It's a lot more simple than you'd think.
By Sean Swaby
What do men need in a loving relationship?
The short answer to this question may surprise you. Men need a great deal from a relationship. We are not as simple as we may seem. Men have incredibly deep emotional needs. We experience emotions and heal differently than women do. For a deeper exploration of this, you can read Why is Emotional Healing So Much More Difficult For Men?
Men do better in a relationship than we do when we are on our own.
We may seem that we could be fine on our own, but we prefer to be together with someone else. We love being loved even though the experience of being loved may scare the hell out of us. The fact that men have improved health in a relationship isn’t really on our minds. Nor is the fact that we will live longer when we are with someone. And no, it isn’t really about the sex.
Men crave love and we do better when we are both in love and being loved.
It is true that men can feel terrified about intimacy, but despite this, more men will seek out the experience of an intimate relationship than will decide to go it alone.
For many man, being in love is a little like living inside of a haunted house. The ghosts have been chased out and the house is no longer haunted, but it still contains rooms full of mystery. We know that we have skeletons lurking somewhere in the home, but it’s not really about that anymore. It’s just that love lets us make it a home again.
For many men, we need relationships because we know that love can warm you up and make you more than you could be on your own.
Sex: Men crave sex not only for the physical act, but for what it makes us feel. Sex meets many of our needs that we may have difficulty articulating. It is not just about the pleasure.
Affection: Men need to be loved. Being in a relationship is about feeling cared for and men, no matter how hard or distant we may seem, we need to be cared for. We may experience difficulty letting our guard down, but that does not minimize our need for love.
To be seen: In the movie Avatar, community members greeted one another by saying “I see you.” It is an acknowledgement of who a person is, seeing them and knowing them. Men want their partners to “see” them. Not simply seeing their flaws and how they can disappoint. But being known and loved for who they are, in spite of their flaws.
Respect: Men crave respect from our most intimate relationships. Many times men can feel insecure and a close and loving relationship can be both reassuring and healing. Healthy relationships can change you and men are willing to take this journey, even when it can be scary.
Men need a close relationship so they can learn more about who they are. This isn’t selfishness, it is about discovery. Men learn early on that how we define ourselves is through our work, but that only takes you so far. Men want something different and deeper.
We become more of who we are meant to be when we are with someone that we love.
Having a close relationship provides men with a secure place to experience more of what life may throw at us. Men can be intimidated by a woman’s ability to navigate the challenges of close relationships and the emotions that often cloud them. It’s not that men cannot do it, it’s just that often we are not socialized to do it.
It is in a relationship that we not only discover the mysteries of our partner, but also the mysteries of ourselves.
I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.