What Is An Intimate Relationship And How To Build It?

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You want to be close to them, closer than anyone else has ever been. You want them to touch and embrace you when you are feeling happy or sad. You want to share your darkest secrets with them, and you want them to know all your quirky habits, and still love you.

Such intimate feelings are unique, and you may feel that way with only one person. Intimacy is essential in a relationship. But it is more than just physical. Does this mean you can feel intimate with each other even outside the bedroom?

Read this MomJunction post to know more about intimacy in a relationship, and the different ways you can be intimate with your partner.

What Is Intimacy In A Relationship?

Intimacy is an intense emotion, a sense of belonging that you experience when you are with another person. You can be close to a lot of people, but you can be intimate with only a few who love you and accept you as you are. When you find such a person, you’d be willing to bring your guard down and show them your vulnerable side.

Unlike common perceptions, intimacy in a relationship isn’t all about sex. It is about being your most authentic selves with each other and loving each other without conditions.

Physical intimacy is the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about intimacy in a relationship, but there are other lesser-known ways to be intimate in long-term relationships.

[ Read: Intimate Questions To Ask Your Partner ]

Types Of Intimacy

1. Emotional intimacy

This form of intimacy makes everything better. Becoming emotionally intimate in a relationship is to know, accept, and love each other’s real selves. When you know that partner truly loves you, then you will feel safe and comfortable in opening up to them. And when you openly share your feelings, dreams, and desires, you will know each other better, and that is the beginning of a beautiful, long-term relationship.

How you can develop it

Developing an emotional connection with your partner sure does take time, but it is quite easy and enjoyable. The first step to becoming emotionally connected to your partner is spending time with them and talking about each other’s likes, wants, and desires.

Partners must be honest and open to be emotionally intimate. When they connect emotionally, they will respect, trust, and stand for each other, which in turn will have a positive impact on their sex life.

2. Physical intimacy

This form of intimacy is potent. It is perhaps the most intimate way to express your love for your partner. Physical intimacy is not just about sex. It could also be hugging, kissing, or just touching your partner’s face in a moment of emotional intimacy. Touch plays a major role in decreasing cortisol and increasing oxytocin levels under stressful conditions (1).

How you can develop it

Great sex life is equally vital in a long-term relationship; emotional and physical intimacies are interdependent. Also, both of these work differently in men and women and may vary from person to person.

Some require physical intimate before they develop trust and open up, whereas some others need to be emotionally connected before getting physically close. So, to strike a balance, a couple should first understand each other’s love language. Gestures like hand-holding, kissing, or simply cuddling could help create fantastic chemistry between the partners.

3. Intellectual intimacy

What does intellect have to do with intimacy? Plenty, we’d say.

This form of intimacy is important if a couple is looking forward to a serious relationship. Intellectual intimacy lets you and your partner be on the same page when it comes to taking major decisions in life and raising kids with the right values.

Intellectual intimacy also helps you connect beyond the physical and emotional levels, exchange knowledge, and pick up a few good qualities from each other. This intimacy not only makes the relationship stronger but also helps the couple to become better individuals.

How you can develop it

To develop intellectual intimacy, the couple needs to connect with intellectually, via discussions, debates, or conversations about topics they are both interested in. Honest discussions about issues related to the environment, politics, society, books, and the world in general, while being receptive to their partner’s views and ideas, can be a great way to build intellectual intimacy.

Any meaningful conversation between the couple can help develop intellectual intimacy, which may also help the couple develop mutual respect towards each other.

4. Recreational intimacy

This level of intimacy is developed by doing things you love, together. It could be going to an exotic place, playing a sport you like, exploring new places, or just walking on the beach holding hands. Recreational intimacy will teach you to do things together as a team. You will realize that whenever there is a problem, it is you two against the problem and not against each other.

How you can develop it

To develop recreational intimacy, you can choose activities such as playing sports, taking up a hobby, or going on a vacation. Such activities will boost your physical and mental health, which are essential to strengthen your relationship. You can also take up a fitness regimen and motivate each other to adhere to it. It doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as you are getting to know each other, and most importantly, having fun.

[ Read: How To Spice Up Your Relationship ]

5. Financial intimacy

Is that even a thing? Well yes, and not a lot of people pay attention to it or know how to relate to this type of intimacy. However, in a strong, long-term relationship, financial intimacy is important as it takes money to achieve some of the materialistic goals. Financial intimacy means that both you and your partner are committed to a common cause and agree to work for it collectively.

How you can develop it

The first step towards financial intimacy is being transparent with each other’s finances. If both the partners are willing to share how much they are spending and saving, it means you have nothing to hide. Once this intimacy is established, the couple can then discuss and have a long term goal, such as buying a house or securing the kids’ future.

By committing to the same financial goals, you both can grow closer to each other. Another way to develop financial intimacy is to spend money on things you both value the most.

6. Unconditional intimacy

This is the hardest form of intimacy and takes lots of patience and effort to attain. But once you achieve this, your relationship could stand the test of time. Unconditional intimacy lets you accept each other as you are, and forgive and forget the others’ mistakes (only when the other has realized their mistake and are truly sorry for it).

How you can develop it

Developing unconditional intimacy is not easy, as it requires you to accept each other completely, warts and all. This kind of intimacy comes from unconditional love, which makes you willing to move mountains for the partner and not expect anything in return.

Try to start small. For example, if your partner has a habit of being messy, try to clean after them but do tell them that you’d appreciate it when they are organized. The results may not be instant, but after some time, your partner will also be able to reciprocate the same unconditional love. But be careful of what you are forgiving as there is a danger of taking unconditional love for granted.

Intimacy of any kind has only one goal, which is to bring the couple closer to each other. But, can a couple not be intimate and still be in a relationship? Read on to find out.

Can A Relationship Survive Without Intimacy?

No, unless you are interested in a casual fling and not a serious relationship. If you want a long-term relationship with your partner, then intimacy in any form is quite essential. It doesn’t matter what intimacy means to both of you. It could be partying and dancing all night long, having passionate sex, or stimulating conversations about life, love, and everything under the sun. As long as both you are fulfilling each other’s emotional and physical needs, your relationship could work.

A relationship without intimacy could exist, but that would merely be two strangers living under the same roof. Keeping up such a relationship can be a struggle for both the partners, who are unhappy in it.

[ Read: Romantic Gestures To Express Your Love ]

Intimate relationships take work. You have to invest a lot of time, patience, and commitment to developing intimacy in a relationship. It takes more to keep that intimacy alive, for once it fades, bringing that spark back could be challenging.

What is your meaning of an intimate relationship? Share it with us in the comments section below.


1. Hidenobu Sumioka, Aya Nakae, Ryota Kanai, and Hiroshi Ishiguro; Huggable communication medium decreases cortisol levels; US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
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