For a lot of people intimacy and sex are so connected that you can't separate one from the other. This article isn't about those people - though they might find it to be an interesting read.
Reddit user tb1649 asked:
People's responses were honestly fascinating, sweet, and sometimes a little heartbreaking. "Intimate" clearly means very different things to different people.
He likes to call me different nicknames, one of them being "peach." So, whenever he wants to cuddle, he says "peach time?" and we cuddle and just lay there together. It's honestly one of my favorite things in the world.
He Doesn't Do Verbal Affection
He plays love songs on the piano while I stand behind him kissing the back of his head. I almost cry sometimes.
He's autistic and doesn't do verbal affection, but he finds ways to show me that he loves me.
I scratch his back and head. He was telling me how his mom would scratch his back and it is a very intimate thing for him. His grandma would scratch his head until he fell asleep.
Ever since he told me that, I've been trying my best to stay awake long enough that he falls asleep from head scratches too, as he has trouble falling asleep. Last night I finally held out long enough. I could hear his breathing change and his body relax and felt him fall asleep under my hand and I don't know why, but I was the happiest in the world because I could do something for him like that - someone I really care about. He told me I was amazing and I just melted. I hope to do it more often.
I dunno if this counts but I got my husband through his fight with Hodgkin's Lyphoma and his relapse a year later. It was just him and me, we have a small support system and none of them live locally.
The relapse meant a bone marrow transplant. It. Is. No. Joke. Literally brings you to the brink of death and back.
My husband is a 6 foot strong Scottish man and when we were in the thick of it I had to push him in a wheelchair at the hospital cause getting from the car to the door was all he could do. He looked nothing like himself either, hairless, pale. I was bathing, dressing, feeding him, managing his many medications (and the side effects -violent vomiting) and getting him to and from the hospital on a daily basis.
I have a very clear memory of helping him get into new pj's one morning and thinking "I knew I might have to care for him like this....but I also thought it would be in my 70's, not at the ripe old age of 34...."
Being a caregiver for your loved one in and of itself is a crazy intimate experience, you see someone at their absolute worst/weakest and somehow you find new strength in yourself at the same time.
That ordeal changed us, obviously. We definitely have had a new level of intimacy since. It's bonded us in a way that I can't put into words.
When he wraps himself around me tightly while cuddling/spooning, and calls it "maximum security"
If I'm feeling sad, he'll tease me and be like "Aw does someone need maximum security?" It's very sweet.
My boyfriend draws and sometimes he draws me naked. Granted, it's a prelude to sex some times but not all the time. It's super intimate, watching him quietly concentrate and do his work while sort of examining parts of me.
I used to be super self conscious, so just laying there and being out in the open is sort of freeing. Just feels close.
My Last Moments
I think the most intimate thing happened during my second son's birth a few months ago. I had given birth quickly and easily, but then began hemorrhaging. They stood me up to go to the bathroom and blood began pooling down my legs and feet. Immediately back in bed, giving me shots and meds to try to stop it but it wouldn't. The nurses were scared and a team ran in.
My husband laid the baby down and held my hand- I was terrified I was dying and leaving them. I just kept looking into his eyes and telling him I was so scared, and he stayed calm and smiled and reassured me.
I'm so lucky- they found a piece of retained placenta and were able to give me a second epidural and manually remove it. But I ended up losing almost 800 ml of blood. I really thought those could be my last moments, and I just locked eyes with him, trying to communicate everything I needed him to know about our family and my sons- but too scared to say any of it out loud.
It was the most intimate moment of my life.
A Stomach Bug
Taking care of me when I was sick. We've been together for about a year and don't live together. I had to cancel plans because I had the stomach bug (diarrhea and throwing up) and he came over and took care of me. Any man that can witness his girl sitting on the toilet and head in a trash can and still want to cuddle you and love on you is a keeper.
There's always a few moments before we fall asleep where we'll just lay together, making eye contact. That may sound strange but it always feels super intimate and in a way that nothing needs to be said out loud. You're just sharing this moment and know that there's nowhere else you'd rather be.
Although I'm good at sleeping long nights I have trouble actually falling asleep. We'll cuddle and with his big voice he'll invent a story so that I can doze off to his soft bass-like golden sound.
Once, he summarized Star Wars episodes 1 to 3 since I hadn't seen them and expressed how much they sucked compared to the rest. It was amazing.
Any Knot He Wants
We wrestle and play fight...I know it's weird but it's so fun. Plus he was an NCAA wrestler and has his purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu so he can twist me in any knot he wants and it's oddly satisfying to be under his complete control - but it's actually not sexual.
I recently started helping my partner trim his beard. It felt really intimate.
I'm African, he's Middle Eastern. It took me a while but I eventually let him help with taking out my cornrows when I change hairstyles, and helping me wash/condition my hair. That's pretty intimate to me.
When we're in bed together, she sometimes steals a kiss on my cheek and I go : "Ewww cooties!" I wait a few seconds and whisper: "psst... Pretty girl? I like you"
She giggles and says : "I like you too"
"You wanna go steady?"
Then we hold hands till we fall asleep.
I'm 40M she's 38F, we have 2 kids.
Before I had back surgery a few years ago, the pain was intense I couldn't get out of bed. My husband had to carry me to the bathtub and wash me and my hair.
I felt so fragile. That was probably the most intimate non-sexual thing I've experienced.
The Big Red CouchGiphy
I can tell you what it used to be, before our divorce.
Whatever we did that day, be it adventuring or swimming or just hanging out, our evenings always ended on our big red couch. I would be on the far right side, against the arm, because I liked getting into the corner. She liked having room to stretch out, so she got the middle and left side. I'd throw our old fleece over the both of us and put something on the TV.
Sometimes we'd watch, sometimes we would chat and sorta-watch, but it always ended with her breathing slowing down, while falling asleep, with her head on my left shoulder. It was a comforting thing for her, in terms of physical position and closeness, feeling safe. It was a comforting thing for me, to know I had someone who wanted to be close to me, and was still comfortable.
The first time I sat down on that red couch after she moved out, in my usual spot, was out of reflex. A handful of seconds went by—I realized I could never sit there again and feel good about myself, or my life. The coldness of the leather, the emptiness of the space, was too much. I got up and rearranged the furniture on the spot, once I stopped sobbing like an infant.
Not sure if y'all can tell, but I miss her.
Anyway, that's what it was.
Full Body Bear Hug
My dad is super jacked and I used to run at him full speed and jump in a full-body bear hug, and my dad would catch me.
Now with my husband, I'll catch his attention and give him the look and he'll squat and prepare, and then I run at him and jump and give him the big full-body bear hug. Complete with my face buried in his neck, kissing away.
Sappy - Not Sorry
We just had a newborn six weeks ago and aren't ready to have sex yet. Every night before I got to bed after the baby is first asleep I lay with my head on his lap and we watch Bob Ross because it calms me down. When I start to fall asleep I go to bed and he stays up to wait for the baby to stir so he can change her and bring her to me for a midnight feeding.
In the morning I am up before him and clean the dishes (he usually does all of the cooking and I'm too tired to clean at night) and read for an hour before the baby gets up. After I change and feed her I bring her to him for morning snuggles and tummy time.
I love this little routine and it keeps us feeling close and reminds me that sex and making love are very different things. You can make love without ever even taking your clothes off. Sappy. Sorry not sorry.
I Now Need HelpGiphy
I had a stroke in March and have lost the majority of use of my left side. It's mostly just there for symmetry these days. I also have Fibromyalgia which is pretty debilitating. I now need help bathing and he bathes me. I've always been very independent and admitting I need that help was hard. The first time he bathed me, he was so gentle, thoughtful, and loving that it was so beautiful I cried. My husband is just amazing.
I know it sounds stupid but we bathe our dog together... like we take him to this self serve dog wash and he's big and hates bathes so one of us wrestles him and the other bathes, and it's actually an amazing team building activity.
Being Held Tenderly
She holds me when I cry.
I grew up in an abusive and negligent family. Naturally I suffer crippling depression and anxiety. Currently going to therapy and sometimes we dig deep into the trauma. It feels like I'm being torn from the inside. There's nothing to do but feel the grief, let it pass through me. Never have I been more raw and vulnerable than in those moments.
Being held tenderly while I'm ugly crying, sobbing, even wailing is love at its best.