People almost always think that intimacy is equal to sex, not knowing that intimacy is a vast concept and sex is but one type of intimacy. There are far too many definitions for intimacy, and in simpler terms, it means to have a connection with someone that feels comfortable and at home.
What is Intimacy?
Intimacy is an inborn closeness that is a universal need of people to feel closer, be vulnerable, be understood, and have that special bond with someone, unlike others. It is all about mutual sharing, openness, and vulnerability in a loving relationship and friendship.
People cannot always be intimate with someone or have an intimate relationship; it happens once in a while where a person is their best true self in front of others, feels extremely comfortable to be themselves, and can be vulnerable without fear. Different types of intimacy are built over time in relationships and friendships as people grow together in love and care for each other. It is an amalgamation of physical and emotional connections between people.
Intimacy, at its best, is about understanding someone and giving them all your undivided attention, which makes them feel known, seen, and heard.
Importance Of Intimacy In Relationships
Intimacy is derived from a Latin word called ‘intima,’ which translates into ‘innermost.’ A long-term happy and healthy relationship needs to connect the couple.
In a new romantic relationship or friendship or even in newly marriage, intimacy takes some time to build up. To have an intimate bond, one needs to be patient and constantly put efforts into the relationship to make their partner feel comfortable and at ease to open up and be vulnerable.
It is often seen that couples confuse romance with intimacy which creates a misunderstanding. Intimacy is a vast and wider concept of deep understanding and a strong foundation of a relationship with pillars of trust, communication, and love. In contrast, romance is all about actions, gestures, and love affirmations.
An intimate relationship is a powerful tool for a healthy relationship that improves couples’ mental health, strengthens the emotional connection, relieves stress, and builds more confidence to be vulnerable without fear of intimacy.
Relationships sometimes face different kinds of issues, and one of them is intimacy issues which might shake things off. They have a strange fear of intimacy inside themselves that holds them back from any form of intimacy or closeness or sharing vulnerable emotions.
People prevent themselves from getting into types of intimacy with someone because of certain factors that have affected them severely in life. Sometimes people find it difficult to open up to someone or get too close to someone, as they feel the other person might break their heart or trust.
There are few reasons people avoid getting into an intimate relationship and why intimacy issues are in relationships. They are as follows:
- Childhood Traumas
- Fear of Rejection
- Past Experiences
- Fear of Losing Identity
- Lack of Trust and Communication
Signs Of Intimacy In Relationships
People in relationships don’t always want to have physical time together. They also seek emotional connections where their partner understands them and their moods, where they can be their true self and feel at home with their significant other, which is not an easy task and requires constant effort and elements of love to attain. An intimate relationship is about an emotional connection between two people who completely understand and trust each other to share experiences and be vulnerable.
A relationship has different types of intimacy, built over time, and certain signs define an intimate and loving relationship. They are as follow:
1. Complete Trust
Trust is the base of any relationship, and without trust, there would be no intimacy. If a couple has complete trust in each other and can be vulnerable with them, it is a sure sign of an intimate relationship.
2. Constant Efforts To Know Each Other
In an intimate relationship, couples often put constant effort to know and understand their significant other completely inside out. They know your favorite color, book, dish, places, etc., and they always try to understand you. To express love, affection, and care are some of the great signs of an intimate relationship.
3. It Is Easy To Be Vulnerable
Being vulnerable is tough, but if you have found someone with whom you can easily feel at ease and share your vulnerable emotions, then it is a beautiful sign of intimacy in a relationship.
4. Honesty Is Not Scary
Raw honesty and articulation of emotions make a relationship happy and strong. If honesty is not scary, if you can openly and confidently be honest with your partner, then it is a good sign of intimacy in a relationship.
5. No Fear Of Judgement
In a relationship where there is no fear of judgment from your partner, where one can be expressive and vulnerable is the best kind of intimate, happy, and healthy relationship.
Types Of Intimacy
When it comes to types of intimacy, it is definitely not just limited to just physical intimacy or having sex. There are several types of intimacy that couples in a relationship often experience, which are extremely important for them to grow closer. Sex is one of the major types of intimacy that builds a strong relationship.
Intimacy has different meanings to different people, and it is beyond romantic relationships. Friendships can also be intimate, where a group of close friends gathers together to spend quality time or share vulnerable experiences or emotions.
Like said before, intimacy is built over time, and one should constantly communicate, put efforts, understand your partner, nourish the bond, acknowledge & validate the emotions of each other, start with the easy stuff, make them feel comfortable, build trust, and be completely honest about everything.
Intimacy is divided into few categories, and here is the list of 6 major types of intimacy in a relationship. They are as follow:
1. Physical Intimacy
It is one of the major types of intimacy that people across the world know most of. Physical or sexual intimacy is often referred to as hugging, touching, holding hands, cuddling, kissing, and having sex. Most people have physical touch as their love language, and they often seek physical intimacy in relationships.
Physical intimacy is essential in relationships and is not just about sex only but also having a closeness with your significant other by touching their shoulders or holding their hands. It is often seen that couples prefer physical intimacy first over emotional intimacy, and holding hands is step one of attaining physical intimacy, which is just cute and beautiful.
2. Emotional Intimacy
One of the major types of intimacy is emotional intimacy that strengthens the bond between two people. It is about loving, understanding, and accepting your partner as they are. When there is an emotional connection, trust, and understanding, it gets easier and comfortable to feel safe, open up to them to express your emotions, and be vulnerable.
Emotional intimacy is an absolute necessity in every relationship. Sharing ideas, thoughts, dreams, and feelings with your partner helps them understand and know you inside out, which is good for a healthy and long-lasting relationship.
Needless to say but it takes quite some time to develop an emotional intimacy between partners. Gradually it builds up and keeps the couple happy. Emotional Intimacy is not an easy task and starts with ultimate raw honesty and good communication between couples. It improves daily with sharing ideas, hopes, feelings, and dreams with partners.
3. Intellectual Intimacy
Intellectual Intimacy is one of the most important types of intimacy that increases the chance of a relationship to last longer happily and healthily. It is a kind of intimacy that brings couples together via their shared qualities, values, and knowledge to make better major decisions in life. Intellectual intimacy is more about teamwork in a relationship and trusting the intelligence & the decision of each other. This type of intimacy can be developed with perpetual deep conversations and debates on particular topics of interest such as society, world news, movies, books, children, family, etc.
It is important to have conversations and discussions to know each others’ points of view to better understand and maintain intellectual intimacy in the relationship.
4. Spiritual Intimacy
Often people consider spirituality about things related to religion, but it is not just that. Spirituality is a vast concept, and it is beyond just religion and God. To have spiritual intimacy in a relationship means to share particular beliefs and values with your respective partners.
This type of intimacy rises from a major experience or moment of a couple together. There are instances of spiritual intimacy in relationships where couples felt at peace, liberated, and happy their relationship. They are as follows, watching sunrise/set together, praying together, taking a walk holding hands amidst nature, discussing their understanding of spiritualism, and reading together.
5. Creative Intimacy
One of the very underrated types of intimacy in a relationship is creating intimacy, which refers to articulating emotions, feelings, and thoughts creatively, i.e., through music, dance, art, writing, sports, etc. Having creative intimacy in a relationship is one of the best ways to be your true self and share your passion with your partner to make the relationship strong and long-lasting. Enjoying a hobby together is just another way to spend quality time with your partner and understand them on a deep level.
6. Experiential Intimacy
The major types of intimacy include an uncommon and important intimacy, which is experiential intimacy. Shared experiences, inside jokes, beautiful moments together strengthen the bond between two people. The act of sharing experiences and big life moments is a way to get closer, grow in love, and build a great level of understanding between partners.
Healthy relationships often experience all the above-mentioned 6 major types of intimacy, making the couple happy and their relationship strong plus long-lasting.
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