When we talk about “intimacy” in love, we usually tend to think about physical contact. This is an essential aspect that in most cases is very present, and very intense, in the first stages of relationships, and which then stabilizes, but without disappearing. However, there is also emotional intimacy, a less discussed one, but one that makes the bond the couple shares even stronger. So which of the two types of intimacy is more important? Keep reading so you know what each one is about and find the answer.
The physical side
The human being is a social animal and, as such, physical affection is essential. In the case of relationships, caresses, displays of affection and sex are essential for a couple to be successful. In fact, it is through sex that most people connect enough to open up and be vulnerable, thus creating an emotional connection beyond the physical. Relationships without physical intimacy, whether sex or simply caresses and hugs, often have problems, while, on the contrary, displays of affection rather help resolve disagreements. Having someone by your side who, with their hugs and kisses, can increase your oxytocin and dopamine levels will help you have a happier life. Plus, sex is good for your health! It improves the quality of sleep, is considered physical exercise and relieves stress. In conclusion, it is a necessity!
The emotional side
One aspect that was left out about physical intimacy is that, on a purely physical level, it can occur without a “love” connection (you know, those casual one-night stands). But when talking about a couple, it is necessary that this physical intimacy goes hand in hand with emotional intimacy. People have the need to feel loved, understood, listened to, protected… and this is not achieved only with the physical. As we age and our relationship progresses, we need that emotional connection that gives us security and happiness, that reaffirms that we can open up to our partner and let them see our most vulnerable side, our true self, our defects and virtues. Plus, having it will most likely make sex even better. Experts say that feeling this type of intimacy is positive for our psyche and our happiness.
So which one matters more?
First, let’s remember that both types of intimacy can occur separately. As mentioned in the previous point, physical intimacy can exist without an emotional connection, or without love. There can also be emotional intimacy without the physical aspect, as is the case with many good friendships. In the case of couple relationships, the reality is that the two complement each other. The “common” thing is that at first the physical intimacy is more intense and little by little the emotional intimacy will gain ground to become equally or more intense. There will be times when the physical aspect will regain strength, and then the emotional aspect will do so. In short, healthy relationships maintain a balance of both types of intimacy depending on what is needed at the time. So, the answer to the question is that both are equally important.
How to boost emotional intimacy
Most couples who have problems report that emotional intimacy is where the failure exists. Lack of trust, poor communication, little mutual respect, not valuing the other person’s feelings, jealousy, distrust… all these are signs that the relationship has not reached a level of maturity that allows it to face difficulties in the best way. Therefore, it is necessary to work on communication, having meaningful conversations about fears and desires, sincerely. Trust in the relationship and compassion must also be worked on. Couples who know they can express their emotions without fear of criticism or complaints have longer and happier relationships. And, very importantly, they are not afraid to ask for professional help (yes, therapy) if they cannot resolve their differences on their own.
Keep the flame alive
In this evolution of the relationship, it is common that while emotional intimacy strengthens, physical intimacy declines. As already said, a couple is more likely to be successful if they maintain a balance between these two types of intimacy. Therefore, if love is still present, but hugs, kisses and even sex have decreased, it is necessary to stop and evaluate what is happening: daily tasks, financial problems, internal or external worries, children, routine, etc. Once the problem is identified, steps can be taken to rekindle the flame of passion, from, of course, couples therapy, to making arrangements for romantic dates or sexy getaways, to promising to cuddle every night before going to sleep. Each couple is different, so communication is the most important thing.