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Sex + Relationships

How to Build Intimacy Without Sex

It is an undeniable fact that having sex with your significant other binds you together. It makes you closer not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. But if you and your partner are waiting for marriage, you may be wondering how to have that connection. Don’t worry, there are many other ways to build a strong bond with your partner. Physical touch is not the only avenue of intimacy. 


According to goodtherapy.com, there are three other types of intimacy:

Experiential Intimacy: Bonding during leisure activities 

Emotional Intimacy: When people feel comfortable sharing their feelings with one another

Intellectual Intimacy: When people feel comfortable sharing ideas and opinions – even when they disagree with one another


Here are some practical ways to practice nonsexual closeness with your love!  


Experiential Intimacy

Try new activities with your significant other. Puzzles at the kitchen table, building Ikea furniture in the living room, or going rock climbing are great ways to experience each other in new ways. You’ll develop a new appreciation for the way he problem solves or thinks outside of the box. You’ll discover new quirks, talents, and fears. You may be surprised at what conversations arise during these shared moments. Take a day trip to a new city or teach each other something new. Maybe you don’t know how to swim. Get your partner to take swimming lessons with you! It seems silly but it’s important to experience people in different settings. Share these new experiences and see how you fall even more in love with their personality. Plus, these unique memories will last a lifetime. You’ll definitely be smiling back at your Snapchat memories in a year or two.  




Emotional Intimacy

All forms of intimacy require a level of vulnerability but emotional intimacy can be especially nerve wracking. It’s not something you can force, it has to come naturally. But you can start by simply asking questions. Put your phones down, sit face to face, and really talk. Letting down your walls in front of someone you love is a healing experience. You become each other’s safe havens. If you can’t think of what to ask, check out this link for 99 questions to build emotional intimacy:



Intellectual Intimacy

Art museums, history museums, academic talks and conferences, and other intellectual spaces are great for sparking intellectual intimacy. Don’t be afraid to ask complex questions and pick your SO’s brain. If you’re working on an interesting project or you heard an enlightening theory in class, share it! But the most important part about this form of intimacy is being able to disagree. Allow your partner to feel how they feel and don’t let them talk you out of your opinion. Amicable disagreements will build mutual respect and admiration. Especially for my creatives, academics, and deep thinkers, your relationship has to be a safe intellectual space. You need someone you can bounce ideas off of. You need someone to grow with intellectually – someone who sparks your creativity and expands your mind.




Remember, it is not only the physical body that you commit to when entering a relationship. You also commit to the other person’s heart, mind, and spirit. So explore those things. Take the time to build experiential, emotional, and intellectual intimacy. You’ll be surprised at how your relationship will blossom! 


Cassie Herring

Hampton U '21

Cassie Herring is a graduating Senior English major from Woodbridge, Virginia. She is the current Senior Editor of Hampton University's HC Chapter. She is also a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and Co-President of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society. In her free time, she can be found writing poetry or listening to R&B. In the future, Cassie plans to earn her PhD and teach the collegiate level to empower the next generation of leaders.
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