Intimacy and sex are often mistaken for one another – many people think sex equals intimacy and there's no intimacy without having sex.
Some couples even go as far as to have sex regularly just to maintain intimacy in their relationship. That's why sexless marriages are often thought to be impossible since how can you be in an intimate relationship if there's no sex involved? Intimacy is surely destroyed the moment sex stops happening! And without intimacy, there's no love.
In reality, intimacy and sex might be related but definitely not to the extent as thought. A relationship can be intimate without the need to have sex, as many asexual couples prove. There's nothing wrong with not wanting to have sex since intimacy can be maintained in other ways. As Mary Jo Rapini, a psychotherapist and the author of RE-COUPLING: A Couple's 4-step Guide to Greater Intimacy and Better Sex, explains in Chron: “Intimacy is the ability to connect with that other person's soul. You can have intimacy with a lot of people without doing anything.”
How exactly can you achieve that in your relationship? Below we'll explore some options that every couple can try to increase the intimacy between them and become closer than ever.
1. Take a moment to hug
As one couple describes: “We touch each other every single day and hug more in a single day than most couples do in a month. We are so close that one step further and we could be duck-taped together. So why would we need sex?”
During sex, many couples might not really interact with each other's bodies as much as during a simple hug. During hugging, you're placing yourself entirely in another person's arms. It's one of the ultimate expressions of intimacy – you can feel completely safe. There's nothing more romantic and intimate than sharing a long strong hug.
If you and your partner don't have that habit yet, take a few minutes each day just to hug. Say nothing, do nothing – just stand for a few minutes and hug. Feel each other's heartbeat and warmth. Soon you might realize how a simple hug creates a stronger bond between you than sexual intercourse could ever create.
2. Watch TV and cuddle
This falls largely into the hugging department but involves spending more time together. Instead of just sitting in separate corners while the TV is creating background noise, take some time to actually watch a movie or a television program together and set everything else aside – sit on a couch as close to each other as possible and cuddle.
Besides spending more time together than you do during a hug, you'll also interact as you might express your thoughts while watching TV and this conversation creates a deeper connection between you and your partner. TV-conversations don't happen during sex!
3. Go out and walk
Communication is essential for any relationship – without it, the relationship would just fall apart as you might realize you don't share a similar mindset and point of view. The more you talk to your partner about life in general, the closer you become as you might find more and more similarities between you two.
That's where walking and talking come into play. Walk around the town, visit museums, go sightseeing or just walk in nature – whatever feels comfortable to both of you. During a walk, you'll probably talk more than usual, either about daily life or things you see outside. The more you talk, the more you express things you'd likely never share with anyone (or wouldn't even come to think about), so this helps to create a stronger bond between you.
4. Hold hands
There's something strangely intimate about hands – and even more about holding each other's hands, either during a walk or just while sitting side by side.
Even science has tried to explain that phenomenon. Holding hands increases the “pleasure hormone” oxytocin which helps us to feel more relaxed, happy and confident. Besides that, science has documented a so-called grasp reflex which infants use to interact with the mother as a safety reaction. Holding a hand helps an infant to feel safer and, of course, more relaxed.
Holding hands is an essential part of connecting with your partner and as it turns out, it's one of the most crucial parts for creating more intimacy.
5. Share your fears and desires
As mentioned, people crave communication. However, there's a big difference between a shallow chit-chat and meaningful conversations during which you open your heart to someone. While it might be scary, sharing your deepest thoughts, fears and desires is one of the best ways how to connect with another person and create the ultimate level of intimacy.
No amount of sex can create that kind of intimacy – only communication can. If you can be that deeply honest and sincere with someone and have that reciprocated, there's no feeling that can be compared to that.
6. Spoon without having had sex before
Sex and spoon – how well do you know this routine already? Many couples live by this as if it's a daily mantra, but unfortunately, it lacks the intimate effect you might have expected.
Spooning, however, can actually create stronger intimacy between a couple. Instead of spooning only after having sex, do it just for the sake of spooning, just like you would do with hugging. Take a few minutes every day to lay down and spoon strongly or do it every night before falling asleep.
7. Do your morning routine side by side
Many men and women alike completely avoid each other in the morning until they've finished their morning routine (like a shower and makeup). If you can't be so close in an intimate loving relationship that you don't feel comfortable being seen by your partner before you have your makeup on, it's hard to talk about any actual intimacy.
The first step towards intimacy is to just do your whole morning routine side by side. Be naked, dress in front of each other, do your makeup and facial procedures together or even apply lotion to each other.
Be completely open about everything you do – your partner is the one person you should be able to share these things with. If you can't, it might indicate a bigger issue than just a lack of intimacy.
8. Laugh and cry together
Sharing emotions is a thoroughly beautiful thing. If you can giggle, laugh and cry together with your partner and share all of your emotions (and have him share his emotions with you), it shows you're completely free and feel safe enough to open your heart to such extent. Similarly to sharing your thoughts and fears, emotions are a pure reflection of intimacy. Don't be afraid to show your emotions.
9. Go camping in a secluded place without any disturbances
In today's “smart world”, it can be incredibly hard to disconnect yourself from the world, even when you're going to bed. If your phone is constantly beeping, it's hard to focus on your partner, let alone hug or spoon in peace.
To get away from all of that and have a chance to deeply connect with your partner, go camping to a place without an internet connection. This way you'll only focus on each other and get to spend some valuable time together without social media constantly disturbing you.
Besides building intimacy, this helps to clear your head and gain new energy for other aspects of your life as well. Win-win!
10. Write letters to each other
Letter-writing is a soon-to-be-forgotten art in the midst of a world where a few clever emojis say everything you need. Instead of sending each other eggplants, hearts, and kisses via text messages, take some time to actually leave handwritten letters to each other.
Letters are more thought-out, planned and carefully written – they take time, effort and passion to create. What could be more romantic than to receive a letter that someone has taken a long time to create?
To take things up a notch, write passionate love letters you'd never write to anyone else – this shows a deeper level of intimacy than you could ever achieve just via sex, not to even mention text messages.
11. Gaze each other deeply
Eyes are the mirrors of the soul, as many of us know already. Surprisingly, it can be tough to look someone in the eyes – it can even make you feel uncomfortable. If you love someone, however, this shouldn't be a problem. Looking someone in the eyes deeply and longingly shows you feel wholeheartedly comfortable in their presence.
These 11 examples are just some of the things you can keep in mind if you feel your relationship lacks true intimacy. If you're already doing all of it, you're definitely heading towards the right path! But a little bit more intimacy, more hugs, and more communication will never hurt when it comes to a long-lasting happy relationship.