Whenever you hear the word ‘intimacy’, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Well, for many, this word has always been associated with any sexual act. However, it’s important to know that it’s more than that. Intimacy is more than just physical affection. It’s about the connection that we have with the people close to our hearts.
Intimacy happens when two individuals are willing to be vulnerable in exposing their true selves without reservation and pretension to each other. Not only that, it lets you be more open and free to tell the deepest, darkest secrets that you have, or to share the things you are passionate about because you feel safe with that person.
Intimacy is vital for every relationship to last long. So in this episode, Andrew and Benjy talk about intimacy and how you can find and achieve it whether you’re single, married, or even create intimacy within yourself.
By listening to this episode, you can create a sense of intimacy that’s more genuine, grounded, real, and long-term, whatever your love language is. Andrew and Benjy share how they experienced intimacy in their lives, how they built a strong foundation of intimacy with their wives, and how they created a sense of confidence through intimacy with themselves.
Get on board to learn more about intimacy, emotions, connection, and the five languages of love.
- Intimacy is the result, not the process.
- Sex is a means to the ultimate end
- Finding ways to be intimate
- Porn is a temporary fill to that connection.
- Reasons why people don’t pursue real intimacy
- The idea of individual perfection
- Intimacy is predicated on trust.
- The five love languages are a helpful framework
- Being reliant on superficial ways of feeling loved
- How intimacy with yourself impact your relationships
- Dealing with your negative emotions
- Recognizing an emotion and dealing with it in a productive way
- Intimacy requires presence and presence requires effort
Welcome back to Love, Life and Legacy, a podcast dedicated to helping you navigate these hypersexualized times of ours. In today’s episode, Benjy and myself are going to dig into what is intimacy. Because a lot of people conflate intimacy with sex and with all sorts of other actions, but they fail to realize that intimacy is the result. It’s not the process. So we’re looking at what you can do if you’re married, what you can do if you’re single to find intimacy, create intimacy within yourself and within relationships. So let’s get into it because this is like, how do you feed your soul? It’s a very important episode. How do you feed your soul the nutrients it wants? Let’s get into it.
Welcome back, everybody. Got Benjamin here, and today we’re going to talk about intimacy. We talk about sexual intimacy a lot, obviously, a great topic. Great thing to practice when you can, but there’s a whole lot more to intimacy than sex. And sex in our modern world is often not intimate whatsoever, because intimacy is the closest of hearts. There are different ways of getting to that point. Sex is a means to the ultimate end which is intimacy, which is crazy. If you think about that, most people leave out the end, so sex has no purpose. It’s just a physical act, which makes it a body thing, devoid of spirit and mind and heart.
But actually, it’s meant to be a vessel to experience intimacy now. But we want to talk about us dudes because he’s a dude, I’m a dude. Let the record show. But also we want to talk about as husbands and how we express our intimacy in different ways other than sex with our wives. But also, we want to talk to you who are single, because this is an issue. It’s for sure an issue that what do you do if you need physical intimacy and you’re not in a relationship? What do you do? We want to get into these things. So Benjy, let’s go to you. Do you know your love language? How do you experience love and intimacy?
It’s interesting. Definitely be touch, physical affection, and words of affirmation. If you know my wife at all, it’s on the bottom of her list, which I’m not complaining. I’ll talk a bit more about that later.
Sure, and I think I don’t know if I’ve said this on this podcast, but every time I’ve asked my wife what her love language is, she says all of them equally so just work hard. That’s why I’m leftists, I have to work hard basically.
Okay, so you like to be touched?
All the time. Just touch me, and I’ll love you.
Like a rub on the back from your wife is good enough?
No, from anyone. From literally anyone.
So you’re a cat, basically.
Yes, around the back, a hug or whatever.
Are you like a cat where you can get your fill and then you just walk off and ignore somebody once you’re filled up? But you just need constant continual touch.
Here’s the thing, I am like that. I am always touching people. If you’re with me, if it’s appropriate and we have somewhat of a relationship, I will just hit you on the arm or grab you. Just like massage your back for a little bit or give you a rub, or something like that. But I’ve changed honestly, I’ve honestly changed a lot in a good way. Because I came into my marriage with a very, very, I would say, honestly a skewed understanding of what intimacy is. But now, I feel that my sense of intimacy is more genuine and grounded, and real and long term.
Okay, but what does that mean that you’ve biologically changed and you don’t need touch as much? Or you just know how to get it in a healthier way? What does that mean that you’ve changed?
I think we’ve been talking about it, I realized that intimacy is something that is not a cookie-cutter, like black and white, which is what I understood it to be. I grew up in an American culture where watching Hollywood movies, and had very strong assumptions that women are this way and men are this way. Women like being touched and held. They love this and that, and they like being told I love you every day and etc, etc.
Being in a real relationship, you realize that it’s not as much of a fantasy as that portrayal of intimacy, but for me now, it’s really more of the everyday things, the everyday conversations, just even sitting down after breakfast for an hour and just talking. Maybe even massaging her feet, or just putting my feet on her lap even though she doesn’t like it, I do it anyway. Taking my socks off and putting my feet on her lap during dinner or whatever..
I don’t think everybody wants that.
I don’t care. Yes, we have our ways. It’s just nice to have that kind of level of intimacy as opposed to the concept I have which is like going outside and holding hands all the time and saying I love you. Every time you leave the house, you have to give a kiss and a hug otherwise you’re not a good couple and all those things. It was really hard to go from there to just being okay with where we are now.
Let’s get specific because you are a guy that really needs touch. What happens when you’re deprived of this? How do you meet your needs? How do you feel full but you’re starving for physical affection?
I think people generally.
No, I’m talking about you specifically, not to people generally.
When I was a teenager, which is typical, I really had strong ideas of what kind of relationship I wanted. The bottom line is right now I’m very physical with my kids and with my wife. She’s changed by the way. She’s become more accepting of my ways and my needs and desires. So I’m very physical with my kids. Every morning and evening, I give them hugs throughout the day. Smack them around, play with them from the air, and that sort of thing. But not to my wife, I don’t do that with her. Actually, sometimes I do.
My wife did jujitsu when she was in school in Japan. It’s fun to do that in the kitchen, like let’s do around with this. She’s pretty good for someone that’s literally half my weight, half my size. Just finding ways to be intimate because reality is we’re busy, we have kids so we just have to find ways, or I have to find ways to just feel that need to have affection, with brothers or other people in my life, I go to my good friend’s house sometimes. It’s nice to just sit down with brothers and just sit next to each other and cuddle up, and put my arm around him and give him a hug or whatever. That kind of intimacy is fun for me too.
That’s what I wanted to get into. I guess we can hop around. But for single people, especially if you’re in a religious community or if you have strong beliefs about what you want, you want to get married to one person and you don’t want to date or this kind of stuff, these people are in a community and droves. So in their teens and 20s when they’re not in a relationship, then what’s a healthy way of them procuring that need for touch? How do you go about doing that?
Because I would say most guys don’t know how to healthily touch each other. They just like to stay clear of it, or they do handshakes and pretend that that’s good enough. But hugging is a little bit dicey depending on who you’re hanging out with. I’ve definitely hugged some guys that felt like they were a skeleton. They’re not warm at all. They’re just stiff, dead corpses when I hugged them because they didn’t know what to do. So then, what do you do if you’re not an outgoing person? Like you’re a little bit more confident, you’d go and grab somebody. But how can somebody get physical affection?
That’s the thing, I think the word intimacy is a bit slippery because, to me, it’s more about connection. I’m trying to speak to people who are like my wife, who never her whole life really desired to be physically intimate with people. It’s not her fault. It’s just how she was raised. It’s how her parents and grandparents were raised. Some cultures are like that, a lot of cultures are like that. So for her, it’s a very foreign concept, it’s completely foreign. And for a lot of people I know, it is the idea of intimacy being a part of your daily life or something that we innately need. But I think connection from what I’ve learned through my marriage especially is that it’s more about connection, connection to people.
The thing that porn has managed to do very well is temporarily filled that need for people to have connections very temporarily. If not at all with very temporary support or crutch or something to let them feel a little bit of comfort or escapism to something that feels a little friendly and familiar. But the reality is that porn has nothing to do with, like you’re saying in the intro earlier, has nothing to do with intimacy at all. It has nothing to do with sex even. If you think about sex as a connection, sex is an intimate connection with a human being, is absolutely nothing to do with sex. It is just pixels, it’s just matter, it’s just things on the screen.
In that sense, I think that intimacy and connection is something every human being whether it’s a form of intimacy is something that every person needs absolutely innately. From my experience working with, especially young men and women who are preparing for marriage, I think that’s that connection, that desire for connection is really worth fighting for and it’s really worth going after, whether it’s you want to be in a relationship or going through a matching process or get married. I think that’s something that we should follow. I did when I was a teenager, 16-17-18 years old. I got really serious about preparing for marriage. I really want to do this. I want to get married, and I know that’s something that not a lot of people do, but I really wanted that connection.
But the difference is I did not have an addiction to porn. I did not have a messed-up skewed mentality towards women. Of course, I wasn’t perfect, I was very immature as my wife can tell you. But I had reached a certain level of maturity and responsibility in my community, in my faith, in my church certain responsibilities as a youth pastor. I felt like I’m in a place where I can be in a healthy relationship and work on that because I want to have that level of connection and intimacy with someone. What I would say to people who are single is to follow that. If you’re young even, 16-17-18 years old.
There are things you can do to get you on the path to creating that relationship that you want, that connection, that intimacy that you want. It just starts with making decisions and taking the daily steps and actions to be that person you want to be. So I wouldn’t shy away from just pursuing marriage or pursuing a relationship. Honestly, even if you’re young, I think there’s a certain point, there’s a certain age where you reach or a certain point of maturity especially if you have porn, this is what I think is really important. Especially if you have porn as a constant crutch to lean on, then real relationships become less and less appealing, because you can get the instant connection from porn without the need to go through the efforts of creating a relationship, a lasting relationship.
I’ve talked to countless guys who are in their late 20s-30s, when I asked them, do you want to be married? Do you want to be in a relationship? He’s like, no, not really. To me, it’s really unfortunate that people are going to that. And if I really dig into it, I realized that he has an ongoing relationship with porn. He has these crutch days which are always going back to, and which is feeling his lack of desire to be in an actual relationship, and this goes for men and women. There are a lot of reasons that people don’t pursue real intimacy. But those are some thoughts on that.
Yes. I was just on a call with somebody right before this, and the idea came up. People want to get into a relationship with somebody, that means you’re going to be caring for somebody but you don’t know how to take care of yourself. Most people don’t. I would say almost hardly anybody has gone out of their way. Now, thanks to High Noon, honestly not me or you. But thanks to the era in which we live and the organization that came through a bunch of us, there’s this space to take the time to become intimate with yourself. You’re becoming intimate with your thoughts. What do you actually think? Do you want to think about some of these things? Do you want to change somebody’s thinking? Becoming intimate with your feelings like why do you feel these things? Do you want to feel them? Do you want to feel something else, your spirit, all this stuff? You’re learning about yourself and you’re becoming close to yourself because when you’re not close to somebody, it’s easy to just get upset with them or let them leave your life if there’s no intimacy.
That’s what we do with ourselves. But since we can’t necessarily escape ourselves, we can’t break up with ourselves, we just go on our phones. We just zone out, and that’s how we break up with ourselves little by little. We just try to fantasize that we’re somebody else, and that’s what you do through video games, through porn. These mirror receptors in your brain allow you to feel what they’re feeling. When you watch a Brad Pitt movie, you feel like you’re a cool guy like Brad Pitt. That’s part of what movies provide for us, but that’s what people tend to gravitate towards when they have no intimacy with themselves and they build intimacy with fantasy and escapism and all this stuff. That means that you’re not in a position to take care of somebody else because you can’t take care of yourself.
And then we have babies, forget about it. Forget about it because I know there are definitely parents out there who don’t know how to handle things so they just get stressed out, yell at their kids, and all this because they don’t know themselves. That is intimacy, is to know thyself. That’s the first blessing. I think the way that we often understand it, let’s just say is perfection, this idea of perfection, individual perfection. That’s such a daunting concept, and I think misinterpreted and misunderstood. Let’s rephrase it to mean like you’re really just intimate with yourself, you know yourself, you’re comfortable with yourself.
You’re able to get through difficult stuff because you understand where you stand in any position and you can navigate life from an individual’s perspective. And then you can take care of somebody else, and all the little creatures that come through you right thereafter. But that’s like intimacy because then you can enjoy it. Because when somebody else is stressed out, you can say: I’m not going to be stressed out, and I’m going to help you to not be stressed out. But if you don’t have intimacy, then their stress becomes your stress and then just creates havoc. Intimacy is really like, so yours is touching and words of affirmation you said, right?
Mine are weirdly specific lately because the only thing I really care about is that people are doing what they’re committed to doing. Because I have people that tell me all sorts of stuff. They give me compliments or they criticize me. Honestly, it just goes right through me unless there’s somebody who has integrity themselves, then I’ll listen to them. It’s almost like my love languages are disengaged unless somebody qualifies as having integrity. People who don’t have integrity, I help people who are struggling with integrity issues. I will love them and care for them.
It’s not like I’m judging them, but it’s just that when I see them growing then I feel my love is engaged for them a lot more than that person. That person that keeps on lying to themselves and lying to me, I still have a love for them but it’s not engaged. It’s more like I’ll just press the grace button and set it on automated on grace. I’ll just give them grace. I try my best not to judge them and support them from afar, but I can’t trust that person to do what they say they’re going to do because they have to build that trust.
So for me, it’s more action-based. I guess that’s like an act of service maybe. It might fit into that, so it’s weirdly specific, but that means that I’m realizing that. For me, intimacy is predicated on trust. And trust, to me, is like that you have integrity.
I cannot give somebody my heart, and I’m going through this actually in my physical family. There’s somebody that I’m very, very close to relationally that I cannot let into my life at present because they’ve shown time and again, that their words and their actions are too different. I’ve lost so much trust in them, in which case, I’m not able to really allow them in my life because their actions then really impact my life.
That’s different from yours. Yours is like: Hey, I didn’t need to go out and touch somebody. I don’t mind. I don’t mind being touched at all, I like it especially in certain scenarios, hugging people, it’s all great. But I don’t crave it necessarily, what I crave is action and doing stuff and helping people and surrounding myself with people who are also doing the same. So I guess that does fall into acts of service. But again, for me, if my wife isn’t doing that, if she loses integrity, I can’t just sit there and judge her. That’s where I’m at, there are certain parts of her life where she hasn’t committed to a certain amount of integrity. So in the past, they used to just judge her because that’s my main love language and that only just made everything way worse. So now I just have to be a better supporter, to be more inviting so that she could want to change that area if she wants to. And if not, I have to be okay with that.
You bring up a really important point. When you share your love language, it’s basically very, very different from what I shared. You were very specific and almost like a prophet, but mine was like, anybody touched me even I’d love. I’m like a dog or something. But I want to actually go into this a bit, because this is important, what I’ve learned through just working with people. Especially with my marriage is that the love languages, the five love languages, is a helpful framework but it is actually oversimplified. Because they’re actually something like if you do the marriage course which is another great problem, there are 21 different expressions of love that they identify. It’s like a subcategory of the five, specific kinds of intimacy or touching, etc.
I would say, honestly, when people touch me I don’t feel loved, I feel good. It’s a nice feeling, and it’s very different. When people say nice things to me, it feels good. I don’t feel love from them like what you’re saying. But if somebody how I really truly feel like I feel so loved, those moments are when somebody I really care about and trust and respect listens to me and accepts me and gives me grace when I make a mistake, or if I confess something or feel lacking in some way. I just let myself be vulnerable and let them see me, particularly my wife or my dad when I feel the most vulnerable and selfish and I just admit that I am that way, that I’m not perfect. And then just to have them embrace me physically, embrace me emotionally with love and unconditional love, that’s probably my strongest love language. In terms of the love languages, I honestly feel like it’s a bit of an oversimplification, maybe even a superficial expression of what love is because it’s hard to beat that, like what we’re talking about those real, genuine relationships that you can’t really just manufacture out of thin air all the time.
Yes, I guess why I bring it up and why it’s useful is that if people got to understand intimacy as a closeness. Intimacy is the closest of two hearts or more, but let’s just start with two people that your heart feels close to somebody else. That’s a great visualization that you can picture intimacy as. Then your love language is like your fastest road to that place or your most direct road, it’s like the highway to get to that sense of intimacy with other people. But there’s also intimacy with God. I personally, right now in a place where I feel like God is in another state and we email each other, and it’s a very functional relationship, but I don’t necessarily feel. At times, I’ve felt like God is right in my pocket, like in me and I can feel and I’m walking with God.
There are ebbs and flows to all that is the same with your wife. Intimacy takes different shapes, and these love languages are different expressions of that. But it’s good to know, even as a single person when you’re lacking intimacy and then how to find it in the best most natural way because, in the absence of that, physical touch then gets mutated. It becomes looking for somebody to flirt with you, to touch your arms so you can feel worthy, and then you’re reliant on this superficial way of feeling loved.
But whereas a natural way, if you’re a guy, find a brother that you can hug. Somebody that also appreciates a hug or who likes you enough to hug you even though it’s not their love language. That’s great. Your parents or somebody you trust because it’s really good to practice with somebody with the same gender. It’s a really good practice because things get a little muddy. Even when you’re married, I have a woman who’s a neighbor who’s going through a lot, and so our family is taking care of her more, but she’s really attractive.
If at any point in time, she’s feeling vulnerable, I’m like: Honey, you need to go to her because I’m not going to be there for that, that’s woman-to-woman stuff. I definitely am not a hugger and all that, but my wife did and I love that. It’s not like a single thing, it’s like a man-woman thing. It’s like this electrical charge, you got to be careful at. It doesn’t mean that I don’t touch or hug women, it just means that I’m very careful of what the scenario is and how it could be interpreted and all that on both sides, what’s my intention and all that.
So that’s really good practice. We’re just talking about physical touch, but also let’s talk about words of affirmation like how often do you post on social media hoping that some person that you like or are attracted to says something nice about you? How many people live off of that? That’s their oxygen. I know a lot of young people, that’s why they take provocative pictures of themselves so that they can get those compliments. Those are the words of affirmation which is the most superficial thing because let’s see if they would give you the same amount of affirmation if you posted an ugly picture of yourself in bad lighting. That’s how circumstantial those compliments are. Whereas if you’re finding natural ways like hanging around with really good people who want what’s best for you, and then saying that you’re a really good person, or that you’ve been a really great friend to me.
That’s a lot deeper. I hope you guys can see the difference between those things. They’re both words of affirmation, one is coming from a source of this person who cares about you as a person, the other ones like, you look attractive in this picture. The net result feels the same in the moment, but what it produces in you is totally different over the long term. One produces insecurity and just this need to always be perfect in the way that people view you as perfect, and the other allows you to be more of yourself. The same with physical touch because I know some married men too that started to get a little flirty with an office or co-worker or something like that, and they really had to dial it back because they crave attention. They’re nice words and flirty, even like a touch, like if our hands touch each other when we’re both reaching for a coffee cup. You have to be really careful because that can turn into an obsession, it can destroy you. Somebody, seemingly so little, can ruin a man or a woman. It could be your demise if you don’t understand yourself.
Yes. I wanted to ask you about something that you mentioned about intimacy with yourself before being in a relationship, or even if you are in a relationship or have kids, how intimacy with yourself will impact those in positive ways? I want to bring that up because it’s something that has been coming up a lot in our groups so can you maybe elaborate a bit on that in your experience?
Yes, absolutely. One of the best summers of my life, I don’t want to date myself. I don’t want to say which summer it is because it’s even hard to remember. But it was a lot longer than somebody might presume. But it was the best summer, I was living in Vancouver, I just was surrounded by my best buddies. We’re just going out all the time on our bikes, and just having the best time ever. Every day was perfect, and then it ended up being the worst winter in my life, and everything came crashing down.
I ended up coming back to Toronto, where I was living, feeling completely defeated. I felt like I didn’t want to talk to anybody, I was really depressed. And then I just made this conscious decision to reinvent myself, get to know myself because part of the reason why I was so depressed was because all my happiness was based on my surroundings. When those surroundings changed in Vancouver, it was rainy every day and then all my friends got too busy to hang out with me, and I was just alone and depressed. So my circumstances changed. I was depressed. I was like, I want to reinvent myself so that I can just be a happy person. I don’t know how formally I express it, it was just like this desire in me.
What I did in order to create intimacy with myself was I would go to so many places by myself. I would go to the movies by myself, for the first time ever. I was doing a lot of comedy back then I’d show up at comedy clubs by myself. I would take new roads in the same city I was born in so that I could feel like a new person in the old place where I would hang. I didn’t really hang out with any of my old friends for the very fact that they just reminded me of a self that I didn’t want to be anymore, so I was going to create new friends and present a new self-based on who I really was not who the default person was.
That’s part of self-awareness. Who’s validating your growth and who just wants you to be the same person. So that puts me in a very vulnerable position when you show up to a movie theater by yourself. If you have no intimacy with yourself or confidence or if you’re not comfortable in your own shoes, you’ll whip out your phone, and you’ll pretend that you’re waiting for somebody. I have friends, I just want to let everybody who’s listening to know. I have friends, I don’t have to be here alone, it was a choice. But that’s all just insecurity, it means that you’re not confident. You’re not close to yourself.
When you start to feel closer to yourself, you start identifying your wants and your needs more clearly. You fulfill them in natural ways, and you don’t worry about it. So to me, to find intimacy and spending time with yourself, with your thoughts, even the dark ones, and figuring them out, and then eventually processing it with other people. But taking that time, most people never spend a single moment with their thoughts. They’re either with other people or they’re distracted on their phones, hearing information that’s other people’s thoughts, but they don’t spend time just sitting and thinking about their own thoughts. Going for a bike ride without any music or anything, sometimes with music but sometimes without any music, just sitting under a tree.
I bought a rope, and I made knots in it and I started climbing trees like I want it to be like Rambo. But I’d go to the park by myself, I’d hang out and I would just draw and just read, like dating myself. I was literally falling in love with myself. It turned this dark night of the soul into that ended up being an even better spring than the one prior because I was doing it all intentionally. That catapulted me, that was the reason why I ended up going to Los Angeles and why my life started really opening up is because I was picking and choosing who I was hanging out with and what kind of thoughts I was. I was just being more intentional. I was spending a lot of time by myself.
I think a lot of young people never do that. They go straight from school to school, or they’ll go traveling with other people, but they’re not ever learning how to be comfortable in their own shoes, and that’s intimacy. I like me. You wake up and you’re like: I like me. I don’t have a perfect life. I’m not perfect but I like me. I really like me. I like my thoughts. I like my feelings. And when I don’t, I am learning how to cope with them. That’s a life skill that saved me repeatedly because you always end up coming back to that. If your life seems like it’s falling apart and you haven’t done that work, then there’s no base, there’s no bottom that you can just hit down and down.
Yes. That’s something that the guys in our group are dealing with right now. We never really use the terminology “intimacy” with oneself, because I think, just to be clear, it sounds like masturbation. The first thing they’ll say is that you have to learn how to love yourself.
You got to do you.
Date yourself. I just want to be clear, that’s not what we’re talking about here. This is something way different. I think, for me, and I’ll contextualize for the groups that we’re doing right now with High Noon, is that when I first began my relationship with my spouse, I never learned how to really deal with my anger or negative emotions. I never learned how to do it, it was either I just ignored it, suppressed it, blew up in anger, or just escaped it by running. If I was in a fight with my brother with a parent, I would just run to the other room and just either go on my phone or play a game or some way to numb the pain of being angry.
I never learned how to deal with it. When I brought that into my marriage, I didn’t really know that I had that because it didn’t affect me, because when you’re in a relationship with somebody, all this stuff comes in magnifies. Because there’s so much more at stake. There’s another human being who wants the same thing, and we have the same goals. So when we’re in the way of each other and we are constantly having these conflicts and arguments, if we’re arguing or after we got over the honeymoon phase of our relationship and I started getting angry at her, frustrated. I never learned how to deal with it, and I would always back out and leave the room. I would just leave. It was really detrimental, honestly, so detrimental to our relationship because she’s the kind of person that just wants to talk about it which is typical. More typical for women, generally speaking, is to talk about it in a more constructive way. Let me know how you’re feeling instead of acting out in anger, or would punch something. There are a few holes in our wall. I’m not a violent person towards anybody, I just sometimes get frustrated.
You just hate walls.
Yes, but that’s something that I dealt with for a number of years, is not knowing how to own my anger and manifest it in a healthy way. It’s how do you deal with these negative emotions in a healthy way that is not detrimental to anybody or to any relationship, or detrimental especially to that intimacy and connection that we’re trying to create from the beginning? It’s extremely tough, especially anger, or whatever negative emotions. It could be anger, it could be depression, it could be boredom, it could be anxiety, it could be just disappointment in yourself or in other people. So that was really the turning point because I started using porn as an escape from emotions.
Like you were saying earlier, going on your phone is an escape from reality. It’s an escape from these emotions that we’re feeling. We don’t know how to digest, and porn is instantly from zero to 100 miles an hour. It instantly takes you out of that emotion into a different realm, almost instantly. It’s crazy. The same with drugs, same with excessive video game use. Of course, people are like: what’s wrong with video games? It’s fine.
If video games are an escape from life, then yes, it’s a problem. It doesn’t matter if somebody has an addiction or it’s a bad habit, we try to label things like I’m not addicted. If it’s affecting your emotional state, if it’s affecting your relationships, like you’re talking about Andrew to just internalize, have introspection, and journal about these things, then that is a problem. It doesn’t matter if it’s an addiction or not. Like in our groups, this is interesting because this round of groups that we just started a few weeks ago, this is a big conversation because I keep bringing this up with them.
If you want to have integrity in your sexual relationship in yourself, if you don’t have integrity with yourself in with your intimacy with yourself, then you have to work on this area of stop escaping, stop escaping from boredom, stop escaping from school to work, to phone, and just have introspection and just deal with it. Know what is triggering, know what emotions lead you down certain rabbit holes, in certain experiences. If you can master that, then you can master pornography.
It’ll just be an obvious decision when those difficult times come. Almost every guy in our group right now is, and this is not a guy thing uniquely, it doesn’t matter of your age or whatever, we’re trying to get them to basically journal every day. To have some journaling system or introspection, whether it’s prayer or journaling or talking with someone ideally, communicating with a human being, especially for people who are preparing for marriage, that’s a very, very powerful skill set to know. To have that self-reflection and self-awareness so that you just know that I’m experiencing anger and this is what I had to learn. I’m still learning. If I’m feeling frustrated or angry, I know it, I know how to talk to my wife or somebody about it, or at least pray about it. Talk to God about it, and recognize that it’s an emotion and deal with it in a productive way.
Yes. One crazy thing about the dopamine receptors and how this works, and I used to give this early. It’s crazy. I included this in the talks when I was first given the talks, and then somehow I phased it out unconsciously. A very important fact is that the more that you have one thing that’s a super stimulus in your life, so porn is the biggest, most super-evolved super stimulus. If you get flooded with dopamine, it makes it so that things are more black and white. It’s just fewer and fewer things that are able to even give you any pleasure at all because you’ve doubled down on this one investment that’s where your cash crop of joy and pleasure comes from this one place. And it mutes the ability of life in general, it makes everything else gray. Life seems gray without this thing because that’s where you invest all your pleasure and hopes and dreams.
When you start removing that, it starts to color and texture life a lot more. You find more joy in reading again. You find more joy in simple conversations and looking at nature and being out in nature because you’re more in a state that’s stable instead of being agitated. When you’re heavily habituated or addicted to something, just agitated when you’re not around that thing. Drug addicts are like that. They go crazy if they don’t get drugs. That word addiction is a loaded one, but when you’re so familiar with something, then anything else makes I’m comfortable, and that’s crazy too.
So part of the process too is then slowly unplugging this power that porn has over you, or this escapism, and start re-familiarizing yourself with life around you, and with the people and the things that make up your life, and you’ll enjoy it more. It’s like an actual chemical response, but it’s also this spiritual thing that your spirit is so out of order, that you can’t even function in a normal way when you don’t live in this reality. Your spirits are in a coma, or it’s just freaking out or whatever. You’re not there. But the more that you ground yourself and date yourself and familiarize yourself and feed yourself natural good foods like good conversations, journaling, getting to know yourself, and life actually becomes more enjoyable. It’s like this cascade effect, the more you invest in your life, that’s principles. The more you love something, the more beautiful that becomes.
I’ve never heard that apply to ourselves. The more you love yourself, the more beautiful you become, and your life becomes the more you love your life, the more beautiful it becomes. And it’s everything, the more you love, the more beautiful it becomes. And the more you avoid it, the more it just becomes annoying and frustrating, and the more you want to avoid it. That’s the rub. That was a weird, almost pun. Sammy would have got that. He would have been focusing on that for the next 10 minutes, so that was for you, Sammy. That one’s for you.
Yes, it sounds like kids. It’s like you really love your kids because you invest so much in them. Or like you said, you don’t really love them because you try to avoid them at all costs, and send them to a daycare to spend as little as possible.
Let’s talk about that because yesterday, I was talking to somebody else and we were talking about how children are the greatest thermometer for how able you are to be fully present. Being present in the moment is the function of a lot of work. It’s not easy. You have to really train your mind to be present, train your spirit to be present, which you cannot do when you have an addiction because all you can think about is the next time you get that hit. But to be present with your kid, like when they’re loud and struggling and crying, you can be present to that. It doesn’t mean you like these screaming sounds, but you can deal with it. When you’re not present with them, they become so annoying. All of their wants, you just get short with them because you’re not present to what they actually are communicating. That is presence, presence takes effort that you simply cannot do if you’re in that kind of addiction cycle.
Intimacy requires presence, and that requires you to be acquainted with yourself and the things that are in your life. It doesn’t mean to be happy all the time, but it just means to be like this is a complicated thing. Let’s deal with this issue instead of freaking out. It doesn’t mean walking on clouds, but it just means that everybody’s going to run into issues but it’s how you deal with them. It depends on how present you are at any given moment. If your habit is to escape, your life is going to be chaotic and very complicated and frustrating and annoying.
You’re going to be annoyed by yourself. That’d be terrible. When you’re in that state, that happened to me. I think last week, I had a half-day to almost a full day where I was just in a bad state. I was so annoying to myself, and everything that I was saying was annoying. It’s not a great place to be. So I hope that was helpful for you guys. We’re talking about intimacy but obviously, it’s a deeper issue than we even thought because we took this in a few different directions. But at the end of the day, learn yourself, learn what your needs are, what your wants are, and learn how to find those in natural, healthy ways that are sustainable for you, for the world, for your ideals. Don’t rush into things based on compulsion, that’s like the worst way to live. Intimacy is both a short game and a long game, and when you learn about yourself, you can find quick hits of healthy intimacy. But also you’ll learn a lot more about what intimacy truly is, which is like a lifelong pursuit.
Awesome. So thank you, Benjy, for having this talk. Do you have any last words?
No, that’s it.
Well, see you around kids. Take care. Bye, bye.
Before you go, I wanted you to consider checking out High Noon Connect. So if you go to our website, highnoon.org. You’ll notice, first of all, we have a brand new website which is beautiful. And also you’ll notice that there’s the opportunity to join High Noon Connect. The essence of what High Noon is morphing into is a community. We are better together, and sexual integrity involves other people. If you’re struggling with pornography, you need the help of brothers and sisters of people in a community dedicated to helping lift you up. And even if you’re not, if you’re in a relationship and you just want more intimacy, more love, more joy, or if you’re single and you just want to be a person that can live according to their values in the area of sexuality and you want to be around a group of people who are fighting in the same way, then please go to highnoon.org and sign up for High Noon Connect. There’s a free version and a paid version. We want to make this as accessible as possible, and we’re nonprofit so we’re not trying to make a buck here. We’re just trying to create a community off of Facebook that gives a focused conversation, focused energy, focused attention on building sexual integrity as a cultural intention. So go to highnoon.org, and we’ll see you there.
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