A reader emails:

I’ve got a bit an issue that I’m hoping you could give me some input on. The subject is something you seem to be very familiar with; women and emotional intimacy.

Basically, girls who become attracted to me also become emotionally afraid of me. The problem isn’t a lack intimacy, but rather the other way around.

A bit about myself:

I know myself. I am unusual in many respects. I consider myself open, honest, and fairly uninhibited, and I’ve been described as such many many times as well, by both men and women.
Just the other day, a female friend said as much, and added that I “can be quite scary like that, because very few are like that to anywhere near the same degree”.

I’m a man of contrasts. I can be raw, crude, and I do have a little bit of a temper, but I am also sensual, playful, and loving.

In poetic terms, I am fire, and I am water. I can heat people up, and burn them if I so desire, but I can just as easily cool them and calm them.
I am also earth and wind; my feet are firmly grounded, but my emotions roam freely if I allow them to do so.

I’m very confident and secure in myself, but I know my shortcomings and weaknesses, and I strive to improve.

I am strong willed, and submission is NOT something I do. The attempts of others to control me invariably fail unless I allow them, such as in work situations.

I’m not afraid of conflict. I’m also not afraid of closeness and intimacy; in fact, I relish it.
I’m also comfortable with revealing my vulnerabilities. Few are the things that I fear in life.

I have an uncanny ability to get people to open up and to tell me their secrets. I don’t even try. It comes naturally. I form connections very easily as well. Today, a girl I’ve known for barely a few weeks, and whom I’ve interacted with for a total of just a few hours, told me she felt as if “we’ve known each other our entire lives”.

The issue:

Many women are attracted to me, both physically and emotionally, but they’re afraid of me, to the degree that very few even dare to show more than polite friendly interest.
Even though many girls want badly to be close with me, they dare not. It’s like they’re preemptively afraid of me leaving them, or that they’re afraid of losing themselves in me. Afraid that things would get too close. I’ve been told things to that effect.

One time in particular, a girl nearly broke down after an intimate moment. She said “I’ve been afraid of you since we met, and now I fear you more than ever”.

I often get insane amounts of last minute resistance. They literally become emotionally distressed, and I’ve been told “I want you so badly but I’m so scared!” several times. One girl in particular, despite my best efforts at calming and comforting her, tensed up so badly that I could barely fit a finger in her. Despite several tries, we never had normal sex. I simply couldn’t fit my penis into her, and it’s not like she was a virgin or had something physically wrong with her vagina.

The ironic thing is that when I do my best to calm girls and comfort them, it seems to make things worse. It’s like they love me while they at the same time don’t dare to.

I’ve been called “heart breaker” by girls who’ve never dared show their interest in me. Even girls I barely know have called me such.

Just recently, I found out that not less than three girls at my old workplace were in love with me. I had flirted with two of them, but they only returned friendly interest.

At one point, there was a temporary consultant that I flirted with, and she reciprocated (though the issues I’ve described above ensued with this girl as well). I went for her, and in the process I broke the hearts of the other three girls. They didn’t dare show that to me, but I’ve been reliably informed that at least one of them was “completely heart broken and very sad”.

There is nothing wrong with any of the girls I set my sights on. They’re normal and healthy. They’re not emotionally damaged or psychologically defective, and yet they react so very strongly to me.

It is frustrating. I feel like an emotional terrorist. I need to change something, but what? I’m missing some important detail.

Do you have any thoughts or ideas?

In my early thirties I mentioned to my buddy that once again a girl I was into told me that she was afraid of intimacy, and this time he took off the gloves and let me have it with “you always say that”. Implying that perhaps it wasn’t that the girls didn’t want intimacy, but that they didn’t want it with ME.

He’d also tell me to be less clingy or into the girl or passionate, and that girls liked it if the man showed an ability to take it or leave it.

And yet I’ve also experienced and it’s been well documented and scientifically researched that a rapey agressive cave man go for it vibe also gets a girls engine running; she’ll get off on feeling unstoppably wanted.

So I think it’s a very tricky balance to internalize. Aloof and intimate and caveman and alpha leader and intimate partner mate provider.

At 32 one girl told me “You’re perfect, and that’s why I’m afraid of you. Normally I’m more casual, but with you I sense it would open to more, and there is no reason for it not to, and that’s why I’m afraid.”

But that’s just her girl words, it’s not the best mental map for us as men to use to describe how her emotions fit together into a cohesive narrative. For men we’re better interpreting the situation as that:

1) We haven’t given her enough pull so the she feels she has to chase, we’re too accessable and so she can’t feel that we are above her in value.

2) The tone isn’t playful enough. It’s too earnest and leaves no wiggle room to back off and claim the whole thing was just out of fun. It’s too consequence loaded.

Both 1 and 2 can be extremely subtle. With M, a girl who was a 21 year old hottie virgin, when we met we fell into a love at first sight type of dance, and I played up on that storyline with her in texts and in person. However somehow or other there were also other required undercurrents. Although I was instantly genuinely infatuated and stiff, and we played a push pull rapey couch dance of “No, stop!” (back off for 10 seconds and then grab again) “No stop!” (lean way back until she comes into my space for a kiss) and so forth, somehow or other there was still a sense of humor in it.

Jeez, how the hell am I going to hang words on this one.

In my early thirties I wanted a girlfriend, and was playful. In mid forties I wanted a girlfriend and was playful. During both periods I was prone to quick infatuations. Throughout the whole time I remained as I still remain; open to love, bonding, infatuation, and all sorts and types of intimacy dances.

But something was different.

Maybe it’s just that in the interim I’d seen more girl tricks, and been heartbroken more and broken more hearts. As time went on I was willing to love, but knew more of loves illusory nature. Yes, love is still a compulsion; no one can claim to both feel infatuation and control it. And it still wasn’t a game; real feelings have real consequences. And yet some of the earnestness got punctured with humor, and love was also a game. The real pain of consequences was also pierced with bitter-sweet humor and accepted in the way we accept death – as something unacceptable that we deal with anyway without letting it overwhelm our living life; a funny irony to beauty; that it disappears.

Something was different. I’d danced the dance more times. I’d twirled with more partners. Some of the earnestness had drained and the consequences could never be felt to me as so earnest and real as they once had.

I also learned some crucial tricks about carefully doling out intimacy. A girl has to earn it. And even here it’s so subtle, because on a first date fuck I might still scream out “Daddy loves you”. None the less, in the wider gestalt that includes all the expansion and contraction and breathing of the pushes and pulls, the overall impression is that intimacy was being slowly doled out. The dance was being done with a sense of humor. A wink and a nod to the game of seduction and passion being played.

Oh, and I’d over time gained a better sense of command. And better boundaries.

When a girl says she’s afraid, then it means you can pull and make her chase more. That can be done with a subtle vibe. Maybe a playboy vibe, maybe an aloof vibe, maybe time constraints, maybe teasing her, maybe by seeing other girls. There isn’t a one size fits all way, although some people think believe and claim that there is this magical formula called “aloof” that can be sprinkled like pixie dust onto anything. Some how or other your vibe needs to get less earnest. It might happen internally in the most subtle of ways that even you will barely be able to detect. Or it might be through crafty timings of texts and careful word choices. The girl needs see your value, in all areas, including the abilty to bond, but she also needs to feel consequence free.

It’s a one day at a time instant fling. It’s a passionate love affair. It’s not a union of lives. She can walk away or be kicked out, despite the heartbreak. You ease into things as a dance, and on the journey over time you’ll naturally pass mile stones informing the both of you of new bonds. But those milestones are not assumed from the beginning. And that’s not an action, that’s an internalized attitude. She is not allowed to jump into the deep pool of being fully bonded. She has to pass the milestones. In the meantime she gets to explore some rough and deep waters – but she can’t live there and isn’t invited to stay there all at once.

That’s my best attempt for now. Let’s see what the readers say.