12 Types Of Intimacy That Every Relationship Can Benefit From

Physical touch is just the tip of the iceberg.

What are the 12 different types of intimacy? Here's what you need to know.
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For many people, the word “intimacy” comes with a lot of associations, and most of them are physical. But believe it or not, there are 12 — yes, 12 — different ways to form an intimate connection with a romantic partner, and only one of them revolves around sexual compatibility. So what exactly are the types of intimacy, and how can you implement them into your relationship? Here’s what you need to know.

From kissing your partner extra long to synchronizing your breathing, there are a lot of ways to strengthen your bond with your other half. But not everything you do has to be physical. Though 12 may seem like an excessive amount of intimacy types, once you’re up to speed on how each form is meant to improve your relationship, you’ll understand why they’re all so important. That being said, you don’t need to have all 12 to have a functioning relationship. All that matters is that you have the ones that work best for you and your lifestyle. Determining which intimacy types are right for you is easier said than done, though, but hopefully, this list will help you understand which areas of your relationship are already solid, and which could use some improvement.


The first, and probably most well-known form of intimacy is sexual. As you can probably guess, this can be achieved through engaging in sexual actions with another party. But physicality isn’t the only thing that creates this bond. Sexual intimacy also encompasses the emotional closeness we feel with a person that lets us take our relationships to the next step.


Though there is an emotional component to sexual intimacy, emotional intimacy is all about being vulnerable and feeling comfortable enough to express your wants, needs, and desires. Emotionality is a must when it comes to relationships, which is probably why it’s one of the most well-known forms of intimacy.


Couples who are intellectually intimate are able to thoughtfully exchange ideas and opinions with one another as a way to spark stimulating conversations. An often forgotten intimacy type, TikTok user explains that intellectual intimacy can be built by asking your partner for their opinions, discussing your respective values, engaging in cultural activities together, or reading a book together.


No, this doesn’t mean you and your partner have to look good together all the time. According to Relish, aesthetic intimacy requires an appreciation of beauty or shared experiences. This can be achieved by enjoying the view from the top of a mountain or by frequenting art museums.


Just as the name implies, creative intimacy involves creating and planning things together. From unique date night ideas to picking up a new artistic hobby, there are plenty of ways to achieve creative intimacy.


If you enjoy being outdoors, you’re going to need some recreational intimacy, or a shared interest in activities, in your relationship. Recreational intimacy can be as chill as taking a walk around the neighborhood or as serious as working out together. It’s not a must-have for every relationship, but it might be a non-negotiable for people with active personalities who want someone to join them on their escapades.


Work intimacy probably isn’t what you think it is. Per Relish, this form of intimacy is achieved when each party has proven they’re willing to do the work needed to make the relationship run more smoothly. Doing chores, paying bills, and scheduling necessary appointments are all examples of this.


It’s a sad truth, but going through a crisis together often brings couples even closer together. That’s where crisis intimacy, or the ability to support one another through difficult times, comes in. If you’re worried about your relationship in this area, @thechristians_xpert recommends sparking a conversation about crisis management with your partner.

“Your spouse was not raised with the same crisis management skills that you were,” explains the TikToker. “You both have a different skill set and so you both have different expectations of how to manage a crisis.” This is why these conversations are so necessary.


Along with proving one’s devotion to the relationship, commitment intimacy is formed when a couple makes plans for the future together that they intend to follow through on. Examples of this may include starting a family, having kids, buying a house, and more.


Conflict within a relationship is not only natural, it’s expected. Instead of holding grudges and keeping score of who’s “winning” and who’s “losing,” conflict intimacy encourages couples to learn and grow from their fights. By doing so, hopefully, you and your partner will reach a place where you’re both able to effectively handle conflict with ease.


They say communication is key, so it should come as no surprise to see communication as a form of intimacy. Not to mention, it’s extremely prevalent in many other intimacy types, as well. Per Relish, communication intimacy can be achieved by creating an open dialogue regarding expectations and allowing space for open-minded feedback. If you’re looking to improve your communication intimacy, try tapping into your active listening skills the next time your partner is expressing their needs.


You don’t have to be religious to have spiritual intimacy. According to Relish, the final form of intimacy is achieved when both parties feel as though they’re able to openly discuss the world’s biggest unknowns, like the meaning of life and the afterlife.