The Biggest Complaint Women have about Men
So many of the women who I work with complain that their partner does not lead them enough. They are furious and devastated that their man (or masculine-identified partner) doesn’t reach out to make plans for dates together, to help get the kid’s lunches ready, or know the directions to get to their planned dinner. But these same women have a nasty habit that so many women I know have, and that I myself have had to work hard (and continue to work hard) at undoing. This nasty habit is taking the lead.
So many women are deeply longing to surrender and be lead well.
But instead of letting our partner lead, we get frustrated and irritated that he isn’t doing it right or isn’t fast enough so we give in to that impatience and take over the reigns. We tell ourselves we need to do this in order to get our needs met. Our need for connection, for a clean home, for getting to appointments on time. But all the while we are resentful at our men because what we really want is for them to share in those responsibilities with us and we feel angry that we are “doing it all by ourselves.” But the reality is that we are castrating him before he even has the chance to try to meet us in these ways.
What we really want is for him to reach out to us and make plans for what needs to be done, but we don’t give him a chance to. We feel the pain of not having what we want and react by taking over then blame him for taking the back seat. Over the last two years in the Embodied Relationship Training with John Wineland and Kendra Cunov I have learned that this dynamic is created because the feminine and masculine in each person want to become polarized.
Each person has a feminine and a masculine within. The feminine is like a wild river: it’s our feelings, pleasure, movement. The masculine is like the banks of that river: it’s the structure, the containment, the silent loving presence that witnesses all.
When one of us takes the masculine in a partnership, the other person will automatically take on the feminine (and vice versa).
Because nature loves polarity, as opposites create a field of energy (think of the magnetic field created by the north and south poles of the Earth or the electricity created by the positive and negative ends of a battery). So when we as women take on the masculine by creating the structure of WHEN we will meet and HOW we will get there, our man drops into his feminine and simply receives the WHAT of what is happening. The feminine is in charge of the energy in an experience, the “what” of what is wanted or felt. The masculine is the master of time and space, figuring out the “how” it will happen.
So how do we switch this? How do we as women (or the feminine-identified partner in a given moment) create the dynamic we are really wanting, instead of just trying to get what we think we want and then becoming resentful? How do we support our partner in claiming their masculinity rather than psychologically castrating them?
As the feminine there are two things we can do that can begin to dramatically change this dynamic:
2-Reveal your heart's longing
What this means is
One of the greatest of all human needs is the need to connect and be with one another. We all need that emotional connection and security that comes with a relationship with another person. Without it, we are lost.
There is plenty of research showing that being isolated leads to mental and emotional decompensation. We begin to fall apart mentally and emotionally without each other. The research also shows conversely that being close to someone we love mitigates the effects of stress . This can be a romantic partnership, a dear friend, or any loved one.
It is a beautiful thing that we have the opportunity to try to connect in a meaningful way with another person. Relationships, as tough as they are, are the perfect venue to get this most basic of needs met. This means two things, however. It means that we need to be vulnerable with another person, and it means we need to allow another person to be vulnerable with us. This may make it sound easy, but since our most primary attachment needs are bound up with our romantic relationships, it is anything but easy.
Being vulnerable and letting another person see who we really are takes a great degree of trust. It means letting them see us, with all our flaws, and trusting they will still want to love us, be our partner and be our friend. And most of us did not have the experience of having our whole self loved and accepted as a child, so any slight from a partner that mirrors the ways we felt rejected, abandoned, or engulfed by our parents will trigger those primary injuries and the resulting reaction of either a hyper-vigilant or withdrawn nervous system.
Karen Wolfe, MFT offers depth therapy with practices to deepen your connection to your Self and to others for individuals and couples in the Bay Area and via video conference across California