When we talk about being intimate in a romantic relationship, our minds often go straight to sexual intimacy. However, there are many types of intimacy. Sex is just one of them and you can build strong intimacy without sex.
Intimacy is a process through which we can feel truly seen, known, and connected to our partner. Whatever way in which you and your partner choose to be intimate is perfectly acceptable and normal as long as there’s clear consent.
Trying out new intimate things to do with your partner can be a great experience. Better yet? It can even bring you two closer together. Here’s the low-down on different types of intimacy and some tips to overcome intimacy issues.
4 Types of Intimacy in a Relationship
This is often the go-to form of intimacy for many couples.
Physical intimacy is usually crucial to maintaining a healthy and lasting romantic relationship. It can involve touching, cuddling, and of course, sex.
However, physical intimacy doesn’t always have to be sexual. It can mean being affectionate in other ways too, like holding hands or giving a massage.
If you and your S.O. struggle to maintain a regular routine where you’re physically intimate, actively put aside time where you two can be close in this way.
Skin-to-skin contact is vital for your mental and physical health. It’s a great stress reliever too, so think of it as a form of self-care!
Are you feeling disconnected from your partner physically? If the answer is yes, then it’s important to explore why that might be.
For example, if your partner tries to hold your hand and it makes you feel uncomfortable, consider why this is happening. Pay attention to your thoughts and reactions. Be honest with yourself.
And if your partner is the one who seems to be disconnected from you, ask them about it. Avoid making assumptions, it’s always better to be honest than to be speculative.
Opening up a dialogue on intimacy can be very helpful. After all, communication is key to a successful relationship.
While physical intimacy is displayed via touch, emotional intimacy is demonstrated through words and communication.
Successful emotional intimacy is where participants feel supported, understood, and heard. It requires partners to trust each other and when practiced frequently, it can make a relationship stronger.
What exactly does emotional intimacy entail? Well, it varies! It can be anything from spending quality time with one another to journaling together or practicing honest communication.
If you and your partner are struggling with emotional intimacy, why not pencil in time together away from your phones and devices? Or write a “What I love about you” list about each other?
These practices may sound cringy but studies show they can make a real difference!
Getting vulnerable like this is easier for some people than it is for others. So don’t worry if it doesn’t feel natural to you!
This is one of the types of intimacy that many couples don’t consider. Intellectual intimacy is when couples share ideas, thoughts, and views.
Engaging in stimulating back-and-forth discussions with your partner can increase your respect for them tenfold.
Learning to disagree with them constructively can also improve how you resolve conflicts.
So make a conscious effort to avoid growing defensive or angry. A healthy debate fosters intellectual intimacy like nothing else.
To improve your intellectual intimacy with your S.O., why not read the same news article and then discuss what you both got from it?
Or join a book club and regularly check-in with your partner’s opinions on each month’s read.
Spiritual intimacy refers to the sharing of higher and personal ideas. This includes your beliefs and values.
While some couples practice this via religion, other couples choose to partake in mindfulness, meditation, or yoga together instead.
Talking about spirituality with your partner allows you to connect with them on a deeper level, one that’s full of meaning.
Our advice? Schedule time with your partner to share your takes on spirituality and life with one another.
Regularly engaging in positive thinking can change how you look at the world and those who you love. It can help you see the bigger picture, and in a relationship, this can be a game-changer.
Why not watch the sun-rise (or set) together or go for a morning walk each day? Practicing types of intimacy in nature can feel extra freeing.
Fostering Intimacy is Important
By realizing physicality isn’t the only way we can connect, we open ourselves, and our relationships, up to infinite possibilities.
So take time to try out these multiple types of intimacy with your partner. Who knows, maybe it’ll bring your love to new heights!