Kimberlee Sweeney, Divorce and Relationship Coach.
Intimacy is not just about sex and touch. While we need touch and sexual intimacy to keep a relationship alive, we also need to cultivate intimacy in all its manifestations. Long term committed relationships need to be nurtured to ensure they thrive. There are four types of intimacy that will help relationships to flourish. We all need our own varying degrees of each type of intimacy in our relationship depending on our personalities and personal preferences.
1. Emotional Intimacy
Emotional intimacy is feeling comfortable enough with each other to be authentic and “real”. You need to feel comfortable expressing your thoughts and feelings, your deepest fears, dreams, desires and disappointments. It’s important to feel understood and safe enough to share personal feelings and thoughts without being judged or belittled. Emotional intimacy thrives when you feel supported and have a sense of trust from sharing with each other. Building more emotional intimacy requires an engagement in deeper more intimate conversations. Emotional intimacy means creating a safe space where you can talk about your emotions and experiences and talk about topics that you wouldn’t tend to share normally with others. Show interest in what each other is saying by validating their feelings so they feel understood and supported.
2. Intellectual Intimacy
Building intellectual intimacy is all about being able to speak your mind on views and topic’s without worrying if your partner will agree or disagree with you. Listening to one another in a respectful manner can create a sense of closeness. While you may not always agree on every topic it is important to acknowledge that we are all entitled to our own view points and beliefs. Allow your partner the freedom to have their own opinions and let them be heard. If you disagree, refrain from put-downs and sarcasm. Focus on listening and appreciate the opportunities to hear each other’s viewpoints. Intellectual intimacy is about stretching one’s mind and being open to ideas that may differ to your own, often creating thought provoking discussion for you both. Intelligent and philosophical conversation can be very sexually attractive for many and even quite arousing. It’s termed sapiosexual and some people need to develop intellectual intimacy first, to bond more intimately with their partner.
3. Experiential Intimacy
Experiential intimacy develops over time, the longer you are together and build great memories from shared experiences. Recalling these moments together triggers your senses just like a smell can trigger your memories, and enables you both to share those happy memories which in turn brings you closer together again. So, keep building memories all through your relationship by arranging dates, activities and experiences together. Every couple needs together time as well and individual alone time or time with friends outside of the relationship. Share those adventures verbally or physically with each other. It’s like building a brain road map for our lives together in all you do within and outside of the relationship and like a map will bring you closer to your desired “intimacy” destination.
4. Spiritual Intimacy
Spiritual intimacy will mean different things to different people. It could be a formalised religion that brings you together or meditation on the higher self or crystals and guardian angels, or connecting with nature. Talk to each other about what your spirituality and beliefs are and consider how these beliefs are aligned and whether or not they intersect. Sometimes your values and morals are aligned and integrated with your spirituality resulting in a deeper spiritual connection and intimacy.
If you fear intimacy it will be worth exploring the barriers to intimacy. A coach may help you uncover hindrances such as self-protection. Those who have been hurt in their past relationships are often fearful about entering an intimate relationship again. Ultimately, we all want to be desired and desire leads to intimacy. Finding a person whom you feel safe enough to be with and to speak your truths will develop into an intimate connection if you are able to engage openly and truthfully with your partner. Not just physically, understanding each other and meeting each other’s needs once voiced, will enhance and strengthen your closeness and your love.
If you do not feel comfortable enough to work on the four types of intimacy with your partner then you must take a step back and re-evaluate the entire relationship. What you are getting out of it and can you both put some work into the areas that need strengthening.
There is someone out there for everyone to connect with. Allowing yourself to be venerable enough to speak your truths and see how your partner responds, will answer those quiet questions about the person that are inside your head. So be brave and speak your truth and the universe will show you the right partner for you in time.