Cultivating Intimacy without Sex

For this week’s blog topic, I am taking a bit of a different turn from my typical sex-related topics.  No need to fret though because this information still has power to strengthen your sexual connection in the long run!  I want to talk about intimacy.  When someone mentions intimacy within a relationship, most people immediately think sexual intimacy.  However, intimacy is not just a sexual connection between partners.  Intimacy is the connection and closeness that is cultivated and expressed between partners regardless of setting.  When emotional intimacy has been disconnected or there is a struggle to foster emotional connection in a relationship, sexual intimacy is often greatly affected.  Thus, enhancing emotional intimacy has the power to enhance sexual intimacy!  Here are some helpful ways to foster and cultivate emotional intimacy.

·    Ask each other open-ended questions when having conversations.  When you ask an open-ended question, you are allowing your partner to give a more detailed response which helps to gain a better understanding of their perspective.  Open-ended questions let your partner know that you are interested in what they have to say, rather than just wanting to know a yes, no response.

·    Build you Love Maps together!  This is a tool from the Gottman Institute that helps clients to get to know and better understand their partner’s inner world.  Knowing your partner’s thoughts, dreams, and feelings helps to foster closeness and intimacy within a relationship.  If this is something that you and your partner are interested in you can complete your love maps through the Gottman Card Deck application or in a couple session with a counselor like myself.

·      Utilize active listening when having a conversation with your partner, such as nodding while they are talking, repeating what they said for clarity, and offering empathy rather than defensiveness.  Active listening skills might be one of the most important tools you can utilize to connect and build intimacy.  This skill allows your partner to feel heard, respected, and cared for.

·      Incorporating more non-sexual touch, such as cuddling or massages, into your relationship.  As I have discussed in earlier blog posts, oxytocin, “the love drug,” is not just released after orgasm, but during positive periods of non-sexual touch, such as an extended hug, cuddle, or massage.  When oxytocin is released in our brain, we feel more connected and trusting of another person.  Try incorporating a long hug or cuddle session with your partner!

·      Expressing gratitude for something your partner did during the day.  Recognizing and verbalizing appreciation can go a long way for connection in a relationship and helping to foster emotional intimacy.  As a couples counselor, I would also recommend you and your partner completing your love languages to express love and appreciation to one another in the most accurate way.  Knowing your partner’s love language helps both of you have a better understanding of exactly how your partner wants to be shown love, especially if the two of you are attempting to repair from an argument.  

I hope this information helps you and your partner cultivate intimacy within your relationship!  Email me to let me know how you and your partner have been able to enhance your emotional connection.  You are also more that welcome to reach out if you and your partner have been struggling to improve intimacy need some help.  I would love to set up an appointment with you!

Written by Katie Mitchell, M.A., LPC-Intern, CST-Candidate

Katie Mitchell is a counselor and Certified Sex Therapist-Candidate at Heights Family Counseling. She believes in using a solution-focused therapeutic approach to therapy, in order to empower clients to discover more effective solutions to their problems. Katie aims to foster a non-judgmental, accepting environment that helps clients to feel comfortable sharing their deepest thoughts and self-reflections. Katie enjoys working with a variety of clientele, such as individuals, couples, and families.  She also enjoys working with both individual and relational sexual concerns.  She understands that an active sex life is incredibly important for most individuals, especially those in a relationship. Learn more about Katie by visiting,, or learn more about our services at,