The 5 Types Of Intimacy, Explained To Us By A Relationship Therapist

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Intimacy is one of the non-negotiable ingredients that keeps a relationship healthy. Defined as a closeness and familiarity between two people who are in a relationship, intimacy is one of the factors that takes a couple from friends to lovers, or a fling to a deep and meaningful bond. When you think of the word, your mind will probably jump straight to sex, which is indeed a part of physical intimacy. But there are several ways to be intimate with someone, all of them relying on different parts of the human experience to bring two people closer.


To get a better understanding of the different types of intimacy, Glam spoke exclusively with Jaime Bronstein, licensed relationship therapist and author of "MAN*ifesting: A Step-By-Step Guide to Attracting the Love That's Meant for You." She explained that not only can we all use different kinds of intimacy to strengthen our relationships, but we might actually have natural preferences and tendencies relating to the way we move closer to our partners, too.

"Intimacy types are part of who we are as our authentic selves," Bronstein shared. To find out what your intimacy type might be, you'll first need to get familiar with the different kinds of intimacy: intellectual, emotional, experiential, physical, and spiritual.


Intellectual intimacy

Intellectual intimacy relates to growing a closer bond through cerebral or mental engagement. In an exclusive conversation with Glam, Jaime Bronstein revealed that intellectual intimacy "involves meaningful conversations, exchanging ideas, and discussing beliefs, helping to build a mental connection." She added that this type of intimacy "allows the couple the explore each other's minds."


The most straightforward way to build this kind of intimacy is to talk to each other. As you delve into topics a little deeper than small talk, you'll learn more about each other and even discover strengths and previously hidden qualities that endear you to one another. It can be helpful to set aside time just for conversation, as talking while you're simultaneously doing other activities, like exercising or cleaning the house, can sometimes result in less meaningful discussion.

"When a couple shares a strong intellectual intimacy, it tends to result in personal growth and growth as a couple," Bronstein explained.

Emotional intimacy

For some, emotional intimacy can be more daunting than the other types of intimacy, as this is largely to do with opening up to your significant other and getting real about your feelings. "Emotional intimacy is based on the level of vulnerability a couple is willing to participate in," Jaime Bronstein told Glam exclusively. "This type of intimacy involves trust and sharing feelings, hopes, and fears."


It goes without saying that this type of intimacy can require more courage, as you are sharing your raw feelings. It also involves being there for each other as a source of emotional support. But the rewards are worth it, as emotional intimacy allows your partner to see the real you. As you both engage in sharing your feelings, revealing more as the relationship progresses, you'll gradually dismantle any walls that may exist between you and end up with an honest, real connection.

"When you have a strong sense of emotional intimacy in a relationship, you can be authentic with your significant other or spouse," Bronstein confirmed.

Experiential intimacy

Experiential intimacy is often one of the forces that helps bring a couple together initially but can dwindle as the relationship moves past the honeymoon phase. It's the act of getting closer through experiences, which may include hobbies or interests that you share. Perhaps you regularly play tennis together or love to cook together. Making time for shared activities can enhance a relationship, but Jaime Bronstein explained that "new activities" in particular can develop experiential intimacy, and it's all thanks to biology.


"When a couple shares a novel experience, their dopamine levels rise, resulting in bonding and feeling joyful because a new memory was made," Bronstein told Glam in an exclusive chat. "Another benefit of raised levels of dopamine is that it's a building block for testosterone. Testosterone resides in men and women, and when there's a spike in testosterone, hormone levels rise, which brings on sexual desire, hence a more substantial level of experiential intimacy."

The increase in sexual desire can also fuel another and much more well-known type of connection-builder: physical intimacy.

Physical intimacy

Of course, sex is part of physical intimacy, but it's important to note that sex can look different for everyone, and the type of sex that brings about the most physical intimacy will depend on the preferences and comfort levels of everyone in the relationship. Jaime Bronstein told Glam exclusively that physical intimacy "is not just about sex." Some couples make the mistake of treating sex as the only important physical element in the relationship, but this type of intimacy "also involves hugging, cuddling, and holding hands."


Again, the specific ways in which a couple is physically intimate will depend on the couple, as everyone is drawn to different physical actions, but Bronstein stressed that "physical intimacy is a way to be affectionate and express love." Physical intimacy can meet the physical needs of a couple as they grow closer, but it also allows them to become closer at an emotional level, Bronstein explained.

Spiritual intimacy

The fifth type of intimacy is known as spiritual intimacy. Jaime Bronstein shared with Glam in an exclusive conversation that it "generally refers to a shared sense of morals, values, or religious beliefs." Because spirituality is deeply personal, there's no one way to experience this kind of intimacy; it's whatever works for you.


For those who are more religious, couples might develop a stronger bond by going to church or other religious services together. Bronstein noted that for those who don't consider themselves religious, spiritual intimacy "could be about shared ethical views or collective goals for impacting the world positively."

It's common to not fully understand what spirituality means to you, and discovering its role in your life may be a long-term process. By including your partner in your spiritual journey, whether that's through participating in spiritual practices together or simply having a conversation about your worldview, you can grow closer as you figure it out.

Finding your intimacy type

The healthiest, longest-lasting relationships allow room for all five types of intimacy, as building a bond with your partner across these different avenues results in a stronger connection overall. That said, Jaime Bronstein explained exclusively to Glam that we still have intimacy types, or natural ways of building intimacy in a relationship. To find yours, make time to practice all five kinds of intimacy and see what feels the best and easiest for you. One or a few types may feel more natural to you and your partner than others.


While it can be helpful to know what your intimacy type is, Bronstein confirmed that your Type can evolve as time goes on: " ... experiences and relationships in life can bring about a slight shift in our intimacy type. For example, someone whose top intimacy types are intellectual and emotional might become more attracted to their intellectual and physical type counterpart because of their intellectual connection, resulting in the person wanting to be physically intimate with them as they feel more drawn to them."

Bronstein added that the type of intimacy we gravitate towards may also change with age, as "younger individuals may place a higher emphasis on physical intimacy, while older individuals might value emotional or intellectual intimacy more." Relationship difficulties and personal growth may also influence a person's Intimacy Type to change.


How do the different types of intimacy work together?

Though there's room in a relationship for all types of intimacy, certain types tend to fit together better than others and feed each other to ultimately make the relationship stronger. Jaime Bronstein revealed that emotional and physical intimacy are two that go hand in hand.


"These two often go well together in romantic relationships," she told Glam exclusively. "Physical closeness can serve as an expression of emotional intimacy and vice versa. When one is lacking, it could impact the other." Additionally, experiential and emotional intimacy can influence one another, as "sharing experiences or hobbies can lead to emotional closeness. The experiences can provide a new environment where emotional intimacy can be built or strengthened."

Finally, intellectual and emotional intimacy also feed off each other, as those who have developed intellectual intimacy are more likely to open up about their emotions. To allow these types of intimacy to bring your relationship to new heights, be open to revealing parts of yourself to your partner in these different ways, whether it's through intellectual conversation, sharing a new activity, or exploring your spiritual side together. You may discover that one type of intimacy is the most powerful in your relationship, but as Bronstein shared, "When people learn, grow, and mature as individuals, they might discover new forms of intimacy that they appreciate."