Decoding The Intimacy-Desire Paradox

First, we need to catch you up to date and tell you what the Intimacy-Desire Paradox is. THEN, we'll tell you why it's wrong.

Intimacy-Desire Paradox Scholars have talked about this thing called the Intimacy-Desire Paradox for years. It was a pretty controversial idea that theorized that high levels of intimacy may inhibit, rather than increase, sexual desire. AKA, if you're in a warm and loving relationship where you're affectionate every day, then your sex life might be suffering. You can see where this gets controversial, right? Happy couples everywhere were inflamed, and singles were confused: "If I want a good sex life, should I be looking for a relationship that lacks intimacy?"

The Paradox Is 99% Wrong Of course, the short answer is no. But there is a tiny, teensy bit of truth to the original philosophy. As Psychology Professor Gurit Birnbaum has said: "These scholars have argued that the core of this paradox lies in the contradiction between the intimate and familiar relationships that many people strive for and the limitations of such familiar bonds for enhancing desire. In particular, the need for security that intimacy typically provides may clash with the sense of uncertainty, novelty, and separateness that fuels desire, such that high levels of intimacy between partners may stifle sexual desire." Right, if your partner brushes their teeth next to you, folds your underwear, and leaves the door open when they pee... you might not use the word "mystery" to describe your relationship.

The Responsiveness Catch-22 New research shows that the intimacy-desire paradox might not be a paradox... at all. (See? Even scientists can be wrong.) "What determines whether intimacy instigates or inhibits desire is not the mere existence of intimacy, but its meaning in the larger context of a relationship. Responsiveness is most likely to instigate desire when it conveys the impression that the partner is worth pursuing and when engaging in sex with such a desirable partner is likely to promote an already valuable relationship."

Intimacy, alone, might put a ding in your desire machine (that's what we call a sex drive), but intimacy combined with responsiveness equals off-the-charts desire. Why? Because the day-to-day intimacies of sharing your entire lives with someone can absolutely strip away at the mystique we so often associate with desire. But when you and your partner have seen it all, and then still show each other responsiveness and engagement in the bedroom... then thunderous, toe-curling desire will follow.

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