Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dr. Steve speaks on physical intimacy in dating

Probably the most- re-visted chapter of Dr. Stephen W. Simpson's book, "What Women Wish You Knew About Dating" is Chapter 15 titled "Physical Intimacy." This was the scheduled topic of last night's chat. I've decided to just outline the chapter for you in today's blog.

The chapter starts out with reminders from previous chapters, that it's okay to kiss the girl you've been dating when you are both ready for a committed relationship. But it's not okay to have sex with her until you are married. "The problem arises somewhere between kissing and sex. A lot can happen between that first kiss and the wedding night," says Dr. Steve. And boy is he right!

There are no clear guidelines on what honors God and blesses the people involved, but Dr. Steve has come up with Nine Principles for Healthy, Holy Physical Intimacy.

1. "How far is too far?" is the wrong question. The real question should be what will be honoring to God and the other person? Your focus should not be on yourself, but on blessing and loving your girlfriend. It's taking an attitude of giving instead of determining the limits of what you can receive.

2. Talk and pray about everything before you do it. Dr. Steve recommends that you talk and pray together about everything before you do it. (We highly concur!) Following this principle alone will go a long way toward promoting healthy, holy physical intimacy. Before increasing any type of physical intimacy, you should talk about it in specifics, and do so before the moment of passion arises.

3. You and your girlfriend should be in complete agreement about everything before you do it. You should both be in total agreement and enthused about the next level. If one of you is hedging, don't do it. The man has the responsibility to the woman in this regard. If, in the heat of the moment, she seems to change her mind and encourages you to move forward, it's the man's job to tell her no. You don't want regrets - and it's very difficult to go back!

4. The level of physical intimacy should be equal to or less than intimacy in every other area of the relationship. Your level of commitment, your emotional intimacy, your spiritual intimacy, and the amount of time you spend together should correspond to your level of physical intimacy. Everything should be balanced. Too much physical intimacy can unbalance a relationship, which leaves sexual activity driving the relationship. Physical intimacy cannot hold a relationship together, and you will sacrifice other aspects of intimacy as a result.

5. Know your motives. The reason to increase your physical closeness is an increase in love and commitment. Some poor motives are pride, fear and insecurity. Don't use physical intimacy to confirm your doubts about the relationship or to stabilize the relationship.

6. Don't make it a substitute. Similar to No. 4, if emotional and spiritual intimacy lapse or the level of commitment is uncertain, making out can put a "band-aid" on the feelings of uncertainty. Don't make the mistake of measuring the strength of a relationship by the physical bond. "Physical expression of love is a powerful force that requires a solid foundation." If you and your girlfriend are having relationship trouble, back off of physical intimacy and work on communication, possibly with the help of friends or your pastor.

7. Don't make her set the limits. The stereotype is that the woman is the one to say stop, which is an unfair and downright rotten position to put her in. Dr. Steve suggests that men change their image of being sexual wolves in sheep's clothing. Rather, show women that you respect them and that your bodies are sacred. If your girlfriend knows that you're as likely to keep things from getting out of control as she is, she'll feel more comfortable engaging in physical intimacy that is appropriate.

8. It's hard to go backward. The first kiss is amazing, as is the second and third. Over time the effect diminishes, so there's a desire to do more. Keep in mind that once you add a new sexual behavior, it's hard to go back to just kissing. It will decrease the pleasure of everything that came before.

9. People need to be touched. God created us to be touched, which is evident in scientific studies of infant development. This need persists into adulthood. Physical intimacy is important in romantic relationships. Dr. Steve suggests that a relationship without it is incomplete, and has counseled a lot of newly married couples who shared little or no physical affection before marriage. After getting married, they found sex frustrating, anxiety provoking, shameful and confusing. They had no foundation of physical intimacy, so it was impossible to enjoy this most intimate expression of love. They'd spent months or years restraining their God-given need to be touched, and then expected to remove all those restraints in one night. Christian sex therapist Clifford Penner describes it as trying to remove the lid from a jar that you've spent your whole life tightening. You desperately want what's in the jar, but you can't get the lid off. It's important to loosen the lid a little before you get married. If you prepare for the physical aspect of marriage as you do in other areas such as finance, communication and worship, it will strengthen your relationship, enhance the love you feel, and provide a solid foundation for marriage.

There are some specific guidelines that are noteworthy in this chapter. Communication and planning are key! One last note - you don't have to increase physical intimacy beyond kissing.

... blaming it all on the book ;)
~ Linda
Cache' Connections

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