Signs Your Emotional Connection With Your Significant Other Is Strong

Humans have an inherent need for connection. In fact, love and belongingness rank third on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, just below safety and physiological needs like food, water, and shelter (via Simply Psychology).

While feeling connected to people, in general, is important for your overall health and well-being, it's also a key ingredient in romantic relationships. What makes emotional connection a crucial component of healthy, successful relationships? Well, without it, a relationship can feel empty and unsatisfying. In relationships that lack emotional connection, partners often feel isolated and unappreciated. A loss of emotional connection can even lead to a loss of attraction to your partner, and the degree to which you're emotionally intimate with your significant other can impact your relationship satisfaction. According to Alchemy of Love, emotional connection can make or break a relationship. Without excellent connection, the relationship will never prosper fully.

So, now that we've covered the main reasons why an emotional connection is important in a relationship, you're probably wondering whether or not you and your partner have a strong emotional bond. Here are some signs your emotional connection with your significant other is strong.

You're comfortable being vulnerable

Opening yourself up to another person can be scary, especially in the early stages of dating. No one wants to put themselves out there only to be rejected or humiliated. But once you've developed an emotional connection with someone, being vulnerable won't induce any anxiety or fear. Couples with strong emotional connections share their thoughts and feelings openly without fear of being judged.

According to New York Times bestselling author Mark Manson, "vulnerability is the path to true human connection." We couldn't agree more, and we're not alone! Linda Mueller, a certified life coach at The Expat Partner Coach, tells Women's Health, "Emotional vulnerability takes courage as there is a risk that you will be hurt, but the reward of a stronger, more intimate relationship is worth the risk."

Vulnerability in a relationship can look like taking responsibility for a mistake you made, admitting to your partner that something they did or said hurt your feelings, or telling your significant other how much they mean to you.

You turn toward your partner instead of away

According to Dr. John Gottman, a researcher and psychologist renowned for his work on marital stability, emotionally intimate couples turn toward each other instead of away when making attempts to connect. We're not talking about physically turning away from your partner though, but rather how you respond to your significant other's bids for attention. Gottman defines these bids as "any attempt from one partner to another for attention, affirmation, affection, or any other positive connection."

Say your partner is reading an article on their computer and remarks aloud, "This is super interesting." If your response is to continue whatever you're doing and ignore your partner, that's an example of turning away. If, instead, you reply, "What are you reading? Tell me more," you're turning toward your partner. If you find yourself turning toward your partner more often than away — and vice versa — congrats, your emotional connection is probably pretty strong.

You feel heard

There's a difference between your partner hearing what you're saying and them actually listening to you. Couples with strong emotional bonds practice active listening and are fully present when the other person speaks. That means when you're venting about a rough day at work or a disagreement you had with a family member, your partner isn't scrolling through their phone or dazing off into the distance. Instead, they minimize distractions, make eye contact, and focus on what you're saying.

Active listening is also referred to as listening to understand, and it's much different than listening to respond, which is how a lot of people listen. When you listen to respond, instead of really paying attention to what the other person is saying, you're thinking about what you want to say in response. When you listen to understand, you're fully focused on what's being said. It should come as no surprise that couples who actively listen to one another often have more satisfying relationships.

You express interest in each other's hobbies

It's important for couples to have separate hobbies, but it's equally important to take an interest in each other's favorite activities too. Emotionally connected significant others will make an effort to participate in their partner's hobbies, even if they aren't their cup of tea. Not only does this show that you care about your partner, but it also shows that you're willing to compromise on how you spend your time together. If your boyfriend loves to attend rock concerts but you're more of a Taylor Swift fan, by joining him at a show of his choosing, you're demonstrating a desire to connect and spend quality time together. It's not a one-way street, though. Your boyfriend should also dabble in your favorite hobbies with you, whether it's baking, gardening, or exercising.

As we mentioned, couples must have the opportunity to do things they enjoy solo too. When the two of you participate in activities independently, there is more opportunity to tell your partner about your experiences when you come back together. Plus, individuals who feel they have an adequate amount of alone time often feel more satisfied with their romantic relationship.

"When partners have their own set of interests, friends, and time for self, that makes them happier and less bored. Time alone also gives partners time to process their thoughts, pursue hobbies, and relax without responsibilities to others," Dr. Terri Orbuch, a psychologist, research professor at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, and author of "Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship," tells The Sydney Morning Herald.

You ask open-ended questions

Asking your partner open-ended questions — instead of questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no — invites them to open up and share details they might otherwise keep to themselves. The more you get to know your partner, the stronger your bond will be.

From "how would you describe your perfect day?" and "what is your favorite childhood memory?" to "what is the last thing you cried about?" and "if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?" there are plenty of open-ended questions to ask your partner. If you're already asking plenty of open-ended questions like these, your emotional connection with your partner is probably quite strong. When your significant other responds with questions of their own, don't hold back with your answers. The more you share, the better the conversation will be. Remember, effective communication and vulnerability are important in a healthy relationship.

You know how to lift their spirits

When you're emotionally connected to your partner, you know just what to do to brighten their day or lift them out of a bad mood. It could be something as simple as picking up a dessert they love or putting on their favorite movie. Or maybe some words of encouragement will do the trick. If you're truly emotionally connected to your partner, you probably know their love language, and they should know yours, too. Knowing how they like to receive love will help inform how you act when trying to cheer them up.

Knowing what to do when your partner says they're having a rough day is great, but noticing something is off before they mention it to you is even better. If you can tell when something is bothering your significant other without them saying anything, that's a strong indicator that you're deeply emotionally connected. On the other hand, if you find yourself struggling to notice when your partner is in a bad mood or how to respond when they're feeling blue, you might have some work to do.

Communication is easy — and frequent

Studies, such as one published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, have shown that effective communication can increase relationship satisfaction, as well as intimacy. From discussing who will tackle household chores (if you live together) to planning a weekend getaway, communicating your wants, needs, and thoughts with your partner is easy when you're emotionally connected. Emotionally connected couples communicate freely, openly, and frequently. Knowing and honoring the communication styles and preferences of your partner is important, too. 

For example, if you take the time to craft thoughtful text messages and your partner sends back one-word replies, you're probably not going to feel very good about the exchange. But once you get to know your partner better, you might learn that he just isn't much of a texter and prefers to talk face to face. When you can't be together for an extended period of time, perhaps you try video calls. The important thing is that you find what works best for both of you.

You don't shy away from deep conversations

While most couples can master communicating about surface-level topics, emotionally connected partners regularly engage in deeper conversations. From your deepest fears to your biggest regrets, no topic of conversation feels too serious or dark to discuss with your significant other when you've got a strong emotional connection. After all, communication is a barometer for the health of our relationships. If communication is good, our relationship is good, but if it's not, we might be sailing on stormy seas.

If all you ever talk about with your partner is the weather or what you ate for lunch, that's a sign of a shallow relationship. But if you frequently dive into meatier topics and open up about things that might be scary to discuss with others, that's an excellent indicator of a strong emotional bond. Asking for their opinion on controversial topics you might disagree with offers an opportunity to learn something new about your partner.

While it really can't be overstated how important it is to talk things out with your partner, you should also be comfortable with some silence. Couples that are deeply bonded can sit in silence without feeling award or like they need to fill the void with meaningless chatter.

You have shared experiences

Shared experiences create an opportunity to deepen people's understanding of one another, so it's no surprise that couples with strong emotional connections have plenty. If you and your partner regularly travel, take cooking classes, volunteer, or engage in other similar activities together, it's likely you've got a deep emotional connection.

A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships shows that going on dates with your romantic partner is important for promoting closeness in established relationships. That's why some of the most common dating advice you hear today is to plan regular date nights to keep your spark alive. If a truly deep connection is what you're after, dinner and a movie might not cut it, though. According to the study, the best way to sustain closeness with your significant other is to engage in exciting, shared leisure activities. So, in other words, try something new on your next date night, such as a dance class, going to the batting cages, or volunteering together.

When you're deeply connected to your partner, you want to share more than just experiences with them — you want to share everything. When something funny happens to you, you get a promotion, or you receive bad news, if your partner is the first person you want to share all the details with, that's another sign of a deep emotional connection. It also helps to share the same core values and beliefs — or at least be on the same page about the ones that mean the most to you.

You enjoy the mundane

Fancy date nights, elaborate gifts, and luxurious vacations can make any relationship seem perfect. Unfortunately, not every night can be date night, and eventually, the vacation comes to an end and you have to return to work, chores, and your regular daily life. The couples with real staying power are the ones who find joy in life's everyday moments.

Partners who are emotionally connected know there's romance hiding in even the most mundane aspects of dating, from grocery shopping and cooking dinner together to reading the paper over a cup of coffee. When you're really in sync with your significant other, you might turn cleaning the house into a game or treat a last-minute run to the store for dinner supplies as if it's an adventure.

In the same vein, emotionally connected partners know how to engage in and appreciate physical contact that's not sex. While a healthy sex life is a key ingredient in a successful relationship, those that are all about sex are often shallow and unlikely to last long-term. When you're emotionally connected to your partner, you also engage in a lot of non-sexual activities, such as holding hands, cuddling, or giving each other back rubs. According to Theresa Herring, a licensed marriage and family therapist, engaging in these non-sexual physical activities while having a meaningful conversation can help you feel even more connected to your partner (via Centered Connections). We're not saying that emotionally connected partners don't have sex; they just realize that there are plenty of ways beyond sex to be intimate with one another.

You trust each other completely

You've probably heard at some point in your life that trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship, and that's because it's true. Without trust, other important aspects of a relationship, including emotional connection, can't fall into place. When your emotional connection with a partner is strong, so is your trust in that person. Emotionally connected partners can rely on one another to be there for them when they need them most and feel safe with each other.

"Just as important as those three little words 'I love you,' being able to say 'I trust you' is critical for love that lasts," Jessica L. Griffin, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, told The Healthy. "Our partner should be our respite from the outside world, a soft spot for us to land. In order for trust to exist and grow, we need to know that our partner gets us, has our best interests [in mind], and that we can depend on them to be available — e.g., be physically and emotionally present — for us."

Trusting each other also gives you and your partner a chance to do things separately, like a spa day with your girlfriends or happy hour with co-workers, without worrying about what the other is up to. While some people feel anxious spending time apart from their partner, those in an emotionally connected relationship don't.

You don't fight dirty

Fighting is totally normal in relationships, and according to Keir Brady, a licensed marriage and family therapist, working through conflict together can actually deepen intimacy. Biola University Center for Marriage & Relationships takes this sentiment a step further and says it's impossible to have intimacy in a relationship without proper conflict resolution, and working through issues can make couples feel even more united.

The problem is that not all couples know how to fight properly (yes, there is a right and wrong way to argue). If your fights with your partner are often explosive, end in someone crying, or make you say things you later regret, those are all relationship red flags that should signal something about your conflict resolution style is off.

Emotionally connected couples, on the other hand, can have arguments that are respectful and productive. According to Psychology Today, when couples in a healthy relationship argue, they avoid name-calling and blame, take breaks from the fight when needed, accept that they won't always see eye to eye on everything, and validate each other's feelings. If you come out on the other side of a fight with your significant other feeling heard, respected, and like you made real progress, you can thank your strong emotional connection.