Every Relationship Needs These 5 Types Of Intimacy
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Happy and healthy relationships are multi-faceted. They require two people to intertwine their lives, their hearts, their minds, and souls in order to live a harmonious and thriving life together.
Such a complex endeavor must be intentional and requires full dedication from both partners. Dedication that brings us to the table every single day with vibrant enthusiasm and energy.
When we hear the word “intimacy,” most jump to the physical. The “act,” or the projection of intimacy. Others will consider emotional intimacy, the connection between two people which fuels the physical.
Below, we’ll discuss five types of intimacy or connection that every healthy relationship requires in order to thrive.
You are, after all, building an entire life — an ecosystem alongside of your partner. One which is ever-evolving and intricate.
1: Physical intimacy
Let’s start with the most obvious — the physical.
“James, this is pretty simple, you’re just talking about having sex.”
Ah, no, dear reader. Physical intimacy is far more than just the act of having sex.
Physical intimacy is built and strengthened consistently through all forms of touch. Holding hands, hugging, cuddling on the couch, resting a head on a shoulder, or a hand on a leg.
There’s a misconception that the only physical touch men care about is the sexual — and while that may be the most desired, it is only one of many feelings that come from physical connection.
Human beings, regardless of gender, require touch in order to feel loved. All sorts of touch, even that which is considered “innocent” or even platonic without the context of a relationship.
How do we build it?
Be conscious and intentional about how you touch your partner. Placing your hand on the small of their back as you pass by, hugging them when they leave, or come home, holding their hand walking through the park, resting your hand on their leg while you’re driving.
Consistent and warm physical touch brings you closer together — literally — and helps to reinforce and maintain the bond that you share. These are actions only reserved for your partner, so neglecting them is taking away something that only you have the power to give: The gift of physical affection.
2: Lifestyle intimacy
Hear me out on this…
If you strip it down to its bare bones, a relationship is essentially the intertwining of two people’s lives.
It’s taking two of “me” and making it a “we.”
Your lifestyles, then, must connect as your emotions do. They must overlap, they must become intertwined, they must merge together in harmony.
“Lifestyle intimacy” is the sharing of mutual interests, hobbies, social lives, adventures, activities…
It’s doing things together that you both enjoy.
It’s your partner coming along and doing the things that you enjoy.
It’s you going along and doing the things that your partner enjoys.
Without “lifestyle intimacy,” you’ll effectively feel like you’re living two separate lives while you’re under the same roof.
Now — of course — I understand that each individual partner will have their own hobbies and passions that may not involve the other, and, that’s okay. I do believe that a balance is healthy and can help both of you stay connected to yourselves and the things that you love.
Balance, though, is the key. Some things of your own, some things shared.
Life is, after all, the culmination of experiences into one hell of a story that you’ll someday look at and be proud of.
Being in a relationship is the pledge and desire to have this one person be the other main character in your story, and vice versa.
3: Emotional intimacy
I always say that emotional intimacy is the fuel in the vehicle of physical intimacy. Without this, you’re not going anywhere.
What exactly is emotional intimacy, though, and how do we build it?
Effectively, it’s the connection that’s formed when two people choose to open up to each other, be vulnerable, and build trust.
It requires risk, because you need to expose parts of yourself (ahem…emotional parts) to a person in ways that you wouldn’t normally for just anyone. This is “your person” to open up to. “Your person” to connect with. “Your person” to reveal your true and most authentic self to.
Is that a risk? Of course it is. That’s what makes the act of taking the risk so powerful and important.
It’s a profound statement of “I am handing you this fragile and valuable piece of myself with the trust that you’re going to protect it.”
Then, your partner hands you an equally valuable piece.
You hold it, cherish it, value it.
Then, once they see that one is safe, you get another piece…and another, and another…
You continue trading and accumulating pieces of each other that you know are fragile and important. But — you deeply care for and love this person, so you guard their feelings with the same vigor that you’d guard your own.
And they’re doing the same for you in return.
This is also why trust is so fragile, because it’s easy to see that one misstep, one act of infidelity, one betrayal of trust — can send all of those stacked up feelings crashing down to the floor.
However, the taller that stack becomes, the stronger the feeling of connection becomes as well.
So much of yourself is shared with your partner that you feel like they can see inside of your soul.
When both of you see each other more clearly and deeply than you see anyone else, emotional intimacy is formed. That intimacy grows to love, which is projected and shown through physical touch and affection, but also felt through the immense emotional waves that come over you — the overwhelming love and gratitude you feel for them. That is more fulfilling than any physical touch will ever be.
4: Mental intimacy
Mental intimacy is the logical sibling of emotional intimacy.
Mental intimacy is built through an intellectual connection with your partner. One that is crafted through deep conversation, sharing of ideas, discussing important issues, problem solving, and even — *gasp* — disagreements.
This is the intimacy that forms from being able to sit down and have actual meaningful discussions with your partner.
Building mutual respect of each other’s thoughts, opinions, and ideas.
Growing together in your achievements, supporting each other’s ventures, sharing ideas about business, or your family’s future, or looking for input in a moral or ethical dilemma.
Mental intimacy at times doesn’t feel like intimacy at all, because it’s more…well, boring. It’s “dry.” It’s not fun, or sexy, or particularly appealing. It’s rooted in the day-to-day that we all experience.
That, though, is one of the biggest parts of life. Sitting down for dinner together or with the family. Talking about our day. Planning out a trip, or a whole future together.
If you can’t respect and acknowledge each other’s logical and rational thoughts or ideas, how can you function together as a compatible couple?
5: Value-based intimacy
Not “value” as in your value as a person, or monetary value — but value as in the values you hold dear.
The morals, the beliefs, the viewpoints that you have about the world.
It could be religious, or spiritual, or neither.
There is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to personal beliefs (as long as you’re not hurting or oppressing anyone with them — that’s always wrong), but there is an incompatible or compatible.
When you have fundamentally conflicting beliefs or values from someone, there will be ongoing strife or disagreements in the relationship. How could there not be, after all? You’re navigating the dynamic terrain of life which is going to require moral and ethical decisions that must be agreed upon by your partner.
If you get married, or have children, the nature and path of these decisions will be deeply affected by the morals and values you hold.
Topics like religion or politics can be highly polarizing because they are intertwined with our values. What we believe (or don’t believe) is indicative of our views on the world.
To build a life alongside someone, we must have at least similar views in order to come together as a team.
Each of these types of intimacy are equally important, yet varied in nature.
When fitted properly into the puzzle of life, though, we’ll find that the entire picture comes together just right.
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Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 39 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.
James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.
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