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  • Writer's pictureVikram Saggu

Do You Need More Intimacy in Your Relationship?

Updated: Feb 25

What is Intimacy?


It is essential to raise our awareness of intimacy in the relationship to strengthen our relationships with partners. I think one of the biggest misconceptions of intimacy is the term itself, and it is related only to sex. For instance, when we hear someone “being intimate,” people may automatically think they are referring to their sex life. However, intimacy generally refers to proximity between two people and requires vulnerability, openness, and trust.  To strengthen your relationships, you may want to work on at least four types of intimacy: emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual closeness.

Emotional Intimacy 

Emotional Intimacy can refer to being completely transparent with a partner regarding your feelings, fears, and thought processes throughout the day.

Additionally, a sense of safety and not being judged by the partner is included in emotional intimacy. Have you ever seen a movie where one character breaks down to the other? They are sharing all of the fears that they have and what’s going on in their life. Notice the other person. They aren’t ready to jump on “well, at least” scenarios but are entirely listening to them. Their eyes are glued on the one talking, and their ears are open to receive whatever they say. Person 1 can be sharing something sad, exciting, or scary, but the point is they are being listened to.

That is part of why, in couples counselling, I ask the listening partner to summarize their partner's words to the best of their ability. 

If there's a lack of emotional connection in a relationship, you may feel it. You may feel distant or disconnected from your partner even if they sit beside you. You have cognitive distortions of your partner keeping secrets from you, or there is an invisible wall between you and your partner.

Furthermore, emotional intimacy may be lacking when a partner starts to forget small things like anniversaries, special days, when to apologize in a conflict, or even knowing when there is a conflict. Furthermore, emotional connection is lacking when one or both partners cannot talk about their emotions or each other's lives. It’s generally an issue if your partner often avoids telling you about important updates regarding their life. This could be caused by not spending time with each other, not talking much, or even not keeping up with each other’s lives. 

Physical Intimacy 

Physical intimacy is not exclusive to having sex; however, it is a big part of it. Physical intimacy is about body closeness, which can involve hugging, cuddling, kissing, dancing, massaging, holding hands, and, yes, sex. Suppose you are a fan of The Office. In that case, it’s like when Michael Scott and Holly Flax were reported for their uncomfortable level of PDA because they couldn’t stop touching each other to the point when they’d accidentally purpose kiss in the office, and she’d be sitting on his lap during a meeting. I know it’s an extreme example, but you get the point. Some studies have shown that physical touch can help build bonds closer and reduce a perception of loneliness.

Physical intimacy has many benefits, most notably by strengthening emotional bonds. It reinforces a sense of safety, closeness, and affection in relationships. Physical intimacy has also been shown to have physiological effects such as lowering cortisol levels, reducing stress and anxiety, releasing endorphins such as oxytocin, and better sleep.

However, it can be a problem when physical intimacy is the only intimacy that is happening in the relationship. Sometimes, one can have a lack of interest in sex when they are starving for emotional, intellectual or spiritual intimacy. You know you are getting a good amount of physical intimacy when you use touch as a form of communication, you’re able to discuss physical needs, you use physical touch as a form of communication, you’re satisfied with your sex life (and you are comfortable sharing ideas to enhance it), and it’s not something you are craving. 

Intellectual Intimacy

Intellectual intimacy refers to a closeness that develops from understanding one another and sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings. People with high levels of this kind of intimacy often enjoy enriching conversations and the mental challenges of growing and learning from one another. Intellectual intimacy allows the freedom to think independently while coming together for stimulating discussion. Intellectual intimacy refers to two people sharing an intellectual connection, no matter what it is. For example, you both watch a show together and are theorizing what happens in the next episode in the future.

Another example is that you are both sharing ideas about renovating your home. Intellectual intimacy can even be when I, a Seattle Seahawks, debate NFL situations with my girlfriend, a San Fransisco 49ers fan. Whatever it is, couples with intellectual intimacy enjoy learning about one another’s opinions. They tend to enjoy collaborating on how to problem-solve tasks. They also often desire to share common interests. In simplest terms, it’s a great sign when you are fascinated by your partner's theories and opinions, and they’re fascinated by yours.  

Spiritual Intimacy 

  No, spiritual intimacy isn’t about having the same religion. Instead, it’s about involve sharing a broader concept of spirituality.

For example, you may both believe you must be faithful and honest in everything you do, even if you belong to different religions. Spiritually intimate couples feel safe being open and honest about their faith with their partner. Furthermore, there is a lack of judgement and critiquing when one spouse shares their ideas of spirituality. Furthermore, spiritually intimate behaviour can include asking and sharing questions about each other's beliefs and their struggles with spirituality.  

Fear of intimacy and ways to overcome it

Fear of intimacy refers to being scared of getting too close to someone else in one or more aspects. Depending on age, attachment style, and type of relationship, there are several reasons why someone may fear intimacy. Instead of dedicating time to improving their current relationships and cultivating intimacy, those who fear intimacy may focus their energy on looking for other potential partners, such as through Tinder. Another possible fear regarding relationship intimacy may be linked to the sense of losing your identity.

Fear of vulnerability can also be involved in a parent and child dynamic. If a child — even an adult — is afraid of disappointing a parent or guardian, they may choose not to have an intimate relationship with them. One way to work on your fear of intimacy is by seeking the support of a mental health therapist. They may be able to explore possible causes of your anxiety and work with you in developing a plan that helps in your particular case.

Contact today to book a free consultation and strengthen your intimacy!


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