Building Bridges

Issue # 4 of 43 

David LeClaire
By: David LeClaire

When Men Are "Emotional Camels"

Many women find it hard to understand how the men in their lives can be satisfied with life as it is. Don't they need more passion? Don't they need more fun? Don't they need to have more of a connection with their family, their wife, or their community? Regardless of the area of concern, the truth is that many men are what I call "emotional camels."

Just like a camel can go forever without water in the heat of the desert, so can many men go without the intimacy, feelings of fulfillment, or the excitement life can offer.

Men from all walks of life tend to strive to have a sort of emotional harmony or peace, or what some may call "an emotional flatline." It's not that men don't like feelings, it's that they are willing to sacrifice the highs and lows for the steady, even-keeled experience of life. This is a good thing to them. Most men hate being depressed, or sad, or angry. They want these feelings to go away as quickly as possible, so they can return to their "flatline" state.

While some women also have this same tendency, the majority actually seem to enjoy the wide range of emotions and seem reluctant to get over anything too soon. This can drive a man bonkers, especially since he has to deal with her when she's not happy. He usually wants to help her get out of these "negative" states so she no longer is a "problem" to him. Her down times affect him, which threaten to destabilize his current flatline state.

While men can live without intimacy for quite a while, they usually can't live without sex of some form, even if it's just with themselves. But masturbation can be just enough to keep him satisfied for the most part for quite a while, yet for women, even those who enjoy sex with themselves regularly, this is not enough for very long. They need the connection with another person, the shared intimacy that gives the sex meaning. Often guys almost prefer the simplicity of masturbation because its quick, easy, and uncomplicated. They don't need the "heart" thing as much and as often, just the orgasms. Being an emotional camel also translates into men not needing much ego stroking from their partner. That is why men usually give so little of this medicine to the woman in their life. They figure "If I don't need it, why should she?" Knowing they "have to" give at least a little, they do, but only what they think is reasonable.

The same is true for romance. Most men are relatively "unmoved" by romantic gestures. It's just not that exciting or important to them. So, they know they should put in more effort to be romantic because it's something their woman wants, but that's usually the only reason. (Unless you are in the initial bliss stages of a relationship - then they'll do just about anything, naturally.) Otherwise, it's more of an issue of guys giving slightly more than they need, which isn't much at all for most men.

So, does this all this mean that men are dead emotionally? Not at all! As a matter fact, men are much more emotional than most would believe. But it's different than it is for women. Men get emotional over different things, like sports and driving. Men do not lack emotion. It's just that they require very little "emotional fulfillment" in their day to day lives, and can go for days, weeks, and some even years without a whole lot of the intimacy, the romance, the connection with others, the high highs and low lows. These men aren't broken, that's just the way they are.

How does knowing and accepting this help women? First, it changes what things mean such as his lack of enthusiasm for things she cares about, i.e. romance, intimate sex, time with her, etc. etc. It's not that he's bored with her, it's that he is boring. His flatline state is intact and yet she feels something is missing. Something is, but only for her really. Her challenge is to learn how to be happy without expecting him to act, think, and feel like she wants him to. She may learn how to get him to make some adjustments, but his whole personality will not change overnight. Her continued efforts, realistic expectations, and patience will make it more possible to get him out of his trance once in a while to join her the land of the living.

David LeClaire has spent much of his time teaching at community college and private school, and lead communications training for Fortune 500 companies. Now a popular and active Seattle area sommelier, this graduate of Central Michigan University led seminars for a wide variety of organizations. LeClaire is the author of "Bridges To A Passionate Partnership." He can be reached at

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Text © 1998, David LeClaire. Part of the original Sideroad.
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