Ethics of Intimacy

the Basica

  Intimacy, whether physical or otherwise, deals with a very tender aspect of being human. If you cannot, in your own bed at home, treat your intimate partner with kindness, decency, and respect, there is no weight to the pretense of such behavior towards anyone else or in any other place.

  What matters is not the sex, gender, gender expression, ethnic background, national identity, or spiritual tradition of either of you. What counts is that you can both be, in good conscience, satisfactorily reconciled about your differences and that you are able to find sufficient common ground. It is not required of you to be close in age, abilities, or health. It is necessary that you both be of an age and level of mental, emotional, and physical capacity such that you can be fully informed and fully consenting about your involvement.

  To maintain your ethics in intimacy, you must also apply your values across the board if you have multiple partners. This includes being upfront and honest about your other involvements with each of your partners and being clear about the truth of the place each one holds in your heart and in your life. It also does not circumvent or gloss over the matter of consent. For someone to agree to the adding of partners only in order to avoid losing a relationship, for example, is not consent. Consent only exists where refusal is a real option. An existing commitment must take precedence if the relationship is to continue undamaged. Be especially careful not to deal with difficulties in your relationship or in other aspects of your life by having an affair with someone else. If you cannot be fair and honest while having more than one partner, it is wise to limit yourself to one, regardless of your desire. It is better to forego having multiple relationships than to compromise your integrity and injure those you profess to care for.

  If you celebrate your sexuality imaginatively, be sure you do so safely. Be sure the rules of the game reflect the values you keep outside of it and that the rules are strictly adhered to at all times during the game. Only in this way can you enjoy the freedom to pretend as you like without the risk of real harm to any participant.

  Love responsibly. Protect your health and that of those whose bodies and lives you touch. Be forthcoming about relevant issues you face, and be sure to ask appropriate questions of your partners. Intimacy calls for courage in many ways. The bravery to rise to the risks and challenges of vulnerability is more than a virtue. It is a lifeline.

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