The Myth of What Men Want
It’s not just physical intimacy; men want emotional intimacy and connection.
We all know the stereotypical needs of what men seek in relationships. They are focused on the physical attraction most. They do not value emotional connection. They are happiest when they are the pursuer. The #MeToo movement has only reinforced our beliefs. Men have no self-control, are aggressive and stuck on the physical.
A new book coming out by Sarah Hunter Murray, a relationship therapist, is eye opening. She debunks the common myths we all take granted. After 10 years of studying males, asking questions such as “How important is your partner’s physical appearance?” and “What makes you feel desired?” the results transform our perception completely.
In a recent interview with the WSJ, Hunter shares her thoughts and discoveries. She explains that our image of men is constantly being bolstered by the culture that we live in. We hear songs and watch movies that “portray men as dogs.” The #MeToo movement brought stories into the open that strengthen the belief that men act selfishly and that their behavior can be toxic for women.
But here’s the piece we are missing. We mistakenly believe that men’s desires are triggered most by physical appearance, hemlines and clothing. Yes, this does make an impact but it is not the full picture. How incredible to learn that it is the emotional connection that often matters more.
How many couples’ lives can be changed if they come to understand the meaning behind a man’s desire? What really drives a man to crave a relationship goes beyond the surface of physical attraction. It is the yearning for a true connection on an emotional level. What is the feeling that men express? “I want to experience her. I want to be close. I want to feel love.” When couples share an experience together, their relationship is taken to another level. Think of trips together or a hobby that both man and woman can enjoy. The result is a deeper, richer love.
Men said that it is when they feel heard by their partner that they feel desire.
We miss this point and don’t focus on trying to forge our emotional relationship, concentrating more on the physical. We then wonder what is missing. Why don’t I feel it? What’s lacking?
It is the depth that has gone missing. Experiences bond us. Emotions fuse our souls.
Deep communication was also mentioned as a springboard for love. Men said that it is when they feel heard by their partner that they feel desire. Being on the same page, shared moments, thoughts and ideas bring a couple closer. Quoted in the interview is the man who said: “I really felt as if my partner saw me, that she got me in that moment.” Too often we ignore the magic that talking about visions, hopes, dreams and disappointments brings.
On a recent trip, my husband and I had a meal in a restaurant. We noticed how too many couples, especially the youngest ones, were on their phones, scrolling down, texting and checking out Facebook. There was silence. No words were exchanged between the two, unless to comment for a moment on an Instagram account or someone’s WhatsApp status. How can we grow closer when our devices pull us apart? Lacking communication means that our time together grows singular. We can’t comprehend why we are feeling lonely if we are spending moments together. The emotional connection has gone shallow. We fall flat.
What happens next? The physical desire that a man feels decreases. The emotional connection, crucial to a strong relationship, has been neglected. Perhaps it is a daily disconnect. We stop talking meaningfully to each other. It’s about the bills, the kids, the pressures, and the day to day logistics of keeping a family going. It’s about responding to one more email, one more text. Sometimes it is caused by a fight that simmers long and is unresolved. Other times it is simply the years that bring us further away from each other.
But the end result is the same. Disconnect, withdrawal, depression. Trying to reconnect physically, thinking that this is the way to get the relationship back on track, he makes a mistake. The woman perceives selfishness. You care only about you, you never think about me. What she is not understanding is that her husband is really calling out for an emotional connection. There is miscommunication. No one is expressing the truth.
Here is the truth: men want to feel wanted. Just as women do, they also desire the knowledge that “I am important to you”.
Here is the truth: men want to feel wanted. Just as women do, they also desire the knowledge that “I am important to you”. Women have more intimate connections with friends. Men do not. They result is that women do not get that if men feel that they are being emotionally rejected, they will retreat. Men need to know that their partner is mentally engaged and into the relationship. If they cannot feel this, they pull away from the marriage. The men say “I feel she doesn’t want to be close, that she doesn’t like me.” The men reveal that this makes them doubt themselves and even doubt the relationship. It’s not simply the physical they require. It is the knowledge that beneath the ocean of love that we share there is intensity and connection. There is depth. Intimacy comes from profound closeness. Love flourishes.
This wisdom is seen clearly in the Torah.
The Torah speaks tenderly of the marriage between Isaac and Rivka. The tent of Isaac’s mother, Sarah, had grown dark after her passing. The light of her Shabbos candles were extinguished. The delicious scent of her fresh challah was gone. The cloud of holiness that had rested above her home was nowhere to be seen. Isaac was lonely.
When he brought his bride into his mother’s tent, the blessings returned. There was a deep-felt connection beyond the physical. They shared a mission, hopes and dreams. The life legacy continued. The verse says: He married Rivka, he loved her and he then felt comforted for the loss of his mother. The wedding was only the beginning. Isaac discovered an emotional bond that was a balm for his soul.
This is the true definition of lasting love, of what men want. Beyond the physical, it is the joy of a close emotional connection that creates the strongest relationships.