Intimacy: types of intimacy to nurture a loving relationship

Partners have their unique expressions of closeness that is felt through different types of intimacy. 

When to comes to intimacy and affection, partners will have their own interpretations and expectations of what it means to them and how they like to express and receive this in their relationship.

Some may refer to being ‘intimate’ as ‘sex’ and that it’s their way of showing their ‘affection’ to their partner.

Others may see ‘affection’ as being cared for and supported and to them this is their version of being ‘intimate’ without being physically involved in ‘sex’ with their partner.

There are so many combinations of how partners show up in their desires of giving and receiving love.  What is important is how partners feel in a safe, secure and loving relationship.

Ways for partners to further explore and strengthen their intimacy is to: 

  • Have honest conversations to understand one another’s perspectives in different areas of intimacy.
  • Be compassionate and supportive of each other’s intimacy preferences.
  • Be more curious in ways to blend in different types of intimacy into their relationship.
  • Be present and consciously aware of their own individual needs and that of their partner’s.

A solid loving relationship needs different types of intimacy for it to feel complete in the full spectrum of closeness.

Here are some strategies I teach when mentoring single women and single men.  To help expand their awareness of their self and to help them prepare their internal solid foundation where they feel safe and secure, to then create fulfilling relationships with others and a future partner.

5 Different Types of Intimacy include:

  1. Emotional and Affectionate Intimacy (safe, secure, affection, comfort)

  2. Experiential Intimacy (quality time activities)

  3. Physical Intimacy (sexual closeness and non-sexual touch)

  4. Intellectual Intimacy (mental stimulation)

  5. Spiritual Intimacy (personal life beliefs, rituals)

1. Emotional and Affectionate Intimacy (safety, security, affection, comfort)

Emotional and Affectionate Intimacy is the sharing of feelings, thoughts, perspectives along with gestures and expressions of care and support.

It’s the sharing of your most inner concerns, complicated emotions, aspirations, fears, disappointments, as well as being seen and heard in your vulnerable state.  This acceptance of sharing helps you and your to feel safe and comfortable, to be there for each other with the confidence to know that you will not feel judged, embarrassed or criticised.  Through this exchange of vulnerable sharing, partners support each other through showing care and affection. Some examples of Emotional and Affectionate Intimacy are:

  • When a partner expresses their concerns about them not spending enough time together and that they feel like their drifting apart.
  • When a partner shares some information about something stressful at work and that they can’t seem to switch off when they get home.
  • When a partner offers comfort to their distressed partner through affectionate caring gestures such as:
    – using kind and encouraging words
    – checking in with their partner to see how their day is going
    – doing nice things for their partner to help them out.


2.  Experiential Intimacy (making memories).

Experiential Intimacy is the quality time with your partner in doing activities you both enjoy doing, that helps to create a closer bond.  It’s through these shared moments of making memories that deepens your connection and that you can fondly talk these moments later on.  It can be things like:

  • Simply spending time together talking without distractions, no phones or devices.
  • Trying a new hobby to enjoy, taking up a project together the excites you both.
  • Alternately planning dates to somewhere different each other, so both partners have turns at organising a date.
  • Go bike riding, travel, explore new places or go to an event.


3.  Physical Intimacy (sex and affectionate non-sexual touch).

Physical Intimacy is the combination of sex and affectionate non-sexual touch.  Physical touch releases oxytocin within the body which stimulates those ‘feel good all over’ hormones and can bring on relaxation too.  Some examples include:


  • the physical act of sex that ignites chemistry to bring partners closer together.  
  • consensual sex without coercion or manipulation (without having to ‘put out’ to make their partner happy)
  • where partners respect each other’s desires, sexual preferences and their bodies.

Affectionate Non-Sexual Touch

  • that feeling of being closely connected through non-sexual  touching like: hugging, kissing, eye gazing, holding hands, sitting close together, massage and various types of caressing. 
  • feeling close to your partner through imagination through fantasising about them when you’re not with them.
  • doing exercise activities with your partner and you may be touching each other every so often, this can heighten the sexual chemistry between partners.


4.  Intellectual Intimacy (mental stimulation).

When partners are stimulated through conversations, topics or banter, it helps to create that intellectual intimacy between them. Where they respect each other’s difference and can constructively challenge each other through mentally stimulating conversations and differences of opinions. For some partners, having thought provoking conversations can bond their relationship and for some can be an attractive quality to have. Some examples of these are: 

  • Partners having a healthy debate about their own interpretation of a movie they watched together.
  • Partner discussing societal norms and just hearing each other’s rationale behind their opinion.


5.  Spiritual Intimacy (personal life beliefs, rituals).

Religious beliefs or practices isn’t needed for spiritual intimacy, unless that is part of a couples union. Spiritual intimacy involves partners sharing their beliefs and experiences that relate to their own version of what spirituality means to them individual and as a couple.  It is about being supportive in each other’s values and their spiritual practices, for some couples this bring them closer together to share common values and a purpose.  This can look something like:

  • Couples enjoying being outdoors and marvel at the enjoyment they feel from being in nature.
  • Partners watching a sunrise or sunset together, sharing their amazement of how the earth turns.
  • Couples sharing their common goals on what they believe in their spiritual practices and having deep conversations about their sense of purpose in life and to each other, this broadens their understanding of each other.
  • Sharing perspectives on natures phenomenon.


Intimacy involves connecting through mind, body and soul.

Need help to explore how to strengthen your intimacy within your relationships?

If you are seeking to work through areas in intimacy towards reconnection with your partner, reach out to work with Linda Kelly, Relationship Coach.

About Linda…

Linda is a Mentor, Educator and Counsellor in the areas of relationships, love and intimacy.  Linda helps Couples and Singles to have loving and heart-based relationships from a foundation of compassion and presence.  Having helped people from all walks of life, from diverse backgrounds to various life situations, Linda understands the complexities and challenges that people experience in relationships.

Based within the gorgeous Redcliffe Peninsula region, Brisbane Australia, Linda offers in-person and online Zoom sessions, both Australia-wide and Internationally.

To know more about visit About Linda

Linda Kelly Relationship Coach Couples Counsellor Brisbane Australia America Europe

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