WHY CAN'T MEN OPEN UP? by Steven & Gregory White Smith Naifeh


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Men can open up. There are no easy solutions, no fool-proof formulas."" Speaking from disparate experience, tapping well-assorted experts (Ari Kiev, Herb Goldberg), and citing recognizable cases, collaborators Naifeh and Smith (most auspiciously, What Every Client Needs to Know About Using a Lawyer) manage a smooth yet sturdy examination of the issue--primarily directed at the women who raise it. From childhood, the authors note, men are conditioned to fear intimacy: they are goal-oriented, competitive; ""above all, a man can't permit others to assume a position of control in his life, whether physical or emotional."" In the family, fear of intimacy is sublimated into ""devaluation, hostility, and indifference"" as regards women. (A father's coldness may also become a model.) To help a man change? Foremost, be ""independent and giving."" I.e., ""have the emotional independence to let him be distant when he's in a bad mood""; see his problems as problems, not as a personal rejection; ""see him as a flawed individual,"" like yourself--""who needs [your] tenderness and [your] strength."" The woman who's absorbed that lesson can go on to its corollaries and refinements. The value of friendliness and candor in building trust; of straight questions about personal matters (over discussion of ""our problem"") in opening communication. The fact that, for many men, ""sexual activity isn't a substitute for emotional expression: it is emotional expression."" (Hence the anguish of deprivation.) The authors conclude with remarks on therapy: when it's needed, how to suggest it. Nothing extraordinarily novel--but that's not the point: many women will see themselves, as well as their men, in these situations.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1984
Publisher: Potter--dist. by Crown