Being single for the majority of my 52 years of living, I have a few observations when it comes to dating. Though there are some consistencies from dating in my 20’s and in my 50’s, there is one aspect that seems to be more prevalent today: the lack of intimacy. By intimacy I am not talking about sex but emotional intimacy. (Half of you just turned the page. For the rest who are still reading, I’ll try my best to keep you engaged.)
With the ever-increasing internet connections replacing human contact and interfacing, it is no wonder true intimacy is lacking in many relationships. To get closer one must put forth “old school” effort and actually talk…in person…without Bluetooth. But the trend I’m seeing lately is men and women who don’t seem to WANT true intimacy. Is it fear of being vulnerable? Is it too much to invest? But isn’t that the actual goal of dating—to find that one special person with whom to share your soul?
The Pu Pu Platter
In talking with some of my guy friends I learned though they tout their desire for that one special gal, their actions prove otherwise. Instead of getting closer on a more intimate level (again emotionally speaking) with one lady, they choose to sample the pu pu platter. You know that Chinese appetizer tray that showcases a variety of sumptuous food. Taking a taste here, a taste there…exploring various women… these men never satisfy their appetite. And if they are having sex with these “samples” they now become a “playa” and things start to smell, well… like pu pu. No one benefits from this kind of casualness and usually causes a casualty in the end. And as Christians, we are well aware of God’s plan for sex to be within the realm of marriage.
Now don’t get me wrong. There is a process of “interviewing” when dating. Before committing to that special person, you will most likely do a bit of comparison shopping. But when it stays at that level with no forward direction, then it becomes what I’ve termed “sport dating.” It’s along the same lines of sport fishing — catch and release with no intention of keeping the fish. With this type of dating, there is little chance of creating that true intimacy that only comes when you develop a one-on-one relationship.
Intimacy: risks and rewards
Why, you may ask, is emotional intimacy so important, and why are we afraid of it? As mentioned before, there is a level of bearing one’s soul and becoming vulnerable. For men especially, this may seem anti-manly as they are often taught to conceal their inner emotions. But isn’t that one reason God created woman—to be that counterpart, that complement, to the man? True intimacy does require a deep level of trust. Sharing your vulnerabilities with someone and expecting them not to use this information against you is risky. But that is why we do choose our mates wisely and include God in the selection process. The reward of true intimacy is great. It is that deep level of friendship that sustains a couple. Many marriages have often failed due to the lack of emotional intimacy, which usually results in lack of physical intimacy as well.
Visiting ports of call
If you will indulge me, I’d like to take us beyond the pu pu platter and onto a deeper analogy of what I am trying to convey. Because I am a traveler, this scenario came to mind when listening to a divorced friend of mine who seemed to want “opportunities” but without the hassle of progressing in commitment with any of them.
Dating is like going on a cruise ship. You visit wonderful ports of call in a variety of countries. It’s exciting and fresh…at first. Because your time is short at each of these ports of call, you experience only what all the other tourists experience. And eventually, all the souvenir shops look the same save for their country’s namesake plastered everywhere. What happens then is you feel a bit jipped. You feel no real affinity to any of the ports of call because you only saw them on a superficial level. (Hoping you’re making the connection to dating.)
Choosing a country
Now let’s say you decide you want to really take the time and experience a country further. Italy intrigued you so you decide to rent a villa in the Italian countryside. You find yourself discovering a whole other side to this beautiful country. The scenery, the people, the culture…life beyond the tourists’ traps…has now gotten into your veins. You decide to move there. Now you really see the people and the culture for what they truly are: the enchanting and the not so enchanting. The picturesque villa you bought has plumbing problems. Workers only come out when it’s convenient to them it seems. Every morning you are awakened to the inconsiderate rooster crowing. Yes, when you get deeper into a country (or personal relationship) there will always be things you don’t like, but there is something very beautiful about this as well. In looking deeper you realize these “hang ups” are the result of something more beautiful: a house that, though not modern, is rich in history; a culture that values living life more than time schedules; and farm fresh eggs!
In relationships too, we get to see the inner beauty and strength along with the frailties. All these draw us closer for a deeper connection. It’s only when we truly embrace another person and see the real beauty that lies beneath – to be the only one privileged to this experience – is when our appetites our satisfied and true intimacy abounds.
Chris Alexander is a freelance writer and an aspiring humble servant of our Lord Jesus Christ. She can be reached at [email protected].