Author: Sarah Meyer & Renée Shen
How do guys get emotionally attached?
It’s a question many women ponder, especially since so many of us struggle to get a man to commit.
Do you also wonder how it is that men can have sex with the same woman for 10 years and even marry her, but never become emotionally attached to her?
Have you met men who have sat around in long-term relationships, only to leave for a new woman as though their wife or partner never existed?
These are all good questions to ponder, and to answer the question of how do guys get emotionally attached, we first need to understand some differences between men and women.
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Although women tend to get attached to men they spend time with, this is not necessarily the case for men when they spend lots of time with a woman.
Given our evolutionary past and our role as nurturers and caregivers for children, forming deep emotional bonds with other people is something of a default for women.
It’s a natural part of the way we interact with others.
Research shows, however, that men may not share this inclination, at least not to the same degree.
For example, men tend to have fewer close relationships than women across their lives.
Also, friendships between women tend to be highly emotionally intimate, whereas masculine friendships are based more around shared activities.
These differences are thought to be due to the kinds of costs faced by men and women in high stress, low resource environments.
Of course, most of human evolution happened under those conditions.
To explain this further, evolutionary theorists argue that in hunter-gatherer times, men tended to prefer short-term mating strategies with as many women as possible, at least until they met a woman they fell in love with and felt compelled to care for.
Here’s an article Renée and I wrote on How Men Fall In Love: 6 High Value Traits Men Routinely Fall In Love With.
The costs that men faced in terms of romantic attachment and mating were costs related to commitment.
In other words, what does it cost a guy to be committed to a woman?
What does it cost a guy to be married, or to forfeit all other mating opportunities?
Well, when committing to a woman, men may have to:
In many cases, it simply worked better for men to avoid commitment and minimise their attachment to women.
Women, on the other hand, didn’t face costs related to commitment in the way men did.
Instead women faced costs related to the challenges of pregnancy, child-birth, and child-rearing.
All of these experiences made women very vulnerable, so we evolved to seek attachment from men and other women or family members to ensure our safety and well-being during these times.
This means that women are naturally inclined to attach to men, and naturally predisposed to feel anxious about whether these men are truly committed to us.
We aim to maximise men’s investment in us for our own benefit, and for the benefit of any children we might have with him.
As you can see, this mating strategy is the exact opposite of the common masculine mating strategy.
Namely, that men naturally prefer to minimise their attachment to a woman.
But never fear:
Even though men’s mating interests are somewhat in contradiction with a woman’s need to attach, contrary to popular dating advice, it’s actually a very good thing for a woman to attach to a man.
This propensity to attach is exactly what leads to the right kind of high value vulnerability (a trait in women that men fall in love with), that inspires his deeper attachment to you!
Of course, this desire to attach that women have also gets us into trouble, but this is why we need to be consciously aware of our need to attach.
This is so prevalent in women that relationship experts Renée and David have coined a term for it, and it’s called the “feminine bias for early attachment”.
This feminine bias for early attachment is actually quite useful. If we consciously use it to:
One of the ways you can do this is by understanding how to use it to make men more attracted to you in a high value way, and inspire them to attach to you.
David and Renée, founders of NCRW, explain more about exactly how to do this in the program “high Value Attachment”.
(The promise of this course is to help you to use your innate feminine bias for early attachment to create deeper attraction with men and inspire a deeper commitment from him without you looking needy and low value).
If you’re anything like me, all this talk about how men by default seek out unattached sex and partnerships with women sounds pretty discouraging.
But it’s really okay, because these are just the default settings that men and women may start out with at the beginning of a relationship.
They are by no means universal, and they are not the end of the story.
Men have been getting attached to women for all of human history, and there are equally powerful evolutionary mechanisms that propel men to fall in love with women, and even sacrifice themselves for them.
It’s actually quite easy and natural for men to fall in love, and to become attached to a woman.
This just isn’t the default point at which most men start off - and it helps if we understand this.
If it isn’t necessarily the case that men will become attached to a woman just by spending enough time with her, then how do guys get emotionally attached?
Let’s look at 6 triggers for emotional attachment in men, so that we can begin to understand this process.
Openness with men - and with people in general - is a fundamental relationship skill.
I’ve included it first because while many women actually really struggle to be open with men because of past relationship hurt and unresolved fear, being open is absolutely crucial to getting anything started at all.
What do I mean by openness?
Well, I’m primarily talking about the willingness to build a genuine emotional connection with someone.
Now, building emotional connection doesn’t mean talking all about your childhood trauma on a first date.
However, it does mean taking the time to dismantle any defensiveness you might feel.
For example, it’s really easy to subconsciously go on a date feeling worried about the possibility of rejection.
It’s also easy to go on a date and be hyper-vigilant for signs that you might not be good enough for the man you’re with.
This kind of mindset leads to excessive focus on your own presentation and impressiveness.
Openness in this situation would simply mean that you’re interested in getting to know the man you’re on a date with, fundamentally as another human being.
You could also get defensive about the possibility that a man might use you for sex.
In this sense, openness would mean that you’re present enough with yourself to know that you aren’t ready for that yet (if that’s how you feel).
It would also mean to allow your lack of readiness to come across in your words, body language, and actions.
But it would also mean that you’re willing to extend enough trust to a man to give him the benefit of the doubt if you aren’t sure he’s going to do this, even if you’ve had bad experiences in the past.
Openness is the foundation for developing an emotional connection - and thus for men becoming emotionally attached.
There are several reasons for this.
First of all, openness facilitates acceptance and understanding.
And when a man feels accepted and understood, even on a basic level, this allows him to drop his defences and show up as more of himself.
You’ll know much more about him this way, and he will feel liberated in your presence.
This kind of freedom can be addictive, as many men do not have anyone in their lives who is actually interested enough to listen to their thoughts, ideas, and ambitions.
Many men carry around painful memories of being judged, misunderstood, and criticised by both men and women.
Men also often do not expect to be accepted as they are - flawed, sometimes vulnerable, sometimes less sensitive human beings.
But even if you have no intention of taking the relationship further, you can still give a man the gift of your non-judgmental presence and attention for an hour or two.
Second, openness allows a man to see that he has the ability to affect you and your life.
Maybe that makes you uncomfortable, because you don’t want to give him any power over you.
But while I wouldn’t recommend falling apart over a man you’ve only been on one or two dates with, it’s actually necessary for a man to feel like his words and actions matter to you in order for him to become emotionally attached.
So, if you’re feeling:
Nervous about being rejected or coming across poorly
Worried about being used for sex
Excited and happy because you’ve met this great guy, or
Sad because you’re not sure if he’s interested, it’s totally okay to own those feelings and let them show.
How do guys get emotionally attached?
By understanding that you have real feelings, and investing in your well-being, even if it’s just a little to start with.
QUIZ TIME: Anxious, avoidant or secure attachment patterns? Which one do I have? CLICK HERE to find out with our specially crafted women-specific 10 Question Quiz! (Why is this important? It is because your core attachment style largely dictates and influences what happens in your relationship. Thus it’s imperative you understand your core attachment style!)
Men who feel admired and accepted by their partner are much more likely to get emotionally attached.
This is because women’s admiration is a powerful signal to a man that he is worthy.
Worthy of what? Specifically, worthy of:
When a man receives admiration, he will typically experience a high, and he will also feel more relaxed and free to be himself, not to mention more confident in his own direction as a masculine man.
This creates a powerful positive association with you - and also increases your attraction for him.
Unless a man is really at the top of his game professionally, experiences of admiration are probably quite rare for him.
Men tend to be quite reserved in their praise of other men, and women may often worry that they’re coming on too strong by noticing a man’s strengths and abilities.
But if you can be the one to give a man admiration, it will go a long way in getting him to become more attached to you.
You don’t have to give admiration indiscriminately, but just by genuinely expressing yourself when he impresses you or does something worthwhile, you can make him feel more attached to you.
Of course, in the process of making him more attached to you, you might forget to actually check in with yourself and honestly answer the question of how committed he is likely to be to you.
Don’t forget to also prioritise attunement to him. What this means is to regularly see where he is at and assess whether his actions reflect that he is willing to emotionally invest in you.
You can also find out how committed he is to you with our quick and easy quiz: QUIZ TIME: Is your man serious about committing to you? CLICK HERE to find out with this specially crafted quiz!
When genuine attraction develops between a man and a woman, you often see playfulness.
This is especially important for engaging a man on an emotional level.
This is because playfulness can change the way you come across, and make him less likely to see you as just a casual sex option.
Don’t get me wrong, playfulness is great for building sexual attraction too.
The tension that develops through flirting, playful touch, and banter can go a long way to heatup a sexual exchange, especially inside an established relationship.
But when it comes to answering how do guys get emotionally attached, this kind of tension has a different purpose.
Its main value in this case is actually to remove fear and stress from the early stages of your relationship with a man, so that you both begin to practise letting down your guard with one another.
Laughing and being silly together is great for this.
And subtly role-playing with a man can build up the masculine-feminine polarity between the two of you.
By role-playing I don’t mean dressing up as a sexy nurse or getting out the whips and chains.
Ideally, you want to wait for a man to be emotionally attached to you and for you to be emotionally attached to him before having sex, at least if you are hoping to form a committed relationship with him.
Role-playing in this context means that you play around with being helpless and letting him “rescue” you, or being cheeky and silly and letting him tell you off, or anything else that casts you in more of a submissive or dramatic role.
There are many ways to be playful with a man, but some examples include:
By the way, have you seen our free class on the dark feminine art of high value banter? It’s run by David Shen, co-founder of NCRW and I highly recommend you listen to it!
This one is pretty widely applicable, because almost everyone wants to be understood and to feel understood.
Furthermore, understanding is one of the most important qualities for any successful relationship.
It is actually somewhat rare for anyone to find someone else who truly cares about them, understands them, and wants what is best for them - even across their whole lifetime.
And this kind of experience may be even more rare for men than it is for women.
This is because women usually have more close female friends with whom at least some of this trust and understanding is built up.
So how do guys get emotionally attached?
Often, when they find a woman who understands them, they’ll feel more emotionally attached.
In this politically correct climate, men sometimes find themselves almost systematically misunderstood, or cast as villains when they are simply trying to meet their own needs.
For example, men who fail to meet their wives’ romantic expectations are often dismissed as “assholes”, even though planning romantic evenings is not necessarily natural for men.
Similarly, men who are blunt or miss nuances in communication are seen as callous and selfish.
This is unfortunate because often they are just appreciating the situation in a different way - without all of the emotional detail that can be so striking to women.
When a man meets a woman who doesn’t jump on him for every mistake, this is refreshing and freeing for him.
Maybe instead of criticizing she laughs and enjoys the mistake (just how perhaps she’d laugh at her own mistakes).
It’s also particularly moving for a man to meet a woman who listens to his dreams and ambitions without shitting all over them.
Instead of brushing them off as stupid or just a pipe dream, she appreciates his drive, and this can have a very powerful effect on him.
He may open up more and more with this woman, trusting her to care about him and to take his ideas seriously.
Over time, this kind of connection can develop into a strong emotional attachment.
Finally, men are more likely to become emotionally attached when they meet a woman who can comfort and nurture them.
This does not mean that men want to be treated like children. Especially because doting maternal behaviour can feel suffocating, irritating, and off-putting to any man, especially a high-value man.
In fact, if a man accepts maternal treatment from you early on in a relationship, this can be a red flag that he lacks emotional maturity and a strong sense of his own direction.
But excesses aside, men absolutely do want to have their emotional needs understood and taken care of.
And when they experience this with a woman, a deep emotional bond can develop.
The key to comforting a man is really just recognising that he is a human being with his own fears, needs, and insecurities. Even if he doesn’t express these things in ways that you recognize.
If you can understand and anticipate a man’s fears, and even help encourage him against them, you will occupy a very special place in his life.
If you can be there for him when things go wrong, or when he fails, and simply listen to him or do something to cheer him up, he will see that you have unique value to offer him.
And very soon, he won’t be able to imagine his life without you by his side.
Now that you’ve read the 6 triggers for emotional attachment in men, it’s important to understand how to use them.
I would advise against showering your man with all of this value in the early stages of a relationship, when he has not yet earned these gifts from you.
Instead, it’s best if you slowly demonstrate these characteristics as you get to know a man, and as he shows you that he’s worth all of this investment.
What we want to do in the dating stages is show that you have the potential for this kind of connection, and to let it build naturally.
This doesn’t mean that you have to suppress your instincts and wait for the right time, but it does mean that it’s better to follow your gut than it is to follow a bunch of rules for making men get emotionally attached to you.
The best characteristics to lead with are openness and playfulness.
The others are also important, but work best when given slowly, as a little more trust builds up in your relationship.
We hope you enjoyed this article and found the answer to the question of how do guys get emotionally attached.
Do you have any ideas on how guys become emotionally attached to a woman? Leave your comments or your questions below and we will try to answer them!
Case study: Discover how Alison ended her cycle of abusive relationships by learning to quickly weed out the "wrong types of men", inspiring deep devotion from her chosen man and passing the hardest test of them all - an accidental pregnancy after a month of dating! (...All because of this one simple skill every woman should have.)
Sarah has a Masters in psychology and works as a special education advisor in early childhood. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with her partner and two children. She has a passion for evolutionary psychology, attachment theory, and personality psychology.
Author & Editor For National Council for Research on Women. Founder of the popular women's dating & relationship advice website, The Feminine Woman and co-founder of NCRW.
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