7 Rare Types Of Intimacy Only The Happiest Couples Have

If you struggle with intimacy, don't sweat it!

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With so many things to do in a day and only so many hours to do them in, it’s not uncommon to feel the flame of desire in your relationship start to wane among the more mundane aspects of your daily life.

It can leave you wondering how to have a healthy relationship, one full of intimacy and love, in this day and age.

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I’m not going to lie. It can be tricky. Especially seeing as the concept of a monogamous relationship usually means we can do and experience pretty much anything with anyone, so long as sex is kept within our twosome.


But it definitely is possible to sustain a great relationship, despite the monogamous constraints.

This is how to keep a relationship alive, despite your, or your partner’s, lackluster libido: You can create an "intimacy inventory."

Intimacy is often thought of as sexual and physical. We tend to place an emphasis on these obvious kinds of intimacy — perhaps due to the rules of monogamy, or the way popular culture describes and portrays intimacy as passionate and carnal.


But physical and sexual intimacy are in fact just two aspects of this multi-faceted phenomenon.

In fact, according to researcher and therapist Stephen T. Fife, there are 17 kinds of intimacy that can be sustained within a romantic relationship.

Fife pairs sexual and physical intimacy, meaning there are 16 other ways you and your partner connect and feel close if you’re just not into sex at the moment.

One way of cultivating intimacy is by doing what I like to call an intimacy inventory. This is how to keep a relationship alive despite there being no sexual sparks.

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Here are 7 rare types of intimacy only the happiest couples have:

1. Humor

You connect by laughing together. You’ve got inside jokes and make each other laugh. You enjoy the fun side of life together.


2. Service

You share the experience of giving to/assisting others. You get closer to each other when you jointly share the joy that comes from giving to/sharing with other people.

3. Parental

You share the responsibility of bringing up your children; meet their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. This includes you working together when it comes to teaching and upbringing, and you love and worry about the well-being of your children.

4. Friendship

You feel close and care for each other as friends.

5. Creative 

Closeness comes from creating things together. You share intimacy by being creative together.

6. Crisis

You get close to each other by dealing with problems and pain together. You stand united in the face of tragedy. You deal with adversity together, whether it’s about family, illness, aging, or unemployment.


7. Communication

You bond with each other through conversation. The communication channels are open. You listen to your partner and appreciate your partner’s ideas. You’re loving, considerate, respectful, giving, honest, and open in the way you communicate.

How to have a strong, healthy relationship by incorporating them all:

1. Go through the different aspects of intimacy and see which ones you relate to the most.

2. Decide which aspects of intimacy are strengths in your relationship

Looking at the above-mentioned kinds of intimacy, make a note of any and all forms that you feel are strengths in your relationship. Keep in mind that these are only seven intimacy aspects of seventeen.

When deciding which strengths you as a couple possesses — try and think of examples of times when you’ve felt them at their strongest.

What comes to mind? How does the memory make you feel? Do you notice a particular sensation somewhere in your body?


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3. Decide which aspects of intimacy are weaknesses in your relationship

Shining a light on both strengths and weaknesses is important if you want to know how to keep a relationship alive. By further cultivating and drawing on your strengths at the same time as you work on your weaknesses, you’ll feel closer to one another, and more intimate.

Make a mental note of any and all of the above-mentioned aspects of intimacy you believe you and your partner could stand to work on together.

If this makes you feel discouraged about your relationship, try and remind yourself that all relationships experience their bad moments — no matter how solid and healthy they are at their core.


Even for couples who have a great sex life or a fantastic relationship — there are always things that can be improved upon, always things to make better.

4. Make shared goals

By now your intimacy inventory should consist of both strengths and weaknesses in your relationship.

The last step of this exercise is to share your intimacy inventory with your partner and together create goals toward increased intimacy.


This is important for several reasons:

Planning for the future and creating goals you then see fulfilled is an important part of sustaining a relationship in the long run. It also helps to create shared meaning and saves the relationship from going stale and boring, thus feeling more alive!

If you and your partner don’t communicate about your strengths and areas you’d like to improve, you run the risk of growing apart. A relationship needs to be tended to for it to grow. Just like a plant needs water to grow, a relationship needs to be fed, too.

By talking about and agreeing upon what you’d like to work on you’ll be “watering” your relationship. By communicating about your strengths, you’ll be reinforcing your partnership and committing yet again to staying together. This is truly how to keep a relationship alive.


By figuring out these aspects, it will help you and your partner cultivate intimacy and feel closer than ever — with or without sex!

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Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and coach with a Master of Science in Sexology. She helps people reduce stress, shame, and anxiety surrounding sex so they can get their sex drive back and enjoy their partner again.