Why Intimacy is About More Than Just Sex

by Lovehoney

on Nov 27, 2019


Don't get us wrong, stripping down and bumping your uglies against another pair of uglies is a pretty intimate act.

But when it comes to building, maintaining and reclaiming a close romantic relationship, sex is just one piece of the puzzle.

Intimacy is a fundamental part of successful romantic relationships. In this blog we explore ways to build intimacy, which don't necessarily include sex.

What is intimacy?

The most important thing to remember about intimacy is human beings crave it. Not only do close relationships make us feel safe and happy, they are integral for our physical and emotional health.

There are so many ways to be intimate with a loved one, from holding hands, to full on wake-up-the-neighbours bonkathons. But, just as you can't build it overnight, intimacy is something both must work on and nurture.

While acts of intimacy may vary wildly from couple to couple, trust, honesty and vulnerability are the key ingredients.

How is intimacy different from sex?

Sex is a wonderful way to be intimate with your partner, however it's not the be all and end all.

While there are so many things that can affect your sex life, from erectile dysfunction, to childbirth, to mental health issues, staying close and affectionate with your partner is essential.

Non-sexual contact lets your partner know they're loved if sex is off the table. And you never know, initiating romantic touch could even put sex back on the table – or maybe the floor, or the kitchen counter.

Reclaiming lost intimacy

Non-sexual contact comes in many lovely forms, you just have to find one that suits you as a couple.

Try sharing personal one-on-one activities that are exclusively between you. Basically, if you would do it with your postman, judo teacher, or mum, keep thinking.

Here's a few ideas to get you started.

1. Rub-a-dub-dub

Providing you have the space, a long luxurious spoon in a bathtub full of bubbly, warm water is a great way to feel close to one another.

Go the whole hog and light some candles, fizz a bath bomb and turn the ambience up to 11.

2. Crack out the massage oils

Contrary to popular belief, massages don't always have to end in sex. While giving your other half a naked, oily rub down could very easily lead to rumpy-pumpy, it doesn't have to.

Physical contact with the sole purpose of making your lover feel good is enough to build closeness.

But hey, if it does lead to a spot of mattress mambo, so be it! Just make sure everyone has had their massage turn.

3. Read to one another

While you may be thinking we've slipped back in time to the 16th Century, hear me out. There's something incredibly intimate and romantic about being read to.

Perhaps it's down to the old school nature of the act, which feels very innocent yet romantically charged, or maybe it feels vulnerable and therefore incredibly private. Either way, cuddling up together and sharing your favourite book with your favourite person is a sure-fire way to bond.

4. Monkey business

Chimpanzees build close social bonds through various forms of grooming, and they're also our closest living relatives. While I don't advise eating any bugs you find in your partner's hair, there's something to be said about the power of grooming when it comes to building intimacy. Simple acts such as brushing, braiding or washing each other's hair is a fantastic way to feel close to one another.

Not only do we have loads of nerve-endings on our head and neck, but gentle acts such as hair brushing may be linked to fond memories of being cared for as a child, making us feel safe and loved.

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Written by Lovehoney. For collaborative posts between Lovehoney team members and guest authors
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Originally published on Nov 27, 2019. Updated on Aug 5, 2020