Posts Tagged ‘gender roles’

Intimacy, He Keeps Holding Back

December 7, 2010 2 comments

One of my clients is in a relationship with a guy who is attentive, sensual, and seemingly committed (exclusive with her), but she wants to move forward into a total relationship with him – i.e. live together and eventually, possibly marry.

He, however, wants to keep it like it is. At present they go back and forth between their two apartments, getting together mostly on weekends. During the week, he claims to need “down time” with his hobbies and friends.

The struggle between the two of them sometimes causes mini-breakups, but the connection is strong enough that all he has to do is send flowers and give into some of her needs for a few weeks and they’re back in their not-so-total relationship. The relationship reverts to “his terms” because she is the one who wants to get closer.

There are so many people out there going through this same struggle! Maybe you know someone? Maybe even you?

Women tend to struggle with issues around merging. They tend to want to clamp on, and risk losing their boundaries when they get into a relationship. Their task is to establish separation and avoid losing SELF in the expectations and needs of the other person.

Men also have issues around merging, but they tend to have boundaries, sometimes boundaries so strict as to prevent them from establishing intimacy. Their task is to loosen the boundaries so that they can merge enough to get close and share lives.

These romantic wars keep some couples in dynamic equilibrium. The couple stays connected but remains in parallel lives rather than intersecting into marriage living together.

Can you connect to these generalizations? What if we reversed the genders? I tend to say “tend to” when I speak of so called gender differences between men and women because gender stereotyping can so often be off base, since so many of us are exceptions to the rule.