What is intimacy to a man? The first word that perhaps pops to mind is sex. However, men and intimacy stretch far beyond the realm of just touch and physical closeness. Intimacy can be frozen in many kinds of moments – a long conversation, care and smaller gestures. Intimacy runs as deep as your veins do and its culmination is not always sexual climax.
At times, men might find it difficult to express themselves. That does not mean they do not want or crave intimacy. The concept of men and intimacy is a subtle notion that requires deeper exploration. Once you understand their psyches better, you may perhaps find an answer to ‘what is intimacy to a man?’. If I had to respond to this question, I would say many unexpected things account for intimacy and there arises a sense of joy in discovering and exploring what they are.
To understand men and intimacy better, we spoke to consultant psychiatrist Dr Vishal Gor (Diploma in Psychiatric Medicine) who specializes in resolving fertility issues and sexual problems.
What Intimacy Means To A Man – Expert View
Vishal says that intimacy has an expansive definition. It includes stimulation in different ways and not just sexually. The expression of intimacy is often lost on men and thus, they may come across as walled off. “Intimacy for a man means deeply knowing and caring for someone. A man craves it and is often unable to express it. The sexual component is not mandatory for intimacy,” he says.
Men and intimacy is a topic that is not explored enough. Being emotionally intimate is often considered a non-masculine thing. However, does it mean that one cannot explain emotional intimacy to a man? That is certainly not the case. Note that not every man is similar. They all come with their own emotional entanglements and needs for security. So, let us explore what intimacy could mean to a man.
1. Emotional intimacy to a man matters
It is often assumed that men do not wear their hearts on their sleeves. In most cultures, they are taught to adhere to a very tough, strict definition of sexuality and gender roles. Their upbringing and social conditioning often renders them unable to express their emotions. If your man finds himself at a loss for words in difficult situations, now you know why. He feels all of it inside, however, is unable to express his emotions outwardly.
But as men grow up, they seek support and comfort with their lovers. Emotional intimacy to a man matters quite a bit since it allows a man to open up and be vulnerable, to pour out the emotions they may have suppressed over the years. However, since they have been buried under the debris of the past, it is possible that you may take some time to explain emotional intimacy to a man. For that to happen, you must be on the same wavelength with your partner.
“Emotional intimacy is highly important for men as no relationship can survive for long without it,” says Vishal, “Men desire to be cared for by their partner. A lack of emotional intimacy is most likely to affect physical intimacy as well. They are very much linked as emotional intimacy serves a fulfilling purpose.”
2. Men find compliments to be intimate
Everybody loves a good compliment. Men are no different. Most men will not tell you that they would love to hear compliments from you. However, the truth is, they secretly yearn for it. So yes, compliments can make your boyfriend happy. The validation instantly ups their confidence and helps them sail through the day with a spring in their step.
Julia, a software consultant, explains how she is generous with her compliments to maintain the emotional intimacy in her marriage. Her husband James, a sports coach, is a shy man. “He takes his time to be comfortable. For the last few years, I have tricked him into being comfortable around me by complimenting him. Sometimes, it is a saucy “hey handsome!” or a simple “your aftershave smells nice”. He blushes, it is so sweet. He feels good and I can feel it too,” she says.
Men and intimacy are a little like that – a little frigid and in need of a slight heating up. Compliments can be the light that warms them up and brings out their need for intimacy. So, what is intimacy to man? The answer lies in a compliment that can make them feel loved, appreciated and validated.
Related Reading: 8 Types Of Intimacy In A Relationship
3. Creating space is intimate for men
What is intimacy to a man? Space. Most relationships fumble due to a lack of balance between togetherness and independence. Many couples in their initial days are glued together. Then they crave space, which one partner may not be willing to give due to fear of being abandoned. Men often crave space. A woman may find this need to be unreasonable. But for men and intimacy to come together, women need to understand their partner’s desire for independence.
Space is a major factor in the male intimacy cycle when falling in love. They believe personal space holds a relationship together. Men love to spend time apart to process the romance and to rejuvenate, so that they can return recharged with love. Most men also like to find solutions to impending problems on their own. Thus, space and independence in a relationship become all the more important. Giving your partner this space could be an intimate gesture. It could also help build emotional intimacy in marriage. When a man sees that you understand him well, it will draw both of you closer. After all, love is not just about being together all the time, right?
4. Men find intimacy in conversations
Sharing feelings and deep secrets are top intimacy proponents, according to Vishal. When asked what is intimacy to a man, he says that personal elements often go a long way in strengthening the foundation of the relationship. “It is about going on a date, dancing together, starting new things together, sharing deep secrets and feelings, going on a tour or taking up trekking, giving gifts to each other, etc,” he says, “These things make the very fabric of the bond you share. You must be able to communicate without hurdles.”
Conversations can determine how emotional intimacy in marriage or a relationship develops. Some men remain walled off or lack the vocabulary to articulate their emotions into sentences. This does not mean that they do not have a lot to say. A partner who can coax these words out of the man stands a good chance to strike an intimate connection with him.
Conversations can unravel the many mysteries of men and intimacy. You could draw them closer by engaging in talks and letting them know that it is a safe space for them to be vulnerable. There is nothing more personal or intimate than knowing each other’s emotional fibers. A man may appreciate you for being receptive to their thoughts. However, make sure that you do not use this space to manipulate their feelings. A safe space should remain safe without turning into a tool to gain leverage in a relationship.
Related Reading: 100 Deep Conversation Topics: Questions About Love And Life
5. Physicality plays a big role
The importance of physical intimacy for men cannot be downplayed. Yes, emotional intimacy could mean a lot to the man, as we have concluded. But physical expression is of equal importance. Men understand that intimacy is important in a marriage of a relationship. For men, sex could result in intimacy. It is usually the opposite with women, where intimacy may lead to sex.
When it comes to men and intimacy, the physical aspect plays an important role here. Men release oxytocin – the happy hormone – in large quantities during sex. It makes them most vulnerable and intimate. However, sex is not all there is to physical intimacy. So, what may physical intimacy mean to a man?
“Physical intimacy is not just about sex. Even a simple touch can count as physical intimacy. Hugging your partner, holding hands together, kissing, cuddling are examples of physical intimacy without sex,” shares Vishal, adding, “It is about little touches, rubbing their shoulders and grazing the back of the neck,” adds Vishal.
6. Having a love language is intimate
Sometimes love gets lost in communication. But if observed closely, couples often resort to personalized affirmations of love to express their feelings. It might be their own special love language. Love languages exist in all couple dynamics. There are at least five types of love languages. You just need to figure out what works for you.
Something so personal and unique like the love language feels intimate to men. It is a secret so well kept that the idea of it could entice men. It makes them confident that they share something deep and personal with you. Establishing a love language is that step of the male intimacy cycle when falling in love that assures a sense of solidness in the relationship.
That answer to “what is intimacy to a man?” is perhaps simpler than it’s thought to be. Its answer lies in balancing the response to two fundamental questions that form the crux of the matter – what does physical intimacy mean to a man and what does emotional intimacy mean to a man.
You could do something physical together – like going on a hike or playing a sport. You could also try an activity that neither of you has done before. The outcome will be enthusiastic. Don’t overthink it, just get your head in the game.
Ask your man open-ended questions in a conversation. Be open-minded when he answers. Be present in the moment and actively engage with him. Men like attention and they like being heard. Let them know that they can be vulnerable with you.