Sexual Intimacy

Intimacy is a deeply emotional and vulnerable connection that brings people together.

Our confidence, communication, and sexual performance are all interconnected.” – Aidan, 39

In this section of the course, we’re going to learn about sexual intimacy as a pathway to developing a better romantic relationship. 

Sex is a great way to create intimacy, but it’s not the only way. We’ll cover some other strategies for creating intimacy later in the course’s Romance and Affection sections.

Challenges with sexual intimacy between partners often boil down to a lack of communication around wants and needs (both ours and our partner’s). Communication is the key to developing satisfying sexual intimacy with our partner.

This section of the course is divided into five parts:

  1. Common topics
  2. Setting realistic expectations
  3. Important considerations for developing sexual intimacy
  4. Tips for having conversations about sexual intimacy
  5. Communicating in the moment

We’ll start with the first three below:

1. Common topics

Sexual difficulties

  • Sexual difficulties are common in men for a variety of reasons, including depression. It’s important to let our partners know so they don’t blame themselves, and so we don’t feel bad about ourselves if we’re not able to perform when we would like.

More on navigating topics around intimacy in relationships when dealing with depression. 

Methods of contraception/ safe sex

  • It’s the responsibility of you and your partner to make sure sex is safe in order to prevent unintended pregnancy and contracting STIs. 
  • For example, you can start a conversation by saying “I want to make sure we’re on the same page for having safe sex and contraception…”   

Safe words and kinks

  • It’s important to have clear conversations about anything you or your partner might want to try. If something has a risk for causing anxiety or potentially hurting someone, it’s good to choose a safe word beforehand. 

How to navigate differences

  • If there is something you disagree on, whether it’s about cuddling, the frequency or type of sex you are having, or anything else, always try to have an open mind while your partner is explaining their desires. This doesn’t mean that you need to do anything you’re not comfortable with. You also shouldn’t pressure your partner to do something that they’re not comfortable with. 

2. Setting realistic expectations

We can’t create the ideal sex life from only one conversation, but ongoing discussions will improve our intimacy and communication skills.

While it’s nice to be able to have open and honest conversations about intimacy, setting expectations too high can impact everyone’s mental health negatively. We want to be sure we aren’t putting too much pressure on our partners or ourselves. It’s also important to keep in mind that not everything is like the movies or porn, and that most of those Instagram models’ posts are heavily edited.

Everyone has their own unique sexual desires and preferences, and there’s no one right or perfect way to have sex. Realistic expectations regarding sex involve understanding that sexual desire and arousal can be affected by various factors such as stress, depression, lack of sleep, hormonal changes, substance use, and problems in a relationship.

Sex may not always be mind-blowingly amazing or effortless, but it can still be enjoyable and bring you closer. By talking openly and honestly with your partner, you can create a satisfying sexual relationship that works for both of you.

3. Important considerations for developing sexual intimacy

Developing sexual intimacy takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and your partner, and enjoy the process of exploring each other’s bodies and desires.

Spend time together

  • Spending quality time together outside of the bedroom can help build emotional intimacy, which can translate into sexual intimacy. Plan date nights and engage in activities that you both enjoy.

Explore each other’s bodies

  • Take the time to explore each other’s bodies in a non-sexual context, for example by cuddling or giving each other massages. This can help build trust and familiarity.

Experiment with different techniques

  • Be willing to try new things in the bedroom, whether it’s new positions, toys, or fantasies. However, make sure you have a clear understanding of each other’s boundaries and communicate throughout the experience.

Foreplay and pleasure, not just orgasms

  • Sexual intimacy is about more than just achieving orgasm. Focus on enjoying the journey, rather than limiting sex to one specific part. Take time to use gentle, erotic touch to build sexual tension instead of rushing into having sex.

Practice sex-related mindfulness

While certain topics around sexual intimacy may feel awkward to bring up, doing so should strengthen your bond with your partner in the end through improved intimacy. 

On the next page, we’ll learn more specific tips for having conversations about sexual intimacy with our partner.  


Men's Health Week takes place annually in mid-June, during the week preceding Father’s Day. The week is not just a campaign, but a call to action for men to take better care of their health and for communities to support men in this endeavour.

Men's Health Week 2024