May 29, 2024
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 8 Types of Intimacy in Relationships

Intimacy

How Can Closeness Be Achieved, and What Makes People Feel Connected to Each Other?

“Intimacy” is a curious term, because although people often use it to indicate sex, it actually just means closeness and affection. Therefore, there can be different kinds of non-sexual intimacy between people, be they sexual partners, friends or family. An article in the Times of India broke down the 8 types of intimacy in relationships.

Emotional intimacy

We tend to turn to others when something significant happens. You call a friend after a job interview or cry on your partner’s shoulder when someone dies. This act of “reaching out” for human connection is very normal, and it’s interesting to see who you look to during a significant event. Emotional intimacy can also involve sharing your thoughts, fears and hopes with your partner, and listening to them as they do the same. Finding a person and feeling that you can tell them anything and that they could do the same for you, is often a really good sign in relationships.

Emotional intimacy

Physical intimacy

No, this isn’t the same as sexual intimacy – that’ll come later! If someone’s love language is physical touch, then this form of intimacy is likely to be easy and natural for them. What it entails will depend on the person and the society, so some people like to hold hands or kiss on the cheek in public, but that’s not seen as acceptable in certain areas. In private places, you might cuddle, stroke hair, offer massages or just reach out when you want to be close to your partner and they’re receptive.

Physical intimacy

Intellectual intimacy

Most couples have shared interests unless it’s an “opposites attract” situation which actually works out. For the highbrow amongst us, this might involve academic debate which challenges beliefs and gets each person to learn and understand something new. This isn’t a particularly common form of intimacy – I reach for my partner’s hand before we debate Chaucer – but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t real and important. 

Intellectual intimacy

Spiritual intimacy

As a lifelong atheist, I can’t claim to have much experience with this. However, the concept runs that bonding over faith can create a strong connection, and sharing your doubts or convictions about your religion often brings people closer together. Certainly, many couples seem to meet at their place of worship and will discuss their experiences. Other factors will influence the outcome, including the sense of community or societal expectations. I can see how finding someone with the same values as you and discussing your faith would lead you to feel closer to another person.

Spiritual intimacy

Experimental intimacy

Like physical intimacy, this is basically a love language by a different name. Experimental intimacy is where people bond over shared experiences, like quality time. The difference is that it can be quite adventurous, so go on holiday, climb a mountain, spend the day on rollercoasters and then note how close you feel to your partner afterwards.

Experimental intimacy

Recreational intimacy

This is linked to experimental intimacy, but it tends to be more laid back. Imagine, for example, that you spend a day relaxing with a partner, perhaps going for a stroll or curling up on the sofa. It doesn’t have to set your pulse racing to be important. Sometimes, if you have a hectic life, it can be nice to just take a beat with someone in whose company you feel comfortable. 

Recreational intimacy

Creative intimacy

Artists, famously, have tempestuous relationships, but that’s famously when they are at their most creative. Art allows us to show sides of ourselves that we usually keep private, so inviting someone to share in the process or showing them the result can be exposing, or make you feel closer. You might not want to write your partner poems or do a painting of them, but there might well be an activity that you haven’t tried for years which you’ll enjoy. Recently, I saw a TikTok where a couple poured uncooked rice onto a large piece of paper, drew around the outside of the shape it created and used this as the basis for a map of a fantasy land. I tried it with my significant other and it was a lot of fun.

Sexual intimacy

Well, we all knew that this one had to be on the list. Sexual intimacy means different things for different people, and it can be as casual or as serious as you want it. I like to think that true closeness comes from sharing your likes and dislikes and allowing your partner to see you honestly.

Conclusion

 Intimacy is a broad term which often involves different things for different people. What comes naturally for one couple might not feel right for another, and perhaps the real intimacy comes from feeling able to express yourself and explain what you like and what you don’t. So speak to your partner and see if they’d like to try new things, and then see how close you feel afterwards. 

https://lovedoctorblog.com/contact/
Rachel Hall, M.A., completed her education in English at the University of Pennsylvania and received her master’s degree in family therapy from Northern Washington University. She has been actively involved in the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, and coping with life changes and traumatic events for both families and individual clients for over a decade. Her areas of expertise include narrative therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and therapy for traumatic cases. In addition, Rachel conducts workshops focusing on the psychology of positive thinking and coping skills for both parents and teens. She has also authored numerous articles on the topics of mental health, stress, family dynamics and parenting.

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