How do we define Intimacy and what is the role of Intimacy in your sex life?
The word intimacy is often assumed to mean sexual relationships, but whilst intimacy may contribute to a healthy sex life, the one doesn’t necessarily include the other. If I had to ask you what intimacy on its own would mean to you, I have no doubt that you will have your own thoughts around what that means to you.
At IN2MC we are passionate about promoting healthy beautiful relationships and to achieve this we believe that intimacy plays a significant role. We can define what this means in various ways, but one of my favorite associations or ways of describing intimacy would be: To be seen, to be heard, to be felt and to be understood. When reading this definition, I am sure that you realise intimacy is not exclusive to your partner but can be applicable in every relationship you have, be that friendships, with family members or colleagues.
Let’s take a look at the different types of Intimacy in a relationship.
According to Dr Michael Krychman there are four key forms of intimacy in a partner relationship:
- Emotional, which means sharing emotions and thoughts and connecting on a feeling level.
- Physical, which means being in the same place at the same time and spending quality time together, i.e. on a date night.
- Sensual, which means physical touch and pleasure and other ways to physically connect that don’t involve sexual acts, such as hugging and kissing.
- Sexual, which includes all forms of sexual contact.
“Everyone is different, and we all desire these different forms of intimacy to varying degrees in our relationships”, he says.
Research has shown that there are various health benefits to Intimacy for body and mind. Here is a look at some of those benefits and the different ways that intimacy can improve your daily lives.
Intimacy Helps You Reduce Stress and Stay Healthy
- Chronic stress can cause a host of health complications. “When you are in a constant state of fight-or-flight, you use up a lot of necessary nutrients needed to maintain health. Intimacy helps reduce the stress and panic so that your body can replenish itself and maintain a good immune system,” says Barbara D. Bartlik, MD, a psychiatrist and sex therapist who works with Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.
Intimacy Counters Loneliness and Reduces Risk of Mortality
- Social isolation is linked with increased morbidity and mortality, according to one study (1), while another study found that in addition to higher mortality, loneliness can also impair executive functioning, sleep, and mental and physical well-being. (2)
- “If you feel complimented, loved, and appreciated, that all contributes to good health. If you feel alone, isolated, stressed, abused, or taken advantage of, that has a negative effect on your health,” explains Dr. Bartlik, who is a coauthor of Integrative Sexual Health.
Intimacy Fuels a Better Sex Life
- While sex isn’t necessary to achieve intimacy, intimacy can often lead to a better sex life. Your experience of sex will improve because you will be unafraid to express (and receive) what you desire, and willing and open to hear and care for your partner’s needs as well. The trust will allow both of you to grow and try new things that might enhance your relationship.
- The act of having sex can lead to many positive changes in the body, such as boosting oxytocin (known as the “cuddle hormone”), says Dr Krychman. A healthy sex life may also affect your immune system and blood pressure, lessen pain, and help you sleep better, he adds. In fact, orgasm alone can reduce blood pressure by releasing oxytocin, notes Bartlik. “It has a calming effect that can last a few days,” she explains. Sex is also a form of exercise, notes Krychman, which in itself has many health benefits.
Intimacy Can Benefit Your Mental Health
- When you’re intimate with another person, you get a mental boost too. “Studies show that men who are deprived of intimacy get angry and women get depressed. Your hormone levels, especially oxytocin, actually change when you touch or are touched by someone, or share an intimate act such as decision-making,” says Krychman. “If you are connected in a loving relationship, you have more of the happy hormones (like dopamine),” he adds.
- You will note from the content that there are different forms of intimacy, and we need to be aware that people all have different needs. It is important to have open and honest conversations with your partner to understand their personal intimacy needs i.e., one may desire a more physical relationship whilst the other require emotional intimacy. For intimacy to flow it is important to understand that there are different needs.
- If you find yourself at a crossroad, and a need for more intimacy in your relationship the first step would be by talking to your partner to establish what might be missing. One of our IN2MC products that we highly recommend to assist with the first step is the IN2MC Boardgame designed by Dr Catherine Van Heerden, with the sole purpose of connecting and creating a space to talk openly. If this is not an option for you but you feel that you require assistance to explore this topic further, you can book a session with one of our professional service providers.
Source : “EverydayHealth” – content is medically reviewed by applicable Healthcare Professionals