Can A Relationship Without Intimacy Survive?

Relationship without intimacy

Relationships go through ups and downs. At times, you might seem like a couple in a new relationship, other times you might seem like a couple on the verge of a split.

But, now your relationship has changed. You no longer share smiles and lingering glances. You don’t hold hands anymore or spend time together. You’re in a relationship without intimacy.

Now what?

Can A Relationship Without Intimacy Survive?

Experts believe your relationship can survive without sex, but it is likely to fail without intimacy. Intimacy is the closeness shared between two people in a relationship or their bond. In a marriage, it’s the trust, camaraderie, and confidence between both individuals.

Intimacy can be physical or emotional. An ideal relationship is characterized by both.

Maslow’s hierarchy of laws lists romantic love as one of the most important human needs. The need to feel important is also on that list. Intimacy fulfills both of these requirements.

When your relationship lacks intimacy the security of the relationship comes into question. One or both partners may question whether the other partner loves or cares for them. This lack can lead to distrust, misunderstandings, and turmoil within the relationship.

What Causes Intimacy to Wane

There are several things that can lead to a decrease in emotional or physical intimacy. From external events to personal, emotional issues.

Having a baby

A new baby in the home is one of the leading causes of loss of intimacy in a relationship. Caring for a child is a 24-hour-a-day job, and one or both parents can feel overwhelmed, tired and disinterested in being intimate.


Infidelity is another common cause for relationships to lose intimacy. When one or both members are focusing their attention on someone outside of the relationship, they rarely have any intimacy left to give to their partner. And, if the infidelity is in the past, one or both partners may resent the other because of it.


The length of the relationship can also affect intimacy. Couples who’ve been together for decades may experience a wane in intimacy. As couples age, they can grow closer or they can grow distant.

It’s said that as a relationship progresses, partners fall in love all over again. This may be true for some but more often than not, both individuals have evolved. They aren’t the same people they were when the fell in love.

Loss of Interest

It may sound harsh, but partners losing interest in each other happens. It’s natural over the course of some relationships for partners to grow apart. They may not find their partner appealing anymore, the lack of common interests, or they’re just staying together because it’s just what they’re used to or familiar with.

In cases like this, it might be time to re-evaluate whether this is a relationship worth fighting for. It’s hard to intimate with someone you just aren’t interested in. It takes time and effort, and some people aren’t willing to invest any(more) time in trying.

How to Improve Intimacy in the Relationship

Don’t think that if you wait long enough the intimacy will simply return to your relationship. It has happened, but it’s a rare occurrence and you’d be doing yourself and your partner a disservice to if you did. It takes work to get the intimacy back into any relationship.

Talk to Your Partner

The first step to bringing intimacy back into your relationship to talk to your partner. Staying mum about something that’s bothering you is the best way to doom your relationship.

If you can’t talk to your partner your relationship is probably rocky as it is. The only way to improve intimacy is through communication. Inform your partner about your concerns and offer an opportunity to discuss them without judgment and or blame.

You might find that your partner has the same concerns but didn’t know how to approach you about them.

Make a Plan

You and your partner can plan specific times that you’ll spend together to work on your intimacy. It may sound rigid, but scheduling intimacy time is important when working on your relationship.

The planning in itself can be a chance to rebuild your intimacy. As you sit down and build a calendar of evenings out, weekend getaways, or nights in you can find new things in common you didn’t know you had. Maybe you both have an interest in learning to make pottery and neither of you knew it.

Limit the Use of Technology

If your partner complains about the amount of time you spend on any device, that could be part of your problem. Your cell phone, tablet, and laptop are distractions. If you or your partner can’t tear yourselves away from the news, emails or the latest ios or android game, you have a lot more to work on than just intimacy.

The caveat to removing technology from your intimacy is if you’re using it to enhance your intimacy. Things like online recipes for you to make together, or researching “couples time activities” are acceptable uses of technology. But, once you’ve found what you’re looking for or finished preparing the meal, put the phone or tablet away and enjoy the company of your partner instead of staring at a screen.

Look Into Couple’s Therapy

There might be underlying personal reasons for the loss of intimacy within your relationship. If you’ve tried other means, and it hasn’t helped, it might be time to seek out a relationship therapist.

You or your partner might be reluctant to talk to a therapist at first, but it could be the difference between re-establishing intimacy in your relationship or the end of it. A relationship without intimacy is a doomed relationship. If you both want to stay regain an intimate relationship, this may be your last chance.


The lack of intimacy in your relationship doesn’t have to mean curtains for your coupledom. While a relationship without intimacy can be repaired, it’s likely to take some work. Both parties must be willing to rebuild intimacy.

There are some things you can do to initiate the conversation about what’s missing in your relationship:

  • Talk to your partner
  • Make a plan
  • Put down the devices
  • Seek relationship counseling

A combination of these tactics is optimal. That way you’re coming at the problem from several angles.

The intimacy is not likely to simply return to your relationship. Without taking action, you’re sure to watch your relationship unravel.

Additional reading:

5 Signs Your Relationship is Over

3 Ways to Prioritize Your Relationship

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