Love Match: The Four Types of Intimacy

Falling in love can seem easy at first, but what about staying in love? If you haven’t found your perfect match yet, you are probably wondering what it takes to find “the one” that will last. In this article, we will take a peek into the guidance you can find in my new book Love Match: The Art and Science of Finding Your Ideal Partner.

So, what does it take to find your perfect match? Let’s dig in a little to find out more about the essential building blocks of a lasting romantic relationship.

In my early twenties, I met Michael. He was amazing, and we spent as much time as we could together. Unfortunately, we broke up shortly after. Looking back at that relationship, I can see why things didn’t work out: time spent with each other, on its own, isn’t enough to hold a relationship together. To love or feel loved, an intimate connection must be made.


Intimacy is the glue that holds loving relationships together, and it is the composition of that glue that determines how strong the bond is. Just as there are specific glues that work best for bonding different materials together, individuals have different intimacy compositions that makes love stick (or not). That composition, which will affect our affinity with another person, is derived from one (or more) of the four types of intimacy:

  1. Physical
    Physical intimacy ranges from a simple touch, such as holding hands, to having sex. Is it touch that makes you feel close to another person? If so, tell your partner how happy their warm embrace makes you feel.
  2. Intellectual
    Maybe it is an intellectual conversation, such as the exchange of ideas, discussing current events, and/or philosophy that you are passionate about—that gets you riled up. Don’t be shy to bring up a topic of interest to you to get your thinking cap going and your mind churning.
  3. Emotional
    Opening up and sharing our feelings is not always easy for some people, for fear of judgement. But if it’s your form of intimacy, let yourself be vulnerable. You may be pleasantly surprised at how it works out!
  4. Experiential
    Does making memories by taking trips and sharing the activities you enjoy most make you feel closest with that special someone? These could be as simple as going grocery shopping, watching a movie, or sharing a romantic dinner. If experiential is your preferred type of intimacy, then take the time to plan an event you will both enjoy on a regular basis.

Once you have identified your intimacy type, it is important to recognize that your potential partner has their own intimacy type, which is just as important in creating a lasting relationship. Having this knowledge will enable you to give them some benefit of the doubt when you aren’t feeling the exact type of connection that satisfies your intimacy needs. That way, you can ask for your needs to be met while also tending to your partner’s intimacy needs.

You Are Getting Warmer!

If you’ve made it this far, well done! Knowledge is power and understanding the type of connection that makes you feel close to someone is the first step towards establishing a long-term relationship. Don’t stop here, though; there is much more to learn! I encourage you to keep reading and comment below to expand upon your feelings. What has your relationship experience been like so far?

Remember, love is a science, not just a feeling. Next time, we will review the four emotional attachment styles, and later the five love languages. If you can’t wait until then, please feel free to continue diving deeper: check out my book Love Match and find out more about what we’ve talked about today and then some!

And remember: Finding love is within your control.

Dr. Shaelyn Pham
is a licensed psychologist, author and speaker with a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. She has a busy private practice in Los Angeles, CA as the principal and founder of Psychological Services & Holistic Health, Inc., where she enjoys helping her clients find love and success in all areas of their lives. Dr. Pham has been practicing psychology for over a decade and has helped thousands of people. She is the author of The Joy of Me and Love Match.

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