More Than Just One Type
When we speak of intimacy, some think we are speaking only of sex. Wrong. Five different types of intimacy need to be developed by couples. The trick is to develop them all at about the same rate at about the same time. This is tricky because most of us default to one or two types of intimacy rather than put in the work to develop them all. It’s also tricky because no one type of intimacy is more important than the other. They are just different, and each offer important qualities to our relationship. The five types of intimacy are: sexual, recreational, emotional, spiritual and non-sexual physical.
When we default to one type of intimacy, we stunt not only the growth of other types of intimacy, we also stunt the growth of our relationship. This was the case for us as our relationship became sexual within a month of our first date in college. As our relationship progressed and when tension developed we defaulted to sexual intimacy. “Let's not fight. Let's go to the bedroom and be close.” This set the stage for a lot of trouble down the road because we were rarely intentional about developing emotional and non-sexual physical intimacy. We could be close skin-to-skin but not heart-to-heart.
In the beginning, we also had decent recreational intimacy because Ann is a pretty good basketball player. Her hoops skills were sexy to me. She was an all-district player in basketball-rich southeast Missouri. I could more easily relate to the jock Ann but had a tougher time connecting with the elegant Ann. While recreational intimacy is vitally important to men, it causes problems when it becomes a default at the expense of other types of intimacy. The relationship becomes all fun and no substance. One develops a superb ability to find fun activities to do but have difficulty finding the other’s soul.
Ann admits she had a tougher time being in touch with her more tender side, too. This contributed to our difficulty developing emotional intimacy. You could say we were as emotionally connected as two immature college students could be. We could hang out all day and just enjoy each other’s company, but we couldn’t talk about the depths of our souls. Our hopes, dreams and desires went unshared and unnoticed by the person we were supposed to be the most connected to. Our emotional connection was flimsy at best and required much strengthening post-affair through an abundance of talking.
Our spiritual intimacy was nonexistent in the beginning because I wasn't a believer. Ann cringed when I slammed the door in the face of any evangelist that came knocking. Ann was a believer as a child but had tucked her beliefs away. Even once I became a believer and Ann renewed her commitment to Christ, we stumbled in this area. I would say this is one of the most difficult types of intimacy to truly develop because our spirituality accesses the deepest recesses of our hearts and souls. Our relationship with God is the most intimate relationship we have. And because we can’t hide anything from Him, when we share our spirituality, it’s as though we can’t hide anything from each other either.
Since our default intimacy was sexual, non-sexual physical intimacy was something we intentionally developed post-affair. A caress on the cheek, snuggling on the couch, holding hands while walking all had to become habit rather than a passing thought. Ann needed to know that I wanted her for more than sex, that embracing her did not signify an intention of hopping in the sack.
Most couples, like us, default towards one or two types of intimacy early in their relationship. Your story has a lot to do with which are strong and which require growth.
Explore your story with respect to intimacy and uncover where your hearts, souls and bodies need connection.
Betrayed and Betrayer by Ben and Ann Wilson coming Dec 1st.