10 May 2014

How Our Ways of Speaking & Listening Can Mess Up Our Relationships

This morning I was reading David Deida's "Blue Truth: A Spiritual Guide to Life & Death and Love & Sex", and a particular passage ruffled my feathers a bit.

Deida was explaining that people with masculine energies are more directive, while those with feminine energies offer "invitations to action". He says:
For instance, you are supposed to direct someone, even your lover, by telling him or her what to do rather than by inviting their action through expressing life's feeling. Your masculine statement, "Please turn on the heat," is considered more honest than your feminine invitation-through-feeling-expression, "I'm feeling really cold." People who are particularly proud of their masculine capacity consider this feminine style of invitation to be manipulative and covert. (p.118).
Arrgh!! Sigh!! Grrrr!!! And unfortunately, YES.

Thinking through my most recent romantic relationships, I can completely relate to this. In talking with men, I have become very specific about what I want them to do, and sometimes even when and how I want them to do it. I have even coached female clients to do this to help them improve their relationships.

What Deida goes on to say, however, is that when females fully embrace this masculine way of being and talking, it leaves little room for the men in relationship with us to step up and take charge with a solution. In other words, we don't "open a space in the moment for your lover to fill with masculine direction." (p. 120). And since the masculine desires freedom from obligation above all else, this tell-him-what-to-do approach will (at minimum) suck the fire out of your relationship (as there is little feminine energy to play with the masculine), and (at worst), result in his wanting out.

Deida's not the only one I've heard saying that passion is sparked from clear masculine and feminine energies playing off each other (called having "polarity"), just the most recent. And after reading his "Way of the Superior Man," in which he very clearly articulated everything I've always wanted from a romantic relationship with a member of the opposite sex, I respect his advice. Here's my trouble and frustration: my experience has been that when I say something like "I'm feeling really cold" (which apparently is my natural, feminine tendency), men either:
  • don't hear me speak (i.e. they're not listening at all)
  • can't translate the invitation into the direct request "Please turn on the heat"
  • don't act on that request
Deida goes on to encourage women to revisit this "invitation-through-feeling-expression" way of speaking, and what I like about this book is that he also caveats that with:
...if your masculine direction is more evolved than your lover's is, then you shouldn't surrender to your lover's masculine." (p. 133).
The "Way of the Superior Man" was all about how men need to create a deep sense of trust in their relationships, with Deida illustrating through thought-provoking prose how men do and do not "show up", thereby creating an inconsistency that does not lend itself to deep trust and opening by the feminine. In "Blue Truth", he speaks to men about how to re-engage with their masculine energy by "deepening their attention", which I agree is necessary for re-creating some masculine/feminine polarity, as well as trust and ways of speaking and listening that restore some of the passion in relationships!

Note: Before anyone gets riled up, please know that I'm not saying ALL men or ALL women have this issue, and know that I am very masculine in many ways (though as of late I'm exploring and trying to embrace more of my femininity). It's just something I've noticed in my personal experience.

What's been your experience? Are you a woman who has become more masculine in your way of speaking? Are you a man who frequently tunes out your partner because she's always "hinting" rather than saying what she really wants? How can we, as women, get a little more comfortable with our feminine voice? How can we, as men, get more attentive so our women trust us more?

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