On Intimacy

First of all, before I write out my feelings on intimacy, I should mention that I have spent the past 5 months in a wonderful relationship with a beautiful woman, a woman who is mainly responsible for what I shall refer to as my emotional enlightenment. I am fully aware that the term “enlightenment” is not a trivial one and so I was initially hesitant to use such a word. However, after careful thought, I have concluded that I must use that term if I am to do my recent experience any justice. I have in the past 5 months, without doubt, matured in the emotional realm more than the previous 10 years combined. And by using the term “matured” I am not claiming that I have solved any of my emotional issues, but rather that I have uncovered what many of them are. Because of my ex-girlfriend's intelligence, maturity, and patience, I can now begin to address the problems that I never knew existed. This entry is dedicated to her and our short, but precious, time together.

On Affection - The greatest revelation that I have had about myself resulting from my previous relationship is how insecure I am about an imbalance of affection. In short, I realized that I am very afraid of my partner liking me less than I like her. Furthermore, I realized that even the smallest, indirect indication of an imbalance of affection can turn my insecurity into anger. For example, let's say that I highly value sleeping with my partner and that we always sleep together at night. And let's say that one day we are at a party and it is starting to get late, but my partner does not seem to be keeping track of the time. In this scenario, I would take that as a sign that she simply does not value sleeping with me as much, because if she did, she would mention that she wants to go home. Every hour that passes without an indication of her wanting to leave would make me angrier and angrier. Of course it is possible that she simply loses track of the time because she is having fun with friends, but I would not see it that way because of my insecurity. My fear of an imbalance of affection acts as a lens through which I analyze my partner's behavior. This is unfortunate, but true.

On Envy - Another one of my emotional issues that I recently discovered is that I would be envious of my girlfriend if she were to have had more sexual partners than I have had. Through the utilization of a series of hypotheticals, I realized that I would have no problem with the number of people that my girlfriend has slept with, as long as that number is equal to or less than my number. (I should mention that I was very reluctant to acknowledge the conclusion I reached because envy is generally considered to be indefensible.) Furthermore, I suspect that I would also feel uncomfortable with my girlfriend being more experienced because it might remind me of the women who I would have liked to have been with, but who did not want me back.

One positive result of figuring this out is that I am now certain that I do not participate in “slut shaming,” which is what a potential partner might reasonably conclude if she were to realize that I were uncomfortable with her being very experienced.

On Being Traditional – It has always been obvious to me that in the realm of romance and relationships, I tend to be more traditional. This is not to say that I think marriage is for everyone or that I support heteronormativity, but that I am (1) in favor of monogamy and (2) against casual sex. To be clear, I do not claim that either are immoral. As long as everyone involved is a consenting adult who is fully aware of the situation, I do not think it is wrong. Rather, what I am saying is that I do not like them because of the values that I hold.

(1) The value that leads me to dislike multiple partners is specialness; I highly value the specialness of intimacy. Having multiple partners reduces that specialness because by definition, the more common something is, the less special it is. Does this mean that I want a woman who has never been with anyone before because it will be the most special? The answer is no. While it is true that past and future intimacy does lower the specialness of current intimacy, they are overwhelmingly positive. First, if you have not been with anyone before, you probably do not know what you want in a relationship, which I think is not good. Second, regarding future intimacy, if it does not work out between my partner and I, I would want her to find someone else. Because of those two reasons, past and future intimacy do not bother me. Again, I am not claiming that having multiple partners is immoral; rather I am saying that it does not sit well with my values. A perfectly reasonable person may prefer open relationships simply because they value freedom and fun more than specialness.

It may be pointed out that what makes intimacy special is not how rare it is, but the character of the connection. Sleeping with someone who one loves is simply more special regardless of how many other partners one has. There is certainly truth to this statement, but I do not think the commonness factor can be ignored.

Also, I should mention that another reason why I dislike multiple partners is because I am possessive. To be clear, this possessiveness does not come from fear or any other deeper emotion; it is simply possessiveness itself. I want the other person to be mine. And of course this is not to say that the other person is my property or anything like that. It simply means that both of us would belong to each other in an intimate way.

Of course jealousy would be another reason why I am not in favor of open relationships. To clarify, I think jealousy stems from fear of losing the other person, and while I do not think I am the jealous type, I would be afraid of being compared, and losing that comparison.

(2) The fact that I highly value specialness is also why I dislike casual sex. In fact, the reduced specialness of the act is implied in the name. However, the specialness reason aside, there is another reason why I would not want my partner to be in favor of or to have practiced casual sex, and that is I am afraid of what it means for our relationship. If my partner does not think that sex is reserved for an exclusive, romantic relationship, then does it mean that she thinks sex with me is less meaningful than I think it is? Perhaps not, because the connection that we have could make the sex just as meaningful for her. That said, the possibility of it not being as meaningful is always there, and given my fear of an imbalance of affection, it is something that would really bother me.

So far I have combined two distinct points: one is what I am in favor of; and two is what I think is acceptable for my partner to do. These two beliefs do not necessarily have to go together as it is quite possible that I dislike casual sex for myself, but find it completely fine for other people—including my partner—to practice. However, this is not the case. I would want my partner to share my values and it would bother me considerably if she did not. This is for two reasons. First, it would be generally unpleasant if my partner were to not share my beliefs. For example, it would difficult for me to be with a Republican. And second, it would be natural for me to imagine what my partner has done in the past, and that mental image would be painful. It would hurt me to imagine my partner having casual sex or being in an open relationship.

On the Different Types of Sex – Sex to me is a beautiful and romantic act that is reserved for an exclusive, intimate relationship. Unlike many people, I do not find “making love” to be an overly sentimental phrase; in fact, I find it quite wonderful. In certain circumstances, I find it hard to emotionally understand different views on sex. For example, in my mind, there exists only two types of sex: one is sex that consists of only physical pleasure; and two is “sex with romance,” which is the conception of sex that I hold. Let us refer to these types of sex as type 1 and type 3. These two types I can both intellectually and emotionally understand. However, it seems that for some people, there exists another type of sex in between the two that I mentioned. Let us call this “sex with emotional intimacy,” and refer to it as type 2. This is the type of sex that could exist in a “friends with benefits” relationship. Regarding this in-between sex, I can intellectually, but not emotionally understand it. I cannot see how type 2 sex is not an unripened form of type 3. For me, having feelings for someone is like a seed, and being physical with someone is equivalent to adding water and sunshine. This is to say that I can only emotionally understand one type of “like.” When I like someone, it is always the same type of feeling, but on a different position on a spectrum. I could like a person a little bit or like a person a lot. Of course I can emotionally understand the difference between a platonic connection and a romantic one, but if I were to sleep with someone, it could be only one type of “like.” It simply does not make sense to me that there is another intimate spectrum altogether. Ultimately, I do not think this is something I can truly understand unless I actually do it. However, since I do not intend on doing it, I must accept the possibility that it will forever remain foreign to me.

The last thing I would like to mention is how glad I am for my philosophical training. It has provided me with the intellectual tools to dissect and uncover my complex emotions that otherwise would have remained undiscovered, and that ultimately would have manifested in immature outbreaks of frustration, anger, and sadness.