4 Types of Intimacy Everyone Should Know

Being intimate with your partner goes beyond sex

One day, a lady sent me a text complaining that she craved intimacy with her husband but he either rebuffed her or always thought of making love. She didn’t want that but rather wanted to be cuddled, lie down in a spoon position, listen to music and drift off to sleep. Her husband who wasn’t used to that, told her whenever he gets close to her, he wants to make love so her type of “intimacy” was something he couldn’t do. I asked him what he understood by intimacy and he mentioned “making love.” I’m glad to say that I schooled him a bit and what I taught him is what I want to share here.

There are various types of intimacy but I’ll want to touch on just 4 because these are the foremost important types that can bind two people together especially when they know their love languages.

This includes caressing, hugging, fondling, kissing, cuddling, holding, and other forms of physical affection. Yes, physical intimacy includes making out but it’s not really necessary, it’s the closeness that is needed. Physical intimacy between couples lasts a lifetime and outlasts making love, health, issues, pregnancy related issues etc.

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I met a couple at a bazaar and I wouldn’t have seen anything wrong with them or even given them a second glance until I saw how others were looking at them. The man was in a wheel chair and his wife was walking by his side, pointing at products and laughing at his jokes. I knew why people were staring at them because I’ve met women who have told me they can’t stand to be with someone who is living with a disability because they don’t know if they can be intimate with them. Probe further and their only understanding is how they’ll be able to make love.

It doesn’t matter whether a person is disabled or not, you can be intimate with that person because all those forms of physical affection aside getting into the sack, go a long way into binding the two people together. Most Ghanaians call this form of intimacy, pampering.


This is how expressive couples are about their feelings and how they communicate it to each other. It is reciprocal and must be nourishing and constructive. There are ways of expressing “I love you” verbally as dealing with emotions means there are different ways to love the person and these ways can be expressed to make the person feel appreciated. Emotional intimacy includes expressing guilt, importance of your partner, being grateful, being appreciative etc.

Saying “thank you” has always been a part of me after a story I was told when I was 4. My nursery teacher told me of how a little girl stayed with her step mother. The woman hated the little girl because she was beautiful and was liked by everyone. One day, this woman poisoned the food she gave to the girl. This girl took the food and simply said, “thank you” with a smile. Filled with remorse, the woman took the food from her and served her with another which didn’t have poison in it. The simple ‘thank you’ the little girl said, saved her life.

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This is a lesson which has stayed with me all my life. I never knew how powerful it was until my partner told me one day, “when I think of you, I always think of how you appreciate the little things I do with a ‘thank you’ and apologize with a simple ‘sorry’ when you’re wrong.”

So many people don’t know how powerful emotional intimacy is. It is a conscious effort to express your emotions by appreciating someone, accepting your faults and making your partner understand how important they are to you. A lot of people argue that they weren’t raised like that and sometimes wonder why it is a big deal. You don’t have to be taught emotional intimacy, it is something you learn and make it your habit!

Being with someone doesn’t only mean that you’re sharing your emotions but you’re also sharing your thoughts. A lack of intellectual intimacy can hamper couples and there will be the need to upgrade themselves to be at par with each other. Couples who have intellectual intimacy tend to feel a kinship and easy camaraderie when they have a discussion on topics of interest.

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I had a good friend back in the days. She was a Masters student and a founder of an NGO. She was quite successful but was single. I one day introduced her to someone. He was a JHS graduate and was a successful businessman with about 18 employees under him. He could provide anything she wanted but what she craved was intellectual stimuli; to be able to converse with him as an equal. This guy was unwilling to meet her halfway, sometimes shutting her down with words like “you’re being too book long” “why are you talking too much? Do you think here is a classroom?” and “this is why I don’t like you graduates. You always look for different sides to an argument and are always saying ‘I know my right.’” Though she would have really wanted to give him a chance, she had no option than to turn him down because they both lacked intellectual intimacy.

This is the least regarded form of intimacy but which is very important as social and shared interactions build a positive memory bank of shared experiences. Activities such as traveling, exercising, dancing, cooking together, binge watching movies, arts and crafts etc enables couples to bond and interact with each other. This intimacy is very important to still refresh the relationship as after the initial excitement of being together passes, there has to be shared experiences which will still make them bond.
Sadly, so many couples push this type of intimacy to the background after marriage.

Their forms of shared activities become church programs, funerals, weddings and sometimes a quick trip to the mall with the kids or rarely, a trip with some friends. After marriage, couples tend to focus so much on building a family that dancing, camping and even binge watching movies becomes a lost memory, something to reminisce over and wish they could one day do again. Shared activities are supposed to be continuous and must be mostly between the couple. That way they will always have new memories and will never need to seek for ways to spice up their marriage because there will always be a constant flow of “spices”


Written by Abena Magis

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