What Is Intimacy? The Definition of Intimacy And How It Relates To You

Updated April 10, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

If I asked you to define intimacy, what would you say? What exactly is intimacy? There is a misconception in our society that intimacy is the same as sexual intercourse between a couple. While this is definitely a form of intimacy within a romantic relationship, intimacy between two people extends far beyond sex. People can feel intimate with another person in a variety of different ways, on many different levels.

In this article, we will talk about what intimacy is, where we find intimacy in different relationship dynamics, and how we can develop intimacy in our relationships to repair or improve them.

Want to discuss concerns related to intimacy—or something else

What is intimacy?

According to the American Psychological Association, intimacy "characterizes close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationships and requires the parties to have a detailed knowledge or deep understanding of each other." In a word, intimacy could be best described as closeness. Having an intimate relationship with a friend, relative, or partner means that you are very open and vulnerable with them.

Intimacy does sometimes, in fact, refer to sexual intercourse due to the nature of the act and the level of vulnerability that is needed to make love with another person. While an intimate relationship is often one that takes place over a long time, intimacy can occur briefly in certain kinds of encounters—such as people enjoying a concert or a baseball game together. Basically, intimacy happens when two people feel close to each other and it can happen anytime in any relationship dynamic.

Where might you find intimacy in different relationship dynamics?

With the exception (sometimes) of sexual intimacy between a romantic couple and not between those in a friendship, most types of intimacy can be found in all relationship dynamics. What categories of intimacy exist? Here are a few to give you a better idea of how to spot intimacy in a relationship:


Physically intimate people can be seen hugging, cuddling, kissing, holding hands, making love, or engaging in any type of activity with closeness and physical interaction. As I stated above, this type of intimacy does not have to be sexual. Platonic relationships contain physical intimacy as well.


This type of intimacy has many forms, such as praying together or going to church every Sunday. Spiritual intimacy may also be felt when witnessing a momentous event together, such as watching a sunrise or seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time.

Having common interests

For example, think about your friends or your partner. Surface reasons for liking a certain thing, as well as the deeper meaning behind your love for that thing, can both draw people together.

Being emotionally open

You may share intimacy with people you are comfortable going to when you feel like crying or jumping for joy, and the other person reciprocates the same type of comfort level.

Getty/Xavier Lorenzo


You don't always need words, emotions, or physical touch to produce a sense of intimacy. Sometimes, being in the same place simultaneously is all you need to feel intimate with someone. Experiential intimacy can occur at a movie theater, at the top of a mountain, or even on the couch at your house. All that is needed to produce experiential intimacy is a feeling of connectedness at that location.

How can I cultivate intimacy in my relationships?

Some relationships may feel as though they are not as close as they should be, and it's probably because they lack intimacy. If you want to improve a relationship or repair a relationship that is falling apart because it does not have enough intimacy, here are some ways that you can cultivate intimacy in your relationships:

Search for opportunities to be open with someone

This doesn't mean that you must tell your entire story to every random passer-by. All it means is that you should be ready to be emotionally open with people you care about when the time is right. Let's say, for example, that your friend recently lost a relative that they were close with. Please don't shy away from this situation because it scares you. This kind of depth and intimacy creates long-lasting relationships that weather even the toughest of storms.

Bring your barriers down

Intimacy can be scary for certain people, especially if other people have let them down in the past. Although this may take some counseling, try to bring your own barriers down when people invite you into their lives. If you always shrug off people's attempts to be intimate with you, you will never be able to start meaningful relationships. For people to care about you and want to have a relationship with you, you must let them in.

Listen attentively and dedicate your full attention to someone when they are doing something with you

In fact, this is a very simple way to tell someone that you are interested in building a relationship. When you are out with someone or even when you are just talking to them, make sure that you give them your undivided attention. This will signal to someone that you are interested in them and in what they are saying, and it will also help develop intimacy in that blossoming relationship.

Spend more time with the person that you are trying to be intimate with

Want to discuss concerns related to intimacy—or something else

You aren't going to be able to form an intimate connection with someone if you only spend time with them once a week for 30 minutes. To cultivate intimacy, you are going to have to spend a lot of quality time together. Try reaching out to them and asking them if they would like to do something with you. If they say no, this relationship is not very likely to go much further. If they say yes, spend time with them and be ready to be open.

Inspire trust and crush fear

Trust is the catalyst for intimacy, and fear is its natural enemy. Let the person you are trying to have a relationship with know that you are trustworthy. Prove it. Tell them your secrets and hold onto their secrets tightly. Be there for them when they need it and be there even when they don't. Show that you are reliable and honest, and they will begin to open up. Once you've proven that you can be trusted, intimacy will begin to happen, and fears that were held before should fade.

Exploring intimacy with professional support

It can be hard to have an intimate relationship if you do not know how to be intimate or if your relationship with someone has suffered from a lack of intimacy for a long time. The solution? You should visit a website such as Regain.

Regain is an online counseling platform dedicated to providing users with reliable relationship counseling. To begin your journey into a life full of intimate relationships, all you have to do is click the link above, which will bring you to a page that will connect you with the best relationship counselor for you. You will be able to meet with a therapist via text, telephone, or video chat—whatever works best for you.

It can be difficult to struggle with intimacy issues. Many people have turned to online therapy to work through these—and other—issues. They have found online therapy to be as effective as in-person therapy, sometimes even more so. Online therapy is both convenient and affordable, making it a great option for seeking support.


With just a little practice, you can experience intimacy in your relationships and find deeper meaning in your connections.

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