10 Types Of Intimacy Every Relationship Can Benefit From

When you’re in a serious relationship, you want to get as close to your partner as possible, and that means getting intimate. While stripping off and hopping into bed might come easy enough, there are many other types of intimacy that require some serious vulnerability and a willingness to get real. If you want to build an unbreakable bond and foster a healthy partnership, you’re going to have to open up and put in the work in these ways.

  1. Sexual intimacy You knew it was coming, and here it is. There’s no sense in pretending that sex doesn’t matter because it very much does, and that’s okay. While sex isn’t everything and it isn’t the most important type of intimacy by a long shot, it is a vital way for couples to connect, and it’s the one thing that separates romantic relationships from platonic ones. However, perhaps more importantly, there’s…
  2. Physical intimacy This differs from sexual intimacy because it’s not about getting off. Instead, this focuses more on the innocent ways of expressing affection with your partner, from hugging and hand-holding to cuddling in bed without it being a prelude to sex. The ways you express physical intimacy will vary depending on the couple and what feels right to you, and communication is, of course, key.
  3. Intellectual intimacy You don’t have to be an academic to want to have your mind stimulated by interesting and eye-opening conversations and debates, which is why this form of intimacy is so great. As psychology expert and life coach Bayu Prihandito explains, “This is where two people can share ideas, discuss books, delve into philosophy, express their passions, and challenge each other’s beliefs without judgment. It’s the bond you feel when you can engage in profound discussions and come out even more connected.”
  4. Creative intimacy It’s no secret that being able to express yourself through some form of art — be it drawing, writing, singing, whatever — can pay dividends when it comes to your personal development and your overall emotional and mental well-being. However, it has its place in relationships too. By exploring this area together, couples can bond in ways that other forms of intimacy don’t allow.
  5. Financial intimacy It can be scary to open up to your partner about all things money, especially if you have lots of debt or struggle with managing your finances. However, making this move will ultimately bring you closer together, especially since money is one of the most common causes of arguments between couples. “If you’re having trouble talking to your partner about money, you may want to explore if couples counseling might be helpful here,” advises licensed marriage and family therapist Heidi McBain, LMFT, LPC, PMH-C. “As money represents freedom and security for most people, it can be a very loaded topic to discuss without the right emotionally safe parameters in place for both of you.”
  6. Experiential intimacy When you’re in a relationship with someone, it stands to reason that you’re going to experience things together that help bring you closer and build memories you’ll look back on for years to come. This is one of those types of intimacy that happen naturally in most relationships and the importance of which can’t be overstated. “This kind of intimacy flourishes when you share experiences together, whether it’s traveling, exploring new activities, or simply cooking together,” Prihandito shares. “It’s the bond that strengthens when you create exclusive memories just between the two of you.”
  7. Companionship intimacy When you’re in a bad relationship, you can often feel alone and completely neglected. However, in a healthy partnership, companionship intimacy is one type that will be particularly fulfilling. This consists simply of being together and enjoying one another’s company without distractions or awkwardness. It’s comforting, cozy, and makes you feel so much closer to your partner.
  8. Social intimacy While you should absolutely still have your own life when you’re part of a couple, social intimacy is a great way to keep your connection strong. This means having a few mutual friends that you can hang out with in a group setting and that you can count on when needed. While this can feel somewhat awkward if the relationship ends, it’s a great way to bring couples together and make them feel less isolated, which can sometimes happen (especially in the early stages).
  9. Spiritual intimacy You don’t have to be a regular churchgoer or someone who follows the cycles of the moon to have a rich spiritual life worth sharing with your partner. In fact, this is one of those types of intimacy you could explore together. “Connecting with your partner on a spiritual level can be really helpful, even if you have different spiritual or religious beliefs,” McBain explains. “Keeping a couple’s journal that’s based in spirituality has helped a lot of partners connect with one another at this deeper level. Even if you have differing belief systems, staying kind and respectful towards your partner is key.”
  10. Recreational intimacy This differs slightly from experiential intimacy because this one is all about fun. What are some things you like to do together that are simply for enjoyment and because they make you happy? This is what you want to focus on. As licensed counselor Marissa Moore, MA, LPC, tells Bolde, “Engaging in shared hobbies and activities can build a unique bond. Doing things you both enjoy, whether it’s hiking, cooking, or playing a sport, can create moments of joy and connection.”
Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill