“There’s a difference between wanting to be looked at and wanting to be seen. One is exhibitionism, the other is connection. Not everybody wants to be looked at. Everybody wants to be seen.”  -Amanda Palmer

We all want connection. We all want to be seen, to be truly known, to be treasured and feel valued. As women, we especially look for this in relationships and sometimes fall into the trap of trying to make a physical relationship into an intimate one.

What Actually Is Intimacy?

Intimacy is an invisible link between people who desire to make a lasting connection. The connection you feel because of sex can sometimes be one-sided, but it takes two people to create intimacy. Both parties have to be vulnerable, open and committed to each other.

As a result, a relationship creates a deeper bond, a bond that yields respect for one another, valuing each other for who you are, and often, a love that lasts.

Sex vs Intimacy

Are they one and the same?

Physical intimacy – sex or sexual activity – doesn’t always lead to emotional intimacy. Worse still, is when the relationship ends, you feel a hole that aches to be filled.

What happens when we fall into this trap is we tend to double down. The next relationship often heats up faster, becomes more physically involved, and ends feeling more disconnected than ever before. And the cycle continues.

If intimacy – a real connection where you feel seen and known – is the desire, sex isn’t the solution.

Stopping the Cycle

Start by recognizing all of the ways you may be substituting the emotional for the physical. Do you ever use sex to feel better? Do you seek out a new partner when you’re feeling disconnected? Do you tie your worth to your relationships or how physically intimate you are?

By taking a closer look at what you really want from a relationship, you can make the steps you need to have a healthier one in the future.

Take time to get to know each other without sex clouding your judgment. How does he see you? Is he open and vulnerable with you? Does he try to connect with you outside of sex?

Whether you’re currently in a relationship or beginning a new one, be upfront and honest about what you are looking for from the relationship. If he is looking for the same things, great! If not, you’ll save yourself the pain of trying to turn a physical connection into an intimate, emotional one.

Here for You

Want to learn more about how to have a healthy relationship or need someone to talk to about your future goals? We’re here for you. We can also talk about how to best avoid risks to your sexual health and any hard topics like unplanned pregnancy, STDs, and abortion.

And stay tuned for Part 2 to find out how you can help create real connections and experience intimacy that lasts.

Choices Chattanooga is a faith-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the state of Tennessee. All services are confidential and free of charge. Walk-ins are welcome but ultrasounds are available by appointments only. Choices does not refer for or perform abortions.