Striving For Real Intimacy In Your Relationships

Updated February 13, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Even if you love your partner very deeply, it can be difficult at times to cultivate real intimacy. Intimacy, which involves feeling close and deeply connected, often requires a level of vulnerability that can be nerve-racking. But real intimacy is something many of us want in our relationships, so how can you go about building it? Here, we’ll explore what real intimacy is and a few tips for how to cultivate it in your relationship.

Building Intimacy Can Be Difficult

What Is Intimacy? 

To understand intimacy, it is first important to note that intimacy and sex are not the same thing. Many people equate the term intimacy with sex, and some may use the phrase "being intimate" as a way to refer to having sex. Some may assume that intimacy is something that refers to sexual activity specifically and solely, but the terms are not interchangeable. Intimacy can involve connecting emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and/or physically. You can be intimate without having sex, and you can also have sexual intercourse without it being an intimate experience. The word intimacy simply refers to feeling close and connected to someone. When you have an intimate relationship with someone, you feel a deep sense of closeness with them; sometimes, this may involve having sex, but it doesn’t have to. 

Real intimacy is essentially a feeling of closeness with someone else where you both feel deeply connected to each other as your real, true selves. When you have a real intimate relationship with another human being, you will likely feel very comfortable around them, like you can trust them with anything, and like they love you for who you are. Couples with very intimate relationships will likely feel comfortable being vulnerable around one another. 

For some people, certain forms of intimacy may come easier than others. For instance, some individuals may feel more comfortable with physical intimacy than with emotional intimacy, and it may feel scary to open up to their partner about their true feelings. Intimacy can look different from one couple to the next, depending on each person’s comfort level, preferences, love language, and more. 

Ways To Build Intimacy With Your Partner

Just as intimacy may look different from one couple to the next, the most effective ways to build intimacy with your partner may also vary from couple to couple. As you and your partner determine the best approach for you both, you may consider some of the below ideas. Whatever approaches you try, it’s important for you both to feel comfortable and safe. 

  1. Spend Quality Time Together

One way to try to build intimacy is to intentionally carve out time for each other to give yourselves an opportunity to strengthen your connection. This could mean choosing to go for a walk together after work, deciding to eat dinner together without phones or TV, or picking one night each week as “date night,” for example. During this time together, you and your partner can decide how you both want to try to build intimacy—it could involve serious intellectual conversation, deep emotions, or lots of cuddling while watching a movie, as a few examples. 

  1. Experience New Things Together

Another way to try to build intimacy is to try experiencing new things together. This can give you both an opportunity to learn something new about each other and yourselves, to step outside of your normal routines, and to deepen your bond through a fun activity. These new experiences can vary widely from one couple to the next. For couples who love adventurous activities, it could mean going bungee jumping, sky diving, or rock climbing together. And for couples who prefer a more relaxed time at home, it could mean trying a new recipe together, playing a new board game, or both reading a new book to discuss together. 

Building Intimacy Can Be Difficult

  1. Communicate Your Desires 

Communication can be a crucial tool for building all types of intimacy, including physical intimacy. For instance, if sex is a part of your relationship, being able to discuss with each other what you both like and don’t like can help you to build a more satisfying sex life that helps you feel more connected physically. It may feel awkward at first, but try to speak with your partner about their desires and their needs as well as your own, so you can work together to find ways to incorporate things you both want and are comfortable with. 

  1. Seek Help Through Therapy

If you would like additional support with building intimacy in your relationship, you can also consider seeking therapy. For couples, finding time to meet with a therapist can be difficult given the hassles of coordinating multiple schedules and commutes. In these cases, online therapy such as BetterHelp for individuals or ReGain for couples has the benefit of being able to happen remotely, wherever is most convenient for you and your partner, so there’s no commute necessary, which may make it easier to make time for. 

Research has shown that online therapy can be an effective option for couples with relationship concerns. For instance, one study examined the effectiveness of an online couples therapy program. It found that the couples who received the online program reported “significant improvements” in relationship satisfaction and relationship confidence. 


Intimacy is a feeling of deep connection and closeness, and it can involve connecting emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and/or physically. If you are looking for ways to build intimacy with your partner, you may consider some of the tips above, including online therapy. 

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