In my humble opinion, couples get physical way too soon in a relationship. They barely get a chance to express interest in one another and suddenly there's this pressure to hurry up and hold hands, hurry up and make out, hurry up and end up spending evening after evening wordlessly pleasuring one another. Then, when things get complicated, they wonder why.

I've pondered what exactly differentiates a friend of the opposite sex from an SO. I really could only think of one thing that made one different from the other: the nature of the physical relationship. I figured you could do all of the same things with each, apart from the cuddles, kisses, and other stuff.

I've recently discovered that I was terribly wrong.

The man I'm involved with now is teaching me an incredible lesson with regard to romantic relationships. When we sat down and first discussed our feelings for one another, he expressed his desire to take things slowly in our physical relationship. He wanted to demonstrate to me that his intentions were completely honorable. While his words all sounded nice, I wasn't sure how pleased I was to hear it because I am a very touchy-feely sort. We defined some very strict guidelines for what sort of touching was appropriate at that point in time. I wasn't sure how well I'd be able to handle it.

It's been two months now and he hasn't so much as hugged me. Surprisingly enough, I'm okay with that. I realize that at this point, it's highly likely that you are raising a doubtful eyebrow at your monitor. But hear me out. With the boundaries set where they are, I have absolutely no doubt that my feelings for him are genuine. I have no reason to believe that they're lust-driven. I know for certain that I'm not with him because he's providing me with physical affection or pleasure. I also know for certain that he's not with me simply because of what he's getting from me. I find immense comfort in that knowledge.

Then, too, are all the amazingly creative and romantic ways we've thought up to demonstrate our feelings to one another that don't involve anything sexual. For me, those are far more fulfilling.

At this point in the relationship, it's enough for me to lay side by side with him in the grass, looking up at the night sky, searching for new constellations, and sharing stories from our childhood. The intimate knowledge about him that I gain while staying up until two in the morning talking with him is far more valuable than anything I could gain by engaging in any physical act.

We have plenty of time to kiss. But how long can that innocent wondering last? Each stage of relationship development is sacred. Once a benchmark is passed, it cannot be returned to. Why hurry past when each exists for a purpose?

Last night, we were leaning back on the couch, resting our faces close together, whispering late into the night. He looked at me and said, "I think you're beautiful," as if it were simply part of the conversation. Nothing else followed, but that phrase meant more at that moment than it ever had when it was uttered in the midst of a make-out session. His eyes smiled with his mouth and I swallowed hard the emotion that crept into my throat. I wouldn't trade that for ten thousand kisses.

forward -> The two-hour hug

Physical satisfaction can come in the most interesting packages.  I re-met this woman while stumbling around and drinking with friends in the dorm.  She had blue vodka in a blue bottle.  I had two shots of the stuff, because the first shot was so damn good.  A couple days later, we were in a restaurant with friends, randomly making out because we had nothing better to do.  She was well endowed, pretty in her own way, outspoken, christian, and resembled some mix of what you call emo and goth.  She was an individual; something one does not often find today. 

The next thing I know, we're in bed, playing the touching and kissing game, exploring each others bodies.  The intimacy of it all was dizzying.  Soon, we were have ridiculous amounts of sex with Paramore, Nine Inch Nails and a slew of other related music on Pandora vibrating the air.  I usually don't have sex with music, but I didn't really want to get up and turn it off, and now there was a tempo to stick to.  Thank God we were not listening to speed metal.  

It continued into the morning, at which point Denny's was the choice of breakfast.  There, a guy she slept with last week walked in.  Is this awkward?  Can I even feel anything?  It was Interesting to say the least. 

This continued into the next few days: staying up way too late, not studying for tests I should, not doing work I should, all in the name of physical satisfaction.  But why?  I feel like I'm taking away time from myself to be successful in an important way; assuming sex is not important.  The thought suddenly dawned on me: what is important

The idea that something is important, one that requires action to quell the yearning in one's heart, is the kind of idea that is really important.  My heart was not where my loins were. In fact, my heart wasn't even in the same state.  So I stopped the physical satisfaction, and a day later, started a long distance relationshipAm I insane?  Most likely, yes.  However, this relationship was my most meaningful relationship to date. 

This new relationship was not cute and cuddly and easy.  It was tough.  Communication came in large packages once a week, over the phone.  We decided on that because then we had more to talk about, and we were both too busy to talk every day, and since we were far apart, we thought it would be best to keep our emotional distance also.  We blabbed over the internet more often than we talked on the phone, but the internet is sometimes a poor substitute for the phone, I've found (and the phone a poor substitute for being in person).

About one month after the beginning of this relationship, I drove the five hours up to her location in my over-heating, over 200,000 miles 12 year old honda, during finals week.  What's the worst that could go wrong?  Against all the odds, it turned out very well.  The emotional release was astounding, though there was no physical release, which in retrospect, I am thankful for.  Life seemed much simpler that way (emotions and sex mix far too well).

During our three months, we considered trying to keep the relationship longer than a few months, although neither of us were grounded anywhere or wanted to stay in our respective residences.  Our situation was complicated by my missing graduation from college by 0.25 points on my major GPA (different from cumulative GPA).  In one day, I went from being ungraduated, having no plan and disappointed in myself to being signed up for the next semester with a room and registered for the classes I needed to retake to bring up my major GPA.  She, by contrast, graduated with flying colors, and was looking for a job.  A month later, we decided that our lives were going in two completely different directions, and that it was not fulfilling to either of  us to keep the relationship going.  Though it was not ideal, and a little sad, it gave me much relief. 

I learned two things: that it is ok to be in a long distance relationship and be happy, and that it was possible to be in a fulfilling relationship without sharing bodily fluids.

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