One of the primary things I emphasize with men and women healing from intimacy disorders is this:
"The non-sexual always leads to sexual."
This is true in both a healthy and un-healthy sense. Especially if you look at it from the framework that sexuality is but a manifestation of our deepest desires. For instance, some individuals with intimacy disorders who long for validation will seek it via massage parlors, while others seek validation via chat rooms and one night stands. Those that seek to escape the pressures of their world often turn to porn (fantasy world).
Individuals who were bullied as a youth have a tendency to become exhibitionistic both non-sexually and sexually; for example, having to be the life of the party, center of attention, have all eyes on them; or they have had sexual encounters where they control being exploited, i.e., stripping, exposing their sexual body parts in public. People that tend to voyeur ("Peeping Toms or Peeping Tinas") grew up feeling like an outsider in their world. Note: these examples are not an exhaustive list.
The challenge and opportunity in recovery is to understand that sexual behavior is a mere demonstration of a deeper longing. Once an individual connects with what they truly NEED, then they are able to start to work towards healing. This is easier said than done, especially since everyone I have ever worked with that has an intimacy disorder has survived some form of trauma. They have never learned how to ask for what they need and many don't even know what it is that they actually do need in the first place.
"What do I Long For?"
Take a minute and ask yourself this question. Make a list. Notice that your list likely entails: unconditional love, acceptance, approval, and validation.
These are typically the main things that people need but never received as a child, i.e., from parents, siblings, authority figures, or peer groups.
"What are my deepest desires?"
Pick your top 3 desires and ponder them; write about them. Talk with someone you feel safe with about this list. Notice that what you wrote or thought about is likely the same as what you long for and probably non-sexual. For those who don't know how to get their needs and deepest desires met, they will turn the non-sexual need into a sexual need because it is a "quick" fix; an escape from the frustration of not having their needs met. It also alleviates the emotional discomfort they feel most of the time.
"What do I need?"
This may seem like the other two questions, but it is actually different-often harder to answer. Notice that you may not know what you need in this moment. However, if you start to practice asking yourself this question in every situation and every encounter, you will start to connect with your deeper self; that part of you that knows exactly what you need to feel cared for and loved.
Take time this week to begin to practice asking these questions. Notice that as you connect with your deeper longings, desires, and needs, you can start to enrich the relationship with yourself and your loved one. Ask your partner the same questions.
You are worth it.
Namasté (The divine in me honors the divine in you),