What’s the difference?
“Experiencing the feelings of love and intimacy can be the most wonderful and the most heartbreaking moments in your life.”
This brief article offers some perspectives on love and sex, and gives you some guidelines for thinking through your relationship.
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Longing for intimacy
We all have an in-built need to belong, to love and be loved. We long for intimacy. Experiencing the feelings of love and intimacy can be the most wonderful and the most heartbreaking moments in your life. The longing and need for intimacy are part of life for everyone. These longings can be even stronger if you’re troubled by the feeling that you don’t “belong”. Sometimes we make mistakes about how to find true intimacy and belonging.
Sex and intimacy
The media often gives the message that having sex is essential to a relationship and will bring a couple closer. Will it? Sex can be a wonderful part of a real love relationship, but of itself the act of having sex does not remove a person’s feelings of loneliness or lack of belonging. Sex does not and cannot replace love.
True intimacy is emotional closeness. Physical closeness (like sex) can happen without any love or intimacy at all. Sadly, it’s easy to mistake sex for emotional intimacy and feel deep hurt and regret afterwards.
Decisions About Sex
Whether or not to get into sex is something you deserve to really think about – not just because of the risk of STIs, but because of pregnancy, abortion and emotional hurts. There’s no such thing as casual sex. People’s emotions and physical well being are always on the line.
Alcohol, drugs, pressure from others and even your emotional state can affect your ability to make clear decisions about sex and what you truly want from a relationship. Surveys consistently show many people report being coerced into unwanted sex. It’s important to stand up for yourself and what’s good for you now and good for your future goals and plans.
Popular culture gives the impression everyone is having sex and those who aren’t are losers. It’s important to make decisions based on a sense of your worth and dignity as a person, not what advertisers, porn sites and television writers say you are worth.
Being Loved for Yourself
Discovering romantic love means discovering the joy and pain that goes with it. Our first relationships can be both wonderful and awful. From them we learn what we are looking for in a lifetime partner. Along the way we need to make decisions about how we want our relationships to be so we don’t stuff things up for the future.
Saying no when everyone seems to be having sex can feel lonely. However, it may mean fewer regrets later on. Take time to be free to be yourself. Find out what you want out of life. You can decide to hold out for someone who will commit to loving you for yourself, not for what they can get.
There are lots of good reasons for choosing to wait, like self-respect … avoiding pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections … protecting yourself from emotional hurt … honouring a religious belief … preparing for a lifetime commitment with one special person. If someone says they love you, they will cherish you for who you are. Being prepared to wait is a statement of their love and commitment. It also means they care about your well-being.
There are many ways to be close and show that you care, like –
- making friends and just enjoying life
- sharing fun in sport, music and other activities
- sharing your feelings about what you want out of life and listening to the other person
- getting involved together in a community activity that helps others
Infatuation and love
Infatuation – it’s the crazy feeling of being so into someone you can’t think about anything else – their looks, every word they’ve spoken, what they wore. You can even be infatuated with someone you’ve never met, like a movie star or rock singer. Infatuation is fun. It adds some magic to life and makes everyday things special but it isn’t what makes a relationship work. A lasting relationship grows and changes as the individuals in it grow and change. To cope with change, a relationship has to be grounded in more than infatuation.
How to Analyse Your Relationship
Being able to judge whether your feelings are REAL LOVE can be difficult when emotions are running high. Questions that you might ask of your relationship include:
- RESPECT – Does he or she listen when you speak? Does he/she know the things that are most important to you and vice versa? Do you freely share opinions? Would you like your partner as a person if you weren’t going with them?
- EQUALITY – What do you do together as shared interests? Do you share each other’s friends? Do you take it in turns to decide what you do and who with?
- AFFECTION – Are there any signs of affection or kindness apart from sexual activity?
- LOYALTY – Is he/she loyal to you regardless of what his/her friends think and do? Ever heard stories back?
- LIBERATION – Do you have someone to turn to apart from this person? Do you still see other friends? What is the future of your education and other life goals if this relationship continues?
- OPENESS – Do you and your partner feel free to express negative feelings of guilt, anger, depression? Do you and your partner freely express positive feelings of love and affection?
- VIGOUR – Is the intensity of the relationship one sided? Do you see your partner as a friend?
- ENRICHMENT – Do you like the way you act whilst in this relationship? Do you believe that you have matured in it?
When you are open and honest with each other it’s amazing how close you can feel – that’s the beginning of true intimacy!
These are only general suggestions. You should always seek outside help if you are unsure what to do. If you need to talk to someone you can call –
OPEN DOORS COUNSELLING
5 Greenwood Ave Ringwood 3134 Victoria Australia.
Ph: (03) 9870 7044
Freecall outside Melbourne 1800 647 995
or use our Contact Form to request an appointment, a call back or to ask a question.