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6 Types of Intimacy



Intimacy is defined as a close familiarity or friendship; closeness. While it may seem this applies only to romantic relationships, intimacy is important in non-romantic relationships as well. It is essential to forming connections with others that are deep, lasting, and healthy. We are first taught intimacy as babies when our parents hold us and give us affection. From there we begin to develop intimate relationships with others, offering them our vulnerabilities in order to build trust. Intimacy is also good for our health and well-being, and those of us in intimate relationships tend to have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, and decreased levels of stress. When we talk about intimacy, our first thought is often sex, but intimacy is much more than that. There are actually 6 types of intimacy, all of them equally important.

1. Physical Intimacy This is the form of intimacy most people envision when hearing the word. It involves sex, but physical intimacy also includes kissing, hugging, holding hands and touch. Physical intimacy is crucial to healthy and lasting romantic relationships. We must be able to touch one another to experience physical intimacy.


You might try upping the levels of physical intimacy with your love by;

  • Sharing a loving kiss before parting ways at the start of the day.

  • Sharing wants and desires and trying new things in the bedroom.

  • Think of ways to show affection through non-sexual touch - hair stroking, hand holding, body rubs and looking into each others eyes all demonstrate physical affection for one another.

  • Keep the desire going outside of the bedroom - playful touch when passing by each other, exchanging intimate messages throughout the day, sharing thoughts of desire.

2. Emotional Intimacy While physical intimacy is displayed by physical touch, emotional intimacy is demonstrated through words and communication. This is not always easy as it requires vulnerability. It involves the perception of closeness to another person which allows for sharing of thoughts and feelings with an expectation of understanding and support. Emotional intimacy depends on trust and involves sharing our deepest selves with each other. Some ways you might increase emotional intimacy within your relationship are;

  • Words of affirmation - "I really appreciate when you...." "I love about you that...."

  • Loving reminders and saying the words "I love you".

  • Checking in with your partner about their wants, needs and feelings.

  • Meaningful communication - making time to discuss things outside of work, kids, finances etc.

3. Intellectual Intimacy This is an area of intimacy many couples don’t consider. It occurs when we share ideas with each other in an attempt to exchange thoughts and views. Respectful back-and-forth discussions about topics further our intellectual intimacy with others.


Some ways to spark intellectual intimacy are;

  • Discuss your shared opinions and ideas.

  • Talk about past experiences and respond with curiosity to the things your partner shares with you.

  • Read together and share your thoughts with each other.

4. Creative Intimacy This is another less-often discussed type of intimacy but one that is still important. Creative intimacy refers to expressing ourselves through our passions. This may be in the form of art, music, dance, physical activity like sports or some other creative outlet. When we engage in creative intimacy, we are opening up our creative side to someone else. We are sharing our gifts, talents, and passions and in turn, sharing ourselves.


You might like to increase creativity intimacy with your partner by;

  • Cultivate shared interests.

  • Share in each others hobbies.

  • Take turns planning dates that you can both enjoy - think of the excitement you felt when you first started dating. Discuss how can you bring that sense of fun and excitement back?


5. Experiential Intimacy This occurs when we share new experiences together. COVID-19 has brought many couples to experiential intimacy as they have been “forced” to experience things together. Sharing in these experiences brings us closer. This can occur in romantic relationships as well as friendships.

  • Try new things and experiences together.

  • Think outside the box when planning date nights - for example, instead of going to a restaurant, why not attend a cooking class together?

6. Spiritual Intimacy Though this may sound as though it refers to religion, it is much more than that. This concept refers to the sharing of ideas of a higher level such as beliefs and values. While this could be through religion, it could also look like the sharing of mindfulness, personal growth, or meditation. It covers our need to look for meaning in this world. When we connect through spiritual intimacy, we are sharing these ideas with someone and hearing their points of view.


  • Discuss your beliefs and values together.

  • Share in meaningful practices together - for example, sharing in gratitude practices, meditating or praying together.

  • Support and encourage each other's growth.

Though it is not always easy to develop intimacy, being open and vulnerable is the first step. Trust, honesty, acceptance, and compassion are all important aspects of sharing intimacy with others. If you need help developing more intimate relationships, our counsellors are here to support you.

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