How Practicing Recreational Intimacy Can Bring You Closer To Your Partner

Much like love languages and personality types, there are multiple different forms of intimacy — 12 to be exact, and each of them hit different needs and requirements within a relationship. While sexual intimacy typically gets most of the attention, achieving intimacy in other areas of your life can be the key to ensuring the longevity and health of your relationship. Enter recreational intimacy, a form of intimacy that is centered on shared free time activities and hobbies. (Quality time love language fans, this one is for you!)

By pursuing "play time" outside of work and obligations, recreational intimacy allows you and your partner to not only unwind and decompress but also discover new things together. With that being said, finding a shared hobby (or even the time to do a hobby) can be difficult for some couples. Between conflicting schedules, jobs, and other obligations, it can often feel impossible to have the kind of time required for a playful activity. However, while there are definitely pros and cons to treating your relationship like a job, sometimes regular check-ins can be necessary and can even provide the perfect opportunity to pursue new forms of intimacy. Prioritizing each other and your time together is an important part of the process that will ultimately help you grow closer to each other. Let's dive into the world of recreational intimacy and see if it might be worth pursuing with your partner.

How recreational intimacy works

Recreational intimacy is best achieved through one or more mutual hobbies. By sharing an activity, you and your partner can bond over the shared experience of that activity while taking your relationship to an outside environment. Remember that it is absolutely okay to not like your partner's hobbies. However, when deciding how to pursue recreational intimacy, it's best to only pick something you both actually enjoy. Finding that shared hobby can be an important part of your getting closer as a couple.

Perhaps one of the best things about recreational intimacy is how broad the range of activities can be. From hiking to bike riding to working out together, anything that gets you both out of the house and doing something fun together (remember: errands don't count) qualifies. According to Alan Rutherford, a licensed professional counselor, it can be useful for you and your partner to create lists of the different ways you've experienced recreational intimacy in the relationship. Making lists of these past activities combined with new potential activities can help you both find a shared activity to pursue together. It's important not to add your partner to an activity that's already yours (or vice versa) and to instead focus on finding a new experience you both can share together. By exploring something new as a couple you can discover new activities, places, and even ideas that will help you learn more about yourself and your partner. 

Benefits of recreational intimacy

In addition to helping you and your partner create new memories through shared experiences, getting outside and participating in physical activity can also be good for you. In fact, exercise in almost any form can help you combat mental and physical concerns ranging from heart disease to depression. Recreational intimacy can serve as the perfect excuse to get, or be more, active and it can allow you to work on yourself while simultaneously working on your relationship. A double win.

As an added bonus, harnessing recreational intimacy can also help you develop and grow one or even several other types of intimacy within your relationship. For instance, increased physical exercise can improve your mood and energy levels as well as help boost your confidence which can ultimately improve your sexual intimacy. Having more energy can also help your communication and commitment intimacies, further strengthening the relationship and bringing you closer. This renewed closeness can ultimately help you weather any conflict or crisis intimacy challenges that might arise. Working on one relationship intimacy can ultimately serve as the gateway to expanding many other elements of your relationship, and it's as easy as a sunset bike ride.

Potential drawbacks of the practice

If you and your partner struggle to find shared hobbies, you might have a hard time developing recreational intimacy. Without basic compatibility in your preferred recreational activities, it can be difficult to further develop this intimacy type. This is especially true if you and your partner have widely diverging ideas of recreational activity. For instance, if you love to hike, run, and explore National Parks but your partner prefers being at home with a book or video games, there could be a disconnect. 

Another potential for conflict is differing stress and/or, subsequently, energy levels. If one half of your partnership is under more stress, has a larger time commitment at work, or has lower energy levels than the other in general, it can make carving out recreational time feel like a chore rather than a benefit. With that being said, not all couples can, want, or are able to practice all twelve forms of intimacy. It's important to consider what will serve you both best. Fostering intimacy requires both parties to meet halfway, so if you and your partner find yourself at an impasse, it could be worth a larger discussion or even a potential redirect to another intimacy type that better fits your lifestyles. Finding the specific intimacy forms that work best for your relationship (whether that's two or all 12) is the key to ensuring a happy, healthy, and long-term partnership.