GLOSSARY: on intimacy

What is intimacy? We talk about it all the time. We long for it. We fear it. But what do we mean when we talk about intimacy? There’s some part of it that is physical and erotic, but what part? Sex can be intimate, but it’s not automatically. Intimacy can include sex, but it doesn’t have to. Some part of intimacy is emotional – just having feelings, expressing them, sharing them with another person is pretty intimate, not necessarily something you do on a casual basis with just anyone. Some part of intimacy is verbal – it may not be easy to define, but you know the difference between an intimate conversation and one that’s not especially intimate.

At some personal growth seminar years ago, I heard intimacy defined as “Into-Me-You-See.” I know, it’s a little corny. But it gets to the heart of what constitutes intimacy – showing yourself to someone else, with all the openness, tenderness, courage, vulnerability, and individuality that requires. It’s great when you’re able to relax and feel free to be yourself with another person.

intimacy

I’ve learned through personal experience and through my professional practice that intimacy can be created. You can build it by hand, step by step, on purpose. That’s the essence of the workshop for gay men that I’m facilitating at Easton Mountain April 24-27, “THAT’S AMORE: Creative Rituals for Intimacy and Connection.” Starting with the process of creating ritual space, formally and informally, we will explore a dozen different ways of cultivating intimacy by devising intentional ceremonies and experiments involving verbal communication, physical touch, imagination, and artistic elements (music, pictures, movement, food, meditation, the natural environment).

The program is intended for single or partnered gay men who would enjoy spending a weekend in a structured environment that supports the quest for authentic love and affection. Each participant will leave with not only tools for connecting more deeply with other men but also a greater appreciation for yourself as a lover.

The cost of the workshop is $495-695 (depending on your choice of accommodations). For more information and to register online, go to http://bit.ly/AmoreEaston.

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DID YOU SEE: Wall Street Journal on why couples have sex

married sex cartoon

An article by Elizabeth Bernstein in the Wall Street Journal recently summarized findings from a couple of Canadian research studies about what constitutes satisfying sex for married couples.

For many years, scientists believed that humans had sex for a few simple reasons: to reproduce, experience physical pleasure or relieve sexual tension. Then a 2007 study from the University of Texas identified 237 expressed motives for sex. The reasons ranged from the mundane (stress reduction) to the spiritual (to get closer to God) and from the altruistic (to make the other person feel good) to the spiteful (to retaliate against a partner who cheated by cheating).

Now, two studies by University of Toronto researchers published this month in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, have divided the most common reasons why people have sex—and the ones most relevant to long-term relationships—into two broad categories of motivation: approach and avoidance. Approach motives pursue a positive outcome. (“I want to increase intimacy with my spouse” or “I want to feel closer to my partner.”) Avoidance motives aim to evade a negative outcome. (“I want to avoid conflict” or “I don’t want to feel guilty.”)

It’s a pretty interesting analysis (though focused exclusively on heterosexual married couples), with some testimonials about the value of sex therapy for couples wanting to deepen their physical intimacy.

How can you become more positively motivated when it comes to sex? If you’re feeling like you’d just rather go to sleep, try tuning into the emotional connection between you and your partner, says Julie Hanks, a clinical social worker in Salt Lake City. “Lead with what you want instead of what you don’t want to happen,” she says. 

About a year ago, Ms. Brinton decided she and her husband needed to work on their sex life. “I thought, ‘I want to enjoy sex. I want to feel connected to my husband. I want to reclaim my sexuality.’ ” So she started doing things to make herself feel sexy: She bought new lingerie and started reading erotic romance novels. Ms. Brinton also asked her husband to go to a sex therapist with her.

Her husband says he was thrilled. He figured there would be a lot of sex as homework. But, at least initially, their homework was to focus on real communication—not just small talk—about issues unrelated to sex. “I came to realize that you can’t have a great, intimate sex life until you have learned to connect outside of the bedroom,” says Mr. Brinton, who owns a custom-framing business. Eventually, their conversations led to talk of sex—and then more sex. Once “we knew how to talk about other things, we felt comfortable with the difficult questions about what the other person likes in bed,” says Mr. Brinton.

Check out the whole article here and let me know what you think.

Glossary: GOONING

 

A client mentioned to me: “The other day on Craigslist I saw an ad that mentioned the word goon. I had never heard that term before so I went to the Urban Dictionary to see what it meant. I have decided I like the word!” The word gooning was new to me as well, though when I read the description the practice sounds a lot like edging:

“gooning: The act of a very addicted or chronic masturbator; getting so into masturbating, or jacking off, that the dude becomes a total goon; becomes dazzled by his own cock. Can think of nothing else but P3 — Pure Penile Pleasure…

‘Gooning’ may be most simply defined as that state usually achieved after a prolonged edging session, when a man becomes completely hypnotized by the beautiful sight of his own erection, so that he no longer really needs other stimulation such as pornographic words and imagery. He’s turned on by witnessing his own sexual arousal.”

Do you have any experiences of gooning? Let me know.