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Are you looking for ways to increase intimacy in your relationship?
Intimacy is closeness to another person. It is characterised by a degree of trust, care, and sharing. In a romantic relationship, intimacy extends to sexual interaction. Intimacy can be categorised into two types: emotional and physical intimacy. Emotional intimacy helps you feel connected and physical intimacy provides you a tactile and tangible feedback of that connection.
In this article, you will learn what intimacy is and explore each type in more detail. We will also cover common intimacy issues, their causes, and how to handle them.
By the end, you will have a better understanding of the role intimacy plays in a relationship. You will also be able to have an idea of what kind of issues you may be having in your relationship and how to handle them in a healthy and loving way.
What Is Intimacy?
Let’s have a look at what being intimate means according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary to then apply it to what intimacy means in your relationship.
- Marked by a warm friendship developing through long association
Suggesting informal warmth or privacy
Engaged in, involving, or marked by sex or sexual relations
- Of a very personal or private nature
- Marked by very close association, contact, or familiarity
Many people think that intimacy is equivalent to sex. While physical intimacy does involve sex, intimacy as a whole is created with trust and a connection between two partners.
A healthy relationship needs to have a balance of physical and emotional intimacy.
There are two types of intimacy in a relationship: emotional intimacy and physical intimacy.
Physical intimacy is closeness, touching, kissing, sex. Emotional intimacy is the feeling of connection to your partner. The lack of physical intimacy can create sexual frustration and put a strain on your relationship.
Why Is Intimacy Important in a Relationship?
Intimacy is essential in a relationship. Without it, your relationship is not going to survive for long. The level of intimacy tells us how healthy a relationship is.
As your relationship develops, you start as acquaintances who connect at some level. Starting from friends who like spending time together, to partners, who have romantic feelings towards each other.
Once you reach a level of a serious romantic relationship, you expect physical intimacy. For a healthy and successful romantic relationship, you need to be physically close to each other.
A romantic relationship without physical intimacy is more like a friendship. This is not sustainable long-term and can become a source of struggle and suffering.
Emotional intimacy is just as important as physical intimacy in a romantic relationship. Emotional intimacy helps you to develop a deeper connection that creates a strong bond with your partner. This is what will keep your relationship healthy for the long run.
What Is Emotional Intimacy in a Relationship?
Emotional intimacy is the feeling of connection with your partner. Maintaining emotional connection requires clear and open communication. You should feel free to express your feelings without being afraid that your partner will judge you.
Getting to know someone in requires a good level of communication, trust, and understanding. Effective communication can help you maintain emotional connection and bring clarity to your relationship.
- Share your feelings
- Have meaningful conversations
- Play games or do something fun
- Give meaningful gifts to each other
- See each other regularly
- Travel together
What Is Physical Intimacy in a Relationship?
Many people think that physical intimacy is equivalent to sex. Although, sex is one main aspect of it, physical intimacy refers to physical closeness, touching, kissing, and of course, sex.
Usually, getting to know another person involves a lot of touching. Physical touch can reassure you that all is well, and it can also tell you if something is wrong. Without physical contact, it’s hard to navigate the state of your relationship.
When the need for physical intimacy is not fulfilled. You can start feeling sexually frustrated; which is expected and is perfectly normal. However, you need to know how to handle your frustrations. The way you deal with the lack of physical intimacy directly affects your relationship.
How to Develop Intimacy in a Relationship
- Work on your communication.
- Take time to formulate your messages so that they are easy to understand.
- Take time to listen to your partner and hear what they want to share with you.
- If you have any doubts or insecurities or your feelings change, tried to share them with your partner as soon as you become aware that they exist.
- Make your relationship more spontaneous, fun, and exciting.
If you find that your relationship has become a struggle rather than an enjoyment, reassess it with your partner.
You should learn to listen to your partner. It’s very likely that they also have doubts and insecurities about themselves or the relationship.
Be there for your partner to help them open up and support them through their journey of self-discovery. The better your partner understands themselves, the more love, romance, joy and happiness they can bring into your relationship.
How to Build Intimacy in a Relationship
As you progress through your relationship, you build intimacy by developing trust and understanding. At each level of intimacy in your relationship, you need deeper trust and understanding. If this does not happen, your relationship stays at a certain level.
While understanding develops at the early stage of a relationship, it takes time to build trust. That’s also the reason why trust is harder to rebuild once it’s broken.
It’s challenging to build a connection with your partner if you don’t trust them or if you’re unable to express how you feel without worry or the fear of being judged.
Here are some questions you can ask to start building intimacy in your relationship
- What are your likes and dislikes?
- What’s important to you?
- How do you feel about…?
These are some ideas of things you can do to build intimacy
- Playing games together
- Going on holidays
- Sharing a hobby
How to Express Intimacy in a Relationship
- Spend quality time together
- Maintain an emotional connection
- Work on your communication
- Share your feelings and listen to one another
- Have a plan and a timeline for your relationship
To stay emotionally connected in your relationship, you should have clear and open communication. You should take the time to formulate your thoughts and ideas in a way that is easy to understand for your partner.
If you don’t take care of how you say things, your partner is likely to misinterpret your message and respond to it in the wrong way.
It is common to have doubts, frustrations and insecurities in a relationship. The problem is when you express yourself to your partner and they get in the way for your message to be delivered in the way you intended to. Then, your partner ends up misinterpreting what you tried to say. In turn, they can respond negatively and defensively, creating an argument.
You can avoid having arguments, and have a healthy relationship if you and your partner work on your communication.
How to Increase Intimacy in a Relationship
How to increase your emotional intimacy
- Work on your communication
- Share your feelings and needs
- Talk about the future of your relationship
If you are struggling with the lack of physical intimacy, the first thing you should do is to talk about it with your partner.
To increase your physical intimacy
- Spend more time together
- Make trips and go on holidays together
- Spice up your sex life
Intimacy issues in a relationship are very common. The moment you lose interest in your partner, your intimacy fades and your relationship starts falling apart.
To make a relationship more intimate, you need to improve your communication. This will in turn improve your emotional intimacy. Spending enough time together to be close to each other will increase your physical intimacy.
Expressing yourself openly and freely with each other will improve your overall relationship. Talking about your feelings, sharing your thoughts and ideas will help you build trust and make your relationship stronger.
Knowing how to express yourself and listen to your partner will help you build a relationship based on harmony and understanding. If you don’t take the time to learn how to communicate, you risk having a lot of misunderstandings. These misunderstandings can quickly become issues that can strain your relationship.
Improving your physical intimacy in your relationship will require a plan to going on dates and seeing each other more often. You can go on trips and holidays together. Your meetings can also be more fun, exciting and spontaneous with a little bit of creativity and an element of surprise.
Emotional Intimacy Issues
A lack of emotional intimacy is what really ends a relationship.
Reasons for the lack of emotional intimacy
- Infrequent communication
- Communication breakdown
- Lack of understanding
- Fear of intimacy
- Fear of connection
Reasons for the lack of physical intimacy
- Losing interest in the relationship
- Partners growing apart
- Emotional cheating
Common issues with emotional intimacy in a relationship
- Doubts about your relationship and your partner
- Distrust and jealousy
While you can manage your emotional connection for some period, with time, it becomes increasingly difficult.
Cheating in a relationship, for example, can be a manifestation of the absence of physical intimacy or the lack of emotional intimacy.
Physical Intimacy Issues
Intimacy issues in a relationship are quite common. There are two kinds of intimacy: emotional intimacy and physical intimacy.
Some couples try to maintain their relationship for years without physical or emotional intimacy.
Some people don’t have a strong sex drive and don’t need to be physically close to their partner. For such people not having sex so often may not be a big issue. However, if you are okay, not having a physical connection with your romantic partner, there might be other underlying issues.
Suppose the absence of physical intimacy is bothering you. In that case, you should talk about it with your partner before it becomes an issue. When your relationship lacks physical intimacy, you rely on emotional intimacy to help you feel connected to your partner.
However, if you start losing emotional intimacy, that’s the start of the end of your relationship. A relationship that is missing intimacy isn’t worth having. Either find a way to build intimacy or breakup and move on.
Common physical intimacy issues
- Lack of physical intimacy
- Fear of intimacy
- Anxiety before being intimate
- Avoiding physical intimacy because of insecurities or physical problems (e.g. pain during intercourse)
- Fear of being vulnerable
- Not enjoying the physical intimacy with your partner, but not being able to express it for fear of hurting your partner’s feelings
- Sexual frustration due to lack of physical intimacy
Having a romantic relationship where you cannot be physically intimate with your partner isn’t healthy. Long-distance relationships are a clear example of a relationship where there is a lack of physical intimacy.
Being away from your partner means that neither of yours physical/sexual needs will be satisfied.
One way to manage this is by talking openly and honestly about all your feelings and desires. Once you get it out in the open, it will allow both of you get on the same page and together you can make the best decisions that work for both of you. For this to happen you need to have an amazing communication skills and the ability to bring up the sensitive topics.
Intimacy is an integral part of a healthy romantic relationship.
While emotional intimacy helps you feeling connected. Physical intimacy can give you a more tangible feedback about the estate of your connection.
Problems in other aspects in your relationship directly affect the connection between you and your partner. This can result in a variety of intimacy issues.
If you find yourself having some of the intimacy issues described in this article. It is worth taking some time to understand the root cause of these issues. By knowing where the problems originate you can have a more targeted approach to solving these problems.
Unless you identify the problems behind your intimacy issues, your effort to fix them can be in vain.
You can improve your intimacy by working on your communication. Trust and understanding are cornerstones for a healthy relationship. The way you demonstrate it is through clear and open communication.
You know you are in a healthy relationship when you feel free to express your thoughts and feelings, knowing you will be heard and understood without fear of being judged.
Help and Advice with Intimacy in a Relationship
- Intimacy is closeness
- The two types of intimacy demonstrate how close you are emotionally and physically
- Emotional connection in a romantic relationship is characterised by the combination of romantic feelings towards another person. As well as, a degree of trust and good communication.
- Physical intimacy in a romantic relationship is characterised by the quality of your physical interaction, particularly in a sexual way.
- Healthy intimacy in a romantic relationship requires constant work and improvement. Without a consistent and conscious development, romantic feelings can fade away. Bad communication can lead to confusion, misunderstandings and arguments. A lack of physical intimacy is the final stage of a relationship that is falling apart.
At this point you may be wondering how you can identify the quality of your relationship and whether or not you have a healthy level of intimacy with your partner. If you need some help answering these questions and addressing any doubts and concerns you may be having. We’re here to help you! Check out our coaching options here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is attraction and intimacy?
Attraction is the desire to be close to another person, be physical or emotional. Intimacy is the quality of your interaction, meaning ho close you actually are. Hence, intimacy requires both people to interact and share this closeness. Whereas attraction is something that each person experiences within themselves.
How is intimacy different from infatuation?
Infatuation is a strong emotional experience of being attracted to another person. You can experience infatuation without any input or participation from the other person. Intimacy, on the other hand, is the closeness that both people experience and reciprocate. Intimacy, like a relationship, exists by itself. It’s a dynamic between people.
How intimacy affects a relationship?
It would be more accurate to say that a relationship is the one that affects intimacy. The dynamic between you and your partner, your interaction, communication and trust are the things that will define how close you are.
Can intimacy issues be overcome?
You can overcome intimacy issues provided you and your partner have the willingness to make an effort. You will need to manage your emotions, face your personal insecurities, objectively approach and openly discuss the problems in your relationship.
How long should couples go without intimacy?
Intimacy shows how close you are with your partner. In a long-distance relationship, for example, emotional intimacy is the only way to navigate the estate of your relationship. Romantic relationships involves physical intimacy that is why many LDR’s don’t work and the ones that last for a long time become a struggle.
Why intimacy is scary?
Intimacy in itself is an indicator of how close you are with your partner. There are many reasons you may be afraid of intimacy. They range from personal insecurities, and fear of rejection to a one sided relationship where only one person still has romantic feelings and is interested in staying in a relationship.
Is intimacy needed in a relationship?
Intimacy can show you if your relationship is healthy. A relationship is an interaction between two people, whereas intimacy is the quality of this interaction and it’s an essential part of a relationship.
Can relationships last without intimacy?
If intimacy is closeness, then this question becomes, can relationships last without closeness?