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Info for teens
Is it Love?
Love and Sex
Steps to Intimacy
Living with the Pressure
Why should you refuse?
How can you refuse?
What Do You Stand For?
Starting Over
Mistakes happen...
...but change does too.
The 1st Day of the Rest
of Your Life

The 12 steps to real intimacy:

1. Eye to body. You notice the person across the room and something makes you think you’d like to get to know them better. No action in this step, just a spark of interest.

2. Eye to eye. Without this step, the relationship is obviously going nowhere! Somehow your eyes meet and, after an embarrassing moment and a quick look in the opposite direction, you look back and your eyes meet again. The fact that you both looked again probably means you’d like to get to know each other.

3. Voice to voice. This is where a real relationship begins. This step is all about communication – the verbal kind. You exchange names, phone numbers, IM identities, or generally arrange to start spending time together. This should be a pretty long stage – probably a month or more of dates, phone calls, e-mails, and other communication. This is where you start to know what the other person likes and dislikes, what their family is like, their dog’s (or cat’s) name, how many times it took them to pass the driver license test, who their favorite teacher is, what they want to be when they grow up, and whether you might be the person they could spend their life with. This is a time to start emotional bonding – when you figure out if you get along and whether you will be able to get along for a long time. If you don’t or you can’t, you’ll break up before you start the process of physical bonding that can push the emotional stuff to the background – but only for a while. If the physical bond starts before the emotional bond gets far enough, eventually you’ll probably have problems with or second thoughts about the other person and you might regret the intimacy you shared with a jerk!

4. Hand to hand. That’s right, holding hands. Seems simple enough and it might start soon after the voice to voice stuff has begun. Maybe the guy will help the girl by holding her hand as they go up a stairway. It’s all very innocent at the beginning, but think about the first time the guy reached out to hold your hand just because he wanted to hold your hand, just because he wanted to show you that you were special to him. Or, guys, how exciting is it when the girl makes that first move and reaches out to say “I like you” by taking your hand? (Yeah, you want to go to step 9, but that’s not the way this works!) But give it time. Keep on talking; go slow; be sure you really understand who the other person is before you go beyond step 4. Until you know all their secrets – well, maybe most of their secrets – you don’t want to start the heavy duty physical bonding process.

5. Hand to shoulder. This is the natural next step after you’ve been holding hands for a while. Your communication is going great, hopefully. You find each other interesting and fun and you like the fact that you have similar goals for the future – you both want two kids, a mini-van, and a house on the edge of town. You’re ready to show each other and the world that you’re on your way to a real commitment and you do that when the guy puts his arm around the girl’s shoulder as they walk across campus or from the car into the movie. This is still a point where something might happen to cause the relationship to break up, but you’ve not gotten to the point of heavy emotional and physical bonding that comes as you go to the following steps.

6. Hand to waist. Now you’re really starting to make a statement about your relationship. Walking along with your arms around each other’s waist tells the world you have made a commitment to keep this relationship going. You’re starting to really enjoy each other and have become very familiar with personality and preferences. You know this person about as well as you know your best friend, and you like what you know. This step may not last long before the real romance begins.

7. Face to face. Can you believe you’ve gone this long and you’re just now getting to that first goodnight kiss! Well, that’s the point of Dr Morris’ study and your own hope to find just the right person to spend your life with. You’ve formed a strong emotional bond by getting to know each other very well and you’ve expressed your feelings in ways that move the relationship along, but which don’t take you to the point of no return regarding the physical bonding. This is where you start that process of deep physical bonding. You’re no longer just touching with your hands; you’re touching with your mouth and body. Yes, this is the stage for hugging and kissing to demonstrate a growing love and respect. If you’ve followed the first 6 steps as you’ve developed this relationship, you’ll probably start to find that you can communicate with fewer words. You may be finishing each other’s sentences; you certainly know that your boy or girl friend would or would not want to go to that party or movie, or that they can’t wait to get tickets for that special concert. You know each other and you’ve prepared yourselves for this step by taking it slow through the previous steps. Guess what’s next. . .

8. Hand to head. You need to think it through. Why would touching the other person’s head come after kissing? Think about it. If you’re not willing to wipe the mustard from the corner of your boyfriend’s mouth, why should you be willing to let him put his hand anywhere on your body? This is a stage of increasing intimacy expressed in a way normally reserved for family or, for girls, maybe best friends. This is about stroking hair or cheek or holding the other person’s face as you give them a gentle kiss. It may be a natural, unembarrassed touch while you talk. We’re talking about real familiarity, real comfort with each other when you start touching hand to head.

Most adults – especially parents – would say that’s the last step for a non-marital relationship. You’ll start to understand as you look at the last 4 steps. This is stuff that’s embarrassing to talk about, let alone having people think or know you’re doing it! The first 8 steps were about building a romance; about a growing relationship built on increasing familiarity with and acceptance of personality and attitudes. If that special level of familiarity isn’t developing, the relationship can still be stopped without any more regret than that you wasted some time with the wrong person. The final steps are about a whole different level of bonding. From here on, we’re talking about the physical stuff that you sometimes see happen too quickly in TV shows and movies. Remember, they’re acting and you seldom see the consequences of real life on TV. But this is the stuff that can put you at real emotional and physical risk if you haven’t gotten here through a slow, deliberate process of growing an emotional commitment to each other.

9. Hand to body. The kissing and hugging is starting to get pretty intense and the next step is to start touching in increasingly intimate ways. This is about the guy touching the girl’s breast; about the girl allowing him to do it. You’ve gotten here because you’ve grown completely comfortable with each other and this is the natural extension of those romantic feelings that you started calling “love” 2 steps back. Once you get here, it becomes more and more difficult to slow down the physical bond that is developing and that’s why parents, most adults, and even a lot of your peers will tell you to save this for your wedding night. Think about it. Steps 9 through 12 all in the same evening. Now that’s hot!

10. Mouth to body. So after the first part of foreplay on that special night, things move right along. We’re talking about shirts and tops hitting the floor and exploration of chest and breast with the mouth. The emotions are now taking a back seat completely to the physical drives. You’d better be ready for this, because it will be difficult to stop when you get to this step.

11. Touching below the waist. By the time you get here, the guy has been ready for a while, if you get my drift. This is all about physical pleasure, and emotions are completely out of the picture while this is going on. At this step, you have committed a part of your body and your future to the other person. If you are not married, the part of the future you are committing could be the regret and shame you’ll feel for not saving this act for the real special person you hope to have in your life. But, there is an even greater level of regret and shame if you take the next step without having progressed one by one through these 12 steps of intimacy.

12. Intercourse. This is the gift you can only give once. This is the big Kahuna of relationships. This is the ultimate proof that you trust the other person more than anyone else in the world. This may be+ the most dangerous physical act you can engage in when you consider the possible emotional consequences. This is not an act to treat as routine. This is the way babies are made. This is the most common way sexually transmitted infections are passed along. This is the point of no return in physical bonding. For most people, when you take this step, you have given a part of yourself to the other person and you will remember it the rest of your life. You can never get it back. That’s a good thing if your partner in intercourse is also your spouse. It is a shared memory that becomes an important foundation for “as long as you both shall live.”

Think it through. By our nature, we are emotional creatures and, all too often, we are prone to act on our emotions before we think. The 12 steps of intimacy the Desmond Morris identified provide us the opportunity to think before we act. They’re not complicated. They are a very natural progression (well, except maybe for numbers 7 and 8!) for a friendship that becomes a romantic relationship. By learning stuff like the 12 steps, we prepare ourselves to face life smarter and with more confidence. By learning the 12 steps, we protect our hearts and our bodies by saving our physical commitment for a person to whom we have first grown an emotional commitment.




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