Coming from different families – and perhaps, even different backgrounds or parts of the country/world – it is near impossible for any couple to have the same value system. So, aligning your values over time is crucial for the growth of a relationship, not just on the intellectual but also a sublime level.
Related Reading: 7 Habits Of People In The Happiest Relationships
5. Be supportive of each other
You cannot achieve intellectual intimacy without being supportive of your partner, no matter what curve ball life throws at you. This involves harnessing the ability to walk in their shoes and see the situation from their perspective.
6. Find fun activities to do together
Establishing a cerebral connection with your significant other doesn’t necessarily have to involve serious and heavy stuff. You can also keep this process light and effortless by finding fun activities to do together. It can be anything from going to the movies together or binge-watching a new series on Netflix.
7. Talk about work
Yes, you read that right. While a lot of relationship experts advise couples not to bring their work home, work discussions can be a fantastic breeding ground for intellectual intimacy. Of course, this not to suggest that you both talk about work or whine about your bosses all the time. But try to carve that space where you and your partner feel comfortable sharing a thing or two about their work life.
For instance, ask them how their day was over a glass of wine. If you get a guarded response at first, prod them to tell you more. Soon, it’ll become a way of life. The ability to share your work life with your spouse without the fear of judgment or being shot down can improve your engagement level, and hence, your intimacy. It is for this reason that people in high-pressure jobs marry within the occupation.
8. Discuss past life experiences
A friend of mine was sexually abused in her pre-teen years and hadn’t shared the experience with anyone, except a handful of her closest friends. Five years into her marriage, in a vulnerable moment, she confided in her husband, who hugged her and cried with her. They spoke about it late into the night, and over time, he convinced her to talk to a therapist about the trauma.
That one moment of vulnerability has brought them closer than ever. So, shed that inhibition and talk to your partner about your life before they came along in detail, and encourage them to do the same. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something big or scandalous.
9. Read the newspaper together
What better way to cultivate a close intellectual bond than sharing your thoughts and views on the happenings around the world. Whenever you can, read the morning newspaper or watch the evening prime time together, and then engaging in a healthy discussion on it.
Remember not to make it personal, even if your political views are divergent.
10. Plan an adventure together
Loading up on new experiences broadens your horizons and stimulates the mind. When a couple enjoys new experiences together, it brings them closer intellectually. Besides, investing your time and energy in planning your new adventure can be a great bonding opportunity.
11. Connect over texts and social media
Virtual interactions between you and your partner – and the ensuing response – can take this intellectual dance to a whole new level, as it allows you to discover new things together. So, keep up the social media dance with those DMs, social media tags, sharing of memes, even if you both live in the same house.
12. Learn a new skill together
Pursuing a new profession can bring out the student in your again and revives that urge to learn. Since you and your partner are in it together, it opens up new avenues to share, discuss and grow together.
Growing up, we had an old couple living next door. The man was a retired professor, the wife an unread woman. I spent many an afternoon playing in their front yard. Thinking back now, I never saw then talk to each other really, besides discussing what groceries to buy, what to cook for the next meal, and whether he wanted to have chai. Honestly, growing old together has to involve more than talking about food for four decades of your life.
If you want evolved connection for your relationship, make it a habit to go down on your partner’s mind.