Sex obviously means different things to different people at different times, but it is definitely a physical act. Sex can be used for power and control, but what about afterwards? What does intimacy mean? Is it subject to power and control issues?
The blunt force options, of course, are to have sex or not and to perform or not perform certain sexual acts. My way of dealing with this is informed consent. I have one thing that I will not do and several that I’m only interested in doing occasionally. The occasional things have room for negotiation, but that one is a deal-breaker.
Let’s assume all that is working fairly well (because it is), how do sex and intimacy relate? For me and, I believe, most women, sex increases intimacy and carries over afterwards. I find myself telling the other person things I normally wouldn’t. Sometimes those things are sexually related and sometimes they’re not. My customary filter is much less porous. This makes me nervous if the overall relationship is a superficial one without much chance of permanency.
How trustworthy is the other person? Does the relationship have history? Mine does and it was downhill. The relationship currently rests at affectionate roommates with benefits. We share expenses. Shared experience and shared interests are few and far between. Companionship is missing. Giving up control is trust issue. Self-control is probably my highest value (right next to fairness and objectivity). So, I wind up feeling like I’m giving away my power and giving the other person control (however small) over me. Do I think is factual? Would he want me to feel like that? Would he use what I’ve told him in negative ways? Probably not, but that little smidgen of doubt bothers me.