Intimacy is often used as a euphemism for sex, but intimacy isn’t just about sex. Whether your book is steamy or sweet, intimacy lets readers know the couple have something special with each other.
What is intimacy?
There are six types of intimacy, which offer creative opportunities for writers when developing a romance.
1. Emotional Intimacy:
At some point in your novel, your characters need to have emotional intimacy. While this isn’t limited to romantic relationships, in the romance novel, it shows the deep feelings of trust, respect, and love binding our characters together. They feel safe to share their deepest desires, secrets, fears—their deepest selves. It’s usually expressed through communication.
2. Intellectual Intimacy:
This involves the level of comfort in sharing of opinions and ideas, even if they differ from their partners. In a romance, it would be shown by the characters feeling free to think for themselves, and believe their opinions and beliefs are valued, even if they’re different.
3. Creative Intimacy:
This involves feeling comfortable in expressing passions and interests. They don’t have to be shared passions or interests, but each person in the couple needs to feel safe to express their creative side.
4. Experiential Intimacy:
This all about shared experiences that connect people. It can be created through working together, or simply living life with another person (family, roommate, friends, etc) and having shared memories. The inside joke comes from experiential intimacy.
5. Spiritual Intimacy:
While this could include religious connection, it goes beyond that to shared values and beliefs. This is common in sweet romances. However, differing values or beliefs can make for conflict in any type of romance.
6. Physical Intimacy:
You might think this is sex, and while it could be, that’s not all it includes. Holding hands, hugging, cuddling…any loving touch is physical intimacy. Both steamy and sweet romance can have physical intimacy. The difference is that steamy will include sensuality and sex, whereas sweet romance focuses on the emotional connection of a touch, not the sensual.
What I like about the above types of intimacy is that by including some of them in my romance, I can increase believability in my characters’ coming together. Sex isn’t love, so they have to have other opportunities to bond emotionally as well. In fact, sweet romances focus highly on these other forms of intimacy (experience, spiritual, intellectual), but so too should romance with physical intimacy.
By providing other opportunities for intimacy, either through shared experiences, values and beliefs, or any of the other forms of intimacy, you deepen their connection.