What Is Intimacy? Intimacy Definition
Updated November 29, 2019
Reviewer Karen Devlin, LPC
If I asked you to define intimacy, what would you say? What is intimacy? There is a misconception in 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. In fact, I would like you to look up the definition of intimacy right now. I can guarantee that you will be surprised by the answer.
In this article, we are going to talk about what intimacy is, where we find intimacy in different relationship dynamics, and how we can develop intimacy in our relationships in order to repair or improve them.
What Is Intimacy?
According to an article on GoodTherapy, intimacy "refers to close and loving relationships such as marriages and relationships between close friends. It is also sometimes used to refer to sexual relationships." In one 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 period of time, intimacy can take place in brief in counters too. Basically, intimacy is something that happens when two people feel close to each other and can happen anytime in any relationship dynamic.
Where Might You Find Intimacy In Different Relationship Dynamics?
With the exception (sometimes) of sexual intimacy that occurs between a romantic couple and not 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:
People who are physically intimate can be seen hugging, cuddling, kissing, holding hands, making love, or engaging in any type of activity where there is a closeness and a physical interaction. As I stated above, this type of intimacy does not have to be sexual. Platonic relationships contain physical intimacy as well.
- Sharing Spirituality
People who are spiritually intimate often share a common spiritual path and practice the different aspects of this path together. This could in many forms, such as praying together or going to church every Sunday. Whatever the spiritual path is that the two people share, it draws them closer together and makes them feel connected to the same thing.
- Having Common Interests
Sharing common interests with someone, also called intellectual intimacy, can bring about intimacy. For example, think about your friends or your partner. To connect with them, you must have shared common interests, right? 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
If you're emotionally intimate with someone, you have no issue sharing the way you feel with them. These are the types of people that you are comfortable going to when you feel like crying or jumping for joy and the same type of comfort is reciprocated by the other person.
- Sharing Experiences
You don't always need words, emotions, or physical touch to produce a sense of intimacy. Sometimes, being in the same place at the same time is all you need to feel intimate with someone. Experiential intimacy can take place 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 are lacking 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 with every random passerby. 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. Don't shy away from this situation because it scares you. Let your friend know that you are there for them and share a similar experience with them if you think it will help. 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 they've been let down by other people in the past. Although this may take some counseling to do, 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 relationships that are meaningful. In order for people to care about you and want to have a relationship with you, you have to let them in.
- Listen Attentively And Dedicate Your Full Attention To Someone When They Are Doing Something With You
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to start a conversation or share a moment with someone and find out that they are busy doing something else or not paying attention to us. In fact, this is a very simple way to tell someone that you are not 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 to develop intimacy in that blossoming relationship.
- Spend More Time With The Person That You Are Trying To Be Intimate With
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. In order 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 farther. 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 will begin to fade.
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 https://www.regain.us/start/. 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.