The Differences and Similarities of Sex and Intimacy

Are sex and intimacy different things? Can you have one without the other? Or does one lead to another?

It seems that there are many conflicting opinions on the roles of sex and intimacy within a relationship (and out of one, too).

It is difficult to really get to the bottom of this problem because no two people have exactly the same ideas on sex. In a traditional framework, sex would come with long-term commitment, or marriage, which would be associated with the couple having an intimate connection with each other (and usually wishing to procreate).

However, in an increasingly promiscuous society, the connection between sex and intimacy can be a tenuous one.

Intimacy is at the heart of a strong relationship. Intimacy is about knowing someone deeply and being able to be completely free in that person’s presence. It is an emotional state that is often reserved for just one person. Ideally, sex in a loving relationship should be the physical embodiment of intimacy. It should come from a place of love and connection. Within a relationship the two are inextricably linked: intimacy builds sex and sex builds intimacy.

However, sex also is just a physical act. Within a relationship, sex is the most intimate act, but it can also be an act without consent, an act which is paid for, or a mere physical exchange. A one-night stand is a perfect example of sex without an intimate relationship. Both men and women can enjoy the sex of a one-night stand, but it is a physical act rather than a loving act.

On the other hand, it can be argued that there is nothing more intimate than vulnerably offering yourself to someone in the physical act of sex, therefore connecting the two terms again, even in the case of a one-night stand.

Sex or Making Love?

This is where people often separate the terms ‘sex’ and ‘making love.’ Sex is without doubt a basic physical act, and therefore it could be argued that it is without intimacy. However, making love infers that there is intimacy and a degree of connection associated with the physical act.

But there are plenty of situations in which couples are intimate with each other without having sex…

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