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  #21  
Old 08-08-2018, 09:43 PM
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River River is offline
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I just read a post in another thread where someone said that she does not consider sex to be "intimate" unless she's emotionally intimate with the person. I basically said that makes no sense to me, since sex, to me, is always intimate.

I'll continue along the same vein here. Sexual contact and pleasure, including orgasm, to me, cannot be sharply segregated from what I'll have to call The Whole Person. A whole person cannot be divided neatly into "physical" and "emotional" -- as if these two "things" were separate or separable. Therefore, all sensual relating is necessarily also, partly, emotional relating. If any of these two deserves to be called "intimate," then both must be -- or the person in question has an internal divide of a kind I simply cannot experientially imagine. I can intellectually grasp the concept of such a divide, but honestly cannot fathom or imagine what that might feel like, because I've never felt it.

I speak as a person who has had a whole broad range of sexual encounters and relationships -- all of which, for me, were intrinsically and necessarily intimate.

Yes, intimacy can be thought of as something which shows up on a spectrum of kinds and degrees, but for sexual acts to be considered "non-intimate" strikes me as wildly strange. Unless that sexual act is occurring between a person and a robot, sex toy or virtual reality fantasy machine of some kind (rather than a person).

Maybe what makes me different from those who think otherwise is that I can (and must) see such things in terms of a spectrum, while some see it more like an on/off switch.

Some of the most intensely intimate sex I've ever had has been with a person I had just met ... and in a relationship which, sadly, didn't last through the next morning.
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  #22  
Old 08-08-2018, 11:25 PM
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Here's how Wiktionary frames intimacy:
Quote:
"Noun
intimacy (countable and uncountable, plural intimacies)
1. (uncountable, countable) Feeling or atmosphere of closeness and openness towards someone else, not necessarily involving sexuality.
2. (countable) Intimate relationship.
3. (countable, especially plural) Intimate detail, (item of) intimate information."
FWIW.
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  #23  
Old 08-09-2018, 02:00 PM
KC43 KC43 is offline
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The first definition in the bit Kevin quoted is where I'm coming from. I *don't* necessarily feel close or open to someone I'm having sex with. Admittedly, I tend to keep myself fairly walled off emotionally, and as I said in the other thread this morning, I don't often experience strong emotional connections or attachments to people. For *me*, it is entirely possible to separate physical from emotional. Sex with someone I don't know well, or don't feel an emotional connection to, is fun and probably feels good, and it might be exciting, but it isn't intimate, because I don't have that closeness and openness with them. They're just sticking one of their body parts into one of mine because we both want to and we both enjoy it.

That isn't how sex *always* is for me. If I already have an emotional connection with someone, that means I've already developed the closeness and openness with them, and that will be present during sex. Though now that I think about it, I had to work to make that be true. For a number of years, due to my attachment difficulties and to abuse and sexual trauma, my body was almost entirely separate from my emotions and conscious mind, so even with someone I was deeply in love with, there was no intimacy or connection during sex. It was, again, just body bits banging together. It's taken a lot of therapy and a lot of trauma recovery work on my own for me to be able to experience sex as an intimate act even with, for example, Hubby or my boyfriend.

Like I said in the other thread, different people, different ways of experiencing and relating. Your way, River, is nearly as foreign and incomprehensible to me as mine is to you; while I can relate to experiencing sex as an intimate act, I can't relate to *always* experiencing it that way. I have experienced sex as an intimate act with someone I've just met, because with some people, the emotional connection I require first forms almost instantly. On the other hand, I've had sex with someone I'd considered a friend for six *years* and didn't experience it as an intimate act, because I didn't have that emotional connection with him.

For *me*, sex isn't always intimate. It's entirely dependent on who I'm having it with, and whether I have an emotional connection with them and if so, how deep that connection runs.
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  #24  
Old 08-09-2018, 02:46 PM
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Thanks for that thoughtful post KC43. I very much appreciate it that you didn't turn what I said into an accusation or criticism of you ... and respond angrily.

I may have more to say here soon. I tried to say more, but I find it very challenging to articulate anything much at the moment.
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  #25  
Old 08-09-2018, 08:26 PM
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I didn't take it as a criticism at all, simply as what it is: you stating that the way I (and some others) view sex doesn't make sense to you. That isn't something to take personally. I'm glad you moved the discussion over to this thread so it isn't derailing the other thread any further.
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  #26  
Old 08-10-2018, 01:59 AM
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I'm moving my response from this thread -- http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showt...872#post400872 -- to here.

Quote:
Perhaps this is a semantics issue: River, do you not believe that there is a difference between "Fucking" and "Making Love"?
Rather obviously, for some people there is a sharp, very distinct line dividing these two things while for others there is no such sharp line. There may be a continuum, or spectrum, but for some of us these two things are always blended or mixed--overlapping--, not two totally distinct and separate boxes.

In other words, for some people sex is always continuous with "intimacy" and for others it is not.

Quote:
Another question for River - because I am curious, you don't have to answer - what other activities, besides sex, do you consider intimate?
Some activities for me are necessarily intimate -- and they are necessarily intimate for lots of people besides myself. Any kind of prolonged touching, be it cuddling or even massage is "intimate" -- even if the massage is provided by a professional. It need not be erotic massage to be intimate. Deep kissing is always intimate for me. I simply cannot imagine deep, wet kisses and NOT being intimate -- and since sex and deep kissing are very similar for me, in terms of the general tone of feeling involved, sex is always intimate.

There are of course many kinds of intimacy -- emotional, intellectual, physical, etc. Intellectual intimacy has a very different feeling tone, for me, than physical intimacy. But it's still intimate. Sometimes intellectual intimacy has a similar feeling tone as physical intimacy, but it need not -- for me. It depends on the people involved.

Any activities can be intimate, I suppose. Working together, playing together..., even just hanging out. But not all activities must necessarily be intimate. For me, sex must always be on a continuum including this thing we're calling "intimacy".

I'm certain that millions and millions of people share my sensibility about sex -- like deep kissing -- always being intimate. Meaning, we can't imagine doing this without there being intimacy along with a desire and a willingness to be "intimate".

Curiously, I've discovered that many people who are into "non-intimate 'fucking'" feel exactly as I do about deep ("french") kissing. They cannot do that without "intimacy". It is necessarily an intimate experience for them.

I get zero pleasure in sex if there is zero "intimacy" involved. It is the opposite of pleasure if there isn't any "intimacy" in it. BUT I can have "intimacy" on the casual end of the spectrum, meaning I can "make love" with a person I'm not in a "romantic" relationship with. But it would not be "just fucking".
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  #27  
Old 08-10-2018, 02:20 AM
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I may as well say it. I consider sex without 'intimacy' as a kind of dissociation. There are many kinds of pleasure which are not erotic or sexual, but erotic/sexual pleasure without the sorts of feelings we call "intimate" are, to my mind, a kind of splitting or dividing of things nature would have us not divide -- unless some sort of dissociation process is at work.

Eating a gourmet meal is an example of a kind of pleasure which isn't generally regarded as "erotic," and which isn't generally regarded as having to do with "intimacy". But sitting at a table by one's self, eating, isn't anything like pressing one's body against another preson's body. It's this pressing of bodies together which seems to me to be inherently "intimate" unless some kind of dissociation is at play.

Not all dissociation is a clear result of severe trauma, I suppose. (It's hard to say, really. I don't claim to be an expert on either dissociation or trauma! And dissociation, like many things, can be understood as having various kinds and degrees.)

I certainly do not believe people are simply born with an embodied divide between sexual activity and feelings / intimacy / "connection".... I don't think the association between sex and "feelings" is acquired or learned, entirely, either. But it's unlikely that folks who disagree on this matter can persuade one another with rational arguments.
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  #28  
Old 08-10-2018, 01:29 PM
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I disagree with you that sex without intimacy is automatically dissociation. For some people, sex is simply a leisure or recreational activity, at least some of the time. For example, people who go to a swinger's club with the sole intention being to get laid. "Getting laid," like "fucking," to me is *not* an inherently intimate act, any more than sitting in a movie theater next to someone I've never met is an intimate act, or using a stationary bike at a gym next to someone else. And for some people, at least *some* sex is nothing more or less than a form of exercise or entertainment.

For others, as Jane pointed out in the other thread, sex is a means of earning a living. It is no more intimate than walking into an office and sitting in your cubicle next to all the other cube-gophers.

In my opinion, for me at least, "intimacy" consists of three components existing simultaneously: physical closeness (bodies pressing together, as you note), emotional closeness, and mental connection. If at least two of the three exist, it constitutes intimacy. But if only one of the three exist, it might not be intimate. So if the *only* closeness in a sex act is bodies pressing together, and there is no emotional or mental component, then to me it is not an intimate act.

All that said, while I do not believe that non-intimate sex is *always* a result of dissociation, for *me personally* it sometimes has been. As I noted somewhere along the line, due to sexual trauma and some serious body shaming beginning when I was very young, I learned to separate my brain and body. Until about 12 years ago, when I started learning yoga, I was constantly injuring myself because I literally could not judge where my body was in relation to anything else, even if I was looking right at the other object. So anything that involved my body to a high extent, such as sex, was usually done in a state of dissociation, not because I was choosing to dissociate but because there simply was little to no connection between my mind and body.

That is no longer the case, because yoga helped rebuild those connections and I've worked HARD on restoring the connections fully, but because the disconnection was caused primarily by sexual trauma, having that mind-body connection during sex is still sometimes difficult for me. So I guess for me, another requirement for me considering sex as an intimate act is that I have to feel the mind-body connection when sex is occurring. Since that is most likely to happen with someone I'm *emotionally* intimate with, that goes back to my point that I don't feel sex is intimate unless I have emotional intimacy with the other person first.

As for kissing, snuggling, handholding, etc., I do consider those intimate, because I am unlikely to do them with someone I don't have an emotional connection with. Also...let me see if I can explain this clearly. Sex can be an act between two (or, let's face it, more) people who genuinely love or at least care about each other. It can be a means of strengthening and deepening an emotional connection, a means of showing love and affection, or even just a "hey, let's make each other feel good," but in that context, I would agree it's an intimate act.

But sex can also be used as a means of making money. It can be used as a weapon, either emotionally ("I won't fuck you until you take out the trash" or "You're pissing me off, so don't even touch me"), or physically, i.e. sexual assault. Sex *can* be an intimate act, but it can also be used in ways that aren't intimate, or even in ways that are extremely harmful and damaging. Sex acts are NOT always intimate; it depends on the intention of the people engaging in it, assuming both/all people intend to engage in it in the first place since sex is something that can be forced on someone else against their will.

Sex is like fire. It can warm you and light things up and be gentle and reassuring; or it can destroy everything in its path.

Kissing, snuggling, hand-holding, etc., on the other hand, are physical signs of an emotional connection with someone we love or care deeply for, and they're demonstrated much more broadly, for example to our children or other family members, to friends we consider platonic, etc. We are unlikely to kiss or snuggle with someone for whom we don't already have a measure of emotional closeness (i.e. love or affection). Therefore, to me, unlike sex, those things *are* pretty much always intimate. They are rarely, if ever, used as weapons or a means of earning money. They are almost exclusively used for demonstrating strong positive feelings.

I can fuck someone without being able to tolerate having them hug or kiss me, because to me, those are not the same thing at all. I reserve demonstrations of affection for people for whom I feel affection. Sex, because of its dual nature as something beneficial but also something harmful, doesn't fit my definition as a demonstration of affection, unless it's with someone with whom I'm already affectionate and with whom I engage in the other activities that I *do* consider intimate.

Edited to add: I'm not trying to persuade anyone to change their mind, I'm simply stating my position on the subject, and giving a perspective that some on the "sex is always intimate" side of the line might not have considered.
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  #29  
Old 08-10-2018, 02:55 PM
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Thanks KC43 -

I wanted to say that I read your post and that I'll try to respond to it soon, beyond mentioning that I awoke in the middle of the night last night and pondered for a couple of hours on the whole topic and theme we're discussing here. It's a very challenging topic, I think.

Basically, I think, my point of view is that some things are just basically sacred, and sex is one of these.

But the word sacred is loaded! It generally caries associations and connotations from religion, and I'm not using the word that way. As a matter of fact, I don't think I'm using the word sacred in any sort of conventional way or sense. By "sacred" I simply mean that it is something which properly ought to be treated with reverence. And that's another word folks tend to associate with religion, and which I don't mean in a religious sense (as I am not religious). Both terms, sacred and reverence, can be understood in a humanly universal sense which is secular, not religious. All people and cultures have things which are held to be sacred and which are thought best treated with reverence.

Sex is sacred and ought to be treated with reverence because it can be among the most powerful gateways, or passageways to what is often called "spiritual" or "mystical" experience. Again, these terms are loaded and are not ideal. The word "spiritual" is in many respects rather unfortunate, as it often is used to connote something "not material" and "not of the body". But that's precisely not what I would mean by it. For me, the body / "soma" is the locus and quintessence of "spiritual" experience.

Much of what I've said so far has resonances with Tantra. And I do consider myself a tantric practitioner -- but not in any conventional sense and not within any recognized and established tradition. I borrow inspiration from traditions and such, but I'm an outsider to them all. I'm also a non-theist. Or a pantheist. Or both. Probably both. For me the whole of existence and nature is what religious people call "the divine" -- but since there is no divide between "divine" and "ordinary" and "everyday," folks like me can easily be misunderstood.

It is puzzling to me how we moderns can (and do, and don't) recognize and honor "the sacred" and things reverential by nature. Oftentimes, we simply deem nothing to be sacred or reverential by nature. And I think this does us -- and nature -- much harm. And yet I basically subscribe to conventional naturalism for most things.

More later. I gotta run.
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  #30  
Old 08-10-2018, 03:38 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I tend towards "both/and" approach in life. Not "either/or."

To me "sharing sex, making love" -- those things are sacred.

I also think there is space for "recreational sex/just fucking." Does it mean I want to jump just anyone off the street? No. Does it mean sometimes there could be space in my life for FWB? Yes.

There's also space for intimate things that are not esp sexy.

Quote:
Sex is sacred and ought to be treated with reverence because it can be among the most powerful gateways, or passageways to what is often called "spiritual" or "mystical" experience
I know what you are talking about. Over here we call it "Other."

There are times with my spouse that yes, it is that "Other" sex. Transcendental.

There are times with my spouse where it's just a solid fucking. Scratching the itch.

There's been times where sex has been about procreation. And lemme tell ya, during the TTC time it was NOT always transcendent "Other" sex, or even fun recreational fucking. Sometimes it was very perfunctary like "Alright, ovulation window. Trying to make a baby. How fast can we get you to cum in me? So we can get back to what we really want to be doing?"

I think all of those things are intimate. To the same DEGREE? No.

The dentist with gloved hands sticking fingers in my mouth? The doc doing my annual pap? That IS intimate to me. How many people do I allow that access to my body? Not many, and certainly not just anyone off the street.

It is also sacred, transcendent or "Other?" Nope.

Is it scratching an itch? Nope. I don't have any "oooh, must get a pap!" urges like I sometimes have very horny urges.

More like perfunctory.

Here's another human intimacy that has NOTHING to do with transcendent sex, horny urges -- nursing a child. That experience is is sometimes transcendent, sometimes scratching the child's itch to nurse, and sometimes perfunctory.

Here's another human intimacy. Being there knowing the person is going to die. Keeping them company in the waiting... that you know is coming very soon. Like in days or hours. What to you do talk about with that person?

I've only done it once. Totally NOT sexy. Def intimate. Because when a person only has hours left, who do they want to be hanging out with? The pizza delivery guy?

There could be way more death midwives helping with that passage but there aren't. Be nice if the person could experience death passage as transcendent but I'm afraid the more common experience is perfunctory, and possible sometimes lonely/alone and difficult.

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 08-10-2018 at 03:41 PM.
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