5 activities to build intimacy (that aren’t sex)

Kathryn Wheeler
By Kathryn Wheeler,
updated on Dec 16, 2021

5 activities to build intimacy (that aren’t sex)

Strengthen your bond and feel a deeper connection with these five activities designed to build intimacy

There’s a joke that goes something like this: “Yeah, sex is great, but have you ever x, y, or z?” It could be nabbing the parking spot closest to the supermarket, discovering a fiver in an old coat pocket, or slipping into a warm bubble bath at the end of the day. The point of the joke is a cheeky nod to life’s other pleasures, the things that bring us joy, soothe us, or simply give us something to smile about.

When it comes to relationships, yeah, sex is great, but have you ever deliberately worked on the intimate bond you share with your partner? That connection in a relationship is often the driving force behind good sex, but it’s also what makes you feel safe and secure, like you’re on the same team and can take on the world’s challenges together.

On the topic of ‘intimacy’, there’s a tendency to run straight to fourth base, but here we’re sharing five sensual activities, to help you harness a sense of closeness with your partner outside of the bedroom.

Cooking for, and with, each other

Food and romance go together like, well, sugar and spice – and food can also be a wonderful way to get experimental and explore new flavours and sensations with each other, as well as to relive shared memories. You might have a favourite food that you both can’t wait to sit down and tuck into together, or perhaps there’s a dish that has meaning to you – for example, a meal you ate on your first date, wedding, or a memorable trip together.

What’s more, a survey by cookware brand Calphalon asked 1,000 adults how cooking influences their relationships, and saw 87% report that cooking is one of the top activities couples can do to strengthen their bond – the reason being that it encourages communication. So, if you’re looking to get hot and steamy, getting creative in the kitchen is a great place to start.


You don’t need to be a regular Anton Du Beke to take your partner for a spin around the living room floor, in fact, the only requirement for tapping into the power of dance is willingness.

A study published in Biology Letters highlights how dance can strengthen social bonds, offering escapism, boosting mood, confidence and – importantly – intimacy. Let go and bop along to your favourite belter, or take things down a notch with a sensual slow dance to a romantic classic. Let your hair down, and explore what music and movement mean to you as
a couple.


A micro-affection is a small gesture or action that conveys our love and appreciation for someone. It could be physical: hand-holding, cuddling, playing with someone’s hair, lingering eye contact, or gentle passing touches throughout the day. Or, it could be a quick “I love you” as you pop out to the shops, showing gratitude, taking a focused interest in your partner’s day, and remembering and recognising important details and events.

So often in life, it’s the small things that add up to make a real difference – and micro-affections in relationships do just that.

Couple walking on the beach together

Couples yoga

Couples yoga is all about moving together, tapping into each other’s strength and sense of calm, and spending dedicated time working on both your bond and overall wellbeing.

Some poses may focus on assisted stretching, enabling you to help each other to feel soothed and relaxed in your bodies, others may be more focused on the intimacy in the partnership – tantric yoga working more specifically on sexual intimacy, with the poses designed to help you give and receive energy.

You may be able to find classes near you, but there are a wealth of both free and paid online classes and videos that you can follow from the comfort of your own home.

Vulnerable conversations

In 1997, Arthur Aron, a social psychologist and director of the Interpersonal Relationships Lab at Stony Brook University, set out to learn more about vulnerability and its connection to intimacy.

He paired up students who were strangers and gave them 45 minutes to ask each other questions – half the pairs were given questions that were factual and shallow, and the other half were given questions that started off as factual but became deeper, their final question being: “Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find the most disturbing?”

What the researchers saw was that the second group formed a much deeper bond, many went on to be friends beyond the study, and two participants even got engaged!

There’s something truly special about creating a relationship where you can be entirely vulnerable with each other. When this happens, you create a safe and secure base from which to spring into the rest of your life with confidence and resilience. So, dig a little deeper, and see what you can uncover.

For more relationship insight, and to connect with a counsellor visit counselling-directory.org.uk

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