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What does intimacy mean to a man

Intimacy usually denotes mutual vulnerabilityopenness, and sharing. It is often present in close, loving relationships such as marriages and friendships.


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Do most men actually struggle with intimacy—and why? Real has honed his distinct therapy method over the years—in part to help men meet the intimacy bar that he says modern women have rightly raised.

In the process of practicing RLT, Real has developed some paradigm-shifting theories on male privilege and the patriarchy, the different ways men and women are silenced in relationships, why men lie, where male anger comes from, and—most importantly—how we can all forge more honest, intimate, and satisfying relationships.

Read on for his way forward:. And for more from Real on how to not end up hating your partner…see here. How does the relational life therapy model differ from conventional therapy for men and couples? I began getting calls asking if there was someone in St. Louis, or San Francisco, or wherever, doing the therapy work described in the book. Some of these calls were from men, but most were from their desperate partners.

I began inviting the couples with related intimacy struggles to Boston to me for an intensive relationship intervention: The couple and I would spend two full days face-to-face, at the end of which time we would all agree that they were either on track to changing their relationship, or calling a lawyer—this was it, the last stop.

I noticed two things about these interventions: Most of them worked remarkably well. I took sides, for example, often throwing my weight behind the woman.

For a time, I was ed by the great feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan and her team of sociologists, anthropologists, and educators, who helped articulate how what I was doing—however unconventional—seemed to have such impact. RLT, or relational life therapy, was born.

Conventional therapy has done a great job of helping people grow by coming up from the one-down position of shame. In therapy with men, I believe giving equal attention to both shame and grandiosity is critical. In RLT, we use the crucible of the couple to bring about deep change in each individual, with an emphasis on doing trauma and early childhood work in the presence of the partner. The therapist is an explicit guide and mentor, teaching both men and women a set of practical relationship skills.

Equally important is being able to serve more like twelve-step sponsors than like traditional therapists, basing our authority on our own relational recovery. Perhaps most important, we tell our clients the truth in ways most therapists are taught to hold back. How about you let me help you with it?

And we empower the disempowered partner to do the same—to stand up for themselves with love. The first thing to realize is that this question would never have been asked a generation or two ago. But nowadays, we want more—long walks on the beach holding hands; heart-to-heart talks; great sex into our sixties, seventies, and beyond. We want a lifelong lover romance. No one ever taught us how to sustain that energy with each other. Many men would like more sex in their relationships, sure, but more emotional intimacy? Are you kidding? The open secret in couples therapy is that, by and large, What does intimacy mean to a man is women who carry dissatisfaction with the status quo.

This is the elephant in the room: Most hetero men are not that unhappy in their marriages. The bottom line is that most women want more emotional intimacy from men than we traditionally raise boys and men to deliver. The essence of traditional masculinity is invulnerability. Our worries, sadness, imperfections, draw us close. Men have been sold a bill of goods.

No one wants a perfect man. Partners and kids want a real man with an open heart. I tell the guys I see that denying your human vulnerability is like trying to run away from your own rectum. It has a way of following you wherever you go. But everyone participates in patriarchal values.

Men and women, gays and heteros. No one gets through the cheese strainer untouched. But it can also play out between two men or two women, a parent andtwo cultures, two races. There are three major reasons why men lie. Men are taught that we are responsible for—and entitled to—run the universe.

What is the definition of intimacy?

Second, a man might lie to cover his butt, get away with something, or just get his own way. At its most extreme, it can be downright abusive.

Cheaters, addicts, abusers of all kinds—these men live a life that is all lie. The third kind of lying comes from the opposite extreme—men who are afraid of their partners, particularly hetero men with female partners. One of the great unspoken truths is how many men fear their spouses.

Of course, many women are no strangers to this kind of manipulation. The cure for this kind of lying is learning to be forthright with your partner. Tell your truth with diplomacy and skill, but nonetheless get it said. Have the courage to speak up for yourself rather than placate your partner and mutter through your teeth in anger. I call this radical truth-telling: fierce intimacy. The willingness to take one another on is an essential element in keeping a couple in good health.

The first casualty of not telling the truth is our passion. As resentment builds, desire and generosity start to go out the window. I think this is the root of the epidemic of sexlessness in long-term relationships. When we stop showing up in authentic ways for our partner, and for ourselves, we may avoid painful conflict, but we also grow numb and disillusioned.

Men and women are silenced for different reasons. Can you imagine a man like Clint Eastwood or Vin Diesel asking someone to comfort him because he feels insecure? All humans are. You also talk about male anger on a societal scale—how does that come into play in relationships and couples therapy? Anger is mostly a secondary emotion. Underneath it is often hurt or pain. For too many men, the only strong emotions they permit themselves are either anger or lust.

When feeling hurt, or insecure, many men may dip into feelings of shame or inadequacy. In therapy, I forcefully block such aggression, then help clients walk back their anger to the shame or pain underneath. This work requires the courage to allow yourself to be truly vulnerable.

And nothing more strong than true gentleness.

Men and intimacy

When I work with a raging man, I often teach him that much of male rage is helpless rage. Instead of redoubling your efforts at control or flying off the handle in revenge, take a few deep breaths and relax; let it go. We men are taught to live the opposite of that, not attending to what we can affect and getting into knockdown fights over the traffic. How might things be different if our culture were more driven by matriarchal values? But if you do look at the historical and anthropological literature, there is some evidence that women might do things differently.

After the ing, they marched to Jerusalem where their ranks swelled to 30, They call their movement Women Wage Peace. Living relationally, by contrast, means living ecologically.

Why men struggle with intimacy

Your relationship is your biosphere. Take good care of it for your own sake. I believe in enlightened self-interest. Sure, it might feel good to haul off and pollute your marriage with angry toxic words over there. Wake up! For all their much-noticed narcissism, millennial men are by far the most gender-progressive generation on the planet.

Young men expect a two-career family, expect t decision-making, and expect to help out around the house. Remember, these guys were raised by a generation of feminist mothers. I think the answer is tragically simple. Men in their sixties and beyond are stuck in the old patriarchal mode, and women in their sixties are having none of it.

Women have undergone a revolution. We men can scurry for cover or beat our chests and reassert the old ways, or we can rise to the challenge and meet these new demands for respect and emotional intimacy. As a family therapist, I believe that true intimacy and connection is our birthright. We need to create a relationship-cherishing culture around husbands, fathers, and sons. Places like ManKind Project offer men the opportunity to open up and care for other men. We have to bring our best selves, our emotional selves, back home to our partners and children.

I want women to stand up for and demand this new intimacy—with their partners, sons, even their d. And I want them to do so with love. A lot of women get themselves empowered and start sounding as aggressive as men have always sounded. I want women to work with men, to teach them, with humility, what works best for them.