Beyond a 50-50 love life
Many people today believe in a myth that says intimate happiness is attained through a '50/50' ideal of equality between men and women. Belief in this notion of 'sameness' is one of the major reasons that men and women have been unable to cultivate and deepen sexual, emotional, and spiritual union in intimacy. As many of us have discovered, when we focus on dividing the pie equally, our intimate embrace often becomes more like a business handshake and less like a delicious swoon that dissolves two lovers into a single heart of desire.
Culturally, what I call the modern '50/50 relationship' was born of dissatisfaction with the old style of suppressive relationships between the sexes. Until recently, men and women were confined to rigidly defined sex roles that dictated how they were supposed to behave -- or what they could achieve.
Eventually, many women and men found that they no longer wanted to depend on, or be depended on by, someone else. As individuals and as a culture, we began to embrace the ideals of wholeness and of individual completion by accepting both the feminine and masculine energies that lie within each of us.
Men began to accept their 'internal goddess' by learning to express their emotions and nurture themselves, while acknowledging their vulnerability in relationships. Women began to accept their 'internal warrior' by developing their careers and strengthening their political clout, thereby freeing themselves from economic dependence on men.
Intimate relationships between men and women evolved from what I call first-stage 'dependence relationships' to second-stage relationships based on the modern ideal of two independent people, whole unto themselves, coming together as equals and evenly splitting the responsibilities of the household, finances, and child rearing. Today's '50/50 relationship' is based on this second-stage style of intimacy.
Nobody would disagree that the 50/50 relationship is a positive step toward liberation from the first stage and its stifling gender roles. The trouble is, many modern women have had to cloak their unique and natural expression of feminine radiance in order to succeed in today's more masculine-oriented economy. And many modern men, stuck in a vague transition point between old models of the masculine and new identities, have become ambiguous at their core, unable to be fully present and confident in relationship and in their lives. Men and women have inadvertently become more and more sexually neutralized, unable to give each other what they really want in intimacy. Rather than celebrating the attractive differences between the masculine and the feminine qualities in each of us (a polarity which often bring intimates together in the first place), some people have begun to deny that there even is a difference between men and women. Of course, there is at least some difference that we could feel; otherwise, we wouldn't have a sexual preference. On the contrary, most of us know the kind of lover that we want. Regardless of whether we are heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, most of us have a preference for either a more archetypally masculine lover or a more archetypally feminine lover.
Women complain that men are becoming weaker, less committed in intimacy, and seemingly lost in their lives. In short, women often ask me why men are such 'wimps' these days.
Men complain that women are becoming hardened, more resistive, and sharply independent, to the point that they are no longer very attractive to many men. In short, men often ask me why women are becoming such 'ballbusters' these days.
Modern men and women have discovered that equality, by itself, does not make for a passionate and growing relationship. So where do we go from here?
I suggest 'intimate communion,' a relationship style that is entirely different from either dependence or 50/50 relationships. Intimate communion is not about the old style of sex roles, nor is it about the modern ideal of 'fairness,' where the essential strengths of the masculine and feminine forces are often denied, along with the attractive differences between them. Intimate communion is about opening our hearts and giving the unique gifts that lie deep in our sexual, emotional, and spiritual core.
For fear of becoming too vulnerable or dependent, many of us have lost trust in our natural feminine style of giving, preferring a more aggressive or independent stance in the world. For fear of becoming too macho and insensitive, many of us have lost trust in our natural masculine style of giving, and in doing so we have lost touch with our real direction in life and are afraid to take a strong stand in our intimacies and in the world.
After interviewing thousands of men and women about what they truly want in an intimate relationship, I must report that when most men and women achieve a 50/50 relationship, they find they want a partner who expresses more feminine radiance or masculine presence. My research suggests that men and women are filled with wild and beautiful masculine and feminine gifts they are afraid to share, and they are also reluctant to fully express their own real desires -- sexual, emotional, and spiritual desires -- in intimacy.
To become truly intimate, we must come to terms with our deepest desires to give and receive our sexual, emotional, and spiritual gifts. We may find that we are hiding some of our real desires, thinking they are unfair or taboo. Before we can learn to give and receive our deepest gifts, whether gently or wildly, we must understand why we often confine our loving, and how we can liberate the mysterious force of love which lies yearning in our hearts.
Spiritual teacher and best-selling author David Deida writes extensively on the ties between sexuality and spirituality. A founding member of the Integral Institute, a nonprofit organization that takes a holistic approach to disciplines such as psychology, business, politics, and education, Deida has taught and conducted research at the University of California Medical School in San Diego and Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, and holds workshops that aim to awaken and transform the mind, body, and heart. Recent books include Waiting to Love: Rude Essays on Life After Spirituality (Plexus, 2003) and Finding God Through Sex: A Spiritual Guide to Ecstatic Loving and Deep Passion for Men and Women (Plexus, 2002). This article is taken from his Web site: www.deida.com