Feeling distant from someone you were once close to? Struggling to bond with a new virtual community? You may be lacking intimacy. Intimacy can be built quickly, but it can be challenging to maintain. Once we become ingrained into someone else's life, it's easy to take our relationships for granted. High-quality relationships deserve our time, energy, and full attention. Regardless of whom you're trying to connect with, these are the five steps to help you build intimacy in all your relationships.
What is Intimacy?
Many confuse intimacy for sex. Those terms are often used interchangeably.
However, intimacy is a sense of closeness and familiarity with someone. When you can be authentic and feel comfortable and confident doing so.
It can be challenging to build intimacy with others when we have yet to develop it with ourselves.
Luckily, you can also use this guide to help you build personal intimacy!
What are the 5 Types of Intimacy?
Intimacy is complex and multidimensional.
That's actually a great thing!
Suppose you're trying to build intimacy in your relationships. In that case, this will inspire you to improve your social skills and connect with others.
The five types of intimacy are:
- Physical intimacy: A comfort with physical closeness. This could be holding hands, sharing a hug, or a meaningful touch.
- Emotional intimacy: When you feel safe sharing your honest feelings and emotions with another person. You're comfortable enough to let your walls down.
- Intellectual intimacy: Revealing your opinions and thoughts on potentially controversial matters doesn't seem imposing. You willingly and enthusiastically participate in thoughtful discourse together.
- Spiritual intimacy: These moments could be religious in nature or remind you of your place in the universe. They're special, unique experiences that you share that defy explanation or impart heavy emotions.
- Experiential intimacy: Enjoying new things together, such as adventures or making unique memories with another person.
These types of intimacy can help you build a well-balanced relationship with another person. Or reconnect with someone you've felt distant from for a while.
We've compiled a list of 5 steps you and your partner or friend can do together. Engaging in this activity can help you connect intimately.
5 Steps to Create Intimacy in All Your Relationships
This guide is a collaborative opportunity for you to work with another person. However, it is just as effective for you to do it on your own personal intimacy.
I suggest spending quality time reflecting on your answers to each question. They may have a more profound impact than you initially realize.
Step 1. Define each type of intimacy for yourself
I've given you the basic definitions of each of the 5 types of intimacy, but do those resonate with you?
Or do they feel different?
Write this down by yourself before you share it with the other person. Alternatively, you could enhance your intellectual intimacy by discussing each.
Take time and examine each type of intimacy and define it for yourself.
You can use these questions to help you come up with your own definition:
- What does this type of intimacy feel like to you?
- How do you feel after you've experienced this type of intimacy?
- What are some fond memories you have of this type of intimacy?
Once you've reflected on these types of intimacy, write your own definition.
Step 2. How do you like to experience these types of intimacy?
Unspoken expectations and desires can be a real killer in any relationship.
So, if you have a particular way you like to be shown this type of intimacy, you have to ask for it! No one has time to leave things up to chance.
Let's take intellectual intimacy, for example.
You may want your friend or partner to watch a documentary you care about and discuss it with you. Please write it down! The more specific, the better.
Step 3. Which type of intimacy is most essential for you?
With your definition and examples, which is your intimacy love language?
It's okay if one type is more important than the other - that's helpful for your partner or friend to know!
If you tell them which ones are the most important to you, you can spend your time together wisely.
Be strategic and consider which type of intimacy is most important in this relationship.
Which one is your bond actually lacking?
Then, draw a pyramid with five levels. Similar to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Fill in each layer according to which type of intimacy feels most important to you. It's best to consider what's important to you, not the other person. Remember, you have to ask for what you need.
Step 4. Exchange your papers
After you've written these down, exchange your papers and compare your thoughts.
Yes, that feels very intimate, but isn't that the point?
Engage in a meaningful conversation about what the other person has written. Be curious and ask why one intimacy type is more important to them than another. Ask about which intimacy-building activities they'd like to do and why. Be open and transparent. This activity will do a lot of the work for you both.
Step 5. Make a plan and do it!
All talk and no action? No way!
You need to make serious plans to build intimacy with your friend or partner. While this activity will make you feel vulnerable, it'll bring you closer together.
Two ways to ensure that you're both getting your intimacy needs met are:
- Take turns planning activities based on your intimacy love languages, either weekly or monthly. It's like a date night but with less pressure.
- Share the outings and do one activity from each type of intimacy.
Whatever feels most natural to you both, go for it! And keep evaluating the process as you go along.
Initially, it may feel unnatural or forced, but you've taken the guesswork out of your relationship. You've given each other the cheat sheet of your intimacy-building dreams. So don't let it go to waste!
You don't have to be physically present with a person to do these activities. You can also increase the intimacy of virtual relationships by doing this activity together! Just make whatever adjustments are necessary to accommodate the virtual community.
Distance is only an issue if you let it be. Just be creative about your intimacy-building solutions!
Now that you have the 5 steps to build intimacy in all your relationships, it's time to put that knowledge to work. Start with one person or do it by yourself. You'll notice the depth of your relationships increases dramatically practically overnight.