Why intimacy is the glue to healthy relationships

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Sunday, November 20, 2016

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LACK of intimacy has been identified by many as one of the main reasons for divorce. Many relationships reach this place because couples are unable to see a difference between intimacy and sex. Additionally, little is noted of the benefits of non-sexual physical, emotional and spiritual bonding because people were socialised to believe that sex is the glue to lasting relationships.


Marriage, family and sex therapist Dr Carla Dunbar argues that the societal belief that sex is superior to all other interactions in a relationship is flawed. In fact, she has put forward that intimacy, if anything, is the glue to healthy relationships


"Intimacy is indeed so much more than sex. The Hebrew term ‘yada’ actually reveals intimacy to be a deep knowing of the other, which could include but is not restricted to sex. So many of us have a deep desire to know and be known, as it gives us a feeling of belonging in relationships," Dr Dunbar said.


Citing findings from various research, Dr Dunbar told All Woman that what most women seek through engaging intimately is that ‘knowing’. But, according to the sex expert, many women are often short-changed.


"Many women end up just having sex because their actual desire is often interpreted wrongly by their male counterparts. Sex is actually just one act of being intimate because the intention by the Creator is that we know each other deeply before sexually engaging; however, we often view sex as the only way to be intimate," Dr Dunbar explained.


She pointed out that couples who are locked in the confines of sex, and whether by ignorance or choice are not becoming intimate, are losing out on the most pleasurable part of the sexual experience.


"This is so sad because the sexual experience is so much better when there is deeper friendship shared through intimacy, which should evolve into the shared commitment of marriage, and it does not take away spontaneity or exhilarating erotica of the experience.


"Couples who spend time with each other apart from sex, engaging in their partner’s interests and hobbies, find yet another way to grow closer and have fun. This is termed as recreational intimacy, and most partners, especially men, need a recreational companion. Your participation sends the message that ‘I care about your everything, even if I have to learn your fun stuff; I love you enough to want to learn more about you’," Dr Dunbar said.


She encouraged couples to embrace shared intimacy even outside of bedroom shenanigans. Dr Dunbar noted that this is particularly important because, in much the same way engaging in sex alone has no bonding agent, without intimacy relationships die a slow, painful death.


"Sex is great intimacy glue, but it’s certainly not the most important glue for a romantic relationship. In romantic relationships we should aspire to allow deepening friendship and knowing to take our intimacy to another level," she advised.


Sex therapist Dr Sidney McGill shares a similar perspective on intimacy and sex.


"Intimacy involves emotional and physical closeness. Engaging in your partner’s interests and hobbies is going to take your intimacy up another notch," he said.

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