Physical intimacy doesn’t even need to mean sex (Picture: Getty Images/fStop)
As anyone in a long-term relationship will tell you, sex is just one part of the puzzle that makes a healthy partnership.
Intimacy, however, is integral to a relationship – whether that’s sexual or not.
Some psychologists group the types of intimacy you can have with a partner into four types.
While you don’t need to have all four at all times to make for a great couple, thinking about each group and how you match up is a good way to give your relationship a boost.
Remember to take into account how you both prefer to express and receive love (sometimes known as your ‘love language’) as this, too, will shape how you’re intimate as a pair.
Emotional intimacy is essentially feeling safe with someone, and able to share your feelings freely.
Trust, respect, and openness are key to fostering this type of intimacy. That means trying to let your partner know that they can always be honest with you – and ensuring that you’re acting with consideration when you’re honest with them.
Sometimes, when someone feels free to share their emotions with you, not all of those feelings are going to be things you like hearing. This is why it’s vital that you both keep in mind that the other is trusting you with their deepest thoughts.
Rather than going on the defensive and feeling attacked by any negative feelings being shared, actively listen to what’s being said and look at everything as a shared problem that you’ll both work together to solve.
Like emotional intimacy, intellectual intimacy is based on trust. This time, though, it’s about being able to share opinions and viewpoints rather than feelings.
To maintain this type of intimacy, when ‘debating’ with each other it’s important that no one has the goal of ‘winning’.
It’s meant to be an exchange of ideas where you both value each other’s unique outlooks, rather than a game that sees one person come out victorious.
If you patronise or belittle someone within this exchange of ideas, they’re less likely to feel comfortable to share this side of themselves in future.
Communication is key (Credits: Getty Images/fStop)
For a lot of people, religion or spirituality makes up a large part of who they are.
Being able to share that with their loved ones without judgement is a necessity for a close partnership.
A mutual respect of someone’s core beliefs not only adds an element of security for both partners, it also gives you room to grow knowing exactly where you stand and how you treat others who may be different to you.
Experiential or physical intimacy
Psychologists differ on this aspect, but essentially both translate to ‘doing’ things to bond rather than saying things.
Couples with shared hobbies will know all about this type of intimacy. Those quiet moments where no words are being said, but you’re acting in harmony with each other while playing a game, sport, or working on a project.
Physical intimacy is similar in the sense your partner’s touch makes you feel close to them. It’s important not to simply think of physical intimacy as a prelude to (or instead of) sex.
Everything from a hug to a squeeze of the hand can come under the banner of physical intimacy, and this is particularly important if either of your love languages is touch.
To grow this type of intimacy, think about joining a group together or starting a craft project as a couple.
Also, check in with yourself to see how often you’re non-sexually touching your partner. A cuddle on the couch can go a long way to bringing you together.
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