What is intimacy?
The experience of emotional closeness. It occurs when two people can be emotionally open with one another, and reveal their true feelings, thoughts, fears, and desires. This can only happen when both people can genuinely trust one another and take the risk of being vulnerable. It is a universal human need; without it, we have the experience of loneliness. A perceived lack of intimacy is one of the most common reasons for relationship breakdowns.
Intimacy is a critical component of any healthy relationship, including romantic relationships. While men may face unique challenges in navigating intimacy, they are equally capable of experiencing and fostering intimate connections. Here are some considerations for men and intimacy:
- Understand what intimacy means: Intimacy encompasses emotional, physical, and intellectual connections. It can include open communication, sharing thoughts and feelings, physical touch, and shared experiences.
- Recognize and address any personal barriers to intimacy: Men may have certain cultural or societal expectations or assumptions that impact their ability to connect intimately. Consider seeking therapy or counseling to address any personal barriers to intimacy.
- Communicate openly: Communication is critical to intimacy. Express your feelings, listen actively, and share your desires and boundaries with your partner.
- Embrace vulnerability: Vulnerability is a key component of intimacy. Being willing to be open and honest with your partner about your feelings and experiences can foster deeper connections.
- Focus on quality over quantity: Intimacy is not just about physical touch, but rather about fostering meaningful connections. Focus on creating quality experiences and moments with your partner, rather than just checking a box.
- Be present: In order to foster intimacy, it is essential to be present and attentive with your partner. Put away distractions and give your partner your undivided attention.
Remember, intimacy is a two-way street, and it requires effort from both partners to cultivate a deep and meaningful connection. By prioritizing communication, vulnerability, and presence, men can create more fulfilling and intimate relationships.
Difficulties for men:-
Men may abandon relationships and intimacy because they fear losing their sense of independence. True emotional closeness is about balancing the understanding of yourself while still being connected with another.
Men often confuse sex and intimacy. These are not the same thing. Sex without it can be very unrewarding, just as sex with it can be deeply passionate and fulfilling. It is also possible to experience intimacy without sex. Some men confuse intimacy with the ‘honeymoon’ stage of a sexual relationship. It is a hormonally driven, heightened sense of being in ‘love,’ often with a corresponding high sexual desire.
This stage lasts for the first 6-36 months of a relationship, and when/if it ends, a relationship may seem to lose some of its initial intensity. This does not mean that intimacy needs to be lost entirely. It signals the beginning of a new phase of the relationship, in which both partners need to invest the effort to maintain the emotional closeness that seemed to come so effortlessly early on.
Men may also experience difficulties achieving intimacy because of a lack of ‘emotional vocabulary.’ Men often feel less able to express their feelings than women and may feel uncomfortable discussing emotions. However, it is essential to remember it is a skill that can be learned.
Tips for developing intimacy:-
Recognizing it is a skill that takes practice. It is not always easy. It’s okay to be apprehensive about it, but don’t let that stop you from trying.
Achieving emotional closeness involves an emotional risk. If you open up to another, there is always the risk of being hurt if the other person does not react in an accepting way. However, trusting others with your feelings will often lead to them opening up to you. If you always wait for the other to open up first, you may never achieve closeness.
Even if the other person does not accept the thoughts and emotions you reveal, the relationship will often be better off for your honesty. Learning to manage the uncomfortable feelings you have when someone does not agree with you without resorting to attacking or withdrawing is a critical skill. You can ‘work’ on your intimacy whether you have a partner who wishes to or not. It is never too late to begin again.
When emotional distance has become a habit, relationship breakdown is increasingly likely. The risk to the relationship of not opening up is far greater than the risk of being honest. Challenge your limiting beliefs about masculinity, such as ‘men are always in control’ or ‘boys don’t cry.’ Seek an individual or relationship counselor if you need help developing intimacy.