When we talk about sex, another way of describing it is ‘physical intimacy.’ But sex is not the only way to be intimate with your partner, as this is just one of the different types of intimacy.
There are many ways you can be intimate with your partner in your relationship, and in this article, we’re going to discuss six of them!
Yes, six ways to bring you closer to your boo. Read on to find out how!
Why Do You Need Different Kinds of Intimacy?
Intimacy is key to forming a close bond with your partner. Being intimate with them means being vulnerable and showing who you really are. This is key if you want your partner to fall in love with the real you.
And we don’t just learn how to be intimate with someone when we enter into a romantic relationship. Actually, our knowledge of intimacy starts way back in our early days as babies when our parents cuddled us and gave us love and attention.
This, in turn, helps us develop our own relationships with friends and family members until we’re ready to build a romantic relationship later in life. And why do we need different types of intimacy in a relationship? Because a relationship is multi-faceted.
A romantic relationship isn’t just one thing. It’s a variety of factors and elements that, by chance, all come together to create a loving bond between two people. So instead of intimacy, singular, you should think intimacies, plural.
No, I’m not just talking about letting yourself cry in front of your partner. Emotional intimacy is allowing your emotions to be free when you’re around them, whether you’re happy, sad, or angry. Showing your emotions to your partner involves a certain amount of trust that they will handle them properly and with respect. When they do this, it helps to create a close bond between you, thus creating emotional intimacy.
Times when you might be emotionally intimate with your partner might include:
- Telling your partner how you really feel about that thing they said to you.
- Telling someone you love them for the first time.
- Talking about a distressing situation and expressing how you truly feel about it without holding any emotion back.
Do you know how some people want their dream partner to have the same educational level as them? This might be because they crave intellectual intimacy. Being intellectually intimate with someone means exchanging thoughts and ideas on certain topics that you find stimulating.
Finding out how your partner feels about politics, history, pop culture, movies, literature, feminism, etc., can reveal a lot about their character and draw you closer to them.
Once I dated a very intelligent guy, and he always had something to say. Over dinner, our conversation turned to German history, as we both studied and spoke German. And when he actually switched mid-conversation from English to German, I almost drooled all over the table.
And this guy wasn’t even boyfriend material; he was just a casual date.
But boy did our intellectual intimacy make me want to drag him to bed!
This is a prime example of how intellectual intimacy can work.
Have you ever been on a date where the other person just had nothing to add to the conversation, and it was kind of a buzzkill? This is probably because you weren’t matched on an intellectual level and was a case where intellectual intimacy was dead on arrival. But when you find intellectual intimacy with someone, the dustiest of topics can suddenly make your date way more attractive. Trust me. And my guy was already a hot Spanish dude.
Creative intimacy is a great way to be close to your partner. It involves taking part in creative endeavors together. This could be painting, crafting, cooking, making videos together (YouTuber couples, I’m looking at you!), building IKEA furniture, redecorating your house, etc. It’s sexy to see our significant other express themselves, and you can find out a lot about someone based on how they cook, what brush they prefer to paint with, how they act on camera, and how easy it is for them to keep their cool when building that dreaded IKEA furniture.
A great example of creative intimacy is when a couple decorates their newly bought home together. Not only is this a bonding exercise, but it’s also a way of building their life together.
No, I’m not just talking about religion, although this is a key thing for many people. Spiritual intimacy is doing anything that reveals your spirituality to your partner. It could be from a religious perspective; going to church together, praying for your partner, praying together. Or it could be interpreted in other ways, such as practicing mindfulness with your partner or simply exchanging ideas on your spiritual beliefs.
Depending on your persuasion on spirituality, this could be a key way of being intimate with your partner. Some people are just not very spiritual, and if that’s you, that’s okay! But if you are a bit of a yogi and you crave a partner to connect with on this level, this could be a make-or-break one for you.
Experiential intimacy is created when you experience things with your partner. You might find that whenever you spend time with your partner doing things, you experience experiential intimacy. Think of all the date nights and days you’ve spent together? It’s all experiences!
This can also include going through big life events together, such as, oh, I don’t know, a global pandemic.
To those of you whose relationship has survived while being locked at home with your partner, I salute you! It has not been easy! Other life events might include happy events like having children, moving abroad together, traveling, and buying a house together, but negative events also count, such as mental health problems, a death in the family, illness, miscarriage, infertility, financial problems, and losing your job.
Our partner is not just our lover; they are our partner for life, so experiential intimacy comes with that. How does the saying go? Through thick and thin…
Being physical with your lover. Now to the most obvious type of intimacy but by no means any more or less important than the others. This doesn’t just mean sex, either. It could also mean hugging, kissing, and just physically being close to your boo.
Learning to touch your partner the way they like to be touched (both sexually and non-sexually) is important for creating your physical bond. If you are in a sexually monogamous relationship, only you will touch your partner in such an intimate way, so it definitely paves the way for a close connection. If you are in an open relationship, the same still applies; only you will both get to experience physical intimacy with other people too.
For some couples, no type of intimacy is more important than the others, while for other couples, they have a clear favorite.
Whatever your deal is with your beau, it’s good to talk about how you like to be intimate and what you can do to make your bond even closer. Similar to Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages, everyone has a preferred type of intimacy. For example, one person in a relationship might not care for too much physical intimacy, but they might put a lot of emphasis on intellectual intimacy. The trick is to have a discussion as a couple about how you connect best and what you would like to spend more time doing. And if your answer, after all of this explanation, is to have more sex … you do you.
What Do I Do if I Sense a Lack of Intimacy?
Relationships are not perfect all the time, and there will be times when you feel disconnected from your partner. First of all, know that this is okay. Just go with the flow, and eventually, your relationship will be back on top to where it was before.
Secondly, it is useful to observe your relationship at these times of disconnect to see why you feel disconnected and less intimate with your partner. Is it always a certain thing that triggers it? Did you argue about something in particular? What kind of intimacy is lacking?
Noticing the trends can help you either avoid this disconnect or help you get your intimacy back on track again.
Why Is Sex Better With Other Types of Intimacy?
Simply put, the more you know about someone, the more there is about them to turn you on!
Imagine this: You hook up with a hot guy in a bar. How do you feel?
Now imagine this: You hook up with a hot guy in a bar. He tells you he is a fireman, he is a cat person, he volunteers with kids, he loves to cook, and he is a feminist. He takes you out paintballing, and you hit him in the balls, and he play-wrestles you to the forest ground and kisses you out of revenge before taking you home and cooking you a delicious Italian dinner. Now how do you feel? Which guy are you going to want to take home to your bed? That’s right; I’d take the second guy too.
By being intimate emotionally, intellectually, creatively, experientially, spiritually… it’s only going to make your physical intimacy even better because you’ve had more of an opportunity to let your attraction for them build.