237 Reasons For Getting Intimate
24th OF August 2012
Why do we get intimate?
It seems, on the surface, fairly obvious: the pursuit of pleasure, feeling closeness, cementing a bond, having fun, and maybe even trying for a child (if you're old-fashioned).
However, a 2007 study determined that there are many more reasons for humans to get intimate - 237, to be precise.
The head of the study said he was "truly astonished" by the range of reasons people provided. Out of a field of 2,000, the variations of response were pretty astounding, from boredom relief to exercise, trying to seduce to trying to break up.
The full list is over at the New York Times website if you'd like to read it, but some of it is familiar reading and some of it - less so.
There are many which will read as pretty traditional: 'I was in the heat of the moment', 'I was aroused and wanted release', 'I desired emotional closeness', 'I wanted to show love/physical affection/attraction'.
These are all what you can classify as standard reasons - the ones represented in media as 'normal' culmination of desire, the ripping off of clothes.
However, that's only a very small part of the responses - and the remainder show that, as we've always known, getting intimate isn't just a simple physical act. It's fraught with issues, hang-ups, relationship woes and many other aspects.
Apparently there were four main categories to the responses: physical, goal attainment, emotional and insecurity. But there were plenty of outliers.
If anything, the most honest part of the study was how many of the answers referenced people beyond just the two in the bed: 'I wanted to make somebody jealous', 'I was tired of being a virgin', 'Everyone else was doing it', 'I was competing with somebody else for the person', 'I was trying to get over somebody else', 'I wanted to defy my parents', and 'I wanted to break up somebody else's relationship' were all on the list.
Intimacy is one of the main ways humans cement bonds - and we're social creatures, so it's all part of our social context.
Even within a relationship, without referencing anybody else, things were still complicated: reasons ranged from 'I wanted to make my partner feel good about themselves' to 'It's all just part of the daily routine', and also included 'I felt like I owed it to them', 'I felt it was my duty' and 'It would get me gifts'.
Turns out getting into bed can be - as we all knew it was - a cynical business.
It was also revealed that women were more likely to reference emotional reasons - love and bonds - for getting intimate, while men referenced power or reputation.
However, this could just be because it's how we're programmed to think, not because of any innate chemical difference.
So what can this teach us about our own bedroom lives? Do a little exercise. Find the list on the New York Times and take its challenge - go through each of the 237 motivations and see which ones have applied to your last bedroom experiences.
And be drastically honest.
People use intimacy for all kinds of things - money, power, reassurance, rebelliousness, revenge, spirituality - and that's fine.
It's all a matter of recognising patterns and making sure it's what you truly want from your intimate life. For instance, if you got intimate because 'You didn't want to disappoint the person' (one of the items on the list), it might be worth re-examining the situation which led to that point so it doesn't happen that way again.
The scientist in charge said he was particularly astounded by how many people said they'd had sex 'because the person was famous' or 'out of their league'. He said it revealed a competitiveness he hadn't known was so prominent in peoples' motivations.
However, RESCU is most surprised by one of the most popular: 'I wanted to feel closer to God'. It's right up there alongside 'Somebody dared me'. Two very different sentiments...
Lady Friday xx
Taking the pillow talk out of the bedroom, every Friday...