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Emotional Intimacy vs. Physical Intimacy

Updated: Jan 3

Greetings, my name is Taylor and I have been working with individuals and couples at Blake Psychological for over 3 years now. One of the questions that I often get is, “What does intimacy look like?”. So I thought I would start there.

As defined in the Oxford dictionary, intimacy is the state of having a close personal relationship with someone.
emotional and physical intimacy intertwine to bring couples closer together

When most people think of the word intimacy, they may think of sex, and although this can help foster intimacy, it is only one example of how one may build their intimate connection with their partner. Intimacy can be further broken down into physical intimacy and emotional intimacy, and although separate they do mix together.


Physical Intimacy can be viewed as the outwardly bodily expression of your feelings toward someone, including sex, but also includes cuddling, hugging, kissing, playing with their hair, massaging them, holding holds, or simply touching them as you pass by.


Emotional Intimacy may be viewed as the sharing of your internal world and feelings with someone, it is what permits you to tell, confide, and emotionally reach for someone that you feel close and safe with them. An example of having emotional intimacy with someone would be if you feel like you can be your authentic self with them or that you feel like you could tell them anything without the fear of being judged.


Although you can have one without the other, they often play off of each other and can follow closely behind if one drops off within relationships.

When emotional intimacy decreases, physical intimacy is often close behind, except with males, who often use sex and physical intimacy to seek reassurance and emotional connection. It is also possible to have physical intimacy, like sex, without emotional intimacy and vice versa, but healthy relationships have the tools and desire to pour into both.


For many adults navigating their relationships, they may realize that emotional intimacy can actually enhance the physical side of the relationship and provide greater pleasure and fun. Both forms of intimacy need to be prioritized throughout the relationship as they do not naturally persist on their own.  


Taylor Tymchyshyn Registered Psychologist

The deeper and fuller the emotional and physical connections are in your relationships, the more rewarding and satisfying they will be. 

Come heal, grow and create together


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