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Connected. If I had to describe what intimacy means in one word, that would be the word. Connected. You being in tune with your partner and your partner being in tune with you. Puzzle pieces that fit together the way they are meant to, working together to make a beautiful thing.

Intimacy is that connection. Building intimacy can take work, but it’s a thing worth having—and once it’s in play, there’s an electric flow between you and your partner that keeps the relationship charged.

There’s more than one type of intimacy, and the ones that will work for your particular relationship are wholly dependent on what you and your partner want and need from each other. Sexual, physical, intellectual, emotional and experiential intimacy all serve a function in various relationship types. Understanding what they are is key. Creating them with your partner is part of the relationship-building process.

First, it’s important to note that sexual intimacy and physical intimacy are not the same thing.

Physical intimacy means that you are physically comfortable with someone. Hugging your friends, cuddling up on the couch with them to watch a scary movie and giving each other back rubs are all physically intimate activities that are not and do not necessarily precede sex. A great many friends have deep physical intimacy with each other and show affection to each other all the time. It builds the relationship.

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Sexual intimacy involves sex, of course. Whether it is intercourse, heavy petting, making out and everything in between, it is based on sexual chemistry and connects two people on a level beyond physical intimacy.

Intellectual intimacy is giving each other good brain. Keeping each other mentally stimulated through thought-provoking conversations, the sharing and exchanging of ideas, watching movies and reading books with each other, visiting museums and the like are all different activities that deepen intellectual intimacy. Sapiosexuals, for example, may value intellectual intimacy above all else—but everyone loves a little head with their loving, right?

Emotional intimacy is when you can be completely naked in front of your partner. Not in the physical sense, but in the way that every part of you is laid bare. They see all of your flaws. You can cry to them when you are sad and do cartwheels with them when you are happy. They are your person. On an emotional level, you can go to them with and for anything.

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Experiential intimacy is creating memories with each other. Those memories can be a song, a smell, a picture, a particular outing, anniversaries and anything that, when recalled, brings that person to mind. Experiential intimacy can create indelible connections with a person.

Whether your relationship is seeded in one or all of the different types of intimacy, the reward comes in the connection that is built between you and your partner when you have figured out those intimacies and worked them into the relationship together.

These are the easiest ways to get to know a person, to understand who they are, who you are and who the two of you are when you are together.

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Think of your relationship as a house. Whether it’s a shack or a mansion, you build it from the ground up.

Intimacy is the bricks that put it together.

We will be discussing intimacy on our next The Root After Dark Twitter chat, Thursday at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT. I will take over The Root’s official Twitter account as always, and we will chop it up. Be sure to follow The Root on Twitter and be a part of the discussion using the hashtag #TheRootAfterDark.