When we speak about intimacy, our minds tend to go directly to “sexual” intimacy. However, intimacy goes beyond the bedroom. There is more to intimacy than just sex and getting frisky. It’s connecting on the deepest level emotionally, vulnerably, energetically, and spiritually to others—not just a partner but friends, family, or someone else in your life.
Some forms of non-sexual intimacy are:
Listening: One of our deepest needs and desires is to be heard. When a friend or your partner listens to you (truly listens!), they are:
· Investing in what you’re saying
· Showing they want to connect
· Interested in what you have to say
· Care about how you feel
When a person truly listens, they don’t seek distractions (e.g., sneaking a look at their phone). A person who is truly listening will have constant eye contact with you and hear without the need to interrupt or redirect the conversation. Listening is intimate and it is sexy (even if it’s in a platonic way).
Compliments/Words of affirmation: Everyone loves to be complimented, and our serotonin skyrockets when we receive compliments or words of flattery. Compliments and words of affirmation let us feel worthy and good about ourselves. This feeling creates an intimacy between the person giving the compliment and the person receiving it.
Gift giving: It’s not necessarily about the gift. It’s about the fact that someone has thought about giving you a gift and take the time and energy to consider what the recipient would appreciate. Many of us have received gifts that are not quite up our alley (maybe a pair of dollar-store socks?). When we realize that the giver put thought into gifting us, even if it wasn’t something we liked, it creates deep intimacy and connection. Why? Because being thought of feels amazing, even if the gift itself isn’t the greatest.
Laughter, goofing around, and inside jokes: Laughter is incredible medicine for the soul. When we laugh with our friends, partners, or loved ones; when we play and goof around, drop the seriousness, and share inside jokes, intimacy is born. Life can be too heavy and serious sometimes but sharing laughter with loved ones or friends and having playful and silly moments infuses your connection with lightness and creates intimacy.
Sharing mutual interests: Sharing interests, or displaying an interest in what someone is reading, watching, doing, or listening to and how they feel about that interest, strengthens an intimate bond. Even if your interests are not necessarily shared, ask questions and show them that you’re interested in their interests because of how you feel about that person. Speak with your friends, your family, or your partner about their favorite music at the moment, the book they are reading, or the podcast they are listening to. Show an interest in their interests and you may surprise yourself and discover something you had not even thought to be interested in before!
Affection: Hugging and nonsexual physical touch increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter known as the “feel good” hormone. Serotonin helps us feel happy, calm, and confident, which in turn allows intimacy to deepen. Hugging and other forms of nonsexual touching also cause your brain to release oxytocin, which is also known as the “bonding hormone.” Bonding is intimacy. Whether you’re hugging a friend, a romantic interest, or a partner, know that it is boosting your intimacy within the connection.
Quiet time: Believe it or not, just sitting in a pause between conversations with a friend or loved one is intimacy. Just being present in each other’s company without having to fill the silence shows that you are connected on a level that goes beyond words. Sitting in the silence of each other’s presence is true intimacy.
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