Having Sex Wanting Intimacy Why Women Settle for One Sided Relationships

by Jill P. Weber

Author Jill P Weber Isbn 1442220201 File size 3 67MB Year 2013 Pages 247 Language English File format PDF Category Family and Friendship Finding lasting love and intimacy can be difficult for many women Some end up agreeing to sexual relationships hoping that they may lead to longer more fulfilling relationships only to be let down when they don t Here Jill Weber explains why women feel forced into a male model of dating that barters sex for the unrealistic hope that it will lead to emot

Publisher :

Author : Jill P. Weber

ISBN : 1442220201

Year : 2013

Language: English

File Size : 3.67MB

Category : Family and Friendship

Havin g Sex,
Wan ting
I n tim acy

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Having Sex,
Why Women Settle for
One-Sided Relationships
Jill P. Weber

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Lanham • Boulder • New York • Toronto • Plymouth, UK

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Published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
A wholly owned subsidiary of
The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706
10 Thornbury Road, Plymouth PL6 7PP, United Kingdom
Copyright © 2013 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by
any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval
systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer
who may quote passages in a review.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Weber, Jill P., 1973–
  Having sex, wanting intimacy : why women settle for one-sided relationships /
  Jill P. Weber.
   p. cm
  Includes bibliographical references and index.
  ISBN 978-1-4422-2020-1 (pbk. : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-1-4422-2021-8
  1. Interpersonal relations. 2. Women—Sexual behavior. I. Title.
  HM1106.W434 2013


™ The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of

American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper
for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992.
Printed in the United States of America

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To girls

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 1 The Quick Fix: Sextimacy Defined


 2 Perfect Little Dolls: Cultural and Societal Factors
 3 Sugar, Spice, All Things Nice:
Family and Social Influence


 4 Drama: Developing Emotional Awareness


 5 Chatterbox: Building Direct Communication


 6 Dress Up: Developing Healthy Self-Esteem


 7 Kissing a Frog: Dating with Self-Awareness


 8 Good Girls: Developing an Authentic Sexual Self


 9 Housekeeping: Putting It All Together










About the Author


• vii •
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extimacy is the effort to find emotional intimacy through sex. It may
seem to offer a woman a shortcut to happiness at first, but when it
becomes habitual, the result is frustration and disappointment.
A common step in this process is the adoption by some women of
the conventional male strategy, even a male point of view, for dating.
Women who step in this direction may feel as if they are taking control
of their romantic lives, and then with time, this feeling passes, to be
replaced by a sharp sense of emotional isolation.
I coined the word sextimacy to facilitate communication in therapy.
“Promiscuous,” “wild,” “fast,” the generalization “hooking up,” and
similar words are often used in a judgmental way that impedes objective analysis. It’s not that these words don’t have uses, but as labels they
amplify the discomfort that women may feel about their sexuality and
derail productive introspection. My experience with patients has shown
me, firsthand, the clarity that an uninhibited discussion of sextimacy
can bring to adolescent girls and young and middle-aged women.
Clarity, perhaps above all, helps women become attentive to their own
With this book, I hope that the word sextimacy will help identify
a concern that, outside of the privacy of psychotherapy offices, does
not get the public attention it deserves. It also helps parents who desperately want to protect their daughters from all that can go wrong
in the process of experimenting with romance. Those I deal with are
often visibly relieved to have sextimacy explained. It gives parents and

• ix •
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their daughters a road map that helps them communicate in productive
ways. The urge to give in to panic dissipates, and they often become
significantly closer to their daughters as a result.
Sextimacy occurs on a spectrum. Many intuitively sense the hazard
and proceed with caution. Some hope a casual liaison will be the beginning of a journey that will lead to emotional intimacy and commitment. In other cases, emotional intimacy is not the woman’s expressed
initial goal. For others still, sextimacy may become their only avenue
for forging romantic relationships with men. What seems to them to
be a path to emotional intimacy leads instead to a cul-de-sac, circling
and circling in a disappointing, sometimes heartbreaking cycle. In the
last instance, women explain the disappointments to themselves with
self-blame and then, paradoxically, try to repair their negative feelings
with another sextimacy encounter and then another. And in all of these
cases, sextimacy may occur in the proverbial one-night stand or, more
perversely and more typically, occur in a series of emotionally sterile
sexual encounters with the same man.
There is an ongoing cultural media-promoted fantasy about sex and
intimacy that purports by some magic of happenstance that two people
will careen together and, presto, true love will reign. It is a formula used
for many books and movies. The simplicity of the story is appealing. But
life and more serious fiction are more complicated than that.
These and other cultural, as well as family, influences set up some
girls to become adults who settle for one-sided relationships where
their needs are not being met. Many girls are socialized to subordinate
their feelings. They are schooled to be “nice” at all times, however they
might actually feel, and to go along to get along. Unfortunately, these
messages may ultimately become quite self-destructive. Women may
suppress their deep desire to be fully known and adopt a belief that
men can’t handle their truth. These women typically hold out hope that
somehow, if they suppress enough, their relationships will eventually
deliver what they desire—emotional intimacy. They won’t.
Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy is about helping women discover
what it is that drives their happiness in romantic relationships, and it
is about women who are trapped by the need to perpetually sacrifice in
order to maintain their connections with men.

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Many women grow up fully equipped to form fulfilling, emotionally intimate relationships with men. But many don’t. Happily, those
who don’t can learn to alter their behavior in ways that will improve
their prospects for love. As women no longer allow themselves to settle
for the dregs, some men are challenged to look at their own character.
If this process means that a woman leaves some men behind, the comfort is in knowing that all will be better for it.
After completing this book, I learned I was pregnant with a baby
girl. Although a dream come true, I find myself daunted, overwhelmed
by the emotional weight of my own girl and her future. How will my
husband and I even begin to spar with and counter the many unavoidable, bogus messages about femininity that abound? I find a measure of
confidence by remembering that which has been protective for me and
for the women and girls I have treated professionally and have known
personally. And this is the power of candid, accepting relationships
with others—between mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters,
sisters, friends, colleagues, teachers, therapists, and coaches.
When a woman or a girl finds herself in the presence of another
who is truly open to her experience, without judgment or blocks to intimacy, she is drawn closer to her authentic self. By steadfastly staying
in tune with herself, it becomes easier to separate her own desires from
those of others and from the ever-moving judgment of culture.
The women I see in my practice inspire. Their willingness to
confront their disappointments is an ongoing demonstration of what
women can accomplish for themselves. In each case described, details
of individual stories have been significantly altered so as to preserve
confidential identity. In addition, identity is concealed by only using
cases that reflect compilations of recurring themes.

• xi •
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The Quick Fix
Sextimacy Defined


hile writing this book, I attended a bachelorette party for a
thirty-something bride-to-be in New York City. On a whim,
we entered Hogs and Heifers, a well-known bar in Manhattan devoted
to providing bachelorettes with a last few moments of entertainment
before they wed. As soon as you enter this bar, it is clear the women are
in charge—hopped up on adrenaline and Pabst Blue Ribbon, wearing
tight-fitting tank tops and stilettoes, hurling their bras onto the bar as
they groove to music from the jukebox. One of the bartenders—beautiful, early twenties—dances on top of the bar in a bikini, while using
a megaphone to shout insults at the men who enter: “Get out of here,
punk,” “Is that your ass or your face?,” or sounding a siren while cheering into a megaphone, “Ladies, we got ourselves a hot one here . . .
finally.” The women in the bar grind with one another on the dance
floor as guys beg for a dance, only to be aggressively pushed away unless they are deemed, by the standards of the room, hot and gorgeous.
This shameless spectacle of women acting nothing like the female
stereotypes of sweet and nice is alluring and seductive. The control they
exude and their take-charge attitude is infectious, so much more powerful than a passive lady-in-waiting. And, yet, as the siren sounded one
more time, I recognized this as a fantasy world and realized that I know
these young women. Perhaps I know a side they only show a privileged
few, but I do know them—intimately. I know that under this tough

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Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy

exterior is vulnerability, along with a desire to feel intimately and deeply
connected with the men in their lives. I also know that many women
choose a life of what I call “sextimacy”—pursuing sex to gain emotional
intimacy—out of feeling overwhelmed and crippled by the many sexual
dilemmas that are present for women in our culture. I know they feel
forced into a male model of dating that barters sex for an emotional
connection. I also know they are caught between believing they should
be self-sufficient without a man, all the while craving true intimacy.
As a result of these dilemmas, and left with the understandable
perception that there are no viable options, some women have found
a way to level the playing field: sextimacy. For a surprising number of
women, sextimacy is the primary means for forging relationships with
men. Many young women are embarrassed to openly admit to themselves or to other women that a “real” relationship is what they desire.
These women have come to believe that wanting emotional intimacy
with someone with whom they also have sex is weak and needy, a sort
of sappy female stereotype. They live out a young adult life of publicly
shouting from a megaphone that they “Don’t care about feelings and
love” or they “Don’t have time for relationships,” while privately they
fantasize about one of their hookups eventually leading to the end of
the rainbow, where they may finally become a “we.”
In reality, sextimacy is no choice at all; invariably the woman is left
with striking disappointment because it never delivers what she deeply
desires—a real relationship. In my practice as a clinical psychologist, I
often talk with women who are fed up with sextimacy and bravely admit that all they really want is to have a meaningful, mutual connection
with someone whom they adore and who adores them in return. The
problem these women face is that, within the present culture of dating
and hooking up, they do not know how to form lasting, meaningful,
truly intimate relationships with men. One such example is Julia.
Julia, a twenty-two-year-old single law-school student, is getting
ready for a night out with friends. As she picks out her outfit and does
her hair, she notices she feels hopeful and optimistic, a contrast from
the depressed feelings she felt earlier in the day. She is excited by the
thought that tonight she might meet Mr. Right. As she dresses to get
ready, she imagines how the evening will transpire. Perhaps he will be

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at the end of the bar, appearing aloof and mysterious. She will be with
her friends and will notice him noticing her. There will be side-glances,
and she will see that he is attractive. Eventually, he will approach, and
an instant connection will be made; she will see immediate interest
and engagement in his eyes. Their initial meeting will be followed by
an abundance of hand holding, touching, and exchanging information
about themselves. They will find all sorts of commonalities in their
personalities and uncanny coincidences from their backgrounds. By the
next day, they will already have a date in place to meet again, and they
will become inseparable. In Julia’s mind, it will feel easy and blissful,
almost like a story in a movie or a love song. The fantasy is compelling
and eases her feelings of loneliness and emptiness.
By the time she goes out that evening, she is well primed to meet her
life partner, and, in fact, she meets a guy that evening. They exchange
personal information and discover common interests. Julia greatly enjoys getting to know this shiny new man, and his instant interest in and
attraction to her feels wonderful. His level of engagement makes her
feel special and worthy. Their chemistry is smoking, and it feels natural
for Julia to cap off the evening with sex. However, once sexual contact
begins to progress, she feels alone and unsure of herself. By the time
it is over, Julia feels downright empty and entirely regrets the sexual
event. The lifelong-partner-enduring-connection-read-your-thoughtsand-attend-to-your-every-need part of her fantasy does not happen. By
8:00 a.m. Sunday morning, the new guy is gone; he does not even suggest breakfast. Julia is left feeling emptier and more depressed than ever.
Sextimacy is a combination of the words sex and intimacy and refers to the search for emotional closeness through sex, whereby sex or
hooking up is used to the exclusion of other methods for developing a
connection such as dating, friendship, and shared participation in activities. The frequency of sextimacy experiences varies among women. In
some cases, there may be just a few episodes. At the extreme, sextimacy
becomes a way of life and the only avenue used to develop relationships with men. Sextimacy often starts in the teenage years and peaks
in young adulthood. For some women, it continues throughout young
adulthood and, for others, recurs in the context of marriage through
extramarital affairs.

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This book is written to help those who want the ability to self-correct as they assess their sextimacy experiences, and, most particularly, it
is written for those who struggle to develop the ability to escape from a
sextimacy trap. It takes work and self-analysis, but relief is available. As
women develop healthier relationships with themselves, they become
better equipped to forge authentic and mutually beneficial relationships
with men. The strategies in this book will help women make conscious
choices about when and with whom to have sex/hook up and how to
keep their best interest in mind when making such choices.
As a clinical psychologist, I see teenagers, young women, and
married women in my practice who suffer from sextimacy. Although
these women tell me they are looking for long-term acceptance and
commitment from the men in their lives, their actions tell a different
story. Sextimacy is a self-defeating cycle. The sex never ultimately delivers what women are so longing for: a nurturing, mutually fulfilling
relationship that provides both sexual and emotional intimacy. After a
sextimacy event, many women may feel worse and emptier than before.
The cycle continues with feelings of worthlessness giving rise to yet
another sextimacy event.
When sextimacy occurs for teenagers, the toll is cumulative and
progressive. As the adolescent moves through each stage of development, it becomes more difficult to cultivate a romantic connection
without the early introduction of sex. As the teenage years pass and
romantic connections are forged through hastened sex, the young adult
misses opportunities to learn how to develop sustained and mutually
fulfilling connections with men. If this pattern continues into the early
twenties, the woman is left feeling entirely ill-equipped to manage the
complexities of a long-term committed relationship. Developing a romantic relationship without the early introduction of sex comes to feel
awkward for the woman because she has not developed a sense of her
worth outside of a sexual context.
Women who repeatedly engage in sextimacy experience emotional
and relational difficulties. At the heart of these trials is a lack of understanding and acceptance of themselves. Adolescent girls and adult
women in a pattern of sextimacy feel painfully self-conscious about
their bodies, their mood is often down or depressed, and they engage

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in repetitive negative thinking. They feel uncomfortable with intimacy,
which makes it hard for them to both find a committed partner and to
be a committed partner. They feel alone and unfulfilled. They have difficulty understanding their emotional world, which makes it challenging for them to communicate effectively so they can get their needs met
by the men in their lives. These roadblocks have them turn once again
to sex as a tool to attain momentary relief from low self-esteem and
hopelessness. Chronic sextimacy leaves a woman with little opportunity
to develop the emotional and relational skills she needs in order to form
a meaningful relationship. And, without these skills, she becomes more
vulnerable to repeated sextimacy events.
Because sextimacy circumvents the hard work of relationship development, women who have not been exposed to attentive relationships in childhood are more at risk for a sextimacy dynamic to permeate
their adult romantic relationships. Biological and environmental factors
along with caregiver responses (as outlined in chapter 3) leave some
girls vulnerable to emotional neglect. Common family dynamics that
may contribute to sextimacy for a young woman include parents with
highly conflicted marriages, parental abandonment, parents who have
other children with serious medical or psychological issues, parents
who relocate or move a great deal, and parents who have their own psychological issues. Frequently, sextimacy creeps into a young woman’s
life at no fault of a caregiver; the culture at large and peer group influence alone can account for its development (as outlined in chapter 2).
In general, these factors condition many women to expect and
tolerate one-directional relationships—where their needs go unmet or
are sacrificed for the needs of others. Below are examples of women’s
experiences with sextimacy in the context of marriage, the teen years,
and young adulthood.
Sextimacy within Marriage
When a marriage is in trouble, there are various ways that couples act
out their conflicts, and sexual affairs represent one of these ways. For
some women affairs represent returning to an old coping style, a way to
regain some sense of self-validation amidst an emotional storm. When

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a woman’s sexual coming-of-age involved using sextimacy as a way to
pursue emotional closeness with men, it is easy to revert.
Monica, thirty-five years old and married, was shocked when she
found herself suddenly wrapped up in an intense affair with a male
coworker. She entered psychotherapy treatment overwhelmed by
emotion; she felt guilty and confused by her feelings, yet compelled
to see this man. She was distressed that she had allowed herself to fall
into an affair and was painfully self-critical. As we explored Monica’s
past, we discovered that her introduction to the sexual world was
through sextimacy. She reported that throughout her childhood, her
family moved every year for professional reasons. She was always the
new girl in school and felt excluded and alone in this role. She learned
by eighth grade that making herself sexually available to her teenage
male counterparts enabled her to have a degree of acceptance. She
recalled instances where she might feel down at not being invited to
a classmate’s party and then thrilled when a guy would call her, out
of the blue, for a late evening rendezvous. The day after a hookup,
Monica would pass the boy in the hallway at school, and although he
would not speak to her, she felt special knowing that he had wanted
her the night before.
There were several insidious side effects to this mode of developing
peer acceptance. For one, the feeling of being liked wore off quickly,
which left Monica perpetually in search of her next quick fix. Between
hookups, Monica felt empty and ashamed. She had trouble feeling
good about what she “had to do” to keep men in her life. Finally, as
Monica’s high school years went by, so too did the opportunities to
build her self-esteem and to learn the skills necessary to forge mutually
fulfilling relationships with men.
By the time she entered college, she was socially anxious around
men who wanted to date and get to know her. Each time she went on
a date or spent time one-on-one with a man in a context that did not
involve sexual contact, she felt self-conscious and awkward. Monica
would become so anxious that she would impulsively make the relationship sexual as soon as possible. This coping mechanism offered
Monica a short reprieve, as the men involved were more than willing to
accommodate. Nonetheless, once the encounter was over, she was left

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to feel even more self-conscious and internally defeated. She believed
ultimate acceptance and a genuine connection with a man were permanently out of her reach.
This kind of dating, quickly short-circuiting to sex, eventually paid
off, and Monica committed to a man and married. However, the hurryup process did not require her husband to actually get to know more
than one dimension of her. In order for this relationship to work, she
became a chameleon, taking on the identity of her husband. Monica
embraced the same interests and likes as her husband. He enjoyed basketball. She made sure to surprise him with tickets regularly. He liked
steak. She liked steak. He wanted to spend more time with his family.
She stopped seeing her own. After five years of marriage, Monica recognized that her husband did not know her because she never revealed
her true self.
As a consequence of not feeling known and genuinely valued by her
husband, Monica reverted to her old coping strategy and became easily
drawn into an affair with a coworker. The cycle from her past repeated;
she felt a temporary self-esteem surge, followed by prolonged feelings
of guilt and shame, which she managed by negative self-appraisals:
“I am an awful person . . . I am a horrible wife . . . No one will ever
like me for who I am . . . I am weak . . . How could anyone want to
be with me?” These painfully harsh judgments led to a depleted self,
which then fueled an even stronger need for instant validation by way
of another round of sextimacy.
The Repeated Hookup
Another context in which sextimacy is used as a tool for developing
a relationship with a man is through repeatedly hooking up with the
same person. “Hooking up” refers to any type of sexual behavior, including intercourse but also may be limited to oral sex or making out.
Although the couple may continue this for weeks, months, and even
years, the relationship does not progress on any level. This is a virulent strain of sextimacy because it can be excruciatingly difficult for a
woman to extricate herself from this dynamic. The woman engaging in
the repeated hookup is perpetually caught in a tug-of-war: one moment

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