MAINTAINING DIALECTICAL TENSIONS

Yin-Yang

“Build bridges and walls to include as well as exclude”

Dialectic what?

A dialectic tension is the perceived contradiction in personal relationships between two desirable goals or values that appear to be opposing tendencies, desires and needs…but are in fact both desirable to various degrees.  In light of this, dialectic tensions shouldn’t be viewed as ‘either/or’ but ‘both/and’ when it comes to maintaining these coupled tensions and their integration within a relationship.  The importance of balancing of emotional values in a relationship is to recognize that these values are always in motion and as importantly, that the seed of the opposing value lies within the first and vise versa.  These tensions have been symbolically recognized for centuries by the ancient symbol of ‘Yin and Yang’; where fluid and dynamic elements circle each other and each carrying an element of the other within them.  The most common tensions found within relationships are questions of;

Companionship vs Independence

These are the push-pull desires of wanting to connect with your partner and wanting to preserve your personal independence, or how dependent the romantic partners are with each other.  The degree of comfort within the relationship is the degree to which both parties understand the boundaries of the other, the emotional and physical space each is either giving or taking and to the degree of happiness to this agreement is.  In most relationships, these boundaries are negotiated reactively rather than actively and are initial points of friction within an emerging relationship.   

Candor vs Privacy

These are the tensions at arise between desiring to engage in self-disclosure, as opposed to maintaining a degree of privacy.  In most relationships this involves to what degree that you share your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and past with your partner.  Two central themes that are great sources for tension within a relationship are the degree of self-revelations regarding past relationships and the fears and anxieties currently driving your state of mind being expressed by insecurities, negativity and pessimism.  While revelations in either are fine in moderation, it is when we hit our partners boundaries that we wear out our welcome of candor. 

Predictability vs Novelty

These tensions represent the seeking of behavior patterns between stability and the desire for spontaneity.  Frequently we lapse into a sense security and a behavior routine that is comfortable and easy for us which becomes boring.  The challenge here is to provide the consistency we trust upon, but not so much that it becomes mundane by balancing between the expected and the unexpected.  More critically though, is recognizing a contextual shift with our partners, especially those times in which they are worn, tired and ego-depleted.  It is at these times we are better served by reaching for the familiar and trusted to help in assuaging a sense of exhaustion within our partner’s lives.

Maintenance Strategies

By far the most common strategies for maintaining relational tensions within a stabilized relationship is a selection and emphasis of a dominant poles, such as placing a high value on levels of connection, openness and predictability, followed with a temporary cycling of independence, privacy and novelty.  When incorporated intentionally, the emotional desyncing and resyncing are renown for fostering deep feelings of arousal, attraction and connection within a partner, as witness by the literary work of the world’s various Casanovas’s  and  the center pieces of dime-store romance novels.  This intentional emotional cycling is often considered the bulwark against a woman’s initial hypergamous reflex of feeling ‘unhappy’ within the confines of an all too stable relationship.  Other strategies include segmenting or compartmentalizing access to and from various value elements.  A common example would be having  the ritual of ‘a night out with the boys’.  A particular one to be on the lookout for is reframing, where a partner states that they are ‘just going through a phase’.   This is typical of individuals who do not fully understand the flux of relational tensions coupled with inadequate communication skills and relational trust and respect to investigate these emotional needs appropriately and therefore are unlikely to cope or manage these tensions effectively or appropriately.  The most sinister of these ‘phases’ is an unchecked woman’s hypergamous nature.  A woman ignorant or unwilling to face her terribly destructive nature is not maintaining tensions by harmonically alternating the back and forth between them, but dumping her partner and her children on the teeter-totter of life in the name of naked sexual self-interest.

Turning Points

When there is a shift in value of a given dialectic from one polarized end towards another without an oscillation back, this is known as a turning point.  In early relationships we see this primarily when a dating couple decides to become exclusive and committed to each other.  The dialectic of independence moves and resides more fully with companionship.  Later it may again intensify, when both partners in conjunction decide to advance their relationship civilly and socially in the form of marriage and family development.  The major concern of turning points is not when we emphasize a  pole mutually, but when it is sudden and the sentiment is anything but mutual.  These turning points can be so acute that we change our interpretation of the relationship, what it means to us and what place it has in our lives. Navigating these turning points without astute relational maintenance and management skills and open and honest communication all too frequently turn into open conflicts.  If left unattended to, the conflicts and tensions will not only do irrefutable harm to the relationship, but also to the individual parties, ultimately leading to the relationships destruction.  At this stage relationship repair is needed, not simple maintenance.  If relationship repair and re-negotiation cannot be achieved, then a dissolution of the relationship is in order at that point, before any unnecessary further harm is done.

External Tensions

Interestingly enough the same tensions that exist between two relationship partners also exist between the ‘couple’ and their relationships with their greater social networks, most notably between friends and family members.  While the dialectic tensions between conventionality and uniqueness of a relationship occurs with some couples, more often than not the degree of inclusion and privacy is one that has to be negotiated, or more aptly put, renegotiated.  Where one pair of the partnership had poor or weak personal boundaries with friends and family, those poor boundaries will surely be passed into the new relationship if left unchecked.  In instances such as this, it is far better to identify it and regulate it early before the behavior in question becomes codified and fully established within the relationship (deal with her Mother, before she’s your Mother-in-Law).

MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIP QUALITY

Relationship Quality

 

 

 

 

 

“Quality is never achieved by dropping standards…”

If you don’t have the ability to interact with, entice and compel your partner to invest herself with your time, presence and service (what you bring to the table), you’re not in the business of maintaining the quality of that relationship. You’re simply running on borrowed time and built up relationship equity to pay the emotional bills, for your relational insolvency (liabilities that exceed your value). Partnerships at their core are about mutual exchange of value to advance individual interest. If we become complacent, negligent, or destructive about maintaining value or care regarding our partners interests, we should take full accountability for the initiation of that relationship’s deterioration. As a strategic matter people should learn to avoid those people who are unwilling or incapable of providing for our needs prior to a relationship and that goes as well for relationship once they are already initiated. If your needs are not being met, seek to resolve those internally, but be prepared to walk away.

Frame control

Frame or the underlying structural support that makes up a physical composition of a subject, in this case a relationship, was negotiated and accepted early, even long prior to any formal commitment or recognition thereof a relationship. In particular, you being a man, having the social expectation to lead, to be its steward and to have it molded by you. When men relinquish control of the relationship frame devastation occurs. Nowhere is this better reflected and recorded than when viewing divorce statistics… over half of all marriages fail, with women doing 70% of the filings, the primary reason for which was ‘a lack of martial satisfaction’… They simply were ‘unhappy’. This begs an important series of questions; if they were unhappy, who’s responsibility were they expecting to fulfill their needs of satisfaction? Obviously their partner, from whom they are divorcing, but what lead to this? While there will be a myriad of individual responses, a disproportionate number of them will center around the man abdicating his masculine role and responsibilities within the relationship. Because of this we should rid ourselves of any preconception that women want, need, care to share or should have control of the relationship frame if we want our relationships and families survive and thrive. Sorry ladies, your actions speak louder than your words…

Attraction isn’t negotiable

Repeated social studies have demonstrated and reaffirmed the common observation of the consistent erotic appeal of male dominance as sexual cues of attraction and desire for women, whether those are the hypergamous triggers of physical being, social behaviors or status display cues of dominance or ‘alpha’ traits. Please keep in mind that these base traits of desire do not diminish over time. In fact they are terribly consistent. At a woman’s base biological need is a desire to be with an unapologetic masculine male- a Man. Social dominance plays such an important role in feminine attraction that manipulating this single variable socially has repeatedly shown and proven dramatic improvements in a man’s sexual market value- the degree to which he is sexually valued by women. This social dominance begins and ends with a man’s perceived self-worth and is nowhere more clearly reflected in action than by his command of the word ‘No!’. A man of worth has standards and his behaviors and actions reflect those, especially in the face of perceived opposition. It is human nature to value that which is earned, which makes giving women a pass, is a sure way to sell yourself short and display low value. Beyond that it is bad practice as it is a form of rewarding bad behavior, and that which we subsidize we get more of, much to many a men’s ultimate regret.

Branding

It’s the job of the seller to sell the value of a product or service by making a connection with their customer base and extolling the virtues of it… This is called branding. In many ways it’s simply identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors and then hammering those in a visible way. One of the things that attracts people to a certain brand is the power of presence they project known as the halo-effect, which is identified by the strength of the initial idealization, as the greater the initial idealization the greater the reports of satisfaction over the following year. This held true for products, services and amazingly enough relationships too! Another way of looking at this is that people we interact with tell themselves a story of who they perceive us to be. We feed that story by making a series of statements by our presence, actions and words that tell people who we are and what they can expect from us. These studies in short tell us that it is far better to be the Lone Ranger, than it is to be the actor who portrays him. Your story needs to be robust enough to attract their attention and keep it. You need to be prepared to live that story out loud (by actions, as it build credibility), because soft-spoken stories rarely give rise to rapt audiences.

Meeting their emotional needs

The leading indicator for relationship quality is best measured by the degree of relational satisfaction- the degree to which our needs, desires and appetite are being fulfilled within the relationship. When we meet our partner’s needs, it creates the greatest degree of happiness, acceptance and validation in turn, which is emotionally transferred into the context of what we describe as love. Unfortunately not all needs are created equally, nor equally valued by each individual, which make it particularly important to respond to our partner’s needs if we want satisfaction to remain high. Your job is to find out what those are, to what degree are they valued and how to best meet or achieve those. Affection and intimacy are two critical emotional needs that are often seen as the cement of a relationship. With it we’re bonded to each other, without it we are totally alienated by its absence. This is where the value of rituals comes into play. By having consciously established patterns of behaviors focused on intimacy and affection helps safeguards the relationship because they are simply lost in hard times when we need them the most.

Positivity as an essential

One of the most important characteristics of relationship satisfaction is the ability of couples to accentuate the positive in life more than those that choose to revel in the negatives of life. While shit happens to everyone, we command the choice to be miserable or not. It should come as no surprise then that miserable people have miserable relationships…which usually end miserably. The point here is that it pays handsome dividends to have a healthy masculine male leadership who is able to sort out emotional trivialities, to define interpret what is important, by taking issues into perspective, accepting accountability for one’s emotional state and being emotionally secure in the face of adversity (especially her disapproval) to cease negativity where it serves no positive function within the relationship (all these are renown masculine traits not feminine). Simply put that may mean calling your partner out on her negativity and setting the relationship cultural tone for promoting positivity over adversity. Please bear in mind the law of emotional contagion (the unconscious tendency to mimic the emotions of others) that the strongest frame will win out.

Nature of commitment

An inherent feature to relationship satisfaction is powerfully linked to the qualitative nature of commitment. The degree to which our partners identify with and actively reduce our cautionary reactions to fears and insecurity regarding our vulnerabilities of relationship future projection, actively mitigates the degree of distrust we feel based on those natural occurring anxieties. Until we can alleviate our partner’s predominant concerns for self-protection, emotional safety and security they will be reluctant to develop a deep and abiding faith in us or our relationship with them. We need to recognize the importance of promoting trust by clarifying our intentions, validating our partners and highlighting the value we hold of our relationship, through regular assurances which are reinforced by gestures and behavior as demonstrations of commitment and loyalty.

Engaging Social Networks

As social creatures we have a deep need for social approval and acceptance. It is not surprising then to know that studies on depression have routinely placed positive social events on par with the effects gained through medication to remediate the state of low personal mood associated with sadness, emptiness, worthlessness and hurt. In fact, many doctors will actually prescribe social events with friends, family and loved-ones as a course of action to take to limit or reduce the effects of depression. As such social events make incredible tools for improving the quality of relationships. Integrating our relationship within greater social circles has the effect of expanding the degree of affirmation, validation and support we receive, which greatly offsets life’s challenges. Care must be taken though, when our social circles come into conflict with our relationships, because they can be as detrimental as positive. Boundaries in these cases need to be clearly articulated socially, if not physically, depending upon the nature and intensity of the conflicts, as history and literature are replete with examples where relationships are made or broken by the acceptance of a given pair in a social construct.

 

RELATIONSHIP MAINTENANCE-STABILITY

Relationship Stability

“A stable ship can sail unstable seas…”

The Stability and Longevity Relationship

Longevity has always been synonymous with equaling success and a direct ramification of longevity is stability. If we want our relationships to last, they need a strong stable base from which to spring from. That means planning and constructing an environment meant for stability and thus longevity by design. As men, it is our gender expectation to take the leadership role with guiding, managing and fostering the relationships we desire and enter into. A critical component to this is initiating the cultural baseline within the relationship that influences those elements that contribute to a stable and healthy relationship to begin with and to make sure it stays that way (the maintenance part). In each case, we can discern a series of interaction patterns within both healthy and successful relationships, as well as un-healthy and failing relationships, where a mindfulness or lack thereof plays a critical role in determining the stability of those relationships. If you are not working toward relationship stability, you’re not working toward relationship longevity, plain and simple.

The Power of Positivity

It should come as no surprise, except for the severely dysfunctional, that thriving couples (happy and healthy) accentuate the positive in life more so than those that live in languishing relationships (unhealthy and co-dependent). We have seen before that emotions act as powerful contagions and we should be wary of accepting poor attitudes, dark emotions and negative outlooks, which are highly contagious and insulate ourselves by behavior and action from this outcome prior to it becoming a rapid adverse selection spiral from which we cannot escape. Doing so is a form of emotional boundary setting. While we can come to experience such feelings, we should not dwell there, nor permit those feelings and emotions to take root with ourselves or with our partners. Likewise we need to be vigilant and guard against negative messaging behavior, such as incessant criticism, sarcasm, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling (avoidance behavior) that is the antithesis of stability, which creates fertile ground for negative attributions , distancing behavior, re-casting relationship narratives and incentivizing solutions outside of the relationship to fulfill our needs and desires (such as extra-relational fucking around). In this regard, it will take a particular man to be able to face not only the demons in his life, those of his partner, but also to face and turn away the negative beliefs, attitudes, outlooks and behaviors his partner is exhibiting or fostering, without alienating her in the process (diplomacy anyone?). In this regard it pays handsomely to have a strong masculine frame within the relationship that is able to sort out emotional trivialities, to define and interpret what is important, by taking issues into perspective, by accepting accountability for one’s emotional state, and being emotionally secure in the face of adversity… we need to be emotionally supportive of our partners, but not emotionally immersed where negativity is at root and command, least we become consumed by it and our relationship drowned by it.

Value of Openness

Couples who stay together tend to exhibit high levels of operational maintenance in making sure that the relationship is open for both parties to express their wants, needs, objections and concerns freely and have worked in advance to make sure this is the relationship climate and experience. There’s always a certain amount of inertia that must initially be overcome to start difficult communication let alone begin a conversation after a history of pent-up frustrations, fears and anxiety that have already been established, let alone in conditions where real damage has previously been sustained and our partners are nurturing grievances. In all cases we lead by example and as such we need to be open and receptive to receiving feedback and actively soliciting it from our partners, prior to our expecting them to do so. We need to have already shown and exhibited a forum and willingness to talk about issues of the day, the operations of our relationships and personal frictions long prior to when we actually have an issue to overcome. In doing so, we need to express and exemplify cooperative and optimistic behavior in our approach and dealings with problems as they arise… note the term ‘as they arise’, avoiding communicating frictions and troubling issues doesn’t just save them for another day, it is a form of management neglect that is far from benign, but quite cancerous. It formulates a situation where the issue will not be addressed until it reaches the conflict or crisis point, at which damage is already being done to the relationship. This is where having weekly one on one meetings directly with your partner to gauge their temperature, reading of their emotional state, what their emotional reserve is and the overall state of their morale, provides a natural and reoccurring opening for just such dialog between the two of you. We should be aware of what internal and external factors are driving the emotional status of the relationship and to make relational tune-ups as necessary to mitigate unnecessary wear and tear on each other and the relationship.

Importance of Reassurance and Providing Emotional Sanctuary

Anxiety is typically associated with turmoil and concerns governing future projections of fear, stress, worrying and often accompanied by an overreaction and sensitivity to a given situation. If your partner is in doubt about the nature and your future together, fully expect a high degree and measure of relationship anxiety and behavior as a consequence… By clearly communicating our intentions, our thoughts, beliefs and feelings about our partner and relationship we can clear the anxiety laden air of doubt and insecurity. Saying “you are my team”, “You are my girl”, “I am in this with you”, “I’m in”, “you are my safe place” are all very clear indicators to soliciting trust, reducing distrust and an investment of hope within your relationship, while providing a measure of emotional security that asserts that she is an essential asset and part of your life and future she has a place with you. Likewise we need to provide accurate, timely and specific recognition of those elements in which our partner is contributing to the relationship. This form of recognition, validation and acceptance is commonly seen in the form of a sincere and genuine compliment and praise, which has the effect of helping to raise your partner’s self-esteem and promote more of the same. People naturally want to know that their presence, contributions and efforts are appreciated and valued. Denying that is both foolish and ill-advised. Displaying and expressing that thankfulness, not as a reward, but as a form of showing gratitude and appreciation, is the primary means for creating a positive relationship internally. As the leader of the relationship, it is your responsibility to formulate the relationship culture of appreciation, acceptance and love… by looking for and accentuating those healthy traits we are promoting them in our partner, in our relationship and ultimately within ourselves.

 

Managing Conflict

AngryCouple

“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional”

The Nature of Relationship Conflict

Real conflicts in relationships are more than just elements associated with let downs, frustrations, incivility or broached boundaries. They’re deeper and more powerful than arguments and disagreements would at first appear. Relationship conflicts are situations where you or your partner perceive an emotional menace, whether that menace is real or imagined. What’s worse is that they tend to repeat and don’t go away from one relationship to another—that is, these menaces will travel with you into your next relationship and with a new partner. These are highly visceral reactions to situations that rationality will not clear away unless the phantoms that are driving this behavior are identified and addressed. It is important to realize that conflicts more central to issues of attachment and commitment will evoke not only a greater threat response from you or your partner, but are more likely to be the structural fault within your relationship and will be a leading candidate for that relationship failure. That is, unresolved emotional issues have a markedly disproportional negative effect on the health and viability of your relationships and as leaders and managers of our relationships we have a responsibility to lead and manage these.

The Nature of Conflict Avoidance

Much like the real issues driving emotional conflicts, conflict avoidance hides several significant motivators to avoid conflict interactions and serves as a good analogy to the hidden emotional issues behind conflicts. Most people can relate to a very basic element of conflict avoidance just because of the very nature of conflict itself; that it is absorbing, energy-consuming and honestly we want to believe that we have better things to do… but is that truly why we avoid conflict, or are there other issues that are really motivating us from venturing there? Would it be more true to recognize that we may be lacking conflict skills and have had a history of poor utilization of those skills and almost no recognizable ability to manage conflict in a healthy and productive way? Are we too afraid, feel too vulnerable or unsure how to bring to the light of day deeply guarded emotional issues with our partner? Are we honestly too insecure about the nature and true character of our relationship to test it in the crucible of conflict and are afraid to find out the reality of where it stands? Understanding these and any other motivator you may have to avoid conflict will be the first step you take to managing conflict within any relationship.

A Lack of Social Fluency

As children we go through the process of learning and developing a large number of social skills facilitating our interactions with others. One of the most important, but seldom taught or developed is conflict skills. And like all skills, unless as adults we continue to develop, nurture and hone our abilities, we’re slaves to the maturity skill level of our abilities of when we initially learned them, regardless of our actual age. It’s why you’ll see fully grown adults resorting to acting like children, because they honestly have no real ability to do otherwise. Their skill set is limited to that of a child’s. On a fundamental level the ability to hold constructive and healthy conflict sessions is a mark of maturity and one relegated to a fully developed adult. Children need to be taught the critical skills of collaborating with others, restraining anger escalation, rejecting shutting down and emotional withdrawal as a viable conflict management strategy and avoiding or changing destructive behavioral patterns of aggression, to resolve or manage conflict. If as an adult you have not developed those, have positive experience utilizing them and have confidence in your ability to enact these abilities, it’s time you sat down with your inner-child and have a heart-to-heart about developing them.

Emotional Gateway

In an emotional conflict people rarely convey the needs at the heart of the problem; the words being said isn’t what your partner is trying to communicate, the issue being addressed, isn’t really the true issue, as there is often a bigger issue behind a closed emotional door, that contains a very large emotional elephant. If we really listen to our partners, not only in what they are saying to us, but in the patterns of behaviors that bring us back to this same very place, time after time, we may come to realize that they are in fact bringing us to an emotional gateway. We ourselves may not even be aware of how deeply a particular issue from our past affected us, until a situation involving conflict has occurred to uncover it. Partners that don’t trust themselves, have the ability or established an operating pattern and history to discuss pertinent, at-risk issues appropriately will often utilize inappropriate methods to advance an issue into the forefront. They will start a minor conflict to segway the discussion into a larger and more important issue, that they feel inadequate discussing, often called a lead-in. A partner who fears holding a particular discussion due to fears of evoking abandonment issues, relationship flight (you leaving her) or heightened emotional insecurities, may in fact deny the presence of hidden issues, even when directly asked (she may not actually be even aware of it herself). We should be cognizant of this possibility and book mark emotional conflicts, so that if we keep returning to them, we can realize that there truly is something else there, even if our partner is unwilling to openly address it, or the fact we can’t see it. In such a case, finding and knocking on these emotional doors may not be enough. Our partners may continue to deny their existence. In such cases, it is not our responsibility to open those doors, it is our partner’s. If they choose to keep them shut and us out, we can only identify that we were aware, willing and offering a safe environment for them to share with us, but they are ultimately accountable for not doing so. Regrettably these issues tend to be the leading cause for relationship failures, known or otherwise and that is of their making, not ours.

The Crucible- a Test of Character

Emotional conflicts within relationships test the character of the relationship itself and can tell us as much about the relationship, as it does the individuals within the conflict. Just as we can deduce an individual’s social fluency by observing their social skill mastery, we can evaluate a relationship’s strength, health and vibrancy by observing how conflict is handled, regarded and managed within the relationship. Is the conflict not only addressed in a manner which seeks resolution by both partners, but do the partners separate the individual from the issue with tact and respect and do the partners utilize the source of conflict for greater understanding and comprehension of their partner? When done so, conflict can be a tremendous opportunity to lead to deeper respect, trust and intimacy. Conflict tests relationships and individuals more rigorously than other forms of interactions and can be very frightening because of it, but by developing our and our partner’s ability to handle, manage and constructively resolve conflict can we gain honest confidence in our relationship’s true strength and character, by having navigated through it.

Conflict Cost

We must learn to manage conflict because the risks involved in not doing so are very real and very, very costly. Appropriate conflict management prevents physical and psychological aggression within intimate relationships. We are vastly less likely to lash out with physical violence, in releasing engulfed rage and anger that has built up rapidly within a spiraling and unrestrained conflict setting. We are less likely to be physically domineering and physically aggressive, in an attempt to control or manage a situation where our skill sets have failed us. We are less likely to commit emotional and psychological harm in delivering vicious and insidious personal verbal attacks in moments of lost self-regulation. We are less likely to lose relationships that we have invested heavily in emotionally, physically, sexually, socially and financially. Beyond the total sum cost of any failed relationship, the cost of not developing conflict management skills is that this lack of ability will likely be handed down from Father to child. Parents that manage conflict appropriately are less likely to neglect or abuse their children and are more than likely to pass those positive behavior skill sets down to their children. The same hand that guides the Mother will be the same hand that guides his children.

MANAGING INTIMACY

relationship difficulties

“My friends tell me I have an intimacy problem, but they don’t really know me”

Love Songs, Ballads & Bullshit…

“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” With this opening lyric of a cover song made famous by Three Dog Night, reminds us in a vividly emotional way of the incredibly deep need to be seen, recognized, valued and connected with others, and in particularly, our choice of a paired mate. In fact, the need, desire and ambition of experiencing this level of intimacy is driving a multi-billion dollar segment of the music industry. While we can guffaw at love songs and ballads as bullshit, we wouldn’t be human without them. Love songs are not the only art form to recognize the power of intimacy and the primacy of touch; Michelangelo deftly depicted this when he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, where he chose to showcase God extending his hand and touch towards Adam to depict touch as the gift of life.

Our Biological Nature

We are a social creature by nature. It is part of our mammalian heritage to exhibit non-independent organizational patterns and to act in a social cooperative manner, seeking companionship, refuge and rejuvenation amongst members of their own kind. As a social species, we are ill-equipped to deal with all of life’s ordeals in a solitary manner and in its absence, it will adversely impact the quality and nature of one’s physical health, welfare and longevity, as many highly public health studies have pointed out.

Babies who wither and die and other not so happy-endings

Touch is a deep primal need. It is reflected in the manner in which we raise our young and while science is just getting around to formally recognizing this, it has long been understood that babies who are held, touched and caressed thrive, those that are denied tactile stimulation wither and die, as 13th Century German Emperor Frederick III, so callously observed in conducting empirical research during that time. While we appreciate an infant’s need to be held and touched in order to appropriately grow and develop emotionally and physically, we fail to realize that the need for connection and physical tactile stimulation never goes away, but don’t take my word for it. Even for the Manosphere this post struck a deep chord that resonated with many of us, because we know it to be true. We know of the dark places and of the abyss of isolation, alienation and desolation. Even if we’ve never been there ourselves, we know it exists, but never has it so openly been addressed, so directly within the community from someone who has journeyed there and returned. “Misogyny. No child was ever born with it”. Misogyny isn’t the worst that happens when we send our boys along this path. We should be lucky if misogyny is the only result.

In a world of 7 Billion people

In a world of 7 Billion people we are awfully alone. Technology has provided us ways in which to stay informed and abreast with society and culture at large and to create and to tap into social networks globally and locally, all the while increasing the rate of personal autonomy. Strangely the Information Age and Service Economies within it are driving and vastly increasing the emotional quotient requirements and proficiencies needed to succeed in them, yet we are progressively feeling more alienated and isolated from each other all the time, because we have not appreciated the fundamental shift taking place. Furthermore our criteria for intimate relationship development has shifted generationally from security, stability and child rearing and has moved into meeting our base emotional, physical and psychological needs for love and intimacy, with all things being equal with regards to attraction. If that wasn’t enough, there is a sexual based differentials in regards to needs when it comes to men and women; men are more visually, tactile and sexually based having an emphasis on physical intimacy and women have more need for emotional, intellectual and spiritual connection with their partner. All these factors are putting men squarely behind the power and learning curve and at a major deficit for dealing with relationships and women in their lives.

Primary Meaning

The quality of our closest relationships is often what gives life its primary meaning. There are few gifts more precious than listening to another person with empathy, especially during times of stress, anxiety, loss and uncertainty. While it is easy to recognize the value of close trusted relationship during hardships, we fail to appreciate that having the skills of empathy, understanding and compassion, in addition to managing those on a regular basis, actively plays a protective role in reducing stress, anxiety, anger and frustration within our partners. A lot of us avoid intimacy for any number of a variety of reasons, justifications and simple omissions. It’s natural to focus upon oneself, the issues at hand and the obligations of life, but when we do, we lose connectedness and intimacy with our partner. Done chronically and it can cost us more than just our relationship; it can cost us our families, our homes, our projected futures and can be the difference between a life of middle class and poverty for us and our children.

The Onion Theory

There’s a theory that intimacy is very much like an onion with five major wedge segments;

Intellectual– the sharing of thoughts, ideas, concepts and beliefs.

Social– the act of spending time together. Consider this portion to be a ‘verb’ , these are the things you do together. Focus on the ‘doing’.

Emotional– This is the sharing of the emotional responses we go through within our lives. How you feel about something.

Spiritual – While this is the least researched, it does pose significant impact and relationship with the other major segments of intimacy and thus overall relationship health and success. A mutual agreement with regards to spirituality isn’t a requirement, but an understanding and acceptance of your partner’s beliefs are.

Physical – sex will reign supreme here, but it is about all of our senses, their psychological and psychological responses and not just physical stimulation.

These segments researchers will consider the ‘breadth’ of intimacy when looking at the range of topics in which people share understanding and compassion with each other. This would be the ‘outside’ skin of the onion. The layers of the onion would be described as the degree of which trust and depth of sentiment that has been shared within a major segment and subject matter. When evaluating the degree of intimacy shared, this is commonly referred to as of ‘penetration’ which ranges from the superficial, intermediate, personal and finally to the core of one’s beliefs and being.

Infinite Possibilities

Intimacy therefore is not just a single element, but a range of major segments with infinite possibilities of subject matter and the depth for each is variable as well. We may open up about one subject deeply and on another subject, with the same person, not nearly as much. It is important to not to make sure that we’re intimate with our partners evenly across each wedge segment, but that we are intimate with our partners in the segment and manner of their preference and your partner should be attempting to meet your intimacy needs within the range in which you need and desire. Generally speaking men tend to value physical intimacy, which means our partners should focus upon the sensual feminine nature of the five senses; sight, sound, smell, touch & taste (hear that ladies?). Women generally tend to value emotional intimacy and the bonding and companionship that develops when we hear, comprehend and understand what they are experiencing, it’s impact on them and how that makes them feel. As men we’d do well to channel our inner Dr. Phil here.

Beware of the ‘Over Share’…

As with most elements within relationship building, we need to understand that there is an acceptable tempo at developing these relationships and levels of intimacy. Worse than having a deficient of intimacy (a lack of sharing) will be the dreaded ‘Over-share’, when someone advances the speed and depth of intimacy in too great of detail that we are comfortable with and accepting of. It will cause rejection, alienation and isolation as a result. We must fine tune our ability to read not only our partners, but the context and situation, as well, to give us clues as to the degree of appropriateness for disclosure. A supplicating beta male for example will have no problem over sharing emotionally with an immediate willingness to commit and as a consequence lose whatever attraction and desirability he may have had going for him. Likewise when a woman over shares sensually and physically she’s relegated to slut-dom.