His cape flies in the wind and dust, hooves thundering over the gritty earth beneath the dark of a waned moon. He finds her tethered to a tree, gown torn, her tresses tousled, a wildness to her delicate beauty that charges his blood. He reaches for his blade. With a deft slice he tears the cold night air and severs the rope lightly grazing her ivory skin. Her breath is caught in a gasp and before she can exhale he has hoisted her up on his steed. She clutches his broad back for warmth as they gallop the striated darkness away from danger.
She drags herself from dead sleep at 5am, cracks open a Red Bull and clicks into the last 45 minutes of her Zoom yoga class, determined to find the tone that collapsed under the strain of her third birth in too few years to count and get in her mindfulness for the day because who doesn’t love a good multitask hack –then dips out 20 minutes early in time to make lunches with loving notes for her three boys, bird bath herself and get everyone in the car off to day care and school, before putting in a full executive day at the office, stopping for groceries and errands, picking everyone up, making dinner, cleaning dinner, a full orchestra of bath, stories and the separation anxiety of bedtimes, then working on her side hustle until collapsing into a heap for that quality over quantity 5 hours, praying that none of her tiny beloveds jump scare her at 3am in search of water, or worse, comfort, and secretly terrified that ‘he’ will feel stirred by her haggard slackened sallow beauty and reach for her in the night.
This week alone I have had six conversations with you lovelies about the whole feminine masculine deal, and what it even means anymore and how it may be getting in the way of your dating, relationships, marriages, love lives, and inner lives.
There is a narrative that goes like this: Women had shitty disempowered roles, then they got some power back and somehow had to do all of the things including working and nurturing and that didn’t work well either but they don’t want to go back to having no power so how do they actually get to equality? That is a great and important question but it doesn’t answer the questions you all have been asking me, such as:
I make my own money, why do I want to feel protected and taken care of by my partner?
I feel like men who don’t make as much money as I do are insecure about our relationship.
I am super successful and accomplished why can’t I get a second date?
Why do I keep getting friend zoned for being the gentleman on a date?
Am I really so cliché as to be attracted to arrogant, avoidant men who will never pay attention to me?
If I quit my job to take care of the family am I giving up my independence and self respect?
If my wife makes the money how will I ever feel respected and competent?
If my wife makes more money will she see me as weak or not enough?
Why is my partner seeking attention outside the marriage?
How do I get my BF to be less competitive with me and more protective and caregiving?
And the list goes on…
Because the questions you have been asking me aren’t really about gender roles.
They all have in common a deeper interplay of masculine and feminine energies that may masquerade as gender but simply aren’t and aren’t simply.
Gender roles have their problems, for sure, but how to run an equal household and divvy up contribution without leaning on worn out societal constructs is a different question than we’re here to peek into today.
Today we look at how masculine and feminine affects attraction between couples and how broken models of masculine and feminine get in the way and cause problems in finding and keeping healthy romantic relationships.
We all have a masculine and feminine within us, regardless of gender.
Our masculine energy, or ‘side’ is that part of us that acts, reasons, problem solves, hunts, does stuff, seeks, moves, accomplishes.
Our feminine energy, or ‘side’ is the part of us that receives, nurtures, feels, needs, is (rather than does), celebrates, experiences, eat-drink-be merry’s.
One of the major insidious problems we face, in terms of how we live and how we relate, is that our masculine has become disenfranchised and our feminine has been shut down.
Masculine should serve our feminine.
Now don’t get up in arms here. I am not painting a picture of a Goddess being carried on a palanquin by semi-clad muscular men who feed her peeled grapes. You go ahead and do you in the bedroom, lol.
I am saying that all of the thinking and acting and accomplishing in our lives needs to serve our well being, emotional and otherwise. But it’s not happening this way and we’re confused and tired and paying the price.
Let’s take the hunter (of any gender) who brings home the hunt to feed the family. Everyone thrives and has their needs met. There is a meaning to the effort and a satisfaction in that meaning and a celebration in the receiving of the hunt. The hunter is empowered.
But if we change the game and say, now it’s not enough to hunt to feed the family, we must hunt for the sake of hunting and collect the hunt and then hunt more, and no amount of hunting is enough to satisfy the hunt or reward the hunter and meanwhile no one is getting fed, because the hunting is only used to measure against the other hunters, well too much work and no play makes Jack a dull person.
And yet this is very much the world we live in.
We are not taught that we are inherently worthy and to express our worth by contributing service aka to serve one another by hunting and feeding.
Rather we are taught that we are unworthy and must prove/earn our worth by hunting relentlessly and starving emotionally.
Our ability to receive, to be, to nurture gets cut off.
That does not make for happy people living full lives, and it certainly can make a confusing mess of the whole dating and relationship business.
What does that look like on a date?
Well it may be woman who is so starved emotionally that they cannot open up, be vulnerable. They come across as so self sufficient and over functioning that they are intimidating, or cold. They don’t know how to slow down enough to let someone nurture them, or take care of them. They desire the hero, but no one is ever going to measure up to their level of heroism, because they can’t measure up to their own.
It can be the woman who wants to be wined and dined, or pampered, or provided for, even if she can do it herself, but judges herself as materialistic or anti-feminist for desiring it.
It can be the man who is cut off from nurturing and receiving, who chases and avoids because he no longer sees his partner as an equal but as part of the hunt, the trophy, the proof of worth.
Or the man who is insecure because he can’t measure up as a hunter.
Or the man who rejects the woman he cannot impress. Or rejects his wife once she rises to the top of the ladder because he can no longer win her awe.
Or the woman who measures her worth by a demonstration of material abundance, Santa Baby, hurry down my chimney tonight.
Or the person who can’t get a leg up on their masculine because they are demoralized out of the gate by impossible standards. They struggle to show up for their partners, or they expect too much.
The permutations and combinations are many, and yet hard to get clear on, and harder to solve.
So where do we even begin, Erin, like we’re not going to change the world before Valentine’s Day!
You’re not wrong. I am not going to wax political, today. We aren’t going to fix this at a macro level for the world of work and society.
But I will say a few things toward empowering our personal life paths and romantic lives.
Understanding that these energies co-exist within us and work to make a whole, makes it easier to understand where problems can arise and disentangle them from problems of contribution and gender roles.
It can be extremely empowering and healthy when we change the way we measure our own worth, and stop imposing impossible standards on ourselves that are demoralizing, and cut us off from our needing, feeling selves.
It can be extremely rewarding when we teach ourselves to take the time to connect the dots between what we do and the why, when we allow our blood sweat and tears to reward our needs, when we allow our efforts to mean something. When we take the time to celebrate, to enjoy, to turn off the striving for a minute.
And it can be so very connecting when we allow ourselves to be heroes for one another, to nurture and be nurtured, to trust, to surrender control, to open up to possibility, to let ourselves be happily surprised, to play, to leave our expectations on the check list and look at one another with fresh open eyes, tuned into the now and not into past mistakes or the retirement plan.
The feminine wants to nurture and love. It wants to be provided for. It wants to be wise and feel and know things. It wants to receive, and be protected. To savor, appreciate, experience and play. And if we’ve squished this out of our world and our lives, we can start by asking, where can I bring it back into mine? Ours?
Where and how can we do this for each other?
Even if we have to fake it out, or get a bit out of our super skinny jean comfort zone to get there.
Maybe that means we allow space in our relationship for someone else to show up for us.
Maybe we let someone else be the hero for once.
Maybe we are softer. Gentler.
Take a day off of worrying.
Share what we have.
For one whole day, we gather up all that is there, for all whom we love, and we make it into a feast, and we let it be enough.
P.S. Need some help getting your Kings and Queens lined up, applying this wisdom to your own relationship and work life? Send me a note and we can set up a time to chat.
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