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When it comes to intimacy, the million-dollar question is “How far is too far?

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If you hope to develop healthy physical relationships, read on.

Since every physical act sends a message—even a punch speaks volumes—we must consider what our actions will “say” before we act.

In romantic relationships, the goal is to communicate in a loving, giving manner—to be affectionate.

Affection is defined as “tender and loving feelings” or a “stirring of loving emotions,” and it stems from a desire to affect someone’s heart, mind, or soul.

Affection says to another, “I care for you so much that I’ve run out of words to say and want to show you” or “I want to give you a physical experience that touches and blesses you intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.” Affection is the outward expression of something that is occurring within the couple internally; this something is more than physical attraction.

On the other hand, lust is excessive sexual desire not controlled by concern for another. Lust is an appetite that seeks to satisfy itself at the expense of another and is unconcerned with intellectual, emotional, or spiritual health.It is never healthy, loving, or giving, even in marriage.Obviously, affection should be the primary goal of every healthy couple—never to use each other for physical gratification, but rather to love each other.To ensure that physical acts are affectionate, a couple must thoughtfully decide when and how to progress physically in a healthy manner.To know whether a relationship is ready for physical affection, one must first examine the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual bonding of the relationship, or the “friendship” elements.A healthy romantic relationship should be based on a friendship, with physical acts being the “icing on the cake.” A cake isn’t made with icing in the dough; it would never rise.

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