Sex and the Search for Intimacy

Sex and the Search for Intimacy

By Dick Purnell

Dr. Henry Brandt, in the Collegiate Challenge magazine, said that there is a syndrome, a pattern, when couples come to him. They say, “At first, sex was exciting. Then I started feeling funny about myself, and then I started feeling funny about my partner. We argued and fought and finally we broke up. Now we are enemies.”

The Search for Intimacy

This syndrome is what I call the morning-after syndrome. We wake up and find that intimacy is not really there. The sexual relationship does not satisfy us anymore, and what we end up with is not what we really wanted in the first place. All you have is two self-centered people seeking self-satisfaction. The elements of genuine love and intimacy cannot be obtained “instantly,” and you find yourself in an unbalanced state, searching for harmony.

Intimacy means more than the physical.

Each of us has five significant parts in our lives. We have the physical, the emotional, the mental, the social, and the spiritual. All five of these parts are designed to work together in harmony. In our search for intimacy we want the solution today, or yesterday.

One of our problems is that we want “instant” gratification. When the need for intimacy in a relationship is not met, we look for an “instant” solution. Where do we look? Physical, mental, social, emotional or spiritual? It’s the physical. It is easier to be physically intimate with someone than to be intimate in any of the other four areas. You can become physically intimate with a person of the opposite sex in an hour, or half-hour — it just depends upon the urge! But you soon discover that sex may only be a temporary relief for a superficial desire. There is a much deeper need that is still unmet.

What do you do when the thrill wears off and the more you have sex, the less you like it? We rationalize it by saying, “We are in love. No, I mean really in love.” But we still find ourselves and unsatisfied. On campuses all across America I see men and women searching for intimacy, going from one relationship to another hoping, “This time will be it. This time I am going to find a relationship that will last.”

I believe that what we really want is not sex. What we really want is intimacy.

Today, the word intimacy has taken on sexual connotations. But it is much more than that. It includes all the different dimensions of our lives — yes, the physical, but also the social, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects as well. Intimacy really means total life sharing. And haven’t we all had the desire at one time or another for closeness, for oneness, for sharing our life with someone totally?

The fear of intimacy – afraid to be loved?

Marshall Hodge wrote a book called Your Fear of Love. In it he says, “We long for moments of expressions of love, closeness and tenderness, but frequently, at the critical point, we often draw back. We are afraid of closeness. We are “afraid of love.” Later in the same book Hodge states, “The closer you come to somebody, the greater potential there is for pain.” It is the fear of pain that often drives us away from finding true intimacy.

I was giving a series of lectures at a university in southern Illinois. After one of the meetings, a woman came up to me and said, “I have to talk to you about my boyfriend problems.” We sat down, and she began telling me her troubles. After a few moments, she made this statement: “I am now taking steps never to get hurt again.” I said to her, “In other words, you are taking steps never to love again.” She had thought I misunderstood, so she continued. “No, that’s not what I am saying. I just don’t want to get hurt anymore. I don’t want pain in my life.” I said, “That’s right, you don’t want love in your life.” You see, there is no such thing as “painless love.” The closer we come to somebody, the greater potential there is for pain.

I would estimate that you (and around 100 percent of the population) would say you have been hurt in a relationship before. The question is, how do you handle that hurt? In order to camouflage the pain, a lot of us give people what I call the “double-sign.” We say to a person, “Look, I want you to come closer to me. I want to love and be loved . . . but wait a minute, I’ve been hurt before. No, I don’t want to talk about these subjects. I don’t want to hear those things.” We build walls around our hearts to protect us from anyone on the outside getting in to hurt us. But that same wall which keeps people out, keeps us stuck inside.

The result? Loneliness sets in and true intimacy and love become impossible.

The Search for Intimacy

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