Overview of Types of Sex

Intimate relationships are personal relationships that involve different levels of life sharing. The term "intimacy" refers to a strong physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and/or social closeness or connection. Intimate relationships may or may not include sexual intimacy.

Healthy intimate relationships can have a positive effect on all aspects of life and unhealthy relationships can have a negative impact on well-being. Intimacy depends on and can be influenced by several factors, including the following:

  • Familiarity
  • Feelings (e.g., affection, caring, concern, love [passionate love, romantic love, compassionate love])
  • Freedom from fear, coercion, or intimidation
  • Honesty
  • Open communication
  • Respect
  • Security
  • Trust

Intimate personal relationships often include talking and sharing feelings, spending time with each other, and participating in common interests and activities together. Sexual intimacy can involve a wide range of sexual behaviors, including touching (e.g., holding hands, hugging, cuddling, fondling), and kissing, and sexual intercourse.

Types of sex include oral sex, vaginal sex, and anal sex. When an intimate relationship includes types of low-risk sexual behavior, such as open-mouth kissing, and/or high-risk sexual behavior, such as oral sex, vaginal sex, or anal sex, it is important to practice safer sex. Safer sex reduces the risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unintentional pregnancy and is a crucial part of staying healthy.

In addition to touching and kissing, sexual intimacy may be expressed through the following:

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 05 Dec 2008

Last Modified: 05 Oct 2015