File under “Dilemmas of Consciousness” 😉
In the last little while, I’ve found myself speaking with a lot of people about the difference between adrenaline-based and nesting sexuality.
The passion of the first is fueled by the perception of danger, and makes perfect sense as a mechanism for the survival of the species. Plants will often flower when under stress, desperately attracting pollinators quickly so they can reproduce before they die. We have the same instinct….
The sexual surcharge that accompanies adrenaline/testosterone rushes can be blamed for the atrocities of sexual aggression committed by soldiers everywhere and forever. It explains a wide range of human sexual behaviour, from the Mile-High Club to the hook-ups with strangers that have become normalised with the swiping generation, to the many and darkening shades of SMBD that are also becoming socially acceptable.
Adrenaline is as addictive as any hard drug, and I’m seeing both more people who are hooked, and more people burned out from years of feeding the habit in its myriad manifestations. We experience adrenaline rushes as fun and exciting: bungee-jumping, horror movies, gambling, Russian roulette, risky sex…. We forget that foundation for the Buzz is our programmed physiological reaction to impending death.
Also, as women are generally less physically strong and often have heavily culturally-limited opportunities for supporting themselves, sex is commonly traded for survival – for food and/or a roof over one’s head. As harsh as this sounds, it is still the functional reality of millions of women around the planet. One could argue that this is basically a definition of the institution of marriage.
What I think of as “nesting sexuality” requires a diametrically opposed emotional context – an oxytocin-induced sense of security and belonging. Tenderness, and a deep intimacy that evolves from trust, are the characteristics of this kind of connection.
As we often define security in financial and material terms, it makes sense that we historically have been more sexually open in relationships when we’ve felt safely “taken care of”. In the now nearly-extinct Classic Couple, the male is taken care of by his spouse who feeds him, maintains the Home and bears and cares for any children. The woman is “provided for” financially by her partner, and the couple fulfills each other’s sexual needs.
Time, habit, and social conditioning can turn this paradigm into a big yawn, lacking the spice of the unknown and sending disgruntled partners looking for excitement in pornography or in other beds, or as a couple into “riskier” situations: partner-swapping, edgier sexual practises, etc.
Although I haven’t crunched the numbers, it seems to me that there is a cyclic nature to the complaints I hear about sexuality. In the summer when passions typically run with the volume turned up, people in committed relationships seem to be concerned about their libido. Let’s agree that women’s sexual desire didn’t use to be an issue – we were expected to just do our duty, regardless. I imagine the same could possibly be said for some men. But more people in general are simply not willing to compromise anymore on what they feel and want, which seems to translate into less sexual activity. (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/aug/02/less-sex-please-were-millennials-study)
What I’ve noticed is that whereas the issues are presented as either “something’s wrong with me” or “my partner wants sex all the time”, the real problem is a lack of the feeling of security required for “nesting”, and therefore a return to the default mode of adrenaline sexuality. Couples are often conflicted between a desire for the rush of passionate sex and the aching for closeness and connection. The “shoulds” fly around fast and furious in our minds and hearts, and expectations are always a set-up for disillusionment and disappointment.
Often partners feel that they are not being supported – the other is not fulfilling the role that is expected (often unconsciously) according to familial imprinting. Someone who is carrying either all the financial weight or all the child-care/homemaking responsibilities in a couple can feel that sex is just another thing he/she is expected to do. Because of our social programming, women can have trouble being sexually aroused when they hold the financial power in a couple – the culturally-engrained definition of being “taken care of”, and even of being a “Real Woman” is not being fulfilled.
Seductive men are especially successful at roping in strong women because they make us feel like we believe we are supposed to feel – fluttery, sexual and insecure.
Partners (still mostly women) who are “just” housekeepers and motherers in western cultures often feel unaccomplished, unfulfilled and inadequate. If the supporting partner is capable of hiring help, she/he may have the energy and desire to attempt to keep herself exciting for him/her. Otherwise, the scenario where the Lady of the House welcomes her Man home from work dressed in a negligée and with supper ready on the table is, shall we say, “less likely”. In a sociocultural reality where empowered women are less available to be sexually dominated, but where men believe that to be Men they must have power and dominance over Someone, human trafficking, sexual slavery, paedophilia and all other trappings of what is currently defined as Rape Culture are kind of emotionally logical.
Here in Quebec, I’ve been surprised by the number of couples I’ve heard of who are together with no sexual intimacy at all….
The hard and fast Truths of binary reality: right vs wrong, black vs white, the Right vs the Left, even Truth vs Lies are becoming more fluid and hard to nail down. Gender is just one of the manifestations of duality consciousness that used to keep us safe and secure in its “one-or-the-other”-ness – as a species, we’re finally learning to step out of our identity cages and colour waaaay outside the lines.
It can all feel so complex, entangled and impossible if we get stuck in trying to control Life and keep things the way they were in the (really-not-so) Good Olde Days.
When we learn to let go and connect in each moment with our own, personal inner Truth, understanding that each of us lives his or her own equally-valid reality, we release ourselves from the shackles of the Shoulds, and the world from our judgements.
When we perceive the Oneness of all manifest existence, of all sentient beings, we can see the Light at the core of each of us, and the wounding that has been layered through the generations over that Light.
This may do nothing whatsoever to simplify our choices, but it certainly makes us happier as we muddle through it all!