Intimacy and sex are frequently used interchangeably, but they are very different. Sex, along with hugging, hand-holding, and other physical touches, can help build intimacy. But intimacy does not have to be physical. Emotional intimacy is also important when making a connection with another human. Intimacy is a closeness between two people. It is a way for any two people to connect whether or not they are in a sexual relationship.
Intimacy in a relationship is a sense of being close, connected, and supported. To feel like someone really knows you and accepts you for who you are. Developing an intimate relationship entails sharing your thoughts and feelings and taking risks as you share your fears and desires.
Intimacy is a way to build relationships and express yourself that is open to everyone regardless of age or ability to engage in a sexual relationship. Men living with ED or low testosterone can still build connections with their partners while undergoing treatment. When it comes to developing a strong, long-lasting relationship, emotional intimacy is just as important as physical intimacy.
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People often substitute the word intimacy for sex because it feels more comfortable to say. Unfortunately, this contributes to the cultural perception that intimacy and sex are synonymous. Sex is a physical act that requires partners to be vulnerable and open to one another.
The word intimacy is derived from the Latin word “intimus,” which means “inner or innermost.” Intimacy is a feeling that can be fostered through meaningful sexual relationships. However, intimate experiences that do not involve physical contact can be just as important in developing a relationship.
Just as an intimate relationship can be built without sex, sexual acts can lack intimacy. Sex without intimacy can detract from a relationship rather than strengthen it.
Intimacy is an interpersonal connection, whether it is with a partner, family members, friends, or even yourself. Healthy and intimate interpersonal relationships are essential for good mental health. The ability to establish and develop an intimate relationship is heavily influenced by one’s mental health, but the opposite is also true. A life devoid of intimate relationships can be detrimental to your mental health.
Intimacy takes time to develop and requires a connection with another person. You can share spiritual, intellectual, physical, and emotional intimacy with your partner. You and your partner can discuss problems or topics that interest you both. Sharing your perspective and actively listening to an opposing viewpoint can build trust in the relationship. While sharing intellectual and spiritual intimacy is important, we will focus on emotional and physical intimacy.
In order to be intimate, you must be able to share your deepest desires, feelings, dreams, secrets, and aspirations. It means feeling secure enough in the relationship to share your secrets, talk about your relationship and share the day-to-day events in your life.
Intimacy requires a person to expose or reveal how they think and feel. To do so requires trust. Many people find that revealing parts of themselves they may be uncomfortable with to be difficult or even terrifying. Each attempt at developing an intimate relationship requires taking a risk. Sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings, followed by rejection, can damage the relationship and increase the risk for psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Physical intimacy involves touch, and while sex is typically a part of building physical intimacy with a partner, it doesn’t have to be. Holding hands, cuddling, and kissing can also be used to build intimacy. Likewise, a warm hug, a pat on the shoulder, or touching someone’s hand can build intimacy between friends or coworkers.
Fostering emotional intimacy in a relationship is a journey, not a destination. It takes time to trust someone enough that you are willing to be vulnerable in front of them. Sharing a secret or a thought that you have not previously shared with another person can be a first step towards developing intimacy. Building intimacy takes time and effort. Like gardening, a relationship takes time to create and maintain.
Sharing your deepest thoughts and feelings entails taking a chance on how your partner will react to the information you share. Share conversation regularly and practice mindfulness as you spend time together. Turn off all electronic devices and focus solely on your partner. Intimacy requires both connection and attention.
Sharing experiences can help build intimacy. Having a truly intimate relationship with someone means that another person knows and accepts you for who you are. To really know another means examining their life, soul, heart, and personality. The next step is acceptance. To build intimacy in a relationship, one partner cannot try to change another. Instead, they must accept and enjoy them for who they are.
Celebrate the good things in your relationship. Take the time to reminisce about shared experiences.
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.