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Ask a handful of guys about what makes them feel close in a relationship and they'll immediately point to sexual intimacy. But sex is not the whole picture. All men have a variety of needs within a relationship beyond sex.There are a few generalizations about men you can consider when you're trying to make your man happy. But beyond that, you have to figure out what makes him tick as an individual.
Space and Freedom
"Men are like rubber bands," says John Gray, Ph.D., author of "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus." It may seem like he unexpectedly pulls away, especially when you have just started to feel close. Most men have a strong need for autonomy and independence and don't want to be smothered. Sometimes, a significant other can feel slighted. If your man seems to be pulling away, show him love by letting go. Give him the space and freedom he craves. You'll only push him further away if you cling to him.
Respect and Admiration
One of the top needs for most men in a relationship is the need to feel respected and admired. You can communicate this respect through words and actions. Sometimes, all it takes is a gentle squeeze of the hand and a verbal affirmation to let him know that you're in his corner. On the other hand, you can inflict some serious damage to his ego and the relationship with harsh criticism, flippancy or nagging.
Love and Forgiveness
If you've got a laundry list of all of your man's faults or the ways he's hurt you, toss it out. By building a case against him, you're stacking up reasons for him to leave. After all, ongoing guilt is a load most men don't want to carry. Men make mistakes, and many of those mistakes might seem stupid. Let them go and make him feel accepted through your forgiveness.
The Honest Truth
Most men hate the games you'll find in many relationships: half-truths, manipulation and underhanded passive-aggressiveness. They just want it straight, so speak what's on your mind. Many of them are terrible mind readers and will never figure out what you're thinking. The less you're hiding and the more clearly you're communicating about your expectations, the more secure and less frustrated he'll feel in the relationship.
What He Likes
Take the time to figure out what is important to your man on a personal level. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of "The Five Love Languages," men have one or two "love languages" that speak to them: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch (which doesn't have to be sex), gifts or acts of service. Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr., author of "His Needs, Her Needs," explains that each person in a relationship has a specific set of emotional needs that his or her partner either is or isn't meeting. A couple of needs common to men include recreational companionship and physical affection. If you're unsure of what speaks to your man, do some research and ask him questions. You won't regret getting to know him a little better and you'll find out what really gets him going.
- Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus; John Gray, PhD
- His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-Proof Marriage; Willard E. Harley, Jr., PhD
- Psychology Today: What Men Want From Us: 5 Wishes
- The Five Love Languages; Gary Chapman, PhD
- Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images