Intimacy is often confused with sex. But just as people can be sexual without being intimate, intimacy can happen without a sexual component being present. Broadly speaking, intimacy means deeply knowing someone, while also feeling deeply known yourself.
It is something humans crave, and though at times, it may seem more difficult for men to express it, that doesn’t mean they don’t need or want it. Here’s an honest look at what intimacy means to a man and how they desire it.
Physicality Does Play a Big Role
Men are often more physical in their journey to intimacy than women. They are seen as being solely focused on physical intimacy, but this isn’t necessarily the case, it’s just one way they get there. Dame Barbara Cartland explained it best when she said, “Among men, sex sometimes results in intimacy; among women, intimacy sometimes results in sex.”
Women typically have higher levels of oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Men release this hormone at their highest level during sex, which leaves them at their most vulnerable and intimate. It’s easy to see how the physical aspect plays such a large role in being intimate for men.
Physical intimacy is just one of many forms of intimacy but it’s an important one for men. Physical doesn’t have to mean sex. Little touches while your partner is working or reading, rubbing their shoulders, and grazing the small of their back when you walk by let your partner know they’re on your mind and you appreciate their presence.
Men are physical creatures by nature, but it doesn’t always have to lead to sex. They like being noticed, just like women do and by incorporating touch into your expressions of affection, you can create intimacy in day-to-day activities.
Compliments are Intimate
Everyone enjoys feeling good about themselves, and men are no different. Though most men won’t tell you they need to hear these things, getting a boost of confidence from your partner is never a bad thing. Frequent reassurances about themselves, their career paths, and even sexual prowess are all great ways to boost self-confidence and harness intimacy in your relationship.
What intimacy means to a man can look as simple as a, “You sure look handsome this morning!”. Praising your man doesn’t lead to cockiness, it makes them feel loved and confident. Compliments don’t have to center on appearance or prowess. For example, if you’re parents, telling your partner how much you appreciate the way they interact with your children means a lot.
It’s the little things that make your partner smile that bring intimacy to the moment. Think positive and know that the more you compliment your partner, the more positive return you’ll see in your relationship.
Emotional Intimacy Matters
From a very young age, culturally men are often taught not to show weakness. That’s why it’s vital to let your partner know they can be vulnerable with you without repercussions. When we look at what intimacy means to a man, we can’t discount emotional intimacy.
When a man feels comfortable opening up to his partner, he’s showing a vulnerable side he could have been taught to hide. His partner is his safe space, his place where he can be his true self, no matter what. It takes time and trust, but once it’s there, this is one of the most intimate and valued feelings a man can be share with his partner.
Space Creates Intimacy
Most men need space to breathe. One of the biggest challenges in relationships between men and women is the need for space. On average, the female partner wants more time spent together, whereas the male partner wants more time apart. This doesn’t speak to anything wrong in the relationship, it’s a matter of finding a balance of closeness and separateness.
Suffocating a man is one of the fastest ways to kill off intimacy and even the relationship. Throughout history, whenever a problem needs solving, traditionally women would go further into the tribe to find answers, whereas men would go off on their own. Not much has necessarily changed in regard to this.
Giving your partner space to roam and figure things out on his own when he needs to actually creates the space he needs to build intimacy. As relationship coach Jordan Gray says, it lets him know that you trust him to make his own decisions and the strength of your bond. Giving him space says to him that you know he’ll make good choices on his own.
What Intimacy Means to a Man
When a relationship has the intimacy it needs, both parties feel safe and secure. Men especially know they can be vulnerable and open with their partner, express their emotions without fear, engage in physical and emotional intimacy, and be assured their need for space will be respected.
No matter whether you’re male or female, trust and respect are key pillars in any relationship and the best way to get them is to give them. Openly communicating with your partner about what you need and want will help you get there, one step at a time.