It's something so subtle that most men don't know it's there, but it's at the top of the mind and of highest concern to women: the "intimacy" part of physical intimacy. Men would generally rather ponder the aspects of the "physical" part of course, but some attention to what's going on between the ears would pay off enormously in ways of getting closer to women through a physical connection.

Most men are aware of the first hurdle to jump in getting physical - the fear of initiating in the first place. The next absolute requirement for execution is the second step of Sexual Attraction, the actual physical touch. Believe it or not, there comes a time when the woman's brain absolutely expects you to initiate physical touch. If it doesn't happen, then she feels as if something is wrong on an unconscious level. She intuitively distances herself to a physical and mental place that one could say (at the very least) is unromantic.

Most men have experienced this process gone wrong. Admittedly or not, a man feels powerlessness in the amount of interest, energy and time that he has already invested in the woman. In short, initially the encounter had a lot of potential for romance, but alas, "I did something wrong." Or in this case, the man failed "to do something right."

It's understandable. Rightfully, we are educated in workplaces (where we spend most of our time) not to make any physical contact with those we are friendly with, let alone strangers. We often forget that new people we meet in our social lives are in fact, essentially strangers, even when there is romantic potential. Otherwise, we would already call them a friend, not a lover. Still, for the man who has a hard time switching hats between the workplace and the romantic life, this will pose a difficult situation. Someday, he will need to be able to recognize when an available woman is romantically interested in him.
Levels of Psychological Intimacy

You enjoy the physical in physical intimacy (and she does too). However, a woman's sense of being both safe and desired needs to have the stress placed on the intimacy part of the experience. A personal boundary is involved whenever there is a physical connection between people. It could be a deep sharing of thoughts or emotions or on the flipside, a lowered sense of safety, invasion of privacy, or otherwise insult, offensiveness, conflict or disagreement. All the things you might worry about as a man in terms of "how the woman will view me". These encompass both of your qualities of the personal boundary, and how they interact.

When there is a mismatch in the maturity level of the couple's boundaries, or one person tries for a higher level of intimacy before the other is anywhere near ready - that's where all the confusion, miscommunication, false assumptions and rapid dissolving of the spirit of passion come from.

Best Friends, Hopefully Not Forever - The Power of "Being Voluntary"

If we have gotten over the hurdle of being strangers as far as the mindset of physical intimacy, it's time to wonder about something more in terms of boundaries.

Maybe you've been on a few dates now and actually have had some chance to have deep conversations. Maybe you've been together for a while and it's time to think about whether to call yourselves boyfriend and girlfriend.

But maybe you are still on the first meeting or date. Being idealized and projecting idealizations and fantasies are great, but you reach a certain point with women when you are allowed courteous, diplomatic touch, but no more.
Not without a sense of friendship or friendliness at the very least.

It's worth underlining in bold here what you likely already know: that women have the final word on whether physical intimacy of any kind will occur, and how far it will go. It's just worth stating and remembering. It falls on you to offer connection - a handshake, a brush of the shoulder, even a high five, a hug - but it is likely she will refuse anything further if she does not feel safe, content, interested, attracted and friendly with you.

But that's the beauty of seeing how these boundaries work hand in hand with physical intimacy.

Imagine that you have had a chance to really connect, to talk, to clarify, to dispel misconceptions, to correct the stories that you make up about each other. Your boundaries come "closer in psychological space" so to speak, which is to say that your stories about each other are more matching and accurate. You start to "get each other."

A woman needs a sense of this psychological closeness prior to advancing much further into physical intimacy. She needs some evidence that the connection is not dangerous, or sordid in a demeaning way, or trashy, shameful and the like. In other words it means that she needs to feel special to the man in his eyes. It is genuine and honest, and the boundaries of friendship help to guarantee this is true - with the accurate communication, expression of who we are, and the good emotions we send toward each other.

Why?

Because in the end, the predominant thing that makes us BEST friends is a good match of our complementary personality styles.

Unstoppable Teammates - The Power of Shared Reality and True Privacy

The issue of escalating your physical intimacy with a woman "all the way" to the highest level (and the mindset that goes with it in terms of boundaries) is one which widely varies by lifestyle, culture, locality, maturity, personality, religious views, and just plain personal preference.

By now though, you ought to have done enough detective work to figure out what kind of person she is and vice versa.
If you were going to consider what the mindset difference is between "heavy petting" and going to bed together, you might consider some slightly more serious issues - STDs and pregnancy as possibilities which are definitely on her mind too. You might notice that these "serious issues" concern something that gets "shared” leading to a possible major responsibility for both parties: shared control, shared ownership, and shared responsibility.

Once a couple starts making joint decisions that impact their lives, even as small a thing as going on a vacation together, they have a measure of Commitment. They are partners now, at least for a time.

This is the great reward to the woman's unconscious - the thing she has dreamt of since childhood - the wedding, the ring, safe in the arms of a man just like Dad. Depending on the woman's beliefs, she may prefer saving sex itself for marriage, or at the very least, expect and need more than just friendship - that wonderful, fully voluntary thing. She will want clues of enduring commitment from the man - that he is reliable and that she can count on him. This is the commitment level of intimacy - beyond friends, you are actually partners responsible for each other.

Lucky for us, the brain takes care of all this by having us walk through all the steps of courtship together.

Author's Bio: 

Paul Dobransky, M.D. is a board-certified psychiatrist, public speaker and relationship expert who has treated more than 10,000 patients in 15+ years in clinical psychiatric care. Journalists and clients worldwide have sought Dr. Paul's advice on dating, relationships and all aspects of human psychology.

Dr. Paul pioneered MindOS, a new, patent-pending approach to understanding relationships, mood problems and stress. MindOS synthesizes all schools of therapy into a single, effective system-based approach that uses plain language to help people understand psychology and solve problems. Go to http://www.menspsychology.com/ to learn more.