Intimacy is often confused with sex. But just as people can be sexual without being intimate, intimacy can happen without a sexual component being present. Broadly speaking, intimacy means deeply knowing someone, while also feeling deeply known yourself.
Think along the lines of the closeness you feel with your best friend or someone you can tell everything to. It’s something humans crave, and though it can be difficult to express, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. So what exactly is intimacy and how does it apply to your relationship?
What is Intimacy and How Do We Show It?
Men can be more physical in their journey to intimacy than women. They are judged as being solely focused on physical intimacy, but this isn’t necessarily the case, it’s just one way they get there. Dame Barbara Cartland explained it best when she said, “Among men, sex sometimes results in intimacy; among women, intimacy sometimes results in sex.”
Women typically have higher levels of oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Men release this hormone at their highest level during sex, which leaves them at their most vulnerable and intimate. It’s easy to see how the physical plays such a large role in being intimate for men. Physical intimacy is just one of many forms of intimacy, but it’s important.
Being physically intimate doesn’t have to mean sex. Little touches while your partner is working or reading, rubbing their shoulders, and grazing the small of their back when you walk by let your partner know they’re on your mind and you appreciate their presence.
Men are physical creatures by nature, but it doesn’t always have to lead to sex. They like being noticed, just like women do and by incorporating touch into your affection, you create an intimacy that surrounds your day-to-day activities.
Compliments are Intimate
Everyone enjoys feeling good about themselves, and getting a boost of confidence from your partner is never a bad thing. Frequent reassurances about themselves, their career paths, and even sexual prowess are all great ways to boost self-confidence and harness intimacy in your relationship.
Compliments don’t have to center on appearance or prowess. If you’re parents, telling your partner how much you appreciate the way they interact with your children means a lot. It’s the little things that make your partner smile that bring intimacy to the moment. Think positive and know, the more you compliment your partner, the more positive return you’ll see in your relationship.
Emotional Intimacy Matters
What is intimacy without emotional vulnerability? When we feel comfortable opening up to our partner, we show a vulnerable side we may not be comfortable with otherwise. Our partners are our safe space, the place where we can be our true selves, no matter what. It takes time and trust, but once there, expressing your emotions is one of the most intimate ways we can share with a partner.
Space Creates Intimacy Too!
One of the biggest challenges in relationships between men and women can be the need for space. On average, the female partner wants more time spent together, whereas the male partner wants more time apart. This doesn’t speak to anything wrong in the relationship, it’s a matter of finding a balance of closeness and separateness.
Throughout time, whenever a problem needs solving, women would go further into the tribe to find answers, whereas men would go off on their own. Not much has changed in regard to this. Giving your partner space to roam and figure things out on his own when he needs to create the space he needs to breed the intimacy he needs.
As relationship coach Jordan Gray says, it lets him know you trust him to make his own decisions and the strength of your bond together that he’ll make good choices on his own.
When a relationship has the intimacy it needs, both parties feel safe and secure. And it’s important for both partners to know that they can be vulnerable and open with each other, express their emotions without fear, engage in physical and emotional intimacy, and be assured their need for space will be respected.
So, what is intimacy? It’s the ability to be ourselves, no matter what, and communicate with our partners about our needs and feelings. Regardless of gender, trust and respect are key pillars in our relationships and foster intimacy like nothing else.