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25 Intimacy Building Activities From A Sex Therapist

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Intimacy is more than just physical intimacy. But oh boy does sexual connection increase when couples take the time to build intimacy in the relationship.

In fact, as a sex coach, I recommend intimacy exercises that build emotional connection more often than I recommend physical touch. That’s how powerful true intimacy can be in a relationship.

So I share with you what I know about intimacy in relationships and how to build intimacy with 25 different exercises for couples.

Intimacy building activities: what is intimacy, exactly?

Intimacy is the deep connection that we cultivate with our partners, characterized by mutual trust, understanding, and affection. It transcends physical touch, reaching into the realms of emotional intimacy and intellectual intimacy. Intimacy is built through shared experiences, open communication, and a willingness to be vulnerable with one another. Emotional intimacy and intellectual intimacy contribute significantly to an intimate relationship by fostering a deeper understanding and connection between partners. It is the glue that binds relationships, allowing partners to feel seen, heard, and valued. By nurturing intimacy, we create a safe space where love can flourish, and where both partners feel supported and cherished.

How emotional intimacy building activities help a relationship

Have you ever had a moment where you felt so seen and understood that you could finally let out your breath? How intimate that the person on the other side stepped into your inner space for a moment to witness you, understand you, and be with you. These moments help build intimacy between partners.

Intimacy feels good.

It feels so good that researchers have been observing its effects on couples for years, trying to understand it so that people can replicate it in their own relationships.

Looking for some new date night ideas? Download my guide to intimate date night ideas!

Here are some proven ways intimacy supports relationships, backed by science:

  1. Enhances Emotional Connection: Spending quality time together deepens your emotional bond. These activities enhance emotional closeness, creating a deeper level of understanding and connection with your partner. Research from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships shows that couples who engage in shared activities feel closer and more satisfied in their relationships.
  2. Improves Communication: Open and honest communication is key to understanding each other’s needs and desires. The Journal of Marriage and Family highlights that good communication significantly boosts relationship satisfaction and longevity.
  3. Boosts Physical Intimacy: Physical closeness, like cuddling and holding hands, releases oxytocin, known as the “love hormone.” This hormone promotes bonding and reduces stress, as documented in the Journal of Neuroscience.
  4. Reduces Stress and Anxiety: Intimate activities can lower stress and anxiety levels. The release of oxytocin and endorphins during physical closeness helps mitigate stress. A study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that couples who engage in affectionate behaviors experience lower stress levels and better overall health.
  5. Increases Relationship Satisfaction: Couples who actively work on building intimacy feel more connected and satisfied with their relationship. The Journal of Marriage and Family notes that regular intimate activities lead to higher relationship satisfaction and contribute to a healthy relationship.

25 Intimacy exercises for couples

Whether you’re looking to reignite the spark or strengthen your bond, these 25 proven intimacy exercises will help you cultivate a deeper connection with your partner.

  1. Daily Appreciation Ritual: Share one thing you appreciate about your partner each evening before bed, such as thanking them for handling a difficult situation gracefully. Couples intimacy exercises like this can foster a deeper connection by encouraging regular expressions of gratitude and appreciation.
  2. Shared Journaling: Start a gratitude journal together where you both write down things you’re grateful for and read each other’s entries regularly.
  3. Mindful Listening: Set aside 10 minutes each day to practice active listening without distractions, focusing solely on your partner’s words and emotions.
  4. Eye Gazing: Sit comfortably facing each other and maintain eye contact for five minutes, allowing yourselves to be fully present in the moment. This exercise helps build an intimate connection by fostering vulnerability and trust.
  5. Gratitude Practice: Every morning, text each other one thing you’re grateful for about your partner from the previous day, like their sense of humor during a stressful moment.
  6. Memory Sharing: Choose a significant date and take turns sharing memories from that day or time in your relationship that hold special meaning for you both.
  7. Love Letter Writing: Write each other love letters expressing what you admire, love, and cherish about one another, and exchange them during a special dinner.
  8. Shared Goals Setting: Plan a weekend getaway and discuss what experiences and adventures you both want to have during your time away.
  9. Sensory Exploration: Blindfold each other and take turns using different objects to stimulate each other’s senses, like soft fabrics or scented oils.
  10. Shared Hobby: Pick a new hobby together, like cooking or painting, and schedule regular times to practice and explore it together.
  11. Role Reversal: Swap household responsibilities for a week and reflect on what you learned about each other’s daily routines and challenges.
  12. Fantasy Sharing: Write down your sexual fantasies and desires on separate cards, then exchange and discuss them in a non-judgmental and respectful manner. This can enhance sexual intimacy by opening up communication about desires and boundaries.
  13. Emotional Check-Ins: Set aside time each week to check in with each other about your emotional well-being, sharing any concerns or joys you’re experiencing. These emotional intimacy exercises help strengthen the bond between partners.
  14. Silent Time Together: Spend an evening together without speaking, enjoying activities like stargazing or cuddling quietly on the couch.
  15. Cooking Together: Plan a themed dinner night where you both cook a meal together, trying out new recipes and enjoying the process of creating a meal as a team.
  16. Dance or Movement: Create a playlist of your favorite songs and have a spontaneous dance party in your living room, letting loose and enjoying each other’s company.
  17. Book Club for Two: Choose a book you both want to read and set aside time each week to discuss its themes, characters, and how it relates to your own lives.
  18. Nature Walks: Take regular walks in a nearby park or nature reserve, using the time to reconnect with each other and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
  19. Shared Playlist: Compile a playlist of songs that remind you of special moments in your relationship, listening to it together and reminiscing about those times.
  20. Vision Boarding: Gather magazines, photos, and quotes that represent your shared dreams and goals, creating a vision board together to visualize your future as a couple.
  21. Massage Exchange: Set up a spa-like atmosphere at home with candles and soothing music, taking turns giving each other massages to relax and unwind together. This promotes physical affection, which is vital for deepening your connection.
  22. Volunteer Together: Find a local charity or community organization you both care about and volunteer your time together, making a positive impact as a team.
  23. Personal Growth Discussions: Have regular discussions about your personal goals and aspirations, supporting each other’s growth and celebrating achievements.
  24. Digital Detox Night: Designate one evening a week as a screen-free night, using the time to engage in meaningful conversations, games, or activities together. These marriage intimacy exercises help strengthen the connection by removing distractions.
  25. Future Planning: Plan a vision board or brainstorm session to discuss your long-term goals as a couple, including career aspirations, family planning, and dreams for your shared future.
dr. lanae st.john

Ready for intimacy in your relationship?

Whether you’re looking to reconnect on a deeper level, enhance communication, or explore new ways to bond, taking intentional steps towards intimacy can transform your relationship. If you’re ready to explore personalized strategies and guidance tailored to your unique relationship dynamics, book a call with me today. Together, we can create a roadmap to strengthen your connection and cultivate a fulfilling relationship built on trust, understanding, and love. 

About the Author

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Dr. Lanae St.John is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology and certified sex coach with a background in sexology and a passion for helping people improve their sexual health and relationships. She is the author of "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk"" and the upcoming "You Are the One: How stopping the search and looking inside will lead you to your romantic destiny," and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field. Dr. St.John aims to share her knowledge and expertise in a relatable and approachable way through her blog on themamasutra.com.


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