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Relationship Litmus Test: Is it Intimacy or Intensity?

A couple sitting while looking over a mountainous landscape

Healthy sexual activity with emotional intimacy can be a beautiful thing. However, if you are chasing the intensity of sex instead of the real intimacy of a relationship, it could be something that may be a real drain on your overall mental health.

If you find yourself constantly in this situation of chasing the next sexual encounter, you could be exhibiting compulsive sexual behavior or symptoms of another intimacy disorder.  While there is some cause for concern, don’t be alarmed. Sex addiction and love disorders are common and treatable. One survey of 2,000 adults in the U.S. discovered that about 8% of people report having symptoms of compulsive sexual behavior.

If you feel that you may be struggling with an intimacy disorder, especially as it relates to sex, Begin Again Institute offers a 14-Day Men’s Intensive to help you understand the causes of your addiction.

What is Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction, which is sometimes referred to as hypersexuality or hypersexuality disorder, refers to compulsive sexual behavior that is exhibited by excessive sexual activity or fantasy.

Begin Again Institute explains the root causes of sex addiction.

Basically, you’re thinking about sex or completing sexual acts at a higher rate or that is increasingly risky. This activity is negatively impacting you, your family, your partners, or others around you. This could be engaging in porn and/or masturbation at inappropriate times (religious activities, work, school), paid sex, infidelity, or multiple partners. If anything sexual is having a negative affect on you or those around you, it could be considered compulsive sexual behavior.

What is Intimacy Disorder?

Sex addiction is a type of intimacy disorder. However, since sex is not the only form of intimacy, it stands to reason that there are other forms of intimacy problems. A fear of intimacy is what typically drives these disorders and individuals may sabotage their relationships in order to avoid true intimacy. These disorders are not always easy to recognize since they are often brushed off as indifference. Some symptoms that you or a loved one may be dealing with an intimacy disorder are:

  • Low self-esteem or extreme shyness/awkwardness
  • Fear of judgement or anxiety around possible humiliation
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Acute sensitivity to constructive criticism

Treatment for intimacy disorders can completely restructure how you deal with the relationships in your life, romantic or platonic. Treatment can teach you how to cope with your feelings and how to express those feelings in a healthy manner.

relationship intimacy or intensity

Are you Mistaking Intensity for Intimacy?

Do you find yourself always open to searching for your next partner even when you are in a committed relationship? Perhaps you break up with your partner in a few days or weeks because they become ‘boring’ or they break up with you because they feel pressured and want to move slower.

You may find yourself wanting to spend the weekend having sex instead of getting to know your partner or maybe even pressuring them to engage in sexual activities they don’t like or are uncomfortable with. Do all of your conversations revert back to sex?

If you are primarily concerned with how he or she looks naked – and don’t care how she feels about politics, civil rights, family, or other important matters – then you probably are not experiencing intimacy.

4 Types of Intimacy

Physical Intimacy

While physical intimacy is definitely important in a relationship, it does not make a relationship on its own! Physical intimacy is holding hands, sitting next to each other on the couch, putting your arms around each other while you talk, or kissing, and hugging. Of course sex is included in physical intimacy.

Spiritual Intimacy

Spiritual intimacy can be included in religious practice, but it does not have to be religious. This type of intimacy is sharing your beliefs and respecting the beliefs of your partner. Your partner does not have to share the same spiritual beliefs as you. However, if you still have a mutual respect for your belief systems, that can be the basis of intimacy.

You can bond over the meaning of life, what it means to be a good person, or even a beautiful place you both love that gives you good feelings like the ocean, a mountaintop, or a forest.

Intellectual intimacy

A solid mental connection is important to a relationship. This type of intimacy involves engaging in conversation about topics that are important to you and your partner. Anything from the types of movies you watch to where you fall on the political spectrum is up for discussion.

Emotional intimacy

Feeling safe with your partner is critical to building a lasting relationship. Emotional intimacy allows partners to be vulnerable and share their deepest and most uncomfortable feelings without worry. Partners are able to share their goals, aspirations, embarrassing moments, fears, things they love, and things they hate without judgement.

Sex & Intimacy

These two things can exist individually, but like peanut butter and jelly, they are better when combined. Sex can feel good without intimacy, but it can also leave you feeling disconnected and lonely.

Intimacy is usually a positive characteristic in any relationship but sex can, and should, be an important component. Sex without intimacy, or vice versa, can leave you feeling unfulfilled and less connected to your partner.  The best relationships are going to have a good balance of both.

When a relationship lacks the component of emotional intimacy, it is nearly impossible to build trust and empathy into the foundation. If you have a hard time deciding if you feel intimacy or intensity you may want to rethink your relationships. However, emotional intimacy doesn’t just come naturally – it is a skill that we must exercise in all of our relationships.

“[Emotional intimacy] involves a level of openness and vulnerability from both people, and increases the overall sense of closeness we feel with our partners in day-to-day life.” Lisa Olivera, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Signs Your Relationship is Lacking Emotional Intimacy

  • Physical Touch Mainly Happens in the Bedroom: Most of your physical touch happens during sex; you don’t find yourself holding hands in the car or sitting closely during a movie on the couch.
  • You Don’t Talk About Your Emotions: If you or your partner find it difficult to talk about – or be transparent about – your emotions and your feelings.
  • Your Partner Feels Distant: Your partner feels distant or disconnected from the relationship.
  • You Don’t Share Advice: Your partner should be a person that you can turn to for guidance. You may not feel that you can ask your partner’s advice on day-to-day issues or problems. If you can’t discuss with your partner an issue at work or with a friend, this could be a sign that you are lacking emotional intimacy.

The fear of intimacy can be influenced by many things. Examples are, childhood experiences with the nuclear family or other figures (teachers, peers, other family members). Experiences during adolescent and adult relationships also influence how one feels about intimacy. Additionally, traumatic experiences such as rape or sexual assault affect how close you are willing to get in a relationship.

It can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint the causes of sex addiction or other intimacy disorders. This is why it is paramount to discover the cause before you can begin to stop the addictive behaviors. Begin Again Institute, developed the TINSA® method for dealing with sex and porn addiction. TINSA® – Trauma Induced Sex Addiction – roots out the underlying causes for addiction. Allowing you to heal and greatly reduce the chances that you’ll return to previous problematic behaviors.

If you’re ready to commit to resolving your issues with sex or porn addiction and intimacy, call us today at 720.737.3016.

Sign-up for our next 14-Day Men’s Intensive.

  • Category: Sex Addiction
  • By Ryan Pryor
  • September 28, 2020

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