I was just watching some clips on YouTube by the Pussycat Dolls. I really enjoy them. I love their sensuality, the fun that they seem to have moving their bodies, the excellence and harmony in their dancing, the rhythm in the movements, the music and the editing of the clips. The lyrics though... remind me of pain associated with attempts to get my needs for intimacy, closeness and sex met. Memories, that I'm about to resolve for myself and have peace with.
For example, something that puzzled me for a long while was the (typically female) complaint "He ONLY wants sex with me." I always took that as blaming me for wanting sex, as though this was something bad, maybe even hurtful, in any case something I shouldn't have. Only recently I found out that this statement can be interpreted as "He only wants sex with me... and I would love that, but I want my needs for closeness, intimacy, understanding and connection to be met as well." This turned my whole worldview about women around.
Being scared of myself wanting sex (which was actually the fear that my belief that it's a bad thing and shouldn't be there could be confirmed), I always tried to avoid to be interested sexually in a girl. If I was, I would either not pursue it or justify the interest through other things about her that I liked. But never, never, never would I have the courage to admit, that I'm drawn to her just or mainly because of a gut- or "lower"-feeling. Being rejected, i.e. me rejecting my own sexual interest, was just too painful to risk it.
Now using NVC as a criterion for whether I'm clear about my needs and the needs of others, I of course notice that "He only wants sex..." doesn't say what SHE wants in the POSITIVE. And what she wants might not be in conflict with what I want, if we get down to it: connection, empathy, openness, safety, you name it. I'm excited about what opens up, when I see this.
In my personal development I'm at a stage where I notice how much seeming safety from rejection I have in my head, and how little connection. I even notice, how my safety is endangered when I'm not connected to my whole being, because then I'm likely to not sense my power to take care of my needs and value them. And so I turn to my sexuality and I'm saying "Hey there... maybe it's time to take care of you better, to let you in, let you flow, let you be and love you."
This brings me to greater questions. I want to explore what it is in our culture, that let's us think that sex could be degrading, dangerous, something to avoid. Honestly, it puzzles me. I'm aware of some attempts to explain this, to empathize with it. But I'm sure there is more. I'd like to explore this with you. I'm convinced that the evolution of mankind is linked with integrating sexuality, accepting and enjoying it more than we are now. And I'd say that we're not complete without it. So let's deal with it!
Other topics linked to this are monogamy, non-monogamy, jealousy, life in community.
I'm eager to read your ideas and experiences.
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thanks a lot for your response. I'm intrigued and my needs for connection and companionship are met.
I really enjoy you're pointing out the fairy tale about the ONE and how that stimulates competition, a sense of scarcity and doubts about self-worth ability to get needs met. Since I have shed light on this fairy tale within myself, I find myself much more relaxed and open to meet my needs with someone that I don't find so hot yet, but that I'm willing to get to know better. And my hypothesis that attraction works by association ("he/she reminds me of someone I know how to connect and enjoy myself with") has been confirmed so far. When I can connect with the needs behind a certain behavior, my whole perception of that person and his/her appearance changes and I even like people better, whom I don't know yet, but who look a bit like people I know. Wonderful! So resolving that fairy tale definitely leads to more sharing and connection.
The responsibilities and future obligations that keep popping up in my mind, the moment I get a real possibility to have physical intimacy with someone, are definitely in the way of meeting my need for safety, autonomy and empathy. My way of going around that is that I talk about my philosophy as a topic that interests me and that I like to hear reactions to. That way I make clear how I see things and it gets easier to discuss it with her beforehand. It's kind of sneaky, to protect me from being disconnected with myself, when I'm confused about how to adress this fairy tale.
The images, rules and ideas about how relationships are supposed to be dealt with are of course always on the surface level and are easily grasped by people, who aren't aware about what's really going on. And that's where the growth edge is.
Authority figures with hang ups seem to be all around the world. I'm always puzzled and surprised when I learn that people are really putting their ideas out there that are coming from confusion and attachment and they are really transmitting that as truth... I would never want to do that, because I suffered from it too much myself and it's not in harmony with my value of responsibility and truthfulness. I seem to have a high standard there, but come on guys! How can you do that?!?
The awkwardness that comes from parents and teachers who talk about sex, non-verbally expressing either feelings of discomfort or anger is very familiar to me. Also not having a model that lives a sexual life with tenderness and care, but also with a lot of energy, contributes to a sense of danger around sex. I remember how I was sitting in my room 14 years old, my mother came in and saw I had pictures of nude women on my screen. She expressed her dismay (I don't remember the words), but somehow even before she said anything I got very scared. And that must have come from a preconception about this, really thinking it was bad, i.e. endangering my needs for belonging.
> I see this letigiousness as people asking "if we were all very stupid,
> what rules would need to be in place to make sure we can live
:-D I love this sentence! Expresses a deep frustration of mine to the point!
I have recently thought about the age limit of sex as well. And I wondered what kind of protection is needed for children and what actually should happen differently than it usually does, if we want a healthy relationship to our sexuality.
I believe children are as interested in sexuality as adults are - in their own, explorative ways. And what I can imagine is that children, as anybody else, need a safe, warm and trusting environment in order to have a healthy relationship to their power, to the power of sexual expression and how it nurtures and enriches life. I can imagine that seeing adults having wild sex might be scary for a child, that has yet to understand what these movements mean and how they feel like. So in order to introduce a child to getting to know itself sexually, I'd like it to have guidance and safety, so trust can develop.
I follow your argument, Gedding, that anything that is punishable must first be defined as bad. If it isn't bad, the only thing needed is education, not punishment. But the level of awareness isn't there, no education can be offered and then punishment seems like the best remaining option - with a steep price.
> However it is in the interest of a controlling minority to prevent
> connection and instill guilt to maintain their domination.
I'd like to add here, that this interest is obviously only superficial. If one would go deeper, one would see how self-defeating these strategies are for EVERYONE!
I'd like to ask you, Gedding, if you're willing to share your personal situation around women, like Craig did. I will do the same in the response to Craig's post. I like how this gets real, when I get to know the situation.
Thanks a lot and I'm eager to read your response.
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thanks so much for your reply. I feel warm and tender and my needs for connection support, empathy and love are met by what you wrote.
First off my personal situation. I'm 23 and not in a monogamous relationship right now. About two years ago the girl that I was together with for 4 years left me and since then I committed myself to finding out what this was all about: where the hang ups were, what I needed, what I received, what I didn't get, what I contributed to the situation, what I had trouble connecting to in her. I find that I resolved a lot through this, for more and more often I'm one with the raw vulnerability of myself which tells me that I'm human. This means that I'm aware of the essential insecurity of life being the very same as its vitality. That I can't know what will come next and that the word eternity points to the NOW, not to time going on indefinitely. So I'm not looking for static and "secure" things anymore, but for eternal things. And that includes relationships.
While I was in the US at two NVC workshops I got in touch with my troubles around intimacy. I met two girls I got involved with, both living polyamorously. That inspired me to take care of my needs in different ways than before. Right now I'm involved with a girl in the city where I live and I really enjoy the learning about connecting through difficulties, sexual connection, freedom and closeness.
Just a few minutes ago, she shared that she has a hard time getting this straight, because she doesn't want to give up her needs for me, which is hard for her, when I'm clear about them. She wants to stay free, until there is someone where she might be willing to make different priorities again. She's also confused about how to understand for herself, how she can sleep with me, while looking for another guy as well. She's worried, that she can't really be open for a new monogamous relationship, while she's with me, because she would have to give up what we have, to be with another guy. And for that she actually would need time to heal and wouldn't be ready right away. That's at least where she's at now. So she considers to stop the sex and have less intimacy with me, while still being connected differently.
This really triggers me and my fears. I'm wondering "Will I ever find that openness and closeness with someone again? I want to trust so much, that I can have it. And it hurts deeply when I don't see how..." I really love how I got to know her better, opened up to her, enjoy her body and heart. I want to keep and develop that, not lose it...
I'm going to share this with her later, because she asked for it, wanting to hear it. We'll see what happens...
In any case, thanks for your personal description, Craig. It gives me a crisp and graspable idea of how this is like for you now with your yoga princess :-)
I also share Marshall's point of view on sex being a strategy for many different needs. I believe one need that is very intensely mixed in with sex, is the need for an honest connection, expressed through nakedness and physical vulnerability. With the girl I'm involved with, I noticed that sex met my need for connection and self-expression so deeply, because I don't see how to convey to her in any other way, how delighted and filled up with love I am, spending time with her. And I find also find when that connection is there through words or gestures, then sex becomes less urgent or important in that respect. It maybe stays as a way to celebrate the connection.
I have a gay friend who is also very pleased to see how children are a strategy for needs that can get met otherwise.
Concerning the trainer you know who got married, I'm guessing that marrying his partner might have created a safe environment for self-expression, development, depth that comes through continuity... but I guess your point is that you'd like to see the ability to express what's going on verbally as constantly evolving and something that is hardly perfect. So it would be easier to accept it as it is for now. Is that correct?
> Even in a giraffe family, there are no clear answers. Life is too full of dynamism and surprises.
I guess that depends on what questions you ask :-)
> I think that raw sex is intended by evolution to propagate the
> species. It is natural in that sense.
I'm not sure how it contributes to assert that raw sex is natural. I mean, this rings very much still like "It's dirt, but it's necessary..." - somehow admitting that you can't do away with it, because without it, we wouldn't be here.
Alan Watts makes a brilliant point that going on and propagating the species is pointless, if the "going"-part in "going on" is no fun. Why would you continue doing something that isn't worth doing in the first place? So why would you prolong life, when it is a drag? What would you be interested in, other than the fun you have while doing your thing? And I find this has to include sexuality too. It's wortwhile in and by itself! It's a celebration of how beautiful life can be, how vibrant and fascinating. And this makes it spiritual, since spiritual matters are those which deal with things that show us the greater beauty of life (in my definition for now).
Here's a clip by the Pussycat Dolls:
One part of the lyrics I'm referring to is:
"Every boy's the same, since I’ve been in seventh grade
They been tryin’ to get with me, tryin’ to (hahaha hahaha)
They always got a plan, to be my one ‘n’ only man
Wanna hold me with their hands, wanna (hahaha hahaha)
I keep turnin’ them down, but they always come around
Askin’ me to go around, that’s not the way it’s goin’ down
‘Cos they only want, only want, my (nahaha nahaha)
Only want what they want, but (nahaha nahaha)"
I enjoyed the empathy so much, with which you were responding to my enjoyment of the Pussycat Dolls, Craig. It touches my emotional wounds around sexuality with care, consideration and understanding. I confirm that my needs for beauty, sensory stimulation, this breathless sense of desire or longing are met.
I particularly like this part.
> I don’t know about your relationships context, but I am guessing that they may
> bring to life a yearning a quality and intensity of experience of
> connection that you are not enjoying right now. That may bring alive
> some pain or mourning.
I can't remember anybody having guessed that so far, concerning these topics. And it hits right home! The pain is that I'm so little connected to these needs usually, considering them as "unmeetable" when the woman I associate these feelings with, seems to be so out of reach. Then it's hard to stand by my needs without telling myself how futile it is...
About "I MIGHT love sex with you": Are you saying that you'd like the woman's needs for safety and all the concerns about pregnancy to be taken into consideration as well, when I wonder what's behind "He only wants sex with me..."?
> Being scared about wanting sex touches me deeply as incredibly
> vulnerable and honest. It really meets my value of transparency. I
> really celebrate that you are allowing the possibility of the visceral
> power of raw emotion. That you experience that “lower” feelings are
> part of a completely lived life.
This is where my need for love is met, because your answer allowed me to see myself in this beautiful tenderness and rawness, that I didn't notice before. Thanks a lot for that!
> I am curious about the source of the
> “lower”. Was it an institutional religion or parents and the like. Or
> is it more a new agey dichotomy between higher and lower
> consciousness? Maybe it is something else.
I actually was really thinking about the chakras, the sexual chakra being the second one, lower in the body than the higher five. But nevertheless "lower" still rings a bell. There's a belief that it's less profound. That being interested sexually is "only" being interested in the body and not the whole person. Actually I find that "not being interested" is not an experience. The experience is better described by saying that I'm scared and needing connection. In that situation I might believe that I only really get that, when I have sex with the person, having too much trouble to find my way through her mind to her heart. But still, I want to be in touch with her heart, or rather, with her whole being.
I'd like to reframe sexual connection as a rawer and deeper kind of spiritual connection. Kelly Bryson calls it Spiritual Energy eXchange. I like that.
> She may not know what she really wants. Even a female
> giraffe may need a lot of trust and experience in a relationship
> before she is really willing to explore and expose verbally what is
> really going on. All of the profound consideration and revelation that
> you are expressing and experiencing may be really be alive for her
Yes, this is probably so. And the best way to support the expression of this, that I'm aware of, is to find it out and formulate it myself first and then ask whether it rings true for her as well. Then it's easier to feel safe for her, because I already opened the space for these things by naming them.
At least, I find myself driven by that commitment, also because I don't want the painful situation of non-communication that I had with my ex, when I was most vulnerable, ever to occur again (if I can help it). I want to be able to make sense of it, even when she's not literate in feelings and needs. I want to be able to enjoy all of humanity and life, not just people who are blessed by an access to marvelous tools like NVC.
I take the "Wow. Amen brother." as a deep expression of gratitude and communion :-)
> Jealousy is one of the most destructive human
> propensities for blasting [intentional communities] apart.
I agree. So far my reflection on jealousy has brought the following: jealousy has two components. The one is the result of comparing oneself to another by cultural standards. The feeling that comes from that, when the comparison concludes on me being inferior, is shame. Anyone who triggers shame in me, will probably be the target of my hatred, when the whole process stays below the surface-level of awareness - and me believing that the stimulus is actually the cause for the shame.
In the book "Violence" by James Gilligan, the author, who worked as a psychiatrist in prisons for about 25 years, shows how shame and the attempt to "get rid of it" is the source of a lot of violence, from murder to mutilation.
One other instant where this shows is, when one member of the community, who is hated for his or her power, makes a mistake, acts not in line with the rules of the community, spoken or unspoken. The reaction will be: "Out you go! You made a mistake, you committed a crime, you deserve to be punished!" And this is not about what this person did, but about the hatred that comes from the shame when people compare themselves unfavorably to him or her.
What is needed here is a sense of one's own power to enrich life, mine and that of others. When I don't see my power, I see it in others and the blindness towards my own hurts even more. So we need a connection to our own importance, power, and "hotness".
When this is missing the second factor comes in: a general fear about "will I ever get these needs met?" For that we need caring communities which show us that scarcity is not real, but dependent on the transparency people have with each other. In a community there is always someone willing to take care of my needs, without giving up his or her own. And from there a universal trust evolves in the light of which jealousy has no chance.
This is very much like what Gedding said about the fairy tale of the ONE, which creates scarcity and competition. We need something other than that, something that allows people to be present to the needs they have now and to choose freely how to meet them - it's way more fun.
> I would love to make or see a movie or novel explore jealousy from an NVC perspective.
This really inspires me. I want that too! I would love to create a story like that! I'm inspired by imagening how many people might have magic shift through that...
I'm looking forward to reading your response.
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What I can relate to very well is how the categorical thinking about relationships seperates me from the real world and its inhabitants. After my last girlfriend broke up (probably the last girl I will call by her role for me) and noticing how much she didn't want to get back into a "Relationship" with me, I really started to wonder, what this actually means for me. And what it means for her in this context. And I noticed that we meant totally different things. While I wanted to keep the connection and stay in the dance of honesty and empathy, although being very scared of what might come up, she associated this with giving up her needs for the responsibility to take care of mine. From then on I told myself "What is this crap! Why do we have these definitions? Do they really help us to say what we experience and express what we want?" I see them as a kind of summary. Like the guy in the post said, the substitute a 20 minutes lecture by just one little word. At the same time, as with any kind of symbol for reality, it can be ascribed to many meanings.
As I wrote, I'm "involved" with a girl right now, where I refuse to think about "what this is". I focus on what we do concretely. How we spend our time, what needs get met, what needs don't, what I like to do with her, what she likes to do with me. I find that any definition of this relationship gets us into a space where we lose power, because we assign the other to a role. And then the other gets the job to meet our needs. The result is very likely, that I lose touch with my needs and my power to meet them. And I don't like that deal.
That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy my needs getting met by something she does or says. It just means I want to be aware of that universal quality. And as Carl Rogers said: "What is most personal is most general."
Apart from that, I'm not sure whether asexuality isn't a strategy that is tried by people who see through the real needs behind the superficial desire for sex. And they want to adress these needs directly instead of compensating or going around the real issue. My point is, once that is done, sexuality can be enjoyed differently, directly as a spiritual connection of openly vulnerable human beings, which is in fact and in the real world "to enjoy having the penis in a vagina." This is what happens on the outside. On the inside it is complete surrender to life, to change, to vitality, to connection and love.
I'm curious for other reactions.
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let's see how we can clarify this further.
> Absolutely. Agree 100%. Assigning categories to what we are to each
> other makes it easier to disconnect from what is happening in the
> present moment.
That's exactly it. Actually for a while these categories were an attempt to protect me from the inherent insecurity in life. That is, while there IS (static) such a thing as a love relationship, the fulfillment of my needs for love and intimacy is guaranteed and I don't have to think about it anymore, don't have to be connected to it, while my lover is around.
Now, this has two downsides: first, nothing is real but what happens concretely, what happens specifically. So the vagueness of categories like "love relationship" doesn't help me to be in touch with that and sooner or later real life surprises me and gets me again (like she is about to spend time with someone else she likes). After I understood that, I started to see how important present requests really are. Something has to happen anyway, so I might as well say what I'd like to happen. Before that, I was scared of the unforeseen consequences of my requests, basically that they might ruin my life and it's my fault.
Second, when I'm not connected to my needs, I'm not connected to my power. And then being in touch with my partner and having her around all the time is an attempt to meet my need for seeing, accepting and owning my power. That way I'm screwed when she wants to meet her needs in ways that don't imply me. So I rather want a direct connection to my needs. And that tends to work better without categorical thinking.
About the meaning of the word "relationship" in context with my ex:
I'm glad you ask, because I wasn't so sure either what I meant ;-) Let's see... well, basically I was scared, because I wanted to keep our connection and I wanted to be authentic while I was with her. I understood that she would receive my desire to touch her, be with her, sleep with her as a threat to her autonomy, or rather her self-connection. So I was confused about how we could spend time with each other while that is so. So saying I want the relationship back meant actually, that I wanted to be authentic with her. And if she didn't want the closeness anymore, I wanted to be received with empathy and not with her thinking that she did something wrong or was to blame. That would make it even worse for me, like I couldn't even have these needs without hurting her.
But for her, going back to the relationship meant, that she would have to give up her chance for autonomy, personal freedom and emotional safety, that she was longing for. And I've found that autonomy and safety are best guaranteed, when I'm aware of my needs and their importance and beauty. Then I'm not so likely to be overun by the requests or demands of others, but I will stand up for what I want. And that's the same as being free and (emotionally) safe. So in the end it is this, that she was needing and she was confused about how to stay in touch with herself, while she was with me. By the way, this is still the case. Is that clearer?
> > As I wrote, I'm "involved" with a girl right now, where I refuse to
> > think about "what this is"...
> I really like that attitude! :) It's delightful for me to see that
> level of honesty and willingness to engage with immediate reality.
And I'm delighted by that heartfelt encouragement!
> I'm touched Niklas by the way you describe in this post and a previous
> post, what sex means to you and how deeply you experience the
> connection and surrender. It sounds very alive and powerful in you.
> It's a celebration for me whenever I see that depth of feeling and
> passion. I enjoy very much the way you describe the vulnerability,
> openness and spiritual connection.
Thanks again, I'm grateful for this feedback as it encourages me and supports me in what I love and what's alive in me.
About asexuality and the wiring in the brain:
I was assuming already that the people calling themselves asexual don't have all the same motives. As always, there can be different backgrounds and motivations for the same strategy. But thanks for calling that back into my awareness.
As for the wiring in the brain and the brain chemistry, my position is, that what happens in my brain doesn't cause what happens in my experience, but it goes along with that. So if I get a hard-on and certain amounts of dopamine and other chemicals get released in the brain, this is the outside, the exterior side of a process in my immediate experience. The interior might be described as a longing for giving myself, for being with one another without having to lie, being authentically together. Nakedness can be an expression this vulnerability and honesty, provided my attention is really in my body and not on some dream or story that I'm holding on to. Being completely in my body requires trust that I won't get hurt. That my body is not a device that only receives pain, but one that receives nurturing, touch, soothing, empathy and love. Only then I will feel safe enough to let myself go and enjoy the sensuality.
Now, I experienced how it is like to NOT be in my body. And I can see how sex might not be so interesting under these circumstances. It really is just like poking bodys. But this has, in my opinion, less to do with a fixed orientation, but with a need for love, understanding, empathy, caring and safety. That being there, I would be surprised, if people who are understanding themselves as asexual, wouldn't enjoy a sexual connection.
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