Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Why men fear intimacy

Why men fear intimacy

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Monday, October 25, 2004 10:59 PM

Part 1 of 3 parts

Why is it so difficult for men to love a woman with a love that is true? I mean love that is deeply intimate and not just skin deep. Love that is sharing of the most intimate kind, a baring of the heart and soul, a meaningful opening up of the very personal.

Men don’t talk much about their feelings, especially those deep, inner feelings about very personal matters. Women are good at this and they expect their men to share with the same intensity as they do. Sadly, more often than not, they are disappointed. Intimate sharing is not the strong point of most men. In fact, it is where they are most lacking.

Is it because men don’t know how to be intimate? Or is it because they fear intimacy? I think it’s a little bit of both. First, they are not used to it. When boys get together, the last thing they want to talk about are matters of the heart. They would much rather get into sports, cars, music and yes, girls, but when they talk about females it’s more about sex than affairs of the heart. Girls, for the most part, are just the opposite. They would much rather talk about intimate matters.

And so, when boy meets girl, you can imagine how difficult it can be. She wants to talk about feelings, about the heart. He’s lost and cannot find the words to express what he feels because it’s not his thing. He isn’t used to it. She’s frustrated and so is he, both for different reasons.

I was reminded of this just a moment ago. My daughter was sharing with me what happened during a dinner date last night. Well, nothing happened. She told me how she did all the talking because the guy could only utter a word now and then. Now, she’s a good listener, but she had to carry the conversation (monologue) because the guy was completely out of it. “Never again,” she said to me, “that was the first and the last time.”

Men don’t like to talk about personal matters because of fear. Fear of what? Fear of losing their independence in a close relationship. Knowledge is power, and he who opens up in a relationship makes himself vulnerable. And men don’t like to be exposed and vulnerable. This is also why they have to be dragged into counseling. They fear that being open will weaken them.

Rollo May says “it’s the fear of being totally absorbed by the other, the fear of losing one’s self and one’s autonomy.” Otto Rank, a psychologist, called it “death fear.”

When men fall in love, they fear losing control. One man, a relative of mine, said it well. “I don’t want to have to ask permission or consult with a woman when I want to get up and go somewhere or do something.” He is still single today.Some men get turned off completely when a woman probes too intensely. When a guy called my daughter a few years ago and wanted to court her, she started asking him a lot of personal questions that made him feel very uneasy. Finally, he asked her, “Are you cross-examining me?” He stopped calling.

More tomorrow.


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