Intimacy is deeper than ‘just sex’. Intimacy is also mutual vulnerability (physical and emotional), openness and honest sharing. It is talking about anything and everything, and receiving the same from another person. It is acknowledging when you feel down, and letting the other person see that. It is baring your all to another person. It can definitely grow over time, and grow deeper the longer the relationship lasts, after trust has been established. There are various kinds of intimacy, and they are based on how deep your connection is with your significant other in your relationship.
Let’s start with the one that most people know about – sexual intimacy. Sex can be very personal – you’re naked, which is about as personal as you can physically get, and you both have a common goal (which is a great way to build intimacy, by the way!). In a relationship, sexual intimacy involves being able to reach a point where you can openly explore each other sexually - with the lights on! – and be unafraid of how you look and feel in front of your partner. You can share your fears, thrills, and fantasies with each other and not feel judged.
This is not sex, but it can be and often is sexual. Physical intimacy is showing affection through touch, holding hands, kissing, cuddling, and gestures like that. Your heart might race when your partner grabs you by the waist or cups your head at the nape of your neck. This is a very strong non-verbal way to demonstrate your love and reassurance to your significant other. It says, I know you’re here. I value your presence. I’m here for you.
This is the ability to share your deepest, darkest secrets and vulnerabilities with your significant other. This is very difficult for many people because we fear judgment. We also fear being considered ‘not good enough’. When couples talk openly and understand each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and chose to love and support each other to be better versions of themselves, it develops an extremely essential part of building lasting relationships. For example, sometimes when someone is unfaithful, it didn’t always happen in one night. At times before the affair becomes physically sexual, it starts with conversations; conversations where people feel heard, needed, understood and cared. So don’t stop talking to your partner, or expressing how you truly feel, however you chose to do it.
This is intimacy built from sharing ideas and philosophies. It can happen when you discuss movies you like, or a series, or even politics, music – any one of the interesting things that make the world go round, and your thoughts on it. And it is even better when your views on one thing are different, but you can reach a point where you can respect each other’s opinions and even agree to disagree. Being mature enough to understand and respect your partner’s viewpoints on such a broad landscape helps you understand them better. It also opens up the door for you to discuss many other serious aspects of a relationship that will become fundamental the deeper you become; things like family, religion, where you want to live, career changes, and money. It might be fun to think about what you and your partner can do together, that appeals to you both, to generate these sorts of discussions.
Ever heard people who say you should never go to bed angry? This type of intimacy is what a lot of couples live by. It focuses more on the disagreement part of intellectual intimacy: you agree to disagree or you fight quickly, fairly, get it done and realize that arguments don’t mean the relationship is over, but understanding each other means the relationship is better. Another way to describe it is the intimacy between couples who can resolve their differences amicably despite the discomfort of the conflict. It’s when you know you’re angry, or your partner is acting ‘crazy’ or irrational, but you still try to find common ground to resolve, shelve or diffuse the matter. Here’s another word that’s thrown around in relationships a lot: compromise. What we’ve just described above is simply learning to compromise in your relationship. Romantic relationships can be a lot like relationships with your siblings – you definitely can’t be right all the time!
What makes you feel the most intimate with your partner?