Vive La Difference!

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

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

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
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:

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