The first time my husband (Seth) ever called me was the exact same night I ended my engagement, 2 months before my wedding. I hadn’t seen Seth or spoken to him in two years. He had no clue I was engaged. Our very first phone conversation consisted of me sobbing, and him saying he was sorry. He asked if I wanted to hang out the next night, and I wanted to do anything that would allow me to escape the reality that I had paid for a wedding venue I would never use.
The next night he drove an hour and a half to see me. We let our feet dangle off the edge of the pier. My eyes were puffy, my heart was broken, and yet I felt a strange sense of peace in the presence of this tan boy with blue eyes.
After hours of sitting there, I realized I was laughing. My face actually ached, but somehow laughing felt good. We sat together till 2am, and before we parted he leaned in to kiss me. I backed away. I had too many emotions to process them all, but I knew I didn’t want to be kissed. We didn’t even hold hands.
On my first date with my husband, I didn’t give him one hint of sexual attention, and yet somehow I had given him something even more intense, and valuable; intimacy.
When I talked he listened, and as he stared into my eyes I felt like I was truly being seen.
There is something intensely vulnerable about letting someone see you, the real you. Not the Instagram you with flawless filters, or the Twitter you that’s the perfect blend of wit and charm.
There I was naked in front of him on this beach even though I was fully clothed. He saw me; a broken girl looking for answers on the edge of a pier, and somehow in his eyes at 2am I found them.
Sex is totally awesome, and also totally necessary, but sex outside of intimacy, won’t do a dang thing for you. First things first, SEX IS NOT INTIMACY.
I say that in caps because I am actually yelling it. The truth, that I think a lot of us may not realize, is that sex won’t make you fall in love.
This is something my female students get wrong all the time. They actually think that because they are sleeping with someone, they are in an intimate relationship with them. In Alice Frylings book, The 7 Lies about Sex, she puts it this way,
“But the truth is that physical union, genital sex, is an expression of intimacy, not a means to intimacy. True intimacy springs from verbal, emotional, spiritual, and physical communion. True intimacy is not primarily a sexual encounter. Intimacy, in fact, has almost nothing to do with our sex organs. A prostitute may expose her body, but her relationships are hardly intimate.”
One of the best things I ever learned in the field of communications is this; intimacy is not sex, it is self-disclosure. High school and college girls get this wrong all the time. They think if they just sleep with him long enough, sultry enough, intense enough, than he will never be able to leave. It simply isn’t true. If you want to make someone fall for you, sex has to come AFTER intimacy, and intimacy is something millennials seem to really struggle with.
We all fear rejection, but millennials seem to have mastered the art of running from it completely. Gone are the days where someone thinks someone is cute, and so they call their landline, and ask them out. That took guts. Today, all one must do is send a friend request, hit the like button, or download an app. The problem is that while these things may keep us safe from instant rejection, they also hinder us from one of the greatest elements of the human experience; connection.
A colleague came to me with a fantastic article last week about the science of falling in love. Because academics need to understand everything, it is not enough to just say someone “feels” a certain way when someone else is around. They have to put a logical order to everything, even love. So 20 years ago Dr. Arthur Aron decided to do a science experiment in his laboratory. He wanted to see if there was a magic formula to making people fall in love. He brought in 2 strangers had them discuss answers to 36 questions, and at the end, they were told to stare into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes, without speaking.
The results were that, the two strangers did fall in love, and invited the entire science department to their wedding. Dr. Arons theory is essentially that love is an action, not a feeling, and that by engaging in intimacy with your partner, love happens.
Love thrives in an arena where trust and intimacy can occur. So while of course we can’t force ourselves to love certain people, there are things we can do to try and foster those emotions, and intimacy is the key.
In communications we teach that love is a blended emotion. What that means is that there are 8 primary emotions, and all the other emotions are blended. Basically in order to create certain feelings, you have to experience two different emotions at the exact same time, and out of those 2 present emotions, love is born.
Love is a blended emotion comprising of trust and joy.
Here is where I will blow your mind; every time someone tells me how much they love their partner, they just keep cheating on them, or beating them, or hurting them, I tell them that words have power, so we have to use them correctly.
Rather than say how much you “love” your partner who is doing these terrible things to you, I need you to remember that love is a blended emotion comprising of trust and joy. It is not possible for you to love someone who you do not trust. Let me say that again, not sure if you heard me, love can only happen, when you simultaneously experience the emotions of trust and joy.
Blend those together, and only then do you have love. You cannot have one without the other, no matter how many times you keep telling yourself that that is exactly what you feel.
Love is ALWAYS a safe place. So rather than excuse their sins by saying you love them be more specific, say, “I have so much joy with them, they just cheat on me?” “I have so much joy with them, they just hit me?” “I have so much joy with them, they just hurt me.” I love words, but the reason I love them is because when we use them correctly, our relationships come into focus. Once we stop using love to excuse bad behavior, since we cannot be experiencing love without trust, and we just use the word joy, we realize how foolish we sound, and hopefully are able to reevaluate the relationship.
On my first date with my husband, I wouldn’t even let him kiss me, and yet the intensity of our night together far exceeded anything I have ever experienced in my entire life.
Sex won’t make you fall in love, but apparently according to science, letting someone truly see you naked, even while fully clothed, will.