What I Learned About My Shadow Masculinity by Dating and Loving A Woman
I recently just had one of my most colorful and heart expansive experiences of my life. Yes, I've explored sexually with women but the experience of deeply falling (not quite ascending) in love with one was a new adventure---both exhilarating and terrifying. I learned more than I expected to learn; I saw things in myself I certainly wasn't expecting to see (or wanting to see) and I definitely learned a few things about the masculine pole of energy---the light and the dark---my own masculine shadow— with some very true and first-hand experiences.
1. Gender Roles are Constantly in Flux.
Duh. It’s one thing to know this; another to really feel this. Gender was irrelevant...almost like it wasn't even there; however, I did end up learning more about my masculine side and how mature and immature my masculine side was and is. I definitely learned what my own perceptions of masculinity mean too. For me, masculinity meant taking care of the behind the scenes work. On our second date, I called a restaurant to make sure it had a particular kind of cider she liked---just to make sure it was the right place to take her. I had never called a restaurant for any man I had dated in my life. There was a certain thoughtfulness in this gesture, that I think I had been overlooking in men my whole life. The intention was just to make her happy, to see her smile. I don't know if that same tender intention had ever been there in the same way for a man. But now, if someone ever does it for me (which, actually just happened the other day) I can and WILL have a new found appreciation and gratitude for it.
This relationship and this energy dynamic that made me connect deeper to my masculine side also gave me this interesting drive and sense of entitlement to put more of myself and work in the world. Feeling more masculine made me approach other parts in my life in a more direct, “I want this; therefore I will have this” kind of way. It woke up another layer of ambition in myself. The world felt more conquerable than before.
When people would ask me the VERY cliche question: "So who's the "dude" in the relationship?" or "Who wears the pants?" (and I do understand their curiosity)---my short answer became, "well, she's more emotional than I am" I never even thought this could be possible. I have always been the one that cries. I always am the sensitive one, the one that gets my feelings hurt, the one that cannot possibly understand "HOW COULD HE HAVE SAID THAT? OR DONE THAT? OR MADE THAT STUPID MISTAKE OR FORGOT ABOUT X,Y,Z..."
I understand things in new ways that I didn't before. I found myself forgetting to be sensitive sometimes or forgetting about something she said was important to her. But the thing was, I was just busy focused on the "under the scenes" stuff: like working harder so I could take her on a date or nice vacation or how to "provide" something for her. This too was very new. I've never felt a desire to provide anything material in this way for a man before. I also have more compassion around this. I now realize it's not that men aren't thinking about you---they are thinking about you but in different ways--ways you aren't expecting, realizing or are possibly taking for granted. Partners that have a drive to provide---that is certainly passion---that is certainly a big deal---and that is certainly one way to show love.
2. Oversharing can be Overwhelming. Vulnerability needs Reciprocation & Balance.
So, I have a lot of feelings and can articulate them pretty damn well. In most relationships, I'm feeling so I'm expressing my feelings and then I'm feeling some more feelings, so I'm expressing those feelings too. This relationship made me realize: Not all feelings need to be shared nor expressed with your partner. That is what friends are for. That is what a therapist is for. That is what just sitting and meditating on a feeling can be helpful for. I found myself feeling like I was drowning in what my girlfriend was feeling and expressing sometimes. Oh man, I totally get it now. I totally get how the masculine pole can just check out, become despondent and literally NEED to just focus on something else. I totally understand where there comes a threshold and a point where I couldn't hear anything anymore. Emotional overwhelm. Especially after a long week of working or traveling or being jet-lagged. I feel like I'm a pretty emotionally intelligent and capable person, but it can be SO overwhelming to have a partner that is wildly sensitive and very emotional. I saw myself withdraw, completely check out and not feel equipped to handle what was happening at times. I saw my own emotional overwhelm too---and how that must have felt on partners in the past. I realized that compassion is needed for both partners, but even the “less sensitive” person needs compassion and patience too.
I also learned more about healthy vulnerability. I believe that vulnerability needs to be given, shown, opened into gradually and most importantly: mutually. I consider myself to be quite an open and vulnerable person, but next to someone else who shares and opens even faster than I do (which was usually me in the other 100 relationships/dating experiences I’ve been in), I realized that opening too quickly can be just as unhealthy as not opening up at all. I felt pressure to open emotionally, when I didn’t feel ready which was a new experience for me, something that I probably have made guys feel in the past. I also saw her make herself more and more vulnerable maybe as a way to get me to meet her at that level, but it made me just hold my own ground even tighter. This vulnerability imbalance created a lot of separation and pain. I felt pressured; she felt I wasn’t meeting her—-which I wasn’t but also because I just wasn’t ready. Yet again, I feel like I have more compassion for this side of things now.
3. Orgasms can Form Very Strong Attachments...Use this Power Wisely
This one was a very interesting one to see the other side of. So, I'm pretty knowledgable about sexuality, anatomy, tantra, sacred and deliberate touch and women's arousal. These things come so natural to me...and I think I'm a pretty sublime lover. It's how I show my love...but wow. I definitely got a lesson in how this art form is pure power, and can be wielded as a weapon too. I never exploited her or took advantage of this, but I saw where it could be a very dicey play of power, and not in a fun sexy way. I saw how the deeper the places I took her in her body, sexuality, pleasure, orgasmic states---the deeper an attachment was formed---more so from the person experiencing the pleasure than the one giving it. I also started to feel more and more responsible for her emotions as we deepened sexually, which was beautiful but something I also started to feel a bit resentful of—or rather it triggered my need for freedom and my fear of commitment. Giving pleasure is a less surrendered state---receiving pleasure is FAR more vulnerable and requires a lot more trust. The more pleasure I created with her, the more I felt she wanted it, and the more I felt desired by her. The more she desired me, the less I desired her. Ugh, yup---and this is where and how I saw that inside of me is the asshole that every girl hates, that cries over endlessly and wishes she never met. The asshole that is capable of playing all the games that I thought I never wanted to play or was even capable of playing. I didn't mean for this to happen, it just did. I couldn't help what intrigued me, what turned me on, what allured me, what bored me, what felt too easy, what felt like over-saturation, what I thought I was ready for, what turns out I definitely wasn’t ready for. I too saw the cunning cat in me, that loves and needs to chase that soft luscious little mouse all around the house and how satisfied and curious it would have left me to have to keep chasing. Being on the other side of orgasm came with new and different responsibilities and challenges. I really saw how women or partners who attribute their pleasure and orgasm so directly to their partners can get themselves into some deep quicksand. To me, it’s so important to reconnect orgasm, pleasure, intimacy back to oneself—connect it always back to self love, the mysterious and magical gifts and pleasure your body BRINGS TO YOU, not what someone else is bringing to you. It's about you, not them. They are a catalyst, but what is really being tapped into is more magical than each of you: it's the connection to the divine. It's the pure taste of Bliss, not your partner alone. Spiritual sex takes you to another plane and realm of consciousness; 3D sex keeps you here, stuck in the cycles of pleasure, pain and attachment. I realized even deeper than I already knew: everyone is really and truly only responsible for themselves, their orgasms, their emotions, their attachments and non-attachments and certainly attachment styles.
4. Sexual Monogamy is Really, Really, Really, like REALLY fucking hard.
A few years ago, after I got out of a 3 yr monogamous relationship, I swore that I would never try to fit in that box again. Well, I did it again. I tried. And for the first time since I was 16, I cheated. We were on a "break" but I certainly went running for it. I felt like a feral animal. Something wild. A wild fox. I was running free from a cage that was there, but also wasn’t there, probably more so in my mind. I felt uncontrollable, even to myself in a very exciting and passionate way. But I also noticed that when I was shutting down my desires and true feelings from her, I became quite depressed. It shut down other things too, like my laughter, my joy, my spirit, my creativity. I never noticed how these things were so connected to me---but it makes sense...it's freedom and creativity needs freedom (structure too). It had nothing to do with her, how I felt about her, how I cared about her: I just felt like a wild animal that needed to do what I needed to do. I never loved anyone in such a new and unique way as I did her but I also love this part of myself and will do anything it takes to keep my spirit alive. I'm better this way. I'm a better person this way. I have more to offer this way. I feel more connected to life this way. And in a crazy way, I think having sexual and emotional freedom is the only way that I could actually, from the bottom of my heart commit to someone or something...truly and really...in every single way. I love novelty; I love exploration; I love not being able to predict my own behavior. I also know that love does not equate sex, and sex certainly does not equate love. These are separate and so clear at how different, yet beautiful they both are. So with this experience, I really get it. I understand that cheating doesn't mean "I don't love you”. It means I wasn’t being honest with myself, or you and was too afraid to tell you. But now I know and now I know what really just doesn’t work for me anymore and the kind of cut-throat honesty that is needed for the next relationship(s).
I'm sure as time moves me forward, I will become more aware of new things that this God-gift on an encounter taught me, showed me, helped me open more into fully. The importance of honesty, transparency and how sometimes things can and do change quickly. How a wild fox is always a wild fox.
The darker corners of my psyche, being, habits and make up have taught me far more than the pleasant parts. In fact, to me---love...true love...is about seeing the darker parts; only when the darkness can be seen, appreciated, respected and transformed can the love that I am looking for truly exist: the unconditional kind---not just for the other person, more so for myself.
I think until we go deep, get intricate, get really curious about both our feminine and masculine light (and shadow), we will still keep attracting the same stories, the same kinds of relationships to be played out for our own healing and awareness. I think its important to find the little dark corners where we aren't being honest with ourselves and aren't living in our highest state of awareness...and bathing what we find in compassion.
Everyone is responsible for cleaning up their corners. All relationships are catalysts for extreme purging, growth and remarkable LOVE.
May we all proceed down our path of truth, highlighting the shadow parts, taking every encounter as the most divine spiritual teaching, learning lessons in love, alchemy, transference, projection, gender, infatuation... and true love....true compassion....true forgiveness.