Many of us judge the quality of our relationships by the level of intimacy and how close we feel to our partners. Intimacy helps us feel loved and less alone, but it’s not something that magically happens on its own. It’s usually built over time and it takes a great deal of trust, vulnerability, and communication, which can be frightening. If you’re struggling with intimacy, there is still hope. With a little patience and determination, you can master all the different ways of getting closer to your partner.
- Physical intimacy This goes beyond just sex. It’s a way of showing affection through physical contact and touch. A tender squeeze on the shoulder at the right time can be more reassuring than a thousand words. Physical touch can make you and your partner feel nurtured and cherished. You can build on this by hugging, holding hands, kissing, cuddling, dancing, massages, couple’s workouts, and even just talking to your partner.
- Emotional intimacy Of all the forms of intimacy, this takes the most time and effort because you have to consciously and actively decide to be vulnerable, to open up, and trust someone enough to share your whole self with them. The only way to build stronger emotional bonds is to talk openly about your needs, respect each other’s differences, be supportive and attentive, show genuine interest in their lives, and trust your partner with ugly secrets, innermost thoughts, and desires.
- Intellectual intimacy When you share ideas and thoughts, feelings, and motivations, passions and interests with a person, it eventually starts to feel like you live in each other’s minds. Intellectual intimacy is about arguing, understanding, sharing, and exploring your thoughts and ideas together. to deepen your intellectual intimacy, engage in conversations about things you think and care about like politics, beliefs, finances, your favorite books or songs, travel bucket list, and values. Listen to your partner’s opinions and be open to feedback.
- Experiential intimacy If you want to deepen the intimacy you have with someone, it’s important that you share experiences together. You need to invest time with them doing all sorts of activities. Go for a walk, take lessons or learn something together, watch movies, go shopping, travel, and find fun things to do together. The goal is to build memories, connect through shared experiences, and get to know more about each other.
- Spiritual intimacy. Spiritual intimacy means sharing things that give meaning to your life. For some people, it could be worshipping together or appreciating nature by going on hikes or camping. I feel most connected to people and the world around me when listening to music, reading or writing poetry, and sharing those experiences with my partner. Learn your partner’s values, ethics, and where they stand on different issues in life to achieve spiritual intimacy.
- Aesthetic intimacy You know that feeling when you meet someone new and you’re surprised by how much you have in common? That’s aesthetic intimacy. It flows from getting to know and share in the experiences that a person finds beauty in like their taste in music, food, art, movies, interior decoration, etc. You don’t necessarily need to like all the same things, just be able to acknowledge their tastes and open yourself to it.
- Sexual intimacy This is the most popular form of intimacy. When done right, it can open the door to other forms of intimacy like emotional and spiritual intimacy. You can get better at this by paying attention to your partner’s sexual needs. Ask them what they like and dislike, learn their boundaries, know their erogenous zones, and communicate honestly about your desires and expectations. Find ways to spice up your sex life and make the experience more satisfying.
- Conflict intimacy It’s impossible to avoid conflicts in relationships, so you need to be able to work through them in a respectful manner to avoid resentment and other negative emotions from building up. My partner and I have a rule to always say “I love you” in the middle of arguments. This reminds us to be gentle with each other as we’re sorting through our issues. Try to take a logical view of the issue and share your thoughts without being aggressive.
- Creative intimacy This type of intimacy requires looking for creative ways to remind your partner of the love, bond, and affection you share for them. To become a pro at this kind of intimacy, find little ways to surprise your partner and make them happy. Let them know you’re thinking of them, reassure them of your love, and show how lucky you are to have them in your life.