13.1 What to Know
What words or phrases pop into your mind when hear the word “intimate?” Say them out loud or write them down.
Did you say or write down words or phrases like “a close friend,” “personal,” “confidential,” “emotional,” or “spiritual?” Or did you write down words or phrases like “sex,” “sexual,” or “making love?”
When some men hear the word “intimate” or “intimacy,” they think of sex. That’s because most men are raised to believe intimacy is only about having sex. Many boys and young men mark their passage from boyhood to manhood as the time they first had sex. Then they link how much of a man they are to how much sex they’ve had and with how many women they’ve had sex.
As a result, when men try to form long-term relationships with women, they lack knowledge about and skills to create other forms of intimacy. These forms are:
- Emotional intimacy
- Intellectual intimacy
- Spiritual intimacy
Each form is vital to a healthy romantic relationship.
This lack of knowledge and skills creates another problem. It makes it hard to create intimate relationships that aren’t sexual. These relationships include those with other men.
Your ability to form intimate relationships with other men is key to your overall health and well-being and how good a dad you can become. Far too many men lack comfort in creating truly intimate relationships with other men. As a result, they lean unfairly on their wives/partners (and maybe a few family members) as their sole source of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual support.
These non-sexual relationships also include those with a dad’s own children. Not being able or willing to have these kinds of relationships is one reason that some fathers abandon their families.