Why do some people, singles and even some married people alike, go to great lengths to feel close to someone the opposite sex?  Sometime, the need to feel close to someone of the opposite sex is stronger than logic and good sense; sometimes it results in poor relationship choices such as relationship with someone who is married, a one night relationship, infidelity etc…

Is it because of loneliness? Is it because a desire for sex? Impulsive choices? Hormones? The reason can be a combination of any or all of the above, but the REAL desire is for intimacy.

Because our souls crave intimacy, sometimes a person will do just about anything to get close to someone they find interesting or attractive. The human desire for intimacy, for love, drives some to do things that they never thought they would.

So what does it mean to be intimate? Intimacy is a blending of one’s heart with another’s, so we can “see into” who they really are, and they can “see into” us. Being intimate involves the mixing of one’s life with another’s, a joining of souls, a connecting and sharing of hearts on a deep level (S. Schutte, 2009).

 Intimacy is more than sex. Sex is a part of intimate expression, but it is not intimacy. We are just lying to ourselves when we act as if sex is proof of love. Too many men demand sex as proof of love; too many women have given sex in hopes of love (Erwin McManus, 2006)

We live in a world filled with television and marketing that has prompted us to believe that it’s okay to use and abuse one other to try to escape the pain of aloneness. “We all long for intimacy, and physical contact can appear as intimacy, at least for a moment.” (Erwin McManus, 2006). However, intimacy is not found just by merging bodies ……in sex.

How many couples go to bed at night, have a sexual encounter but do not share their hearts?  How many sexually active people would describe themselves as lonely and depressed or even disillusioned? If sex were equivalent to intimacy, the answer to that would be “none”…however, it’s a large number and grows daily.

Unfortunately, our culture and society has sold us a lie.  Sex is not the source of intimacy but an expression of it. No matter how hard you try, if real emotional intimacy does not exist before sex, it most certainly won’t after.

Intimacy makes you feel alive…. like someone finally took the time to penetrate into the depths of your soul and really see you there. Until you experience this kind of intimacy, you will feel “unseen”, like someone is looking right through you and does not see you.

To build intimacy, you need to be willing to really get to know someone, their fears, dreams, hope and desires.  But, you also need to be willing to let someone get to know you, your dreams, hopes and desires.  Basically, you both need to be open to allowing the other person in which ultimately means, you’re opening yourself up to the risk that someone else can potentially hurt you. Both need to risk reciprocal vulnerability and a mutual commitment to protect one another vulnerability and trust will develop. It is the progressive development of a heart to heart connection.

Adapted from an article by S. Schutte

Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT