Saturday, May 24, 2008

Masculine and Feminine in Relationships - Sexual Polarity

When I first saw this article (Coach Rori Tells You How To Help Your Boyfriend Be More Masculine) come up in my reader, I thought to myself, "Self, this is going to be a big pile of steaming horse shit." Well, yes and no.

First the complaint. Any time a woman feels she needs to "fix" her man, things are eventually going to end badly (same is true if a man needs to "fix" his woman, or any other combination of genders one wants to use). If one partner is truly in need of some personal growth, and s/he is not going there without prompting, no amount of wanting him or her to change is going to matter. Eventually it will become a divisive issue. People have to want to change.

Most women have visions of the ideal man – a masculine, affectionate, intelligent guy who will sweep you off your feet – being not only a knight in shining armor, but sensitive and romantic. Which is all great – mouth watering in fact!

But then your flash fire attraction turns to a relationship, and your knight in shining armor can sometimes…well…seem like a real wimp! This happened to me a while back, so I went seeking some relationship advice for women from a really cool person I found, have the relationship you want gives relationship advice for women , specifically, and I love hearing it from the female perspective versus Dr. Phil. Don’t get me wrong, Dr. P is great, but he is not exactly…a woman.

Oh yeah, my other complaint -- Dr. Phil is a bonehead on a good day.

After this opening I thought this was really going to suck. But it does get better.

In this, relationship expert Rori Raye seems to believe that men end up NOT in control of a relationship because women, having to be much more masculine and savvy themselves these days, actually take the roll FROM the man sometimes, leaving him with nothing.

So, in this light, a sage piece of relationship advice for women would be to lean back a little bit and start a process that will allow your man to regain the control of your relationship that HE needs in order to feel masculine and in charge. After all – that is what you want – right?

Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to make all the decisions? To allow someone else to handle where you are going for dinner , the details of the big things, the decisions that couples need to make so that YOU can relax and become the feminine, beautiful woman you are yearning to be. Now – I am not saying to let your man CONTROL you – by any means. What I am saying though is that if you relinquish some of that POWER back to him – he will step into the shoes of the man you want him to be.

Allowing your man to become the leader that you BOTH want him to be will truly charge your relationship. You will BOTH feel more attracted and comfortable in the positions of the man in the masculine and the woman in the feminine.

I'm sure this might sound sexist and old-fashioned to both men and women, but I think this is pretty good advice. Men need to be able to feel like men, which doesn't mean they can't be sensitive and in-touch with their emotions. But the old ideas of chivalry, which don't seem very politically correct, are still highly useful. Men can open doors for women, seat them first in a restaurant, and on and on, and this allows him to feel more masculine and the woman to feel more feminine. In the end, these types of simple behaviors create more sexual polarity -- and that's a good thing, especially if you enjoy passion in the bedroom.

In fact, this is not much different than what "integral relationship" guru David Deida advocates. He's a big fan of sexual polarity, of one partner being more masculine (assertive not aggressive, powerful not controlling) and one partner being more feminine (loving not submissive, communal not selfless). Without this, there is no passion, and that seems what the post above is seeking.

Each of us, man or woman, possesses both inner masculine and inner feminine qualities. Men can wear earrings, hug each other tenderly, and dance ecstatically in the woods. Women can change the oil in the car, accumulate political and financial power, and box in the ring. Men can take care of their children. Women can fight for their country. We have proven these things. Just about anyone can animate either masculine or feminine energy in any particular moment. (They might still have a strong preference to do one or the other, which we will get to in a moment.)

The bottom line of today’s emerging 50/50, or “second stage,” relationship is this: If men and women are clinging to a politically correct sameness, even in moments of intimacy, then sexual attraction disappears. I don’t mean just the desire for intercourse: the juice of the entire relationship begins to dry up. The love may still be strong, the friendship may still be strong, but the sexual polarity fades, unless in moments of intimacy one partner is willing to play the masculine pole and one partner is willing to play the feminine. You have to animate the masculine and feminine differences if you want to play in the field of sexual passion.

It is up to you: you can have a loving friendship between two similars. But in the moments when you want strong sexual polarity, you need a more masculine and a more feminine partner.

It doesn’t matter if both partners are men or both are women. It doesn’t matter if, in a heterosexual relationship, the man plays the feminine pole and the woman plays the masculine pole. It doesn’t matter if every day you change who plays the masculine pole and who plays the feminine pole. For sexual polarity, you need an energetic polarity, an attractive difference between masculine and feminine. You don’t need this difference for love, but you do need it for sexual passion.

I like this polarity idea, but I also want the male to be able to take the feminine role sometimes and the female to take the more masculine role. I believe that we need to have access to both our essential sexuality and our gender subpersonality (anima and animus) in order to be balanced and whole.

But as Deida points out, this balance needs to be authentic -- when it's not, things don't go well.
Trying to squeeze your masculine or feminine essence into a falsely balanced persona affects virtually every part of you. Many people with a true feminine essence manifest a range of disturbed physiological symptoms as their feminine energy “dries up” through running excess masculine energy through their body, year after year, in order to fit into a masculine style of work. And many people with a masculine essence, seeking to fit in with a feminine style of cooperation and energy flow, disconnect from their sense of life purpose and inhibit their deep truth, afraid of the consequences of being authentic to their own masculine core. Hence, the frequent complaints about too many ballbusters and too many wimps.
OK, again this sounds sexist, and his language is not very subtle, but it's a valid point. We do need to honor our essence as people, no mater what that looks like. Doing so might impact how we make a living, but we are more likely to have happy and successful lives if we are aligned with our true nature.

A friend of mine is strongly considering becoming a personal trainer rather than a software engineer, and my guess is that part of his decision is based on aligning with his true nature. Software might make him more money, but helping other people might be about who is as a person, and doing so is bound to make him happier. And the reality is, at least in my experience, that if we are doing something we love to do, a little less money isn't as big of an issue.

Deida talks about three stages of psych-sexual development -- what I am seeking and advocating is the third stage. This is from an interview he gave that was posted back in July of 2007.

You know, I sometimes talk about three stages. In the first stage I talk about, men only identified with the masculine, whom we could caricaturize as the “macho jerk” archetype, and women only identified with the feminine, a kind of “submissive housewife” image from the 1950s. That’s the image of first-stage relationships.

A lot of people are moving into a second stage where they are balancing their internal masculine and feminine and I think that is where the majority of people are still going. Women as a whole are becoming more balanced, more masculine, and men are becoming more balanced, more feminine, which these days is called the metrosexual approach.

Women are ahead of men in general. So as a group women are more evolved than men. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any evolved men. At the edges of the bell curve there are plenty of both men and women. But as a group, women are a little ahead, so women became balanced first, and that was shown during the first wave of the feminist movement or women’s liberation in the ’60s and ’70s. Men followed that with “the men’s movement”: learning to access emotions, singing, banging on drums, communing with nature, and dancing in the woods. It helped feminize men, put them in touch with their feelings, with the power of nature, and especially with the power of relationship with other men and women.

My work is really for people who have already achieved this masculine/feminine balance to some degree and want to take the next step. And that step is complete fluidity in masculine and feminine depending on the needs of the situation and the expression of the individual. So sometimes you would be extremely masculine or extremely feminine, sometimes a more balanced expression. So the middle of the curve is going towards androgyny and the people who have already achieved that are taking the next step towards true freedom in sexual expression and enjoyment.

The article above (the advice for women) seems focused on the second stage -- and moving into the third. I would like to see more men able to achieve that fluidity -- it's certainly what I am working on in my own life. And if you are reading this blog, I suspect you are too.

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