Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Relationships (Part 5) - Pacing Physical Intimacy as an Act of Effective Hedonism

The talk is tonight[1], so here’s one last brief post for in this series…and I have saved the most bombastic [2] for last.

Here’s my thesis…

Pacing physical intimacy in a romantic relationship is an act of hedonism. [3]

Rushing physical intimacy seems like the hedonistic thing to do, but it is actually a pleasure miscalculation.

It’s a hedonism fail.

Here’s how I figure. By delaying each stage of physical intimacy, you get more out of each one. Holding hands is not quite as magical if you are kissing, [4] and kissing loses some of its allure when the cloths come off. So postponing physical connection maximizes physical enjoyment on a mulit-year time scale.

If hedonism is the intentional pursuit of maximum pleasure, postponing physical intimacy is the hedonistic thing to do…it generates the most pleasure from each progressive stage of connection. Rushing physical intimacy prematurely short-circuits reservoirs of romantic enjoyment that cannot be revisited. Christians seem prudish by advocating physical restraint, but actually, we believe it will maximize sexual enjoyment.

It is popular to advocate that single Christians who are observing the classical sexual ethic are ‘sexually frustrated’ [5] or that their relationships are seething with ‘sexual tension.’ But those who embrace the life stage for what it is worth, enjoy a season of ‘sexual anticipation’ that produces a qualitatively different kind of enjoyment than consummated attraction…which can never be re-captured.

[1] CL starts at 8:00 in Geit 1001…a couple of cool students even made a fun promotional video.
[2] My brother says that I am definitionally a liberal because I am comfortable auditioning experimental ideas and seeing where they take me.  Well if my real life is where I audition ideas, my blog is casting call.  To say some of the theses I assert are experimental would be an understatement. 
[3] I had a professor for Western Civ in undergrad who told us his grading rules were “if I read your thesis and believe it, you are starting with a B and can only go down…but if I read your thesis and think ‘no way’ you’ve got a shot at an A.” Since then, I have been drawn to the bombastic thesis statement.
[4] e.g. That scene in the latest Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy Helps Elizabeth into the carriage, and touches her hand for the first time, and as he walks away, is obviously affected by that simple touch.
[5] Yes, some of the Tebow jokes have been funny…but they demonstrate the standard reaction to this choice.


JMBower said...

fantastic series...agree or disagree, the way you approached was fascinating as usual.

As an aside, I'd say "auditioning experimental ideas" is a fundamental aspect of humanity. Fire, the wheel, democracy...all experimental ideas at some point. Chief among them, I'd say, would be the mass of folks in the first century AD who entertained the experimental idea of "Ok, what if this crazy carpenter really IS the son of God?"

Long live the experimental idea!

And just for updating's sake...my blog has moved addresses, so if you care to update it, it's now at http://fieldnotesfromtherepublic.blogspot.com/

Teresa said...

I like reading your experiments. I found points of disagreement, but only because I am not your target audience. I found more points of interest that are sending me into the Christian/Relationship section of the bookstore, which is a first for me.

How did the talk go?

stanford said...

Thanks, friends.

The talk went reasonably well, I think. It appears the most memorable comment was not one of the central points. But that is usually the way it goes.

The line "Marriage is functionally a friendship...a special kind of freinedship where leaving isn't optional and cloths are." got a fair amount of facebook traffic.