A man who can cry is a man who has learned some secrets about intimacy. But sadly, for many men it takes something tragic or life-changing before they understand this truth.

Here are a few ways you can tell if the man you love has trouble with intimacy or struggles to open up:

Most men — unfortunately — do not undergo such traumatic experiences as the one described above. Yet many boys emerge from adolescence with a strong sense that being strong and unfeeling is the “masculine” thing to do. When a male brain is saturated in testosterone, it doesn’t take much, even from well-meaning family members, to give a boy the message that emotions and feelings are only for girls.

Here are some things your husband may have heard when growing up — things that may have shaped him into a seemingly uncaring person:

If you love a man who doesn’t seem to be able to express his feelings, you might want to consider using word pictures to help him identify what’s going on inside. A word picture uses a story or object to simultaneously activate the emotions and intellect of the hearer. As a result, he experiences your words rather than just hearing them.

It’s important to realize that helping your husband learn to express his feelings will take time. You might have to use several examples or try for several days, weeks, or even months before he is able to feel and share with you what’s in his heart. And until he reaches that point, he won’t be able to connect with you on an emotional intimate level.

Based on what I’ve learned in my many years of counseling, I’ve found that a woman’s definition of intimacy is very different from a man’s. Consider the following lists:

What women mean by intimacy

What men mean by intimacy

One of the reasons men may be more focused on physical closeness is that men aren’t as sensitive to physical touch as women are. In other words, it takes more physical touch to meet a man’s physical needs. In the same way that a woman has twice the daily word count, a man has twice the need for physical stimulation.

The point is this: Women often feel unloved because their emotional needs aren’t being met, and in the same way, men often feel ignored because their physical needs aren’t being met.

I think the problem is clear at this point: guys have trouble with true emotional intimacy.

Read Gary Smalley’s book, Connecting With Your Husband, to learn more about your relationship.

© Copyright 2003 Smalley Institute

This article was written by: Dr. Gary Smalley

Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba