Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Intimacy Factor

After making love with my husband the other night (and if my dad or my girls are reading this, it’s okay, everyone…no details will follow!), an interesting thought crossed my mind. There’s a factor involved when you are sexually engaged with another person that sometimes gets lost in the fireworks.

Everyone recognizes that sex is significant to a relationship because it is physically intense. That special person who is there when you reach the pinnacle of pleasure is bound to mean a lot to you, if only in that moment, no matter how much you try to treat the act as “casual.” But there’s something else that goes on that may create even more of an attachment.

Ever think about why it is that we are naturally shy about sex? Even if a person is raised without any religious guilt or other hindrances, he or she will tend to keep his or her erotic activities on the D.L. I think it’s because passion makes us a little crazy, and certainly different in our behavior than in any other circumstance, and we’re just not comfortable showing that side of ourselves. In order to be willing to let another person see us like that, we need certain assurances, like privacy and trust. [Well, unless we are drunk or simply too turned on to resist, that is. But if intoxication or extreme horniness came into play, the result is typically that “walk of shame” the next morning.]

My point is, we don’t give away our sexual selves easily without paying a price. The happier, more comfortable manner of doing it is in the context of a strong relationship, one where we have become at ease and secure with our partner. If you are intimate in other things, like knowing each other’s personal history, sharing times of illness or extreme emotion, creating a home, etc., you will likewise be intimate in bed. It’s hard to worry about what your mate with think of the sex noises you make when he’s seen you with the stomach flu!

People complain a lot about “losing the magic” as a relationship ages, and that’s a topic I could discuss for pages. But there’s one aspect of a mature relationship that is a real benefit: the accumulated intimacy. Being at ease in bed is a real boon, especially when you are too tired or stressed to worry about being really sexy or performing at your peak. When you’re not at your best, love and intimacy can take up a lot of slack.

The flip side of this is that when you choose to have sex with someone, that person is going to uncover a very private part of you, and vice versa. If that one piece of intimacy is out of balance with the rest of your relationship with him or her, some strange repercussions will develop in spite of both your intentions to be casual and not have the encounter mean anything. Perhaps it isn’t a big deal in the context of the rest of your life (although it’s sad when that’s true of sex!), but it will mean something, assuredly.

The Intimacy Factor does matter, whether in a stable relationship decades long or a one night stand. Those who are wise at love are mindful of that!

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