I have been thinking for a while (again!) about intimacy, what it means to me and how I set my life up to allow its presence in my life - thanks for triggering some of these thoughts, Cleo.
In my life I very much want the freedom to experience intimacy and love as much as is possible. In fact, it has become kind of driving force for me as the amount of loss to death has built up in my life over the past few years. Now more than ever, I see relationships with others (and myself) as the most important things in my life.
I'm 40 now. Unmarried and childless.
So I feel the need to take a different view on love and intimacy than the one my parents did.
I very much value my freedom to be with old friends, to meet new friends, to have people in my life that I can hold hands with in the pub or snuggle up to when we sit together and people that I can share my problems with, laughs with and puzzle out thoughts. These are all great.
But I find myself cautious about sexual relationships and keen just now to be monogamous.
It seems to me that sometimes sex makes intimacy difficult. I find it much easier to befriend people and be relaxed with them if I'm not thinking that sex is a possibility. It's easier for my SO's women friends to meet me if they aren't worried that I see them as sexual competition. Easier for my SO's best friend's partner to be relaxed about them seeing each other knowing that sex isn't on the table for them.
I wonder if this is a life stage thing, though. I had none of this caution when I was younger. In fact, I tended to want to have close, sexual relationships with people if I possibly could. It didn't seem to be such a big deal for me or for anybody else and I quite cheerfully went around having as much sex as I could.
I kind of wonder if the next decade will end in a big change in attitude. I have several friends and acquaintances who have undergone big changes in their 50s - and for whom life has become much lighter and easier. So I wonder if when I get to my 50s will I start wanting to have multiple romantic loves? Will be interesting to find out.