www.danielbeaver.com www.DecodingHim.comWhat Does Intimacy Mean To A ManAs a man, I have my own personal gender experience to use as a reference point inanswering this question, but I can’t represent the views of all men. I also have myprofessional experience as a marriage and sex therapist of forty years to use as wellwhen addressing this question.The popular attitude in our culture is that when the word intimacy is used in reference tomales it is synonymous with the act of sex, but what they are really referring to is the actof intercourse. For males intercourse and intimacy are one in the same.The reason for this limited view of intimacy is rooted in the model of masculinity that hasbeen the dominant paradigm in American culture for a very long time. The model ofmasculinity doesn’t allow males to be emotionally vulnerable. A “real man” doesn’tdisclose his true emotions to anyone. Vulnerability is seen as a weakness in a man.This belief may serve a man in the “cover your ass” business world or in the military, butthis limitation prevents him from forming any real intimacy in his personal life, and has asevere consequence on his physical health.If a male is not able to be emotionally vulnerable then it makes it difficult for himto form an emotionally intimate relationship with a lover.With this being the case it leaves a male only one way to be close, sexually. If they arenot sexually close then males can experience a certain degree of anxiety due to anunconscious fear of abandonment. Having intercourse is the balm for their anxiety.Unfortunately, though the more that a male pushes for intercourse to offset his feelingsof anxiety they generally experience less sexual frequency with his partner. With lesssexual involvement the more anxiety occurs. It all becomes a vicious circle and hisrelationship becomes more about power and control to have sex and less about trulyloving his partner.Another way to bond intimately with a partner is through general affection ortouch.When a couple is first together there usually exists a great deal of affection and touchbetween them. The problem for men is that they see touching as an activity that has amajor goal associated with it, intercourse. For them, the purpose of prolonged affectionand touching is to have SEX. They are not viewing touching as a way to be intimate. Itwas very clear to me that holding a girl’s hand was the first step to going on down theline to something bigger and better. The metaphor of the baseball game and getting to abase and then making it all the way to home plate has long been thought to be thewhole purpose of the experience.Once there is a high level of commitment in the relationship then the male feels he hashis partner and feels a general sense of emotional security, and as a consequence thelevel of affection and touching between the couple generally declines. For the male in
www.danielbeaver.com www.DecodingHim.comthe relationship, if the touching between himself and his lover doesn’t seem to beleading to sex then he generally he doesn’t want to participate as he once did beforetheir was a strong commitment to the relationship.Touching for most males must lead to sex or it’s seen as a waste of time. Touching as away to be intimate and close holds little pleasure for them - there is no tangible productproduced and nothing is accomplished. Of course nothing could be further from thetruth, men just don’t know how to focus on the pleasure of the moment when it relates totouch shared with their lover.Another consequence of not being able to be affectionate and allowing non-sexuallyintended touching in their life outside of their bedroom, males develop a certain amountof touching deprivation. Just like babies need to be touched and held in order to havehealthy development, adults need touching as well. I think the lack of general affectionin a lot of men’s lives leads to being angry, irritable and depressed. This also is true forwomen as well.Are males conscious of their “touching deprivation”?I don’t think so, but it is one of the major reason men feel so much pressure to havesexual intercourse, because that’s the only way that they allow themselves any form oftouching in their lives. In the middle of my work day when I have my hair cut and thehaircutter shampoos my hair I am struck by how good it feels to have my headmassaged and how quickly I relax. Just that little bit of touching that has no sexualintention makes a major difference with my mood.For males, not being able to be emotionally intimate on a verbal level and not seeing thevalue of touching and affection or physical intimacy that doesn’t include intercourse putsa tremendous handicap on their ability to have a fulfilling sexual experience. Thislimited way of looking at intimacy puts an incredible amount of pressure on males andtheir ability to really enjoy a sexual experience, with their lover. This is not to say theydon’t enjoy sex it’s just that it limits the amount of pleasure and real intimacy they canexperience. Fast food tastes good, but the experience is very limited when compared toa five course gourmet dinner.One particular emotion that men aren’t allowed to express in any constructive manner isanger. Yes, men get angry, but usually when they do it’s not viewed as a constructiveexperience. After being in a long term relationship like a marriage they have bottled up alot of resentments that have never been resolved. These resentments get in the way ofbeing intimate in any real way. It’s hard for them to enjoy spending intimate time justhanging out with their lover in some romantic way because their fear is that theresentments might surface and this would lead to fighting, which is something to beavoided.Besides not wanting to spend much time alone with their wife in any intimateenvironment without diversions, or other people and children, their sexual interestseems to be waning. It’s the unresolved resentments taking their toll on their sex drive.
www.danielbeaver.com www.DecodingHim.comOnce a males leaves his thirties the lack of emotional intimacy and his inability tocommunicate his resentments/anger in his marriage impacts his sexual desire.At this point any form of intimacy for a male is removed from his relationship. No verbalintimacy on an emotional level, no intimacy in the form of general affection and touchingand now no sex, which he saw as his only way of being intimate. Now he looks at hiswife as a “roommate” or the mother of his children, or maybe his buddy, but the conceptof being lovers has faded from the relationship. Now he has no real intimacy in his life,which will cause problems, because a lot of his psychological needs are not beingfulfilled.So now that it’s clear what intimacy to a male means for many men. I think there aremales out there who have learned to break through the stereotypic model ofmasculinity. Can a male learn to development intimacy on an emotional level?Absolutely. He just needs to want to make the change and have the help andknowledge on how to create other ways to be intimate other than sexually.About the authorA licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Daniel Beaver started his private practice in1973 in Walnut Creek, California, and continues providing individual and couplestherapy today. He co-founded the Relationship Counseling Center of Walnut Creek in1974.The author of three books, Creating the Intimate Connection, More Than Just Sex,and Love Yourself, which was just published this year.Visit www.danielbeaver.com to know more about Dan.For more free tips and insights on what really attracts a man, how tomake yourself irresistible to him and how to capture his heart, click thelink below.www.decodinghim.com