Physical Intimacy Does Not Solely Equal Sex — Healthy Definitions of Physical Intimacy

One of the most common associations with the term "intimacy" is sex. But sexual relating is just one aspect of physical intimacy and physical relating, both of which are founded on touch.

Touch is an important communication tool to convey care, love and trustworthiness between two people. As infants, being held, snuggled and in close proximity to our caretakers not only helped us survive, but thrive. As one of the first ways we felt love and comfort, touch is the basis of physical intimacy, and an essential part of marital intimacy over the years.

Thus, true physical intimacy is not confined to sexual relating, but includes all forms of physical connection. Hand-holding; looking into your spouse's eyes; hugs; listening intently; expressing warmth; kissing; flirting; and romance all lend to growing in physical intimacy.

Just as physical intimacy is one part of the bigger picture of intimacy, sexual relating is one aspect of physical intimacy and physical relating. In grasping this distinction, we move to forge more profound, fulfilling relationships.