THE THREE STYLES OF INTIMACY
By David Deida
By understanding your current style of intimate relationship, you can understand the next step you need to take. Which of the three styles is most like your current, or recent, relationship: Dependence, 50/50, or Intimate Communion? Each of these three styles is also a stage that you can grow through, if you are willing to be lovingly humorous about your own patterns in intimacy.
1. Dependence Relationship
"Men are men and women are women."
In the imaginary video, were you viewing a man and a woman in the abandoned throes of sexual ecstasy, or was the man subjugating, biting, and penetrating the woman against her will? In a Dependence Relationship, sex and power are often painfully mixed up; partners often confused some version of the master/slave relationship with real love. They are engaged in some kind of power play. In a Dependence Relationship, one partner often needs to feel in control while the other partner often gives up his or her authentic power in order to feel loved and accepted.
A Dependence Relationship involves partners who become dependent on each other for money, emotional support, parenting, or sex. Although the sex is sometimes good in this style of relationship (especially during the making-up period after a fight), partners often end up feeling limited by old-style gender roles or by an imbalance of financial or physical power. So they attempt to transition to the next style of relationship. To do so they learn to build personal boundaries and take care of themselves, rather than always catering to the needs of their partners.
2. 50/50 Relationship
"Safe boundaries and equal expectations for men and women."
Partners in a 50/50 Relationship want to feel safe, so the videotape might seem harsh and violent to them. On the surface, they might seem completely turned off and react as if any form of forceful and passionate sexual ravishment is an act of rape. Deep down, however, they might be wistfully turned on, reminded of the depth of sexual loving that may be missing from their safe but lukewarm love life.
The 50/50 Relationship is the "modern" style of relationship which is based on two independent people coming together and working out an equitable partnership. Each partner is expected to shoulder half the responsibilities, more or less, right down the middle. Each often has their own source of income, and together they negotiate a 50/50 plan to divide household duties, parenting, and financial obligations. To accomplish this, they attempt to strike their own inner balance between Masculine and Feminine qualities, both at home and at the workplace.
However, as many of us have discovered, there is a potential problem with this ideal of a 50/50 Relationship. We begin to lose our aliveness. Sexuality loses its passion. Our inner fire begins to fade. And we feel an incompleteness at our center. Why? Because many of us have a sexual essence that is naturally more Masculine or Feminine than it is equally balanced or Neutral. Thus, a side-effect of this effort toward 50/50 is the suppression or starvation of our naturally more Masculine or Feminine sexual essence.
For some of us, a cooperative partnership which emphasizes communication and shared responsibilities is sufficient. Others in this situation eventually suffer a feeling of incompleteness and develop a yearning to touch and be touched far more deeply and more passionately than a 50/50 Relationship often allows.
3. Intimate Communion
"I relax into oneness and spontaneously give my deepest gift."
If we have grown beyond a 50/50 Relationship, we are no longer cautious about giving our love to our intimate partner. At moments we might beg and whimper; at other moments we might aggressively ravish our partner in love. Still at other times our loving is serene and sweet. But whether shouting, screaming, pleading, pushing, pulling, biting, or hugging, we are gifting our partner with our uninhibited and free love, flowing directly from our sexual essence without fear or doubt.
If we have grown into the practice of Intimate Communion, the imaginary videotape does not pose a dilemma since we understand that the fundamental difference between rape and ravishment is simple: love. Is love the motive of every squeeze, shriek, and nibble, regardless of how forceful, aggressive, or passionate? Or is it a motive of need--the need for sex, the need for power, the need for control?
Most importantly, in the practice of Intimate Communion we learn that love is something you do, not something you fall into or out of. Love is something that you practice, like playing tennis or the violin, not something you happen to feel or not. If you are waiting to feel love, in passionate sex or safe conversation, you are making a mistake. Love is an action that you do--and when you do it, you feel it. When you are loving, others find you lovable. Love is an action you can practice.
Therefore, in Intimate Communion we learn to practice loving, even when we feel hurt, rejected, or resistant. First we practice love, and then our native sexual essence blooms, naturally, inevitably, because we are learning to give from our core, which includes the root of our sexuality.
(This article is adapted from Intimate Communion by David Deida).
See also: sexual essence, a quiz to determine your sexual essence. HotBooks for book review
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