Troubleshooting intimacy

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By Rebecca Burton

If you don’t say what you want, you aren’t going to get it.

It’s a basic mantra you might read in the latest Cosmopolitan to improve your sex life but also one of the biggest roadblocks to intimacy — lack of communication.

“The first form of intercourse is verbal intercourse,” says personal therapist Betty Stockley.

To become truly intimate with your partner is very difficult because you have to be emotionally and verbally intimate as well, she says.

Lisa*, 18, knows she’s been in love before but still finds it hard to have intimate sex rather than ‘free for all’ sex — sex just because it feels good.

“Intimate sex needs to start off somewhere — foreplay, massages, wine. Something to take off the pressure and enjoy sex,” says Lisa.

But getting to that truly intimate stage is hit with common roadblocks like self-esteem issues and anxiety over past relationships.

Carlos*, 18, recalls a sexual experience he had with a girl that apologized profusely for how bad she was because she hadn’t had sex in awhile.

But this lack of self-esteem is common to many people, particularly during university. It’s an awkward stage of life as most students aren’t that selfassured, says Pam Goldasworthy, assistant manager of the Condom Shack.

Carlos and his partner were able to work it out, but it really turned him off.

“In an extreme case, I might not have been hard anymore and then you get very conscious about trying to get it back up. Plus then your partner starts to help out. It’s a big downward spiral,” he says.

Denise Rkulovic, manager of Change lingerie store on Queen St. W., witnesses a lot of women having self-esteem issues before they even make it to the bedroom. Women often come into the store looking for lingerie to hide their “flabby” areas and talking about bad fat that isn’t there.

“It’s the thinnest girls, usually on the border of [size] four to six that want to cover their bellies. The women that are larger accept it more,” says Rkulovic. “It should be all about making what you’ve got look amazing.”

Rkulovic feels that men just aren’t in tune with what women are insecure about. They don’t see the depth of women’s pores or how straight women’s hair is, she says.

Carlos doesn’t like how many women turn off the lights during sex.

“I want to see the body that I’m going inside of,” he says.

Self-esteem issues go both ways and men experience it too.

First year student Will*, 19, gets worried when past relationships are brought up by his partner. He asks himself the question: “am I bigger?”

Will knows at this age many people have had multiple partners but he doesn’t want to be reminded of them.

Stockley believes the easiest way to have truly intimate sex is to talk to your partner. If one partner has low selfesteem than by talking about it — no whining — the other can reassure them.

“There is a specialness at the beginning [of a relationship] but it can go out once the couple gets together. You need to keep the sparks flying. It’s important to make the other person feel special,” said Stockley.

*names have been changed

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