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How to Build Intimacy in Relationships? Everything You Need To Know

How to Build Intimacy in Relationships? Everything You Need To Know

Updated on Oct 25, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Intimacy in Relationships - Definition, Types, Signs, and How To Build It

Intimacy in relationships is often used interchangeably with sex.  

Sure, sex helps in forming an intimate relationship with your partner. But it needs A LOT more than just sex.

Intimacy is the closeness between two individuals… and it need not be only physical.

The definition of intimacy is extremely wide and varied. It contains everything from being close to each other emotionally, sharing intimate hugs and kisses to cuddles and sex.

Long story short, Intimacy is not just physical but also a psychological state where the couple feels alive and content but also vulnerable.

Still confused? So, let’s begin with…

Intimacy in Relationships Infographics

Intimacy in Relationships - Definition, Types & Key Factors
Intimacy in Relationships – Definition, Types & Key Factors
Intimacy in Relationships - Signs & Issues
Intimacy in Relationships – Signs & Issues
Intimacy in Relationships - How to Build It
Intimacy in Relationships – How to Build It

What is intimacy in a relationship?

Intimacy is your close proximity to another person or group emotionally, mentally, or even physically.

The word intimacy comes from the Latin word intimus which means “inmost”. So, you can call intimacy your inmost emotions and thoughts.

Intimacy knows no bounds because it defines the closeness in any relationship, say, a parent-child, among friends, siblings, and so on.

Intimacy in a relationship can help you build a connection and know each other at deeper levels, both physically and emotionally.

When you genuinely worry about someone’s bad day or cheer for someone’s success, you may say you’re intimate with them.

Generally, intimacy defines how closely you bond with a person or a group or how vulnerable you can be in their presence.

If you think you can live without intimacy, then you definitely need to know…

How important is intimacy in a relationship?

Intimacy brings two people close, not just physically but emotionally. Intimacy is most important to thrive in any relationship, feel safe and acknowledged.

Every human being craves a connection where they are loved, touched, cared and heard by somebody. Right?

Well, humans are designed this way. You yearn to feel those butterflies in your stomachs and foster that closeness. 

Intimacy is the pivotal point to a healthy relationship. It takes courage to open up and let them in.

You need the courage to express the deepest and darkest sense of your inner self without hesitation or any kind of fear.

Sex is overrated when it comes to explaining what intimacy actually describes.

The feeling of wholesome and completeness surrounding your partner is absolutely majestic and that’s what is called intimacy.

Intimacy refers to the way you disclose private feelings and experiences. It is proportionate to how safe you feel around them.

Sexual encounters with shared moments of emotional connection lead to the most intimate feeling of belongingness between partners.

Now that you know the significance of intimacy in relationships, let me help you identify the differences between…

Intimacy vs Sex

Intimacy includes more than sex. It involves a variety of emotions, unlike sex, which leads to just bodily satisfaction.

Intimacy is different from sex, or let’s just say, sex is only one part of intimacy, i.e., physical intimacy. There are several other kinds of intimacy which may be absent during sex.

Intimacy also includes many other facets like trust and vulnerability unlike sex that is only about body needs.

Intimacy involves a potpourri of thoughts and emotions, while sexual intercourse only leads to body satisfaction.

You can display your love and affection for your partner even without having sex with them.

Sex includes physical contact, but it is not the only physical contact to show emotion.

Hey, did you know intimacy is not just limited to romantic relationships. Yes, you heard that right.

It’s also among…

Intimacy among friends and family

Intimacy with family and friends is all about the companionship you share with them. It signifies that they are close to you and you like spending time with them.

For many people, sex and romance are all that intimacy is about. But intimacy is prevalent in other types of relationships too.

Intimacy also refers to the bond you have with other people, like your family and friends.

For example, when you say you had an intimate wedding, what do you mean?

Well, you possibly conveyed that your wedding was restricted to a group of people close to you rather than strangers and acquaintances.

But wait, there are more…

What are the different Types of Intimacy? (forms of intimacy in a relationship)

There are many more categories of intimacy that do not even involve touch… and all of them together combine to create a healthy relationship.

Research says that if you have only sexual intimacy, your relationship is superficial and can start to fall apart. 

Do you want to have a solid and deep relationship with your partner?

Then let’s dive right in.

1. Emotional Intimacy

Connecting with each other emotionally is very important in a relationship.

Emotional intimacy is recognized when you feel safe and comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings with your loved ones without hesitation.

You cultivate a ‘Safe space’ when you both open up to each other without any fear of judgment or embarrassment later.

You can also develop emotional intimacy while engaging in deeper conversations. Listening and understanding others’ thoughts and perspectives without judgment can help build a deeper emotional connection.

Examples of emotional intimacy

  • When a couple talks about their fears and insecurities, they cultivate a deep understanding between each other. These long conversations tell them about their partner’s fears. A couple becomes aware of the triggers in a relationship and feels closer than ever.
  • A spouse confides in their partner about their awful day at work. He/she then decodes the incident to process it calmly together.
  • When a woman expresses her insecurities to her partner because of their relationship with their ex-partner. The partner understands her concern and explains their intentions rather than calling her paranoid.
  • After childbirth, a woman tells her spouse that she doesn’t like the physical changes. The partner tries to empathize with her, thereby giving solutions for enhancing self-love rather than mocking her feelings.
  • When a spouse confides in their partner about childhood trauma, they listen to it carefully. They provide emotional support to their partner while taking note of their triggers to protect their mental peace.

How to increase emotional intimacy

You can develop emotional intimacy if you engage in conversations deeper than surface-level. Share your deep-buried emotions and feelings with your partner and see how it turns your relationship.

Likewise, listen to your partner with undivided attention to understand their thoughts and choices.

Make sure you don’t judge your partner and provide a safe environment for them to share their honest opinions.

2. Intellectual Intimacy 

Intellectual Intimacy comes when you can communicate your viewpoint and thoughts without fearing any conflict with your partner

You and your partner possess unique views. You must be comfortable expressing your views without getting defensive.

Similarly, you mustn’t pressurize your partner to accept your opinions. 

You must entertain their opinions and have a peaceful discussion.

Examples of intellectual intimacy

  • A couple discusses the significance of grad school. They don’t necessarily want an argument. Instead, they want to know and understand each other’s points of view. None of them is adamant about being right.
  • A couple had a difference in opinion about who is the best spiderman. One of the partners supports Andrew Garfield, while the other supports Tom Holland. But, they respect the preferences of their partner and enjoy the banter. They do not make it into a rivalry, instead, relish the back and forth.
  • When a couple indulges in deep conversation, they discuss everything from the color of their socks to the meaning of life. They shed light on a different school of thought and gain an ocean of new perspectives.
  • A bibliophile woman wants her partner to read books with her. The woman is eager to learn her partner’s opinions instead of spilling the content.
  • One of the partners seeks business advice from the other. They mutually list pros and cons to each of their ideas before coming to a final conclusion.

How to increase intellectual intimacy

You can develop intellectual intimacy with the help of intriguing discussions. Don’t keep all your doors closed and embrace differences in opinions.

Never, I repeat, NEVER get defensive over your thoughts. 

Actively try to understand their viewpoint and also tell them yours. You can connect with your philosophical side in intellectual intimacy.

3. Experiential intimacy

When you share experiences with your partner, you develop inside jokes and moments that deepen your bonding.  

When you act like a team and strive forward to fulfill each of your dreams, you create a unique bonding also known as experiential intimacy.

Examples of experiential intimacy

  • The woman trains for her swimming competition. Her partner’s company motivates her in the practice sessions which contributes to building her confidence to push forward her spirit.
  • When a couple decides to host a dinner, but the food delivery fails them. So, the couple works together to feed the guests.
  • A couple passionate about bike riding goes on a sudden bike trip. They allocate suitable work to one another. One is in charge of the route while the other takes care of the refreshment.
  • A pair wants to nurture their love for traveling so they decide to explore a new place. The thrill of exploration fills them with excitement.
  • One of the partners dreams about visiting the peak of the Himalayas and so the other partner plans a hike to help achieve that.

How to increase experiential intimacy?

You can increase experiential intimacy with exciting adventures with your partner. Do things that you both did not try together yet.

You don’t necessarily need to do everything together, but sharing some experiences together is compulsory for healthy relationships.

It helps you to connect with each other. You can look back at the past and reminisce with each other to feel connected.

4. Spiritual intimacy 

Although you can, yet you don’t need to indulge in religious practices together to develop spiritual intimacy.

You can also develop it from other sources like sharing life-changing moments with your partner. 

Worshiping Gods as a couple or conducting yagnas together can also create spiritual activity. But there are many others…

Examples of spiritual intimacy

  • A couple watches a natural scene together to soak in the natural beauty. They share this moment of peace as they admire nature.
  • When a couple holds hands during leisurely walks amidst the natural scenery, the serenity of nature helps them to connect with each other.
  • When a couple stands in front of the fascinating and enchanting Niagara falls. The magnificent beauty of this marvel of nature leaves them in awe.
  • Some partners discuss things that fulfill their sense of purpose. This deepens their understanding of each other. They share everything with each other, like their moral values, their beliefs, personal opinions on spirituality which cultivates closeness in their bond like no other.
  • Spouses read the Bible (or any other religious text of their preference) to set a positive tone for the day and invest in their spirituality. This helps them relax while fixating their faith in the power mightier than the universe.

How to increase spiritual intimacy?

Discussing spirituality and sharing inspiring experiences can develop spiritual intimacy with your partner. 

You do not necessarily have to force spiritual intimacy development. It can be naturally deepened by sharing experiences that you feel would benefit your partner.

5. Physical intimacy

You can show physical intimacy with fondness towards others with physical touch.

These small physical gestures of affection are far more valuable than you can ever imagine. They nurture a feeling of closeness between you and your partner.

The most common derivative of physical intimacy in couples is sex. However, sex alone doesn’t restrict the arena of physical intimacy.

It includes a plethora of other gestures like hand-holding, hugs, kisses, cuddles, and skin contact.

Examples of physical intimacy

  • When a woman gives back rubs to her partner when they feel low because of lost opportunities, this display of affection makes them appreciate their sincerity towards them.
  • Partners watching a movie after a hectic week of work love cuddling in their bed. Netflix and chill is not just a pop phrase as it expresses love and intimacy with their partner.
  • When a man meets his partner after a rough day at work, hugging their partner makes them feel relaxed, thereby uplifting their mood.
  • Couples walk in the park while holding hands and enjoy close proximity to each other. Each other’s presence makes them feel bliss.
  • When a long-distance couple meets each other at the airport after years, they express their love with kisses and hugs. 

How to increase physical intimacy?

You must observe the likes and dislikes of your romantic partner to enhance your physical intimacy. You might experiment with your ways of initiating sex with your partner.

Or, instead of hitting the bed with a motive, you may spoon and hold hands on the couch.

You can increase friendly physical intimacy with fist-bumps and hugs. Or parent-child physical intimacy with long endearing embraces.

Create a safe environment with your partner with soothing and reassuring physical contact (sexual or non-sexual) to build physical intimacy, for unbeatable affection and chemistry.

Eventually, this will improve the physical intimacy levels between you and your partner.

All that said and done. Let’s now find out some…

Key factors in an intimate relationship

An intimate relationship is built over the years on several factors, including…

1. Trust

What does trust mean in a relationship? It is the foundation of all healthy relationships.

When a person trusts you, they’ll easily share what’s on their mind without any hesitation. They know you’ll not judge them for showing their vulnerabilities.

To build trust in a romantic relationship, make sure you make them feel safe in your presence and assure them that their secrets are safe in your heart.

2. Acceptance

The start of a relationship is all glittery and fairytale-like. But do you know what it takes to keep that companionship alive? Acceptance.  

This sounds simple. Right? It is.

You can’t trust someone who can’t accept you for you. The same goes for your close ones… so, if you accept and embrace all their versions without any conditions, you’ll create a kind of intimacy never found before.

Understand that no person is perfect… In fact, no person is your definition of perfect. Instead, you need to decide how much you are willing to accept their flaws.  

Only when you learn to accept your partner for what they are and not for what you want them to be… that’s when you’ll be able to build intimacy.

3. Honesty

Truth defies it all! 

Be honest about your feelings for a healthy relationship.

If you’re comfortable enough to share your most embarrassing stories, you can create a long-lasting partnership with brimming intimacy.

Honesty feeds upon emotions that you can offer in a relationship. 

How far are you willing to take this relationship? If you build a relationship upon the roots of lies, it will eventually dismantle. 

To attain the intimacy and chemistry you desire, honesty is, indeed, the best policy.

4. Safety

Be their safety cushion!

Make your partner believe that you’re their safety cushion and will share the blow of all harms in the world to create intimacy.

When in doubt and sorrow, comfort them even if things do not work out as per the plan. 

Letting your guard down and putting yourself out there to find out if they really care about your safety, is the real intimacy.

5. Compassion

Can you love someone without being compassionate towards them? The answer is NO.

Compassion is a vital force in driving a healthy relationship. Its absence can’t help you grow in a relationship.

If you feel your partner doesn’t care, listen to or love you enough, your relationship will eventually die.

Compassion is a form of unconditional love that must exist within you for yourself and others to develop intimacy well.

6. Affection

You can express affection both physically and mentally.

Remember how your mom cooks your favorite dish to cheer you up? And how do your friends show up at your house during your difficult phase to support you?

That is affection.

You have endless ways to show affection… and you can pick any to build intimacy among friends, family or even your romantic partner.

Tip: A hug is the best form of affection to show anyone. Try it!

7. Communication

Well, the only key to unlocking a healthy and everlasting relationship is communication. Lack of communication can destroy any relationship, quite literally!

Speak it out when something feels off. If you communicate about how you feel about certain things or situations, you will be able to resolve any difficulty on your way.

Communicate your feelings, thoughts, and emotions to your partner. Listen to your partner with undivided attention. 

Trust me, if you make an effort to communicate, nothing can go wrong.

8. Vulnerability

Do you fear that exposing your vulnerable side can make your partner take a step back from your relationship? If so, your relationship is not really as intimate as you think. 

Wait and observe how your partner handles you when you are in a vulnerable situation. Spill a small piece of information and see how they react to it.

Are they emotionally available to support you in such a situation? If yes, then you can rely on them. 

If not, trust your gut. It always has the right advice.

9. Commitment

When you love a person, you go back to them no matter what. That’s what commitment is all about.

Your patience, efforts, love, along with your behavior towards your partner is all that matters. 

Can you cancel your game/girls’ night and go on an evening walk with your partner? 

There will always be ups and downs in a relationship, but you guys must stick around each other. 

Remember, It is you both against the world not you against your partner.

10. Reliability

Have you reached the level in your relationship where you’re sure that you can rely on your partner? Yes. (I am so happy for you)

Reliability is a crucial element for a serious relationship. It shows that your relationship is no more a casual one.

When your partner is ready to struggle through certain circumstances just to be with you, then, believe me…. They are “the one,” never let them go.

So, is your relationship an intimate one? Curious? Let’s find out!

20 Signs of intimacy in a relationship

You might think that you are in an intimate relationship. But, if you dive a little deeper, some things may need amend.

Find out how much you must repair from these…

1. You immensely trust one another

Undeniably, trust is the most vital factor in an intimate relationship. If you believe and trust each other, your relationship will make you feel satisfied from within.

You can be yourself around one another and don’t have to think twice before sharing anything.

High levels of trust help you build the relationship in all aspects – emotional, mental, physical or even spiritual.

2. You participate in exciting activities together

Are intimate relationships only restricted to physical intimacy? No. It also means sharing lives and building connections with each other.

Couples who participate in adventurous activities together and spend their life experiences together are bound to feel happier in the relationship than those who don’t.

So if you can share childhood memories and darkest secrets… and are also willing to face it with your partner, you’ve nailed the game of intimacy.

Low-key experiences like sharing an ice cream or gazing at the stars also contribute heavily to your intimacy.

3. Your chemistry is unbeatable

Chemistry is another aspect of a relationship that shows the power of emotional and physical intimacy in a couple.

It also shows how you two bond together deeper than the surface-level and make no attempts to fake around.

You’ll enjoy each other’s presence, be able to read each other’s minds and also complete each other’s sentences.

You will sense a different kind of energy in the activities that you both do together.

4. You’re one another’s rock-solid pillar

When you aren’t hesitant about relying on one another for anything, you develop intimacy through dependency.

You’ve complete faith in your partner that they will support you in every situation.

If you have a fully supportive partner to rely on in any situation, you have a sure sign that your relationship is strong. 

5. Your physical contact isn’t all about the bed

In an intimate relationship, sex is not the only activity to express your love.

As you learned physical intimacy is inclusive of a lot of other things than sex, you must make different attempts to build on it.

Physical affection or non-sexual intimacy like kisses, hugs, massages, hand-holding, or just cuddling with each other can emote intimacy between a couple.

You can also increase intimacy with small gestures.

6. It is you and them against the world

Teamwork in a relationship helps build a strong bond between partners. But not everyone is blessed enough for a partner who believes in teamwork. 

Some couples work together, communicate well, and love to attain their goals together.

On the other hand, some partners who can’t work together express negativity towards one another.

For the ones who belong in the former, congratulations… you’re sharing an intimate bond with your partner

7. You read each other without words

If you can pick up on your partner’s words without them speaking… It is a great sign of intimacy.

Do you read your partner’s thoughts from their expressions? Do you correctly estimate the needs and wants of your partner without them telling you? 

Can you read your S.O’s expressions amidst the crowd? So, do you really understand your partner’s silence?

If yes, you guys have an unmatchable intimacy, without a doubt. 

I should date a psychic now, I guess. 😉

8. They are absolutely candid with you

Honesty is the essential part of any relationship and is the key to an intimate relationship between two people.

If you share a deep and intimate connection with each other, then you’ll be able to unveil everything to your partner, no matter how disturbing it is. Your partner’s support will make you comfortable.

Stop worrying and start being more honest with your partner to have a more intimate relationship.

9. They are your go-to person for everything

If you tell everything to your partner first reveals a lot about your intimacy.

If the first person that pops into your mind when you…

  • Get some hot gossip
  • Hear something funny
  • Influential things of your life
  • Or anything at all

…is your partner, then buddy, you both are attached to each other a lot more than you know.

10. You are a priority for them

Priority plays a big role in the success of a relationship

If you guys communicate well, prioritize each other and make a conscious effort to spend time with each other, it’s a sign of great intimacy.  

As a married couple, if you plan dates for each other, you’re a lot better than most couples out there.

Regular date nights with a lot of passion and excitement keep the spark in the relationship alive. This makes the chances of divorce very slim.

11. They are your bosom buddy

Best friends also share great intimacy. If you guys are more friends than partners, you two have unmatchable intimacy.

Many studies reveal that being best friends in a marriage is an added bonus to the relationship. Friendship provides high satisfaction.

If you two wholeheartedly accept each other as best friends before being partners, you’ll find contentment in each other’s presence. 

In this case, there are very high chances of having a powerful intimacy that lasts forever.

12. You guys kiss intensely

Remember the first kiss… when you just didn’t want your partner to stop?

There is actual scientific reasoning behind intoxicating kisses. 

Kisses reduce anxiety and promote a sense of security among couples. It also helps in creating a very intense relationship of intimacy.

So, how frequently do you kiss… the number is your answer to the kind of intimate relationship you share.

Kisses don’t just mean a passionate lip-lock… a simple forehead kiss is enough to give your partner a sense of assurance.

13. You can read between their lines

As people say, communication is the key to any successful relationship.

If you guys believe in communicating your feelings and thoughts instead of drawing conclusions, that’s a great sign.

The deeper your conversations, the greater the intimacy you’ll share between the two.

Do you know about pillow talk? It is a reference to the talking that happens after intimacy. 

When couples talk while they cuddle together, it improves their closeness and intimacy.

14. You think about being in bed with them

I know that I said that intimacy is not just about sex. But, many other aspects of intimacy are favored with good sex.

This is why you cannot disregard sexual satisfaction in intimacy.

An intimate relationship can give you a spur of feel-good hormones named oxytocin. For some women, oxytocin works like an antidepressant.

These feel-good hormones improve your health and raise immunoglobulin A in the body, an antibody that fights infections.

15. You want to know every little detail about them

You can develop an unmatchable emotional intimacy only when you know everything about each other.

Here are a few ways to get to know your partner better:

  • Ask would-you-rather questions
  • Play the get-to-know-your-partner quiz.
  • Truth and dare are always an option.
  • Play fun couple quizzes online.
  • Identify your partner’s love languages.
  • Myers and Briggs personality test.
  • Take other compatibility tests.

If you invest time in your partner, you will discover their fears and fantasies, which will help you both bond on a deeper level and also build trust.

16. You two don’t cross boundaries

Every individual needs their personal space, and it is necessary to respect that in a relationship. 

If you two give one another space and still stand tall together, that’s a great sign.

Discuss your boundaries with your partner and make sure you listen to theirs as well. Never attempt to cross the talked-about limitations without the consent of your partner.

17. You are comfortably vulnerable around them

When you enter a new relationship, you’ll wish to show your best image to your partner.

This is why it is not easy to admit your flaws and shortcomings to your partner in a new relationship.

Vulnerability means being your true self in front of your partner…. And if you’re able to reveal that, nothing can break your bond.

This is, surely, the secret to a long-lasting relationship.

18. The flirting never stops

Flirting is the best way to keep that spark alive in your relationship.

If your partner still flirts with you even after months of dating you or makes you feel butterflies in your stomach, it is a sign of intimacy between you two. 

Complimenting each other, getting naughty, and cracking flirty jokes are the signs that you both still enjoy each other’s company as much as you did when you both first met.

19. You don’t judge each other

To get intimate with your partner, you must be 100% sure that your partner wouldn’t judge you… no matter what.

Only then you’ll be able to show your vulnerable side without filters.

This can, indeed, prove to be a great way to understand your relationship. Know where you stand and whether both of you are on the same page or not.

20. You like to unplug when you’re together

When you are out with your partner, you’ve no clue about your phone… that’s when you know you’re experiencing an intimate relationship with your partner.

Research states that couples who check their phones during lovemaking can end up having doubts and issues with each other.

Spending quality time is much more important than spending plenty of time together without actually being there for each other. 

Now that you know you’re having an intimate relationship with your partner, let me tell you a few…

Benefits of Intimacy in relationships

Intimacy is the key to a healthy relationship. It is helpful both physically and mentally and depends on whether you’re capable of utilizing every bit of it. For instance…

1. You can use intimacy as a stress-buster

Stress can harm your body both mentally and physically.

But you might be unaware of how intimacy works as an antibody against the modern-day fever known as stress.

Stress can legitimately lead to various ill-health conditions, for example, spine-related pain, insomnia, high blood pressure, weak immune system, etc. 

So, it’s time to break free from this vicious cycle of pain with intimacy.

2.  It curbs loveliness

Most people may not agree but loneliness also impacts physical health. Doctors say that it can even reduce your lifespan.

An intimate relationship with your partner can help you find your way out of this darkness.

When you’re loved, appreciated and acknowledged by someone… you naturally feel less depressed.

3. Your sex life enhances

You don’t need sex to attain intimacy, but the reverse is true. Intimacy will help you and your partner feel a never-dying sexual desire… one that goes beyond sex.

You’ll improve your sex life because you’ll defy all fears of expressing or receiving what you want.

Instead of leading a sexless marriage, you’ll want to know your partner’s desires. 

You’ll build up mutual trust with time which will help you grow together while enhancing your love and chemistry… ultimately leading you to a better and better sex life.

4. You literally “Feel Good” with intimacy

A healthy sex life also helps reduce stress which impacts your immune system positively.

It helps regulate blood pressure, lessens body pain, and also helps you get a good night sleep. 

While having sex, the body releases a chemical named oxytocin, also known as the feel-good hormone.

Orgasm alone helps you reduce pressure with the release of oxytocin and calms you down.

Research says that orgasm gives you the same benefits as exercising.

5. You both improve your mental health

Intimacy can also boost your mental health considerably.

Women who face dearth of sex feel depressed and lose confidence with time, whereas men get angry.

Thus, when your sexual needs are satisfied, you feel better mentally as it releases more happy hormones (dopamine) than others.

6. You heal emotionally

We all share our emotions with our loved ones, don’t we? Yes, for obvious reasons. They are the ones you trust and feel comfortable with. 

You’ll often want to discuss things when you are upset with something, and you’re well aware of who your go-to person is. 

Your companion or partner acts as a therapist and makes you feel safe. As they support you, you begin to overcome barriers like emotional unavailability, and heal gradually and gently.

Despite knowing the benefits, you might not indulge in intimacy if you suffer from a…

Fear of Intimacy

You can’t develop intimacy overnight. It is difficult and time-consuming. Plus, if you have experienced heartbreaks in the past, it may be even more difficult.

Well, buddy, it is alright if you have this fear, but what is not right is not working on your fear even after recognizing it.

Intimacy makes you feel loved, curbs loneliness, and also benefits you in several other ways… but only when you make an effort to get rid of this fear.

Still wondering, why can’t you be as intimate with your partners as with others…. Here are a few reasons.

1. You fear abandonment

If you think that if you depend on someone emotionally, they may leave you behind… you suffer from abandonment issues which is the root cause of fear of intimacy.

2. You’re afraid of rejection

Nobody is perfect in this world, and you too, like everyone else, have your flaws and imperfections.

If you fear baring your heart to others because of this fear, it may be the cause of your fear of intimacy.

3. You have a controlling nature.

Love offers you emotional connection which leads to dependency.

If you fear losing independence, you may feel that you lost control of yourself which might lead to your fear of intimacy.

4. You were abused in the past

Childhood trauma of physical abuse, sexual abuse to be precise, can make the process of building trust very difficult.

Visit a sex therapist for your problem who might advise diagnosis of specific behavior to your partner.

5. You suffer from anxiety

If you tend to avoid social situations and feel awkward about opening up from an early age, it might be another cause.

You might be someone who fears others’ judgmental thoughts so you subconsciously curl away from intimate bonding to avoid any potential criticism.

Knowing the roots alone can’t help you out of your situation, you must learn…

How to overcome fear of intimacy?

So many of us deal with the fear of intimacy on a regular basis. But there’s always a way out of this. Here’s how.

1. Find the root cause and symptoms of your fear

For the ones who don’t know whether or not you fear intimacy… Your first step towards resolution is to first identify the issue.

Some signs that you suffer from a fear of intimacy anxiety about socializing but not knowing the cause of your anxiety. You may have low self-esteem or lack confidence. 

Possibly, you also have social anxiety or the urge to avoid deep conversations with your partner. 

You might want to isolate yourself from people or find it tough to be in the moment while having sex.

Once you identify the symptoms, you can easily work on them.

You can discuss it with a trusted friend or a professional, depending on your situation.

2. Identify your boundaries and their reasons

If you know your boundaries well, you’ll be able to figure out solutions to slowly faze them out.

For instance, if you were physically assaulted in the past, it might still traumatize your subconscious mind while indulging in sex.

Identify your triggers, communicate that to your partner and then take mutual steps to emerge out of this fear.

3. Express your feelings to your partner clearly.

Communicate your issues to your partner. Allow them to know that you don’t intentionally build walls around you.

Unless your partner knows the issue, they will not be able to help you. Or worse, they may feel offended with your closed behavior.

Once you’re comfortable, let them in on your fears. Be verbal about your needs so that they can help you feel safe and secure in the relationship.

4. Take help of a professional.

We all can use a little support when it gets too hard.

If you followed everything and still didn’t find your escape route from your fears, it’s time to take serious steps.

Take help from a mental health professional to achieve the best results.

They can help with various things like,

  • Identifying the root cause of your fears.
  • Suggest foolproof solutions for trauma.
  • Make a note of your triggers and find out how to resolve them.
  • Find out if you suffer from specific mental health conditions like depression or anxiety disorders.

However, if you think that it is not a personal issue… you may want to explore…

Intimacy issues in relationships

You may face a hard time identifying the causes of intimacy issues in your relationship.

Since your relationship is unique, the causes of your intimacy issues might be unique too. So, let me introduce you to a few common ones.

1. Your partner is in contact with an ex

If your partner has gone back to his ex, seeking some comfort because they don’t find this relationship “juicy” enough – you’ll naturally feel detached.

If they involve themselves in an extramarital bond, this lit fire can burn your married life to ashes. 

2. Your partner seems bitter day by day

Maybe you had a bitter fight last night and your spouse has lost respect for you. Or, you both got involved in nasty arguments and said cruel things to each other.  

Frequent fights can definitely challenge the happiness and intimacy in your relationship.

You both must be mature enough to avoid harsh and hurtful words during arguments. Remember, if you let the anger takeover you, it can inflict wounds that won’t ever heal.

3. Your partner doesn’t express their sexual desires

This is one of the most relatable issues among partners. 

You two might have different types of sexual desires. If you do not talk about this difference, it may expand even further. 

Eventually, it will impact the sexual intimacy between both of you. 

4. Your relationship isn’t exciting anymore

To keep up the spark, you must not let loose on the adventures of your love life. Try innovative ways to connect to your partner and make them feel special. 

The intimacy in your relationship will eventually weaken if you don’t spice it with adventurous activities.

Don’t do that. Instead, make a conscious effort to keep the relationship exciting.

5. Your partner is becoming selfish

If you prioritize your own needs over your partner’s, it’s bound to impact the intimacy in the relationship.  

Remember, you are responsible for your partner’s happiness, and hence you must not act selfishly. 

If you want great intimacy with your partner, you might want to resolve these issues and look after your partner’s choices before you indulge in self-pleasure.

6. Your partner doesn’t communicate

Intimacy is not just physical touch. It also includes the emotional connection between two people. Your ease of communication reflects your emotional intimacy.

To be a couple who can communicate with each other without any hesitation, you must be honest and transparent with each other.

Expressing is as important as listening, so to have good communication skills, you need to learn the art of putting your feelings into the right words. 

A communication gap can lead to misinterpretation and arguments, which in turn may result in feeling disconnected from your partner.

7. Your partner suffers from mental health conditions

Depression or anxiety are mental health issues that can impact intimacy.

If you feel that your partner makes a mountain out of a molehill, it is probably their mental illness acting out.  

If the situation worsens, you may want to consult a psychiatrist or counselor.

8. Your partner resents you

Like other couples, you two may have your own arguments too. But, do you make serious efforts to resolve them? Or, do you keep it hanging?

Subdued negative feelings become a hindrance to your physical intimacy.

Find out the underlying motives to resolve your intimacy issues.

9. You prioritize children before yourselves

The lack of intimacy is very common when you and your partners step into parenthood.

You and your partner may devote a lot of energy towards raising your children, which might leave little to no time for intimacy with your partner. 

Yes, you will have kids at some point in your life, and they are, obviously, a result of “intimacy”.

But this doesn’t mean you should not be involved in intimate activities with your partner.

Take some time out for your partner while your little one is asleep or is busy with some other activities.

10. Your partner’s professional commitments are more important

Balancing time and work is crucial in a relationship.

As an individual, you may have some dreams but, this doesn’t give you the leisure to take your relationship for granted.

While most people motivate themselves to fulfill their aspirations, some are workaholics to a whole different level.

Their workaholic attitude becomes a hindrance in your intimacy with your partner.

So, ask them to set their priorities straight and that should help you resolve your intimacy issues.

Now that you’ve identified some intimacy issues, here are a few ways on…

How to build intimacy in a relationship? (How to fix intimacy issues in a relationship)

Building intimacy is not a one-day job. It takes patience and conscious effort.

Before you build intimacy with someone else, you must reflect on your inner-self and embrace it with your whole heart.

After that, you can resort to other ways to build intimacy.

So first…

1. Never ditch your love for yourself

Loving yourself first is always a prerequisite for any relationship, and learning self-love is not always easy. 

Understand your own thoughts and feelings, else how will you tackle the ebb and flow of your partner?

If you do not have massive self-love already, your relationship is sure to make you feel exhausted.

The insecurities will lead to regular conflict with your partner… which may also lead to a breakup.

You cannot learn to love yourself in a single day. It is an ongoing process. It is not a switch you can just flick on and off.

2. Practice gratitude

When you become too comfortable with your romantic partner, you may fail to notice their efforts to make the relationship work.

Gratitude is one of the most accessible positive emotions, and its effects can strengthen your relationship.

Practice some tiny-little activities to show gratitude towards your partner…. buy flowers, kiss them hello and goodbye or send them flowers in the middle of a workday.

Wish them good morning and goodnight, write a romantic letter, surprise them or take them out on dates.

Remember that thank you is also a type of appreciation that can set an upward spiral of trust, closeness, and affection.

3. Restart your quest to know each other

You might feel you have nothing left to know about one another in a long-term relationship. However, people and relationships grow and change with time.

You can’t read their mind all the time and that’s when communicating with your partner can help you find a common ground.  

When you talk to your partner, you learn new things about them. Play games to know each other’s opinions on different things. This will help avoid future misunderstandings and strengthen your relationship. 

4. Acknowledge your differences

You don’t have to hide or be insecure about the differences between you and your partner. 

Everyone is different in their own way and has both positives and negatives… and so do you.

Differences can open you to new experiences and awaken more interest in each other.

Appreciate and respect these differences to make your relationship more fun and exciting.

5. Pause for a while and make time for them

Life is short and time is fleeting, so do not forget to spend some quality time with your partner.

Go on dates, watch movies, cook together, work out together, go on walks with your partner and buy their favorite flavor of ice cream – precisely, prioritize them. 

These little moments in a relationship matter a lot.

Talk about random stuff and do some new couple activities to sustain the spark of your relationship.

Always appreciate their company when you both are together.

6. Create your own definition of intimacy.

Intimacy is not always about sex.

The genuine act of being intimate is all about enjoying the small-little everyday moments together.

You may sit next to each other on the couch and watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S for the 10th time… or make their favorite meal on a weekend and binge on your favorite movies.

Hug them every time you meet each other or shower them with forehead kisses to show they matter to you. 

Communicate how you want to show intimacy. Tell your loved one when you want to spend time together, or indulge in some activities to feel closer.

7. Work together to foster teamwork

When you know too much about each other, you feel that everything is a routine and you have nothing more to discover. You feel like the excitement is gone.

Build intimacy with some domestic projects. Restore furniture, learn new skills like baking, learn new languages together, find a new hobby, etc. 

Make sure you try to do something new with your partner to keep the relationship alive.

8. Initiate intimacy with your partner without ending up in bed

If you have a sexual relationship, then mixing things up with your new toys, outfits and fantasies can keep things from getting dull.

But you can also build Intimacy if you show physical affection without sex.

Finding things that can make you feel closer to your significant other without getting physical can help you enhance your relationship in a big way.

On long and tiring days, put on some light background music, soak in the warmth of your partner’s arms.

Listening to the rhythm of their heartbeat while cuddling each other can feel a lot more intimate than you think.

9. Have compassion and make way for forgiveness.

Your inclination to share your thoughts, emotions, and feelings no matter how much you hurt, without hurting others, is compassion.

Your compassion for others pushes them to communicate better and trust you.

However, you don’t need to accept their sorrows as your own or feel the misery as strongly as them.

Rather, when you identify another’s distress and feel an intense urge to give them a hand, that’s compassion.

When you’re compassionate to others, they’ll return the favor. So, your partner will also treat you with equal sensitivity if you do so.

If your partner upsets you, instead of nurturing the negative feelings, forgive them.

When you tackle a crisis with determination and maturity instead of impulses, you can heal yourself better.

If you bring up old disputes in your fights, it’s because you didn’t forgive them yet. You’ll be able to move forward only when you learn to forgive and also forget!

Remember, to err is human and to forgive is divine.

10. Extend your emotional support to your partner

When you love your partner, you must support them through tough times, reassure them even when things go wrong, and encourage them through all stages of life – that’s emotional support.

Emotional support helps them deal with negative feelings and also eliminates self-doubt.

If you hide your emotions, you’ll ultimately distance yourself from each other. So, it’s always wise to be as transparent as possible and communicate with each other like friends.

Tell them that you’ll always be there – through the thick and thin without judgment and they’ll soon let the walls down. You’ll become their safe haven in just a matter of time.

You can also extend support for them in public with a few compliments and praises.

Strive hard and soon you’ll be able to build a strong intimate bond, but…

How long does it take to build intimacy?

The time consumed to build intimacy depends on you two and your situations. However, it is quite a slow process and needs serious efforts from both ends.

However, there’s no one answer to this. It depends on you, your partner, and your circumstances. 

Some couples may build it in a matter of months by employing several activities.

While some others may take years.

Stepping towards intimacy might intimidate you if you suffered from betrayals or violations from loved ones.

You’ll experience many difficulties in your relationships and sometimes you’ll want to give up. However, don’t rush for the end result. 

Instead, take small steps, slowly and steadily, and you’ll soon find yourself in a safe space with your partner.

So, my friend, trust the process.

Online Intimacy: How can you cultivate it?

If two people know each other online, they can use virtual streams to build intimacy with intimate texts and emoticons.

Many pieces of research show that social media helps people engage in social intimacy better than ever.

Since intimacy can be developed by sharing private and sensitive info about each other, you don’t always need to stay physically close to create intimacy.

But many people also believe that virtual contact can’t alone build social intimacy. Individuals who know each other can also use the internet for intimate exchanges, like face-to-face contact.

It depends from person to person whether they can use modern-day technology as a means to develop intimacy.

If you want, you can exchange various personal texts or emoticons (emojis) throughout the day and also face-time at healthy intervals.

This is especially beneficial for couples living in long-distance relationships.

Can a relationship survive without intimacy?

No, a relationship can’t survive without intimacy. Partners require a healthy physical and emotional intimacy to feel loved and cared about in a relationship.

People in a harmonious relationship will always share some kind of intimacy with one another. It doesn’t matter if it’s a romantic relationship or a friendly one.

If you don’t spend enough time with each other, you’ll face a hard time interacting and communicating your feelings, which later leads to more suffering.

If you want to bond better physically, emotionally, and mentally with each other, while also accepting the differences, then building intimacy is the way to go.

Explore the various ways to cultivate intimacy between you and your partner and find out what works for you.

Long story short, it is difficult to sustain a long-term relationship without intimacy.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Intimacy plays a vital role in sustaining a healthy and happy relationship – be it friendship, familial relations, or even a romantic one with your partner.

There’s no formula that you need to follow to build intimacy in your relationships… because every relationship is unique.

For instance, when couples stop having sex, they don’t necessarily lose intimacy. Or, when friends don’t share much time together, they don’t necessarily grow apart.

But that might not be the case for you.

Your definition of intimacy may be different and so will your ways to build on it.