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Is There Anything Wrong With Loving Sex But Hating Intimacy?

So, what if you like coitus but not cuddling?

Sex

Based on my personal views on sex (that it shouldn't treated lightly or casually, and it's something that affects our mind, body and spirit—both the Bible and science will back that up; more on that in a sec), there used to be a time when I thought penning something like this would not be necessary. Yet, if you live long enough, life will teach you some things and expose you to a world of people who think totally different than you do. Between once working with a ministry that got people out of the sex industry and free from porn addiction, being a pregnant teen director for the local chapter of a national non-profit and then becoming a marriage life coach, I have met many (MANY) people who are kind, loving, generous—and also love the act of sex while pretty close to loathing the thought of engaging in physical intimacy.

For the record here, I'm not speaking of commitment-phobes. Those are a horse of a whole 'nother color, chile. No, I'm referring to those who are all about gettin' it in, as much as possible; however, when it comes to a ton of foreplay and definitely when it comes to any afterplay (or honestly, even when it comes to much physical intimacy in between romps), they are more than happy to take a pass. Oh, and before some of you roll your eyes and say to yourself, "Hmph. Sounds just like a dude", actually, who has shared this perspective with me the most have been women. So many, in fact, that I thought there had to be at least a handful of our readers who also can relate on some level.

So, let's do this. Let's dig into the polka dotted unicorns known as folks who love to have sex but can actually do without all of the physical intimacy stuff—whether in the bed or out. Is that problematic or not? Let's explore.

Is There Really Such a Thing as Sex Without ANY Kind of Intimacy?

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As someone who grew up being taught that the Bible was to be the foundation for the choices I make, sex has always been seen as being pretty sacred to me. I'm pretty sure that anyone who is even remotely familiar with the Good Book knows that it says that sex is for married couples, period. Hmph. Come to think of it, I don't know of any holy books that say otherwise (definitely not the Qur'an or the Torah). And when it comes to Scripture, specifically, the verse that I've always adored is this:

"There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, 'The two become one.' Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never 'become one.' There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for 'becoming one' with another."—I Corinthians 6:16-20(Message)

Now here's the thing. As a woman who's never been married before (by choice, not by circumstance. I'm pretty sure many of you can say the same), you can read articles I've penned for the site like, "14 Lessons I've Learned From 14 Sex Partners" and "Why I Named The Children I Aborted" to know that I am certainly NOT the posterchild for abstinence (check out "I've Been Abstinent For 12 Years. Here's How."). I think that a part of it is because, although I do think that sex is absolutely best in a long-term relationship, the physical pleasure that comes from the act can make it REALLY HARD to turn it down, even if you're not "officially" with someone. That's why, I totally get it, when one of my married friends says to me, every time I hit another year of abstinence milestone, "It might be biblical, but it sure as hell ain't natural." Understood.

So why I am even approaching the topic of what sex is from this angle? Mostly it's because, when it comes to sex making two people one, whether you try and apply a holy book to your life or not, this is one area where religion and science are largely on the same page. Why do I say that? In walks, oxytocin.

"The human body releases powerful hormones in the brains of men and women during sexual activity, including the neurohormones oxytocin and vasopressin. Women are more sensitive to the effect of oxytocin, a hormone that is also found to be a bonding hormone released during childbirth and nursing. During sexual activity, as oxytocin is released, it 'acts as emotional super glue between partners'. Men, on the other hand, are more affected by vasopressin, which similarly 'helps a man bond to his partner and instills a protective instinct toward his partner and children'."—"How Are The Hormones Released During Sex Like Human Super Glue?"
"Oxytocin was also correlated with the longevity of a relationship. Couples with the highest levels were the ones still together six months later. They were also more attuned to each other than the low-oxytocin couples when Feldman asked them to talk about a shared positive experience. The high-oxytocin couples finished each other's sentences, laughed together and touched each other more often."—"Be Mine Forever: Oxytocin May Help Build Long-Lasting Love"
Say that you don't subscribe to any particular faith or that you don't believe in God at all—science is still out here, making it abundantly clear, that there are hormones in your body that are designed to bond you to the person or people you have sex with.

That's why I've written articles on here like, "Don't Mistake A Great Sex Partner For A Great Life Partner" and "We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'"; while physical pleasure is certainly a benefit of sex, it's important that you don't overlook the fact that sex can mentally and emotionally bond you to someone too. Don't believe me? Think about the guys you've dated who you didn't have sex with vs. the ones you did. 9 times outta 10, who was harder to shake? Be honest…with yourself.

You can Google articles about who has better sex—married people or single people (it's married folks). You can poll your friends about when they thought sex was better—in a long-term commitment or not. At the end of the day, it's kind of hard to get around the fact that while the mechanics of sex can be enjoyable, whether you're with your sexual partner or not, when the emotional intimacy component is in place, it's simply bar none better. And here's the thing—to a certain extent, oxytocin is gonna make damn sure that some level of attachment is cultivated…whether we want it to happen or not.

That's why, it's my personal belief that people who say that they like sex but hate intimacy may be in a bit of denial about the intimacy that transpires during the act, regardless of what they think is happening (or not happening). Yet when it comes to things like kissing and cuddling and them being semi-disgusted, let's pull back the curtain on that psyche, just a little bit more.

So, About Hating Physical Acts of Intimacy. What’s Up with That?

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Some of y'all might remember, a few months back, when I wrote, "Umm, What's Up With These People Who Hate Kissing?". It was pretty enlightening, even to me, and I've been writing about sex for a couple of decades at this point. One woman I interviewed for the article said that her husband's tongue always feels awkward. A guy said that mouths feel wet and weird to him. What I found to be fascinating is, the people I spoke with didn't give me the impression that they had issues with physical intimacy, in general, so much as the mechanics of kissing itself. Got it. But what about physical intimacy overall? I decided to ask Melissa and Eric from that same article for their hot takes on that.

Melissa. Married. 29. "Funny that you would ask me this because, I'm weird when it comes to physical intimacy. While I do like to hug my husband and I enjoy being close to him while we're watching television or something, during sex, I'll pass. Like cuddling after intercourse? All I can think about is that wet spot and how I want to get out of it. I don't know.

"The sex is good but once it's over, I enjoy my personal space. I'm just now thinking that it might be because, once you've been that open with another person, you need to retreat to gain your bearings a bit. Does that make sense? I wouldn't say that I hate physical intimacy so much as, to me, it's just not all that necessary."

Eric. Single. 25. "I'm not even used to a woman separating sex and intimacy, so this question has caught me off-guard. Anyway, I like physical intimacy if it's with a woman I'm emotionally intimate with. Otherwise, physical intimacy before or after sex feels like we're trying to make the relationship something that it's not—or something that it's not yet. A lot of cuddling and stuff like that is way more sentimental to me than just intercourse, so if we're not together, I'm not the biggest fan."

Just to round this out a little bit, I decided to ask someone else I know who happens to love sex and loathe physical intimacy. Let's call her "Sheryl".

Sheryl. Married. 39. "I definitely have a higher sex drive than my husband and I absolutely am not a fan of physical intimacy. Meanwhile, he can't get enough of it. It just feels hot, awkward and like you're invading my personal space. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I grew up in a home that was loving but definitely not big on the PDA. So, I got used to not needing a lot of physical touching. Plus, my husband is the exact opposite, which feels clingy and needy more than anything else. I don't think there's anything 'wrong' with me. I just think I process that a lot of touching comes with sex and outside of that, I'm cool. Who said that everyone needs to get kissed and cuddled all of the time, in order to feel loved, anyway?"

Sheryl has a point. Who did say that physical intimacy must come before and after sex is a cardinal rule? I will say that as someone who is a words-of-affirmation-and-physical-touch-love-languages kind of girl, I can't even imagine the two not going hand in hand, but after speaking with these individuals and also other clients, I get it. You can very much enjoy sex and not need all of the foreplay or afterplay that comes with it for so many people. It doesn't mean that anything is "wrong with you". It's just not your personal preference.

Still, how do you know when your preference might be linked to something deeper or it has a great potential to become highly problematic in your relationship?

If your avoiding physical intimacy is costing you your relationship. Relationships are about compromise. And you know what? In many ways, so is sexual fulfillment. Even if physical intimacy is not really your thing, if it is something that your partner needs or enjoys, find ways to meet him halfway. Again, as a physical touch person myself, to simply clam up after sex feels like rejection. If your partner feels the same way, that can start to build a wedge between the two of you, even if that's not anywhere close to being your intention. By the way, it's also a good idea to bring how you're feeling up to your partner. Even though it might seem a little odd to them, knowing where you're coming from can help him to be more patient as the two of you work to figure out what will work, well, for you both.

If compromising causes you to feel violated. There is a caveat to what I just said. If compromising in this realm makes you somehow feel physically or even emotionally violated, don't push past that. Instead, do some sex journaling or even consider seeing a reputable therapist, counselor or life coach about what's going on. I know someone who used to hate kissing in the mouth. After seeing a therapist, come to find out, it was because she had been molested by a cousin who used to force their tongue in her mouth when she was little. While it can't be said enough that not preferring physical intimacy "just because" isn't a red flag, if you're someone who clams up or lashes out when someone attempts to be physically affectionate with you, that could be a sign that you're suppressing something. It can never hurt to work with a professional, just to see if that could possibly be the case.

If you "fear" physical intimacy. Not needing a hug vs. being terrified of one are two totally different things. If you fall into the latter category, it very well could be that you are dealing with some level of philophobia which is basically being afraid of emotionally attaching to another individual.

I know we covered a lot of ground here, but as I draw all of this to a close, let's get back to the title of the article. Is there anything wrong with loving sex and hating physical intimacy? In short, no. There's not. Just make sure that feeling this way isn't harming your relationship or that the "hate" isn't tied to something deeper. Other than that, feel OK with being this way. It takes all kinds to make the world go 'round and being different isn't automatically wrong. Enjoy your sex—and well, your dry spot too, sis. #wink

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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This article is in partnership with Staples.

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