The Absence of Touch: Rejection of Physical Affection Hardens the Hearts of Men

The Absence of Touch: Rejection of Physical Affection Hardens the Hearts of Men October 6, 2022

Photo by Skaterlunatic on Unsplash

I recently stitched a TikTok video and shared some commentary on some sad but realistic pervading thoughts that swarm the minds of American women in relationships. I am overwhelmed at how much feedback I have received, but the overwhelm is filled with sadness, not joy. Don’t get me wrong, I am so encouraged by how much resonance my commentary has had with the married men community. My goal has always been to share encouraging and optimistic advice with other couples so that they can fully embody a truly authentic, erotic relationship.

Unfortunately, however, there are too many couples suffering in fake and flimsy relationships. Sure, on paper, their marriages are legitimate. But the experiences that so many men have shared with me over the last few years continue to shock me and fill me with sadness. What is happening in the world that women don’t want their men to touch them, talk to them, or be around them?

As a woman, I have an inkling as to what is taking place. I recognize how many social messaging narratives have influenced us, or rather, hypnotized us, to believe that the men we married are the enemy.

In my last article, I addressed some of these issues. But I want to dig deeper into the experiences that have been shared, by men, and address the women in my audience. Please know that my intention is not to call you out, but to call you up to a higher potential of yourself so that you can embody the fullness of your feminine essence. And perhaps what I have to say will help you better understand the fullness of the masculine essence.

For reference, if you click here, you can have the full context of the issue I was addressing. Consider watching it prior to reading the remainder of this piece.

The pervading message that I believe is sabotaging erotic relationships is this idea that touch is an initiation of horizontal refreshments. Ergo, if your husband tries to touch you, it must mean that he only wants sex. It’s an incredulous idea that destroys all potential for the invitation to intimacy.

Please let me clarify, intimacy is not sex. Being intimate is not having sex. However, sex is a form of intimacy. And men overwhelmingly prefer sex to fulfill their need for intimacy. Women find that their needs for intimacy can be met in other ways. But that is not to say that women don’t also view sex as intimacy, nor that men don’t feel intimate through non-sexual means.

Many women, including myself, note that intimacy can look like cuddling up next to each other on the couch while binge-watching a show on Netflix. Women have noted that just a simple hug after a long day can fulfill the need for intimacy. Some women consider a foot massage or a back rub—that doesn’t necessarily lead to sex—as a form of intimacy. A tender kiss on the forehead. Holding hands while in the park, or at Walmart. Some women say that when their man pats their butt as he passes by in the kitchen, it fulfills a need for intimacy. Dancing together at an event or in the yard under a tree is considered a fulfilling intimate experience for other women. Laying in a hammock under a crisp, autumn moon is another route to intimacy. A kiss before heading off to work or an appointment has also been noted as a fulfilling intimate moment.

I want you to pay attention to the pattern here, however, what both men and women consider as intimate, involves closeness and touch. What do we know about closeness and touch? It’s proximal and it’s physical. It incorporates the sense of touch. Intimacy is a concept that defines the physicality of the relationship. We aren’t intimate with all people. We are intimate with our partners and children, maybe our parents, siblings, and some close friends. Now again how I use the word intimate, separate from sex. Again, reiterates that intimacy is not sex. It’s closeness, it’s touch.

I often think that one reason many people get flustered over the idea of intimacy and sex, separately, is that we tie the two words together at some point in our lives and never disentangle them until we are facing discomfort or disruption. That’s a typical response to how humans confront most challenges and issues in their lives though, isn’t it? We wait until it’s too uncomfortable to ignore and too big to squeeze by. It becomes like a gross infection on our arm, leeching out puss and stinking up the room.

For me, I used the word “intimate” to define sexual topics. I think I did this because it sounded better and more concealed, maybe more civilized and conservative. Who knows? But we all do that with words, topics, and feelings. We conceal it or cloak it in other words that are less harsh and less descriptive. We shift around definitions to convince ourselves that we don’t have to address things.

When we select this shifting of terms and topics, when we improperly translate our own feelings and thoughts, this adds to the program that we are generating within our relationship. I think this speaks to why women are more likely to be content in sexless marriages. When a woman goes a long time without horizontal refreshments, she finds a way to reconcile the absence with peace. She will fill her space with other activities or meditations, and it will become her new habit. She may focus more on the children, her networking, or communal connections, she may lose herself in romance novels or Hobby Lobby.

When men go a long time without horizontal refreshments, that’s all he thinks about. He keeps track of how long it has been, and he thinks back to all the times he had it. He may fill his space with substitutes—drinking, gambling, infidelity, porn, a new hobby, or he may grow increasingly angry and volatile, becoming more reactionary and hostile. Biology plays a significant role in this behavior alteration. Men are hardwired to feed, fight for, and fuck their partners. It’s a primitive pattern that social engineering cannot eradicate without compromising consequences. Sure, it may be rooted in scarcity and survival mechanisms, but from my perspective, it’s contributed to the prevailing of humanity.

Women, however, may reconcile the fading away of sex and intimacy, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t suffer from it, either. We are natural nurturers. We are biologically wired to emotionally relate, we read energy, and we add complexity and color to the simplistic and succinct world of the masculine grays, blacks, and whites. Man is form, but woman is dimension and definition of the divine degree. When we cannot nurture the ones we love, when we feel like we aren’t doing our best, it paralyzes us. We do get cold because we become frozen by fear that we are failing.

Woman is designed to receive. When she does not receive, she does not conceive—and I don’t mean children. When woman receives, she creates, her creative energy is activated. Her passion is ignited. But if she feels abandoned, she will turn cold, distant, and disconnect from the one she has pledged her loyalty to. A woman will betray herself for love, and all too often she worries that man might unknowingly (or intentionally) take advantage of her sacrificial nature. And just like the men in my comment section, women will also stop trying to initiate, stop trying to communicate, and ignore all attempts for connection. For women and men, our hearts become hard.

These dynamics of our divine essences always seem to be opposed. But the truth is, knowing how vastly different and separate we are can help us better embody the transcendent and transformative process of two becoming one. We do not have to see ourselves as opposed. Nor opposite. We are simply two halves to a whole. And when we come together (and when we cum together) there is a Spirit of oneness that encapsulates our entire reality to a mere spark of an electrifying and pulsating moment outside of time and space. Separate, it seems we are opposed. But together, we are orgasmic.

Women have been programmed to believe that we are not sexual creatures. Women have been sold lies through messaging and programming (especially on our TVs) that we can only feel fulfilled emotionally. Men, however, are sold lies through the same messaging and programming that they can only feel fulfilled physically. This is a truly divisive dynamic that disconnects us from eroticism and disconnects us from the bond that we form when we commit to one another.

The opposing programs are irritants to intimacy. And to a degree, they could be viewed as intentional. What better way to keep people’s attention focused on non-intimate, non-erotic matters than to convince them they are diametrically opposed in every way? If the masses can be convinced that they are so different that all there will be is discord, why would anyone try to overcome these differences and find a way to unite?

So, before we address affection, attention, connection, and horizontal refreshments, let’s agree that social programs affect both men and women. Let’s also agree that we are all a work in progress. We must accept that we just don’t know what we don’t know. This means that by default, we are all ignorant to some degree, even when it comes to the very relationships we have been participating in, and the partners we have committed ourselves to. Men and women communicate differently. We use different languages, and everything always gets lost in translation. Words confuse what love means to articulate. It’s a human condition we all suffer from and simultaneously, are saved by.

When men’s requests for intimacy are rejected, when rejection of affection becomes the norm, this will lead to diminished attention. Please keep in mind, this does not discount how a woman’s request for intimacy and subsequent rejection also leads to diminished attention. But for now, I want to focus on administering to the masculine.

Men’s hearts become hard when they are repeatedly rejected in their attempts to give affection and attention.

And a hardened heart might as well mean divorce. Let me use the Bible to help explain this point.

“Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning…” (Matthew 19:8, NIV)

As antiquated and contained as some of the religious Laws were back then, I got to hand it to Moses for the consideration of divorce. From my view, it seems that he was more concerned with keeping contempt out of the heart and mind. He may have realized how much mental clogging goes on when you are in a relationship that you don’t want to be in. To free men (and women) from a hardening of hearts, because a loving heart was necessary to advance God’s will, he granted a divorce. I like to think he did this so that people could pursue love rather than just the status of marriage.

Given the statistics of male suicide rates, and the demographic of male suicides—divorced men top the list; it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to suggest that preventing men from hardened hearts may prevent them from the depths of darkness where death seems like the only resolve. But what does this say about divorce and the permission granted by Moses? If we step back a few verses, the Pharisees were quizzing Jesus about divorce, testing him to see if he knew the Law.

“They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’ ‘Haven’t you read’ he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6)

I want to crack open those verses a bit more and offer a bit of commentary for you to consider. What stands out to me is how Jesus repeats himself, with an emphasis on two becoming one flesh. This is the part that matters, the rest is irrelevant. This is the part that speaks to our naked nature and our endowed erotic desire to touch and feel and be intertwined with the one we love. This is how it was in the beginning.

At the beginning of our relationship, we are inseparable. We have sex all the time. We want to touch and kiss and always be around one another. We find every excuse and every reason to just be in the same space as the other. Kind of like the Garden of Eden. We were just blissfully unaware of the world outside of us because we were so dazed and in love. We are content, our needs are met, and more.

But then we come into more knowledge about one another. We create new memories and experiences, sometimes we create children together. The more information we absorb from all the new experiences we incorporate into our relationship, the less we feel like we know one another. We discover new components about each other during our journey together. And you would think that the more information we obtain, the more time we spend together, and the more we would appreciate and admire all this additional wisdom. But we don’t. It’s almost as if we feel betrayed by it. We feel like we don’t know our spouse anymore, especially when we move through challenges that change either who we are, or what life means.

Some men, for example, struggle with watching their wives give birth and then returning to that same body for a sexual request. The more information and imagery we archive, the more distractions we have when we are trying to listen to desire. If infidelity was a part of the marriage, it can be a constant obstacle to the lens of love. More information clogs and makes us cling more than it does provides us with answers to solve problems and prevent pain. It’s a trade-off that we make so we don’t remain perpetually ignorant. But it’s a choice we make, we can at least own that, right?

Two people choose to become one. That’s what you wanted, right? You wanted what you had in the beginning? Right? You chose to marry so that you could have more of what you had in the beginning: closeness, intimacy, touch, and sex. Aren’t these the structures that seduce? Isn’t this what we are marrying towards? I guess I just assumed that most people who get married considered these very physical, sexual, and intimate components (constitutions?) of marriage. Didn’t you get married because you want to have sex with, and spend lots of time with, your spouse? Wasn’t it because you didn’t want to sleep without them or eat without them or even be without them? Isn’t that what love is all about? Horizontal refreshments, romantic habits, and finding heaven and home in a person, not a place?

Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate. Let no woman separate…Let no fallacy or illusion separate spouse from spouse.

Based on what I have listened to and read from men, this is what they want: Men want women to invite them into intimacy, men want horizontal refreshments, and men want to touch our bodies. Women’s bodies are biologically designed to be appealing, soft, less hairy, and more fragrant to attract the opposite sex for the very purpose of sustaining humanity. And also, boobs are God. (I wrote about it here.) But also, our bodies offer comfort to men. Of course! They want to touch and kiss and caress our bodies! Touch heals. Women come with so many special fleshly features that are often a saving grace for men and their internal disruption and discombobulation.

Do you know what else? I want to share a sisterhood secret for the women and men out there: a man’s touch heals a woman, too! More than that, a man’s touch can disarm a woman. More than that, a man’s touch can lubricate a woman. Most women don’t realize this consciously, but on an unconscious level, she senses it. This helps explain why she moves away from physical contact when she is activated or triggered. She removes herself from the disarming power of touch. She isolates herself, increasing the distance between her and her spouse (or whoever she may be upset with). She recoils in reaction.

Until we are willing to witness ourselves like an audience member, we won’t see how our habitual responses play a role in our reactionary rejections of affection and intimacy.

Or maybe you do recognize that you have been cold, distant, and disconnected. I know there have been times when I fully realize that I might have blown things out of proportion. As an emotional creature, I can admit that about myself. But I have been stuck in past times. I had been stubborn and refused to budge or make the first move or do anything nice. And my husband was locked in a hardening state of heart, feeling rejected but respecting my boundaries and my demands to be left alone and to stay away. It’s a dumb game we’ve been playing since the Garden. Pointing fingers, shifting blame, and refusing to take accountability for the knowledge we came to have, whether it be about ourselves or our partners. We would rather stay mad than be the first to admit “I was wrong.”

We don’t have to play this game, however. That’s the funny thing about all this fickle foolery of societal prescriptions and programs. We can break free from them. We don’t have to let the inundating influence of intentional intimacy interrupters interfere with our relationships. (I apologize, I really enjoy alliteration, I realize that might have been overkill.)

Touch is the language that we all speak fluently. We know how it can activate us, we know that it disarms us, and heals us, but it also triggers us. Even so, we need touch in our lives. Husbands need the touch of their wives. And wives need the touch of their husbands.

We are fleshly creatures that respond to touch in a multi-dimensional way. It activates and animates the emotional, mental, physical, sexual, and spiritual dimensions of who we are. Please consider inviting intimacy into your life. Communicate your needs to one another and listen. Be willing to receive the invitation for affection and attention to prevent your heart from hardening.


About Danielle M Kingstrom
Danielle is a writer, podcaster, and home-school teacher. She lives in rural Minnesota on a farm with her husband and five children. Together, they maintain a fourth generation legacy farm and raise chickens and cattle. When she is not reading, writing, or self-educating; she can be found outdoors in nature’s naked elements. Danielle is an avid gardener, a lover of art, knowledge, and always a student. She is active in revitalization projects within her community, partnering with committees to bridge the Rural Divide. Unafraid of sparking controversy, Danielle is a frequently published author, appearing regularly in her community’s local newspaper; writing about provocative issues and asking challenging questions that raise a few eyebrows. She is currently working on two books. You can read more about the author here.

Browse Our Archives