That expression of intimacy-frustration has probably been the major theme of hundreds of articles on relationships and multiple movie and TV themes, and almost always the dilemma of the female partner.
But is it always that way?
It is true that the many men I’ve dealt with over the last four decades are often hopelessly lost when their women tell them that they just aren’t feeling emotionally close, especially when they feel fine with the level of intimacy they are experiencing. Yes, before sex, they tend to be a little more tuned in and afterwards, a little more tuned out, but parallel play is often more than sufficient for them to feel “connected.”
That’s because men most naturally connect to other men that way. Watching a game. Playing golf. Working on a project together. Seeing adventure film.
And, of course, the opposite is often true. Most women talk, and they mostly talk about relationships; with their lovers, with their partners, with their families, with their co-workers. Relationships are what matter the most and “connecting” relies on those automatic and genuine interests in the details of feelings and responses.
But it’s not that simple.
To “connect” in those female terms, is dependent on tracking.
That means they pay attention to what’s been going on the past, what is happening in the present, what might happen in the future, and all the ways those might intertwine. Most women do that effortlessly and love the details that go with the stories. Most men, to the contrary, relate to their intimate partners in the moment, and most often physically and directly. In fact, so much so, that the moment almost defines the past and future. If things are great in the present, haven’t they always been? And if they’re bad, oh well, the same is probably true.
But hold on. Maybe men do “track” but only in the subjects that are most important to them.
Research actually shows that men do talk a lot, but it’s not about things that women tend to. Battle, business, sports, finance, health, are not only favorite subjects but they are incredibly well-tracked. Many of my guy patients can tell me the history of war, the ups and downs of the stock market, which team won a major league game twenty years ago and who made the crucial play. Now, that’s tracking. But, if there is emotion or feelings going on about these things, it is more likely to be concealed unless there are mutual roars going on during the last quarter, or they’re mad at the same situation.
Why do they seem loathe to do that in relationships? Is keeping track of the emotional details of their partner’s lives so hard for them or are they just lazy? Or, perhaps, women are so devoted to keeping account of the details in their relationships that the guys don’t need to vote. That gives them a lot of freedom to be whoever they want to be in the moment but their blood pressure can go up ten points when their partners want to re-hash the past. What past?
So let’s get away from the male/female thing.
Let’s talk instead about yin and yang, soft/diffuse/indirect energy and hard/focus/goal-oriented enthusiasm. Let’s look at it as a kind of linear versus intuitive interests and natural talents. That way we can talk percentages, not gender-related automatics. All men and women are combinations and whichever society they grow up in tends to sway the expectations both genders have to follow. Yes, hormones play a big part, but not as much as people think they do. Since the history of time, romantic men have been both heroic and chivalrous, and desirable women both powerful and deliciously yielding. To link gender to one behavior or another is to limit what any unique couple ca, and want to, create.
What drives most male-energy people crazy is their counterparts’s lack of definitive explanations when they talk about diffuse behaviors.
Are hook-ups connections? Is lying under the stars dreaming of common dreams connecting? If you sympathize, are you not supposed to fix it? If you fix it, did you miss something?
“If he loved me, he’d know,”
“I’m crazy about her and I have no idea what she’s talking about.”
“I just want to be loved.”
“What the hell does that mean? I washed her car, did the dishes, brought her flowers, and told her she was beautiful, but she doesn’t feel loved.”
“Didn’t you notice that I was hurting?”
“Why didn’t you just tell me what you wanted? It’s a pain when you don’t and then hold me accountable when I mess up.”
If you’re having trouble feeling that your partner “gets” you, you’re not alone.
In my four decades of counseling couples, whichever gender is driven by male energy or female energy (and it isn’t always what you think), I watch so many of them struggle with how to feel seen, known, and cared for in a way that makes sense to themselves and to their partner. It is always wrong to assume or suppose that your partner needs and feels what you do at the same time or in the same way. You can learn what works if your communication is open and caring and if you are not rigidly wedded to staying the way you are.
A short word of advice. If you’re the female energy need-to-connect person, start off with your bottom line and let him/her ask for details.
Insisting on the back-story first will usually lose your audience or have that person make assumptions before enough knowledge is out. If you’re the male energy wanting-immediate-goal partner, be a little more patient to let emotions and feelings work their way to the surface. The gap never has to be that wide, unless you assume there is no other way.
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
Video: The “Erotic Telepathy” Technique To Make a Man Obsessed With You…
Amazing technique discovered by a 42 year old soccer mom creates astonishing intimacy with a man in seconds…
In order to be emotionally attractive to another person, you must first be emotionally secure.
This means you don’t have unfinished business in your past relationships, or if you do, you’ve recognized what that is and you’re working to correct it. You’ve properly grieved your past relationships, good and bad, and you’re not trying to use your relationship as a means to bypass unpleasant feelings. It also means that you know how to get your emotional needs met.
You have a few good trusted friends who support you and help you out when you need them. You know how to ask them to just listen while you vent or to get you back on track when you go sideways. And know that your partner is only part of your emotional life. You’re always going to need those friends because they know you, and you can’t only depend on one person to be your emotional support.
If you can create a good emotional connection with your friends, you’re probably well on your way to being able to do this in an intimate relationship.
But there are a few ways to do this more intentionally. Be up front with your partner about how having an emotional connection is important to you as part of the relationship you are creating together, and that you want to incorporate that into your conversations with each other.
If you can’t do this, you may need to work on your confidence in asking to get your needs met, or you may not be in a relationship that feels safe enough to ask. You may want to reassess your relationship or practice with a friend or professional (coach or therapist) asking uncomfortable questions.
Once you established wanting an emotional relationship, here are a few tips on good emotional communication:
1. Ask your partner how they feel, and truly listen to what they have to say without interruption or interpretation. See if you can relate or have felt similarly at times.
2. Allow equal time for communication; a relationship is about giving and taking, so make sure you are comfortable doing both.
3. Be responsive to what they are telling you and don’t shame them for how they are feeling or make them think they’ve said or felt the “wrong” way because it’s different than how you might feel in the same situation.
4. Don’t overwhelm another by asking them to reveal more than they are comfortable revealing. Take it slowly, you have plenty of time. This is a process, not a race.
5. Be truly honest about how you’re feeling. Tell the good and the bad and create a safe space for all emotional content.
6. Have fun! It’s not worth it if you aren’t enjoying yourself.
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.org
He Says “I Love You”… But does he really mean it?
This 7 question quiz tells you if your man truly loves you or if he is just using you…
I’m in my Tuesday morning cardio class. Hilarious thoughts spring to mind.
The shared misery of burpees takes me back to embarrassing 7th grade gym class moments or a random image of Will Farrell in a Little Debbie Costume or what my butt must look like as I lumber from squat to thrust.
I never share the humor. I want to, but I think, My classmates will not laugh. Silence will ensue. I will feel like an idiot.
This happens in love relationships.
We yearn to fling open the doors of our souls and let our partners know us completely. But we hesitate, analyze, stifle. Relational-Cultural Theory describes this process in detail. Everyone does it. We wish for deeper sharing but we keep our most interesting thoughts and feelings unspoken.
Even long-married couples hold back from each other. They fear rejection, hurting each other’s feelings, starting an argument, or just being wrong. I coach them to trust the material that bubbles up inside. Trust it and say it aloud.
I use these steps to support the courageous act of reconnection.
1. Allow yourself to notice how you feel. Write it down if it helps solidify the awareness in your mind/body.
2. Know that your partner wants deeper connection, more back and forth sharing, more of you. Know this. Even if he seems afraid of it.
3. Let out small bits at a time. One sentence, maybe two. Momentary thoughts, emotions, or ideas. Set them out like you would a welcome mat. Then let them be. Don’t look for a certain response. Just allow your partner time to assimilate.
4. Breathe. Wait. Listen.
5. If you do this repeatedly and get nothing back, invite him to share his response, but avoid pressuring him.
Remember, your partner aches for deeper sharing, even though he may act like he prefers the shallow end.
When you set out these bits of your inner life, you give him a gift and an invitation to wade out deeper with you. When he sets out his own bits, listen carefully. In this way, you nurture his thoughts and feelings and become more emotionally attractive to him.
Dr. Deborah Cox – www.deborahlcox.com
When you meet someone with whom you really want to establish a deep emotional connection, but don’t know how, you are in a bind. After all, you don’t want to lose him and don’t want to scare him away. How do you develop a strong emotional attraction with your man?
Understand, in order to make this happen, you don’t have to “sell” yourself. You just want to be sincere in how you approach this. What that means is — just be authentic.
How do you define authenticity? Here are a few examples:
You behave in a way that is true to yourself and your values.
You are comfortable in your own skin.
You are authentic, because you feel it.
You know who you are, what works and what doesn’t work for you.
You never fit into someone else’s image.
In other words, do not pretend to be someone other than who you are, just so he will like you. Do not use gimmicks to influence him, so you are accepted. And do not respond in ways that are uncomfortable or insincere, so you fit in.
Of course, avoid blaming, analyzing, dramatizing and assuming because these are the things that divide a couple and will push him away.
You just have to express your desire to really get to know him. Share your personal or intimate secrets, stating that you want him to do the same. Never be judgmental or offer an opinion, unless he wants one. Listen with understanding and caring and he will see how easy it is to talk with you, and want to do it more.
Without criticism or imposing guilt, be there for him — because you really do care. The more you show how well you listen and understand him, the more he will relax and be comfortable sharing his thoughts, feelings and concerns.
This bond is truly important in a healthy, trusting relationship. You want to trigger not only those physical feelings of attraction, but also those emotional feelings, making your relationship secure and successful.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Learn Why Men Pull Away
There is a deep-seated “Gap” in communication that very few women (or men) understand.
It’s the #1 reason why men pull away.
To be truly irresistible to a man, you MUST understand this gap, and the way feelings of love get confused and entangled in a man’s mind…
Generally speaking men and women tend to be wired a little differently when it comes to emotional expression.
I know it’s a stereotype, but as with most stereotypes there is usually some amount of truth to it. Women are generally more expressive of emotion and men tend to be more action oriented. This is a generality; both genders are capable of emotional and action oriented expression. It’s just a matter of degree.
I don’t think the expression of emotions is necessarily negative or even scary for most men.
In the same way that women expect certain traits from men (less emotion, higher sexual appetite, more solution vs. process focused), I think men understand that emotional expression is part of many women’s psychological make-up. If you want someone who is just like you, date your own gender.
What I do think is a problem is the expectation that by expressing your emotions will you be guaranteed a particular outcome.
Emotions are a huge part of what makes us who we are. They are the part that makes us unique. However, they aren’t necessarily logical or even reliable in terms of decision-making. While our emotions can inform our actions, it is ultimately the job of our rational brain to weigh all of the factors that will ultimately lead to a course of action.
Because men are generally solution focused, they may perceive that when you express an emotion, they’re supposed to do something about it. If you also have that expectation, it can be very problematic for a relationship. Both partner’s emotions and thinking should ideally be valued and considered in terms of mutual understanding and decision-making.
Expressing emotions as opposed to bottling them up is healthy for both men and women.
Our emotions don’t define us, but they are powerful informers and shouldn’t be ignored. Your emotions are your own subjective experience. The same is true for your partner. Because your emotions are neither right nor wrong, they shouldn’t be taken as an imperative by either of you. You are not bound by each other’s emotions, but if you ignore them you are missing out on important information about who each of you are.
Emotions enrich us but they are only a part of what ultimately informs a course of action.
I think when men understand that your emotions are just one part of you and that they don’t need to worry about doing something about them, they will feel less threatened and more interested. Hopefully that lowering of anxiety will allow both partners, regardless of gender, to be more open with each other.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com