Two large components of any relationship are the physical and emotional connections. If you're currently feeling confused about your current relationship, it is crucial that you take into account how you connect with each. In situations where the relationship is more physical than emotional, there's a pretty straight forward way to tell. According to Bryony Cole, sex educator, tech expert, and founder of the podcast Future of Sex — if you are looking for signs that your relationship is more physical than emotional, you're in luck — there's only one major red flag to look out for.
If you're connecting with someone super well in bed, but you don't really want to open up to them about your feelings, insecurities, or desires — your connection may be mostly physical. You're allowed to work super well with someone sexually, but that doesn't mean you are required to divulge what's going on with you emotionally.
DW: A solely physical connection necessarily a bad thing, as long as you're comfortable with it. According to Cole, "People tend to prefer a certain type of relationship during certain parts of their life, and can even prefer to have a certain side be more prominent during different phases of the relationship." She stresses that relationships are composed of different aspects, like the physical and emotional connection, but that doesn't mean that there is an absolute science to how much you should feel of each.
"We’ve all had relationships where we connected more on one side than the other, and that’s perfectly OK! Sometimes, you aren’t ready to have an emotional commitment, and so you seek out someone purely for physical reasons," says Cole. Figuring out if your relationship is more physical than emotional is mostly about assessing what your relationship would look like without the physical component. If you didn't hook up and just hung out, would it still be fun? Would both of you enjoy yourselves? Would you be able to be alone and resist being physical? If you can't imagine building intimacy that isn't sexual, then you have your answer. But remember: It can also be really fun to jive with someone sexually and make that the center of your focus.
Cole explains that a problem can only occur if it's not what you actually want to be doing with this person. If they only want things to be physical, but you're more interested in building a connection, it's important to be wary of continuing the relationship without being honest about what you want. But if this is what you're looking for, then that's great! There is no shame in having a relationship that is purely sexual, as long as the sex is consensual and everyone involved is on the same page .
"Just know, it is possible to have both a physical and emotional connection at the same time and perfectly normal for those areas to be more or less important in various stages of your journey," says Cole. She also explains that some people prefer to stay in a physical relationship because they don't feel comfortable being vulnerable while maintaining a feel-good connection. Others simply prefer physical pleasure with their sexual partner and derive emotional support from other areas of their lives in family and friends.
There's no cut-and-dry why to engage in relationships, and every single person is different. Ultimately, what you and your partner(s) want is always most important. If you're involved in something that's more physical than anything else and you're happy about it, that's great! If you're seeking something a little bit more emotional, then it's wonderful that that you're doing the work to better understand your needs and desires. Whatever kind of relationship you are after, you deserve a partner who shares your values!