I dated my first girlfriend for five years. I was twenty-one and she was eighteen when we started. Yes, I believe if you can’t find someone your own age go for someone younger. This is further proven by my second and current girlfriend because she’s six years younger. No one older possessed my favourite quality, desperation, but that’s a whole other story. My first girlfriend and I had never dated before we met. Yes, I know I’m impressive: twenty-one and never dated. I didn’t even have the classic elementary school relationship: (girl) “Do you want to go out with me?” (me) “Okay.” (girl) “Never mind, recess is over, so I have to break up.” (me) “Well, it was good while it lasted.” Dating someone who had never dated before when I hadn’t either was a pretty awesome set up because everything we did together was a first including our first kiss, our first anniversary, our first break up…okay, that’s one first, if given the choice, I would’ve passed on, but the way things worked out, we quickly became best friends and deeply connected to each other. We were so close that when she broke up with me – yeah, I can’t believe she’d break up with me either, I’m awesome – she helped me through it. I didn’t have to help her because she was fine… that sucks when the other person is fine: (me) “Why am I the only one crying? Can’t you at least fake cry for me? That’s what I’m doing. I’m faking these tears to make you feel better. I’m being courteous… yes, so courteous.”
During the lead up to my first girlfriend leaving me, our intimacy had waned. Due to certain circumstances, she became distant and eventually refused to really connect with me anymore. The truth is I so longed for one of our nights of laughing together and feeling emotionally connected that I would’ve done anything… to make out. Yes, that’s brilliant isn’t it? I was lonely and feeling lost, and all I could think about was: “Man, I’m horny.” I think it’s fair to say that I’m not alone in this, especially with guys. When we’re at our loneliest we’re thinking: “Golly, I’m feeling a right bit randy,” because that’s a lot easier than thinking: “I’m lonely, and in a lot of pain.” This idea is best expressed by a statement I heard from a brilliant speaker: “People today crave intimacy, but they’re settling for sexuality, and are being left unsatisfied.” This makes sense to me because it’s easier to offer my body than my heart, but when I don’t offer my heart, I’m left feeling lonely and needing something more.
A friend who heard this noted that he always considered intimacy and sexuality to be the same until he saw them juxtaposed against each other. This seems to be the normal way we think: “That couple is being intimate; they’re dining on each other’s saliva,” but that’s not being intimate; that’s being sexual. Here’s the difference: I can say that I’m intimate with my friends. I can even say I’m intimate with my sister (that feels a little odd to write… I’m sure it’s odd to read), but I can’t be sexual with her. If this happened, I’m not sure who would throw up first, her or me. Thus, seeing these two words beside each other is important because it reminds us that there is a distinction between them: intimacy is related to our emotional connection whereas sexuality is about our physical connection. I would go so far as to say that anything you wouldn’t do with your sister is sexual rather than intimate. Thus, cuddling is not intimate, it’s sexual; tickle fights, especially when you end up with one on top of the other (at least that’s what happens when you do it right), is not intimate, it’s sexual. Sexual doesn’t even have to be touching; it can include dirty talk: “Hey you… girl… I want to… you know… um… do stuff.” Yeah this is an area that I’ve yet to master. So often we say something is intimate when it’s sexual because we often forget that being intimate is more about connecting with someone in a deeper emotional way.
As a tip to guys, when a woman says: “I want romance,” or “I want you to be more romantic,” what she’s saying is I want to be intimate. Again, this is not about being sexual; it’s about connecting on a deeper level. For instance, you could put on a suit, take her out to a fancy restaurant and have a candlelit dinner where you feed one another – things I wouldn’t do with my sister therefore proving its sexual nature – but all of this would be lost if you spent the night talking about finances: “This food is so good… so what’s your projection for our fiscal year? Hmmm, delicious… so how’s your budgeting going?” Thus, this example also demonstrates the importance of seeing that intimacy and sexuality can be connected, and should be connected in a committed, romantic relationship. In marriage, without intimacy, sexuality suffers; without sexuality, intimacy suffers. In marriage we need a balance of both. When this happens fighting is reduced, the world is easier to accept, and trials don’t have the same damaging effect.
Please note: In my book I share seven ways to develop intimacy… yes, that’s a plug for my book, but it’s worth it (insert smiley face emoticon here to appear friendly and non-threatening).
Sex is not a tool for intimacy; it is a tool for supporting intimacy. Being sexual should be the reward for developing an intimate relationship… at least in romantic relationships. Being intimate in friendships should offer a different reward… hopefully: “I’ve really become close with my plumber, so I guess I need to thank him properly. When he bends over, his pants are already half off anyway.” Having intimate friends provides a safety net of support and encouragement. It offers an extended sense of security that can be very beneficial to both you as an individual and you as a couple. Thus, all intimate relationships are valuable and something for which to strive.
Unfortunately, because it’s easier to offer our bodies rather than our hearts, we use being sexual as a way to hopefully one day develop intimacy, but this leaves many people preferring to simply be sexual and not develop intimate relationships. Thus, people are left feeling lonely, which leaves them more susceptible to fits of jealousy and increases the risk of cheating. Sexuality is easier, but on its own it’s not enough. Unfortunately, being sexual is the norm in our society. I’ve heard people say: “You’ve been dating a month and you haven’t had sex? Ouch.” But you never hear: “You’ve been dating a month and he hasn’t told you what his hopes and dreams are? You’ve been together for a month and he hasn’t asked you about your cat? Does he not know anything about you?” This is, unfortunately, the way we’re taught to think. Even in the classic stories when the hero saves the damsel in distress: “I’ve just saved your life; why don’t we go to a coffee shop to talk and get to know each other on a deeper level?” If this was how stories went, we the viewers would be disappointed: “Kiss her, and live happily ever after! Be a man… who says let’s get to know each other on a deeper level?” Unfortunately, we can’t live happily ever after if we don’t learn how to be intimate and be connected on a deeper level.
In my book I discuss how sex is a gift from God (yes, that’s another plug), but it’s time we start to discover what it means to be intimate because only through a healthy balance of both sexuality and intimacy will we ever feel truly satisfied. Offering our bodies may feel safer – and a whole lot of fun – but until we learn how to share our hearts, we’ll be left lonely and wanting something more.