Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On?


When was the first time you made love? The last time? I was in my 40s before I really made love. What took me so long? Why didn’t I experience that heavenly closeness and soulmate sanctity before my fourth decade? Because making love involves emotional AND physical intimacy. I never truly felt safe or in love enough to be myself —to be so vulnerable and give so freely — that my partner could love every aching, exposed part of me. I only extended myself emotionally enough to appear engaged.  I held my true self at a distance. I didn’t want to love someone more than they loved me. I didn’t want to lose myself in the loving either. Most of all I didn’t want to reveal the real, vulnerable, sensitive me.

I withheld my full self and trust subconsciously. I only realized what I was doing when I couldn’t do it anymore. I was withering on the vine, my desire for deep connecting intimacy so great that I knew I couldn’t live without it.

What is emotional intimacy?

Sharing heart stories, broken stories and tales of exquisite joy.

Being fully seen and known.

The closest you can get to someone non-physically.

Finding meaning as communication flows.

Risking vulnerability and growing stronger because of it.

Interactions with feelings attached.

The best foreplay.

Giving without depleting.

Sharing truths without fear of rejection.

Extending yourself and expanding exponentially.

A two-way connection where you both feel heard and nourished.


slipped into intimacy

Obstacles to intimacy

For years I felt a shame regarding what seemed like my inferior nature. My feelings get hurt easily. I suck at fast paced living and manic juggling. No one is ever going to call me stoic. I’ve often been called sensitive. My heart is on my sleeve poised for collisions with the real world and I tried to hide that.

I often felt like I had to earn my worthiness by being highly productive, happy and endlessly energetic. I needed that bright persona in order to be lovable. By upholding that belief, I not only robbed myself of a safe place to let down my guard but I cheated my partners out of that haven as well. If I couldn’t be myself, neither could they.

According to Margaret Paul Ph.D. and her article, Fear of Intimacythere are two other fears that stifle emotional intimacy: Fear of rejection (losing the other person) and fear of engulfment (being invaded, controlled or losing oneself).

Although I felt loved by my former husband there was definitely a subconscious resistance to him. A resistance built in order to stave off engulfment. As an introvert, I often felt invaded or controlled by his extroverted nature which I perceived as stronger and more dominant. Inability to remove such resistance made it impossible to share emotional intimacy and was a major reason our marriage broke down.

How to foster emotional intimacy?

The secret to moving beyond the fear of intimacy lies in developing a powerful, loving, adult part of you that learns how to not take rejection personally, and learns to set appropriate limits against engulfment. ~ Dr. Margaret Paul

You must recognize your wholeness. It is crucial to take responsibility for your own self-worth. No one else can define you or give you strength and value. That must come from within. If you know yourself intimately and accept your gifts and dark facets then no one can take anything from you. Rejection is a risk but not permanently devastating. Engulfment is a risk but kept at bay because you speak up for yourself. You no longer allow anyone to invade your space because you have boundaries that serve your spirit.

How does an introvert create self-worth?

Everyone is after the same thing, y’know. It’s called intimacy. The only way to experience it is to be yourself.

— Joan Erikson, A Year By the Sea

Introverts dwell contentedly in their inner-worlds. Feelings, impressions and ideas fuel our existence. The only thing equal to delicious solitude in its ability to rejuvenate and nourish this internal living? Emotional intimacy. Inner-worlds intertwined.

Self-worth eluded me for much of my life. Admittedly, I followed the herd hoping to gain value by belonging to certain groups or having certain friends, lovers or relatives by my side. Important by association. With my introverted nature I felt I needed a stand out character next to me in order to advance, get noticed or do anything ground breaking. This is what I witnessed growing up. The extroverts were popular, envied and in charge.

I undervalued observing, feeling and listening skills.

Then I encountered incredible introverts who change the lives of others for the better. My own life drifted from the herd because my guitar teacher validated my thinking and taught me I am whole all on my own. I’ll never forget what he said one day not that long after we’d met.

 You seem like someone who could do anything. 

To a stay-at-home mom heaped in limiting beliefs, this was an oasis in the desert, a buffet to the starving. My backbone straightened instantly.

Almost cosmically, I gathered more introverts into my universe. I swam in a sea of richness in writing classes. We shared broken stories and expanded exponentially. Surrounded by others fed  from within, I learned that I can feed myself.  This way of existing felt so natural. It was as if I was given permission to revel in my self. I was shown my own light. This comfort in my own skin gave me the confidence to spearhead my life.  I had less fear of rejection and more strength to combat engulfment, not only within my introvert tribe but within all realms. Blissfully open to emotional intimacy as well as physical intimacy, making love became a reality.

What is emotional intimacy to you? How much are you getting? Extroverts, your thoughts? 

If Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On spoke to you, you may also like:

5 Ways to Get Intimate That Don’t Involve Having Sex – (elephant journal)

Brene Brown: How Vulnerability Holds the Key to Emotional Intimacy (Spirituality and Health Magazine)

How Does Introversion Affect Your Sexuality? (space2live)

 3 Elements of Exquisite Sex and Divine Writing (space2live)

 Introvert Relationships: Love Me or Leave Me but Please Don’t Need Me (Too Much) (space2live)

Leave a Reply


  1. indepthwoman
    June 29, 2015

    Hi Brenda,

    The kind of love I want, especially with the type of music I listen to…I know one day I will have that…I’m almost 35 this July and I have never felt that vulnerable to be close to someone to really make love. i want to but its just not the right timing. The last time I thought I was close to it. I met someone and we had a connection and when we finally got together it was over in 3 minutes or less. I was like damn, I waited 10 years for that. It was horrible! This guy talked all this mess about this and that and came up short and I never saw him again. I know what I want and I feel like the type of love I want, or the type of love making I want to do…I’m just going to be a late bloomer…Have you ever heard the song “Comfort of a man” By Stephanie mills? If not listen to it.It speaks volumes.

    • Brenda Knowles
      June 29, 2015

      Keep on figuring out what you want and what you have to offer. Making love will happen. I was in my 40s before I really felt it. I checked out the Stephanie Mills song. Awesome. I love the lyrics. There is nothing like the comfort of a man, especially when you are a whole, spiritually full woman lying next to him.

  2. Liz Parker
    April 17, 2015

    This speaks to my soul. Fear of rejection/engulfment. That’s my life story, right there. It’s so hard to find a balance, and someone who understands how important that balance is.

    • Brenda Knowles
      April 18, 2015

      The key thing to remember is that almost all people have some degree of those fears. The more I learn, the more I see that managing those fears is my responsibility but it is also amazing to have a partner who is good at the two-way deep connecting. Thanks for commenting Liz.

  3. daniela
    February 27, 2015

    Thank you very much for this article. I´ve only discovered your page recently, but I keep reading it regularly since.
    I must say that I identify myself with introverts when I compare myself with “others”, my boyfriend is introverted even more, though I almost feel extroverted next to him wanting his attention sometimes (!). So I can find lot of interesting stuff in your articles about both of my sides :-)
    .Emotional intimacy is something I value a lot. I just have to work a bit on my self respect. Sometimes its too important for me what do others think (including my boyfriend). Sometimes I feel uncomfortable for being too emotional, I feel like i SHOULD act differently, lot of things touch me .. I admit that there are days Im so afraid, afraid of being vulnerable but again tired of trying to be different.

    Keep writing please, it is pleasure to read.

    • Brenda Knowles
      February 27, 2015

      I have days when I am afraid of being too emotional too. Many people run from an outpouring of strong emotions, but… over the last few years I have found many who do not. Interestingly, they are a mix of emotional and non-emotional people themselves. I would say all are quite sensitive and introspective but only some show their feelings outwardly. I belong to a writing group. We all know within the group it is safe to let down your guard and show your true feelings.

      You are right to think about building up your self-respect. Know who you are and self-direct. This will go a long way toward creating a strong and healthy relationship. It is possible to maintain personal integrity and an intimate relationship. Introverts tend to go deep into relationships when we do plunge into them. It sounds like you are quite taken with your boyfriend. That’s a good thing just remember you are a whole person with or without him. Your preferences and desires count and so do his.

      Thank you for sharing so candidly. I will keep writing. I can’t stop! 😉

  4. Best of Space2live 2014: Most Popular New Posts and a Return toThose With Staying Power | space2live
    January 2, 2015

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? […]

  5. Diane Michalowski
    December 30, 2014

    Reading your words is a God send. I continually criticize my life because I do not take part in the rat race of living in America. I thought something was wrong with me. Thank you so much for shining this light into my heart. It just might change my life.

    • Brenda Knowles
      December 31, 2014

      Well, you made my day Diane. I’m so happy my words offered some validation and understanding. You are not alone.:) Have an incredible new year!

    • kerri
      February 3, 2015

      I agree, me too Diane. How ironic to think that there is something wrong with US. I am learning, albeit slowly, otherwise with the help of others like you and Brenda who are courageous and wiling to share their true experience. Thanks so much, from my heart.

  6. Ten Ways to Ignite a Relationship With a Sensitive Introvert | space2live
    November 14, 2014

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? […]

  7. Sensation Seeking Badass: The Sexy Side of Being a Sensitive Introvert | space2live
    August 1, 2014

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? […]

  8. Heidi
    June 24, 2014

    Good day to you,

    What an inspirational blog! I stumbled it while looking at my fb news feed, and now here I am. Your words have given me more insight about my self. In your sharing, you mentioned about fear of intimacy. I never thought that I’ve this kind of fear in my life, I just thought that I’m just weird.

    Whenever I met a new friends, usually I preferred to ‘just be friends’ mode I don’t want any intimate relationship like BFF or such. Things started to become complicated if they started to open up to me or want to know more about me, The reason is I would become afraid (without knowing the reason why) and started to build resistance towards them. I don’t want to reveal the real me or getting deeply with them. Because of my act, some of my friends misunderstood me.

    I’ve suffered a major depression when I was 14 till I was 18. As introverted I am, I did not tell anyone about my problem. The only way I could stop my depression is by becoming emotionally-detached, suppressing some of my feelings from bothering my life. That probably contribute to I-don’t-want-emotionally-attached-to-you. Sometimes I wish I can be more intimate with them and having a boyfriend, but my fear held me captive.

    This is the first time I wrote up my feelings to anyone. Your words and sharing have inspired me to write. Thank you.

    (sorry for my English)

    • Brenda Knowles
      June 25, 2014

      I am so honored that you felt comfortable sharing your feelings here. One of my truest desires is for space2live to be a safe space for vulnerable admissions. Your English is beautiful!! No apologizing necessary.:)

      When you meet new people are you interested in their stories? In other words, are you comfortable listening just not sharing? Many introverts are intensely private. We have so much going on inside of us that it can be very difficult to describe anyway. Do you fear being judged for your personal truths? Are you ashamed, embarrassed or do you fear they won’t understand? All of the above?

      I have a friend who is an introvert. He spoke to me last night about ‘detaching’ and going away to his cabin, so you are not alone.:)

      I can tell you I never shared any of my innermost feelings until I met someone who not only was unafraid to express his own vulnerability but he made me see my own temperament/skills/traits in a positive light. I needed an extremely non-judgmental and praising person to allow myself to open up. We were a lot alike temperament wise, so he understood me and consequently freed me.:) Since meeting him, I have met many more angels like him. I want space2live to embody the same openness, offering a safe place to emotionally explore.

      I can also tell you that writing served as an amazing doorway to healing and revealing myself. Many people recommended journaling (which I think is great btw) but the real benefits came when I started sharing my writing. It somehow felt less intimate when sharing on a blog. I didn’t use my real name at first. I also have a writing group that meets monthly. It includes women I trust completely. We write responses to prompts such as, “What I really want is…” then we share with the group. It somehow feels a little removed when you are reading your words rather than saying them.

      I recommend finding a safe friend or circle and admitting your hesitancy regarding intimacy. If that is not possible (for now),then write somewhere – blog, journal – and see what comes out. I think you need to connect to something deeper. Could be yourself. Could be someone else. Could be God (just throwing that out there).

      Most of all you are not alone. Intimacy/vulnerability is scary. It’s putting yourself out there, open to rejection. I kept everything inside until I was about 35! I didn’t have a particularly safe environment growing up for vulnerability. I was the sensitive one.

      Just know it only takes tiny steps toward freedom. You don’t have to divulge your whole life story to someone. Just commenting here was a big step. Congrats! You are beginning to blossom.:)

  9. Dating Deeply: Will You Go Intimate with Me? | space2live
    June 20, 2014

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? […]

  10. How Much Are You Willing to Reveal?:Daring to Be Vulnerable | space2live
    May 9, 2014

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? […]

  11. Introvert Dating in Her 40s: It’s Good. It’s Bad. It’s Different This Time Around. | space2live
    May 2, 2014

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? […]

  12. 3 Elements of Exquisite Sex and Divine Writing | space2live
    April 22, 2014

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? […]

  13. How to Reconnect: Maintaining Sexual Interest, Engagement and Identity in Your Relationship | space2live
    April 11, 2014

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? (space2live) […]

  14. The Daydreamy Introvert’s Approach to Love | space2live
    April 4, 2014

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? […]

  15. Pascal Monmoine
    February 4, 2014

    Bonjour Brenda…

    Your words and sharings… their inherent richness and honesty… their clarity and kindness… have touched my heart, and possibly my life.

    I deeply fell in like :) …a couple of months ago… with a self disclaimed introverted. This was a very first for me as being myself extroverted… the very many Women’s whose hand I was privileged to hold for a little, or longer while, (but who I did not, unlike M, fell in like for :) ) were always extroverted.
    Now understanding early on how aware M (we will call her M… for Mademoiselle :) ) was of her favorite and core mode of living and loving: introversion… I then made it of course my own journey to understand all that I could about what would be bringing smiles to her heart and to her days (which I wanted to learn to embrace… and offer) …and what would not (which I would do my best to avoid).
    And your sharings and writings have be SO incredibly helpful and precious in my doing so Brenda!… I wanted to deeply and truly Thank You for it…

    With much gratitude to you Brenda…

    And wishing for this day to be filled for you with much love and very many smiles… offered, shared and received….


    ps: this is the first time ever that I post any thoughts and feelings on someone’s blog…. Thank you to You also for making me feel so invited to do so :)

    • Brenda Knowles
      February 4, 2014

      Oh Pascal! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings (for the first time!) on my blog.:) First of all, bonus points to you for being so evolved and caring to seek understanding regarding introversion. Your special M will greatly appreciate your efforts, I’m sure.

      Introverts and extroverts can create beautiful and rich relationships. The key is to have awareness and respect for each other’s temperaments. A sense of humor about your differences helps too.:)

      If you feel like it, keep me posted regarding what are the easiest and best parts of your relationship and what are the challenges, especially in regards to the introvert/extrovert dynamic. I love to hear what makes relationships with introverts incredible.

      Thank you for your very kind words. May there be much love and joy in your life too Pascal.:)

      • Pascal Monmoine
        February 6, 2014

        Merci beaucoup Brenda! :) (I am a French native but fell in love with our most fantastic “USA” many decades ago) for your so kind and warm answer… one filled with beautiful and so precious hope that yes introverts and extroverts can indeed build and live a most blissful and beautiful journey together…

        All your words and thoughts sprinkled thorough your wonderful blog are SO incredibly helpful as this is such a whole new world and situation to me… one that I never considered before but… we just don’t pick when the most beautiful rainbow of all appears in the skies in front of you right?… :) … and if and when it does, you do not for an instant think of changing it in any ways… or asking for it to change… What you do is understand that it is for you to move around and adjust yourself in order to have a chance to get to see it and cherish it, in the best possible view allowing you to discover it and cherish it in its entirety and all its beauties… then all you do is simply thank destiny for bringing it to your eyes, and to your heart…

        As you so kindly suggested for me to voice both my challenges and wonderments, and as I assume that doing so might be of modest help to others on their own journey, I will try my best do so…
        At this early stage of my journey with beautiful M… I only have one source of worry… and a multitude of wonderments, sunsets, starry nights, sparkles and magic… immense beauties and endless smiles… for and from the amazing Woman who she really is… my being so infinitely and deeply grateful for her…

        From the time that I was made aware of her introverted own journey and soul, my immediate choice of thoughts and approach was of course to first and foremost totally respect it and embrace it, just as it is, just as she so beautifully is… As a guest to her life and heart, whether for a short while, or for a much longer journey, this was to me the only kind and loving choice of approach. In the same spirit, I also chose to embrace wanting to understand the best I could what the world of an introvert truly was… and what would be source of smiles and joy, peace and happiness to her and for her… and what would not be. This seemed to me the only healthy, respectful and loving approach of it, in addition to giving our journey any chance to maybe last and bloom into one of endless bliss to be shared…

        So yes I so do want to understand all that I can about it as to give me the opportunity to bring as many smiles to her heart and days as I will be capable of… my main worry being, as an extrovert myself, to not be able to bring to her what she will need most with her time and space to herself… while also finding a place for my own heart that will allow for sufficient time spent and shared together… And from what I understand at this stage of my learning journey and readings, this might be my one and only biggest challenge…

        Needless to say, I would never ever want her to change anything in her ways as, whether with me in her life or without, I first and foremost want for her to be totally free to be herself, just as she sole defines it… for all the joys that it brings to her days, on her own terms, with her own needs. I want first and foremost her own happiness, with anything and everything that this might require… including lots of her “space” to “recharge” and rest as needed and when needed…. And for that to be and happen, as it should and as it must… while finding a place for me to also… be me… with my deep desire to see her and be in her presence, no matter what we would do and share… might be my main, and possibly only, challenge to share her journey… or to have a chance to build a blissful one with her, hand in hand, heart to heart….

        The endless positives and upsides, and the incredible magic of it all being of course that … introvert or not, introvert and not… I truly and simply adore her! I greatly admire and respect her and her journey of self…. and I am incredibly attracted to her intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and physically. I have grown to adore her faster and deeper that I can ever remember for my heart, mind and soul to ever feel… and whether our journey will only last a single season… or it will for an infinity of summers … I am so deeply grateful for being a guest to her heart and to her smiles…

        That… dearest Brenda, is kind of where I am… and as you so kindly asked me to share…
        Any and all suggestions from you and from others will be infinitely precious and welcome…

        With much love to you, and to all the people who live in your heart….


        • Brenda Knowles
          February 7, 2014

          I have to mention that I adore how expressive and effusive you are Pascal. So creative and caring with your words. You are entering this relationship with an open heart and mind. That will carry you and your relationship a long way. Your understanding of introversion will help immensely. It’s often hard for introverts to ask for space. We feel guilty about it. Your lovely M will not feel judged when she approaches you with a request for alone time. I hope she honors your need for togetherness with as much flair and care. Best of luck Pascal. May your love flourish for many seasons. Space2live is always here for reference or any questions you may have.

  16. Introvert Relationships: Love Me or Leave Me But Please Don’t Need Me (Too Much) | space2live
    January 8, 2014

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On?(space2live) […]

  17. Space2live’s Top 10 Posts for 2013 and A Personal List of Lessons Learned | space2live
    January 3, 2014

    […] 5. Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? Find out what makes us lose it in a good way. […]

  18. Kathleen
    December 21, 2013

    This is such a beautiful post which gets to the bottom of things precisely. I’m an introvert all in all and there’s nothing I LOVE, I mean, REALLY WHOLEHEARTEDLY, FALLING-ALL-OVER Love, more than those heartfelt, deep conversations and the knowing silence in between… but unfortunately this world is so full of “Oh”, “I see”, “Haha”, “Don’t think too much”, “Everything will be OK” … sometimes this kind of answers IRRITATES me to the point that I want to cut ties with that person completely right away… Emotional Intimacy is what keeps us Lively with a purpose and a deep sense of warmth… but it’s also something that’s so hard to encounter in life.

    • Brenda Knowles
      December 23, 2013

      There are the thinkers and there are the feelers in this world. I’m reading a lot right now on how to value and appreciate our differences. I would much rather have a close intimate conversation over a scheduling and planning discussion but I am realizing more and more I need thinker types to temper my feelings. I have learned to surround myself with those who fuel that internal light but I also know I need to balance my desire for depth and intimacy with logic (just a little bit;). But in my heart I know it’s intimacy that makes me glow and keeps me going.
      Thanks for reading and commenting my fellow intimacy junkie and kindred spirit.:)

  19. Men, Gentleness and Physical Touch: A Recipe for Openness and Evolution | space2live
    November 15, 2013

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? (space2live) […]

  20. nturavgjo
    November 6, 2013

    This just made me lose my breath. No literally, I had to remind myself to breathe. Some of this I’d already come to haphazardly, life finding classes that stimulate me and I’ve dropped so many friends that I began to worry. Now I’m realizing that I’ve already subconsciously started to move to a space where I can feel free to be me. It’s going to take work but I’m uses to that.

    • Brenda Knowles
      November 6, 2013

      Strength and peace to you. May you find the space where you are most alive.:)

  21. Understanding the Introvert Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving | space2live
    October 11, 2013

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? […]

  22. Importance of Emotional Intimacy | What is Intimacy?
    August 8, 2013

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? […]

  23. I Belong Deeply to Myself But I’ll Let You In: The Ebb and Flow of Introvert Intimacy | space2live
    August 2, 2013

    […] Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? (space2live.net) […]

  24. David Cervantes
    July 19, 2013

    I was lucky–I made an emotionally intimate friend my freshman year in college. I still think of those wonderful few months. We didn’t become lovers, but we shared all of the above, and she made me feel worthy, in contrast to how I’d felt about myself earlier. I made a lot of mistakes that year, though, and the year after, one of which was losing touch with her.

    Not too long ago, I found out what had happened to her, and greeted her through her son. She said hi back. I wish her all the happiness in the world.

    I have a 17-year-old son and hope more than anything that he makes a friend like the one I had.

    • brennagee
      July 22, 2013

      There is nothing like connecting with someone on that level. It changes you and can be a catalyst for change in other areas of your life. Your gratitude for her is obvious. May you experience that feeling again and nurture it. May your son find such a connection as well. Thank you for commenting and sharing.

  25. kimberlyharding
    July 19, 2013

    I was just thinking of your blog today, as I am in week 3 of 4 with my stepchildren. I so long for quiet, alone time. Even when I try to make it clear and schedule it, it seems to be taken over by others. I am not complaining. I am just realizing how much I love being in my own home- alone.

    • brennagee
      July 20, 2013

      Best of luck hanging in there with a full house.;) I am with you. I love the freedom of scheduling and quality time with my children but the feeling of being on “high alert” all the time is tiring and at times anxiety provoking. I get up early before everyone else in order to soak up some soothing solitude.

%d bloggers like this: