The important difference between connection and intimacy that men should know.
I recently realized a big difference between intimacy and connection…
And not just the idea, I felt it in my body.
It changed how I do a lot of things.
For much of my adult life, I have felt clear that connection was one of my fundamental core values.
To me, connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen supported and safe to be themselves.
Because of this knowing, I developed specific habits that helped me to build deep connections:
- Service — consciously supporting and helping the people that matter to me.
- 2. Gathering — creating spaces and hosting events that allow people to come together in meaningful ways.
- 3. Curiosity — Taking an interest in people and seeking to understand them at the deepest level possible.
Do you notice theme in these behaviors?
They are all about DOING.
And I’ve come to understand that when I am overly focused on doing, it makes BEING quite hard…it makes intimacy quite hard.
Intimacy and connection are not the same thing.
I don’t see either as more important, it’s simply helpful to understand the difference.
To me, intimacy is the experience of deep presence and authenticity in the company of another.
It is not doing, it is about being.
For me (and many men) we fall into the trap of doing for two main reasons:
- It is how love was modeled for most of us by our fathers.
For those of us that were lucky enough to have loving fathers, they were raised in a society that did not embrace vulnerability as a masculine trait.
Masculine support was modeled as service and sacrifice, not emotional honesty or quality time.
Most of our fathers never had the opportunity to integrate their challenging emotions, trauma and shame…so the prospect of intimacy was quite scary.
It was easier and more socially acceptable to share their love through doing. Being the coach, providing, holding us accountable.
2. Men are biologically engineered to achieve and do stuff
In my podcast with John Gray, I learned something interesting about how men and women respond to and alleviate stress on a biological level.
Cortisol is the hormone that is released when we are stressed.
For women; cortisol is decreased in the system when oxytocin becomes present. Oxytocin is the love hormone, triggered by touch, connection, conversation etc.
For men; oxytocin feels nice, but it does not decrease cortisol. In men, testosterone decreases cortisol levels. Testosterone is release through physical activity and tactile achievement / problem solving.
So, when men are stressed, they are more biologically hard wired to do stuff.
All this goes to say, remember the importance of slowing down and simply being there.
If you are a masculine energy in partnership with a feminine energy, your presence is one of the most nourishing things your partner can receive.
Intimacy can be challenging the same way that meditation rocks you the first few times you sit.
In the midst of all that nothingness, we are flooded with awareness, neuroses and discomfort we suddenly have to be with, instead of escape.
Just know that the resistance or tension we might feel in that absence of stimulation, is often a gateway to something beautiful and rich.
Something our partners will thank us for.
As the Buddhists say, “don’t just do something, sit there.”