David Deida has written several books about masculine and feminine ‘sexual essences’, sexuality, and relationships. My husband and have read, together, just about all his books and found them really helpful.
I think a lot about how to apply the learning’s I’ve been given about intimate male/female dynamics to parallel dynamics in less intimate settings. Work groups, neighbors, etc.. So let’s consider these related snippets from Deida’s book “Dear Lover”, written to help women understand their men:
Because the feminine is connected with the flow of life energy much more intimately than the masculine is, you will often feel when your man is ‘off’ before he does. You will be able to feel instantly when he is lying to himself or to others. Your heart will cringe. Your body will tense. Your breath will tighten. . . .
Naturally, you try to guide yourself when you don’t fully trust your man. You begin to rely on your own masculine capacity to navigate, since your man seems unwilling to even consider that he has a blind spot limiting his integrity. . .
[however] other than those critical moments when telling your man exactly what to do is definitely called for, your two-bodied trust would grow deepest by giving your man your fully expressed feelings while allowing him the chance to correct his own actions. Rather than telling him exactly what to do with your masculine directional guidance, tell him with words and show him through your body and expressions how you feel.
Reflect to him how his ‘offness’ hurts you and affects your heart. Rather than saying “I think you should do such and such,” express what you feel–hurt, anxious, mistrustful–but allow him to find his own way to a correction and learn to navigate from a deeper truth.
If you regularly tell you man what to do–even if you can clearly see what course he needs to take–then you are depriving him of a learning opportunity. You are stepping in and applying your masculine capacity to navigate rather than allowing him the chance to exercise and cultivate his own navigational skills. You are creating a relationship in which he will come to depend on your masculine guidance. Is this what you want? Can you fully surrender your heart and body to a man who regularly depends on you to tell him what to do?
Learn to trust and value your heart’s deep sensitivity. Fully express to your man how you feel as your lives proceed together, moment by moment. . .
Meanwhile, don’t suppress your pain and passively wait for him to get his act together. Show him your wince every time his actions are shallower than you know he is capable of living. Shout your anger every time he persists in denying his lack of integrity. Every time you feel him unreceptive to someone’s honest feedback –yours or his friends’–display your disgust. Give your man your fullest expression in response to his self-deception or blunders, and allow him the opportunity to learn how to correct himself.
Your energetic attunement is a gift to your man. . .
Of course, there’s more to Deida’s advice than I’ve included here – how to stay connected while expressing yourself, and so on. But this does not comport to most people’s nice & polite expectations. Actually – Deida is pretty advanced stuff. No molly-coddling for either polarity. He’s not about helping the lowest common-denominator relationship become tolerable, but showing how intimacy can be the highest (and most challenging) spiritual practice – which takes strong adults. Which our culture doesn’t much cultivate.
Anyway, I’ve been practicing this instant, connected, non-directive, brutally honest feedback with my husband for several years now, and while I still have ample room for improvement, this practice has vastly improved our marriage, my husband’s judgment, insight, and awareness, our mutual trust and connectedness, and my own faith in and ability to express my loving feminine core. It’s great.
But there is a downside, which is that I’ve come to expect other men to be able to hear honest (and emotionally expressive) feedback as well. And to be able to self-correct (or at least struggle to self-correct and ask for feedback while doing so). My tolerance for low-consciousness and low-integrity presence is slowly being eroded and my readiness to express my frustration has grown, faster than my skill-set at expressing the hard stuff with people I’m not as intimately connected to.
I’ve become a pain in the ass for a lot of people, and I’ve let go of relationships with some men. Relationships that were important and could have been repairable, but I refused to prescribe a fix. I just clarified, reiterated or expressed the shifting in my feelings, and left them to figure out how to respond.
I’ve done that a number of times now, and it teaches me a lot about the men I’m dealing with.
I’ve discovered there are men who could instantly switch gears, get clear on what was happening, open up, be vulnerable, take responsibility for their ‘offness’, sincerely express what was going on for them & their desire to remain in connection. They have strong integrity and strong interpersonal navigational skills. When that happens, and it has happened in the most unexpected places – I suddenly adore those men. I’ll be their staunchest ally forever, I’ll give them whatever energy I have.
And I’ve seen men who shut down, behave appalled and throw up their hands in defeat – men who, if I wanted to repair the relationship, I’d have to direct each step – and they’d probably take each step grudgingly.
The first time I was clearly faced with the decision of whether or not to be directive about how a male friend could fix a tear in our relationship, I realized that if that was what was required, he wasn’t the kind of friend I wanted anyway. My trust would be so low, I’d always be trying to control things and he’d always be asserting his freedom (precisely the kind of marriage he already has). Not the dynamic I’d want in a life-boat. I want to be part of a community where we all can count on each other to do the right thing, not one that requires constant micro-management.
As women claim their full feminine power in community, I can’t imagine we won’t have more of this kind of behavior (because in fact, in spite of it’s counter-intuitiveness in our society, it’s really good and effective advice). And more of the kinds of messes I’ve been getting myself into. If I can help model it in a way that enables other women to do it less sloppily than I have, cool. But it’s disruptive no matter what, it’s meant to be. And as the old world falls apart around our feet and we figure out how to create a new one, women’s embodied life-energy wisdom is more and more necessary, and the quicker we all learn how to honor it, use it and grow from it, the better.