7+ Types of Intimacy (Your Relationship Actually Really Needs!)

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So when you think of intimacy, physical intimacy is usually the first to spring to mind, right? But did you know there different types of intimacy in a relationship that are just as important?

In this post, we’ll run through the 7+ different types of intimacy that your relationship actually really needs – plus, small, simple things you can do to improve intimacy in these key areas.

What Is Intimacy?

Before we get into it, it’s important to first be clear on what intimacy is. See, at its core, intimacy is about feeling a sense of closeness and connection with a person.

For this reason, you can still feel intimacy when you’re single, have intimate platonic friendships with others or even connect intimately with new people you meet – strangers even!

Wondering how?! Well, all will start to make more sense once you understand the different types of intimacy. (Because it’s not just what you may think!)

Whats important to remember when it comes to developing intimacy in romantic relationships – is it’s nothing to fear…

Yes, it requires a level of openness, but that’s what leads to the deeper levels of closeness and connection that is NEEDED to create a happy, healthy relationship that will continue to thrive.

7+ Different Types Of Intimacy in a Relationship

So, let’s jump straight in with the different types of intimacy now, shall we? In no particular order when it comes to intimacy in a relationship, you’ve got…

1) Physical Intimacy

First up, it’s physical intimacy which – you guessed it – means being physically intimate with your partner. It’s all about having meaningful, consensual physical interactions. 

But you don’t have to go “all the way” in order to be physically intimate.

Physical intimacy in a relationship can include:

  • Cuddling
  • Hugging
  • Holding hands
  • Kissing
  • Massages
  • Making love

Study after study links physical intimacy to happier, healthier relationships. Physical intimacy, in all forms, is important regardless, but some will need more than other in order to be satisfied, depending on what their love language is.

Physical Intimacy In a Relationship

2) Emotional Intimacy

Next, we’ve got emotional intimacy and this is being able to express your feelings and emotions, to connect emotionally.

Now, this requires a degree of vulnerability – being able to let your guard down, let someone in, and share the things you wouldn’t (or couldn’t) share with everyone.

Trust in a relationship is therefore essential for developing emotional intimacy. It’s also usually built and strengthened over time.

CHALLENGE: Use our couples intimacy questions to develop this further (they’re free!)

Ask a new intimate question (no matter how big or small), every day, and you’ll be amazed by not only how much closer you feel to your partner but how secure you feel in your relationship.

3) Intellectual Intimacy

A slightly different type of intimacy in a relationship now then, is intellectual intimacy. This is often also referred to as mental intimacy.

This, as you can imagine, is where you connect intellectually with your partner.

Connecting intellectually can come in the way of being on the same level, intellectually, but it can also come from having a clear understanding of one another.

Ways to improve intellectual intimacy include:

  • Getting to know each other better – not just the big stuff, but the small stuff too. To do this, you may like to try our ultimate how well do you know me question game!
  • Learning a new language together. (This is a tricky one!)
  • Learning a new skill, or taking a new project on together.
  • Starting your own mini book club together. (This is one of the best free date ideas at home anyway, so it’s well worth giving a go!)
  • Getting stuck into a gritty tv show / series / movie – then discussing.
  • Debating a theory, politics, or something that’s happening in the world today.
  • Sharing your passions and interests with your partner and helping them understand more about it, and why you love it.
Intellectual Intimacy In a Relationship

4) Spiritual Intimacy

Spiritual intimacy is when a person shares similar beliefs. These can be spiritual, religious or more universal – beliefs focused more towards a set of values and ethics, for example.

It’s important to know this when it comes to the different types of intimacy actually, as you might think – “but I’m not a spiritual person” and so rule it out… But it’s certainly not limited to spirituality alone.

Spiritual intimacy allows for an incredibly deep, personal connection. It’s fundamental for couples looking to build a life with their partner, as having strong spiritual intimacy, fundamentally shows that you align with your view of life and the world around you.

To develop spiritual intimacy, it’s valuable to ask deep question. Spiritual intimacy doesn’t have to just come from conversations alone however. You can also try:

  • Watching a sunset together.
  • Getting out in nature and just appreciating the beauty around you.
  • Trying a couples meditation or simply meditating together. (It’s one of the best relaxation techniques as a bonus, and can help to ease relationship tension should it ever come too!)
  • Volunteering together.

5) Experiential Intimacy

Next up, we’ve got experiential intimacy and this has got to be one of the most fun types of intimacy in a relationship. It’s – you guessed it – all about EXPERIENCING different things together, or doing more of the things you enjoy with one another.

This is incredibly important for couples – not only to help keep the relationship fresh and exciting, but also so that you get that much needed quality time in with each other.

Some good ways to build experiential intimacy in a relationship include:

  • Getting into a new hobby together.
  • Trying some couples sports that you can do more regularly.
  • Having a regular date night.
  • Maybe trying some different crazy date ideas to spice it up!
  • Doing something that scares (but excites!) you together.
  • Traveling together.
  • Or even simply finding new routines you enjoy – like cooking together, at home.

The options really are pretty endless with this one!

Experiential Intimacy in a Relationship

BONUS: Creative Intimacy

Creative intimacy is another type of intimacy in a relationship – one that certainly doesn’t usually spring to mind, which is why we’re going to throw it in as a bonus for you here!

But creativity is important – especially in long term relationships as you move through the key relationship stages.

By engaging creatively, you embark on a shared experience that can strengthen your connectedness, amongst many other forms of intimacy. 

It’s like experiential intimacy and intellectual intimacy combined!

When it comes to building creative intimacy, you can –

  • Give a creative craft date idea a go together.
  • Take on a different project…
  • Or a couples side hustle, to allow your ideas to develop and flow!
  • Brainstorm, create, discuss, explore! You decide where this one goes!

6) Social Intimacy

Have you ever really connected with a person, to the point where they feel like they just “get you”?

You can you be yourself – be open, honest, vulnerable and really confide in them? Are they the first person you choose to reach out to? Do you feel like you can depend on them?

Then these are all strong signs of social intimacy as that’s essentially what it’s all about!

It’s like emotional intimacy, but even more personal, because it’s all about you.

In fact, when you have strong social intimacy with someone – more often than not, you won’t even need to say anything, they’ll know how you feel as they can “read you like a book” as the old saying goes!

Social intimacy can be developed by:

  • Having the tough conversations in a relationship, that may be difficult but only bring you closer.
  • Being more aware of your partner – particularly in social situations with others, to notice how they behave and how that connects with how they feel.
  • Checking in on your partner daily, and – on the flip side – confiding in them more about your day.
Types of Intimacy In a Relationship

7) Conflict Intimacy

Last but not least then, we have conflict intimacy. And you may be thinking, “well, I didn’t even know that was a thing!” But it is indeed one of the different types of intimacy in a relationship, and an important one.

See, conflict intimacy isn’t about having (or wanting!) conflict as such. But when you “forget the fairytales” you really do know that conflict is a natural part of relationships…

It’s all about learning how to deal with it in the right way. And that’s what conflict intimacy is all about.

Conflict intimacy is when a couple clearly understands and respects each other’s differences, recognises that conflict (so some degree) is important and healthy (after all, you both need to still be your own person and be able to say how you feel and stay true to yourself.)

But… and here’s the big but… you know each other well enough to know how to best manage conflict or disagreements. And that’s when the strongest of connections really forms.

To develop conflict intimacy, you should start by taking the time to better understand each other in terms of what you both find important, what your triggers are, why you can respond in certain ways and how you truly feel.

Then, you can develop skills and strategies to better respond to conflict, together.

What also really helps with this, is taking the time to get to know yourself better, so you can then communicate this to your partner. It’s a process, a journey, but an enlightening one!

That’s All For This One

So there we have it – that brings us to the end of the 7+ types of intimacy in a relationship that couples actually really need.

How many of these were you aware of and which ones perhaps surprised you? Let us know in the comments box below!

All the best.

Love,
Ell_xx

Types of intimacy in a relationship
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Author
Ella Stearn
Ell is a Breakup, Dating & Relationship Specialist & Coach, with over 3 million annual readers, globally. As the Creator of Forgetting Fairytales, her mission is to help you learn to love yourself, find the right person to give your love to, then make it a love that truly lasts.

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