When sex is good, it’s REALLY good, so it’s no wonder so many people view physical intimacy as the main event. For me, just having sex is a snoozefest. You can sleep with anyone, but being intimate in other ways is harder and way more meaningful. Here’s why sex isn’t everything and it’s other types of intimacy that really bring relationships to the next level:
There’s a reason why casual hookups aren’t always satisfying. In college I had several casual flings. After awhile, I realized I really craved a connection that went deeper than physical attraction because sex alone doesn’t make you closer to someone. You need emotional intimacy too — it just takes time to figure out how to get there.
Opening up about your life and feelings is harder than just having sex. Early on in a relationship, embracing physical chemistry and jumping each other’s bones all the time feels good. It’s exciting and it feels like you’re moving forward. But just focusing on the physical is a common way to avoid the other side of the coin: emotional intimacy. It’s hard because you’re literally taking down your protective walls and letting someone in. If being vulnerable was easy, we’d all be fantastic communicators. Letting someone in means they have the ability to hurt you. It’s scary but worth it.
Emotional intimacy actually makes sex awesome. When you open up to someone, sex with that person becomes more meaningful. It also just makes anything physical, like hugging and kissing and cuddling, more magical! Why? Because you learn about them on a deeper level. Emotional intimacy lets you really “get” each other. Having a deeper connection leads to mind-blowing sex.
Getting to know each other on a deeper level strengthens the commitment. Learning about your partner’s past, where they’re going in life and why makes your connection stronger. Even the best sex can’t solidify commitment the way emotional intimacy does. When you both share your fears, hopes and dreams, you’re more invested in each other’s life journey, and that’s beautiful. Having that foundation will inspire you to stay together longer.
Building deeper relationships means connecting on all levels. Like a filling meal, relationships need several ingredients. On the most basic level, you have the physical, the mental and the emotional. Obviously, you can be emotionally and mentally connected to regular friends too — that’s why physical intimacy in a relationship is basically the difference between having a good friend and having a boyfriend. But if emotional and mental intimacy are the ice cream of a relationship sundae, physical intimacy is the whipped cream — and no one feels truly satisfied by just eating whipped cream.
Being intimate in other ways actually builds memories that last. You’re not going to remember every hot ‘n’ heavy sex sesh, but you’re going to remember that time your partner shared something that they’ve never shared with anyone else except you. That’s special because it’s something that only you and your partner have.
Physical intimacy doesn’t always satisfy your need to connect with your partner. Sex is nice, but sometimes you really just want to talk stuff out. There comes a point in every promising relationship where you just want to learn as much as possible about that person because you’re fascinated by them. It’s more than just attraction. The lack of emotional intimacy in casual hookups is the reason they crumble after a while. Sex by itself can’t hold it all together.
Spending real, quality time together forces you to be intimate in other ways. Not sure how to create the space for emotional intimacy? Go on an adventure. Exploring a new place with my partner always makes me feel closer to him. Not only do we create memories, but we put ourselves in a new environment which sparks different conversations that we normally don’t have. I’ll never forget late night long drives upstate with him. Getting out of the city let us forget our work troubles and just be open.
You actually end up learning more about yourself once you open up to your partner. When I actually let my boyfriend in, he drew connections to aspects of my life and experiences that I had never thought of before, and I’ve done the same for him. Being emotionally intimate lets you add more value to your relationship instead of just sexual favors.
Opening up the door to emotional intimacy will help you figure out who’s worth your time and who’s not. Maybe you’re in a promising almost relationship and you want to get to know this person better. Try suggesting something else besides staying in and watching a movie. If they aren’t into spending time with you and trying new things, that’s a red flag. Some people are so terrified of being vulnerable and opening up it’s nearly impossible to get to know them on a deeper level. Don’t fall into that trap. Either they’re not mature enough or not ready for it, or they’re just not interested in getting to know you that way. And we all deserve emotional intimacy.
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