How To Navigate The 5 Stages Of Intimacy

Intimacy is many things: it’s not just about sex. But on the way toward a true, loving relationship, there are five stages of intimacy: infatuation, landing, burying, resurfacing, and love. Anything else is really just lust. And then there are non-physical intimate relationships that can occur between friends, co-workers, and significant others.

Here we break down the five stages of intimacy so you can determine what level your relationship has reached and how to bring more intimacy into your relationship.

Infatuation

First, a description about the five stages that lead to a traditional, fully physical, mental and emotional relationship.

Infatuation is the emotion that you feel when you meet someone who you think you could spend the rest of your life with. Nothing that person could ever do is wrong and sometimes you’ll even find yourself dismissing bad habits or characteristics because, in your eyes, that person is perfect.

Landing

Landing is the second step: it’s where you start to notice that the person you are infatuated with is human. You could find little habits annoying and see other habits that could be disturbing, such as drinking, smoking, partying too much, or even characteristics that signal darker, deeper problems, such as depression,the inability to manage anger or signs that the person can be mentally or physically abusive.

Burying

Burying is the third step: in this phase couples will often sink into the grind of everyday life along with its challenges, including money, work, family, friends, and how to deal with all these external forces as well as how they relate to the relationship. It’s not that “the thrill is gone,” it’s just that real life has worked its way into the relationship and the honeymoon high isn’t as prevalent as it was in the very beginning.

Resurfacing

Next comes resurfacing: if you survive the reality of how to deal with life and how it affects a relationship, resurfacing is the stage where you start to fall in love with your partner all over again. You will acknowledge his or her faults as well as your own and whether you are ready and able to deal with all of them, good or bad, for the foreseeable future.

Love

The final stage is love: if you have happened to survive the first four stages, chances are you will have been with your partner for a few years already. There are likely no more shocks or surprises in your relationship and you have grown to rely on each other and love each other to the point where a permanent commitment is on the horizon, whether it’s ongoing monogamy, marriage, or just a silent commitment between the two of you to live the rest of your lives together, warts and all.

The elephant in the room here though, is sex. It happens through all stages of intimacy, but there are some relationships where sex is taken off the table, literally. If your partner is unable to engage in sex because of physical injury, illness, or a mental situation, it can put a strain on some relationships for which sex was the center of the relationship: it was how you and your other half communicated.

In cases like this, if the relationship does not continue, it is likely because it was one of lust and not pure love to begin with. Couples who manage to work around this level of physical intimacy and continue their relationships are really on solid ground. Physical intimacy does not peak just with sex. Embracing, holding hands, kissing, caressing and just engaging in and maintaining physical contact are very intimate actions and signal a deeper connection between two people.

It’s important to know that intimacy does not always have to play out in a physical manner. Some people think that engaging in physical intimacy outside of a committed relationship is the only form of cheating; however, if you find yourself sharing secrets with friends or coworkers, be mindful that this very act can cross a mental and emotional line in the sand if you are relying on that person for the mental and emotional support that you would normally get from your significant other.

Now that you know about the five stages of intimacy, you can use your knowledge to strengthen the intimacy in your own relationship.