Behind Closed Doors: Intimacy and sex can be mutually exclusive

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April 20, 2015

10:06 PM

As one of two Behind Closed Doors columnists, my columns are usually aimed at those of us who are sexually active. And though it may often seem that campus is filled to the brim with students who want nothing more than to reproduce at the rate of bunnies, if you’re not having sex, you’re certainly not alone. You could be abstaining because you don’t find sex appealing, you’re choosing to take a break from getting busy, or the right opportunity just hasn’t presented itself yet; it doesn’t matter. Just because you’re not doing the dirty doesn’t mean you’re not interested in having intimate relationships.

I find that a lot of us assume that intimacy and sex are mutually exclusive, but this is far from true. Though sex can be an intimate act, it can also be an act that is more about being sexually satisfied than making a strong romantic connection. There are also tons of ways to get intimate with a partner that doesn’t involve any poking, prodding or exchange of fluids.

…when you find commonalities with another person, it feels like you’re living in a movie, à la “500 Days of Summer.”

Feeling an intimate connection with someone can begin with just having a conversation. Opening up and sharing stories or emotions with someone can allow one to feel closer with another person. Talk to each other about your favorite things: your favorite animal, memory, vacation or movie. Just hearing more about someone’s experiences can strengthen your connection to your partner, and when you find commonalities with another person, it feels like you’re living in a movie, à la “500 Days of Summer.” Even if you and your partner get funky on a regular basis, playing a game of twenty questions every now and again can be a great affirmation of why you’ve chosen to be with that person in the first place.

Holding hands is another great way to feel intimate without taking off your clothes. As a child, I tried to hold hands whenever the opportunity would present itself, which I’m pretty sure proves that hand holding is the most wonderful gesture ever in human existence. Though you might not want to hold hands with every person you know like I did when I was little, I would advocate that hand holding is a great way to feel closer. I personally prefer the waffle method of handholding in which you interlace your fingers with those of your boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, study buddy, etc. Others may enjoy the pancake strategy where you keep your fingers together while you grasp the palm of your significant other. Not only does the physical contact of holding hands increase intimacy, but there’s also something special about holding hands in public. It says to the world, “I support this person.”

Sometimes cuddling can lead to sexy time, but if you’re clear about your snuggling intentions, it can be a great way to feel physically and emotionally close to someone.

If you’re feeling like kicking it up a notch in the intimacy department, you might want to get cuddly. Sometimes cuddling can lead to sexy time, but if you’re clear about your snuggling intentions, it can be a great way to feel physically and emotionally close to someone. Simply take some of my favorite sleeping positions and adjust them for a solid cuddling session. Spoon and whisper sweet nothings in your cuddle buddy’s ear. Engage in the awkward side hug while entering into a fierce game of “I love you more.”

The point of all this cuddling and hand-holding is that physical intimacy can often equate to emotional intimacy, and since sex is definitely not for everyone out there, these are some alternative ways to make that leap. Just because you don’t want to have sex doesn’t mean that you have to be exempt from feeling an emotional connection to the ones you care about. Intimacy is an important aspect of any relationship, whether you’re just friends or romantically involved. Most importantly, you should never feel bad for not wanting to get intimate via sex. Get out there, get intimate and have fun.

Mallory W. is a Behind Closed Doors columnist who frequently indulges in both pancakes and waffles when not having her sexy time.

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