The Difference Between Intimacy and Sex
I wish I’d known the difference between sex and intimacy
I never thoroughly understood the difference between sex and intimacy until after I was married for a few years. I slowly realized that, for me, a critical component of a happy and fulfilling relationship was missing. I craved closeness, affection, warmth, and togetherness in order to feel sexual feelings toward my husband.
Sex vs Intimacy
Sex is a physical act. Sex does not necessarily carry with it an emotional connection or feelings of attachment. I mean ultimately, that’s what the majority of people want in their relationships, however, it’s not the case for everyone. Sometimes sex is just a physical act performed in order to achieve an orgasm. Some people are okay with just needing that physical connection.
Intimacy is a feeling of closeness, familiarity, and/or friendship with another person. Synonyms for intimacy are: attachment, affection, warmth, togetherness, affinity, rapport. I had none of these things in my first marriage. In fact, we were severely detached from each other’s needs.
I’m an emotional person and I couldn’t be my true self for fear he wouldn’t accept me. Typically, my husband recoiled when I expressed any type of emotion and as a result, I grew more and more distant. Because I didn’t have those critical components of intimacy in my relationship, I didn’t feel connected to him. I discovered that I needed intimacy in order to feel sexual.
In the beginning of our relationship sex with my then husband was mediocre. For some reason I thought that as we grew together in our marriage, the sex would get better. Well, I was wrong. It got worse and I became more and more detached and unfulfilled. Before long, sex became an obligatory act that eventually became a repulsive one. Five years into it, the thought of having sex with this man triggered my gag-reflex.
I think because we lacked the intimacy I needed to enjoy having sex with him.
I wish I would have understood the importance of intimacy in a relationship, especially a long-term relationship. I wish my husband did too. I have found that most people don’t talk about sex and intimacy. It’s probably because they were never taught how to express themselves emotionally or sexually. In our culture our boys are taught to detach from their emotions. Our girls are taught that their bodies are objects so they detach from their bodies. Boys and girls need to be taught to connect with the mind, body and spirit. But that’s the subject of another post.
Sex and intimacy are two different things. It’s important to understand how they differ and how they correlate. It’s also important to understand what you value. If intimacy isn’t important to you but it’s important to your partner, this should be discussed before you get married. How will you navigate these differences in your marriage? Will you consider not getting married if this need is not fulfilled?
This may not be true for you but for me and most women we need intimacy in order to have a satisfying sexual encounter. Being desired and desiring is part of the total sex package.
Sexual desires are also something that should be talked about. We need to be able to express our sexual desires and our partner should listen without judgment. Both people need to feel free and safe to express their sexual desires and just like any other part of a relationship, there needs to be some compromise and understanding. Within reason, of course. For example, if one person wants to attend “swinger” parties and the other doesn’t, well then that’s something that will need to be worked through delicately.
If you enjoy sex and want it to get better with your partner, it’s important to understand their needs, your needs, and how to communicate with each other. I have found that listening to my partner, connecting with my partner, and not judging my partner is very important for a healthy sexual relationship. It doesn’t mean we have to agree or comply, but it’s critical to be respectful and compassionate while we find a compromise.
What are your views on sex and intimacy in a relationship?
Do you have intimacy in your current relationship or a relationship from the past?
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