Passion Intimacy And Love

By  BetterHelp & Laura Angers Maddox

Love and sex are sometimes viewed as separate entities, one being a source of affection and the other an expression of passion. But these two aspects of relationships are often interconnected. In fact, research suggests that a healthy sexual connection is often associated with increased relationship satisfaction. But what explains this association? And how do you foster intimacy in your partnership? Understanding how emotional and physical intimacy are linked may help you and your partner cultivate a deeper, more fulfilling relationship. Below, we’re going to explore the connections between love and sex and discuss ways you can nurture a healthy, intimate partnership.  

The Connection Between Love And Sex

A strong bond in romantic relationships can allow for greater understanding and support, helping couples work together to solve problems, anticipate each other’s needs, and enjoy one another’s company. It can also be beneficial for each individual partner’s well-being. Studies have found that forming close bonds can lead to higher levels of self-confidence, contentment, and fulfillment. There are many ways of developing such a connection. Communication, trust, honesty, and care can all lead to a deep bond. Another important way of fostering closeness is through physical intimacy. 

While physical intimacy often refers to sex, it may also encompass holding hands, kissing, cuddling, and other forms of affection. It is important to note that people have varying levels of desire, and many individuals do not experience sexual attraction. While sex can be a crucial part of relationships for some, it may be less important for others. 

Many experts have elucidated the connection between love and sex. In Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory of love, passion is one of three primary components of a successful relationship, along with emotional intimacy and commitment. According to this theory, improvements in passion can lead to enhancements in other aspects of a relationship, and vice versa. Studies consistently find that sexual satisfaction is associated with relationship quality. 

Physical touch can cause our brains to produce oxytocin, known as the “love hormone”. Oxytocin can provoke feelings of calmness, warmth, and trust, potentially helping partners feel happier and more comfortable around each other. This suggests that there may be a biological basis for the association between love and sex. Sex can be accompanied by physical health benefits as well. Studies have shown that sexually active subjects exhibit reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms compared to their non-sexually active counterparts. Physical intimacy also leads to the release of endorphins that can boost our mood and make us feel energized.

Intimacy is also a way of being vulnerable with your partner. Vulnerability plays an important role in nurturing meaningful connections. By telling each other your desires and putting yourself out there, you can show your partner that you trust them. This may, in turn, allow them to feel more comfortable opening up to you.

Healthy sexual expression often involves many aspects that are crucial to a successful relationship. Physical intimacy provides you and your partner the opportunity to focus on communication, understanding, respect, and empathy.

The Role Of Love In Physical Intimacy

Just as physical intimacy can be a vital aspect of a healthy relationship, the presence of love and emotional intimacy is thought to enhance a couple’s sexual connection. For example, researchers in one study found that feelings of emotional connectedness often preceded sexual desire and intimacy among committed partners. A strong emotional bond can add depth to sexual experiences, potentially leading to a more holistic and multi-dimensional experience.

An emotional bond may help both partners feel safe and confident engaging in sexual activities together. Feeling loved and valued in a relationship may make partners more comfortable exploring their desires, encouraging them to take risks and experiment in the bedroom. Partners who are emotionally intimate often know how to communicate effectively, allowing them to talk through what they’d like to try sexually and what they aren’t comfortable with. 

It is important to remember that sex is not the only way that two people can become close. Love can enrich other forms of physical contact, such as hugging or cuddling. Emotional intimacy, respect, and commitment, while they may make sex more satisfying for many people, are valuable elements in any relationship—sexual or not. By nurturing an atmosphere based on understanding and appreciation, it is possible to create a strong bond between two people regardless of what activities occur in the bedroom.

Developing A Stronger Connection Through Intimacy

As partnerships evolve, the strong sexual attraction that often exists at the beginning tends to wane. Far from being troubling, this is a common sign that partners have started to build a relationship based on an emotional connection. While it is normal for intimacy to become a less prominent factor in relationships over time, physical affection can still be vitally important—as discussed above. Luckily, with the right approach, you can foster physical intimacy and ensure you’re connecting with your partner in a meaningful way. The following are some strategies for reigniting passion in your relationship.


As we’ve touched on already, communication between partners can be key if you want to reignite the flame that once brought you together. Speaking honestly with your partner about what makes you feel connected to them can help you understand each other. Your significant other may not know that you’d like to cultivate a more fulfilling sex life. And you might not be aware of their desires. 

Having a conversation about intimacy can help you and your partner get on the same page as you work to develop more physical closeness. For example, you could start by telling them that you’d like to explore new ways of being physically intimate. You might discuss some ideas for how to spice things up in the bedroom and ask them if there are things they’d like to try. 

You may also want to ask your partner whether there are other conflicts they would like to address. Emotional strife in a relationship can get in the way of intimacy. Providing your partner with the opportunity to express themselves—and expressing your feelings about the relationship—may help you work through challenges, improve your emotional bond, and promote greater intimacy. 

Set Aside Time 

When you’re busy, it can be hard to spend alone time with your partner; but this is often key to promoting a healthy sex life. Scheduling time for just the two of you gives you the chance to connect and, possibly, express yourselves physically. Consider setting aside thirty minutes each night during which you and your partner give each other your undivided attention. 

Practice Self-Care 

When you want to provide increased emotional support and love to your partner, it can help to ensure you’re also taking care of yourself and your needs. Making sure you have time to yourself to relax and recharge can be essential for keeping a relationship healthy. It may be difficult for you to meet your partner’s needs if you don’t have energy, or your mental well-being isn’t being tended to. Self-care activities like exercising, meditating, journaling, or doing something fun with friends can be healthy ways to de-stress and re-energize.  

Talk To A Professional

Sometimes, couples struggle to connect due to conflict within the relationship or individual mental health challenges. In these cases, therapy can be beneficial, allowing partners to address obstacles that may be in the way of healthy intimacy. An open dialogue facilitated by a professional mediator can provide couples with the opportunity to develop effective communication strategies, explore possible sources of tension, and express their feelings.

If you and your partner are looking for ways to rekindle your passion, helpful mental health resources may be more readily available than you think. Online therapy can help couples discover deeper levels of understanding and closeness.

Research indicates couples can foster closer, more fulfilling relationships through online therapy. In a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, researchers found that online therapy led to increased relationship satisfaction. The study notes that these results were partly due to the enhanced intimacy and communication that online therapy can facilitate.

Online therapy can help you nurture a healthy, close relationship with your partner. , You can connect with a therapist remotely, which can be convenient if you’re not comfortable discussing topics like intimacy in person, which help address your specific concerns regarding your relationship. 


Understanding the association between physical and emotional intimacy can help couples nurture a close, fulfilling partnership. When combined with communication, understanding, respect, and empathy, a healthy sex life can help couples connect and grow. If you’d like to become more intimate with your significant other, consider getting matched with a licensed therapist online. Working with a qualified professional, you can rediscover your passion for your partner and continue to develop a strong, healthy bond.


Frequently asked questions

Read more below for answers to questions commonly asked about this topic.


Does sex relate to love?

Sex and love may feel intrinsic, but they're not necessarily mutually exclusive concepts. While sex can be a part of a loving relationship, it's not the only important aspect of love. Love can involve emotional, psychological, and social connections, while sex is a physical act. 

People can have sex without love, and they can love someone without engaging in sex. The relationship between sex and love varies and can depend on individual beliefs, values, and cultural factors. Likewise, people with different sexualities and identities experience varying levels of attraction and sexual desire, and all are valid. 

How does sex feel in love?

Sex between partners who are in love can feel deeply fulfilling, intimate, and emotionally charged. Being in love may enhance the quality of intimacy and affection between partners. Passionate sex is a plus for couples in a loving relationship and may feel more meaningful and profound than casual encounters, as they involve a strong emotional connection.

Why is sex so good with someone you love?

You may feel like you're having great sex with someone you love because you both feel emotionally safe, you can trust each other, and you have a sense of safety. Love can present a safe and comfortable environment where you both can play, explore, and feel vulnerable doing it, which may allow your sexual needs to be met without feeling anxious or judged. 

People who are in love may feel greater sexual satisfaction, desire more sex with their partner, and experience high sex drives if they've found a good partner.

Is sex a pure form of love?

The act of sex may not be a pure form of love for everyone, but it can be an expression of love for many. For some, such as people who identify as asexual, expressing love can encompass a wide range of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral aspects that can be just as fulfilling as sex. Love is a complex emotion with many dimensions beyond the physical realm.

Do men get attached after sex?

Attachment can vary from person to person of any gender. For some, including men, sex may increase the emotional attachment people feel for their partner, while others may not experience that closeness. Personal experiences, values, and the nature of the relationship influence attachment and emotional responses to sex.

Do men bond through sex?

Sex can contribute to the level of bonding people experience in a relationship, but it's not the only way to connect with your partner. Men, like women, can feel close to their partners through experiences, emotional connection, talking, and trust. Sex can be one of the many ways to deepen the emotional bond between partners.

How do men feel after sex?

There's no universal way men tend to feel after sex. Their feelings may vary based on their personal experiences and the nature of the relationship. Some men, like individuals of any gender, may notice a deeper emotional connection or satisfaction. Others may feel happy, intimate, or vulnerable. Emotional responses to sex are unique to each person.

Why is sex so powerful?

Sex may feel so intense because both physical and emotional aspects of the human senses are engaged. People with active sex lives, whether they're married couples or people in long-term relationships, may feel deeper intimacy, pleasure, and connection with their partner. Sex can trigger the release of "feel good" hormones, such as oxytocin and dopamine, which may contribute to the bond between partners.

What does sex do to a man in love?

Men, like any individual, in a loving relationship can deepen their emotional connection to their partner through sex. Sex may create feelings of closeness and happiness. People often feel more attached and trusting with their partner. If sex is important to both of you, it may contribute to a more fulfilling and meaningful relationship.

Does sex make men feel in love?

If the sex is pleasurable and comfortable, it can make anyone feel close and more attracted to their partner. Once the brain associates sex with a particular partner, it can create an attachment and desire for that person. The presence of dopamine and oxytocin related to sex with that partner may result in emotional preoccupation and physical desire. 

In other words, sex can play a chemical role in developing feelings for each other. Sex isn't the only way people experience love or how they fall in love with their partners. People are emotionally stimulated across different categories and can fall in love with anyone based on many factors that don't involve sex.



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