I have a few friends who often come to me and complain about how their partners are not showing them enough affection. Either that or there is not enough intimacy in their relationship. Very rarely do they complain about there not being enough sex. Although there are a couple of them who would not be able to do without sex for too long. You know who you are.
I sometimes wonder what their partners are thinking and why is there such a disconnect in their expectations. What is the difference between Affection, Intimacy and Sex? Why is it important?
Affection is a way of showing concern and love for a person. We are often affectionate to people we care about. It is what makes many relationships tick and affection can show up in many ways. Making breakfast for loved ones, waking up at 3 am to change diapers, sharing good deals with close friends. These are all acts of affection. We do them because we care about the other persons. We are willing to go out of our way to show our affection without require a return from them. We do so out of love. In our daily interactions, we display partner affection, parent-child affection, friendly affection.
Intimacy is a connection between 2 people. We can often be affectionate with someone without being intimate. Intimacy is normally reserved only for the ones closest to us. For couples, this is a state of closeness that we don’t share with anyone else. It is how we share our inner most thoughts with each other. It is the way our bodies fit together.
Sex – sexual intercourse
Sex can be a variety of things. It can be affectionate, it can be intimate or it can be rough, demanding and sometimes a little guilty. For some, sex is a must have. For others, sex is a nice add on, but not essential. To me, sex is a physical act that can bond two people tightly together. It can also force a couple apart.
I believe you need all 3.
To make it really work, the sex needs to come with affection and intimacy. Enjoyable sex cannot happen without intimacy and intimacy cannot happen without affection. When the frequency of sex drops, but a couple remains affectionate and intimate, the relationship normally continues to thrive, as long as sex still happens on occasion. However when there is frequent sex but no intimacy and affection, the relationship almost always fails.
Unfortunately, some think that as long as they have one of the three, it’s all good. The worst is thinking that just by providing or receiving sex, it’s a magic pill that plugs the gap between affection and intimacy.
I’ve met people who think that as long as the sex continues to happen, everything is ok. So even though they are not to keen on having sex, they continue doing so because that’s what their partner wants. Eventually they begin to resent the fact that sex is a duty. Then there are those who cannot live without the sex and once sex frequency dips, the affection and intimacy goes as well because they equate their partners withholding sex as withholding affection and intimacy.
So it’s all about expectations.
Have you been affectionate, intimate or had sex lately? Will talking about these expectations with your partner improve your relationship?