It’s Not Solely Ladies Who Need Extra Intimacy in Relationships

It’s Not Only Women Who Want More Intimacy in Relationships

That sounds completely uninteresting. How is it that so many men need deeper, stable bonds in their love lives, but historically they were the ones who fled into literal and figurative "caves"? Again and again, both gay and straight men I interviewed spoke of a crippling fear of appearing “weak” (that was the most common) or “small” or “too insecure” when they opened up and shared their fears, sadness and Grief shared need for emotional support with their loved ones. They feared that exuding such protected feelings would lead to rejection or abandonment.

More often than we think these fears are well founded.

Andrew Smiler, a Winston-Salem, NC-based psychologist whose practice is dedicated to boys and men, told me that one of the primary skills he uses to help men is learning how to access their deeper emotional lives To process it and articulate it can maintain and strengthen their romantic partnerships.

Typically, he said, these men are fine when they first make themselves vulnerable. After that, the warm reception cools down. They are often answered with answers like "You are much more needy than I thought". That seems like the big one, said Dr. Smiler, author of books on masculinity, including "The Male Self". ”Another common reaction from partners is one they have long endured men:" They are told not to be so excited and emotional. "

I've seen it myself. A friend in my 20s was embarrassed when I cried openly while sitting next to her on a plane. Another friend in my 30s told me she wanted to nurse when she was feeling anxious or sad but didn't find it "attractive in a man" who was looking for the same thing. In my marriage, I have always pushed for greater emotional intimacy and asked my wife Elizabeth to articulate any loving feelings or feelings that she has told me that cross her mind but remain unspoken. When she shared them, they were sometimes shrouded in humor. A few years ago, I tried harder when we saw a couple counselor.

"Do you know what I would most like to hear from you?" I asked, looking at my wife. & # 39; "I need you." & # 39;

"Well I do," she replied.

Tess Brigham, a San Francisco-based therapist whose practice consists of Millennial and Generation Z clients, was not surprised by such anecdotes, although vulnerability is essential to healthy relationships. "Women cannot show vulnerability in their daily life," she said. "You can't show vulnerability at work. And when younger women feel too vulnerable in the dating life, they fear it will make them look weak. If you are vulnerable, you are seen as too emotional. This is not a good thing today for women. "

This corresponds to the findings of the vulnerability and shame researcher and author Brené Brown. In her book Daring Greatly, she observes the zero-sum dynamic that occurs when women “ask” men to be vulnerable with them. "The truth is, most women can't take it," she writes. "In those moments when real vulnerability arises in men, most of us shrink from fear, and that fear manifests as anything from disappointment to disgust."


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