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13 Types of Intimacy and How to Build Each One of Them? [with Examples]

13 Types of Intimacy and How to Build Each One of Them? [with Examples]

Updated on Jul 06, 2023

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

13 Types of Intimacy and How to Build Each One of Them

The term “intimacy” may make you think of sex or sexual intimacy, but there are various types of intimacy. Each of them has different ways to bring two people closer than ever and weave their hearts into one.

So, if you want to explore all facets of intimacy in your relationship, this think-piece is ready to spill the secrets.

Bonus: you’ll also know how to build each kind of intimacy!

So, let’s head right in to create your happily ever after here…

13 Types of Intimacy and How to Build Each One of Them [with Examples]
13 Types of Intimacy and How to Build Each One of Them [with Examples]

What are the different types of Intimacy?

Some couples sustain their relationships just with emotional and sexual intimacy. However, that’s not the only way to connect, grow close, or be “intimate” in a relationship.

You can boost your connection in your relationship in multiple ways… other than showing emotional vulnerabilities and passionate love-making.

Even with daily actions like chores and responsibilities, you can prove your undying love and dedication for your partner and build an indestructible bond.

So, if you’re still wondering how, let’s begin!

1. Emotional Intimacy

In emotional intimacy, you share your genuine emotions, feelings, and emotional needs with your partner. The emotional connection helps you show your vulnerable side to the love of your life once you trust them and create a safe space in your relationship.

How to build it?

Engage in deep topics like your hopes, desires, expectations, and fears that you usually don’t share with others.

Ask your partner about them and listen to them without judgment. Never invalidate their feelings to create a safe space.

Examples of Emotional Intimacy

a. After a long tiring day, you snuggle in your partner’s embrace and vent out all the stress of the day while they stroke your back and kiss your forehead.

b. You share your bad past experiences with your partner and your partner provides you emotional support.

c. You confide in your partner about your guilt-ridden feelings about past mistakes and they don’t judge you.

d. You and your partner have a long conversation about your hopes for your relationship and feel more understood in the relationship.

e. You tell your partner about how you feel about your parent’s reaction to a decision and they try to figure out a way to convince them.

2. Physical Intimacy

This kind of intimacy isn’t about your sexual desires. Rather, it’s the feeling when you crave your partner’s physical touch. These are small yet meaningful to connect with your partner and express your love for them.

How to build it?

You can build physical intimacy with non-sexual physical contact like hugging, kissing, cuddling, or any public display of affection like holding hands, a sly peck on the cheek, skin-to-skin physical touch, or even a quick hug.

Examples of Physical Intimacy

a. You give your partner a gentle foot massage after a tiring day while talking about their day. It washes away your partner’s exhaustion.

b. Your partner sneakily entangles their finger and rubs the back of your hand which leads to a spark up your spine.

c. You snuggle on the couch on your movie night to feel their warmth and listen to their heartbeat as you both drift off to sleep in the middle of the movie.

d. You give your partner a tight hug and quick kiss before you set off from work and after returning.

e. Your partner holds you tight when you feel scared or cry to ease your heart and reassure you. You feel much better after being held.

3. Sexual Intimacy

When you mention types of intimacy in a relationship or marriage, people think of sexual intimacy first. Sexual intimacy makes sex meaningful and extremely satisfying.

But as most people think, sexual intimacy doesn’t stop at having sex. It’s all about sharing a safe space where you can share your most bizarre bedroom fantasies without feeling judged.

How to build it?

During sexual activities, brush off any stressful thoughts and focus on your partner. Devote yourself completely to pleasure your partner. Do things that they specifically like. Don’t be shy to show what you like in bed.

Examples of Sexual Intimacy

a. You ask your partner about their fantasies and try to turn that into reality if you’re comfortable with that. Don’t pass rude comments to make them feel safe.

b. You verbally guide your partner to show what you like and let them please you.

c. You both engage in foreplay and pleasure each other to the fullest because you both know what each of you likes.

d. Your partner feels satisfied because you feel pleased by them.

e. Even if your partner orgasms first, they continue pleasing you until you climax because your pleasure matters as much to them.

4. Intellectual Intimacy

In intellectual intimacy, you share your innermost thoughts and opinions and your partner respects them. Either of you don’t feel judged when you discuss your perspectives on controversial topics like sports, politics, religion, etc.

How to build it?

Know about your partner’s opinion about debatable matters with an open mind. Do not judge them for having different beliefs to build a safe space. Build trust in the relationship and make both of you comfortable sharing your honest ideas without the fear of being mocked or fighting.

Examples of Intellectual Intimacy

a. You both debate over a topic and stress on facts alone without having any urge to win or proving the other wrong.

b. You both watch a comedy show and debate over who performed better. You both know that both performers did their best but you still love the heated exchange.

c. You and your partner discuss the promises of a political party and how much they fulfilled them. Though you have different opinions, you accept and love each other.

d. You guys listen to a story with a suspenseful ending and debate over the possible endings. You both want to think of all different possible outcomes beyond the story and let your fantasies run wild.

e. Though you both support different soccer teams and boo each other’s teams, you don’t shame your partner if their team loses.

5. Creative Intimacy

Creative intimacy might refer to helping each other create something as big as your best version or your future and something as simple as a piece of art.

How to build it?

Try to let your creative energy in any field flow free, urge your partner to express their ideas without any inhibitions, and put both of your ideas and plans to create something great.

Examples of Creative Intimacy

a. You and your partner write down your bucket list together, exchange the lists, and create a couple bucket lists with the ones you both wish to try.

b. You both set goals about your future with a margin. For instance, you want to settle down by a certain age, attain your dream job by a certain year, and so on.

c. Your partner constantly encourages you to become a better person every day and they never run out of patience as they believe in you.

d. You communicate about how to create the best life with your partner and figure out your route for that.

e. You both enjoy your time making new cuisine, and art pieces like pottery and painting, and bond over your creative energy.

6. Recreational Intimacy

This intimacy includes connecting over recreational activities, i.e., your hobbies and interests. Since you bond over shared experiences, it’s also known as experiential intimacy. The shared memories remind you of your connected personal growth and make you feel closer.

How to build it?

Take interest in your partner’s hobbies and include them in your interests. Plan activities neither of you ever did before. However, don’t force yourselves to do everything together. Enjoy your separate lives but sometimes spend time together to create shared memories.

Examples of Recreational Intimacy

a. Join a dancing class together and enjoy your time together learning the steps. Support and encourage each other to master your postures and the moves.

b. You compete with bae in a cycling competition on a road amidst lush greenery. Enjoy the thrill of cycling and share the joy of whoever comes first.

c. Plan a picnic together: you take care of the food and beverage, while your partner takes responsibility for the dessert and games. The teamwork makes you grow close.

d. Train together in the gym and motivate each other to maintain regularity and reach your couple fitness goals.

e. Go to an unexplored city. With a map, explore the best areas of the city together with your beloved.

7. Work Intimacy

Before you assume work intimacy is connected to your professional life, it’s not! Rather it’s the intimacy you build in your relationship or marriage with shared responsibilities and chores.

Without work intimacy, sexual and physical intimacy might decline due to grudges and resentment.

How to build it?

To build work intimacy in your relationship, share all household chores and responsibilities proportionally. If one can’t keep their side of the deal due to circumstances, the other must cover for them.

Nobody must think that any chore is their partner’s alone responsibility and they can’t or won’t do it. This helps you build a healthy relationship full of trust and security.

Examples of Work Intimacy

a. While you make dinner, your partner volunteers to wash the dishes so that you don’t feel burdened.

b. If your partner can’t pick up the children after school due to work, you take over. You don’t complain about it and understand their situation.

c. You plan your children’s schooling and parents’ caretaking together to find the best for them.

d. Your partner helps you out with some chores and you feel extremely grateful. You feel good, respected, and loved. You want to repay their kindness.

e. When you feel your partner does most of the chores, you take up some chores from them to even it out as you want to make your partner feel respected and loved.

8. Crisis Intimacy

You probably guessed it… this type of intimacy in relationships is formed over support, positive feedback, and encouragement during crisis periods. It leaves couples feeling closer than ever and more in love. It shows them they’ll stand by each other’s side through thick and thin.

How to build it?

Support your partner during their difficulties in all possible ways. This will make your partner feel they can depend on you and that despite what happens, you’ll always have their back.

Examples of Crisis Intimacy

a. When you face difficulties in your workplace, you share them with your partner. You know they can’t help you with official matters but you feel encouraged by their words.

b. During a financial crisis, when your partner loses confidence, you promise to support them with everything you have and work things out together.

c. When you lose someone dear to you, your partner supports you throughout the grieving process and takes care of you.

d. If you get sick and can’t tend to your usual duties, your partner asks you to focus on your health while they deal with all the domestic responsibilities.

e. When your partner’s loved ones get sick and they can’t think straight, you take the necessary actions to handle the situation.

9. Commitment Intimacy

Like most people assume, commitment intimacy isn’t just about committing to a relationship. It’s about dedicating yourself to your common goals and relationship milestones. It shows how much you both mean to your partners.

How to build it?

Create relationship goals, promise to work together to reach them, and stay dedicated until you both fulfill your dreams together. You feel a sense of togetherness through the accomplishments which also work as a symbol of your love.

Examples of Commitment Intimacy

a. You promise to build your dream home together in a long-term relationship and work hard to reach your goal together.

b. Your partner works hard to suffice for your family because they’re committed to you. You grow closer because of their devotion.

c. You both work hard, save, invest, and grow financially to start your business together and make your joint dream of being self-employed true.

d. Your partner meets proprietors and schedules appointments to check new homes along with you and asks your opinion to find the perfect one.

e. You both give your best efforts to raise your children in a loving and healthy environment with all the necessary good values.

10. Conflict Intimacy

Arguments in relationships help you learn to work through your conflicts, understand each other’s opinions and needs, and grow closer. Conflict intimacy is your ability as a couple to work through heated conversations and still stick to each other’s side as your greatest support in the long run.

How to build it?

When either of you makes mistakes, the other must try to calmly deal with the situation. Learn conflict management skills together and don’t let small issues impact your relationship. Remember that at the end of the day, you both fight troubles as a team and not against each other.

Examples of Conflict Intimacy

a. During fights, you don’t try to prove yourself right. You both try your best to solve the problems.

b. When you have clashing opinions about a situation, you try to understand each other’s perspectives instead of thinking it’s either your way or the highway.

c. You guys understand that mistakes happen and things go wrong, but you don’t hold a grudge over it.

d. When something bothers either of you, you don’t silently resent the other. Instead, you work out the troubles with clear communication.

e. If you have differences, you don’t expect your partner to change and try to reach a middle ground together.

11. Communication Intimacy

This kind of intimacy in relationships refers to both partners’ ability to express themselves openly and honestly regarding their desires and needs from each other. Both of you feel comfortable expressing yourselves candidly and have the confidence that your partner will hear you out.

How to build it?

When your partner says something, put away all distractions and listen to them carefully and try to understand them. Express your thoughts clearly and don’t expect them to understand you without a word. If you have communication issues, seek couples counseling.

Examples of Communication Intimacy

a. You and your partner practice clear, open, and honest communication to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.

b. When one of you talks, the other lets them finish with an open mind and not assume anything before they’re done.

c. You both freely express what you desire and don’t hope each other to understand you without communication.

d. Both of you talk regularly to ensure nobody feels ignored and unheard. You make sure that no issue bothers either of you and stays buried.

e. When your partner expresses distress or dissatisfaction with you, you try to understand the emotions and reasons behind it and not get defensive.

12. Spiritual Intimacy

Most people assume that spiritual intimacy means sharing a deep connection through religious rituals, but that’s only a part of it. It can be anything that helps you share close moments while you connect with nature and natural phenomena.

How to build it?

Discuss your methods of practicing spirituality, and your beliefs about it, and try out each other’s spiritual practices, connect to each other, your surroundings, and the divine powers.

Be open to each other’s practices and have faith. Otherwise, negativity won’t help the process.

Examples of Spiritual Intimacy

a. You and your partner fix a schedule to practice yoga together. You mutually relax and feel the tension melt away from your muscles.

b. Before going to bed, you both read a religious passage in unison and feel your nerves calm down in sync. You also feel connected to the higher powers and your bond with each other and divinity strengthens.

c. You go to a nature park with your partner and walk on the grass barefoot while holding hands. Both of you feel the grass tickling your soles and the damp soil cooling down your feet with every step you take which enhances the experience.

d. You both gaze at a natural beauty like a sunrise, sunset, or the wide ocean view while holding hands or leaning on each other’s shoulders. You feel grateful to share the view with each other.

e. You let your bond grow strong as you pray together for yourselves and your loved ones.

13. Aesthetic Intimacy

Aesthetic Intimacy is when you both share an experience together which helps create a deep bond among you both. In romantic relationships, you must appreciate similar tastes in aesthetics and acknowledge the different styles to build aesthetic intimacy.

How to build it?

Go on dates that revolve around things that your partner finds aesthetically attractive. During the date, mention what mesmerized you and appreciate your partner’s choices. They’ll also be willing to know your aesthetic interests. And even if you have different choices, bond over it.

Examples of Aesthetic Intimacy

a. Take your partner to watch your favorite play and explain what you love about it. Bond over what your partner liked about it whether your thoughts are common or not.

b. You go on a zoo date where you find the elephants cute but your partner likes the koalas. You accept the difference in opinion and love how you can learn new things about each other.

c. While watching a sunrise, you both share each of your perspectives regarding the symbolism of the view. You both broaden your horizon with more artistic knowledge.

d. Your partner asks you out on a date that you don’t find aesthetically appealing, but you’re ready to explore and appreciate it together to make them happy.

e. You both learn each other’s aesthetic choices in daily life and embrace it without judgment because that’s how love should be.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

It’s not impossible to survive a relationship with one or two forms of intimacy… However, if you expand the ways to grow intimate, you enhance your chances of a strong, long-lasting, and healthy relationship with fewer troubles.

Different forms of intimacy bring you closer because you both grow comfortable and truly understand each other’s hearts. And when you’re connected, you feel happy, fulfilled, and content with each other.

However, if your partner doesn’t react well to your attempts, they might have a fear of intimacy. You must seek a mental health expert for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment immediately.

Don’t forget that building intimacy needs time and dedication, so prepare to put lots of effort together to build your perfect relationship!