The One Thing Husbands Love More Than Sex and Why They Can’t Tell You

One Thing Men Love More Sex Photo

Steve Horsmon shares the most common craving heard from husbands around the world…and what they are getting instead.

 

Women’s jaws would drop if they could listen in on my conversations with married men.

Our discussions contradict just about every misconception wives utter about their husbands.

Husbands don’t want to hurt. They don’t want to argue. They don’t want to control.

And they definitely don’t “just want sex”.

These guys are desperate for her to know the truth. And they shed tears at the thought that their wife may never WANT to know the truth.

♦◊♦

The Power in Her Pinky

The truth for these men lies in the end of her pinky finger.

In that finger is packed an unspeakable power many wives choose to ignore or have yet to discover.

When a woman calmly grazes the end of her pinky finger across any exposed skin on a man’s body and offers a verbal or non-verbal vote of confidence or support, his world changes at that instant.

It’s so simple and so tender that men are afraid to even ask for it. We barely talk about it with each other! We don’t want to appear soft. We don’t want to risk a woman’s reaction to our weakness.

What is it?

It is the power of a delicate, skin-to-skin touch of feminine acceptance and approval.

When a woman calmly grazes the end of her pinky finger across any part of a man’s body and offers a verbal or non-verbal vote of confidence or support, his world changes at that instant.

It is so powerful we are often left speechless. Our throats and tear ducts begin to swell and we quietly indulge in the comforting reassurance of the moment. If we could package the word “love”, it would feel like this when the bottle was opened.

Our “well-being meter” pegs out and our heart rate and breathing slows.

Every husband I know is dying to feel this. Simple, easy-peasy feminine acceptance and approval.

Nothing else.  Just…this.

 ♦◊♦

A World of Men Speak About Pinky Power

These are real examples of how men across the globe describe it. In every case I can hear their clenched voice of vulnerability trying to sound “strong” as they speak. Just for fun, try to imagine their accents as you read these.

Oklahoma

“She reached over during the movie and put her hand on my knee and looked at me and smiled and said ‘I’m happy you brought us here, thank you.’ ”

Alberta

“She slapped me on the butt and giggled and called me ‘stud’ “

UK

“She scratched the top of my head for about two minutes and didn’t say anything. It was awesome.”

Turkey

“She touched my elbow and whispered, ‘You’re such a good father and a sweet man, I love that about you.’ “

Jordan

“When I told her about my idea for a better vacation spot she grabbed my arm and said, ‘I f#cking love you!’ “

New Zealand

“She just reached across the car seat and scratched the back of my head softly as I drove. It’s intoxicating.”

Colorado

“She spooned her cold butt into me and said, ‘Oh baby you’re always so warm’ “  (okay, that one was mine)

 ♦◊♦

Why Men Can’t Tell Women about Pinky Power

It’s simple. We think women will think it’s silly.

It’s not “manly”. Too vulnerable.

The most common reason husbands feel like they can’t talk about it is because their wives have already proven they aren’t interested or can’t handle it.

Women might laugh at the notion that their words and touch could cause a lump in our throats. Even if we try to explain it, they might just roll their eyes along with a big “puh-lease!”

The most common reason husbands feel like they can’t talk about it is because their wives have already proven they aren’t interested or can’t handle it.

In her brilliant article, “I Am the Patriarchy”, Jonalyn Grace Fincher listed 17 shining examples of how women refuse to let men be vulnerable. The article continued the discussion Brene Brown started in her book, Daring Greatly, where she addresses male vulnerability.

“We ask men to be vulnerable, we beg them to let us in, and we plead with them to tell us when they’re afraid, but the truth is that most women can’t stomach it. In these moments when real vulnerability happens in men, most of us recoil with fear and that fear manifests as everything from disappointment to disgust. And men are very smart” (Brene Brown, Daring Greatly).

What most women don’t know is that just reading this list can make a grown man cry. These things happen on a daily basis for many husbands who don’t dare discuss them. Here is Jonalyn’s starter-kit list for women.

Believing my husband is substandard when I have to do manual labor due to his  absence/illness/unavailability. e.g. snow shoveling.

Avoiding eye contact when he admits feeling overwhelmed.

Taking over when he seems to fumble.

Assuming his emotional absence (shut down) is normal and natural for men and refusing to pursue his feelings.

Showing embarrassment when he’s afraid.

Expecting him to shoulder the hardest work (emotionally, physically, intellectually, spiritually) without complaint.

Never asking him what he’s afraid of.

Refusing to offer him the understanding and sympathy I offer my girlfriends when he’s overwhelmed.

Expecting him to tolerate more criticism than a woman.

Growing quickly impatient when he doesn’t demonstrate mastery over a project: from booking social events, to filing our taxes, to fixing the kitchen sink.

Becoming business-like and cold when he asks for help.

Knowing our girlfriend’s needs and wants more than we know our own husband’s.

Hiding his mistakes from our kids, as if they (like me) cannot handle him being vulnerable.

Expecting him to have more strength than I do.

Expecting him to shoulder more grunt-work.

Expecting him to “man-up” (whatever that means) when I want him to do something unpleasant.

Expecting him (when you’re both equally fire-arm trained) to inspect every scary sound in the house and calling him names (even in your head) when he shows hesitation.

♦◊♦

What to do With This Information

For the Women:  You have more personal influence and power in your relationship than you know. Your ability to inspire feelings of confidence and well-being in your man is available to you at all times – every minute of every day. What might you stop doing today and start doing tomorrow that could change his world in an instant? You have this secret power – why wouldn’t you use it?

For the Men:  Admit it. You want pinky power. You love pinky power. Her touch of approval and acceptance is a gift you want more than sex. If we’re honest, those are the feelings we seek through sex, aren’t they? Don’t be ashamed of your needs and vulnerability. Stand proud in your manly desire for her pinky power. Explain it without apology or fear. Find out what HER version of pinky power is from you. Then apply generously.

I wrote a special report for men in a struggling marriage.  Download your free copy of “The Hard to Swallow Truth About Saving Your Marriage” by clicking HERE.

Photo Giovanni Coppini/Flickr

About Steve Horsmon

Steve Horsmon is a Certified Professional Life Coach and owner of Goodguys2Greatmen Relationship Coaching in Livermore, Colorado. He has appeared on local television, blog radio, telesummits, and podcasts all related to maintaining healthy relationships. Steve provides intensely personal, action oriented coaching services for men. He provides 1-on-1 coaching, private retreats and workshops designed to give men new knowledge, skills and mindset to achieve their relationship goals. He is a committed, lifelong mentor who teaches his clients to discover their masculine power, take bold action and create the life they want. He has written articles and guest blogs for numerous relationship and expert websites including his own blog. You can connect with him via  Facebook too.
and on his YouTube channel via YouTube

Comments

  1. Wow. Yet again, another article that turns my stomach. What is wrong with these particular women??? (I am female + a feminist + humanist AND a menist).
    No wonder men slap/push my hand away or pull back when I have touched them like the abovementioned ‘pinky power’. I would too if the horrid retaliatory behaviour had been directed at me in the past.

    (yes I know some men treat women much worse, but this is a men’s support/growth site & I’m staying on topic)

  2. All I have to say is, YEP!

    That touch, that moment of affection, those encouraging words… That is the most important thing I can get from my wife. And the sex stuff that follows is pretty awesome too. But it’s all about feeling that specialness from her. And so often it is so simple to convey. We do need to learn how to say this.

  3. Vulnerability ** (not culnerability)

  4. I feel like this is so important. The culnerability on both ends is so important. Sometimes it feels bashful or gushy to share but I basically can’t keep that stuff inside. I am wondering though if I am doing it wrong or if I need to work on noticing specific things because a lot of the time I feel like my husband makes jokes off of it and deflects words of care and compliments. It’s as though words of frustration are an opportunity for debate or quickly turn into who hurts who more or first, but words of affirmation, how sexy he is (I married the sexiest man), letting him know how awesome it is when I interpret something he does as thoughtful and helpful, complimenting his gifts and sacrifice etc. all of those things I think I love doing and they are met with jokes, shrugs, or grunts increasing a feel of distance. I am trying to think if I am overdoing it or if I have some bad motive but I don’t think it’s the case. I’ve talked to him about it, but it doesn’t really change. I’m not looking for a verbal response per se… I just feel it’d be awesome to get the sense that it’s connecting us deeper rather than pushing us apart.

    • Hi J2S,
      Being able to receive love and appreciation from others is not easy for some people. And some men are afraid to show the same level of vulnerability in return. Love him openly and without apology. I bet he feels the connection deeper than you think. Allow him time and space to give you love back in his own way.

  5. Is this generally applicable to Asian marriages as well? I’m from an Asian (Chinese) household. From my observation of chinese couples, there seems to be less emotional involvement as compared to Western marriages. I do believe there are many other differences in the dynamics of the two. Would be great to get a perspective on how this applies to Asian marriages.

    • Hi Shane,

      No, not Asian households. Just North, Central and South American ones. ;^)

      Sorry, just kidding.

      Do YOU believe in pinky power? Do you want it? Does the article FEEL true to you?

      If so, I’d say it applies to you personally. Don’t be afraid to say so to everyone you meet.

      Whether or not your wife sees herself in the article is a different subject.

  6. Steve, I loved this article. Thank you for writing a really great article that helps us ladies understand our men better and speaking to us respectfully as you conveyed your message. I’m saving this article so I can reference it again and again.

  7. @ Tan

    He loves you because he feels you love and desire for him. Men need to feel loved and desired too. You make him feel alive.

    I am sure you make passionate love to him. He also reciprocates. He looks forward to seeing you, the smile on your face, your touch, your feel, your scent. All of these things we men love from our women.

    Yes, because of these little acts of caring, his love for you will grow.

    Unfortunately, today in America fewer and fewer women want to do hardly anything for their men. But, they expect men to do so much for them.

    • Jules you are right: “Unfortunately, today in America fewer and fewer women want to do hardly anything for their men. But, they expect men to do so much for them.” But a part of the problem is that those same women are deeply hurt by those same men, and feel too tired or hurt at the denial of their own vulnerability to work at honoring their partners. It’s not right, it is just a vicious cycle in a lot of these relationships in my experience.

  8. wow maybe that’s true… My boyfriend were looks so happy (dunno to explain situation he makes his expression like a kiddo getting new toys) everytime I scratch his head or touch his cheeks softly when he drive me home… He always said that he is soooooo happy to be my boyfriend. I did realize that give him little act of caring bring him to love me more 😀 #lol
    anyway i love your every single posts , thank you for sharing 🙂

  9. Expectations. Nearly every one of them in the list of how to completely shut him down – is your expectations. The deal with vulnerability in men, and especially in me, is we can’t handle your expectations of us much less most of our own of ourselves. The widely cited quote from Edison – you know… it wasn’t 10,000 failures… we feel like that. A LOT of the time. But you sure as fuck won’t catch us ever telling you that, and the smart ones make sure to not even show you that. That invariably ends up with a relationship with two people who can be no farther apart as a sheet of paper and yet still feel isolated and completely alone. Vulnerability in men is when we open up to you with our failures.

    In the cerebral autopsy I did on my failed marriage, I noted one strong conclusion about opening up to someone else – that by and large those of us who are pleasers will sacrifice something we value, including of ourselves, if need be when you ask us for help. However, when that very same altruistic attitude is not returned towards us – we sure as fuck notice when you don’t sacrifice something of value to you when we call upon help from you.

    Even so, that is a behavior you cannot control in someone else. What I did to change MYSELF was to no longer feel the need to be a pleaser; but instead a matcher. In doing so – it holds both people accountable for their actions in the context of being called upon to sacrifice for someone else.

  10. I was raised primarily by my mother. My father spent most of the time away from home working all day/night to support the family, so my world view was molded primarily by my mother since my father was gone most of the time. While this was completely fine for most aspects of my educaton, I see now that it was a problem for one specific area of my education: How to think about and relate to women. My early views on the roles of women in our society and the expectations of how I should treat women were almost exclusively informed by the female voices of my mother and school teachers. I feel that this was a very common occurrence for men who came of age post 1960 and it’s still happening today.

    As the wave of 1960 feminism grew and washed over society, its ripples propagated out further and further and impacted society at large. The ideas brought forth by feminist activists spread out from their traditional academic and activist epicenters towards the “common folk” in society. Now, even women who were not self described feminists (like my mother, and probably the mothers of most other men my age) found themselves both advocating for and benefiting from the changes for women in our society.

    There was (rightfully so) a shift in the way women were perceived in our society and old stereotypes were being cast aside, allowing women to have more individual freedom to choose their own destinies, especially so if they chose to venture outside the traditionally feminine roles they were limited to in the past. However, we seem to have collectively missed something in our efforts to empower women. In our eagerness to bring our ideas about the place of women our society into the 21st century, we failed to completely consider how these changes would affect the delicate balance between men and women in the ways they relate to each other sexually and in intimate relationships.

    Traditionally, men were taught and expected to be outgoing, forward, bold, aggressive, and assertive. These were considered very “masculine” traits that historically translated into successful behaviors in primitive cultures that depended quite a bit on the use of physical prowess to ensure both the safety of the individual man as well as that of the group/tribe/village. Because these masculine behaviors generally helped improve the odds that a man would have a longer life, he therefore had an increased likelihood of passing these traits on to later generations, these behaviors began to become concentrated in the collective gene pool.

    Fast forward hundreds/thousands of years and we are now presented with a situation where through either nature or nurture, women are instinctively most likely to respond sexually to men with these sorts of “manly” traits, but yet women in our society routinely train their male children to behave in a completely opposite manner, virtually guaranteeing that their sons will have difficulty finding a mate:

    “Be nice to women.”
    “Be attentive.”
    “Be gentle and caring.”
    “Treat her like a queen.”
    “Worship her like a goddess.”
    “Be vulnerable.”

    None of these traits will get you past the initial phases of the mate selection process with most of the women on this planet. The odds are not in favor of a man who behaves this way up front.

    Any single man with any decent level of success with attracting women will tell you that these are absolutely the WORST types of behaviors to display to a woman if you are looking to establish an intimate/sexual relationship with her. And I’m not even talking about playboys, just regular guys who are actively dating alot of women in search of a long-term partner of some sort. Will some women respond favorably to these sorts of behaviors? Of course, but any man who tries to attract a woman in this way is betting against nature and statistics because, again, the vast majority of women in western society (and probably the world) will dismiss a man who behaves this way almost immediately. Women are not physically attracted to these sorts of traits. They generally don’t respond to this sort of behavior subconsciously because that’s not how the process of human attraction has evolved.

    And this problem doesn’t just haunt single men, this is a problem that married men are facing more and more every year. The rising number of women who report that they “just aren’t happy enough” to stay married and choose divorce is not just because of increased socioeconomic power. These women aren’t in dire situations, many of these women report that they just aren’t happy with their mates. “I can do better. I can find better. I deserve more.” These men aren’t beating their wives, aren’t cheating, and aren’t mentally or verbally abusing anyone. They’ve just found themselves in passion-less/sexless marriages because they’ve been taught to behave in a manner that pretty much guarantees that their wives will eventually lose both respect and sexual interest in them.

    Our society has set men up for failure in terms of long term relationships and we continue to do young men a disservice when we collectively encourage them to behave in ways that are not in their personal best interest, but continue to lead them astray because it “feels like the right thing”.

    I’m not saying feminism is bad (pitchforks down please), and I’m not saying that women need to stay in relationships that they aren’t happy with. But what I AM saying is that Brene Brown is absolutely, 100% right. On a daily and continual basis, many (most?) women in western society continue to advocate loudly for men to behave in a certain manner and then simultaneously punish them for displaying these behaviors by choosing to pair with men who do not exhibit these sorts of behaviors.

    Speaking from my personal experience, and conversations with men I know, things don’t have to be this difficult. For most men, the touch, smell, and taste of a women is almost literally physically intoxicating. All you need to do, ladies, is tell us what you want, or at the very least, stop actively sabotaging us and I assure you, we’ll catch on quickly.

    • You are so right, Colby. Women were/are raised being told that men will always protect them and create a safe environment to thrive. When a man who really understands what he needs, wants and desires in a woman opens up and gets really, truly vulnerable with her…if she doesn’t have her stuff together it will rock her world in such a way that she can lose respect, lose that safe feeling and bolt or hold it against him for scaring her to the core, sometimes without even really knowing why. Being raised in the 60’s also, I get this and I’ve done a lot of work to correct this mindset. Thankfully just in time to meet what is THE best and will hopefully be the last relationship I will enjoy in this lifetime. We (women) have got to be okay with taking on the responsibility that comes when a masculine energy trusts you enough to open up to you. We know how to do it as we do it with our children, our friends…yet with our man, boy it can be scary. It even triggered me back to the oh sh*t feeling, the first time he opened up. I was very thankful to be able to go back through the important parts about the man I wanted in my life and being open was one of them. So if I want that, I have to be responsible enough to be able to accept the responsibility that comes with that. I hope more women are reading this blog as it is great thought provoking information.
      Masculine vulnerability is the truest, most priceless gift a man can give his woman. I pray that more women see this and do the work to be able to receive it with arms wide open. It shows he loves you, trusts you and his ability to protect you is not diminished in any way…in fact, all three only get stronger.

    • Colby – In all honesty, your response made me feel like retreating into a cave, and I’m not even a man. There is a marked difference between your response, which turns women exclusively into the ‘bad guys’, and the article itself which manages to way more successfully address women without turning women into the bad guys. I give two big thumbs up to this article in helping women understand men better but I give you two big thumbs down for your blaming of women, your mom, your teachers and Feminism for all the ills you suffer as a man who wants to date ‘lots’ of women as a regular guy (by the way, regularly dating ‘lots’ of women is ‘playboy’ behavior.) You exclusively appear to blame women but don’t spend any time evaluating how your own father or your relationship with other men and what was equally culpable in your experiences with women or the way you see the world.

      But what is most disturbing to me is this comment from you:
      “Our society has set men up for failure in terms of long term relationships and we continue to do young men a disservice when we collectively encourage them to behave in ways that are not in their personal best interest, but continue to lead them astray because it “feels like the right thing”. “
      I actually find that when young men are encouraged to behave in ways that serve their personal best interest the most, is where you find a lot of young men taking advantage of and disrespecting the other people in their lives, especially women, using them more as sport, then human beings to respect and honor. And that is all any woman wants when she teaches a boy to “be nice to women” (God forbid) or “be attentive” or “be gentle and caring” – she wants her son to respect women. Despite your claims, women want to be honored and respected. We don’t want men who are selfishly interested in their best interests the most.

  11. Saw who authored this article and almost passed it by. Glad I didn’t as it was ‘Spot On’. Unfortunitaly the female responses jive with what Brene Brown writes. I’ve personally tried these things, the results were underwhelming to say the least, so back into the cave I go!

    • While I understand why you would want to go back into the ‘cave’, so to speak. Please understand that women are as imperfect as you are and that when learning new relationships tools or concepts there is a learning curve that takes some trail and error. Which means that if she is trying, even if she isn’t getting it 100% how you wish she got it, you should be trying too and not using your cave as a means to justify retreating. And just to reiterate, I totally get why you feel like going back into the cave. But if you hide in your cave just because she’s not a perfect woman herself, that’s not going to help either. The majority of women want better communication and healthier relationships even if we don’t always get it right. If you choose to see that side of women, just as you want women to choose to see other sides to you, then you got to be willing to come out of the cave and not use it as a barrier against her.

      • Erin,
        It’s not nearly about being perfect or getting it 100% right, every time, just right off the bat.
        It’s more about, if every time an issue comes up (look at the list in the article), it seems like everything you get in return just reiterates your itch to go into the cave. Then how do you know she’s even trying?

        And I’m not even sure most women want better communication either. I think most women, just like most men, just firmly believes that communication would be so much better IF their partner would just adapt to their own style of communication. And then act accordingly.
        I think that people who actually try to improve communication by first actively listening to their partner, and then try to adapt to that by processing what they learned, are few and far between. Of any gender.
        Which is just what I thought this article was about, coincidentally. Most of us can’t be bothered to listen, because we are far too busy talking.
        Case in point. I was raised to regard interrupting people (not just my parents or teachers, but pretty much everyone) as rude and disrespectful. Which has led to the following scenario with pretty much every woman I’ve been involved with:
        We meet at home after a day at work, we say hello and exchange a hug, whereafter she starts telling me literally everything about her day. I keep waiting for a break, to confirm that I’m listening or maybe get an opinion in there myself, but to no avail. Maybe 15-20 minutes later, she suddenly asks why I don’t say anything. To which I reply that I’ve simply been waiting for her to finish. But now I start to get hungry, impatient and cranky, so how about we continue our talk while we fix up something to eat.
        Well, she says that I should just adapt to her style, where she’s used to everyone talking at the same time.
        Then I ask what’s the point in both of us talking if noone’s listening to the other?
        Which leads her to storm off and park herself on the TV couch.
        Rinse and repeat…

        • While I understand the desire to retreat into a cave, it’s not going to help matters any more than she may be doing through her behavior. I’m not saying it’s wrong to retreat under the pressure of a relationship, but it’s not going to help either. Both people have a responsibility to make the relationship better. That’s all I’m really saying. It’s really difficult to talk with a man that you know is already closed off from any kind of conversation.

          If I was talking to someone for 15-20 minutes and they made no acknowledgment of the conversation even if they were quietly listening, I would wonder if they were listening at all. Most people like to have their thoughts and feelings acknowledged in some way. It’s as easy as nodding your head, looking at them directly and or saying things like “I see” or making sounds of listening and understanding. You site the way you were raised as why you communicate the way you do. And it’s great to have that knowledge of yourself but that doesn’t mean you can’t change the way you communicate. After all, this article is trying to get women to change the way they communicate at times right? The truth is that both people need to meet in the middle. And to be honest FlyingKal, if you said that to me, “what’s the point in both of us talking if none’s listening to each other?” I would probably be annoyed too and it would lead me to believe that you didn’t really care about what I had to say and I would probably walk away at that point too.

          • Hi Erin,
            Regarding your first paragraph: It has to be a work in progress. I don’t think there’s a lot of people out there who expect 100% perfection from the start, but both have to be able to learn and adjust from mistakes.

            And on the second part:
            I’ve been looking at people and nodding while they talk all my life.

            You say that it’s about change in communication styles, and that we should meet somewhere in the middle. And as a general rule I can certainly agree with that. But I have a few questions.
            – If, upon our first meeting at home every day, she talks literally non-stop for an extended period of time, where is her acknowledgement for my thoughts and feelings? Aren’t we better off in acknowledging and respecting each other’s thoughts and feelings by taking turns in letting the other speak and listening to each other?
            – Do we really become better listeners by interrupting each other, instead of, say, actively listening while allowing the other time to speak?
            – If she readily expects me to adapt to her conversation style, then where does that “middle ground” goes?
            – Since my day was most probably different than hers, how much attention do we really pay to what someone else is saying, if we are simultaneously busy talking about something else?
            “if you said that to me, “what’s the point in both of us talking if none’s listening to each other?” I would probably be annoyed too and it would lead me to believe that you didn’t really care about what I had to say”. Let’s put that quote back into context, shall we? You’ve had my full attention, just like you had yesterday, the day before that, and the day before that, etc ad nauseum, and you haven’t stopped for 5 seconds to ask how I am, how I feel, how my day has been, or what I would be interested in doing tonight. And you have the stomach to say straight to my face that I don’t care about YOU? Honestly?

            PS. The article is trying to get both men and women to change the way they communicate.

          • Hi again,
            In retrospect, I think the “Let’s put that qoute back into context, shall we?” part came off a fair bit more snarky than it was intended. I stand by my comment, but I apologize for the choise of words in that particular passage.
            /K

  12. It all boils down to honesty. Honesty about your needs, honesty to yourself and your partner. Weakness is not in the need, but in the denial of it.

  13. Right on Steve. It’s true that most men (and women) want sex with a willing, accepting, and passionate partner. But deeper and more long-lasting, and more devastating when it is absent, is the personal acceptance of who we are and the spontaneous appreciation of what we give and who we are.

  14. F*cking brilliant Steve!

  15. Last month I attended a birthday party and spotted a woman who I could tell from her body language was in the “mood to groove,” so I led her in some dance steps. At the end of the song she grabbed my arm and said, nearly in tears, because she saw that I knew how to dance with a partner, “You made my day!” She made mine with that response.

  16. Thanks, Steve. This is very helpful. Men will have to figure out how to tell us this. It seems to come more easily at the beginning of a “relationship” but then…..into the cave you go. Sometimes, maybe even often, we do misunderstand; trust me, it’s not intentional. However, the worst is the silence or violence extremes. No one knows what to do with that….and it screams at us that you’ve checked out. That’s when we check out because it’s received as if you don’t care to fix whatever the problem is. If you don’t know how to fix it…..you have to say so and be willing to seek assistance. That’s different from just shutting down and shutting us out or yelling/insulting…..either way>>>>>divorce court.

    • You have a point of course. It’s a two way street. I think Steve is trying to say here is that when women allow men to be vulnerable without judging, we won’t feel the need to go to our cave (I like how you put that, been there…). Then, when not in our cave, the positive spiral in the relationship allows men and women to meet those other’s needs in a non-judgemental, open and loving way. Including your pinky -)

      I’m not saying it’s all on the woman but in the context of this article and the ones cited here, this is what women can do to unleash the men they say they want. Both sexes win.

      • What does “allowing men to be vulnerable” look like to a man? I’m asking in earnest, because I believe women want to provide it, even if they don’t know how. Well, this one does. It’s the same for us, we were generally not taught this and have to come to this knowledge the trial and error way most times as well. I’ve done the “just let him talk” thing….then I get “are you there?”. My reply, “yes, just listening”, then he goes into the cave. I’ve let men cry without judging…..honestly it was a shock to the system at first, but I just let it happen…., I’ve done the “I’m not sure what you mean by …, please explain”….
        I guess, only time will tell….but Rome was not built in a day. We too need encouragement when we’re doing it right, and not being told that we’re just being manipulative to get to know your “weaknesses” so we can get what we want out of you, in a bad way. That gets old real quick!

        • Hi Her,

          I really appreciate your comments and honesty. Feels good to read them. I respect everything you have to say and feel your desire to be a better partner with a man…even as frustrating as we can be sometimes.

          Okay. I’m going to give an example and say something really risky that most men might never say to you. I’m going to be totally vulnerable here and tell you how I feel. My hope is that you will not defend yourself and can accept my input as valid because it’s how *I* feel. I want you to accept my fear of bringing this up to you and believe my good intentions. If you respond the “wrong” way to this, I will probably never be this open again.

          Here goes:

          I’ve noticed that in some of your insightful and thoughtful posts, you sometimes include negative and judgmental words/tone. I feel anger, disappointment, and frustration in parts of your comments and it makes me want to not respond. I get the sense you are a strong, wicked smart, unapologetically direct and a passionate person. But words and tone matter to a man struggling to be open and vulnerable. We will not enter a conversation where we think a woman (our romantic partner) will only get more passionate (judgmental) and direct (snarky) and strong (pushy). We appreciate a calmer conversation where it feels safe to give our view without contention.

          Examples:
          “…you have to say so and be willing to seek assistance. That’s different from just shutting down and shutting us out or yelling/insulting…either way>>>divorce court.
          (What to say instead: “I like it and feel more attracted to you when you communicate and ask for help.”)

          “That gets old real quick.”
          (What to say instead: “It makes me feel closer to you when you assume my intentions toward you are good, because they are.”)

          “Into the cave you go.”
          (What to say instead, “It makes me feel sad and ignored when you avoid me and isolate yourself. Sometimes I just want you to shut up and hold me. Will you try that next time?”

          From another post, “Somebody please unpack this statement for me if you can understand what this man is trying to convey.”
          (What to say instead: “I would like examples of what it means when I “let you feel vulnerable”. I want to understand and help you feel safer and more accepted.”

          Yes, men are MUCH more sensitive to words and tone than most women think. The examples in the article which apply to my point is when women, “Become business and cold when he asks for help.” and, “Assume his emotional absence/shut down is normal and natural.”

          Now, it’s quite possible my response here triggers someone. I might sound arrogant, weak, whiny, controlling, manipulative, etc. I’m open for feedback.

          • Thanks Steve. I do appreciate your comments. Please know however that I don’t actually “say” these things. Those are my online interpretation statements of the things I have experienced or know others who’ve experienced them. I think we all can confess that sometimes things don’t always come out of our mouths the way we want them to, or they way we think they do (as we try to construct them in our minds). I’m not absolving myself; I make concerted efforts to be careful when I speak to folks, whether it be an S.O., family, a friend, colleague, whomever, to not be condescending or spiteful. I have learned to incorporate many of the ideas behind your “try to say it this way instead” statements, and I know I’m a work in progress. It’s a give and take however, and anyone involved in a relationship must know that if your S.O. keeps coming back into the relationship, day after day, they are trying to improve, and you’ve gotta show that you’re trying to improve as well, in actions and in words….
            I think that’s where the frustration comes in, and for myself and most women I know trying to get this relationship thing moving in a mutually beneficial direction, it’s communication and presence (not just being there, but bringing your being there). For men, as it appears here on GMP and other online resources, it’s more heavy on the physical, less on the verbal. I get it, mostly, and try to incorporate that. We want what we want when we want it…that’s human nature. I feel like men don’t seem to understand how they press for the things they want, but feel offended when women press for the things they want in the same manner. It’s not “pleasant” to a man for a woman to “pressure” a man….for anything, apparently. But it’s ok, encouraged in fact, for men to be aggressive about the things they want, from the world, women, whomever. More men are coming to realize this imbalance, but…..well… suffice it to say, we still have a lot of work to do.
            You’re doing a great work in shining a light on these issues. Reading these and other blogs have given me new eyes in a lot of ways. I grew up without brothers, on a small farm……so, they have helped me immensely.
            Kinder and gentler, it has to go both ways.

            • Loved everything you shared. Yeah, when things go both way, it makes it all easier and worthwhile.

              Glad you mentioned presence. My article this coming Friday is about that!

              Happy holidays to you, Her.

            • @ Her,

              “I feel like men don’t seem to understand how they press for the things they want, but feel offended when women press for the things they want in the same manner.”

              I can truly empathize with you. I understand how you feel and how other women feel on this matter. You and other women have every right to feel this way. When I was married, I felt the exact same way on a daily basis. I felt hurt and rejected. It was not just about the lack of the physical. It was the lack of intimacy from the woman I loved. I gave all the time. But, I was shamed for wanting and thus never received. So, I know the feeling.

              I love your comment Her.

          • Hi Steve,
            Thanks for the elaborate article, and reply.

            Just wanted to add one thing:
            “Yes, men are MUCH more sensitive to words and tone than most women think. The examples in the article which apply to my point is when women, “Become business and cold when he asks for help.” and, “Assume his emotional absence/shut down is normal and natural.” “</i"

            Emotional absence/shutdown isn't normal or natural, but it becomes normal and natural quite easily as we learn (which most of us do, but not neccesarily with our current partner) that "there's noone ther" at the receiving end.

          • Hi Steve,
            Sorry for chopping up the brackets., I’ll try again.

            Thanks for the elaborate article, and reply.

            Just wanted to add one thing:
            “Yes, men are MUCH more sensitive to words and tone than most women think. The examples in the article which apply to my point is when women, “Become business and cold when he asks for help.” and, “Assume his emotional absence/shut down is normal and natural.” “

            Emotional absence/shutdown isn’t normal or natural, but it becomes normal and natural quite easily as we learn (which most of us do, but not neccesarily with our current partner) that “there’s noone ther” at the receiving end.

    • Too many men who open up with their feelings get seen as weaker, less attractive and I guess the men realize that they get less sex and intimacy from it so into the cave they go.

      If a man does open up and then his partner tells him to man up then it’s a sure way to close his emotions up for quite some time.

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