MAKING IT WORK : No Shortcuts on the Road to Intimacy

People who hunger for touch have a tendency to shortchange the emotional side of a new relationship and seek intimacy through sex, notes Marti Monroe, a Huntington Beach therapist.

"They end up disappointed and upset when they don't find intimacy, but it's unrealistic to expect to be intimate with someone before you're acquainted and feel safe," Monroe says.

"It's very difficult to do intimacy without any commitment at all," she adds. "It's hallow and scary, because you're setting yourself up for potential abandonment."

She offers the following advice to singles seeking intimacy:

* Be aware of the ways you resist intimacy--for example, by drinking too much, turning on the television to avoid conversation or talking excessively.

* Don't expect too much from your relationship. It's important for both partners to maintain outside friendships so you don't stifle each other--and your potential intimacy--with excessive neediness.

* Set aside time to talk about practical matters so you can keep the mundane from interfering with communication on a deep emotional level.

* Enjoy the moment. If you're always worrying about where the relationship is going, you may miss opportunities to cultivate closeness.

* Don't blame the new man or woman in your life for what went wrong with someone else. If you're still dealing with anger or pain from a recent breakup, give yourself time to heal before starting a new relationship.

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