“Sex can be the most intimate and beautiful expression of love, but we are only lying to ourselves when we act as if sex is proof of love. Too many men demand sex as proof of love; too many women have given sex in hopes of love. We live in a world of users where we abuse each other to dull the pain of aloneness. We all long for intimacy, and physical contact can appear as intimacy, at least for a moment.” (McManus, Erwin; Soul Cravings, 2008)
Many have taken it in hand to write about the foregoing. I would not dare to undervalue the great amount of literary (fictional and non-fictional) work on the subject of love, intimacy and or sex. Suffice to say, this article is written to help you get a clear understanding of these expressions in themselves. I will attempt a brief definition of love, intimacy and sex. I will leave you with making up your mind on what your needs are. But first, a news flash! You don’t have to love someone to have sex with them nor do you need to be intimate with someone before going to bed with them either. What you need to clearly delineate and identify is what you want or need in a relationship. You need to be clear minded going into a close personal relationship. I believe in purpose driven relationships.
Love is not equal to sex
Love, contrary to what many people have come to believe, does not equate sex to love. This is misleading in every way possible. Love simply put is a sacrifice that you make for another person. For the record, we are not talking of erotica (the Hollywood version) of love. We are talking about the caring, nurturing, giving and receiving that humans have given to each other over the ages.
So what is intimacy?
For our purpose, let us define intimacy as a state of ‘being’ in a relationship. You see, intimate is a verb (something we do): it is “to make known”. Hence, intimacy is a gradual build up whereby two people intentionally and deliberately allow themselves to become vulnerable with each other. They give each other access to the delicate cognitive and affective parts of themselves that would otherwise be kept hidden from others. Through the passage of time, these people share and make known to each other through conversations and dialogues their dreams, fears, hopes and aspirations. With each person in the relationship reciprocating thus building confidences and forging bonds of closeness with each other. They develop a closeness and share a sense of belonging. They forged an and build a forum where each of them feels safe and secure enough to self-disclose, give and receive, trust and feel validated. Intimacy is a process that takes place and builds up over time. It is fluid and not stagnant.
What is sex then?
Sex? Sex on the other hand seems pretty straightforward cut and dry. But is it? In the mildest form, sex is simply an outlet for our need to satisfy our animal craving with the purpose of achieving an orgasm in both men and women. While many people equate sex with two people lying together, sex can actually be practised by one person as practised through the act of masturbation. It is important to distinguish human sex from the purely animal drive to jump on each other from lovemaking, the purposeful and delicate act of having a personal and pleasurable act of intercourse with each other. Personally, as a man, I think it is a privileged when your partner allows you into their personal bodily domain. I equally recognise that most people are into sex, for sex. Frankly, that leaves you unfulfilled and unsatisfied.
Issues of intimacy and sex
In all my years of pastoring and subsequently in my practice as a therapist, one of the outstanding issues that confront my clientele is the issues of intimacy and sex. In the main, most couples confuse one with the other and this becomes one of the most challenging knots to untie for them. Knots because as long as both elementary ingredients of meaningful and committed relationships are not clearly articulated, the couple finds themselves struggling. The result most often than not is infidelity.
Recognising that it takes time and conscious effort to trust someone else with all of our being, it becomes a challenge when we discover that our efforts have not been adequately reciprocated and our hopes have been betrayed. Hence, the emotional pain and distress that becomes infidelity. Infidelity, simply put is when one party drifts off or strays from the paths of a presumably happy and stable relationship. Many of us have come to identify infidelity with the situation of sexual intercourse outside of a seemly committed relationship. There it is again, sex; it is interesting that we rarely look for the root cause of infidelity rather than throwing ourselves into a fit of rage every time it occurs.