Starving for Emotional Intimacy Look At The Lies We Face

I saw this article I wanted to share with you. A very interesting perspective, even if you aren't into religion. The writer, Alice Fryling, is a speaker and author of   "A Handbook for Engaged Couples : A Communication Tool for Those About to Be Married."

History teaches us that people believe what they want to hear. Lies can sound so true when people are starving for truth. Even whole societies will feast on their promises. The Inquisition was based on the lie that some people could force other people to change their religious beliefs. American colonists believed the lie that people of one race had the right to own, buy and sell people of another race. More recently, hundreds of thousands of people believed Hitler's lie that the Jewish race should be eradicated. Most of us can hardly imagine that anyone could have believed these lies. And yet we swallow other lies all the time.

Our society is starving for intimacy. And many of the lies we believe in our culture have to do with our hunger for relationship. We want acceptance, loving relationships and deep intimacy, and yet we believe the lie that sex will satisfy our hunger. It's true that we are profoundly sexual beings, but it's time to examine some of the lies we feast on: the lie that premarital sex is one of our unalienable rights, the lie that sexual intercourse is the route to intimacy, and the lie that premarital abstinence is obsolete at best and repressive at worst. These are all lies.

We have bought into these lies because we are a starving people. We are people who long to be loved, touched and understood in a world of declining family ties and epidemic dysfunction. Our desires are certainly not new; they are as old as humanity. The difference in our world today is that people are trying to fulfill these longings in strange ways: through machines (TV's, CD players, and computers), through sports, material possessions, institutions and sex. Especially through sex. "Try it just once and you'll be fulfilled." "Go for variety and you won't be bored." "A life without sex is a life without belonging." Sexual experience has become a personal right, a need to be met and a norm to be accepted.

The tragedy of all this is that people are dying of emotional starvation, and they are looking for food in the wrong places. I would like to identify seven lies that our society is making about sex. The truth is that sex outside of marriage is not all it's cracked up to be. There is no pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.

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Lie #1: Sex creates intimacy. Genital sex is an expression of intimacy, not the means to intimacy. True intimacy springs from verbal and emotional communion. True intimacy is built on a commitment to honesty, love and freedom. 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.

Premarital sexual intercourse may actually hinder intimacy. Donald Joy writes that indulging in sexual intercourse prematurely short-circuits the emotional bonding process. He cites one study of 100,000 women that links early sexual experience with dissatisfaction in their present marriages, unhappiness with the level of sexual intimacy and a prevalence of low self-esteem (Christianity Today, October 3, 1986).

Lie #2: Starting sex early in a relationship will help you get to know one another and become better partners later. Sexual intercourse and extensive physical exploration early in a relationship do not reflect sex at its best. Of course there is sensual pleasure for those who engage in premarital sexual experiences, but they are missing out on the best route to marital happiness. Sex is an art that is learned best in the safe environment of marriage. I met with one student whose disappointment with her sexual encounters prompted her to overcome great embarrassment and ask me point blank: "Is sex in marriage as bad as it is outside of marriage?" She had arrived at the end of the rainbow, looking for the promised pot of gold, and she had found only disillusionment.

When unrestrained physical intimacy dominates a relationship, other parts of that relationship suffer. In healthy marriages, sex takes its natural place beside the intellectual, emotional and practical aspects of life. Married couples spend less time in bed than they do in conversation, in problem solving, and in emotional communion. The lie that premarital sex prepares you for marriage denies the fact that sexual happiness grows only through years of intimate relationship. The height of sexual pleasure, psychologists tell us, usually comes after ten to twenty years of marriage.

Good sex begins in the head. It depends on intimate knowledge of your partner. The Bible uses the words "to know" to describe sexual intercourse: "Adam knew his wife Eve and she conceived . . ." (Genesis 4:1, NRSV). This choice of words elevates human sexuality from mere animal sex where availability is the main requirement to a full, intimate expression of love and commitment.

Lie #3: Casual sex without long-term commitments is both fun and freeing. Those who settle for short-term sexual relationships are settling for second-best sex. Journalist George Leonard observed that "casual recreational sex is hardly a feast-not even a good hearty sandwich. It is a diet of fast food served in plastic containers. Life's feast is available only to those who are willing and able to engage life on a deeply personal level, giving all, holding back nothing." (Quoted by Joyce Huggett in Dating, Sex & Friendship, InterVarsity Press, p. 82.) For a woman, particularly, sex can reveal hidden fears and lack of trust. Good sex-which can be a healing agent over time-requires trust, trust which grows best in the context of the life-long commitment of marriage.

next: Talking Your Kids About Sex

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 30). Starving for Emotional Intimacy Look At The Lies We Face, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Last Updated: August 18, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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