1. People & Relationships
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Sexual Intimacy Is...


Sexual intimacy is one of those terms, like “sexually compatible” or “happy together” that means something to everyone, but probably not exactly the same thing to any two people. Which can make it tough to talk about since, when it comes to sex, we often start talking before we bother to define our terms.

If you crave more sexual intimacy and you have a partner, you’ve got to start by defining it for yourself. What do you mean exactly, when you say sexual intimacy?

Is sexual intimacy an ingredient of great sex? Do we bring a capacity to be intimate with our partner to the sexual table and does that make sex better?

Is sexual intimacy a product or result of good sex? Does having sex bring us closer together with our partners, making us feel more intimate with them even when we’re not having sex?

Is sexual intimacy an experience? Does it describe a feeling in the moment, one where perhaps the boundaries between you and a partner soften or become permeable?

Is sexual intimacy a behavior? The act of sharing private thoughts and feelings, the ability to expose something potentially embarrassing or uncomfortable about yourself?

Scientists, theologians, and politicians, when they talk about intimacy or sexual intimacy, often talk about it as a valuable social commodity. Sexual intimacy is the glue that keeps a relationship together. It’s the spark that makes us consider monogamy in the first place and it’s what keeps us together through the bad times.

Of course this is rhetoric. Marriages and monogamous relationships fail all the time. But it does make sexual intimacy fertile ground for any number of people looking to make money off our difficulties finding and keeping the relationships we want.

Trying to get (or is it find?) more sexual intimacy may sound like a worthy pursuit. But I’d like to propose another one, that’s not only a necessary first step, but in some ways may bear more fruit. Try to define sexual intimacy not only for yourself, but if you’ve got a partner, try to define it together.

Try Something: Defining Sexual Intimacy

Finish the sentence: “Sexual intimacy feels like…” Or, if you don’t like that kind of exercise, try to come up with ten other words that describe for you what sexual intimacy feels like.

Can you recall times in the past when you felt what you would describe as sexual intimacy.

  • What was happening in those moments?
  • Were you having sex?
  • Was it always with a romantic or sexual partner?


If you have a partner, consider asking them to think about the above questions and see if you’re both comfortable sharing your answers. How did you answers differ? What, if anything, was similar in your answers?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.