“I met with a man. We were together in intimate spaces that were intense and wonderful without sexuality. This man is married. What possibilities are there for exploring intimacy without destroying much?” wrote a friend to me recently.
First things first: I thanked her for asking this boldly intimate question. I took her questions to heart. She is far from the only person to be asking such questions.
This woman’s authentic necessity launched a series of considerations in me about what it is we are really talking about. My first line of thinking was, “What does she mean by ‘without destroying much’? What is at risk of being destroyed here?”
Perhaps she is thinking that it is the marriage between this man and his wife that is at risk. It causes in me to have a meta-conversation about marriage. A meta-conversation investigates assumptions which might be inhabiting the space of the consideration, in this case: marriage.
- One assumption is that a marriage is something real that can be destroyed. The construct of marriage was invented by patriarchal belief systems to control the flow of both women and money. In a traditional christian marriage ceremony the possession of a woman is transferred from her father to her husband. Have you ever considered why the father gives away his daughter at the wedding ceremony? Or why the woman traditionally adopts her husband’s last name and not the other way around (or even not changing names at all)?
- Another assumption about marriage is that it protects the ownership of property for the elite families. This might seem like old thoughtware, yet it is still very much woven into the Western construct of marriage today. When a woman and a man marry, Western society asserts that their assets are inherited by the children birthed by the wife, and keep being passed on in the family from generation to generation. Since it was the ‘land-owning elites’ and not the common peasants who would have title to land, the law protected the property of the elites — the ‘entitled’.
- Another assumption about marriage in the capitalist patriarchal empire that that it is monogamous. If the woman only has sex with her husband then her children can only be descendants of her husband. Adultery — meaning to have sex with someone other than your marriage partner — has traditionally been considered a serious crime subject to severe punishment, worse for married women than for married men. Among the last Western European countries to decriminalized adultery are France in 1975, Switzerland in 1989, and Austria in 1997! That is only two decades ago. Even if adultery is no longer legally defined as a crime punishable by law in most countries today, having sex with someone other than the person you are married to is still a common taboo defined in many religious belief systems as a ‘sin’, a moral wrong, punishable by social contempt. Again, this assures that the children carry the patriarch’s genes and the elite lineage is preserved.
Embracing the traditional construct of marriage solves the question of who owns the woman, who owns the children, who owns the money, who owns the land, and where the money, children, land, and the woman goes after the death of the patriarch.
But my friend was not asking about money, land, or inheritance. She was asking about intimacy. She was asking what happens if she experiences and expresses love for someone who is bound by marriage to someone else.
Somehow over the years an additional assumption seems to have slipped into the construct of monogamous marriage. The assumption is that participants in a marriage are restricted to only experience and create love and intimacy for and with their partner. Monogamy prohibits your sensors from of even thinking of creating love and intimacy with somebody other than your partner, or you risk being classified as a whore, a slut, a ‘homewrecker’. A man going extra-marital is regarded as unstable and having a ‘mid-life crisis’.
The shackles binding your attentions and feelings appear as self-condemning moral voices in your head: “No flirting!” “You are not allowed to look!” “Do not flow energy in her direction!” “Do not receive his attentions!” “He is married!” “Do not smile back!” “Do not look into his eyes for longer than half-a-second!” “You must not arrange to see him.” “This is wrong, and bad, and dangerous!” “You should not do this.” “You are risking everything!” “You are an idiot!” The voices criticize, hammer, and cripple you into submission. They crush your heart and suppress your explorative playfulness.
Suddenly I began to think of something that might be useful for my courageous friend. The insight came as a series of ‘what-if’ questions:
“What if those are not your voices? What if the voices are not doing anything to you? What if the voices are echoes from someone else’s mind? What if you are repeating the voices to yourself out of unconscious thought habits? What if you are using outdated thoughtware? What if you are merely duplicating your parents? What if you are using the voices to avoid taking responsibility for doing what you actually long to do? What if those voices come from external authority figures that want you to abide by the construct of monogamous marriage for their own gain and not yours? What if listening to these voices is what makes you into a sleeping zombie?”
Now I could tell her: “If any of these questions hit something true in you, then you have a possibility you may not have thought of before. You could use your Voice Blaster and shoot the voices. You were born with a Voice Blaster. Everyone was. If you have not been using your Voice Blaster, it could be because no one ever told you that you have one! Those voices floating around? They are little vampires trying to eat your life energy. They are like mosquitos trying to suck ecstasy out of your life. Stop letting them suck you dry. Just shoot them. One after the other. Blam! Blam! Blam! Your Voice blaster never misses the target and carries an unlimited number of blasts. From now on, the only conversation you ever need to have with one of those voices is, “Blam!”
“I am ready to be a woman to you.” — Dorothy Bryant, The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You
Further I could tell my friend, “Dorothy Bryant wrote a magnificent book titled ‘The Kin of Ata Are Waiting For You’. Read it.” With elegance and clarity, she describes an adult relationship between a woman and a man. When they first meet, the man is still a child, thinking he can own her. His offers for intimacy are childish. The woman cares for him but does not give in into his childishness. One day she comes to him and tells him “I am ready to be a woman to you.” He does not understand and answers: “You want to be my wife.” She holds her ground and quietly says, “No, I am ready to be a woman to you.” He thinks he understands: “Oh, of course, you cannot be owned by man, you can only own yourself, I get it.” She laughs gently. She knows she doesn’t even own herself. It takes time and he makes mistakes, but eventually she shows him how to grow up.
What is interesting to me in the story is how she approaches relationship without the construct of ownership: “I am ready to be a woman to you.” She also does not hold any expectation about what he is supposed to do. She announces what she wants without expectations.
My friend had asked, “What possibilities are there for exploring intimacy without destroying much?” This triggers a new meta-conversation in me exploring what is actually at risk of being destroyed? Could she be imagining that love can be destroyed? What sort of love is she imagining? A love that is scarce? Fragile? Ordinary love? The love of love songs on the radio and TV soap operas? Does he love me? Does he love me enough? What is the proof? Does anybody love me really?
I give her more ‘what-if’ questions to chew on:
“What if Love never dies? What if you source Love? What if Love is there because you are there? What if relationships do not die from a lack of Love, but from a lack of intimacy? What if the thought that Love could possibly die is a narrow and cramped relationship to what Love is? What if Love is what the Universe is made out of and that Love can never die because that is all there is? Which kind of Love-world do you choose to live in? The victimy powerless childish love-world? The creatrix, evolutionary, adult-healer Love-world? Who gets to choose that for you? When would you take that stand?”
I could not stop being excited. “What about your relationship to relationships?”
“What?” she says.
I roll on, “You already know that the monogamous way of relating to relationship is: ‘If someone already loves or is married to someone else then they cannot love you or be with you.’ Or, ‘If someone loves me then they cannot love or be with someone else’.”
“Yes,” she says.
I say, “What if relating — without distinguishing between formal partners or total strangers — is a space of possibility? What if each moment of relating is an open opportunity, like an empty stage on which you can play out the finest piece of theater you can imagine? Two Beings collaborate with each other in that moment… and what happens next? That depends on you. What do you want to create next? When that moment is over another empty relating space exists. In the empty space you can invent authentic interaction with that person or another.”
“It is impossible for a man to love his wife wholeheartedly without loving all Women somewhat. I suppose that the converse must be true of women”. — Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love
In my own experience, each Being I meet brings forth a different quality and aspect of my own Being. My heart has unknown facets and potentials. I can feel my heart growing bigger with each new Being I love. Each Being has a shape that my Being answers to. I notice that my Being has stronger resonance with some Beings than others. It feels like I can be fed in my five bodies by some Beings more than others. This is independent from love. At an archetypal level, it seems like Love is everywhere. The question of whether I love somebody or not is irrelevant, because how can I not? They are made out of Love.
At a human level, I think we have misused the word ‘love’. In the old thoughtware, saying ‘I love you’ really means ‘I own you’. It seems to me that when I tell someone ‘I love you’ I want to say ‘I enjoy co-creating Love with you here in this relating space. Thank you’.
IV. Negotiating Intimacy.
The possible experiments to try in the domains of relationship and Love-creation are vast and numerous. We are still trying to answer the question: ‘What possibilities are there for exploring intimacy without destroying much?’
The invitation is to improve your skills for negotiating intimacy in five bodies. Each of your five bodies: intellectual, physical, emotional, energetic, and archetypal needs different kinds of foods. Intellectual body food can be conversation, problem-solving, debating ideas and resolving paradoxes. Physical body food can be warmth, touch, being physically in contact with other living creatures, being in Nature. Your emotional body — your heart — feeds on authentic feeling-filled connections with friends, bosses, strangers and children, sharing profound vulnerabilities. Your energetic body feeds on being with people who you have resonance with, as well as being your destiny in action. Your archetypal body feeds on being Everything for woman and Nothing for man, on having your Archetypal Nature being called through to serve something greater than yourself.
Nobody trained us how to negotiate the food our five bodies need and want in relationship. We make this weird assumption that if you love somebody and that somebody loves you then the food for all five bodies will appear all by itself or that the person who loves you is the one who is suppose to feed your five bodies. You might want to rethink those assumptions. What if it doesn’t happen? What if co-generating food for five bodies is a dance, a conscious theater piece, consciously and ongoingly negotiated with co-experimenters according to what your five bodies want?
I proposed that my friend study both the 122 Ways To Create Ordinary Relationship, and the 20 Hints For Negotiating Intimacy. I suggested that she practice the strategies and behaviors together with various co-experimenters. Practice them in your Possibility Team. Every time someone has a question, stop and go deeper into what is under that. What is the trigger there? What are the mixed purposes? The key is to stay together and keep moving.
If you negotiate intimacy very slowly and very consciously you discover transformational gateways into authentic relating. It isn’t about saying the truth. It is about blamelessly admitting what is so for you right now, even if it is not generous. There is so much to negotiate in each of our five bodies.
I gave my friend this experiment to try. Arrange twenty-minute sessions in a safe place to practice negotiating five-body intimacies (no phone, no children, no disturbances). Keep changing workout partners. Do this with a friend, a colleague, with children. Start by negotiating one body at a time. One person makes a proposal formulated as a ‘Yes or No’ question. Do not ask open ended questions — they are terrifying for men, and women will answer by sucking you into a half-hour monologue of considerations. Start each negotiation consciously and clearly by saying: “I would like to negotiate something with you regarding my physical body (or the physical space).” Or “I would like to make an energetic deal with you, are you ready for this?” Remember to wait! Wait for answers that come from somewhere else than the mind. Do not assume that the other person is ready. Even if you have planned this time, your co-experimenter can change their mind. Go slowly. Pay attention to subtleties.
I gave her some sample of negotiations in each of the five bodies:
- Physical: “I want to go for a walk in nature for 30 minutes with you. Would you like to join me?”
- Intellectual: “Would you listen to what I have to say for five minutes without speaking or nodding, just listening? After you listen to me for five minutes, then I will listen to you for five minutes.”
- Emotional: “I want you to listen to my fears (or my joy, or my excitement) without touching me or trying to make it go away? I am fine feeling my feelings. I simply want to share them with you. If you don’t understand something, you can ask me a question after I stop. Deal?”
- Energetic: “I want to shift my purpose of relationship and start with you. I don’t know how it goes and will you try this with me?”
- Archetypal: “I want to investigate who you are really for an hour and I want you to not block yourself by saying ‘I don’t know’. Do you agree?”
Possibility for negotiations are unlimited, and Fun.
A wild possibility for negotiating intimacy is to inquire with each other into which constructs you or they live in (marriage, monogamy, being a father, being a mother, being a good boy/girl, religion, death, taxes, laws, gameworlds, having to work for money…), and how is it working out so far for each person.
Then I told her, “A wilder possibility is to include the married partner in this conversation without any expectations.”
I had to mention one more consideration: Which shadow purpose are involved in breaking the rules of unconsciously chosen construct rules?
I said to her. “Please keep this question always with you: ‘In what ways does my Gremlin have his fingers in this game? Your Gremlin is the part of you who will break any rule or destroy any space to keep your habitual patterns safe. The Gremlin has value because he guards the habitual patterns that have allowed you to survive so far. Whatever part of your Gremlin you don’t own, owns you. With Gremlin in charge you cannot shift out of surviving into really living. Love is about really living, so it pays to stay on your toes about what your Gremlin — or his Gremlin, or anybody’s Gremlin — is up to.”
I told her that, for example, sneaking around is Gremlin food. Breaking rules as an act of rebellion, or feeling the thrill of disobeying (for example: experiencing forbidden love) is Gremlin food. The excitement and adrenaline of illicit intimacy is Gremlin food.
I add, the shadow purpose of both women and men born in a patriarchy often (if not always) include sexual unconscious games to satisfy the Gremlin’s thirst for revenge and betray and abuse and competition (for example, women competing with other women for men attention).
I have not heard much from my friend in a while. But I am not worried. She recently sent me photos of a beautiful full-size pear-tree-wood sword she built for herself. She carved two symbols into the sword and carefully filled them with Japanese lacquer. One symbol is the ‘everythingness and nothingness’ symbol of the regenerative cultures of archearchy. The other symbol is the Japanese character for NOW. This makes me smile. She and I are definitely sisters.