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Finding Out What Intimacy Means In Your Relationship

Finding Out What Intimacy Means in Your Relationship

Intimacy can mean a variety of things to different people. It can deal with how close you and your partner may feel emotionally within your relationship, or it can indicate the extent of your sexual romance with your partner. Regardless of what intimacy entails for your relationship, you and your partner should agree on what it means in your situation and to what level you would like to achieve with your significant other. Perceived intimacy levels within a romance impact whether or not the romance can evolve into a long-lasting relationship, depending on whether your partner’s intimacy perception matches yours.

Intimacy usually induces feelings of trust and positive affect, but depending on how intimate you are with your significant other, intimacy can also create feelings of pain and depression. When someone is hurt or betrayed with an intimate confidante, the result can deter them from pursuing another intimate bond with a new individual. Within any relationship, romantic or friendly, “the closer one is emotionally, the corresponding feelings of vulnerability often accompany such intimacy.” (Holt et al. 2009)

Holt et al. have come up with a questionnaire to help gauge what intimacy means in your relationship with your partner. (2009) These researchers helped develop this set of questions to help couples define an agreement that maximizes “the effectiveness of potential positive impact on your relationship.” (Holt et al. 2009)

There are three components of intimacy—emotional, physical, and intellectual—that the Holt questionnaire employs to gauge an individual’s intimacy level within a relationship. The questionnaire offers a scale from which you can measure your own self-reported perception of intimacy within the relationship. Out of 33 questions, here are some example questions:

1. I recognize my partner’s needs to have his/her privacy.

2. I enjoy being touched by my partner.

3. I am interested in my partner’s personal goals.

4. I receive pleasure from giving pleasure to my partner.

5. I seldom openly discuss significant problems with my partner.

Once you and your significant other have successfully completed the questionnaire, go through each other’s answers. See where you compare and contrast, and maybe you will receive a heightened understanding of what your partner is feeling and why.


Holt, M. L. et al. (2009, April 20). Using the Holt Relationship Intimacy Questionnaire (HRIQ): What Intimacy Means to You and Your Partner. The Family Journal, 17, 146. doi: 10.1177/1066480709332631


By Lauren Tabios