1. Know yourself and your emotions. To build a deep emotional bond with another person, it’s important to understand and accept your own emotions. It can be tempting and easy to brush off an emotion, or to deny yourself from experiencing a powerful emotion. However, you should take the time to process an emotion, and use reason to understand the experience.
Be emotionally honest with yourself and try to understand how you emotionally respond to different situations.
When you’re feeling emotional, ask yourself, “What emotion am I feeling right now?” Name it: say, for example, “This is anger that I’m feeling. I’m feeling angry because I don’t think my boyfriend is listening to me right now.”
Reasoning through your own emotional experiences can help you avoid emotional suppression and help you better understand another person’s emotions.
2. Push yourself past your own defenses to make a connection. If you’re having a hard time forging a deep connection with your boyfriend, take a moment to check in with yourself. Are you feeling defensive, or not emotionally available? This is a normal reaction when a relationship starts to get deeper, particularly if your trust has been broken in the past. Walling yourself off from pain can seem like the safest way to protect yourself from being hurt, but it’s also preventing you connecting with your loved one.
Being vulnerable is hard, but if you and your boyfriend both work to open up to each other, the results will be more than worth it.
3. Pay attention to emotions on the surface. Learn to observe the emotions that he chooses to display on the surface. Once you’ve built a safe and comfortable space for communicating, you should both become more confident in sharing your emotions. This means you’ll both emote positively and negatively, so it’s important to for you both to respond openly to both ends of your emotional ranges.
Don’t be threatened if he’s had a bad day and is visibly angry or upset. Try not to take it personally, but do your best to be someone he can vent to or give him space to decompress if he needs it.
Try to help the other understand your surface level emotions better. Say, “Hey, when I get home from work I’m usually pretty cranky, and I’m really sorry in advance if I seem short,” or “Babe, Wednesdays are my long days at school, and I just want to let you know that when I get out of my last class a big hug would go a long way.
4. Look and listen for emotions your boyfriend doesn’t express. As you get to know your boyfriend better, cultivate your own sense of empathy so you can anticipate his emotional needs. Listen to your boyfriend attentively, and hear the things he doesn't say as much as the things he does. It’s difficult and takes time, but learn to recognize how your boyfriend emotes. If he freaks out about something, learn to see how it connects to a deeper emotion.
For example, maybe he seems hypersensitive about having his own space and gets upset when you rearrange his stuff. Don’t jump to the conclusion that he must be hiding something, but try to see things from his perspective.
Does he have siblings? Maybe he never had his own space when he was younger having his own room, apartment, or other personal space is important to his sense of individuality.
Try to look beyond the surface and see how his actions express deeper emotions, then try to convey to him that you understand and support his emotional life. Say, “I totally get that you need your space. Gosh, you grew up with two brothers, and you’re all only a couple years apart in age. You must not have had much space of your own, so it’s important to me that you’re comfortable now.
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