Have you ever heard a word and thought, what the heck does it mean anyway? That’s how I use to feel every time I saw the word ‘intimacy.’
Intimacy means sex, or does it? That can’t be all it means, or they would say sex, not intimacy, right?
Many times in past relationships, I was seeking intimacy, but all I was getting was sex. At the time, I had no idea why I wasn’t getting my needs met.
I was doing what most females did, dating, sex, and the continued search for someone that wanted a relationship. I ended up with emotionally unavailable men because I didn’t know what I was looking for but didn’t realize that either.
If I was looking for a connection and was going after a partner who couldn’t meet my needs, what was I doing wrong? I needed to figure out what intimacy meant to me.
I arrived at the idea of connection. To feel intimacy with someone means connection. I was looking for a connection with someone. Sex didn’t equal a connection, which went against everything I was told and taught growing up.
A connection was what I was looking for in my search. I settled on this word, and it’s helped me figure out a deeper understanding of my needs.
Along with a definition, here are three things I learned about intimacy that I know you’ll find helpful in your journey.
1. Intimacy is different for everyone
Just as I told you that I define intimacy as a connection, you may view it very differently, and that’s okay. Every one sees intimacy differently because we have experienced it differently.
Our past behavior, experience, and relationships are the lens of how we view the world. These affect how we experience intimacy . as well. Even in your relationship with your partner, you both can see intimacy very differently.
For example, you want to connect with them, maybe by spending time alone where you both can relax and talk. On the other hand, your partner wants to connect with you too, but they want to have sex so they can be close to you.
Both of you want intimacy, but it looks very different. Neither of you is wrong with how you see intimacy, but you both have different intimate needs.
2. There are 12 types of intimacy
Just as complicated as intimacy can be in a relationship, you’ll be happy to know that there are 12 different types of intimacy. Each of these types is valid and needed in our relationships.
Since intimacy can be abstract and different for all of us, being specific about your needs is crucial. Many couples end up in arguments because they think they are clear about their needs, but they aren’t. Knowing these types help share your specific intimacy needs with your partner.
Here are the 12 types of intimacy, so you’ll know what you’re looking for in your relationship. Recreational intimacy, Intellectual intimacy, Work intimacy, Commitment intimacy, Aesthetic intimacy, Communication intimacy, Emotional intimacy, Physical intimacy, Crisis intimacy, Spiritual Intimacy, Conflict intimacy, Creative intimacy.
For more details on each type and how to improve them, listen to Ep 37 12 Types of Intimacy. You can improve each of these areas of intimacy, even if one is more important to you than your partner.
3. Intimacy is in tandem with trust
Trust and intimacy move together in a relationship. Meaning if there is a decrease in trust, then there is a decrease in intimacy. Start with accepting that trust isn’t an all or nothing thing.
Trust moves up and down a scale of zero to ten throughout the day. If you’re feeling connected to your partner and things are going well, your trust level is on the higher end. If your partner says or does something that doesn’t feel good to you, your trust goes down on the scale at the moment.
Some people make the mistake of saying they don’t trust their partner. However, they’re still in a relationship with them. If you are in a relationship, your trust in them is at least a one, or you wouldn’t be with them.
With trust and intimacy moving together, as one goes up the other one does as well. When you’re feeling trust and safety with your partner, you’ll see an increase in intimacy and connection. You can’t have one without the other.
If you want to have better intimacy, then start with improving trust. Your goal is to act and say things that improve trust in your relationship. When you do this, you’ll automatically see an improvement in your intimate connection.
You are committed to improving your relationship, so focus on the self-changes you have control over. Improving intimacy in your relationship is a work in process.
Be gentle, and give yourself some grace as you create change. Tell your partner what you’re working on and ask them to join you to get the relationship you both deserve.
A clinical sexologist and psychotherapist. From sex/intimacy, personal growth, and relationships, I am here to help you every step of the way.