How To Increase Intimacy: 15 Ways To Reignite Connection

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Feeling emotionally connected to your partner, along with a strong physical connection, is essential for the health and happiness of your relationship.

So if you’re looking for ways to strengthen and improve your connection, we’ve got you covered:

Since 2014, we’ve been helping couples increase intimacy and rekindle the passion in their relationship. (Not to mention the years building a strong couple connection in our own marriage).

We’re sharing our top 15 research-and-experience-backed tips for how to increase intimacy and build a deeper emotional and sexual connection in your relationship.

First, let’s get clear on what exactly we mean by ‘intimacy’…

how to increase intimacy in a relationship

What Exactly Is Intimacy?

Intimacy goes beyond sex and physical closeness and encompasses deep emotional connection, vulnerability, and trust. It involves sharing thoughts, feelings, and experiences openly and honestly, creating a safe space for authenticity, and fostering a strong sense of belonging and support.

This type of deep intimacy is built up over time, requiring ongoing effort, communication, mindfulness, and commitment from both individuals.

But the benefits of increasing intimacy in your relationship really can’t be overstated:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Increased happiness and wellbeing
  • Improved communication and conflict resolution
  • Stronger sense of belonging, support, safety, and trust
  • A more passionate and pleasurable sexual connection
  • Enhanced self-esteem and confidence as individuals
  • A strong, healthy, and resilient relationship

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benefits of intimacy infographic
When working on your couple connection, it’s important to consider that ‘intimacy’ encompasses aspects of physical intimacy, sexual intimacy, emotional intimacy, and even spiritual intimacy.

The good news is that they’re all connected, so working on one will increase intimacy in other areas, too.

Take The Intimacy Quiz!

Which of the 6 Intimacy Types are you?

Take the two-minute quiz and discover how to have more intimacy and deeper connection in your relationship.

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In fact, no matter which type of intimacy you want to improve, here’s the best place to start…
 

15 Practical Ways To Increase Intimacy In A Relationship:

couple prioritizing daily emotional intimacy

1. Prioritize Daily Emotional Intimacy

The single most important ingredient for a satisfying relationship is your emotional connection. And prioritizing that connection has some incredible flow-on effects too:

One study* showed that couples who experienced a moment of strong emotional connection had a marked increase in sexual desire 90 minutes later. But after 3 hours that increase was gone.

This means that consciously and consistently creating moments of connection is one of the best ways to increase intimacy in your relationship:

  • Quality time to connect with no distractions (phones away, please!).
  • Regular date nights where you’re focused on each other.
  • Relationship check ins to proactively address challenges and celebrate your achievements.

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Relationship need an emotional intimacy boost?

➥ Discover the proven practices to reignite connection and create soul-deep intimacy with our online emotional intimacy course for couples.

2. Be Vulnerable And Radically Honest

Opening up to each other is a must for building intimacy in a relationship:

Because the research* shows that unless you willingly share your thoughts, feelings, dreams, and struggles (what’s known as personal disclosure) you won’t develop emotional connection.

This radical honesty needs to go both ways:

The more vulnerable you both are, the more emotionally intimate your relationship becomes. And the higher levels of trust and emotional safety you’ll both feel.

couple increasing intimacy by practicing vulnerability and radical honesty

3. Improve Intimate Communication

Want to hear something awesome?

You can improve sexual intimacy by simply talking about it:

This research* discovered that couples who talk openly about sex report higher levels of sexual satisfaction, and a better relationship overall.

couple in bed improving intimate communication skills
But the bad news is, most couples have a long way to go:

Because another study* revealed that partners only know about 62% of what their partner actually enjoys during sex. And only 26% of what their partner doesn’t like.

This means there’s a whole bunch of turn-ons and turn-offs that you don’t know about.

To beat those odds, increase sexual communication before, during, and after sex by:

  • Talking openly about what you like and dislike.
  • Asking for exactly what you want, in the moment.
  • Getting curious about your partner’s desires and turn-offs.
  • Practicing aftercare, and sharing feedback about what you enjoy about being intimate with each other.
  • Checking in with your partner about your sex life more generally.
  • Discussing what sex means to you, and how satisfied you feel overall.

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Things To Remember:

We get that talking openly about sex can feel scary and vulnerable. But it’s a skill worth developing. Remember to approach these conversations with curiosity, compassion, and tact. Over time, intimate communication will build trust, safety, and increase satisfaction in your relationship.

dissatisfied couple feeling pressure in the bedroom

4. Eliminate Pressure In The Bedroom

Looking at what prevents intimacy in the bedroom is just as important as what increases it:

  • Putting too much focus on orgasms (instead of prioritizing pleasure)
  • Rushing to penetration or pushing toward a specific outcome (instead of slowing down, being present, and enjoying the moment)
  • Trying too hard to perform and please each other (instead of focusing on authentic connection)

This creates a lot of pressure for intimacy to look a certain way, which puts the breaks on sexual desire and connection.

To eliminate the expectations, try expanding your definition of sex.

expand your definition of sex to increase intimacy infographic
A great place to start is to simply include anything that feels pleasurable or connects you in a physically intimate way. Whether it’s naked cuddling, oral sex, or even just a really good make-out session. It all gets to count as ‘sexual connection’.

The important takeaway is this:

The less pressure there is on ‘getting somewhere’ or ‘achieving an outcome’, the easier it is to increase intimacy.

(Want even more intimate and connected sex? Learn more of the most common sex mistakes you’ll want to avoid).

loving couple increasing intimacy by retelling their love story

5. Reminisce & Retell Your ‘Love Story’

A simple yet powerful way to reignite the spark and be more intimate is to reminisce about the good times:

  • How you first met
  • Your favorite holiday adventures
  • Funny moments from your life together

Sounds simple, right?

But the research* is conclusive:

The more positively couples recollect their relationship stories, the stronger and more intimate their relationship is overall.

6. Schedule Sex

Before you roll your eyes, hear us out:

The important stuff in your life doesn’t happen unless you put it in your calendar and schedule it. So if sex is important to you, why would that be any different?

To make sex a priority, you need to schedule it.

couple increasing intimacy by prioritizing scheduled sex
But there’s a difference between scheduled sex that feels fun and exciting… And scheduled sex that feels forced and awkward.

And that’s understanding your Initiating Blueprint:

Basically, your initiating blueprint is a secret map of the kinds of activities you both need to turn off the sexual brakes and get turned on together.

It’s a super-helpful resource for when one (or both) of you want to want sex, but you’re not in the mood yet.

Want To Discover What Your Initiating Blueprint Is?

Including the exact steps to take when one of you wants sex more than the other? Then don’t miss our Reignite Your Love Life home study program.

Once you’re back in the swing of more frequent sex (thanks to scheduling!), spontaneous sex becomes more likely as well, ‘cause you’ve already got a nice sexual simmer going on.
couple identifying what their intimacy style is

7. Identify Your Intimacy Style

There are many different types of intimacy, and everyone has their unique preferences.

The six most common intimacy styles are emotional intimacy, physical intimacy, sexual intimacy, intellectual intimacy, experiential intimacy, and spiritual intimacy.

Want to know yours?

Take our 2-minute intimacy quiz for couples to discover your unique intimacy profile. When you sign up to our email list you’ll also get a personalized report detailing the exact kinds of connection-creating activities to prioritize.

Because it’s possible – even likely – that you and your partner have different intimacy styles. That’s OK. What matters is that you have effective strategies to develop intimacy in ways that are meaningful to both of you.

couple struggling to communicate and resolve conflicts

8. Get Better At Conflict Resolution

Increasing intimacy isn’t only about focusing on the good stuff. Knowing how to resolve conflict in a healthy way brings you closer together too.

Here’s why improving your communication skills and getting better at conflict resolution is a double win for your relationship:

1) You prevent arguments from spiraling out of control and becoming unproductive or hurtful.
 
2) You can have the difficult – but meaningful – conversations that create more trust and safety.

Ultimately, healthy communication comes down to:

  • Active Listening: genuinely listening to your partner to understand their experience (without interrupting, explaining, or fixing)
  • Emotional Intelligence: identifying, exploring, and expressing your feelings in a healthy way.
  • Grounded Communication: expressing your opinions, needs, feelings, and boundaries in a calm yet assertive way
  • Nervous System Regulation: knowing when – and how – to call an effective Time Out when things escalate
  • Generosity: Assuming your partner has good intentions – even while you explore where the impact was hurtful
  • Respect: knowing it’s OK to have different needs and perspectives – and knowing how to validate those needs

.

loving couple increasing intimacy by exercising together

9. Exercise Or Try Something New To Boost Adrenaline

Check out this science-y yet simple bio-hack to increase intimacy:

There’s a phenomenon called misattribution of arousal* that can help you and your partner kickstart the spark in your sex life. Basically:

Your brain confuses the excitement of an adrenaline rush with the rush of sexual arousal.

So by doing something exciting and new together, or simply getting the blood pumping at the gym, you boost your attraction to each other.

10. Break Routine & Get Intentional With Each Other

When you each live busy lives, it’s oh so easy to fall into the ‘Netflix rut’:

After a long day keeping up with ALL the adulting demands of modern life, all you want to do is crash into bed and binge-watch a show together. Or lay there doom-scrolling your phone until you pass out from exhaustion.

And while we get the appeal of zoning out, this routine eats up valuable intimacy and connection time.

bored couple sitting on sofa stuck in a relationship rut
Need some scary proof?

  • A 2006 survey* showed that just having a TV in the bedroom halved the amount of sex couples had. (and yeah, this was before smartphones and all the other on-demand distractions we now have).
  • Furthermore, phubbing* in intimate relationships (where you ignore your partner in favor of your phone) has been linked to decreased marital satisfaction and higher rates of depression.

Of course, Netflix or your phones aren’t the real culprits:

The real issue is not prioritizing intentional, quality time where you can connect and be fully present with each other.

So here are some intimacy-increasing experiments to try:

  • A 5-minute daily debrief and check in when you first climb into bed
  • ‘Tech-Free Tuesdays’ – no digital devices for the evening
  • Leaving phones in another room at meal times
  • ‘Dessert Date Nights’ (instead of a whole night out, grab your favorite dessert to share after the kids go to bed)
  • A 3-minute hug when you reunite in the evening

.

intimacy increasing experiments to try

(And if you need more intimacy exercises for couples, we got you!)

11. Share Appreciation With Each Other

Take a moment to reflect on all the awesome ways your partner makes your life better:

  • The jobs they take care of so you don’t have to
  • The way their laugh makes your heart smile
  • The profound magic of having someone to do this whole life thing with.

Now, when was the last time you shared that appreciation with them out loud?

loving husband sharing appreciation with his wife
After so long together, it’s all too easy to simply think about how much you appreciate your partner. But then get all complacent and assume they ‘just know’.

Unfortunately, consistently underappreciating your partner is going to lead to either complacency, or resentment in a relationship.

On the other hand, the research* shows that couples who make a habit of expressing gratitude end up spending more time together, and in turn increase intimacy and strengthen connection.

happy couple increasing intimacy by celebrating success together

12. Celebrate Each Other’s Success

How you respond to your partner’s good news has a huge impact on the level of intimacy in your marriage. And in ways you may not expect.

Researchers* have categorized four kinds of typical responses:

  • Active–constructive: you respond with enthusiasm and interest, where you encourage your partner to elaborate and tell you more: “OMG, hell YES! Tell me ALL the details!”
  • Passive–constructive: you’re quiet but attentive and interested: “Oh yeah? That’s cool. Nice one.”
  • Passive–destructive: you undermine what your partner has shared, or downplay its importance: “Oh, really? It’s not that big a deal, is it?”
  • Active–destructive: you display a lack of interest, or make it all about yourself: “So what? I did that last week. Big deal.”

Obviously the last two will not increase intimacy.

But the Passive–constructive response doesn’t fare much better. All three harm relationship satisfaction and connection levels.

how to respond to your partner infographic
On the other hand, the same research showed that an active–constructive response is associated with greater relationship satisfaction and positive feelings, and greater levels of sexual satisfaction.

Yep, how you respond to your partner’s successes directly impacts your sex life.

So here’s how to nail an effective active-constructive response:

  • Be enthusiastic.
  • Have a curiosity to learn more.
  • Use your partner’s success as a way to understand them better.
  • Ask questions to help them expand on the details, what they felt, and why it’s important to them.

.

couple sharing housework and chores equally

13. Share Housework & Chores Equally

OK, maybe you don’t think housework deserves to be a part of the conversation about how to be more intimate. But the science says otherwise:

Studies* show that couples who share the responsibility of running the household are happier, more satisfied, and have a more regular, fulfilling sex life.

So… Do more chores, have more sex.

Easy, right?

Unfortunately, this is an all too common challenge for couples. If you or your partner are harboring resentment about how you manage the household, this article on how to share the load is a must read.

loving couple enjoying physical touch without expectation

14. Increase Physical Touch – Without Expectation

Physical intimacy is a key part of the warmth and closeness in a relationship, and it can help to increase both emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy. But for many couples, affectionate touch fades over time.

To combat this, look for ways to express your affection and love with as much incidental (and no-expectation) touch as you can. We’re talking:

  • Hugs from behind while you’re cooking
  • kisses on the cheek
  • holding hands in the grocery line
  • placing your hand on their leg while driving

It helps release oxytocin, strengthens your relationship, and creates instant connection between you.

PRO TIP:
Try to keep everyday affectionate touch and sexual touch separate. When rebuilding intimacy in a relationship, physical touch should feel no-pressure and no-expectation. Not like a prelude to sex.

15. Change How You Initiate Sex

Alright, it’s uncomfortable truth time:

For most couples, what worked to initiate sex back in the Honeymoon Phase stops working in a long-term relationship.

In fact, using the ‘same old moves’ can become an explicit turn-off, making sex feel boring, mechanical, or obligatory.

couple changing how they initiate sex to increase intimacy
Most couples need a whole new approach to initiating sex if they’re ever going to increase intimacy. And that begins with an honest conversation:

  • Ask your partner what actually works for them to initiate sex, and what doesn’t.
  • What helps them to feel relaxed, comfortable, and open to sex?
  • What helps them to get aroused when they want to want sex, but aren’t in the mood yet?
  • What works for you?

The more you understand what that looks like for each of you, the easier (and more successful) initiating sexual intimacy becomes.

how we can help you increase intimacy

How We Can Help You Increase Intimacy

When we work with couples in our coaching program to increase intimacy, we start by creating a shared vision for your relationship and sex life that inspires and feels good. We help you understand the different kinds of intimacy in a relationship, which ones are the most important to you, and how they play a part in your overall relationship vision.

Then, we jump into the practical stuff:

  • finding exactly what prevents intimacy, and removing those blocks
  • developing the skills to create deep emotional intimacy
  • a personalized approach for building sexual desire and physical intimacy

But this program isn’t for everyone.

If there’s extreme past trauma, serious mental health concerns, addiction or substance abuse, or dangerous levels of relationship conflict, then working with a therapist is a better first step.

But if you’re ready to tap into the highest level of what’s possible for your relationship or marriage, you can schedule a no-obligation, 2:2 video call with us to learn more about how we can help.

How To Increase Intimacy FAQ

How Can I Increase My Intimacy Level?

Intimacy is built over time with intentional actions and quality time. Focus on building connection by opening up, listening to each other, showing appreciation, and prioritizing affectionate touch, which will in turn help increase sexual intimacy.

How To Ask Your Partner For More Intimacy

Talk with your partner about what intimacy means to you, and be specific about what makes you feel close and connected with them. Acknowledge that intimacy involves emotional, physical, and sexual connection, and get curious about what they need to help them feel close.

If you’re struggling with a low or no-sex relationship, this guide on how to fix a sexless marriage will help.

Why Is It Hard For Me To Be Intimate?

Intimacy is hard because it requires vulnerability, both physically and emotionally. This can be difficult if you’ve been hurt in the past or struggle with body or self-esteem issues.

Depending on the kind of intimacy you want to create, there are also specific skills that you may not be confident with. The good news is, with the right support, whether professional or from your partner, you can overcome these challenges to intimacy.

Where to next?

If sex is a problem in your relationship, and you want more physical intimacy and connection, don’t miss our complete guide to reigniting your love life.

Having arguments, conflicts, and fights you don’t know how to resolve? The Conflict To Connection communication course for couples is for you.

Or if you’re ready to step up and transform your relationship, schedule a time to learn more about our premium mens, womens, and couples coaching programs.

Sources & References
At Practical Intimacy we’re committed to keeping our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. We use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles.

Alea, Nicole & McLean, Kate & Vick, S.C.. (2010). The story of us: Examining marital quality via positive and negative relationship narratives. Marriage: Roles, Stability and Conflict. 1-29.

Bosisio, Myriam & Rosen, Natalie & Dubé, Justin & Vaillancourt-Morel, Marie-Pier & Daspe, Marie-Ève & Bergeron, Sophie. (2022). Will you be happy for me? Associations between self-reported, perceived, and observed responses to positive events and sexual well-being in cohabiting couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 39. 026540752210805. 10.1177/02654075221080581.

Byers, E. S. (2011). Beyond the birds and the bees and was it good for you?: Thirty years of research on sexual communication. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 52(1), 20.

Carlson, D.L., Miller, A.J., Sassler, S. and Hanson, S. (2016), The Gendered Division of Housework and Couples’ Sexual Relationships: A Reexamination. Fam Relat, 78: 975-995. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12313

Collins, N. L., & Miller, L. C. (1994). Self-disclosure and liking: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 116(3), 457–475. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.116.3.457

Chang, Yen-Ping & Way, Baldwin & Sheeran, Paschal & Kurtz, Laura & Algoe, Sara. (2022). Implementation intentions to express gratitude increase daily time co-present with an intimate partner, and moderate effects of variation in CD38. Scientific Reports. 12. 10.1038/s41598-022-15650-4.

Hassebrauck, M. and Fehr, B. (2002), Dimensions of Relationship Quality. Personal Relationships, 9: 253-270. https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-6811.00017

Jacques van Lankveld, Marieke Dewitte, Viviane Thewissen, Nele Jacobs & Peter Verboon (2021) Predicting Sexual Desire in Daily Life from an Attachment Perspective: An Experience Sampling study, Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 47:4, 311-324, DOI: 10.1080/0092623X.2020.1871141

Mallory A. B. (2022). Dimensions of couples’ sexual communication, relationship satisfaction, and sexual satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Journal of family psychology : JFP : journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43), 36(3), 358–371. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000946

McKinney, H. (2011) The Effects of Adrenaline on Arousal and Attraction. Scholars, Issue 17. https://www.mckendree.edu/academics/scholars/issue17/mckinney.htm

NBC News, (2006). Want to sex up your love life? Turn off the TV. https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna10877659

Wang, Xingchao & Xie, Xiaochun & Wang, Yuhui & Wang, Pengcheng & Lei, Li. (2017). Partner phubbing and depression among married Chinese adults: The roles of relationship satisfaction and relationship length. Personality and Individual Differences. 110. 12-17. 10.1016/j.paid.2017.01.014.

Jodie Milton & Reece Stockhausen, Relationship & Intimacy Coaches @ practicalintimacy.com

Reece Stockhausen & Jodie Milton have made improving people’s lives and relationships both their passion, and their career. With over 25 years experience in the Personal Development industry, and a decade coaching singles and couples, their no-BS advice has been featured in Today, The New York Times, Yahoo!, Insider, Cosmopolitan, and Men's Health.

Book in for a complimentary online video call to discover how their men's, women's, and couple's coaching programs can support you.

Get your sex life back with the couple’s complete guide to initiating sex and reigniting desire in a long-term relationship.

Take The Quiz & Discover Your Unique Intimacy Profile

which intimacy style are you?

Which Of The 6 Intimacy Types Are You?

Take the two-minute intimacy quiz and discover how you can have more intimacy and deeper connection in your relationship.

connected couple with conscious relationship
couple identifying what their intimacy style is

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