“There are lots of intimacy issues in men today. Admitting to reality is a good thing for men even if it hurts, touches their egos, or demoralizes them. Intimacy problems are natural and there is nothing we can do about it,” a woman told me recently. Although she was right in her criticisms, she did not show much appreciation for how difficult the things she was suggesting are for men. For one thing, men have a great deal of difficulty talking about feelings. Intimacy’s definition for women is emotional intimacy; whereas intimacy’s definition for men is physical intimacy. Moreover, the fear of intimacy in men is closely related to their training, from childhood on, not to be vulnerable.
She did have some good points. I’m passing on her comments with my own comments in parentheses.
She goes on: There are many embarrassing intimacy issues that men should admit in front of their partners, and their partners should take the confessions with respect and understanding. Men admitting to their intimacy issues must not be a turn off for women, because it is a key for better understanding and building a better relationship.
(Growing up, men have been ridiculed when they have been emotionally vulnerable. If you betray the trust he shows in you by opening up, he won’t give you a second chance.)
Here are some issues, according to her, that men should admit to their partners, along with her advice on how you should treat these confessions:
1. Addiction to porn. We are in a modern world now. Everyone has computers with internet access to porn sites at home. Men have been visiting these sites since they were children. As a matter of fact, porn sites are their main source of ideas on how to please you. Women should not take this negatively. It helps people learn how to satisfy each other.
(Of course, romance novels would be better for learning what to SAY to a woman while making love, but men don’t read romance novels. Since men are so visual in their sexual response, pornographic images appeal to them. For relieving tension, pornography is quick and effective and available whenever he wants it. But it doesn’t fulfill his need for intimacy.)
2. Sex and intimacy insecurities. If your partner has his orgasm before you reach climax, or whatever the problem, then don’t berate him. If he sees that you are not satisfied with his performance, he feels that it is an threat to his manhood. Men should admit the problem and face their fears, and women should understand it as well, because it is natural. Help each other. Face and solve the problem rather than blaming.
(This is one of the intimacy issues that is very embarrassing for men. They are supposed to be able to satisfy women. It IS a central part of manhood. He desperately wants to satisfy you. Failure at anything is a kind of death to a man. Positive psychology has shown that the best approach is to say that the failure is of limited scope: this one thing didn’t work this one time. )
3. Men are clueless about how to please you. Most men do not admit this, but it is true. Porn videos are their primary source of information. Even experienced men with all their ex’s cannot even find the G-spot to begin with. The best solution to this problem is to do your part also. If you are enjoying what he is doing, say so! Or just give a good series of oohh’s and aaahh’s. Men love it, and it will be a win for both parties.
(Very true: Your man needs to please you, but may not know how to. He needs plenty of positive feedback on what he should do more of.)
4. A man feels rejected if you say “no.” Saying no does not necessarily mean that you do not love him. Men may take it the wrong way, but it happens to most men. He thinks like a paranoid. He may think that you like some other man more than him.
(Your “no” means more to a man than to you. Physical intimacy to a man is more than pleasure. Since men are trained not to be open about their emotions, they do not have emotional intimacy available. He needs you to be his sole source of intimacy.)
5. Men are afraid of losing control. During intimate sex, a man wants to show that he is the captain of the ship, controlling everything. He does not realize the pleasure possible if he lets the woman take charge some times. He feels it is an insult to his performance if he loses control.
(Men have difficulty letting their women be in charge at any time. Another exasperated woman said about asking her husband to help around the house, “I don’t want to dominate him. I just need help getting this job done.” Maybe he’s still fighting for his autonomy from the woman who dominated his childhood, his mother.)
My overall response to her points about intimacy issues in men is that they are true enough, and men would admit these things in a perfect world, but men have two major problems in doing so: First, men have been trained not to be vulnerable. If confronted, they will automatically become defensive. Second, men have great difficulty talking about emotions in particular as a result of lifelong training, and possibly as a result of natural selection. Men are much better at clear, unambiguous discussions of the physical world, not the unclear, ambiguous internal and social worlds. Men should confess to these intimacy issues, but they almost certainly will not, if confronted with the issues face on. He will need to feel secure with you to be able to talk about these and other intimacy issues.