We all have intimacy issues. The word intimacy sounds an awful lot like intimidation. I’m sure some people use intimacy to intimidate people. I never used sex as a weapon, though I admit the occasional weapon can be a welcome reprieve from the ordinary encounter. I used mind games.

Back in my single days, I used mental intimacy to get what I wanted. Partly because I was one hell of a talker. Mostly, though, because I was kind of a prude.

Before I got serious with my boyfriend, Tom Collins, I was a serial first-dater. I was a fantastic first-dater. And like most people, I was compelled to participate in an activity I was naturally gifted at. I have a friend who was a born poet, and another a natural dancer. When it came to dating, I had raw talent.

To be any good at dating, you have to learn the psychology behind mating. In our society, people want what they can’t have. Call it keeping up with the Joneses. Call the grass-is-always-greener complex.

In Annie Hall, Woody Allen famously described the paradox of his love life:

…one that’s usually attributed to Groucho Marx; but, I think it appears originally in Freud’s “Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious,” and it goes like this – I’m paraphrasing – um, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” That’s the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women.

It’s a sad rule that applies to both sexes — but there are classic, outdated ways to manipulate the system.

Men commonly refer to this manipulation as playing “The Game.” They use rules to screw with a woman’s head, like not calling her for a particular amount of time. Burned by rejection? Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Women are told to manipulate men via entrapment. We’ve been told that no man will buy the cow if you’re giving the milk away for free. Because we love to think of ourselves as cattle when we consider abstaining from sex in order to secure a long-term relationship.

But I used to use intimacy to get a man to trust me. I would never sleep with a guy on a first date. I would get him drunk and get him talking. Before he could say scotch-and-soda, he was telling me about his troubled childhood and his ex-girlfriend’s eating disorder. And I had no shortage of stories. After my second Macallan, I was a regular raconteur.

If he was a good kisser, he could sleep over. He might even get me partially naked. But the sexual intimacy stopped there. The lights had to be off. He couldn’t get in my pants. I wasn’t giving him a blow job. It wasn’t that I had rules that I couldn’t violate. I just couldn’t get sexual with a guy that I didn’t have intense feelings for.

I wasn’t beneath giving away the milk for free. I just couldn’t bring myself to part with it.

Oddly enough, the guys all seemed hooked. I had accidentally combined “The Game” with an amateur abstinence program. Even if they were out of my league, they called back. They sent lovesick emails. They stalked me on Facebook. But the more they pursued me, the less I cared about them. I had cracked the code, but suffered from Annie Hall paradox.

I went from first date to first date, spurning advances from men who had opened up to me and felt a connection. I got off on their easy naivete, and led them on with long kisses and full-coverage underwear.

My issues with intimacy finally changed when I met my boyfriend.

When I brought Tom home after our first date, we stayed up all night continuing the lengthy talk we had at the bar. We spent hours laughing in bed, kissing and conversing under the covers. It was just like any other successful first date. Except I liked him. I felt something. Regardless, my clothes stayed on, and he was a perfect gentleman all night.

Oh, but the morning crept up on our date and the soft light glowed in the window. Tom got into my pants.
We had sex in the sunlit morning, my walls falling faster than my panties.

He never stopped calling and e-mailing me, but the jig was up. The paradox was foiled. He had stripped me of my intimacy issues, and stripped me of my clothes. We were inseparable. We were magnetic.

…But I still like to do it with the lights off.

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If you want to share your own fear of intimacy in 600-800 words for Fear of Intimacy Week at TheGloss, e-mail Jennifer [at] thegloss.com