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How do you know if you have lack of intimacy?

What is intimacy?

Intimacy is defined as close familiarity or friendship; closeness. It involves having an emotional as well as physical connection with another person. Intimacy includes non-sexual emotional intimacy, physical intimacy, and sexual intimacy. Intimacy allows partners to feel connected, understood, and cared for.

Intimacy looks different for every relationship. The level of intimacy that makes one couple feel content might make another couple feel smothered. There is no “right” level of intimacy, only the level that feels comfortable for each partner.

Signs you may be lacking intimacy

If you are wondering if your relationship is lacking intimacy, here are some signs to look out for:

You rarely have meaningful conversations

Partners in an intimate relationship make time to talk about important topics, not just day-to-day logistics and small talk. Do you avoid deeper conversations about your hopes, fears, values, and beliefs? Does your partner know what’s going on in your inner world? A lack of open communication makes it hard to achieve true intimacy.

You no longer have physical affection

Physical touch is a key way most couples maintain intimacy. Have you noticed a drop-off in kissing, cuddling, hand-holding, and sex? Intimate physical contact releases oxytocin, the “love hormone” that strengthens emotional bonds. Without it, you can start feeling distant and disconnected.

You don’t share activities together

Couples who regularly spend quality time together doing activities they enjoy tend to stay more intimate. Is most of your time together limited to watching TV, running errands, or taking care of chores? Do you pursue hobbies or see friends separately? If you’ve stopped making time for fun date activities, intimacy can fade.

Your partner seems inaccessible

Feeling like your partner is unavailable, distracted, dismissive, or unwilling to connect when you initiate are signs of emotional distance. For example, are they always buried in their phone when you try talking to them? Does it feel like trying to have a meaningful interaction with a brick wall? This stoneswalling behavior destroys intimacy over time.

You aren’t interested in sex

For many couples, sexual intimacy promotes closeness and bonding. If you’ve noticed a decrease in your sex drive or desire for your partner, it may indicate a lack of intimacy in the relationship. There are also other potential causes like medication side effects, health issues, or personal struggles that could affect intimacy.

You don’t feel happy after spending time together

Spending quality time together in an intimate relationship usually leaves both people feeling happy and fulfilled. If you dread interacting with your partner or feel relief when they leave instead of missing them, it suggests intimacy is lacking in the relationship. You should feel energized by intimate interactions.

You argue about the same issues over and over

Fighting can be a healthy part of an intimate relationship when partners resolve conflicts through open communication. But repeatedly arguing over the same topics with no resolution is a red flag. If you feel unable to have constructive disagreements, it makes it hard to maintain an intimate connection.

You critique more than you compliment

Criticism erodes emotional intimacy, while praise and appreciation build it up. Do you find yourself constantly judging or critiquing your partner’s behavior? Do you struggle to give genuine compliments? This imbalance often indicates resentment and poorer intimacy.

You aren’t each other’s support system

Partners in an intimate relationship provide emotional support during difficult times. Do you turn to friends over your partner when you need advice, comfort or encouragement? Does your partner seem to have other confidants for support too? Relying on others can undermine intimacy.

You don’t feel emotionally safe together

Feeling emotionally safe and secure with your partner is key for intimacy. Do you feel like you need to censor yourself and tiptoe around certain topics to avoid an argument or criticism from your partner? Holding back means you aren’t getting the mutual understanding required for intimacy.

You rarely or never say “I love you”

Expressing love verbally is an important intimacy ritual for many couples. Have you noticed that those three little words are rarely exchanged between you and your partner anymore? The lack of verbal affirmation can create emotional distance and hurt feelings over time.

You feel lonely in the relationship

A defining quality of an intimate relationship is that it eliminates feelings of loneliness. Do you feel alone, even when you’re with your partner? Does it seem like they don’t “get” you? Do you feel the need to look outside the relationship to have your intimacy needs fulfilled? This profound disconnect is a sign of lacking intimacy.

How to regain intimacy

If you see signs your relationship is lacking intimacy, don’t despair. There are many effective ways to rekindle intimacy and reconnect with your partner. Here are some tips:

Make spending quality time together a priority

Set aside dedicated time for meaningful interactions without distractions. Turn off the TV, put away your phones, make eye contact, and focus fully on each other. Engage in activities you both enjoy like taking a walk, cooking a meal together, going to see live music, taking a weekend trip, or playing games.

Ask open-ended questions

Ask questions that allow deeper discussion beyond one-word answers. Share hopes, dreams, amusing childhood stories, opinions about the news, insights about work. Listen closely without judgment. Open and responsive communication nurtures intimacy.

Compliment each other

Get in the habit of expressing out loud the things you admire and appreciate about your partner. Praise them for big and little things – thank them for taking out the trash, compliment their outfit, tell them how much you value their sense of humor. Frequent compliments build intimacy.

Initiate physical affection

Kiss, hug, cuddle, hold hands, give massages. Increased affectionate touching releases bonding hormones. Don’t always wait for your partner to initiate. Take the lead sometimes so they feel desired. Respond positively when they initiate too.

Have intimate check-ins

Set aside 15 minutes each week to check in with each other. Take turns talking and actively listening. Share feelings openly and honestly without judgment. Provide support. These emotional check-ins strengthen intimacy and trust.

Seek professional help if needed

If lack of intimacy has reached a crisis point in your relationship, seek counseling. A therapist can give tools to improve communication, increase understanding, resolve conflicts, rebuild trust, and restore intimacy. Don’t be afraid to get professional support.

Set boundaries with outside distractions

Excessive hours at work, too much solo parenting time, constantly being on phones – these distractions can dampen intimacy. Discuss together what boundaries you can implement to protect couple time. Prioritize each other.

Surprise each other

Think of thoughtful, unexpected ways to surprise your partner – leave love notes, bring home flowers or their favorite dessert, draw them a bubble bath at the end of a hard day. These sweet gestures show you’re thinking of them and build intimacy.

Discuss your intimacy needs

Have an open discussion about what makes each of you feel emotionally and physically close – words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, or gifts? Share your top intimacy desires. Compromise to make sure both feel cherished.


Bring back that giddy butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling of new love through flirting. Send flirty texts, greet them at the door dressed up, reminisce about your first dates, give unexpected kisses. Playful flirting energizes emotional and physical intimacy.

Have intimate encounters

Sexual intimacy is a powerful way to reinforce closeness and bonding. Make time for romantic, emotional, connected sex – not just routine maintenance sex. Set the mood, make eye contact, express love verbally during lovemaking. Deeper intimacy boosts sexual intimacy.

Accepting lack of intimacy in your relationship

Reigniting intimacy often involves both partners actively working together. But if only one of you is willing to put in effort, or underlying issues like abuse or addiction exist, the relationship may be past the point of repair.

At some point you may need to accept that intimacy is permanently lacking, and staying together is hurting you both. Know that you deserve intimacy, support and fulfillment in your relationships. Consider relationship counseling or divorce if your repeated efforts fail to improve intimacy.


Intimacy is a vital ingredient for relationship health and happiness. Keep investing time and energy into building deeper emotional, physical and sexual intimacy. Set aside distractions, have open discussions, show affection generously, surprise each other, flirt and play. If you make intimacy a priority, your relationship will thrive.