Intimacy: The Joy and Pain

Ann Weber, Ph.D.

"I can't believe you really did it!" Mira's friend Kay exclaims. "You always said love was a fairy tale and you didn't believe in it. I was even envious that you had such a free, single lifestyle."

A little sheepish, Mira nods. "Well, I never planned this. And you know we're not being impulsive. But Les seems to feel sure and I realized I am too. We want to be together. We know there are no guarantees but we plan to work on it, we've promised to do all we can to stay together."

"What changed your mind about making a commitment?" Kay demands, grinning.

"Nothing obvious," Mira muses. "I'm a happy person. I love my work and my friends. I could live a good life on my own. But being with Les makes me happier, I laugh more. I think I'm just a better person when we're together. I want to go on being the best person I can and a life with Les is the way to do it."

Are we meant to be monogamous? How do we know when it's the "right" time or partner for making a commitment?


Tory has spent the past five hours preparing an intimate anniversary dinner to share with her boyfriend, Peter. Now he's an hour late. He knew she was planning something special. Why hasn't he at least called? She is angry and hurt and confused and frustrated. Every time she tries to take their relationship up a notch - by acknowledging how much fun they have together, how long they've been together or what the future might hold - he becomes grumpy and distant or begins to criticize. "Don't start that pressure again, Tor," he told her once. "Nothing will drive me away faster than your needing some kind of formal commitment. I'm here, aren't I? Isn't that good enough?" She has tried to take him at his word but sometimes, when she's feeling good, things just come out. Things like, "I love you," "I wish things were always like this," then he just gets really quiet and turns his attention to the newspaper or TV and makes a point of not calling for a day or two. What's she supposed to do, deny herself the pleasure of feeling good about him, just to hold on to him? Why does he have such a problem with feeling close?
Why do some people eagerly crave commitment and intimate moments while others shy away from them?


Alma decides, as long as she's at the mall in the next town, to pick up a little gift for her boyfriend Greg. He's due home tomorrow from an unplanned business trip. He said he felt bad about leaving her but it couldn't be helped. Anticipating his return, she decides she'll buy him a nice travel kit, so that his next trip will be more comfortable. Paying for her purchase, she glances up and notices a man in the men's department. From behind, he looks a lot like Greg. It is Greg -- holding up a tie and looking into a mirror. Why didn't he call to say he was back in town so soon? He's talking to someone -- a woman she's never seen before. They laugh together, he replaces the tie and they walk toward the exit arm in arm. Not until the cashier asks if she is all right does Alma realize that she has stood perfectly still for several minutes after they have disappeared, with no idea what to do or where to go.
Why do some people betray their partners? Are there telltale warning signs that someone is being deceitful or unfaithful?

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