New Survey Finds Men, Women Don't Speak the Same Language

Relationship Experts Dr. Robi Ludwig and Steve Santagati Bridge the Intimacy Gap

By (BI) Breanna Burmeister

SKILLMAN, N.J. -- Almost 15 years after "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" put the spotlight on the male-female relationship dynamic, a new survey by K-Y Brand and Ipsos reveals that America still has lessons to learn. The survey of 300 men and 300 women ages 18-49 in committed relationships reveals that women and men still don't "speak" the same language when it comes to intimacy, and almost one-third find it difficult to talk about intimacy at all. The good news is that nine out of 10 people think it's possible to learn how to be more intimate.

These numbers don't surprise Dr. Robi Ludwig, a nationally known psychotherapist and host of the TLC program, "One Week To Save A Marriage"; and Steve Santagati, contributing editor to Men's Journal and author of "The Manual: A True Bad Boy Explains How Men Think, Date, and Mate -- And What Women Can Do to Come Out on Top."

Santagati and Ludwig agree that men -- and women -- aren't always the best communicators when it comes to intimacy, but both experts think there are ways to make relationships stronger.

"Mastering the language of intimacy requires that you really be in tune with your partner's needs, but you also should understand your own needs -- and be able to communicate them as well," says Dr. Ludwig. "And men should be aware that for women, true intimacy starts from the brain. There is a real connection between the physical and emotional that comes from our minds."

Men and Women: Just How Different?
According to the survey, women are more than twice as likely as men (31 percent vs. 14 percent) to want more communication in their relationships, and three times as likely to want to "talk more." Women think that the emotional aspect of their relationships needs to be improved at a rate 22 percent higher than men.

When it comes to the physical part of a relationship, you guessed it -- men out-pace women by 32 percent. Men and women can't even agree on whether the level of intimacy in their relationships needs to be improved -- with women citing better communication (31 percent versus 14 percent for men), and men out-flanking women on the no-improvement- needed box by 30 percent to 20 percent.

Is there any hope at all for bridging the intimacy gap? With 91 percent of respondents saying it is possible to learn how to be more intimate, the answer is definitely yes. And although men and women may not necessarily agree on what constitutes intimacy in a relationship, it's not from a lack of trying: Almost half of men (44 percent) and one-third of women (33 percent) say they communicate on an intimate level with each other about once or twice a week.

"The trick to finding true intimacy is to recognize, and embrace, that men and women communicate differently, so try new things and find what works," says Steve Santagati. "Remember that as men, we are about the physical, it's just our nature. We don't want intimacy to be a routine; it needs to have constant newness and excitement. The unexpected is really great."

Learning To "Speak" The Language of Intimacy
Ludwig and Santagati have put together tips to help couples better "speak" the language of intimacy -- a mix of long-term advice with some quick and fun tips that should help any couple get closer.

-- GET STARTED - It may sound simple, but just take the first step. Each success you have in your relationship will breed more success; the more you are intimate, the more you will want to be intimate.

-- RELAX AND BE YOURSELF. Be comfortable being yourself in front of your partner.

-- MAKE A DATE. Life is hectic, but don't forget the time the two of you need together. Create date nights if necessary. Get a baby sitter. Do what it takes to make intimate moments possible.

-- BREAK THE ICE - If there's too much pressure, consider a fun way to start a conversation, play a fun game or give your partner a massage.

-- REMEMBER THE TIME? If you find it hard to start the conversation, talk about the first time you met, or the first time you felt the strong attraction to each other. Discuss what made it so special.

-- SHOW ACCEPTANCE AND RESPECT. And even learn to compromise. Make a list of what is important to each other, separately, then share your thoughts. The give and take can be healthy and intimate.

-- PLAN AHEAD. Romance planned for 10:00 p.m. should start at 10:00 a.m. Leave a note in your partner's briefcase, or send flirty e-mails during the day.

-- WRITE IT DOWN. Cat got your tongue? Pick up a pen and write down the fun things you'd like to try with your partner. Put all of the idea into a hat and take turns drawing out new ideas -- and conversations!

-- BE ACTIVE, TOGETHER. Exercise together. Take walks, ride bikes, mountain climb if you're both up for it. The physical and emotional dividends will all lead to more intimacy.

-- THINK ABOUT YOUR PARTNER. Each of you should think about what the other desires and needs. What does he/she like dislike?

-- CELEBRATE THE DIFFERENCES. Compliment your partner. Accept that men and women are different and that, when it comes to intimacy each can learn from the other.

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