Intimacy Lite, A Product Not Worth Buying

May 29, 2009

Spooning“Your bones have been my bedframe and your flesh has been my pillow. And I`m waiting for sleep.”

Ani DiFranco

Em & Lo recently answered a letter from a reader where they coined the term Intimacy Lite. You know what Intimacy Lite is. It’s what you’re getting from your Pretend Boyfriend. Girls find it very confusing when guys remain technically uncommitted, but act all mushy and romantic during a hookup. Of course, they could just ask him and find out what they need to know, but girls are reluctant to initiate the Define the Relationship talk in the beginning stages of hooking up. Which is understandable. It’s awkward, and guys often roll their eyes about girls and their “need to talk.”

In the absence of a frank conversation, how do you figure out if he is getting attached emotionally? You can’t, not if he doesn’t verbalize his interest in being committed. Here are behaviors that women commonly interpret as demonstrating real feeling for them:

  • Spooning
  • Affectionate caressing and petting after sex
  • Non-sexual kisses: eyelids, forehead, tip of nose, fingers, etc.
  • Snuggling during sleep

Many guys engage in these intimate behaviors in the moment, but pull back in the light of day.

Here are some excerpts from the original article by Em & Lo: Dear Em & Lo: He Says He Just Wants to Hook Up But Doesn’t Act That Way

“If you’ve ever spooned your booty call or held hands with your one-night stand, you’re familiar with intimacy lite. If both parties are fully onboard with the lite nature of the intimacy, it’s perfectly natural – everyone needs a cuddle sometimes, and even the most ardent commitment-phobe among us misses snuggling and nuzzling.”

“Commitment-phobes (i.e. 99.9% of male college students) are especially prone to indulging in intimacy lite, and this often sends a mixed message, because if his mouth is saying one thing and his body is saying another, then you’re probably going to listen to whichever message you like best. To make a sweeping generalization (Who, us? Never!), men are most often the culprits in cases of misinterpreted intimacy lite, perhaps because they dominate the ranks of the commitment-phobic.”

Kelly, a writer at College Candy describes her experience with Intimacy Lite:

Boy explains, “I will be moving soon, and I am afraid to get serious because I could easily see myself falling for you and don’t want that to happen.” I think about it, and decide that this little obstacle isn’t worth losing him completely, so why not continue to hang out while he’s here. Over the next few months, I see boy multiple times a week, he calls me on the phone every day, and we start becoming more and more relationship-y, but all the while he is insisting he doesn’t want anything too serious. His words were saying one thing, his actions the other. Or were they?

As easy as it was for me to tell myself, “sure, he says he doesn’t want anything serious, but he acts serious, and actions speak louder than words, right?” I am starting to rethink that. It seems that what I have here is a case of Intimacy Lite. He doesn’t want anything really serious – none of the real obligations or expectations that come with actual relationships – he just wants a lighter form of intimacy, some one to commiserate with about bad days or lay in bed with and cuddle on a lazy day.

Here’s her bottom line:

Pros: I get good sex, a fun dinner companion, and someone to listen to me bitch about a bad day. I have all the perks of a relationship without the overwhelming anxiety about him being “the one.” I don’t have to stress about how good of a husband and father he’ll be when he’s hugging the toilet after a long night, because I know we’ll never make it that far.

Cons: We’re not in love and never will be. We’re not going to get married. Am I wasting my time dating someone with no future? What if I miss out on someone I truly fall in love with because I’m half-waying it with this guy? What if he meets someone he thinks he could fall in love with and drops me? Basically, what if I get hurt?

Here’s my bottom line:

1. I don’t really see the upside. Sex is easy to come by, why save yourself for a guy who’s just not that into you? Your gf’s will listen to you bitch while assuming the role of fun dinner companion every night of the week.

2. And the downside’s a killer. The way I see it, there are two major risks with Intimacy Lite:

  • A broken heart
  • Missing out on someone really great because you are “half-waying it” with someone.

Obviously, the worst case scenario is being hit by these outcomes simultaneously. Intimacy Lite is high risk, girls. And it’s probably low reward.

Are you experiencing Intimacy Lite with your Pretend Boyfriend? Thoughts on how to cope?