What is more intimate than sex?

Slipping between the sheets doesn’t have to involve getting steamy

The answer is simple: Not doing it at all.

Sounds boring and old-farty, doesn’t it? But actually, it doesn’t have to be. You can still share a bed with a member of the opposite sex and not have to replicate some dodgy celebrity sex tape.

“What happened with you two last night?”

“Oh, nothing.”

“What? You two didn’t have sex? When you shared a bed?”

Why do we automatically respond to this with shock? If you don’t have sex, then somehow you have missed out. I think sometimes people easily forget that not having sex is not a sign of rejection, it is a sign of respect.

Jumping into bed with somebody doesn’t always have to be steamy. It is quite easy to assume that what goes on in a bed between two people is always sexual. Actually, bed-sharing is symbolic. Your bed is a place ultimately to sleep in. Sleeping is something that you do on your own in your own privacy. Your bed is therefore an extension of your own personal space. It’s where you go to escape and relax. Letting somebody else share that place is a way of saying: “I’m letting you in my bed, I trust you.” Actually sleeping with somebody, instead of “sleeping” in the sexual sense, is comforting and creates a closer bond – and it means that you do actually get some beauty sleep!

Bed-sharing can tell you more about a person than you might think. You find out their annoying – or “endearing” – little habits: the twitching, the snoring, the sleep-walking; and their bedtime routine: Do they brush their teeth before bed? Are they afraid of the dark? Do they wear embarrassing pyjamas? And of course, their consideration for you – do they share the duvet with you, or is there a battle between the sheets? Do they wish you goodnight? Do they constantly cuddle you? It is at bedtime when a person is truly themselves. Like removing your make-up, you let down all your barriers. You’re at your most vulnerable and most human self.

It is at this point where a few areas of complication can arise. After a while of bed-sharing, your body craves that person’s company. No matter how much you try to fight it, it is inevitable that after repeat bed-sharing you will start missing the closeness when you don’t have it. When they are sleeping with you regularly you can easily start to think subconsciously that they cannot be sleeping with anybody else, and that the bond you share is unique. The renowned Biological Anthropologist, Helen Fisher, has explained that when two humans experience such closeness, there is a rush of serotonin to the brain, comparable to the same rush of cocaine, if not more addictive. Human attachment is an addiction, and she points out that people do not even need to have sex to become emotionally reliant upon each other.

But what are the dangers of this? As mentioned before, you are at your most vulnerable. For one person bed-sharing may be more casual than how the other perceives it to be. Though you might expect repeat bed-sharing to carry some emotional weight, each person is different. One person’s “platonic cuddle” might be something more exclusive to the other person.

At some stage, one of you is going to want to ask questions. What exactly is the nature of the relationship? Is it a friendship? Is it a relationship? Is it even a “thing”? Do you want to keep it as “sleep buddies”? Does it even need defining?

I’m not exactly the kind of person who should be preaching right now, but as I have been told several times, the only way to be truly intimate with somebody is to take each moment as it comes, not rushing into things too quickly and listening to yourself – what do you want?

If you storm straight ahead into each other’s knickers then what more is there to know? Surely it is the intrigue which keeps relationships alive. When there is no suggestion of anything other than a nice, cosy, warm spoon, the closeness is far more than that of an all-night long sex fest. Holding back is much more respectful and long-lasting, so that when the time comes for that all-important moment, it feels right, natural and makes you feel great.

I realise that all the above does make me sound like either a twelve year-old who has read too many fairy tales, or a frigid old spinster, but after some serious consideration there is more to sleeping with each other than sleeping in each other!

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