Finding that special someone to date and falling in love is the easy part; keeping a happy and healthy relationship is the hard part. Busy schedules, surprise visits from (annoying) family members, unpaid bills, and poor communication can lead to frustration and doubts, such as: Why are we so disconnected? Shouldn't true love be easy? Are we meant to be? Relationships are constantly growing and shifting, but couples can take these six steps that will help them foster intimacy — without sex.

1. Self-Disclosure And Eye Contact

Partners who are more open with one another by divulging their feelings are able to develop an instant bond. It may feel risky to be vulnerable or to reveal hidden parts of ourselves, but deep bonds can be established by asking a particular set of questions. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology described participants' reactions after asking each other questions such as: For what in your life do you feel most grateful? What is your most treasured memory? Share 5 positive characteristics about your partner. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother? What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about? They felt they were able to create a deep bond with each other, even though they were strangers.

Similarly, a study published in the journal Cognition found four minutes of eye contact made in silence was enough to facilitate a sense of intimacy among strangers by eliciting self-awareness and enhancing self-focused attention on humans. Self-disclosure and eye contact can help couples boost their intimacy by promoting a deeper connection.

2. Laughing Together

Laughter is the best medicine; not just for the blues, but also for intimacy. Sharing a few laughs can lead to increased feelings of closeness since humor is a characteristic part of our personalities, especially since not everyone shares the same sense of humor. When we laugh with someone, we feel they understand us.

A study published in the journal Personal Relationships found when same-sex strangers were manipulated to either create or not create a shared humorous experience, humor had a significant effect on closeness. Watching a comedy show that reflects a couples’ humor can allow for both partners to feel closer and more intimate with each other.

3. Cuddling Everyday

Simply getting 15 minutes of cuddling everyday could inundate the body and brain with positive effects, including oxytocin — the “love” hormone that helps us better trust people. Intimate cuddling will automatically make us feel more affectionate. A study conducted as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival revealed when it came to sleeping positions, 94 percent of couples who spent the night in contact with one another were happy in their relationship compared to just 68 percent of those who didn’t touch. This suggests the positive effect of cuddling and touching (non-sexually) at night in relationships.

4. Working Out Together

A couple who sweats together stays together. Getting our heart rates up side by side will boost romantic feelings, make us happier, and even strengthen our emotional bond. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found after jointly participating in an exciting physical challenge or activity, couples report feeling more satisfied with their relationships and more in love with their partner. The physiological arousal of the physical activity, rather than the activity itself, is what drives the romantic attraction.

5. Exchanging Feelings

Couples who discuss their feelings during times of conflict tend to feel more intimate with their partner. A study published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy found when it comes to three methods of dealing with anger — calm, rational discussion, "fair fighting," and sharing of hurt and of fear of hurt — intimacy is best found in sharing of hurt feelings rather than having a rational conversation. Showing our feelings rather than being concerned with being calm will help our partner understand our behaviors and actions.

6. Being Responsive

When both partners are truly informed and concerned about the welfare of their romantic partner, they are being "responsive" to one another. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found long-term couples who are responsive to each other outside the bedroom are able to maintain their sexual desire. When responsiveness was present, couples felt special and thought of their partner as a valuable mate, leading to a boost in sexual desirability. In other words, being responsive can lead to better sex.

Relationships take work to keep together, but intimacy helps unveil the hidden parts of ourselves which remain to be discovered by our partners.