Satisfying Each Others Needs For Physical Intimacy

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Written By:

Counselling Psychologist - M.Sc. Clinical Psychology

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Reviewed By:

Counselling Psychologist - Ph.D. Relationship Psychology

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When we think about being physically intimate with someone, we immediately think about sexual intimacy as they both are related to each other to some extent. Physical intimacy includes closeness and touch, it is non-sexual which includes holding hands, cuddling, hugging, eye contact, etc.

What is the difference between physical intimacy and sexual intimacy?

Intimate relationships exist due to physical and emotional closeness between people. Intimate relationships have an essential role for emotional connections. While physical intimacy involves physical touch in non sexual ways like holding hands, whereas sexual intimacy means to be active in sexual activities. It means satisfying your partner not just emotionally but sexually as well because sexual intimacy enhances emotional connections too. 

Benefits of physical intimacy

Physical intimacy builds a sense of safety, closeness and affection in relationships. Some more benefits of physical intimacy are:

  • It strengths emotional bonds
  • Lowers cortisol levels
  • Reduces stress and anxiety 
  • Releases oxytocin
  • Improves immune functioning
  • Improves sleep
  • Increase in sexual satisfaction

People can be touch starved if they are not receiving enough emotional intimacy. Touch starved means lack of physical touch in the relationship. It can lead to amplifying the feelings of hopelessness, isolation and loneliness. 

Why is satisfying each other’s needs for physical intimacy important?

While we humans crave for physical intimacy and it is a need for us, it is important to satisfying each other’s need for physical intimacy because:

  1. It reinforces trust in the relationship between you and your partner as trust is a crucial element for any healthy relationship and having trust in your partner will allow you to be vulnerable and safe around them. 
  2. Physical intimacy can also be used in expressing emotions that cannot be conveyed with words as some emotions are challenging to articulate and convey, physical intimacy helps channeling your emotions in the form of physical gestures. 
  3. A way to reconnect with your partner, physical intimacy is also useful to build a sense of unity and feeling of being understood by your partner after a disagreement or argument, it even helps you heal emotionally.
  4. Being physically intimate with your partner like hugging, kissing, cuddling, holding hands, etc helps enhance the emotional bond between you and your partner and fosters a deep emotional connection.
  5. Physical intimacy helps in reducing stress, as mentioned above it helps in releasing oxytocin which is also called the love hormone. Being physically intimate, ensures your physiological well-being as well.
  6. Also mentioned above, physical intimacy improves your mental health as it reduces feelings of loneliness, isolation and hopelessness. It gives you and your significant other a positive outlook on life. 

While there are many important pointers to note that are beneficial for being physically intimate, there are still many fears that act as a barrier to physical intimacy. Some people suffer from intimacy anorexia which means people withhold emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy out of stress responses or as a protective measure. The ones who have been abused for being physically or emotionally intimate are often reluctant to build it again with others. Some fears also include:

  • Relationship Conflict - After arguing or a disagreement, the willingness for being physically intimate becomes less and if your partner has lied to you or broken your trust then it becomes difficult to rebuild that level of physical intimacy. 
  • Premature Sex - By having sexual intercourse too soon in a relationship will not be counted as intimate in a relationship. Without having intimacy, engaging in sexual intercourse can lead to many other problems in the future like awkwardness, mistrust, etc. 
  • Relationship Trauma - Unsolved trauma can lead to stop building secure attachments with anyone else as a trauma response. Having partners that are not trustworthy at all can lead to development of mistrust towards your future partner.
  • Environment and Culture - Intimacy is not appropriate in a certain cultural environment or even in a few cultures. Gaining intimacy to a certain level in a relationship is not considered appropriate in some cultures. 
  • Losing control - Some people have a fear of losing control in a relationship which involves not feeling safe in the relationship and a fear in the sense that their control is being taken away by their significant other. Physical intimacy may trigger these feelings.

Seek help

Seeking professional help in times like these can be very helpful as relationship counselors help navigate these feelings and help you address your needs directly.Therapists help you clarify the problematic areas in the relationship and guide you to find appropriate and realistic solutions to it.

Ms. Priyanka Walia
Ms. Priyanka Walia M.A. Counselling Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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Ms. Muskan Maheshwari
Ms. Muskan Maheshwari M.Sc. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 02 years of experience

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Mr. Nishant Sharma
Mr. Nishant Sharma M.Phil. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 07 years of experience

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Ms. Akshita Bakshi
Ms. Akshita Bakshi Ph.D. Relationship Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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