3 Tips for Building Emotional Intimacy With Your Partner—No Sex Required

Photo: Getty Images/Dougal Waters
So many people regard sex and intimacy as one and the same—and it's actually pretty easy to see why. Sources (movies, advertising, your friends, the whole freaking world) often spread the message that the way to get close to someone is to get under them. Sure, physical intimacy is a great way to build a connection with your partner, but sex isn't the only way to accomplish this—though it can indeed be a healthy method. In fact, there are plenty of ways to build a strong sense emotional intimacy without relying on a physical component at all. After all, as anyone who's ever had casual sex knows to be true, it's very possible to have the physicality sans any strong, enduring emotions.

So, no matter why it is that you're not hitting the sheets on the reg to do the dirty (hey, maybe it's just not the best time, hormonally speaking) know that you can still certainly work on the emotional intimacy component of your relationship. And also some physical stuff too that's a bit more PG.

3 tips for building some sexless emotional intimacy with your partner.

Here's how to be intimate with zero sex required
Photo: Getty Images/Hero Images

1. Cuddle without the expectation of it turning sexual

Ok, so physical touch is still an important part of building intimacy—but the interactions need not lead to doing it. Cuddling, in fact, can improve your relationship satisfaction. In a 2014 study, researchers found that 94 percent of couples that touched throughout the night while sleeping were happy in their relationships, whereas only 68 percent of those who didn’t touch reported the same. The way you cuddle can also affect how you feel about your relationship, although the overwhelming consensus is that any type of cuddling (hugging works!) can have a positive impact.

2. Hold hands while walking down the street

The seemingly insignificant act of lacing your fingers through your partner’s can, in fact, have a huge payoff. One study found that physical touch triggers the release of oxytocin, AKA the “love” hormone. And holding hands is a powerful way to help you feel closer to the person you’re clutching.

Walking down the street while holding hands may just make you feel as though you’re walking through life with this person. But hand-holding doesn’t have to be reserved for a stroll. Link digits when you’re sitting in the movies, when you’re driving in the car, or when you’re sitting across a dinner table from one another. Lace those fingers, and let the oxytocin flow.

3. Spend some time every week talking about your relationship

No surprises here, but a top ingredient for a healthy relationship is communication. And that doesn’t just mean idle chitchat. Taking the time to sit down and talk about how you're feeling in a relationship is a perfect way to build intimacy and ensure you’re both on the same page in general. But rather than constantly checking in, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy, consider setting up a little time every week to discuss where you’re at and how you're feeling. Hopefully the exercise will help you feel closer and crush problem areas before they get out of control.

Sleeping next to your partner can be good for intimacy, but so many other things make it so hard in practice. But, you don't have to snooze in the same room to keep the intimacy alive. On that note, here are tips to make sure sure your S.O. doesn't become your roommate.

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