Build Intimacy – Men’s Journal

I was recently asked to chat with Rachael Schultz for the current issue of Men’s Journal on the topic of how to build intimacy in our relationships. Rachael and I had a great time talking about the differences between how men and women view and initiate intimacy. While we all know that “Men are from Mars and Woman are from Venus” in the ways we talk about emotions, we are all on the same page about our desire to share intimacy.

The process of being open to intimacy and the timing with which we can receive it generally doesn’t look the same for men and women. When it comes to physical intimacy, men are often more hardwired to be visual and as a result can become more quickly aroused by the sight of a partner whom they find attractive.

Women on the other hand often need to prepare themselves mentally for opening up to being sexual and need a longer period of foreplay to feel most present in the act with a partner. By the way, foreplay for women generally starts days in advance of a sexual event. When a partner remembers to do tasks that lighten the load for the woman, does thoughtful gestures, or shows verbal appreciations for a partner’s value, these behaviors all get added to the mental foreplay bank.

Our brain is the biggest erogenous zone we have in our body, and when it is full of stress and overload it can be difficult for a couple to find the sweet spot to create a desire for intimacy. Rachael and I chatted about the recent difficulties a lot of couples are having these days with finding the energy to be intimate with their partners. Covid-19, the election, and the general sense of uneasiness we all feel about the world right now are cause serious brain drain. When we are stressed, our brain goes into a fight, flight, or freeze response and shuts down what the body perceives as unnecessary functioning in an attempt to funnel all of our vital energy to survival.

To add to the complications, men and women often express closeness at different points in their sexual cycles. For instance, men generally want to have sex in order to demonstrate closeness and as a vehicle to feel more connected with their partner. On the flip side, women often want to feel close and emotionally safe prior to being willing to open up physically. Add the competing energy suck of having to deal with a pandemic and it’s no wonder couples are experiencing difficulties in keeping their connection alive.

Racheal is such a talented and insightful reporter, and this topic was very timely with all that is happening in the world for couples right now. If you are interested in checking out the article you can do so here. If you or your partner are experiencing difficulties in asking for your needs or finding challenges navigating your communication with each other, please know there are tools that can help.

Check out more of my blog posts here.


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Dr. Dana McNeil

Dr. Dana McNeil

Founder of The Relationship Place
Marriage and Family Therapist CA License #99008

certified gottman therapist

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