It is more than likely that when you ask someone about intimacy, only 2-3 types of intimacy are discussed…3 is pushing it for many people. People talk about physical/sexual intimacy, emotional intimacy, and I often hear about spiritual intimacy a lot as well. When intimacy is only focused on these 2-3 types it can be overwhelming for a relationship, putting lots of pressure on 1-2 types, while ignoring all the other types of intimacy that is available to a couple.
What happens if your emotional or sexual intimacy is not firing on all cylinders at the moment in your relationship? Does that mean that you don’t share intimacy with one another? Or that you can’t look towards other types of intimacy while you are not connecting in other areas?
When I’m working with couples I often like to give them a handout that talks about the varying types of intimacy that can be present in a relationship, while taking a look at what some of the barriers to that intimacy may be. (This is a handout that was passed down to me in training, and there is no data on it in regards to the resource or book it came from. So if you know the source, let me know.) Couples love having something tangible to look at and discuss when it comes to intimacy. It often gives them a sense of relief knowing that there are many types of intimacy available in a relationship, and it often gives them goals and action steps to strive towards in their intimate connections with one another.
Here is the following list of the types of intimacy, along with some common blocks:
12 Types of Intimacy
- Sexual Intimacy: Sharing passion and physical pleasuring
- Emotional Intimacy: Being tuned to each other’s wavelength
- Intellectual Intimacy: Closeness in the world of ideas
- Aesthetic Intimacy: Sharing experience of beauty
- Creative Intimacy: Sharing in acts of creating together
- Recreational Intimacy: Relating in experiences of fun and play
- Work Intimacy: Closeness of sharing common tasks
- Crisis Intimacy: Closeness in coping with problems and pain
- Conflict Intimacy: Facing and struggling with differences
- Commitment Intimacy: Mutually derived from common self-interest
- Spiritual Intimacy: Unity shared in religious expression
- Communication Intimacy: Mutual understanding and affirmation
Blocks to Intimacy
- Expecting feelings of intimacy to just happen
- Blaming each other when it doesn’t happen
- Superficial Communication
- Devoting most of time and energy to job, children, home, career, etc.
- Too much togetherness–smothering
- Withdrawing affirmation, caring behavior, support
- Not Using Platinum Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
If you sat down with your partner, took a look at the types of intimacy, how many types do you think you and your partner would agree that you connect on?
What are the common barriers to intimacy in your relationship?