Why are sexual relations so special?
In order to understand human sexuality we have to understand who we are: each human being is an inseparable union of body and soul, comprised of our physical, psychological, and spiritual-rational components. This means that giving oneself and receiving the other person sexually is always essentially an expression and gesture that goes beyond the “mere” physical aspect; the psychological and the spiritual/rational dimensions are also involved.
Sexual relations make up one of the most intimate relationships that can exist between two persons. Therefore, sexual relations cannot be compared to a caress, a kiss or to telling a friend a secret. Although all of this is also part of our intimacy, sexual relations are much more significant.
When a man and a woman have sexual relations, an emotional tie or bond is created between the two persons. This occurs even though the two persons do not wish to create this tie or even though the relationship is brief and fleeting. Hormones released during sexual relations strongly favor (even if unconsciously) this tie. This can be quite inconvenient if the couple needs to make decisions about whether or not to stay together. Remember that dating someone you are attracted to, and have even fallen in love with, is directed towards the objective of really getting to know each other – towards finding out if, with patience, the two of you will be able to build a life together. Having sexual relations during this stage of the relationship distracts from this objective; it does not indicate or favor a strong, sound commitment, nor does it automatically lead you to true and lasting love.
Failing to value the importance of sexual relations, by thinking it is just another gesture or simply a neutral expression in a relationship (i.e. “it’s only sex”) has negative consequences; it undermines the capacity to experience true affection. For example, the more sexual ties that are created throughout time, the more superficial they end up becoming: it is then harder to create a strong, deep and lasting bond with another person in the future; the end result is that many people end up feeling emotionally unsatisfied.
Total giving of oneself in a sexual relationship, which unites you even more to the other person, can only be authentic when you assume a total commitment to a life project, for example through marriage. The physical union, the emotional bonding, and the giving of oneself to the other person will make more sense in one single loving act and, now, the expression “to make love” gains meaning.