The biggest secret about why men find vulnerability attractive in the bedroom is, guess what, they need women to inspire them to show their deeper feelings so they can feel safer with them.
But it’s hard for men to be emotionally vulnerable even though, deep down, they wish to be. Most men grow up believing that women expect them to:
• Always show emotional control
• View work as a top priority
• Place a high value on the pursuit of status, and
• Applaud violence, i.e., contact sports.
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Sometimes my wife teases me by telling me I’m so gender sensitive. Once she even called me a metro-sexual, I suspect to get a rise out of me. Well, it worked. I pulled the darling woman into my arms and reminded her that I’m an ex-paratrooper who rides a motorcycle, in addition to being a good couple’s shrink. The point is that underneath her teasing, I sensed she really wanted me to remind her that she married a guy who’s stronger than any of her ex-boyfriends.
And it’s a myth to believe it’s any easier for my wife, not when she’s constantly being reminded that she should:
• Always act nice and be graceful
• Stay as thin and hot as a twenty year old, even though she’s in her early forties.
• Be modest, and
• Use all available cosmetic aids to enhance her appearance (but thank heaven she’s avoided Botox!).
The greatest opportunity for men and women to express their vulnerabilities is when they’re making love. But the bedroom is often a place where they hide their true feelings, like in the following scene from HBO’s Girls.
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Hannah in bed with Adam makes a half-hearted effort to make a deeper emotional connection with him but lapses into role playing his sexual fantasy. “I knew when I found you on the street you wanted it this way,” Adam tells her. “But we didn’t meet on the street,” she answers laughing. “We met at a party.” But as Adam thrusts into her she whispers, “Ah, ah…my god, on the street. Yeah, the street.”
What would have happened if Adam had shared the deeper feelings that drove his control fantasy? And it may have gone differently if Hannah had told Adam what she was really feeling instead of zoning out. If one had taken the lead by showing real feelings, the other may have been inspired to follow. This is what therapists call modeling behavior.