What most of us crave, however, is not sex, but intimacy. Safety is essential in the early stages of a relationship—even the smallest safety violation can mark the end of a budding romance. Two popular television shows demonstrate our current approaches to sex without intimacy and intimacy without sex. The challenge is that the only model most of us have for expressing or experiencing intimacy is sex. If we want to find a model for an intimate relationship, we have to look to another popular television show:
The four main characters are smart, independent, decent, professional, attractive women. The challenge is that the only model most of us have for expressing or experiencing intimacy is sex. Sex is a part of casual dating for Carrie. What most of us crave, however, is not sex, but intimacy. Sex for Samantha does not require any kind of emotional commitment, nor does it imply any kind of relationship. We may have overcome our fear and shame about sex, but many of us still have issues regarding intimacy. We let our egos die for a moment, and we have the chance to experience a true connection with another person. These walls, however, block the emotional and spiritual connections we experienced that made us want to get to know each other in the first place. If we want to find a model for an intimate relationship, we have to look to another popular television show: We can keep minor safety violations in perspective. But for many of us, the choice seems to be either having intimacy without sex, or sex without intimacy. And we equate love and commitment with vulnerability, responsibility, and the fear that our needs will not be met. We experienced too much intimacy too quickly, and we need to create some distance, some space, and to put up some walls so that we can recover. They validate and support each other, and they share the kind of emotional connections that most of us truly crave in our lives. Carrie, however, is looking for something more than just sex—she is looking for a relationship. If we experience more intimacy than we can handle, we will feel threatened; our safety checklist will be triggered. Sex is now an accepted recreational activity. In many ways, relationships between women and gay men are the only ones where we can experience true intimacy without involving sex. Women and gay men have always shared a special bond. Samantha is largely self-sufficient, and is able to meet her validation needs through her close friendships. Ultimately, love involves a balance of sex and intimacy. So do many gay men. There is no real relationship to discuss. Miranda needs to feel that sex is a part of a relationship—and she has, in the past, used sex as a way to try to initiate a relationship. Two popular television shows demonstrate our current approaches to sex without intimacy and intimacy without sex.
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