Men, women, intimacy
Men, women, intimacy

Men, women, intimacy; Most couples strive to have more intimacy in their relationship. Does intimacy mean different things to men than to women? The short answer is yes, often. The long answer is complex, and forces me to generalize in spite of the fact that individuals vary and gender stereotypes are reversed at times.

In our culture, families rarely model or teach emotional intimacy. It is usually assumed that individuals develop the ability to have significant relationships as they mature. Sometimes this is true, but often it is not. So as we negotiate our way through successful and failed relationships, we develop beliefs about intimacy.

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Women are often relationship-centered, and frequently verbal communicators. I find that my female clients often assume their male partners should be the same, and come away frustrated and feeling rejected when this is not true. Men are often performance-centered, and less verbal in their communication.  A woman’s definition of intimacy is often about being loved, and feeling safe. Once a man realizes the definition goes beyond sexual intimacy, he often defines it in terms of trust and respect.

A common mistake I see in couples is that each person assumes the other should have the same definition. Women cry when they feel unloved, men become angry when they do not feel respected. This sabotages intimacy. The healthy balance is to learn to embrace the definition of each other.

So women who would like richer intimacy in the relationship should learn how to make their man feel respected. A woman who feels loved and safe draws near to her man, a man who feels respected and admired draws near to his woman.

A man experiences intimacy with his partner when she desires him physically, expresses admiration, affirms who he is and is generous with praise about his trustworthiness.

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