How do you know you are in a physical relationship? A question I asked myself after discovering there was such a thing.
Physical intimacy is defined as, sensual proximity or touching. It is an act or reaction, such as an expression of feelings (including close friendship, love, or sexual attraction), between people. Not such a bad thing is it, but if your intimate relationship is only fuelled by this then your relationship could be in trouble. For us to be able to understand this in totality we have to first understand what a physical relationship is in its entirety.
Let us look at some of the things that include a physical relationship, which ranges from holding hands to all day love making:
- Foreplay or none-coital sexual activity
- Taking a bath together
- Massaging each other
- Sexual intercourse
- Caressing each other’s body
- Tender words used after sexual activity.
It may sound easy enough but sometimes you find difficulty in those things listed, especially those with their own definition of what physical contact is in a relationship. One of the main barriers is the narrow focus that most people place on their behaviour in this area. Usually, people tend to focus on sexual intercourse as if it were the only expression of sensuous or sexual feelings toward another person. In fact, proceeding too rapidly to and through sexual intercourse is one of the major complaints many women have about their physical intimate relationships with their partner.
Another barrier to comfortable expression of physical intimacy occurs when one ignores one’s apprehensiveness about a particular activity or the timeliness of a particular behaviour. If we are apprehensive about these issues and we continue to ignore this can produce sexual barriers, blocks, and turn-offs. One of the sources of apprehensiveness may be the fear that is involved in physical intimacy.
We are now discovering that persons do not understand what is expected re the physical side of a relationship between the sexes and as a result both are very dissatisfied.
There are some fears that are connected to physical intimacy, one fear is the fear of being touched. Some persons are not very accustomed to being touched, to being caressed, to being comfortable with tactile stimulation.
There may the fear of breaking a taboo. There are a number of taboos in many cultures related to physical intimacy. Even when a person is married, it is often difficult to turn off the effect of some of these taboos with which they have lived prior to marriage.
There is the fear of losing control of oneself, of abandoning oneself to physical enjoyment. Physical intimacy frequently involves giving up control – letting go, and for a person who is afraid of losing control, this can be an anxious situation.
Many people fear pregnancy as a result of physical intimacy. Although contraceptive information and birth control techniques are readily available, people hold fears about pregnancy, perhaps from information or myths that stem from childhood or adolescence. These fears can interfere with feeling comfortable in a physically intimate relationship.
There is the fear of sexually transmitted disease (STDs), which in many cases is a realistic fear particularly if either of the partners has engaged in sexual activity with other partners and if either of the partners are not practicing safe sex techniques.
There is the fear of guilt or condemnation either from peers, family members, or in some cases from the church.
For many people, physical intimacy is a novel experience. For a person proceeding into a physical intimate relationship, there are many new things to experience. If a person is apprehensive about novel experiences, the fear associated with novel experiences will create barriers to physical intimacy. Let us not however kid ourselves that once you get married the energy just shifts and we automatically become comfortable, so let us explore how we can overcome the fears.
We can turn that negative around and be positive about a physical relationship, as one of the main things a person can do is to take things at his or her own rate – a rate with which he or she is comfortable.
It is important to give oneself permission to say “no” when “no” is the right answer for you; and conversely, to give yourself permission to say “yes” when “yes” is the right answer and being willing to take responsibility for the consequences of those decisions and actions. When these yes and no answers come from one’s own personal system of values, one’s comfort with physical intimacy increases.
Become aware of one’s fear and what may be producing the apprehensive reaction to physical intimacy. Once the fear is acknowledged, one can work with it. Let me share a story in closing, I would observe my parents and they were not very touchy with each other, I swore that when I got married I would be touchy with my wife, interestingly enough when I got married I fell right into the behaviour I saw as a boy and it was after introspection that I discovered that there are some behaviour that is lodged into our consciousness and we are not even aware of it. Do not be afraid of a physical relationship, just learn to understand the facets involved and apply it to your relationship… should be okay.