HOUSTON - If you’re dating or in a new relationship, you may be convinced that all guys really want in a relationship is sex. But therapists working with couples agree that although men enjoy and put emphasis on the sexual aspects of their relationship that isn’t the glue that holds them in a long-term relationship. The more you get to know your partner, the more you understand that men, like women, need reassurance and the ability to let go and trust the person they’re with.
Below are five aspects to a long-term relationship that have more influence in determining the relationship’s survival than sex. It may not sound as exciting as sex, but the truth isn’t always spoken. Guys may not verbalize these needs, but they’ll walk away from a relationship that doesn’t provide them.
- Understanding. Guys need to know their mistakes will be forgiven. No one is perfect, and no one wants to be punished forever for mistake they make. Holding a grudge and not moving on after mistakes destroys feelings of love.
- Reassurance. Guys are competitive and rarely give each other reassurance. Men who feel safe with their partner form a closer emotional connection to their partner.
- Space. Guys are not consumed with their relationships in the same way women are. They need space to be active and do things on their own. They value their relationships as much as women do, but they value it less if they feel monitored or smothered. This is one reason they prefer women who keep their own interests.
- Physical contact. Not all physical contact needs to be sexual, but guys need affection. They need hugs, kisses, and shoulder massages to remind them that you still notice them and want them. For many men, part of the reason they complain about a lack of sex is due to their partner’s lack of affection outside the bedroom.
- Trust. Trust is an integral part of a long-term relationship for both men and women. Guys want connection just as women do, and they want to do things with their partner. They prefer activities where they can focus less on what they’re feeling and more on the experience. Women may misinterpret that men don’t “feel” the same or as strongly as they do. Neither of these are true. Guys have a different way of processing feeling; sitting and verbalizing them is not the preferred approach for the majority.
Men and women are different in the way they communicate what’s most important to them, but as a therapist who works with both, it’s not sex that holds long term relationships together. If a relationship doesn’t provide the emotional needs mentioned above, the relationship will not survive.