Relationships Spouses & Partners What Is Intimate Sex? By Barbara Field Barbara Field Barbara is writer and speak who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues. Learn about our editorial process Published on December 22, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD Medically reviewed by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD LinkedIn Twitter Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a professor at Yeshiva University’s clinical psychology doctoral program. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Prostock-Studio / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents What Is Intimate Sex? Health Benefits of Intimate Sex Non-Physical Ways to Increase Sexual Intimacy Physical Ways to Increase Sexual Intimacy What Is Intimate Sex? When two people have feelings of closeness and connectedness as well as sexual chemistry, their participation in sexual acts can be defined as intimate sex. Intimate sex is gratifying for a variety of reasons. Casual sex is a no-strings-attached act that doesn’t involve future expectations or a romantic, emotional commitment. While casual sex also has merit, intimacy combined with sex seems to be advantageous. In recent research, for example, results for both men and women in romantic, long-term relationships showed that higher levels of intimacy are associated with more sexual desire. More sexual desire, in turn, raised the odds of sexual activity occurring. Relationships that combined emotional intimacy with sexual desire and sexual activity seemed to be protected from daily stresses and enhanced the well-being of couples. Health Benefits of Intimate Sex Having a fulfilling sex life adds to a couple’s vitality and happiness. The pluses of a sexually intimate relationship can’t be dismissed. Here are some benefits of intimate sex that people gain in both mind and body: Reduced stress and anxiety Improved mental health Boosted self-esteem The release of serotonin during orgasm fights depression and brightens the mood Increased endorphins which activate feelings of pleasure and happiness Heightened sense of peacefulness Improved sleep due to the release of prolactin and oxytocin Better cardiovascular health Less mortality and increased longevity What Is the Physical Touch Love Language? Non-Physical Ways to Increase Sexual Intimacy Achieving great intimate experiences actually starts outside the bedroom. It begins with setting aside time for one another. It’s also important to establish the understanding that sexual pleasure is a good thing. When you build on and strengthen the deep, emotional connection with your partner, you will then feel comfortable and trusting regarding sexual matters. Below are tips on how to boost sexual intimacy in non-sexual ways. Make Time to Be Together Turn off the cell phones and get rid of the distractions. Be sure you are scheduling time for intimacy. Set aside unrestricted periods regularly as you would for any priority. Give Yourself Permission to Enjoy Sex Remind yourself it’s fine to want sexual pleasure. Value the intimacy and remember that having more sex with your significant other will make your bond stronger. Showing love through acts of lovemaking actually better the likelihood of couples staying together Communicate, Communicate, Communicate Be open to listening to your partner. Men and women may view sex differently. It’s been said that women need intimacy before becoming sexual, while men require sex first before they can become intimate. Misunderstandings can ensue if you don’t talk. Learn about your partner’s desires and preferences. Then reciprocate. Share in an open discussion about your own needs and wants. Strengthen the Foundation of Emotional Intimacy Sharing your emotions and being vulnerable can sometimes be challenging, especially when it comes to sexual relations. Yet, if trust has been established in a relationship, you’ll be willing to take risks. You might be more open to indulging in more playfulness or acting out fantasies. A willingness to try new things can increase excitement and satisfaction. The result will be a closer bond and the discovering of enhanced pleasure. Be Appreciative Express thanks for your partner’s loving gestures. Telling your loved one how grateful you are that they drove the kids to sports practice or cooked a special dinner can go a long way. People are more in the mood for sexual activities when they feel attractive, valued, and appreciated. Not to be overlooked are compliments you can give your partner. If they look great in that little black dress, say so. Especially good is a compliment you can give your partner about how they made you feel after a night of sexual pleasure. Physical Ways to Increase Sexual Intimacy You can probably think of a number of physical ways to spice up your relationship. Exciting activities can run the gamut from kissing to oral sex. Below are other physical things you can and should do. Be Flirty Find various ways to surprise your partner. You might send an R-rated text or check them out at the dinner table. Or suggest you both take a bath together for the first time which will build sexual anticipation. Engage in Foreplay Living in our stressed-out world these days, couples sometimes act as if there’s not enough time for foreplay. But psychologists don’t advise that you skip this activity. Allow time for arousal. Foreplay is an important step in warming up to intimate sex. Simply kissing tenderly or giving your partner a sensual massage can set the mood for what’s to come. Lock Eyes With Your Partner Prolonged eye contact from across a bar or during foreplay is another way to physically engage. Looking intently at the person you love can show your readiness to move forward intimately. Touch Is So Important Physical affection can be expressed through multiple gestures. Cuddle on the couch, massage their shoulders or hold hands. Sensual forms of intimacy are important too like sharing a delicious, decadent desert together or having your partner massage your body with oils. Don’t Forget Orgasms In one study about partner intimate touch and interpersonal closeness, scientists measured closeness after orgasmic meditation. Orgasmic meditation is a partnered non-verbal practice that includes genital touch. About half of those enrolled in the study were romantic partners and the other half non-romantic. Researchers found that partner intimate touching increased feelings of closeness in the moment. This was true for both those in a romantic relationship and in a casual one. Yet, although they felt closeness in the moment, in the long run, women seem to find better sexual experiences through intimate romantic relationships. In another study, surveys were given to female undergraduates at over 20 U.S. colleges and universities. Additionally, 85 in-depth interviews were also given at two universities. Based on data derived from these female respondents, researchers found that “women have orgasms more often in relationships than in hookups.” How to Be More Sexually Intimate With Your Partner A Word From Verywell A warm and intimate sex life supports your health. Unfortunately, sex and intimacy don’t always go hand in hand. If you are having difficulties in your sexual relationships or can’t find closeness and connectedness with the people you are dating or living with, it might be time to read books and find resources about this matter. If you still need help within these relationships, reach out to a therapist in your area. Many online therapists are also available. Don’t be embarrassed about looking for such assistance. These well-trained specialists can guide you best on how to find the loving and satisfying relationships you seek...and truly deserve. What Is Sex Therapy? 3 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. van Lankveld J, Jacobs N, Thewissen V, Dewitte M, Verboon P. The associations of intimacy and sexuality in daily life: Temporal dynamics and gender effects within romantic relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 2018;35(4):557-576. doi:10.1177/0265407517743076 Prause N, Siegle GJ, Coan J. Partner intimate touch is associated with increased interpersonal closeness, especially in non-romantic partners. PLoS One. 2021. Armstrong EA, England P, Fogarty ACK. Accounting for Women’s Orgasm and Sexual Enjoyment in College Hookups and Relationships. American Sociological Review. 2012;77(3):435-462. doi:10.1177/0003122412445802 By Barbara Field Barbara is writer and speak who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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