Is it just me, or does anyone else think that sex has become so extremely overrated? Okay, allow me to clarify. Sex is great! It is an amazing, intimate experience when it’s shared with the person you love. It’s a form of intimacy, but it shouldn’t be considered the entire sundae; it should be the “cherry on top”. I’ve learned that unlike the generation I grew up in, sex has become overpopulated in our schools, media, and TV — everybody wants to do “it”.

We know sex is this complicated, multi-tiered subject and deserves to be dissected before indulging straight in. So, when it comes to dating, like, actually getting to know someone, do we want to complicate that even more by adding sex to it? While intercourse is a highly tempting thing, there are other ways to express and share intimacy, especially while dating.

Emotional Intimacy

Learning someone and their mind; falling in love with their personality and listening to their innermost thoughts can create an undeniable closeness. The goal, when we are dating, is to learn someone. Simply having conversations about life, things we love/dislike, what makes us happy/sad, the joys and pains of our childhood, can open doors to honesty and build bridges of trust needed for the relationship to advance.

In dating, this can look like going out for ice cream and sharing personal experiences or discussing our passions and things we advocate for. This can heighten our interest in someone and draw us closer to them. We learn to “like” people based on our emotional intimacy. It’s easy to have sex with someone and not like them. But, where’s the experience in that? There’s nothing there ensuring it could potentially be long-term. When you actually like the person you’re choosing to be sexually intimate with, it makes the sex that much better. And that in itself is a powerful thing.

Experiential Intimacy

Experiences! What better way to grow connected to someone than through experiences? Sure, a nice dinner is great as a first date, but what about an experience? Have you ever taken a walk along the beach on a first date? Maybe a bike ride? Had a homemade picnic in the park?

These aren’t our typical first dates but can make great first experiences and leave lasting first impressions. Having someone to cook for you, instead of going out to dinner is experiential intimacy. And this is reciprocated both ways: It’s doing something for someone that they’ve never had, and it’s doing something you’ve never done.

It’s through this form of intimacy, we learn someone’s extent to make us happy. How far will they go to be different or to offer you a different view on the dating experience? This is sexy and it’s romantic. And it’s these things we look for when we date someone. It’s a form of intimacy that’s rarely acknowledged but can make all the difference. In long-term dating, this can look like vacations and trips out of the country. For those who enjoy a little bit of adventure: hot air balloons, rock-climbing, skiing, bungee-jumping, and skydiving. What better way to say, “I really like you” than by jumping out of an airplane.

Physical Intimacy

This is not to be mistaken for sexual intimacy. The difference is, there’s no sex involved. Physical intimacy is our hugs and kisses and holding hands. Once we learn to like someone good enough through emotional intimacy, we become comfortable enough with them to be physical. Again, this is not sex. This is as small as holding hands.

Holding hands can actually be a stress reliever too. It decreases the level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone and releases oxytocin which is the hormone that strengthens empathy and communication. Yes, something as small as holding hands can have a large impact on our health. Being comfortable and relaxed around people can open doors of honesty and strengthen communication.

Hugs can have these same effects as well. In dating, this can look like holding hands during a movie or a carnival ride. Hugs reassure us that there is trust and kisses confirm we like each other. Cuddling and massages are also physical forms of intimacy, just on a different level. It isn’t the same as sex, but there is still that body-to-body connection and experience we all love.

Spiritual Intimacy

This would probably have to be my favorite form of intimacy. For a lot of people, being equally yoked is important. This simply means sharing the same Faith and being a believer in a Higher Power. Through this form of intimacy, you are allowed to share your beliefs and morals in regard to how you perceive life and its obstacles. It’s being able to worship together and pray for each other.

While I understand that not everyone will have a spiritual compass, they can still share spiritual intimacy. Lying under the stars and having conversations about life and the world after, is spiritual. And it’s intimate. Using encouraging words and sharing positive affirmations with each other is spiritual. Learning a person’s spirit; that which makes them unique and different is spiritual…Falling in love with that spirit makes it intimate. It’s one of the highest forms of intimacy. And I don’t know about you, but there is something so divinely sexy about a man who isn’t afraid to show affection toward a Higher Power.

These intimacies are extremely important forms to navigate through when dating. It covers everything and leaves nothing left to the imagination–And unlike sex, it isn’t a temporary thing. It doesn’t start–and then end. When invested in properly, these can win successfully for your dating experiences.

Through emotional, experiential and spiritual intimacy, you’ve built your Sundae. You’ve only added things to your delectable treat you desire. You’ve grounded your bowl with emotional ice cream, drizzled some experiential caramel and chocolate sauce and threw on some spiritual peanuts. The cherry is not always needed to top the sundae. With or without it, the sundae will still be delicious. However, if you choose to add it, then you’ve already covered your bowl with the other necessities and I can guarantee you, the cherry will taste better that way….when it’s last on the sundae to add.


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