"I pretty much always have to initiate sex" My buddy told me.
I sensed a little resentment and asked him about it. He said it wasn't a big deal, but conceded that he had a little frustration with the dynamic. He would prefer more reciprocation, because initiating sex takes work. It takes courage because sometimes she won't be into it and he feels turned down.
I remember having the same frustration in years past. I remember it feeling unfair.
The funny thing is that I also remember times when my partner actually did initiate sex… and I wasn't in the mood. It felt a little weird. On one hand, I appreciated that she was doing some of the "work", but I also felt like… If I wanted to have sex then I would have initiated it. Then I felt obligated to go along with it because it was one of the few times that she initiated. It didn't feel very sexy.
But when my buddy brought this up, I realized that I had not felt that frustration in a really long time. What changed?
The change had not been the goal of my tantra practice but it was a clear result of it. The intention of my tantra practice was to reunite my sexual expression with my emotional experience, and create a stronger connection with my lover.
Through this practice, our sex became more emotionally connected, but something else happened. The feeling of being in love with her began to turn me on more , and feeling of being turned on by her invigorated my love for her.
The result is that I feel like I'm always making love to her. I feel like we just take breaks from sex and move into either an energy of post coital cuddling or an energy of prolonged foreplay. In some ways, it might look like I'm the one "initiating" but it feels like I'm just continuing to make love to her. In this way, I'm never initiating sex because we are always making love. Whether or not we decide to take our clothes off and engage the primary sexual organs is more a question of timing and flow.
And I never feel like I'm being "turned down" or rejected. It's clear to both of us where the energy of our connection is. When there is safety and space for sexual expression we can sense that we both can go there, when there isn't, we don't. And there are, of course, times when she feels sexual desire but I'm stressed don't, or vice versa. While we may not be able to connect on an explicitly sexual level, we can almost always connect on the level of loving connection. With a deep integration of sexuality and love, one can satisfy the other. Indeed, the deeper urge is more often to feel loved. Tapping into that feeling gives freedom from attachment to explicitly sexual desires.
I have not achieved some enlightened state, but rather found more integration of my own energy. I'm still learning.
What seems clear to me is that most of the difficulty in sex is due to a dis-integration from the emotional experience. When the heart and pelvis are connected and aligned, many problems simply vanish.
But so often, people take off their clothes and cover up their hearts. Instead of making love, we do a sort of mutual masturbation. "I get you off if you get me off." And this type of connection is a lot more difficult to manage. Consent is more difficult to manage because it is two competing minds and desires rather than one united emotional experience.
I know this because I used to do this. The sexual repression of our society put my sexuality into the shadows, and the corresponding commodification of sexuality furthered the disconnection from my heart. I didn't even know what it was like to feel love and sexual desire united. It wasn't just a lack of information in my mind, it was a physical disconnection between my heart and my pelvis.
But I learned slowly. Looking back, I realize how strange it was that the disconnection persisted. I was with people who I deeply loved, but our sexuality was more of a "hot" thing that we did together rather than a deeply connected expression of our love for each other. My focus during sex was still "performance" rather than presence.
But I had teachers like David Cates, I read books like "Cupid's Poisoned Arrow," and I have an amazing lover and teacher, Angela Grace. She and I explored each other's hearts and bodies and began to have sex with the specific intention of connecting our hearts to our sexuality, and to each other's hearts. When we did this, it felt like fog clearing to reveal a breathtaking landscape. Tears rolled down my cheeks as we made love for the beauty that I was experiencing. I cried for sorrow at every time I had sex with less connection than at that moment.
And I still feel sorrow for having had emotionally disconnected sex. I see this as a disrespect for the divine magic of embodied loving connection. If someone were to ask me if I had an unhealthy sexually past, I would have to say 'yes' for every time I engaged the sacred sexual part of my body without the corresponding integration of my heart. I didn't know. I couldn't even fathom.
But I have compassion for my former self. I have compassion for everyone out there who is searching for love, connection, and meaning, doing the best they can with the information available.
The men I talk to in my coaching practice all want deeply meaningful and loving relationships. Most of the time, there is so much societal bullshit in the way that they need to spend time clearing a route for the relaxed connection to occur. Other times, they are not sure which direction to turn for all the bullshit clouding their view.
It's no surprise that people feel lonely. It's no surprise that people cross each other's boundaries as they explore intimacy. It's no surprise that women are angry with men for the very real abuses they have endured, be it blatant disregard and violence, or simply emotional disengagement and neglect. We tend to treat other's hearts the way we treat our own. Women feel the abuse of emotional disconnection when they engage with men; for most men, it's the air they breathe.
We live in a beautiful time in our society, where we are starting to acknowledge the abuse. People are finally being held accountable for their actions. Power dynamics are being considered and addressed. This is so important.
There is also so much room to explore connection to our hearts (or lack thereof). In addition to calling out people for their abuses we need to teach each other how to love. Because when we are connected to our hearts, so many problems simply vanish; when we are connected to our hearts, life becomes deeply beautiful.