I take intimacy for granted. I know what it means to me and even intimacy eludes me sometimes. I forget that not everyone knows what I’m talking about (which is funny since that’s why I have a job). I was having a conversation with a friend and when I asked her about what ideal intimacy would look like for her, she was stumped. This article is about the different kinds of intimacy in which you can choose to engage. There are distinctions between each and they flow into each other. Reflect on which you have in your life, which you want more of and with whom.

I have been making clear distinctions on the kind of intimacy I desire in my life right now. I have been discovering what has been missing and what it is I really want. All types of intimacy have common threads – it requires trust, vulnerability, stretching out of your comfort zone, a twinge of risk and fear, closeness, knowing yourself, being willing to know someone else, knowing your boundaries and respecting them, respecting the boundaries of others, opening up & disclosing, being transparent. The different faces of intimacy may flow into each other and overlap.

the different faces of intimacy

sexual intimacy – being with self and/or others sexually. This includes all sexual acts, thoughts, feelings, and intentions. Examples include penetration/intercourse, oral sex, kissing, humping, anal sex, fondling, hand jobs, using sex toys, BDSM, orgies, porn watching and making, reading erotica, sexual desire, fantasy, orgasm, sexual pleasure, making love, fucking, masturbation. 

physical intimacy – anything having to do with touch that is not necessarily sexual. This is the one that is confusing for people. This is what I truly need and desire and I confused it with sexual intimacy forever (and what led partly to my sexual addiction). Examples include holding hands, hugging, cuddling, caressing, massage, spooning, sleeping together, being in someone’s presence without talking, dancing, sitting together.

emotional intimacy – connection on an emotional level through sharing genuine feelings without inhibition or censoring. Examples include expressing joy, appreciation, anger, frustration, love, admiration, inspiration, or jealousy through verbal or non-verbal communication (can be expressed through physical touch).

intellectual intimacy – connection through expression of ideas, ideology, and sharing of knowledge and wisdom. Examples include engaging in discourse, debate, and conversation around topics that you are passionate about; learning about the world together through books, movies, podcasts, classes; working on projects together; volunteering together.

spiritual intimacy – connection through sharing beliefs and engaging in spiritual practices together. Examples include attending a religious institution, meditation, prayer, conversations about God or Universe or a Higher Power; doing your own personal development work and being uplifted through encouragement and accountability from people in your life.

examples of how the intimacies mix and mingle

  • sexual intimacy encompasses physical touch and a lot of times is enhanced by an emotional connection
  • spiritual intimacy can be achieved through sexual connection and vice versa
  • intellectual intimacy is built through trust and connecting on an emotional level
  • physical intimacy is built on emotional connection
  • emotional intimacy may develop from consensual touch

Where are you in the intimacy spectrum? What do you desire more of? How can you stretch yourself today?

may you keep stretching to your limit and beyond,