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Sexual Intimacy

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Definition:

Unsurprisingly, how sexual intimacy is defined depends largely on who is defining it. There are academic, neatly compartmentalized definitions, like this one from psychology, which describes sexual intimacy as:

“the level of commitment and positive affective, cognitive and physical closeness one experiences with a partner in a reciprocal (although not necessarily symmetrical) relationship.”

Most definitions of sexual intimacy include feelings (feeling close, feeling safe, feeling loved) as well as behaviors (being able to share personal feelings and stories, being physically close). Many include spiritual or quasi-spiritual concepts (the blurring of subjective boundaries between two people, the idea of two people becoming one).

Despite not having a very clear or generally agreed upon definition of sexual intimacy, researchers, therapists, and relationship experts alike commonly describe sexual intimacy as the “glue” that keeps relationships together. Sex is valued for the particular kind of intimacy it can engender in a couple, and as such sexual intimacy is, supposedly, necessary for the success of long-term relationships.

Because sexual intimacy is a subjective internal experience and because it’s an experience that requires at least two individuals, coming up with a single static definition seems pointless. If you crave more sexual intimacy perhaps the best place to start would be with how you have experienced sexual intimacy so far in your life, and what you imagine you want more of. Define sexual intimacy for yourself, and then define it together with the partner (or partners) you’re hoping to experience it with.

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