The Problem of Sexual Loving, Part 1

“Depression is the reward we get for being ‘good’ “ – Marshall Rosenberg

“Woman is the natural place of refuge for man” – Dieter Duhm

In its first draft this book was written as a men’s seduction manual. I described the lessons of my 40 years of attempting to understand women, and to relate these personal experiences to the latest research on sexual polarity, human loving, and female orgasm. I wanted to help men have more and better relationships with women. That is still my goal, but it has become larger.

I realized very quickly that you cannot discuss meaningfully the problems of man/woman relationships and sexual intimacy without reference to the larger problem of human development and maturation. And this larger problem of human development cannot, in turn, be discussed meaningfully without reference to the problem of internalized oppression, which is the root cause of widespread sexual and emotional misery. Our current sexual misery crosses almost all cultures and socio-economic levels, but it is particularly acute in America. Less than half of Americans are sexually satisfied, and we Americans also have far less sex than people in other countries.

“Internalized oppression” is a psychological concept that describes how we treat ourselves and other people as we have been treated, both by our parents and by society. Resolving this issue requires deep inner and outer work. I call it Growing Up. A man cannot achieve a deep partnership with a woman unless he is a grown-up. The condition of being a grown-up is the essence of this book, so let me describe now the vision that flows naturally from the fulfillment of that condition.

“Growing Up” means to put oneself into mature relationship with the world. It means to make peace with the world and other people as they are, and to find ways to meet one’s inner needs within this imperfect world. It means to form a vision for happiness and to find a way to fulfill it. A lot of recent work [Brené Brown , Johann Hari] supports the idea that our deepest human need is for connection, to love and be loved. As such, the fundamental skill involved in growing up is to create loving partnerships with both men and women. This is a skill that none of us are taught, few understand, and even fewer practice. I myself spent most of my life going about it in entirely the wrong way.

Dieter Duhm (1942 – )Dieter Duhm is a German psychoanalyst, political activist, and author, best known as co-founder of the intentional community and eco-village Tamera, located in Portugal. One of Duhm’s fundamental ideas is that we cannot have peace in the world so long as men and women are at war with each other. Duhm was a leftist political activist for many years. He eventually concluded that most alternative and utopian political movements have failed because of relationships between the sexes. Duhm has written 4 books, including his most famous The Sacred Matrix.

It is very easy to go about this the wrong way, because it requires a radical re-wiring of some natural human instincts and communication patterns. We are just beginning to understand how deep this work actually goes (In addition to this book, I would point interested people to the work of Dieter Duhm, Marshall Rosenberg, and to my blog, manifesting.net). We are not taught to collaborate, or to seek out and encourage the best in other people, and these skills don’t come naturally to us.

Above all, what’s required to fully grow up is a complex re-channeling of the rage that many of us, and maybe all of us, feel towards the life that has been handed us. There are few practical models for doing this type of inner work, and few people have accomplished this feat. Our political and economic leaders, at home and abroad, have not done so. One need only open the newspaper to see this, since the outcome of this process is compassion for all living beings, especially one’s enemies. As such, the real answer to evil in the world is to ask the oppressors: “What have they done to you, my child?” [Dieter Duhm]. First and foremost, we must ask that question of ourselves. How and why are we oppressing people around us, cutting off the life force within ourselves, while shaming and blaming and creating misery for everyone? Who among us can categorically declare they are part of the solution rather than the problem? I invite us all to use the Rudi test: “The true test of your spiritual success is the happiness of the people around you” [Swami Rudrananda]. And then to redouble our efforts wherever we fail that test. It’s not even for others’ sake, but for ours.

Finding happiness requires a vision for the future. It hardly ever occurs by some mystical experience overnight (Eckhart Tolle got lucky). The head and the heart must work together, and over time. It also usually requires a developmental community, a peer group who are aligned and supportive. We are just beginning to create these types of communities. They are fundamental to this work.

In terms of the vision itself, this is for each of us to create. I will tell you my vision. Songwriter Peggy Seeger has put it best: “That all may live as lovers do.” The relationship between human lovers becomes the prototype for all human relationships, and the issue of human loving, sexual and otherwise, becomes part of a public conversation, not relegated to the therapist’s office and the bedroom. Sexuality is a social problem.

You cannot divorce the problem of human loving from the problem of sexuality. We have tried to do this for thousands of years, and have failed. Most modern attempts at community fail for this very reason. The problem of human loving and human sexuality can, and must, become a group conversation. Jesus was right: individual happiness cannot be achieved until all are happier. If the desired outcome is happiness, then truly loving our fellows, all of them beginning with our sexual partners and moving on to our enemies, is the only rational action. Until this happens, the best we can hope for is to sigh with relief that we are so much better off than so-and-so, imagine that we can take credit for it, and distract ourselves with the toys and perks of our supposed success. What kind of happiness is that?

Marshall Rosenberg (1934-2015)Rosenberg is the founder of Non-Violent Communication (NVC). His books have sold more than one million copies and have been translated into more than 30 languages. NVC training is now offered in 60 countries and has impacted hundreds of thousands of people.NVC is, on the surface, a communication model for resolving conflicts between people, but it is much more than that. It is an attitude and a set of communication tools designed to evoke, express and fulfill human needs – and particularly needs for closeness, trust, authenticity, and vulnerability.

That is the main problem facing humanity today. All other problems are derivative because until we become conscious of what we really want, until we have plumbed the depths of our anger and outrage at the condition of our lives and of our loved ones – while simultaneously appreciating the potential for healing and joy that lies within our most secret longings and fantasies – until we have done this, we are not free. We can’t even act rationally in our own best interests. We fail to understand that “When we are angry, killing people is too superficial” [Marshall Rosenberg].

What we really want is to love and be loved, to be seen, to feel safe, to have a genuine opportunity to contribute to others; and until we have aligned our lives around this fundamental goal, there can be little return in terms of true happiness and real human progress. We need to clear up our internalized oppression, the unconscious structures of fear, violence, and shame that we have inherited, structures that cut-off pleasure and love, and hence, tragically, even our capacity for healing. We need to distinguish who we really are from the person that we have been told we should be, that we ourselves believe we should be, and from the knee-jerk ways that we respond to other people – responses that guarantee our needs will not be met. But when that distinction is finally felt, when the oceans of tears have been shed and we have become alive again, when we can respond to others with compassion regardless of how they behave, then we will have little to fear and nothing to be ashamed of. How can we be ashamed for the way we were made? We had nothing to do with it.

We resist the conversation for wholeness, all of us. One of the fundamental reasons, in addition to internalized shame, is that we resist seeing ourselves through the eyes of others. We resist feedback (see Chapter 14). Feedback is painful because it challenges our egoism, insecurities, and false self-concept. But beyond that pain lies an unimaginable peace and happiness. I know this. Everybody who has ever had a moment of true intimacy, or who has ever loved, knows this.

This book is my contribution to the conversation. It has been a 30-year work, in which I have brought together many different strands of research and modern thinking. Some of these ideas have never been published before; Victor Baranco, for example, has not entered the world stage despite his genius. Same for Jerry Jud, and, to a lesser extent, Dieter Duhm. David Deida is popular, and rightly so, but his ideas become even more powerful, and more compelling, within the system that I am presenting.

I hope you find these ideas both intellectually satisfying and practically useful. I hope you will find here a men’s relationship and seduction guide that is not merely useful, but transformational.

Victor Baranco (1934 – 2002)Victor Baranco was the founder of an intentional community called the Lafayette Morehouse. It is based in Lafayette, California and is still operating. When Baranco died in 2002, leadership of the community passed on to his second wife, Cindy. Baranco is most famous for first demonstrating a woman in orgasm for one hour by way of manual stimulation of the clitoris. Beyond that, he developed a curriculum around group living, communication, sensuality, and man-woman relationships, and created concepts and practices that are as powerful and relevant today as they were 40 years ago.