Jeremy Edge, LPC
Authentic Intimacy: Ways to Stop Using Porn and Connect With Your Partner
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
We all want intimacy. We want to feel deeply connected with someone and be understood. Intimacy can look like different things. Emotional intimacy is when your friend or partner really knows you. They get your perspective and where you are coming from. It’s feeling close with someone after a good conversation and sharing your thoughts. Physical intimacy is sex. Well, part of it.
When we are physically intimate with someone, we share our bodies in some way. You can be physically intimate through a hug, hand holding, kiss, caress or through sexual contact. When we are physically intimate with someone, we not only share ourselves with that other person, but we experience that other person too. A powerful connection happens when two people are emotionally and physically intimate with each other.
Intimacy is fantastic when we share it with someone we love and trust. But sometimes we are not able to obtain intimacy. Maybe you are trying to date but just can’t find someone you connect with. Or maybe you don’t even have that option. Maybe you are filled with anxiety thinking about asking that person you like on a date. When we want intimacy and can’t get it, it sucks.
Pornography can look enticing when all the fish in the sea are taken or none are biting. We can fool ourselves thinking we can experience sexual intimacy through pornographic images and videos. For a short while, looking at porn can feel great. It is exciting, erotic and novel with no chance of being shot down or rejected. Porn is catered to be exactly what you desire, at least from a visual standpoint. Any type of image or sexual fantasy can be found online. With an endless stream of accepting lovers, who needs real life intimacy?
Have you ever seen a movie with a scene on a beach? The camera slowly pans over the scene of a tranquil ocean, waves hitting the shore. You hear the ocean, that slow and steady rise and fall of the water. You see the people in the scene enjoying the rays of the sun and looking more relaxed than you thought possible. Those scenes are great, right?
Seeing the beach on a screen is not nearly as satisfying as actually being on a beach. Not just hearing but feeling the deep roar of the ocean. Smelling that salty sea air, hearing seagulls fly nearby and feeling the warm sand envelope your feet and toes. Going to a majestic beach will always be a remarkably better experience than viewing it on a screen, no matter how good the picture is. The same is true with intimacy and porn.
Experiencing intimacy with a real person is always better than an artificial experience. There are challenges to overcome to be sexually intimate with someone, but it is a much more satisfying and fulfilling experience than artificial sex online. You may be asking yourself, “How can I experience this intimacy? How can I not look at porn when no one wants to be with me? And what’s so wrong with it anyway? Everyone does it.” These are fair points. Let’s look at them.
How Can I Be Intimate?
Fulfilling intimacy takes time. I would encourage you to focus on making positive relationships with those you care about. Work on spending time with those who interest you and want to learn more about. Intimacy of all kinds comes from experiencing a positive connection with others. Spend time with others and work on strengthening those relationships. Intimacy will grow.
No one wants me. Porn is all I got.
When others reject us, our confidence takes a hit. Rather than continuing to go out and meet people with the hopes of working towards emotional and sexual intimacy, we stop trying. We can think it will never happen so why bother.
What would happen if your confidence grew 100-fold? If you knew without a doubt that you were hot stuff and people wanted to get with you. With no fear of rejection and the optimism of a hope you know will happen, the result could be much different than what you have been used to.
You must believe you are valuable. That you are someone others want to get to know and be intimate with. Literally everyone has insecurities. But that does not have to dictate your well-being. You do not have to be controlled by a defeated mindset preventing you from having the life and intimacy you want. A great way to build intimacy with others is to build up your self-confidence. From that place of confidence, we can better open up to others and increase our intimacy.
Everyone Does It
This is the phrase we all use to justify whatever we want to do but know we shouldn’t. Everyone lies. Everyone roles through stop signs. Everyone drives five miles over the speed limit. Everyone gets a divorce. Everyone vapes. Everyone cheats on a test at least once. Everyone is on their phone more than they should be. Like our mom's said when we were eight, "Just because everyone is doing something does not mean it's right." Those words are cheesy, but true.
A lot of people, male and female, look at porn. That does not mean it is a healthy activity. There are many problems with viewing pornography. Some are discussed in a book called Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction by Gary Wilson. Pornography robs people of dignity and creates a false expectation of what authentic intimacy looks like. Don't be fooled by the cultural message that nothing is wrong with pornography.
Obtaining authentic intimacy is fantastic and fulfilling. It does not look like isolating ourselves behind a screen and looking at porn. Real intimacy comes from authentic relationships. I encourage you to work on building more intimacy with the ones around you. Make closer relationships and connections with others. Focus on others and growing closer with those you already care about.
Do things that your partner likes. Work on seeing things from your partner's perspective and help them feel appreciated and valued. This will help them feel closer and more intimate with you. Sincerely put your partner's needs before your own. When we do that, we are truly caring for and loving them. And when we are truly loving our partner, intimacy grows.
Close your eyes and think of the beach. Take a slow deep breath in and imagine yourself breathing in that salty sea air. Savor that experience. Then slowly breath out. I encourage you to work towards authentic intimacy rather than settling for porn. Fully experience true intimacy. The result will be as fulfilling as walking onto a beautiful beach on a hot summer day.