Building intimacy in romantic relationships is a gradual process that takes time, communication, and patience. It’s all about feeling close to your partner and is built as you connect, grow, and feel more open and comfortable with each other.
It is important to note that intimacy can mean different things to different people. You may be thinking of intimacy in a sexual context, but that is not always the case. There are many different ways to experience intimacy with your partner, as there are different types of intimacy. This includes physical, emotional, intellectual, and experiential. Let’s take a further look into the types of intimacy, and how you can take steps to improve upon each of them in your relationship.
Physical intimacy is the closeness between two people through bodies and touch. It’s important to note that physical intimacy can be both sexual or non-sexual. Intercourse, outercourse and foreplay are a part of sexual intimacy, and non-sexual intimacy can include cuddling, holding hands, and hugging. If you’re looking to improve upon physical intimacy with your partner, here are some recommendations.
- Have a conversation about your sex life
It is important to communicate with your partner about what is happening in your sex life. It may be uncomfortable at first, but can be a great way to get on the same page. Talk openly about your wants and needs when it comes to sex, instead of assuming that your desires are obvious. It’s important to be descriptive, as your partner can’t read your mind. Through these types of conversations, couples can get to know each other better and create a more satisfying and intimate sex life.
Questions can include:
- What are some sexual activites that you particularily enjoyed?
- What are some things you would like to try?
- Is there anything you want to do more or less of?
- Do you feel satisfied with the frequency we have sex?
- How often would you like to have sex?
- What’s your way of letting me know you want to have sex?
- What do you need from me when we have sex?
- How do you want to experience pleasure?
- Engage in activities that promote physical touch
Physical touch can help couples to feel comfortable and enjoy being close to each other. You can help increase non-sexual physical intimacy through doing activities together that can promote and include phsycial touch.
Some ideas include:
- Take a couples dance or yoga class
- Go on a walk together
- Go ice skating or roller skating
- Take a bath together
- Spend the day at an amusement park
- Have an at home spa night with massages
- Try a couples workout
Emotional intimacy is about sharing your feelings, even the difficult or uncomfortable ones. This level of intimacy comes with an expectation of understanding, and the demonstration of a sense of caring. Emotional intimacy can often be seen as one of the most important factors in a strong and intimate relationship.
- Take time to listen and share with your partner every day
It’s easy to get caught up in our busy schedules and forget to take time to share your day with your partner. Try to set aside a specific time, even if it’s only 10 minutes, for you to share your experiences and feelings from the day. You could each take note of special moments or things you want to tell your partner about throughout the day. Make sure to be an engaged listener and truly hear what your partner is saying.
- Get out of your comfort zone
A huge part of emotional intimacy is being vulnerable with your partner. This means you have to open up and let them into the deepest parts of yourself. This shows your partner that you trust them and will help them to trust you in return.
Intellectual intimacy is about getting to know how your partner’s mind works. It means that a couple is comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas with each other, even when their opinions are different. Essentially, intellectual intimacy is two people connecting brain to brain. Developing and improving intellectual intimacy is a process that can be worked on constantly.
- Discover similar interests or hobbies
In long term relationships, it’s easy to find yourself getting stuck in routines and finding less opportunities for quality time. Finding similar interests or hobbies with each means that you are both doing things that you love, with the person you love. It can help couples want to spend more quality time together and the satisfaction can strengthen intellectual intimacy. Some examples include reading the same book together and discussing it, going on walks together, taking up painting, getting really into gardening, or building a lego set together. The key here is finding something that you are both interested in, and making that “your thing” to do together.
Experiential intimacy is all about having shared experiences with your partner. Oftentimes, relationships begin through experiential intimacy, as couples go on dates to bond. Experiential intimacy can help couples develop stronger teamwork skills and make lasting memories together.
- Find a fun new date spot
Plan a date night to do an activity or go to a location where you have never been before! Whether that’s a new restaurant or a new place to go on a walk, there are so many ways to find something new to do with your partner.
- Book a trip together
Taking a trip as a couple is a great way to create new memories and experiences together. It doesn’t have to be a big vacation to another country. It could be something as simple as taking a weekend trip to the mountains, or even a day trip to explore a small town in your area.
Good Therapy. (n.d.). Intimacy. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/intimacy
Johnson, M. (2019, April 16). How to understand and build intimacy in every relationship. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/intimacy#learn-more
Loggins, B. (2022, January 26). What is intimacy in a relationship. Very Well Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-intimacy-in-a-relationship-5199766
Pace, E. (2020, December 4). What is intellectual intimacy & tips to improve it. Marriage.com. https://www.marriage.com/advice/intimacy/what-is-intellectual-intimacy-and-does-it-actually-exist/
Perry, S.K. (2016, February 19). 10 proven ways you can increase intimacy. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/creating-in-flow/201602/10-proven-ways-you-can-increase-intimacy