- Psychological - Feeling deeply understood at your core. Say you battle depression and when you have an episode flare up, your partner immediately adjusts the social calendar to accommodate your needs. When they look at you, without saying a word, you feel that they see your genuine self. This can sometimes manifest as spiritual bonding, as well.
- Physical - Physical affection exchange doesn't have to be sexual in nature and can look like embracing hugs, placing their hand in the small of your back when they walk by in the kitchen, reaching their leg out to your side of the bed so that you're touching at night.
- Experiential - Experiencing new events together, exploring the world. This can look like traveling or engaging in adventurous sports. It can also look like focusing on novelty experiences like going to Cirque De Soleil if you have never been before.
- Emotional - Holding a safe container for emotional expression without pressure to stop or cap genuine feelings for comfortability. This can look like providing emotional support such as active listening techniques and respecting your partner's truth even if it differs from yours.
- Social - Tapping in to your sense of belonging. Experiencing social bonding over quality gatherings with friends or large gatherings with strangers (like a concert) where the energy level is contagious.
- Sexual - Meeting your bodies sexual needs for touch and pleasure. Feeling a sense of connection and sychrony with your partner in a moment of raw vulnerability.
- Creative - Creating something together. This can be expressed in a craft like artistic painting or building a bird house, or through formulating a conjoint project together like planning out a kitchen remodel together.
- Intellectual - Bonding that comes from the healthy challenge and stimulation of intellect. Some partners tap into this intimacy through friendly debates on current events, engaging in political interests, conducting crossword puzzles together or playing strategy-based games in the evenings.
Use this Intimacy Map to align with your partner’s energy contribution needs. What are your TOP priority forms? What are your partner's TOP forms? What are your LEAST priority forms? And your partner's LEAST? Have those priority lists changed over the last few months or years? What life events do you think triggered re-prioritization?
Use these questions to guide an open and constructive dialogue with your partner(s) for optimal need fulfillment.
Dr. Stephanie Bathurst, Ph.D, LCMFT
Therapist, Sexologist, Healer, Author