7 Types Of Intimacy In A Relationship

intimate couple laughing

“Intimacy is the capacity to be rather weird with someone – and finding that that’s ok with them.”
― Alain de Botton

We, humans, are herd creatures, we need the warmth of one another, we need care and love, we thrive on intimacy. When a relationship is young there is tons of physical intimacy in the form of sex but as the relationship progresses, the couples feel that they have ‘been there, done that’, and the feeling of being ‘taken for granted’ seeps in. This is the time when kids, ageing parents, managing home and finance takes the front seat and the couple relationship itself gets pushed to the background. This is when couples complain most of a lack of ‘intimacy’ in their relationships.

But when they say they mean ‘lack of sex’, this is too narrow a view of intimacy. Other than sexual intimacy, there are many different types of intimacy in a relationship and while we are sure you share them, perhaps you are not as conscious of them as that of the physical one. We will talk here about the 7 types of intimacy and how you can work on each to build a holistic and healthy relationship. Let us go through these different types of intimacy separately and know how to work on each one of them.

Definition Of Intimacy

The Cambridge dictionary defines intimacy as ‘the state of having a close personal relationship with someone’. It is about feeling connected from the heart, mind, and soul. When two people feel close and comfortable enough to show each other their vulnerable sides and share each other wholly they form an intimate special bond, to the exclusion of others. They share common dreams and aspirations and are each other’s safety nets. In the easiest language, they are ‘into each other’!

 7 Types Of Intimate Relationships

As mentioned earlier we somehow focus on the sexual component of intimacy in romantic relationships but there are actually 7 different types of intimacy, let’s evaluate how well we are faring in those fronts and see what more can be done.  This article talks about your compatibility and intimacy at different levels from highly intellectual to spiritual. So we will discuss 7 types of intimacy here.

1. Physical intimacy

A very essential aspect of physical intimacy, other than just when in the sexual act, is to show affection towards each other through means of physical touch and contact. Holding each other’s hands, cuddling, kissing, hugging – all these show that you crave to be physically intimate with your partner. It goes a long way in making your beloved feel cherished and nurtured. Remember we are talking about physical touch but not necessarily accompanying the sexual act. Read a piece about how you should marry someone who is into this sweet kind of physical intimacy. Check if you share this with your spouse. The right soft touch can say more than a thousand words, a shoulder squeeze can express your emotional support to your beloved, a reassuring touch on their hands can make them feel they are not alone. This is an important one, try and incorporate this more in your lives.

Related Reading: Will My Husband Divorce Me If I Say No To Intimacy?

Tips to work on physical intimacy

  • Men, are you somewhat aggressive? Rough may be ‘claiming’? Remember your partner should feel comfortable and not owned by this physical gesture. For women, do you demand physical intimacy? Some lines we often get are, ‘Why don’t you give me a forehead kiss as I do?’ This should be brought in everyday life without creating too much brouhaha about it. Non-sexual physical intimacy is first and foremost gentle.
  • Try exploring the reasons behind the lack of physical intimacy. For this, you have to observe your reactions to your loved one’s touch and understand why you are reacting in a particular way. Make notes, perhaps see an expert and get down to solving this. We have a huge panel of experts that you can seek help from here. It is online and completely confidential. 
  • If your partner is physically distant from you, then bring up the matter to him and be straightforward about it. For instance, if your wife avoids intimacy, having an honest conversation about it will help resolve any misunderstanding you both have with each other and the result may be desirable. Also, take this time to tell her how you miss that particular aspect of your relationship.

2. Emotional intimacy

Emotional intimacy is what makes a marriage last. It is what makes two people each other’s friend, confidant, and personal cheerleader.  Do you both hare your deepest, darkest desires and innermost thoughts with each other? Is your partner your go-to person both in happy and sad times? Are they the first person you think of when you want to share that big news? Do both of you know each other’s innermost feelings? As much as it is possible to know? We get many stories where couples have a far stronger quotient of emotional intimacy than the physical one and the marriage is stronger because of that. Think about it, how long can you be crazy about having sex with the same person day in and say out.

Ways to make emotional intimacy stronger

  • The psychological makeup of your significant other needs to be thoroughly understood. Make sure that you are well aware of your partner’s joys, worries, hopes and desires
  • Even if you are emotionally distant as a person, you need to put in the effort. Ask them about their day, tell them about yours. If they seem irritable or stressed go the extra mile to make that cup of tea and then casually sit and chat.  For me, do not disregard issues of women as trivial and irrelevant, it may seem that way to you, but could mean a lot to them.
  • You have to be ready to accept your partner even on their worst days. Someday they may be cranky and less patient, accept them. Maybe give them space to get over the mood but do not attack them for it. Remember even you have your bad days. Here are other ways you can develop emotional intimacy with them. 
  • Most important here is to bare your soul, share your fears, trust them with your not-so-pretty sides. Remember emotional intimacy is about knowing your beloved and loving them because of who they are and also who hey are not!

Related reading: 5 questions to ask your partner when you want to build emotional intimacy in your relationship

3. Spiritual intimacy

Spiritual intimacy not just strengthens a relationship between couples but gives them the power to handle life’s crises far better than ones who have not tried to connect at this very deep and essential level. Have you shared your belief about the ultimate power, God, or whatever you believe in and how important that particular aspect is important to you? Some people believe they carve their own destinies while another set believes that you come with a given and destiny will play its route. Where are the two fo you on this?

Do both of you practice some form of daily prayer, devotion, or meditation? One could be an atheist and the other a believer, yet you can have discussions on the deeper meaning of life, do the two of you do that?  Can the two of you chart out some daily wor weekly ritual of shared spiritual activity? Even as simple as a 5-minute pranayama session? What is your understanding of the karma theory what are your partners? How do the two of you see the act of forgiveness? It is important to know where each stands in life in relation to their spiritual beliefs and what can be the meeting point. Also are both of you open and accepting of the other even though you do not agree with them? You come to the perfect definition of intimacy when you achieve some sort of spiritual intimacy.

How to enhance spiritual intimacy?

  • Talk freely about your spiritual understanding and religious beliefs with your partner
  • Try to pray, meditate, do deep  breathing, sit in silence or oher such practices with your loved
  • You can plan a spiritual retreat, or go for long walks and be in nature which will facilitate being in the mood to kick start both of you into the path to a shared spiritual journey.
  • Practice being in the now for at least 5 minutes every day when both of you give each other full attention and listen to the sounds around you.
  • Commit to something higher. Cleanse past relationships, forgive and let your exes go.

Related Reading: 12 ways lack of intimacy in your marriage affects you

4. Intellectual intimacy

Intellectual intimacy is about sharing ideas and thoughts, skills, and hobbies, understanding each other’s capacity and boundaries. It is about a free flow discussion on what you pine and why do you think the way you do. It is about debating and arguing, sharing, and understanding, it is about extending the database of each other’s intellectual abilities and supporting them. It is about understanding the concept of respect in relation to each other’s intellectual pursuits and viewpoints.  It is about having an in-depth discussion on what matters whether it is government and politics, finance, and running a home, economics, or religion. It is about sharing one’s attitude and behaviour and where it stems from and being open to feedback yet willing to give each other space for it. Once a couple is intellectually intimate, they can both discuss important aspects of the relationship, like how to raise your children, how to create a budget, etc. in a much clearer and confident manner.

What will help nourish a couple’s intellectual intimacy?

  • Make the habit of reading and studying together with each other
  • You must have conversations with your partner regarding your favourite genre of music, songs, and lyrics
  • Even discussing things you like to do or about places you want to visit can help both of you develop mutual understanding
  • You can watch critically acclaimed movies and discuss their themes and philosophy. Discuss why did the protagonist behave in the way they did and whether it was right?
  • You can discuss morals and why people feel compelled to do what they do
  • You can discuss what tests your limit,  and ask them about theirs. These are just starters you can come up with a list just for you.
  • Recog nice and discuss how the two of you can grow, both individually and as a couple.

5. Experiential intimacy

Among the different types of intimacy, you might be wondering about what experiential intimacy really is. It is about collecting experiences together as a couple. While it is neither advisable nor possible for a couple to spend all their time together they must, however, schedule some time with each other where they ‘do’ things together. Activities whether in your day-to-day life or otherwise which can help you create experiences and memories and that which you discuss and share with each other. It is about connecting with each other via shared experiences.

Tips to work on experiential intimacy

6. Conflict intimacy

When two people with different personalities come together to spend a lifetime with each other and have common goals that they are committed to as a couple (Kids, home, finance, health, etc.) it is impossible to avoid conflicts in the relationship. This is when conflict intimacy comes to play, it is about working through disagreements in a civilized and respectful manner. To work a common ground out or else simply agree to disagree. You may be thinking that you have this aspect totally sorted out and if so do answer this. Are there times when you believe you’ve settled a conflicting issue, yet continue to experience negative emotional residue from it? What if something you have agreed upon comes up as an irritation again and again? This will only lead to both of you building up on things you are resentful about even as you think you have successfully resolved them. Read further to get a hand on how to resolve conflicts sensibly. This intimacy is achieved when the couple can resolve their differences by struggling yet understanding each other.

couple talking

Representative Image source

Tips to have a respectful conflict intimacy

  • You must wait out the heightened emotional phase before you approach the issue for conflict resolution. Discuss when your mind is calm.
  • Learn to share your thoughts and opinions freely with your partner. Be firm but use a soft tone. Do not be aggressive.
  • Respect each other’s differences of opinions and try to take a logical view of the conflict. Remember respect is more important than love, see the video on it by our founder. 
  • You have to change the mindset that arguments and fights are bad for marriage. You need to understand that conflicts are a part and parcel of every involved relationship and are the way a couple negotiates and work the complicated task of managing a whole gamut of people and home together.

Related Reading:When it comes to intimacy, should couples slow down as age catches up with them?

7. Creative intimacy

Creative intimacy means looking for creative ways to remind each other of the love, affection, and bond that you both share. The cute little things that couples do to make each other feel loved and appreciated is often ignored. Out your creative cap on and find new ways to surprise them and make them happy! Among the types of intimacy, creative intimacy can make a huge impact and quickly turn the flavour of the relationship into sweet! Here is a piece on how to romantically flirt with your husband! Enjoy his attention.

How can a couple of work on creative intimacy?

8. Sexual intimacy

Now we come to the most popular form of intimacy: Sexual intimacy. Sex can be a deeply satisfying experience where the simple act of being raw opens gates which we otherwise keep blocked. While every session can’t be long and passionate, you can make sure that you have at least one of those every month at least (this is assuming you have bee together for at least 2-3 years and the passion has started fading). Remember, intimacy is as important as the act itself. For most couples, after a long deep session, they feel most vulnerable and want to sit and discuss their innermost thoughts,  fears, and dreams. Sexual intimacy can lead to emotional and even spiritual intimacy.


Representative Image Source

What will help enhance a couple’s sexual intimacy?

  • Avoid any kind of distraction while having sex with your partner, to understand each other’s sexual needs. Take your mind off hat office issue or whether the kid has gone off to sleep since it is a  school night. be in the moment.
  • Know what your sexual desires are and what makes you happy. Only then can you think about letting your desires known to your loved one. Know their erogenous zones.
  • Communication is the key to enhance sexual intimacy in the relationship. Share your likes and dislikes about sex, honestly with your partner
  • You can try your hands at Tantric sex too.
  • For more on this read our section, Spice it up, here!

Remember, to make true sense of your existence, find happiness, adapt to your life changes and ensure that your relationship survives the test of time – you have to take heed of the different types of intimacy and work on nourishing them effectively.

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1 comment

Karma Karma
Karma Karma April 11, 2020 - 1:18 pm

Very nice article. Appreciate the way intimacies are explained.

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