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by Jennifer Brown Banks

Intimate Encounters

(Why Sleeping Your Way to Mr. Right is Probably Wrong)

“Look deep before you leap.”
~ Judge Mablean Ephram

In many ways, life can be compared to a classroom experience. By its very nature, life imparts valuable lessons we learn through trial and error (particularly when it comes to matters of the heart).


For example, here are some morsels of wisdom I’ve picked up from the school of hard knocks:

1) I don't need a man to be fully realized or to live a full life. But having a man (a good one) brings a joy unparalleled!

2. Marital status does not determine happiness. You can be just as lonely being married as being single (depending upon the circumstances).

3. At some point, you have to start making decisions as much from an intellectual standpoint as an emotional one, when choosing a partner. Think of it as a business.

4. Knowing "how" to find love is just as important as knowing "where" to find it.

5. "Bad boys" played out for me when 8-track tapes did!

6. Every relationship should have boundaries. The expression that "we teach people how to treat us" is very true.

7. When it comes to dating and mating, for me character is more important than cuteness.

8. A man who can cook, is kind, and is intellectually inclined, can have my heart.

9. In love and life, you reap what you sow.

10. Physical intimacy can often cloud judgment, and make a bad relationship last longer than it should.

11. Maturity is not always about age. I’ve dated younger guys who were very “grown-up” and older ones who acted like adolescents.

Of all the lessons that we as women master along the way, lesson #10 seems to present the most difficulty. Here’s a case in point. In September, one of my girlfriends called me to share that she had just slept with a guy she had been dating for a few months. “Should I bring up commitment?” She asked. She felt embarrassed and awkward about bringing up the issue.

I didn’t want to sit in judgment of “Vesta”. She’s a kind, fun, free-hearted soul, who deserves a good guy. But frankly, I was surprised at her naivety, for a woman in her thirties. If she didn’t know where she stood with this man before they went to bed, having sex would only add more madness to the mix! But like many other women, she saw sex as a way of beating out the competition, and solidifying the relationship. Bad move.

Fast forward… The relationship doesn’t go the distance, and she’s left with a broken heart and a broken spirit. She’s resentful. Sound familiar? Let’s face it, love is a crapshoot. Even with the best interpersonal skills, the best intentions, and the best circumstances. People grow apart. Needs change. Men pretend. The timing is wrong. There are simply no guarantees. But, “savvy” sisters recognize that there’s a much greater chance for lasting love and long-term compatibility, when appealing to a man’s heart over his hormones.

There are no short cuts to real romance. Although sex may get you in the door, it won’t keep you there if other needs and desires are not fulfilled; or if the relationship is not built on a solid foundation. Think about it. How many times have you held high hopes with a guy you had amazing chemistry with, only to have things fizzle out fast, or to discover he was a real jerk?! With that being said… here are some other things to consider before intimacy becomes an issue:

» AIDS and STDs are on the rise.

» Pregnancy is always a possibility. Is the guy you're sleeping with (or considering sleeping with) really "daddy" material?

» Bitterness and emotional burnout are inevitable amidst a series of bad romantic experiences (and quality men are rarely attracted to bitter women).

» Sex clouds judgment and keeps some of us "stuck on stupid".

» A night of passion can have a lifetime of repercussions.

» Not all relationships merit a deep level of intimacy. Make sure that it at least stands the test of time and a few tough times as well.

Know that if you feel you're worth waiting for, that the "right" man will too.

What’s the right time for intimacy? It varies for each individual and his or her circumstances. But one thing’s for sure: Sleeping your way to “Mr. Right” almost always comes at a price. Decide what you’re willing to pay.


> - The best approach to find the one. <

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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.

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