Male Intimacy: What is It?

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gay menThey do not love that do not show their love. -Shakespeare

I often throw out the words “emotional intimacy” with my male clients with blank stares as the only intimacy they may have been aware of is sex.  But in my work with individuals and especially groups, I can see them learning the skills even if they’re not aware of what it is they’re learning.

One common American issue we have is that men here do not have other men to confide with.  In many instances, the guys in therapy tell me they may have guy friends but no one who truly knows them.  But in a group context, they’re learning what intimacy is when they can share their thoughts and feelings to each other.

Some will say, “This is the first time I’ve ever let anyone know about this…”.  Issues such as insecurity, fears, longings, grief, and other human experiences are shared, reflected, and validated.

In a book dedicated to this topic, The McGill Report on Male Intimacy, the author contrasts how many men have one-dimensional friends that focus on a singular focus.  What this means a guy may have a number of friends (i.e. work, hunting, golf, etc.) but their discussions often stay within that framework whereas women may be more comfortable having “all-purpose” friends where the breadth of discussion can lead anymore.  It’s a bit of a generalization from the author but from my experience I do find that men struggle with even having one “all-purpose” friend.

But I’m starting to see a shift and change as male emotional intimacy is being encouraged in society.  It’s powerful to see men connecting deeply with one another, often for the first time in their lives.  In a competitive country where men believe they must be strong, fierce, and never let their guard down, it’s gratifying to see men experiencing true intimacy with other men.

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