books for men on emotional intimacy
August 28, 2006 11:12 AM   Subscribe

MeFi Men of the Hetero Kind: Have you found a useful book to help you improve your emotional intimacy and related communication skills? I'm looking for recommendations from guys who were told by their Significant Others that they don't get it about what women need, and now they do -- thanks to a book. There's so much dreck out there in Self-Help Land. I'm looking for that rare book that really made a difference in your relationship.
posted by nancoix to Human Relations (22 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Passionate Marriage was that book for me. I have given it to many friends, though, and it didn't work for many of them. The ones it worked for, it worked amazingly well though.
posted by procrastination at 11:16 AM on August 28, 2006

To repeat what I said here, I think that "Difficult Conversations" is exactly what you're looking for. It doesn't focus entirely on hetero relationships -- so you might improve your communication with others along the way -- but it's a priceless resource for learning how to listen, how to communicate your own needs, how to help others feel supported, etc. It's well-researched, it helped me a lot, and I've watched the core concepts in the book transform others.
posted by equipoise at 11:18 AM on August 28, 2006

Although it is a bit Christian-y, this has been helpful for us: For Men Only.
posted by k8t at 11:19 AM on August 28, 2006

Self-help books probably aren't the answer here. If you're being told that you don't get it about "what women need", I suggest you find less ridiculous women who are willing to relate to you on a more human-to-human level, instead of shoving all this me-woman-you-man stuff in your face.
posted by reklaw at 11:23 AM on August 28, 2006 [3 favorites]

The Five Love Languages is an excellent book. In short, it describes how different people give and receive love differently, and how emotional disconnects often occur when you make the mistake of assuming that your mate speaks the same "language" that you do.

It's a great working theory with a very stupid name. Highly recommended.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:38 AM on August 28, 2006

I'm certainly no expert on love, but I grew up listening to the Loveline radio show, and Dr. Drew's insights into healthy (and unhealthy) relationships opened my mind to romantic interaction. If you can find 'best of' tapes or something (mid to late 90s was the Loveline Golden Age), or you can settle for the limited (but perhaps helpful) book thing.
posted by cowbellemoo at 11:48 AM on August 28, 2006

Reklaw, I believe that the poster is a woman.
posted by Alison at 11:50 AM on August 28, 2006

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. I cannot reccommend it enough. It has that human-to-different-human aspect instead of the silly Mars and Venus theory, and it really applies to any relationship.
posted by moira at 11:55 AM on August 28, 2006

I'm not a guy, but I highly recommend How to Be an Adult iin Relationships -- I've found it to be (and the men I know who've read it agree) a very insightful, provocative guide for men and women in terms of improving emotional intimacy. I like that it's not particularly gendered -- that is, it doesn't posit that emotional intimacy problems are primarily male problems, but rather problems that can affect men and women alike, but manifest themselves in different ways and with different expectations.
posted by scody at 11:57 AM on August 28, 2006

The Power of Two is a good communication book, recommended to me by a relationship counselor.
posted by callmejay at 11:58 AM on August 28, 2006

As one of my good friends always says (from her personal experience, if you can believe), if men just fed girls chocolates and rubbed their back as soon as they got their period, the world would be a much more pleasant, peaceful place.
posted by larva at 12:45 PM on August 28, 2006

When I put down my old paperback copy of The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing, I saw women and women's lives in a very different light than I had two weeks before, when I picked it up on impulse, in the Jabberwock bookstore in Boulder, never having heard of it or its author previously.

My relationships with women, including my mother and sister, were transformed. I like to think I've gone beyond what Lessing taught me then, but I have never outgrown it.
posted by jamjam at 1:00 PM on August 28, 2006

"You Just Don't Understand" is exactly what you're looking for. The author, Deborah Tannen, is a linguist who had the brilliant idea of using anthropological tools to study gender differences. In other words, she tackles men/women as if they are members of different cultures, trying to communicate with each other. She untangles the norms of each culture and discovers the basis for all sorts of misunderstandings. It's a great book for both men and women who want to learn more about the other gender.
posted by grumblebee at 1:06 PM on August 28, 2006

Struggle for Intimacy by Janet Geringer Woititz opened my eyes a bit
posted by deeman at 1:28 PM on August 28, 2006

seconding the deborah tannen recommendation, both because it is a good book and also because it will allow you to frame the discussion not as "we have a problem" but as "hey, i found this really interesting and think you might too..."
posted by judith at 1:33 PM on August 28, 2006

This isn't about romantic relationships as such (nor am I a hetero male), but my boyfriend has been reading Non-violent Communication. which, despite its hoky title and new-age vibe, has actually been very useful to us.

Basically, the book encourages you to say how you are feeling and identify the underlying unmet need that is leading to that feeling. My boyfriend actually photocopied the list of all the words for feelings, and carries it around with him.

It has helped us, for the first time, communicate about our feelings, which was not something he had much experience with. We have been able to understand each other much better in times of conflict.
posted by mai at 2:15 PM on August 28, 2006

I third the Deborah Tannen recommedation, really understanding that we speak different versions of the same language helps enormously!
posted by Wilder at 2:52 PM on August 28, 2006

What about asking your SO about novels or stories that most powerfully speak to her own experiences? I know this sounds corny, but I've learned a lot about my girlfriends just by sharing their personal relationships to the stories and worlds they've held most dear. Listening to the music my girlfriend likes (with her, mind you, not pretending to love it or studying it), sharing literature, that sort of thing. Rather than some generalized advice.

A specific litmus test: our respective reactions to things like Woody Allen's Manhattan have been illuminating. Work that guys and girls can dig (versus, say, Die Hard) but that speaks in different ways to them.

I'm no self-help fan so I can't speak to that, but perhaps this might prove an organic approach to this most vexing of questions. :)
posted by waxbanks at 4:54 PM on August 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

My extremely wonderful man recommends the book _Bonds That Make Us Free_.
posted by amtho at 4:55 PM on August 28, 2006

A vote for His Needs, Her Needs.

I suggest reading it in tandem. It opens up the discussion for both partners to talk about what they do and don't give to each other.
posted by perelman at 8:55 PM on August 28, 2006

I've read some of those books, because the different way men and women think fascinates me. The central point in all of it is learning how to communicate, however, most of the material is devoted to convincing you why communication is important and what learning to communicate on each other's level is important. To actually learn how to do it, you jusy have to do it. Just be present, free from distractions, free from ego, and talk to one another. You're not trying to get anything accomplished, except becoming relaxed talking to one another. Ask about her top three favorite flowers or something like that. Tell her about your grandmother or some other family member. Whatever, just keep talking about stuff that's not in the news or on TV. There's no substitute for experience.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 9:59 PM on August 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

cowbellemoo: You can get lots of loveline here. I like the older ones before adam left.
posted by vonliebig at 5:25 AM on August 29, 2006

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