Within our bodies are energies called the masculine and the feminine. There are times during the day when a man’s masculine shifts to its feminine, and he is not even aware of it. This happens to women as well but in a different way because where men lean more on their logic, women hold to their emotions so they are aware of these shifting energies. When these energies find balance, the integrity that results will lead to a healthy relationship with the men or women in our lives. But is there a difference between the two? Is masculine versus feminine integrity a relationship issue that needs to be addressed? Learn how you can find the connection in this paradoxical situation where both sides can be right.
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Six Conversations Between a Woman & a Man: Masculine Versus Feminine Integrity, Finding The Balance with Arielle Browne
This is another episode of Six Vulnerable Conversations Between a Man and a Woman, Arielle Brown and myself. This one is on the topic of masculine versus feminine integrity. We waxed the poetic about the concept of integrity, how it’s often confused. People don’t know what integrity is or what’s right or what’s wrong. We get into how masculine and feminine integrity, on one level is at odds with each other and if done deliberately, they can be in concert in marriage. They actually can create the most optimal life because you’re choosing between masculine and feminine integrity. It’s confusing.
I’m like, “How unconventional. I am the woman and I am holding the container for both of us,” and just even noticing, “This feels edgy but I love it. It makes me feel powerful.” We’re going to be going into a very interesting conversation of masculine versus feminine integrity. This concept was something that you, Rob, brought to my attention a while back. For those of you who don’t know, Rob and I do relationship coaching. Rob has other sorts of coaching but he and I have tag-teamed on some couples coaching before. He brought up this concept of masculine versus feminine integrity, which turned me on because integrity is so important to me. If I feel like I’m out of integrity in any of my relationships, I get this intense nauseous feeling. This feeling of like, “As much as I am imperfect, I desire to be this perfect being who is in integrity all the time.” Rob pointed out this thing of like, “Your form of integrity can actually be another person’s form of being out of integrity.” We are going to the conversation of the difference between masculine and feminine integrity. What is it? How do those things collide? In this paradoxical situation where both people can be right, how do we find the point of connection there?
It’s important for us to define a few things. We’re going to use the word masculine and feminine a lot during this episode and know that masculine and feminine does not mean men and women. Masculine and feminine is two different energies that exist in all human beings in some certain ratio. I call it the masculine-feminine ratio. Some women I know are more masculine than me. Some men I know are more feminine than you and that’s okay. It’s who we are and truly, that part of ourselves. Our masculine-feminine ratio also adjusts sometimes slightly during the day, moment by moment, circumstance by circumstance. Over time, men might not be in touch with their feminine and then get in touch with it and go all the way to the other end of the spectrum. It’s an evolving thing that happens in all of us.
It’s possible that for a lot of man to say, their man’s embodying is feminine. I feel like there can be some negative association with that, that has to do with their cultures, stigmatizing whether it’s homophobia or men being a feminist. My desires for this conversation are for men to embrace the more feminine aspects of them and women to embrace more of the masculine aspects of them as well.
Here’s my charged viewpoint. If you don’t embrace your opposite side, it’s dumb. It’s not that you’re dumb. It’s dumb because certain circumstances require the other and if you’re not in agreement or not in touch, then you miss out on having the optimized ratio and then you’re losing opportunity. I was having a conversation with Morgan and she was talking, talking, talking and then as soon as she was done, I was like, “This is how we fix it. This is the masculine side of how to fix it.” Then her face got askew and I’m like, “What?” She’s like, “I wanted you to validate my feelings.” I was like, “Oh.” I led with my masculine while what she truly wanted was my feminine, my reception, my ability to hear. It was a valuable lesson for me that I get to be in touch with this other superpower that I have to provide a good response to the circumstance.
The flipside for women especially with everything that’s happening around the #MeToo Movement and our relationships with men, my experience is that we, as women, need to have a healthy relationship with the masculine energy that exists within us, that solid, strong part of us that can set clear boundaries so that we can have healthier relationships with men in our lives. There’s this damsel in distress in women that wants to be saved. Disney told us that we should fall in love with prince charming and ride off into the sunset and that he was the answer to our prayers. For so much of us as women, the more we can cultivate a healthy relationship with our own masculinity, I find the more that we’re able to have empowered and rich relationships with men.
For men, it’s the flip. Women want your masculine side and some women wanted more than others, but they want you connected to your masculine. I don’t think relationships will exist for long-term healthily if a man doesn’t have some connection to his feminine. Sometimes women want you to freaking listen. Maybe we need to define what masculine and feminine means to both of us, but be in your feminine, be receptive and feel them because that’s sometimes what they want. If you don’t do it, they’re out the door.
The whole masculine and feminine polarity thing is such an elusive conversation. What is your definition of masculine and feminine?
I have several. The most baseline definition I have is that the masculine is projectile. It’s movement. It’s forward motion, it’s action. Feminine on the flipside is receptive. It’s receiving. It’s bringing in. It’s embracing. That’s the baseline definition how I tend to think of masculine and feminine.
I am a yes to both of those things. The other thing that I’ll add on to that which can be counterintuitive but also not, is I find that the masculine is the steady solid rock that so many women are unconsciously desiring so that they’re feminine; the flowy, emotional, volatile, surrendered aspect of them can surrender. To me along with what you said, the masculine is the sturdy stake in the ground and the feminine is the flag that is attached to the stake and is able to flap around in its creative emotional flow.
Another definition for me of masculine, is masculine likes simple, concise, contained, crossing things off the to-do list, tidy. The feminine is like, “What else could we open up or what other can we explore? What else can we see?” The feminine wants to open up and expand and while the masculine wants to contain. In every circumstance, there are moments to expand and see like, “I’m trying to start a business on one topic,” and you connect it to your feminine, you see the possibility. You dream, you vision, and you create. If you stay in that dream-visioning state, nothing gets done. Then you call on your masculine or hire someone like me to help you contain and then move in the masculine to have those dreams come into baseline reality.
The thing that I tend to see both that I’ve witnessed in myself and in the world around me, is that when there is an imbalance of masculine and feminine and it’s different for everyone. You could look at percentages; maybe one person is 60% feminine and 40% masculine or whatever it is. When we resist or repress or push away one aspect of the ratio, inevitably the other one is going to be imbalanced as well. It’s not that one is good and the other is bad but that we need to find right relationship with both. We’re not always going to be in our feminine, we’re not always going to be in our masculine. If we push one of them away or make it wrong, inevitably the other one’s going to suffer in some way.
In society, there is a lot of people who have negativity about their polar opposite. I was talking to a woman who frankly was abused and raped as a child. She was so deeply in her feminine and I could feel that softness and that warmth. She’s like, “Your masculinity is hard for me to be around.” She was so hurt by a man, she identified masculine with a man, she rejected me. I wasn’t offended. I was like, “Do you want me to sit back? Do you want me to be more of my feminine?” Then she started talking about how she can’t move in her life. She can’t sustain a job or even sustain a relationship and she got through our conversation is because she’s rejecting her own masculine.
When you asked in the first call, “Why are we doing this?” other than the fact that you enjoy hanging out with me, one of the reasons that I know that I’m doing is it doesn’t have to be this black and white. That says it doesn’t need to be a black and white between our masculine and feminine, so it doesn’t need to be a black and white between men and women. Men are not always inherently wrong just as women are not always inherently right. In fact, we can honor how this man feels to him feels true and how this woman feels is true. Even if those feelings clash, it doesn’t mean that we have to make the person across from us wrong. That’s where looking to understand the perspectives can be helpful. This leads us beautifully into our conversation of masculine versus feminine integrity. Now, we get to explore what is the difference between masculine versus feminine integrity? In this paradoxical way where two things can be true at the same time, that don’t feel like they should, how do we find connection there? Before we do, why don’t we create a definition of what integrity means, Rob? What does integrity mean to you in the context of a relationship?
Integrity means do as you say, say as you do and it’s also what’s on your inside matches what’s on your outside. We are magnificent actors portraying a role or creating a facade of who we think the world wants us to be and the inside is very often very different. We tend to be out of integrity with ourselves because we present something or someone that we’re truly not. The effect of that is we lack the ability to be connected to ourselves and we compromise our own views due to lack of integrity.
I would add some synonyms. To me, integrity also means alignment or congruity. It’s similar to what you said, how I present myself is congruent with how I show up. My personal integrity is how I feel and what I believe internally is in integrity with how I express myself and act externally. Why don’t we go into the different types of integrity? Why don’t we start with the masculine? What does masculine integrity mean to you?
My original teachers taught the work of Victor Baranco, who started More University. He was a researcher in the ‘60s and ‘70s and then his work propagated to a lot of other groups. One of the things I learned from them was that women don’t have integrity. This is not my viewpoint but this is the viewpoint that I was taught. The women in the room didn’t like that the first time they heard that women don’t have integrity. The reasoning behind that was because men created the boys’ school or the patriarchy and women weren’t invited to the party. The rules that men and boys, boys learned, the women didn’t have a chance to learn. What men were taught or what men learned was very different. Women are like, “You’re not inviting me to the party. I’m not going to follow your rules. I’m not going to follow what you’re doing.” As a good student, I took on that viewpoint for a while and it’s gotten me into a lot of trouble with women, especially when I said it and I used to say it in a charged, slightly obnoxious manner I’ve learned. What I did pick up from that was they are different. They have very different aspects and different relationships. When I was married, when I would say, “What time do you want to leave?” She would say, “8:00,” to me that meant be ready by 7:58. When she said, “I want to leave by 8:00,” she thought about leaving at 9:00. She had a different relationship to that time.
I could look at that like, “She’s out of integrity with time. She said 8 and now it’s 9 and we’re not leaving until 9:15.” Then I realized that us leaving at 9:15 was the right time to go because getting there the hour early wasn’t right. She was in touch with a deeper truth than my stoic masculine man saying, “We have to leave at 8.” I learned that even though she said 8:00 in legal baseline obstruction terms, that was what it meant, it meant, “Let’s go to the party when the party is the right time for us to go in.”
I feel I was very connected to masculine integrity for the majority of my young adult life. It’s only been for the past maybe three or four years that I’ve been embracing feminine integrity. There is something about the rightness of masculine integrity. Something about like, “I’m going to do this because I said that I’m going to do it and if I don’t do it that means that I’m a bad person.” I was very clenched or desiring to be in control in the precision of things. What I’ve noticed is I fall way more into what you’re describing. I’m short of showing up on time for my clients but I more and more have slipped away from like, “I said I’m going to do this. I’m going to do it like this no matter what, even if it no longer feels in alignment with what’s true in the moment.” I’m still in judgments around some of those things that I’ve become more loose around those areas.
Out of integrity, when you say you’re going to do something, you change your mind, you don’t tell the other people that you don’t want to do it, and then they don’t show up. For some who are rigid in terms of masculine integrity, in other words, if we want to start defining masculine integrity, it’s be your word almost to the point of your own detriment. Do what you say even if you don’t want to do it or it’s not healthy. No pain, no gain. That edge of the level is that, “I’m going to do what I say.” My classic example is I decided to do 70 yoga classes in 80 days to prepare for my talk at Lightning In A Bottle. I made myself a spreadsheet, I talked about it and it’s hot yoga too, its core power. It’s hot yoga. I was supposed to do 70 yoga classes, that’s seven classes out of eight days. After day 30, I said, “I’m going to die. I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die.” I had a conversation with myself and said, “60 classes in eighty days,” and that’s what I did. It was so much more pleasurable. I kept my goal, it was still impressive. If I would have been purely my masculine side of the integrity, then I would’ve killed myself and not been good. It’s the loosening of that extreme edge that was necessary for my health.
I want to take that and bring it into an even more example in the realm of relationship. One of the talking points that I wrote down was there can be the alchemized version of masculine integrity and then there can be the shadowy version of that. I want to speak to a little bit of ways that I find masculine integrity can be used as a way to perpetuate being a martyr for example or perpetuate being a victim. I was having a conversation with a client where she was in this toxic relationship with this man who was not treating her well. It was not a great relationship. She would make all of these agreements with him about what she would do for him whether it’s like, “I’m going to pick him up. I’m going to do this.” She was more and more out of integrity with herself. These things that she was committing to doing we’re going against her nature. She was using the excuse of, “I said that I was going to do this, so I’m going to do it.” To me, that is an example of holding onto masculine integrity as almost like perpetuating, almost feeling disempowered around your choice to be empowered.
Let’s go back to our baseline definition. If masculine likes to check things off the box and have it clean, then if you change your mind in the middle or if she changed her mind in the middle and created a new thing, you’re adding a new to-do list, you’re away from masculine integrity. To me that’s the side of the feminine integrity. When you have the choice to alter, when you want to switch something around, you’re still in integrity with who you want to be in the world. At the same time, you’re in integrity with the change. You’re in integrity with yourself, you’re in integrity with your body.
Why don’t we speak a little bit to the feminine integrity then? It sounds like we’ve spoken to masculine integrity and then we start to fade into the reasons why you would shift into a different model of integrity.
Feminine integrity is following and changing and morphing and going with the flow. Like my 60 classes, that was not a sign of masculine integrity. If I made a blood agreement with my brothers that I was going to do that, I was out of integrity with them because I changed my mind. The feminine wants to change its mind. It wants the freedom to change its mind based on what’s happening. That’s the beauty of the feminine. It could look at, “I was planning to wear this outfit and it’s totally wrong. I’m going to change.” “I was going to paint this picture, but I had this new flash of inspiration. I’m going to change this color.” The feminine wants to change, it wants to evolve. It’s where the beauty and the vision come from. Being in integrity on the feminine side is listening to those loud voices that say, “Change, change, change,” which drives the masculine crazy. Because we’re like, “No. You said this and this. Look, I have your signature.” If the masculine is purely an insight, it’s going to miss out on the opportunity of so much beauty.
I would dare say in this circumstance, there are in many ways a lot less approval for feminine integrity than masculine Integrity.
It doesn’t mean to think feminine integrity as a word or a statement, purely in a masculine, that is an oxymoron jumbo shrimp.
How about like intuitive action?
To me that’s another form of feminine integrity. It’s like what you’re talking to. I’m acting based upon what feels true in the moment. I’m at this place in my body where if I have to do something or I said yes to doing something that now thinking about doing it and it doesn’t feel true anymore, it makes my body quake. It’s very hard for me at this point to do things that do not feel in integrity. Because I pushed away my feminine, my intuition, my embodiment, feeling in my body for so long, I’m in the extreme in many ways of valuing feminine integrity over masculine integrity because I bypass my emotions and my intuition for so long. It’s definitely gotten me into a little bit of trouble especially when it comes to following my desire.
Are you 51% to 49% feminine to masculine or are you 70% to 30% feminine to masculine? This is a very masculine question but I want to get a flavor. Where are you in the spectrum?
I’m probably 70% feminine integrity and 30% masculine integrity. It’s becoming a bit of an issue now because my business has exponentially increased over the course of the last months, and it’s requiring me to re-engage with my masculine integrity in a way that I’ve been resisting for awhile. I was joking with my coach about it. I was like, “My resistance to creating a schedule and structure is that I’m resisting the patriarchy,” and it is. It’s this rebellion of like, “Fuck you for telling me to do things that are based in no reason other than that I’m supposed to do them.” It’s shown up as well in my relationship to food and my body. I find that dieting, restricting calories for restricting calories sake and eating things that we don’t enjoy eating because we’re supposed to, it’s similar with that. I spent most of my college years very regimented in the foods that I would eat to a compulsive place of entering it into calorie counters. Just being obsessive with how many calories I was burning and I realized like, “This is making me crazy.” It was a similar thing of, “I’m going to let this go and pendulate to the opposite side of the spectrum of not doing any of that and then cycling around so I find my unique right relationship with both.”
That’s sometimes the way you have to do it. You have to start at one side and check out the other side and explore back and forth until you do find a healthy relationship. My belief system of the mastery of integrity is the total switch on the number from all the way masculine to all the way feminine and back and forth in a conscious manner with a lot of communication. That’s where I’m living in my life. I have a lot of projects and I love having lots of projects and I love having so much to do and so much expansion but it’s affecting my self-care. It’s affecting my health. Now, I have to bring in some of my feminine integrity to live a healthier lifestyle. When I do feel exhausted, I do feel tight, I do feel like I need a little space, it’s time to go to the beach for a day. It’s time to go for a walk. It’s time to get a massage. It’s time to watch a movie instead of sticking like, “No. This is my to-do list.” It’s finding that balance between the two.
How about we take this into the juicy nitty-gritty of how masculine and feminine integrity shows up in our intimate relationships and some of our personal experiences around the clashing of these two things. For me, my intimate and sexual relationships with men radically shifted when I was able to move from a right and wrong model of relating to being able to embrace paradox. When I say paradox, I mean that two things can simultaneously be true for two different people at the same time that seemed to not work together. When I’m able to embrace that, I feel a certain way and it feels true to me. This person across from me feels a certain way and it feels true to him. When I don’t need to make myself right and himself wrong, then I can move out of trying to be right to figuring out how can I be connected with this person and how can I find the common thread where we do feel the same way or be heard in the same spots. It’s been uncomfortable navigating that because I get to look at where I’m out of integrity with my feminine integrity or where I’m out of integrity with my masculine integrity and it gets messy.
That’s the definition of relationship, something to push your buttons. I was doing a podcast interview and they asked me, “How do you not die alone?” That was the question I said various tips of telling the truth and all those things, but I said, “One of the greatest gifts I’ve learned for myself is learning to see the world from my partner’s eyes. To switch from my frame of reference and my relationship to integrity to Morgan’s side and her level of integrity.” I don’t necessarily have to agree with it. I don’t necessarily have to shift or change mine, but it’s an advantage to see how she sees something. Then I’m like, “If I was in her shoes and Rob was doing it to me in her shoes that would feel shitty. Do I want her to feel shitty? No. What can I do by choice to enable her to feel safer and fuller and richer?” That’s an on-going, non-stop conversation. If I’m not willing to look at things from her shoes, if I’m stoically, stubbornly, sitting in my own frame of reference, I’m missing out on so much.
What’s been probably the biggest learning place for me is moving into open relationship with my primary partner because it can be such a gray area. What’s been challenging to my ego are the places where I’m terrified of being in the wrong. That terror of being in the wrong has made it difficult for me at times to hear my partner’s perspectives because there’s this fear that if I get their perspective, then I have to take culpability. Then I’ll be wrong and then I’ll be a horrible human being, and then I won’t be loved.
That’s your ego protecting you. Remember, the ego is there to protect you. That’s the role of the ego. When we’re younger and we need protection, we build ego structures to ensure that we’re safe. The issue is when those ego structures become unmalleable or rigid and we put them in our shadow where we won’t see them. Then all of a sudden your partner has a different opinion, you go, “I am wrong,” because your ego is protecting you, which then makes them wrong. All of a sudden, that’s where the disconnection occurs. I don’t want to sound like I know exactly how to do this because I am still learning. I saw this whole perspective of my relationship with Morgan and how it can improve if I change my intention around it. Changing my intention to be more connected. I was like, “Holy cow,” and all these dominoes fell. The point is I don’t need my ego to protect me for being right because I’d rather be connected than I’d rather be right at this state of my point. It wasn’t always like that. Sometimes I would be in arguments arguing a point even though they were full of shit because I wanted it to be right and the cost of that is so big in terms of intimacy.
It is that piece around intimacy. I feel like so much of intimacy is a felt experience. You can feel close to someone in your body versus just being like, “I’m intimate with you.” There is this nauseating honesty. This nauseating willingness to be wrong and see another person’s perspective that is deeply intimate. I find that the more we’re willing to lean in and let go of being perfect so that we can be connected, we wind up creating this deep anchor of intimacy with the partner or partners in our lives that create the freedom for us to have the experiences that we desire because our partner knows that we’re willing to be connected over needing to be right.
Even the word ‘wrong’, that is such a negative connotation. “I was wrong. You were wrong. We did this wrong.” I subbed it in the word optimized. It’s not the most optimized solution or it’s not the most pristine, whatever word comforts you or has you. I know my relationship with Morgan or relationship with my work or relationship with myself, it’s a fluid evolving thing. What’s proper in right now might be un-optimized in ten seconds. It’s my ability to say, “I want to make this better. I want this to be more sensational. I want this to be richer. What changes do I get to make to have a deeper intimacy with my partner?” If I’m in that, “I did this wrong. I screwed it up. I fucked this up. I’m lying on the floor falling out of a yoga pose, moaning, bleeding, snot everywhere, and I’m just sitting there, I’m wrong. I’m wrong.” Meanwhile, life is passing us by and we’re losing the opportunity to get your ass up and optimize it.
What that brings up for me is that it is impossible to be in authentic integrity with oneself if we’re fulfilling someone else’s ideas of what partnership is supposed to look like. So much of the time I find that when I’m asking people like, “Why did you do that? Why did you say that? Why did you choose that?” It was like, “Because that’s what you’re supposed to do or that’s what my parents did or that’s what I feel like I was supposed to do.” It comes down to this question of like, “When we release all of the shoulds, what is true for us in that moment?” It’s being willing to be present with who we are and what we want and what we need in the moment.
Most of us aren’t honest with ourselves, “I’ll grin and bear it,” or “I won’t tell him the truth because of his ego,” or “We’re having such a good time. Why should I bring up that thing that he does that annoys me? Why should I ruin a good moment?” That’s where you lose your integrity. Masculine and feminine is when you are willing to bring what’s inside out.
That’s a good piece especially around expressing challenging emotions. I know for myself, expressing my anger in the moment has been a hard spot for me because I received the conditioning from my relationship with my father that if I expressed emotions that in any way challenged his adequateness as a father, that I’d be made wrong. I brought that into a lot of my relationships with men. This primary male person in my life from a very young age invalidated my emotional experience. A big part of my healing has been realizing that my emotions are a gift in my relationships and can be a source of turn on and connection in a way where I felt like, “The right thing to do is to hold back my anger because I don’t want to hurt this person.” Especially in my current partnership, it’s moments where I let myself get angry and let him feel what’s true for me in the moment, it’s where the real turn on occurs and where the real intimacy occurs.
Think about the math of that. You feel anger in your system, you then judge that the anger is wrong. You push the anger down which is the cancer or that causes the sickness. Then, you’re totally out of integrity because you’re not expressing what’s happening on your inside. Meanwhile your partner’s thinking, if he is semi-awake, “What’s going on?” “Nothing.” If I say nothing in a passive-aggressive way and if he is a little more awake, he’ll be like, “Are you sure you? Something seems afoot.” “Nothing. Everything is fine.” Then what happens is you get that disconnection so you’re harming the relationship because you have a doubt about your own anger. I hold both people responsible for that. If I don’t create a space for Morgan to have all her feelings, I hold her responsible in terms of her not being in integrity and authentic with me. I hold myself responsible because I haven’t created a space for her to have her feelings. It’s the combination. It’s not her fault for being stingy with her real and it’s not me for being an asshole. It’s the marriage of the two. The greatest gift you can give your partner is like, “Please show me all of you.” The greatest gift you can give someone is showing them all of you.
The piece you just said around how does anyone create a space energetically, so much of it is energetic. There’s what we say and then there’s the energy and the emotions behind what we say and I feel like that in itself is an entire conversation of how do we create an energetic safe space for a person to feel like it’s safe to be all of who we are.
That’s a lot of self-validation. That’s a lot of self-belief and self-love. I’ve worked very hard to create a space where Morgan can tell me everything and anything. There are still times where she’ll say something and I get triggered and I’ll go into my childhood wound, and she’ll feel my trigger and then she’ll get triggered by my trigger and I’ll get triggered by her. It happens and what we’ve done in our two and a half year relationship is we’ve learned and communicated what’s the best way to say things overtly. It’s like, “When this happens, how should I handle it? Do you want me just to say? Do you want me to sit down? Do you want me to say, “Truth moment?” We have this game, #TruthMoment. What is it? To build those communication pathways because we’re not taught how to do that. We’re taught to withhold our intimacy. We’re told to withhold our feelings and that’s where the lack of integrity happens and that’s why most relationships fail. More relationships fail than succeed. There are more single adults now than there are people in a relationship for the first time in history. It’s because we’re not willing to create the pathways so we can fully be in integrity and transparent.
Part of me is almost happy that there are more single people than people in partnership. I find so many people in partnership these days aren’t joyful and real and being themselves in partnerships. My initial inclination was like, “Thank fucking god. People aren’t pretending,” and it could go either way but that was my initial inclination.
My belief system, it’s going to be a mess for awhile. I did this podcast with these two awesome people and they do speed rounds. They’re like, “What’s one truth about you that no one agrees with?” I said, “I think it’s great that Donald Trump is president.” They were like, “What?” I could feel the agitation. My whole show was probably going to be fucked up just because I said that truth. Afterwards they said, “Why would you say that?” I said, “Because all this mess has been underneath the surface forever. I think the Harvey Weinstein’s, the conversation about #MeToo was created by him being in a place to let the pus, the muck, the dirt of our relationship to arise so we can work it out, so we can have healthier relationships, be more in integrity, be more transparent. I think it’s going to be a mess for awhile and I do see form of beautiful resolution down the line, but honestly it could take a generation to get there.”
I don’t know why I’m feeling the desire to be vulnerable, but let’s get into it. I’m going to share a real world example of an experience around opening up my relationship and my masculine and feminine integrity in its prime. My partner, David, and I, had been together on and off for about two and a half years and we came back together and started negotiating how we engage in open relationship with other people and what the agreements are. We had decided that if we feel like something’s going to happen, we’ll send a text and let the person know. We don’t need to ask for permission because if we’re waiting to hear back from the person, it could get in the way of natural, organic unfoldment of the experience. It’s like updating the person. I had the experience of going out to dinner with a lover or a potential lover, someone who I hadn’t explored physical intimacy with. My current partner was at a party working an event or something like that. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to have a conversation with him. After this man and I parted ways from dinner, he wound up reaching out and we decided that we were going get together and play. There was this moment where I was like, “There’s been choppy communication between my partner and I in the past about me telling him something and then not receiving info from him and me going into this fear spiral.” In that moment I decided, “I would much rather tell him about this experience in person so that I can feel him and he can feel me and I can see his reaction.”
I went, had this experience. We didn’t have sex but we played around. Then me and my partner came back together and when I was talking to a girlfriend of mine about this, I was like, “Girl, I’m having this anxiety. I want to find the right time to talk to him about this.” She’s like, “Why don’t you wait until he’s in a good space where he can receive this?” She gets it. She also does the open relating lifestyle as well. When I finally told him, he was upset because there was something that we had agreed upon, which in the moment I felt like a lot of nausea around and a desire to share it in a more connected way. I took it upon myself to act in feminine integrity and find when we could have a conversation in person, but I realized that not operating in masculine integrity there fucked with him and created less trust. Whereas, I thought that there would be more trust because we could have a conversation in person.
This is obviously a break of a masculine integrity. How do you feel or how do you know or how do you perceive, it’s in feminine integrity with what you did?
In my mind at the time, I was afraid of receiving the cold shoulder from him. There was this fear of being made wrong for the choice and that the fear of being made wrong would impact my ability to have this experience with this person, which has been, from my perspective, an issue in the past. However, what also plays in is the whole having approval for my desires. Ultimately, it was a fear of not being received in the way that I was communicating a truth. I wanted to create a situation where I felt I could be received and the emotions that would arise, which felt in integrity at the time.
I wish we could animate this a little bit because then I’ll have the masculine integrity laughing like a barrel laugh, “That’s a bunch of crap. Does that work?” The masculine hated that but I’ll speak and the other second animation character which will be the feminine integrity, which is much prettier, basically like, “I think what happened was you wanted to go with what felt good.” That’s a feminine integrity is it felt right to wait until you are face and face in a connected manner. If we could break this down it’s like, masculine is keep your word, feminine is keep your integrity around your feeling. Would they duke it out? My two cartoon characters.
It’s was very uncomfortable.
That’s why a lot of arguments are based on that like, “You broke your word.” “It didn’t feel good to keep my word anymore.” “You cannot keep your word just because it doesn’t feel good” and back and forth and back and forth and it’s a punching match. It’s a war.
Thank you for receiving that.
I’m more of the masculine integrity guy. It’s important to me that I keep my word to Morgan. I’m anal on things. It’s like, “I’m going to be there at 5:15. I’m going to be late.” She is like, “How much later?” I’m like, “5:25.” The ten minutes make a big difference but it does to me. I also have an agreement with her. She says, “If you want to go do something that feels right, go do something,” which I love. I love that freedom on the other side. It’s a war. It’s interesting.
My parting words are be willing to slide from masculine to feminine integrity, from one side to the other. Just be willing and you don’t lose out. You can gain so much intimacy and connection, neither one is right and neither one is better. We have our biases and that’s okay too. Be willing to expand and know when to shift and when to connect and that’s where, to me the greatest intimacy, the greatest sex, the greatest relating is when you get off your soapbox, step down on the ground, walk to the other side, take a look, see if it’s more optimized and then feel. That’s where the deepest connection is. That’s my sermon on top of my soapbox.
If you’re someone who’s a perfectionist like me, do your best to acknowledge that there is no perfect walk in this way. That we’re inevitably going to “make mistakes.” We’re going to inevitably impact people in ways that perhaps were less optimized than if we could again. We have to learn these lessons in some way in a relationship and if we don’t learn it now, we’ll probably learn it down the road in a bigger and perhaps not so better way. How can we celebrate these things that we learn and come back into communication and connection and create more intimacy so we’re more optimized in it?
Thank you so much for joining us for Six Vulnerable Conversations Between a Man and a Woman. Please spread the word about Tuff Love and this amazing conversation about how to be more intimate. If you like it, please leave us a review on iTunes, Stitcher or your favorite podcast application. Thank you so much. Go forth. Have a great day. I love you.
About Arielle Brown
Arielle is a Relationship Expert & Intimacy Educator. She specializes in helping people to create deeper connection and intimacy their relationships and greater community. In her private coaching work with singles and couples, she helps people create or revitalize relationships that are authentic to the needs, values and desires of each person. Her group facilitation and workshops focus on cultivating deeper levels of intimacy with others through conscious communication, energetic attunement and sensory awareness of the body. Learn more at www.ariellebrown.com.