Incorporating intimacy into your daily life can feel like a tall order. However, the level of intimacy in your relationship is often an indicator of its success, with research suggesting that emotional intimacy is directly linked to relationship satisfaction.
Intimacy exercises help deepen your connection in a relationship. These exercises inspire you to be more intentional about intimacy, bring you closer than ever, and strengthen your bond.
“Intimacy is the connection and closeness between two individuals that vary based on the type and quality of the relationship,” says Dr. Elizabeth Fedrick, a psychotherapist and licensed professional counselor.
Being intimate with your partner goes beyond just a physical connection, with intimacy engrained in every aspect of the relationship.
“It is the foundation of safety, trust, and vulnerability within a relationship dynamic,” says Dr. Fedrick. “It is a crucial part of a healthy relationship because it signifies partnership, an alliance, and an agreement to consistently ‘show up’ for each other.”
When looking at your relationship needs, emotional and physical intimacy should be non-negotiable. Without intimacy, relationships become companionships and you both suffer as a consequence.
“Intimacy is truly the glue that holds a healthy relationship together and is a required and essential component of a successful relationship,” says Dr. Fedrick.
Physical touch is a love language in itself, with some people heavily relying on physical intimacy for their overall happiness in a relationship.
“Physical intimacy is about creating a sense of closeness and safety through physical affection,” says Dr. Fedrick.
Although how people show their affection may differ, human beings require physical affection to survive. There are many ways to display physical affection including cuddling, nurturing touch, caressing, and kissing.
PDA doesn’t need to scare you off. If you are in public, simply holding your partner's hand can establish a sense of security and put them at ease.
Being emotionally intimate with your partner requires empathy, respect, validation, communication, vulnerability, and most importantly, trust.
“Emotional intimacy is the willingness to allow your partner to see and understand parts of you that are fragile and vulnerable,” says Dr. Fedrick.
Relationships should be a judgment-free zone. Being emotionally intimate with someone requires both partners to be willing to seek out each other’s flaws and in turn, accept your partner (imperfections and all) for who they truly are.
A healthy, active sex life is a sign of sexual compatibility but is not the only thing involved in this kind of intimacy.
“Sexual intimacy is not just about sex, it is also about creating safety, connection, and closeness,” says Dr. Fedrick.
Being physically intimate with your partner can take many forms, such as foreplay, massages, and trying new things. There are a lot of things that can get in the way of sexual desire, but working on spicing up your sex life can help!
Intimacy does not have to fade over time, but if you become disconnected from your partner, retaining a level of intimacy becomes increasingly tricky.
“This disconnection can be rooted in a few different things such as ‘growing apart’, loss of trust, compounded resentment, and more,” says Dr. Fedrick.
“Regardless of the cause of growing apart, it is very commonly the result of not making intentional time for each other and the nurturance of their relationship.”
As you get caught up in life, it can be easy for busy couples to put date nights to one side. However, getting sidetracked from your relationship allows a level of disconnect to set in.
“When I ask couples if they make time for intentional discussions and quality interactions, they often respond with how they ‘talked’ about something,” says Fedrick. “However, more often than not, couples do not report that they make daily or even weekly time for connection.”
Even though you may speak every day, without intention, there can be a natural loss of intimacy in your interactions. Small talk can only get you so far in a relationship, with clumsy communication skills often the cause of dwindling intimacy.
“This lack of quality time together prevents couples from being able to talk about their needs openly and honestly,” says Fedrick. “Thus, couples inevitably start to drift apart, and the relationship starts to go cold.”
Intimacy can grow organically, but there is nothing wrong with being more intentional with intimacy as your relationship progresses.
“To foster or regain the connection, couples must start prioritizing each other,” says Fedrick. “This means carving out daily time for brief connection, weekly time for longer connection, and then monthly or quarterly time for extended quality time.”
Planning out and practicing intimacy can feel like a manufactured experience.
Scheduling in intimacy may seem like you are forcing your romance, but even the most in-love couples need to put this time for their partner into their schedules. By setting aside a certain length of time each day for your relationship, you are ensuring that a sense of connectedness remains intact.
“I encourage the couples I work with to engage in connection daily by checking in on each other’s days and asking probing questions about how each partner is feeling that day,” says Dr. Fedrick.
If you are struggling with a lack of intimacy, there are a few intimacy-building exercises that you can incorporate into your routine to help.
While some are more specific in practice, others simply invite you to look at your intimate relationship differently, inspiring new ideas around emotional intimacy.
Daily life throws obstacles in the way of intimacy and connection. With this first emotional intimacy exercise for couples, all you have to do is take the time to prioritize your partner.
“One of the most important things a couple can do to strengthen their relationship is to take a step back to assess if they are making their partner a priority or if they are merely cohabitating,” says Fedrick.
For this exercise, put away your phones and all other distractions to solely focus on your partner. Although date nights are a common example of this exercise, all you need is five minutes at the end of the day to dedicate to your significant other.
Incorporating active listening into your routine in this way enables you to connect on a deeper level, while also allowing you to take a break from the pressures of life.
A simple, yet effective exercise is creating the time to check in with your partner.
“Part of making each other a priority includes the necessity of creating time each day for shorter check-ins, as well as time every week for long check-ins,” says Dr. Fedrick.
If you decide to have a more formal weekly check-in, it is helpful to come up with some check-in questions to ensure you are getting the most out of your time together.
Are your needs getting met?
Is there anything I could be doing to make you feel more loved?
What are you most proud of this week?
What was your biggest struggle this week?
What is going well for us — or is there anything I could improve on?
“Weekly check-ins should be more detailed and deliberate, resulting in follow-up questions and allowing you to gain clarity of your partner’s experiences,” says Dr. Fedrick. “These questions require thoughtful responses and vulnerability, which help to strengthen intimacy.”
Expressing gratitude is a helpful exercise to adopt into your relationship to build intimacy.
“I often encourage my clients to express gratitude or praise for their partner five times more often than they provide feedback or make a request,” says Dr. Fedrick.
Gratitude should be expressed clearly and intentionally, with specifics beneficial to the exercise. For example, instead of just thanking your partner for dinner, try and be intentional with your praise. Try something like, “Thank you for making me dinner tonight” and follow up with a compliment.
“Being regular and specific in expressing gratitude shows your partner that you notice their hard work and commitment to you, which ultimately maintains a sense of connection within the dynamic,” says Dr. Fedrick.
As mentioned, intimacy works on both an emotional and physical level.
Research shows that being touched can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, lessen depression and anxiety, boost your immune system, and even relieve pain. However, married couples often report a lack of physical closeness in their relationships.
There are many exercises that you can try that encourage physical contact, such as extended hugging or tenderness time. Hugging causes your body to release a “bonding hormone” called oxytocin, which stimulates the release of other feel-good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine.
If you are struggling with a lack of intimacy, carve out this time to reestablish your physical connection and reignite your intimate relationship.
Everyone loves surprises. One of the many charms of a new relationship is the surprise aspect, but these gestures tend to fade away as the relationship progresses.
“As relationships evolve, it is very common for one or both partners to stop engaging in behaviors that are demonstrated early on in the relationship, such as giving gifts, exchanging love notes, or surprise gestures,” says Dr. Fedrick.
By bringing back the surprise element, it can spark excitement and novelty in the relationship. More than that, it reminds your partner that you think about them even when apart.
“These surprise gestures don’t have to be expensive or extravagant, but rather are intended to be sweet and thoughtful,” says Dr. Fedrick.
These surprises should be tailored to your partner, with little gestures that reflect their personality or are meaningful to them. They showcase to your partner how well you know them and how much you care about them — inspiring a new level of intimacy in the relationship.
At the start of a relationship, it’s easy to get ‘lost in each other's eyes’. Even though this may seem like a romantic notion, a lack of eye contact or deliberate focus on your partner could lead to a lack of intimacy.
Research shows that eye contact improves trust, communicates closeness, and makes interactions richer and more efficient.
This soul-gazing exercise requires you and your partner to re-establish this connection by staring into each other's eyes uninterrupted. Studies show that eye contact prompts less uncertainty, and more intimacy, with the benefits of this exercise immediately apparent in romantic relationships.
While some couples choose to touch foreheads, this technique inspires you to slow down, take a deep breath, and focus solely on your partner.
All of these intimacy exercises are focused on deepening your connection with your partner. The end goal is to achieve a deeper level of physical, emotional, and sexual intimacy in your everyday life.
“The benefit of deeper intimacy is that it often brings out the best in each partner,” says Dr. Fedrick. “It creates a sense of safety and comfort in this dynamic that allows each partner to be their authentic self, as well as to strive to be the best version of themselves.”
Intimate relationships inspire us to be the best version of ourselves, with our partner by our side to support us every step of the way.
“When we know someone has our back and is willing to support us through thick and thin, we are much more likely to take risks and put in the effort to evolve into our best self,” says Dr. Fedrick.
Setting aside the time for intimacy exercises in your marriage is a clear indicator that you are fully committed to the relationship and want it to work. The benefits of this deeper connection will help you withstand any challenges that come your way, and set you up for success from the outset.
Download Paired to introduce this level of intimacy into your everyday life! With challenges, questions, expert advice, and quizzes designed to help you connect with your partner on a deeper level.