The true meaning of intimacy and why it's important

Sometimes, even if we enjoy sex and our partners, we struggle with feeling the emotional bond or connection that comes with it, which is intimacy.

Intimacy is an integral part of a healthy relationship, not just a sexual one. If you’re into casual sex, perhaps nurturing this emotional bond isn’t a priority. And that’s okay!

So what is intimacy? And why does it matter when it comes to sex?

What is intimacy and why does it matter?

First, intimacy isn’t a synonym for sex. It’s part of a sexual relationship—they aren’t one and the same. Sex is a great way to build intimacy (or rebuild intimacy in a relationship if it’s been fractured) but it’s not the only way for intimacy to occur.

Intimacy can be broadly defined as a closeness between people involving vulnerability and trust. There are four types of intimacy: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. There’s a strong emotional throughline with all of these types of intimacy.

Examples of intimacy include holding hands, hugging, sharing personal histories together, having meaningful conversations, and, of course, sex. Dirty talk, too, is a key way to build intimacy with a partner.

Intimacy matters because it helps fortify a relationship; adding trust and vulnerability, and an openness, that allows for couples to feel safe and heard in their relationship.

Sex and intimacy

Sex is an important part of building intimacy, but, for some people, it can also feel awkward if intimacy hasn’t already been established. That means building a connection outside of the bedroom first in an effort to increase a trusting physical connection.

If you’re struggling with intimacy with a partner, try these intimacy inspired sex tips:

  • Communication. Talk to your partner about what you like, what you desire, what need in both a sexual and non-sexual setting. Encourage each other’s sexual preferences, whether that’s sex toys or sexual positions, in a healthy, and open way.
  • Foreplay. Slowing down and focusing on the build up before getting down and dirty is a really great way to build intimacy in your couple. Hold hands, kiss, even makeout for an extended time, and touch each other to build a bond.
  • Eye contact. Maintaining sensual, safe eye contact is an art. Even just looking at someone in conversation can bolster trust and openness. During foreplay or sex, keep eye contact with your partner because it may enhance loving, passionate feelings.
  • Encourage pleasure. When it comes to sex and pleasure, you’re both there for each other and yourself. Say you like using a lubricant, like K-Y® Lubricant - Naturals*, to enhance your sexual experience—prioritize that! If using lube for couples makes your experience more enjoyable for you, ask for it. Remember that this is your pleasure time, too, and you deserve to feel how you want to.

*Ensure this product is right for you. Always read and follow the product label.