Tonight I had a revealing conversation with a male friend after dinner. We were talking about nontraditional relationships, such as cuddle buddies and lovers. At one point, we realized that what we have in common in our lives is an interest in undoing the links between love, sex, intimacy and commitment that men and women are conditioned to believe in this society. Not to become hedonistic or immoral, but as a way to expand the understanding of what is healthy.
Stereotypically, men are conditioned to want sex, whether or not it is attached to love, but also as the only path towards intimacy if there is one. Commitment may come as a by-product of love or sex. Women are conditioned to link all of the above - sex, love, intimacy and commitment.
A growth experience for men may be to practice intimacy without sex, to learn how to turn down sex under the right circumstances, or to practice commitment as a primary motivator in a relationship. For women, it might be to practice knowing how sex and love are not the same thing, to practice not making commitments under the right circumstances, and to learn how sex can be a primary motivator in a relationship.
Learning how to expand beyond the boundaries of what we are supposed to do, into the grey zone of what is healthy and possible, expands our ability to determine the right thing to do in any situation.
In what ways have you been affected by your beliefs about how sex, love, intimacy and commitment are related?