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Monday, March 26, 2007

The Male Psyche

We live in a world of manly men … of men who are strong and confident. Much of the time this persona is at odds with our internal desires and can often lead men to develop characteristics that make it difficult to have and maintain long and meaningful relationships with their significant others. Men are significantly less likely to visit their physicians to receive preventive health care examinations. Men make 134.5 million less physician visits than American women each year. In fact, men make only 40.8% of all physician visits. A quarter of the men who are 45 to 60 do not have a personal physician. Men are also four times more likely to commit suicide than women. Often, the family and friends have no idea that something was wrong. Rather than seeking the help of a professional or even talking to their friends, men often try to deal with depression on their own, many times resulting in death.
In light of these astounding statistics it is important to open up the dialogue between women and men, so that men can communicate their needs and their concerns. By looking at the relationship psychology of men, women may be able to learn how to satisfy the men in their lives more fully, and perhaps gain some insight into the ways that men are doing the things that women need, just in ways that women might not be able to recognize.
We have organized this article by first addressing the issue of male emotions, and then looking at the things many men feel are the most destructive aspects in both their sexual interactions with women and their relationships with them.
Alright ladies, this is the dirt and it may not be easy to hear, but it is real. We know that you have your complaints … and believe us; here at Sexinfo101.com, we know that on the whole most of them are totally reasonable and well-founded, but this is worth reading. You never know, you might find some ways to connect a little more closely with that special guy in your life. And you might gain some real insight into why he does the things that he does. Our goal here is not mud-slinging but to cast light into the dark corners of male/female communication. For the fellows smirking in the corner right now, don’t worry fellas, there is a section you need to read as well.
Men and those pesky ‘Emotions’
The reason that looking at those pesky emotions is so important is because they seem to be the biggest sticking point for you ladies. According to a recent study, 85% of North American women in relationships complain that the men they love don’t talk about, or show enough, emotion. We will look at the reasons behind this perception (and in some cases reality).
A professor at Harvard University coined the term "normative male alexithymia". This term refers to a condition of culturally underdeveloped emotion that many North American males suffer from. This research appears to show that men have developed two primary responses to emotional issues. For vulnerable feelings including fear, hurt and shame men tend to use anger as the “manly” or “normative” response. For nurturing feelings, including caring, warmth, connectedness and intimacy men channel those feelings through sex or sexuality.
This condition, according to the research done at Harvard, is specifically a male psychological issue as it has been found that women have a much wider range of emotional responses. They have found that women function through "emotional empathy", whereas men function through "action empathy". Emotional empathy allows women to sometimes be able to more rapidly and consistently understand interpersonal perspectives and emotions. Action empathy is self-serving and presents itself as the ability to enter into another person's point of view from the perspective of knowing what the other person is likely to "do".
So this that is why men want to fix; fixing is a "doing" activity. This is why your guy is always trying to figure what the next step is in an argument, and not stopping to deal with the emotions of the argument. This is why he might not get it if you want to meander around your feelings, while he is thinking to himself: “how do I get us both back on the same page, so that we can keep marching through life without all these distractions.”
Alexithymia is the condition where "doing" replaces the cognitive (thinking) step in the emotional experience. We can see this in the way that the four steps of the emotional process function:
Emotions originate in the limbic system in the brain;
then, they move to the autonomic and endocrine systems (the body functions that you don’t control, and the production of hormones);
next, they move to the muscles and skeletal systems which engage the flight or fight activities (doing); and,
the cognitive awareness of the emotion is experienced.
Researchers believe that many men stop or stunt the emotional process at the third step and, therefore, cut off the cognitive awareness of the emotional experience, i.e. they control their emotions. The result of stopping the emotional process at step three is that emotions become manifested in the body, resulting in physical symptoms such as: constrictions to the chest, throat or face, shortness of breath, upset stomachs, headaches, backaches, tension in the shoulders, insomnia, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.
Now you know that when you are talking to a man and he starts to rub his eyes, or massage his temples; this is a physical manifestation of his emotion. It may also mean that you are driving him nuts. Either way it is important to note that men are not devoid of emotion, rather this research is letting us know that emotion may give us unpleasant results such as colon cancer … a pretty good reason to avoid it at all costs.
Men have learned this type of emotional response (or lack thereof) from all sorts of handsome and sexy men throughout history. In fact studies have indicated that many of the men that women rate are particularly the men that exhibit the most quintessential ‘male’ qualities. From James Bond to Clint Eastwood type characters, men are taught to be tough, and gritty; keeping their feelings internal. Since we have tied the appeal of this male paradigm to his sexuality, over-emotiveness can feel like a loss of sexual prowess!
Ok… So let’s talk about sex.
The reason some women are thinking right now: “geez, the only truth that I know is that men will do and say anything to get in my pants, so I have to be careful and screen them,” is because the same cultural conditioning as we talked about above is working to define our sex roles. What is important to remember throughout any discussion of the differing views of sex between genders is that we all enjoy sexuality and we all want to experience orgasms. That is it.
If women could remember one thing, it is that men want you to feel good. This is a fact and there are studies that support that a man’s sexual experience is far more satisfying when he perceives that his partner is enjoying the experience. This is not to say that a fake orgasm is a good idea, since usually it appears contrived and the real thing is so much better, for you and for him. This does mean that directing and communicating can make a man feel like a better lover and stroking his ego will make him stroke you all the better.
To put men and women’s respective sex drives in perspective it is important to note that men necessarily have a more urgent, biologically based desire than most women do. Though the amounts vary men, on average, have 80-90% more androgens (testosterone) than women do, giving the male sex drive a component of physical drive that is greater than the ladies. This only means that men can sometimes demonstrate their desire in a visceral and immediate way. This can sometimes put off our lady friends, but, according to studies out of the UK, this intense physical desire does not indicate that men do not have feelings about sex and sexuality.
If human sex drive is viewed as a pie chart, then men’s desire for physical intimacy is a bigger chunk, but all of the other pieces are there just in different proportions. We all divide our minds between different things when we are intimate with our lovers. We think about our bodies, our lust, our lover’s feelings, and when and how we climax. So ladies, just because the lust component is bigger for the guys, does not mean that he does not have all the other feelings, and just because he wakes up with a hard-on, ready to go, means that his tenderness manifests itself a little different than you do.
Top Male Complaints
Women complain, criticize and nag instead of saying what they think.
They try to control and suppress men, because of insecurities
They tend to withhold sex as a punishment or blackmail.
Their emotions are unpredictable, its hard to keep up.
Not enough hunger for sexual pleasure…!
Don’t compliment men, but expect men to compliment them.
How to make your relationships work better:
Good communication: expressing their needs directly.
Trusting their partner and allowing him his own space.
Refrain from using sex as a weapon, it only does harm to the relationship.
Realizing that their partner loves them even when he is not affectionate or tender
Feel equal - neither superior nor inferior to your partner.
Understanding that men are slower at interpreting and communicating feelings.
Guiding the man with their preferences in sexual contact instead of faking.
More sexual spontaneity; if you want to receive, you must first learn to give.
Giving him compliments so that he feels sexy too. (see above)

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