The true definition of intimacy cannot be described in words properly. It’s a psychological state where both the partners feel very close, attached to each other, and share a sense of belonging.
Intimacy is all about feeling alive, content, ecstatic, and at the same time, being vulnerable. It is a state of relationship that can’t be achieved overnight. It takes time to grow gradually, where two people get closely attached to each other.
Our souls crave intimacy
—Erwin Raphael McManus
What is intimacy in a relationship?
When we think of intimacy, automatically, we tend to equate it with sex or physical closeness.
Though intimacy encompasses all these, it is actually far more than just being sexually intimate. It has a bigger purpose where mutual understanding and interdependence are essentially required.
Though we can’t ignore the importance of physical intimacy in ahealthy relationship, emotional intimacy is the prerequisite of having any kind of physical intimacy with your partner.
What are the different types of intimacy?
What is intimacy in a relationship or when you are in a relationship? Did you know that there are different categories of intimacy between partners?
Comprising emotional, sexual, mental, or intellectual togetherness, intimacy in a relationship has a broader aspect. When it comes to having asuccessful marital or conjugal relationship, emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual, intimacy should work amicably.
Emotional intimacy: Strengthens the bond between the couple
Emotional intimacy in a relationship is the precondition to developing that mind bubbling physical connection, which is our very first thought about being close to someone.
You feel close to one another by sharing your desires, feelings, dreams, aspirations, secrets, and by the process, you become vulnerable to one another. Thus, chemistry builds up between the couple.
Emotional intimacy in a relationship nurtures the bond.
To have emotional intimacy, you don’t need to spend hours together. Just spending 10 minutes of quality time together or helping each other with household chores can also improve emotional intimacy.
It instills trust, understanding, acceptance, and makes you feel more connected to each other.
From affection, love, romance, sex to spirituality, emotional intimacy comprises every feeling that is pivotal forkeeping your marriage or relationship strong. When sexual fondness and desires fade away with growing age, only emotional intimacy remains and connects the couple at the deepest level.
Physical intimacy: The basic requirement to make a relationship thrive
It is a potent and common way of showing the love that brings you closer to your partner. It is not only about sex or making out; physical intimacy is more than just having sex.
This makes you believe that you have importance and a special place in your heart for your partner.
Apart from sexual chemistry, a simple back rub, a romantic body massage, holding hands, cozy hugs, or a sweet kiss are also considered forms of physical intimacy.
From overcoming insecurities and mitigating differences to feel the warmth of love, physical intimacy has a great role in relationships.
Without physical intimacy in a relationship, a marriage or relationship can’t flourish and sustain properly.
The video below discusses John Kironde’s technique of skin to skin meditation to improve physical intimacy in the relationship. Try it out:
Intellectual intimacy: Liberty of expressing opinions for better communication
Intellectual intimacy in a relationship allows both of you to share your thoughts and ideas freely, no matter your opinions differ from each other.
When two persons connect intellectually, they feel safe and comfortable to share their views on any matter, without fear of consequences. From politics, child-rearing, and family expenses to international matters, they can freely express their views and argue.
How strong levels of intimacy nurture the relationship?
What is intimacy to a relationship, may it be for married couples, for family, and for friends? What does being intimate with another individual give you and the relationship? The obvious answer is a strong relationship.
How important is intimacy in a relationship is one of the most discussed topics.
As we are allowed to give ourselves wholeheartedly to another person, it opens a window for mutual respect, love, and understanding. With this, intimacy binds people together into a deeper understanding.
If we are able to take care of this, it can guarantee a long-lasting bond between you and the people you care for. This is the reason why intimacy is one of the most treasured aspects of marriage and relationships.
5 Common intimacy killers in a relationship
There could be various factors that can kill intimacy and make the relationship sour. Some of the common complaints and marital issues are as under:
1. Spouse connecting with the old flame
The intimacy between couples is bound to die with one of the partners engaging in an extramarital affair. This does not only kill the intimacy but also makes the relationship bitter.
2. Spouse harboring bitterness
There could be problems due to which the spouse becomes bitter. It could be because of a certain situation or conversation that wasn’t discussed and that led to a pile-up.
3. Not talking about sexual desires
If couples don’t talk about their sexual desires, there won’t be any sexual intimacy between them. It is important to be open about your needs and desires for the marriage to become successful.
4. Lack of adventure
A little bit of spark is always necessary to keep the relationship interesting. When there’s no adventure or an element of surprise left in the relationship, the relationship becomes boring and intimacy dies.
Selfishness could also be a possibility for the relationship to die, and thereby, the intimacy. If one partner turns away from the relationship and stops thinking as a team, the we-first attitude dies and both the partners stop feeling intimate.
Can a relationship survive without intimacy?
Intimacy in a relationship is the pivotal pillar of healthy relationships, be it a marital or love relationship. Intimacy helps both the partners to realize how important they are for each other.
No matter how many shortcomings or limitations we have, we always wish to be accepted and loved by our partners. To keep aside all of your differences towards a healthy bond, having an intimate relationship, both physical and emotional, is mandatory.
When in a relationship, intimacy is something we crave, so without this euphoric feeling, sustaining a long-term relationship is impossible. Once you know the importance of different types of intimacy, it’s better to start working on discovering what works out best for your relationship since the needs of different couples may vary.
How to overcome a fear of intimacy?
Intimacy is a beautiful feeling, an ideal ingredient if we want to make sure that we have a long-lasting relationship. But as beautiful as it may seem – intimacy is also scary for some people.
The fact is, not all people are willing to get intimate and are still guarded by past experiences. For them, being intimate even with their partners will mean that they will let their guard down and can easily be hurt and be used all over again.
Just like trust issues, intimacy in a relationship is hard for some people. That’s why for them, it’s a bit hard to earn not just their trust, but their willingness to be intimate as well.
If you know you have a fear of intimacy in a relationship, consider doing the following:
Communicate with your spouse about your situation and what exactly triggers such a reaction when they try to get intimate with you. Do not keep them in the dark.
Don’t put yourself under pressure. You are not perfect and that’s okay. Allow yourself some time and take time to heal.
Understand the root cause. Dive into your past and know what is not working for you. Is it some past trauma or unidentified fear. Get to the root cause to resolve the issue.
Seek help from the professional about your condition lest it should become serious. Mental health professionals can help you diagnose the problem and provide an appropriate solution or treatment.
If you are currently in a relationship without intimacy, you’d know what is true intimacy in a relationship and you’d know that it can sometimes be challenging. There can be factors that can contribute to a lack of intimacy.
So, how do you make sure that you and your partner will continue to have a strong bond of intimacy?
Take it slow, especially when you are just at the beginning of a relationship. Intimacy is never rushed, so allow each other for building it slowly.
Build intimacy with the easy stuff first like trying to initiate conversations about your life and dreams and so on. Again, be patient and don’t rush.
Respect your spouse or partner. There can be times where your spouse doesn’t feel like being intimate or you might feel that she or he is drifting away – respect the reason and work on it.
Lastly, be sensitive to each other’s feelings. If you are in tune with your feelings, chances are, it’ll be easier for you to be sensitive towards your partner’s feelings as well. It’s a give and take process.
Each one of us may have a little difference in opinion as to what is intimacy.
But, even if we may have different views, what matters is that we are able to understand its importance not just to us but for the people that we love and as long as we are able to practice respect and selfless love, then true intimacy is always there.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.