Men, Gentleness and Physical Touch: A Recipe for Openness and Evolution

Posted on Nov 15, 2013 in Personal Evolution, Relationships, Sensuality | 13 Comments

 

Man-touch-woman

In American culture, we believe that men can never be entirely trusted in the realm of the physical. We collectively suspect that, given the opportunity, men will collapse into the sexual at a moment’s notice…And where does this leave men? Physically and emotionally isolated. Cut off from the deeply human physical contact that is proven to reduce stress, encourage self-esteem and create community. ~ Mark Greene, The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer

Mark Greene’s article in The Good Men Project haunted me all week. Read the whole piece here. I found so much truth in it based on my own observations and experiences with my sons and lovers.

According to Greene, in the U.S. it is common to stop showing a boy outward platonic physical affection when they reach puberty. I would go so far as to say it starts to lessen the day they go off to school. At that point it’s no longer acceptable to be attached to your mother, so boys buck up and  find physical contact in rough-housing with their siblings or buddies. I read once that boys are like puppies. They need to play and bump into each other for their development.

The only time touching is sanctioned is when the male is in a relationship or years later when he has children of his own. This puts a lot of pressure on the partner of a boy or man. She (or he) is now likely the sole recipient and giver of life-enhancing touch for this male. The need for physical fulfillment is great and somewhat confusingly blended with sexuality.

I know my former husband ached for my touch.  Sadly, for deep-seated reasons I could not supply him with that physical affection, that form of tenderness. It could have changed our relationship.

Waiting until you have children to be able to hug, stroke, touch and hold father sonanother human being non-sexually seems unfair and sad. A prolonging of a longing.  A need unmet for too long.

Gentleness transforms

Even in relationships an element of gentleness is often foregone. Kissing the corners of a man’s eyes or softly holding his face in your hands are simple gestures that penetrate deeply. I’ve witnessed men’s faces transform and their bodies ease when they experience soft caring touches. Simply holding a man or letting him hold you releases bonding hormones and reduces stress according to CNN Health.

Gentle touches say, You are safe now. You are trusted. Stop fighting your natural inclinations and enjoy.

If you are very fortunate, in exchange for loving caresses, a man will offer equally beautiful touching and a reveal of his inner tenderness. The most lovely gifts ever.

Physically connecting with your son

My 13-year-old son declared a few months ago that he doesn’t like physical touch. I’ve reduced the number of hugs I give him in order to respect his boundaries but … it’s difficult. I don’t want to create an uncomfortable situation for either of us, so I abstain, but I miss that outlet for affection. I try to connect with him by listening and commenting on the funny stories he likes to share but it’s different than connecting with a hug or ruffling his hair with my hand.

I figured out that my son’s love language is Acts of Service so I sneak in physical touch under the guise of a back scratch or head scratch. We sit on the couch, watch one of our favorite shows and I scratch his head or back. We both get our fix.

My younger son is still huggable. I dread the day when he turns away. I already miss holding hands when we cross the street.

The evolution of man

side by sideI believe there is a movement toward outward sensitivity and emotional intelligence in men. Websites like, The Good Men Project, make it acceptable for men to be thoughtful, kind, compassionate, tender and openly affectionate. May the evolution continue, for as the male evolves so does the female.  As the man engages in soothing touch and vulnerability he makes a safe space for the woman to trust him and reveal her true essence.

Men, do you feel you get enough physical touch? Women, have you witnessed a man starving for physical connection? One more for women — When was the last time you gently caressed a man?

Related posts:

Strong, Vulnerable Men (Danielle LaPorte)

Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? (space2live)

Sensual Renaissance: The Rise of Affection and Touch (space2live)

How Does Introversion Affect Your Sexuality? (space2live)

Leave a Reply

13 Comments

  1. How Do Introverts Feel About Physical Affection? Is It As Energizing As Emotional Intimacy? | space2live
    May 23, 2014

    […] Men, Gentleness and Physical Touch: A Recipe for Openness and Evolution […]

    Reply
  2. elizabeth2560
    November 16, 2013

    Brave topic. Distinguishing whether differences in touch is because of the differences between man / woman or extroversion / introversion is not an easy one.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 17, 2013

      I wanted to give the men (introverted or extroverted) some props. Love the evolution I’m seeing.:)

      Reply
  3. Dale Beal
    November 15, 2013

    Sorry, but you’e got to be kidding! Do you want a man or a feminine-clone for a life partner?

    It would seem you want men to think and act as women – on emotion, rather than principle. No real (worthwhile) man can buy into that. Furthermore, once all your (feminist?) demands are met, what will you have achieved (besides hell on earth)…thank you very much.

    Men are men. Women are women. We men have our gifts and our downside. Women have gifts as well as a downside. Ideally – in a relationship, for instance – we compliment each other. The solution is NOT to make us the SAME….it’s to understand these differences.

    By the way, I’m an introvert for the most part but I refuse to allow it to become my defining distinction. That would take a lot of whining, which I’m not fond of.

    DCB Daytona

    Reply
    • J Forest
      November 15, 2013

      Translation: “You uppity women just want to emasculate us manly men and you can’t complain about us fartin’ and wanting to shoot and blow things up. Bible says you can’t do that.”

      Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 16, 2013

      I would never want men and women to be the same. I adore men and that which makes them amazingly male. There is masculine and feminine in all of us (much like introversion and extroversion). I believe men are shortchanged when it comes to showing their nurturing and gentle sides, especially through touch. Too much softness and they are “sissies”, too much maleness and they are “dogs” or “animals”. They miss out on high quality platonic physical contact. We all need touch in order to truly thrive.

      You are right. Men and women can positively complement each other. Awareness and understanding help us honor each other’s traits. I feel the same way about introversion and extroversion. I also think it’s perfectly healthy for a man to be openly sensitive or a woman to be more assertive.

      We are all on a path to become ourselves. We don’t have to be defined by anything.

      Thank you for sharing your perspective.

      Reply
    • elizabeth2560
      November 16, 2013

      To DCB. Why would declaring one’s introversion mean a lot of whining?. Many business and educational philosophies push extroversion onto society. We are all supposed to be ‘out there’, being warm friendly and outgoing, doing great teamwork. Why? In my experience behind every extroverted leader there is an introverted manager doing the hard yards. It is the extroverted leader who moans, not the quiet diligent introvert.
      It is great that times are changing and new compassionate introverted leaders are now shining (quietly and modestly of course). And we must not forget that many of the great research discoveries of the last century have been made by introverted scientists or engineers in solitude at at their desk or in their laboratory.
      I am grateful Brenda for having the courage to devote a blog to introversion.

      Reply
      • Brenda Knowles
        November 17, 2013

        Cheers Elizabeth! The quiet introvert is slowly gaining recognition but some see it as a cry for attention (or whining). The movement toward introvert awareness moves on despite the detractors.:) It’s quite possible DCB has something against me personally. We can never please everyone. I am working on learning from the negative comments and then letting them go.

        Thanks, as always, for your insightful comments.

        Reply
    • Sunni
      January 31, 2014

      Perhaps if men were more free to express their full range of emotions rather than keeping everything inside they’d have less anger issues and hostility. If we teach our boys that it’s not ok to cry, to need reassurance, to express fear, pain, doubt, frustration, then the only emotion they have left to act on is anger. Unchecked anger leads to self-destruction. It isn’t about attempting to feminize men, it’s about teaching boys how to be fully human.

      Reply
      • Brenda Knowles
        January 31, 2014

        Right on! It’s not girly to be sensitive. It’s human. Thank you for your articulate comment.

        Reply
  4. J Forest
    November 15, 2013

    This reminds me of my parents’ intentional attempts to break the inculcation of “traditional” gender roles with my sister and I growing up.

    This shows my age but when I was young, in addition to having dolls when/if I wanted them my parents bought us the LP by Marlo Thomas’ & Friends’ “Free to Be You and Me.” —If you’ve never heard it, stop right now and buy it (http://goo.gl/a5isXZ)— Anyway, there were songs and stories such as “William’s Doll,” “Atalanta,” “It’s Alright to Cry,” and “William’s Doll” that were about how you shouldn’t let yourself be defined by your gender.

    I took those lessons to heart and at times was at odds with the prevailing attitude of my playmates. I was seen as feminine sometimes or weak (because society associates weakness with lack of masculinity).

    Unfortunately, as I grew up my parents and I did unconsciously break off our physical contact. I think it was more fault mine than theirs. Me being male who was aware of negative perceptions in gender roles and being an introvert probably made me obviously uncomfortable with hugs and kisses from my parents once I hit puberty. For this I feel pangs of regret and lost opportunities.

    I consciously have tried to maintain a physical closeness with my boys (ages 14 and 10). Even though they no longer want to be tucked in bed, snuggled and kissed like they did when they were younger, I still won’t let them go to bed without a hug from me and an “I love you” at the minimum.

    Being physically close platonically and sexually, is foundationally important to our mental and emotional well-being. I don’t want to lose that with my boys and I don’t want them to make the mistake I did of closing myself off.

    I try to hug my parents (now in their 70s) hugs, kisses and “I love you”s as much as possible because I know there will come at time when I won’t have that anymore with them. The absence of their physical presence will hurt just as much as not having their personalities and ideas and emotions.

    Listen to Rosey Grier sing it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y52bs0aX6v8

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 15, 2013

      J I bet we are around the same age because I loved Free to Be You and Me! Thanks for the reminder. My kindergarten teacher would play the songs on her guitar and sing. I also saw the shows/videos in school. The messages stuck with me too. I tried to share the video with my kids a few years ago but they didn’t get into it like I did. Oh well, planting seeds…:)

      Here’s another article about raising teenage boys from a teen’s perspective. http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/hesaid-puberty-hits-you-like-a-sucker-punch/ I thought it was relevant and honest. I am muddling along with my son but I believe he knows he is loved. I try to connect with him physically somehow each day, as well as verbally/emotionally. I also understand he needs his space. It sounds like you are passing along the beautiful values that your parents instilled in you. Keep up the affection (with your parents too). Your boys will appreciate it someday.

      Thank you again for your thoughtful response.

      Reply
      • J Forest
        November 16, 2013

        I read The Good Men Project! Very thought provoking and uplifting most of the time.

        Reply
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