The 12 Stages of Intimacy

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© R Mitchell

Carrie De Simas

Editor in Chief @ GoneWithTheWord

The 12 Stages of Intimacy is essentially a list of the steps it takes a man to woo a woman into sex. The steps are there to make a woman feel comfortable and to give her regular checkpoints to accept or reject a man’s advances.

While working in the financial industry, a friend came across the bad cliché of the wealthy married man who wanted some excitement on the side. Dodging his advances became part of most of female employees’ regular job routine.

One afternoon, my friend was in the photocopy room, a small poorly ventilated space hidden in the bowels of the company. In walks Wealthy Married Man. She was trapped in the room, and thus in his company.

He strode over in that slithering sort of way men like that have perfected. During his I’m so cool speech, he reached out and touched her ear where she often wears small, gold hoops. She recoiled. She couldn’t figure out why this small touch would bother her so much more than anything else he had done. After all, he had touched her arm and hand before. So why was this so much worse? Why did this feel like the bigger violation? It’s an ear for goodness sake!

The 12 Stages of Intimacy are the basis for all sexual wooing regardless of age, class, socio-economic status or cultural background. These are more psychologically based than cultural.

When any of these steps are violated, you end up with the creepy man syndrome. In the case of the Wealthy Married Man, he had skipped several stages and overstepped his bounds. So although the touch hadn’t necessarily been overtly sexual, both he and the woman knew that it was still a sexual advance.

The application of this information is a powerful tool. The subtle adherence to the steps shows a man to be aware and respectful of the woman. Skipping steps will give off the creep factor to both the female character and the reader—even if they don’t know why.

The 12 Stages of Intimacy is a summary that writer Linda Howard put together based on the work of zoologist Desmond Morris.

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