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EP29: How to Build Intimacy Through Discovery and Connection w/Douglas Kelley, Ph.D.

Doug Kelley, on the difficult path an acquaintance traveled to discover intimacy: "He just started talking about how he grew up in an abusive household and that whole part of him--he just learned to shut it off to protect himself. And it just killed his first marriage because it wasn't available."

“We’re created for this,” says Doug Kelley, PhD and author of the book “Intimate Spaces” about our natural inclination toward intimacy.

At its core, he says, intimacy is about being fully present with another person, feeling safe enough to be who you truly are, free from judgment, and sharing close feelings whether they be positive or negative.

As humans, we are built to be social, close and tactile as part of our very development. Yet, still so many people suffer from “affection hunger.” Even in relationships that are close and affectionate, can present unexpected new “emotional windows” to crawl through.

Boys and girls are both naturally inclined, as well as socialized, to express intimacy in different ways. Doug talks about the way he interacted with his own sons and now his grandsons versus the way he will interact with his granddaughter. His approach is to use generalizations as a starting point while being mindful of each person’s individual traits.

Doug also discusses what it means to forge an intimate relationship and connection with God and/or the Universe. As with any form of intimacy, the key is being mindful. As Doug and Jim explain in today’s discussion, it never hurts to get a little silly.


“There's a lot of talk about positive and negative emotions, but I like to cut through that because sometimes things we call negative emotions actually bring us closer together. So, I prefer talking about emotions that help us become close.” (6:08 | Doug)
“Built into our very system is this need for touch, this need–we're social animals–this need to be with others.” (19:58 | Doug)
“The key for me for each is always to figure out who you're dealing with. I like to know the norms, because it gives me a starting place. But then I can see that this norm doesn't fit this person very well and so I need to respond differently here.” (28:11 | Doug)
“You have to be in a space where you feel safe, otherwise your spiritual growth is not going to go very deep. If the universe is out to get you, or if God is, it's pretty hard to talk about intimacy in that context.” (33:34 | Doug)
“I really believe that when we're honestly, fully present with someone, it's transforming. It changes us.” (40:32 | Doug)
“Ironically, intimacy allows you the freedom to be who you are. But you can only go into intimacy, if you're who you are. Without vulnerability, there's no deep sense of intimacy.” (36:45 | Doug)

Connect with Doug Kelley:

If you like what we're talking about on the show, would you consider sharing it with someone important in your life who might also appreciate it?

I'd also love it if you would rate, comment, and subscribe to Expansive Intimacy on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts!

The views expressed are that of the individual and do not represent the opinions of any companies past, present or future.


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