Men and Sexual Tensions.
Sydney Men's Network
Humans like most animals have an instinctual drive towards sex. Its part of
our make up and remains after emotional distresses are discharged. As humans
we also have a great need for close communication with another intelligence.
The cultures in the world today all seem to have deeply confused sex with
close communication with another. Most adults act as though you can't really
be completely close with out sex.
What we are looking for in sex is contact with the deepest and most intimate
part of ourselves. Sex can be an elegant way to be close and intimate with
another. Current attitudes about sex and sexuality make sexual relationships
difficult in some way for everyone, as well as getting in the way of
Just about everyone carries some form of tension about sex that makes
closeness with others a challenge.
The oppressive pressures on men and women are different. Few people
understand the way men lose out. We are supposed to have all the power and
privilege but ? There are many buts.
Men have been brought up to be work doers and little else. However, the very
best part of being human is to be loving, close and intimate with another.
Because of the operation of oppression we steadily lose that part of us from
the roles we have to play. Unless there is a way for us to get close to
someone, we get tighter and more rigid in ourselves as we get older. We work
harder at everything and make everything work.
We are trained from early adolescence to look for sex to prove our
masculinity. We also find that it is the only way we are allowed to get some
closeness, and to stay human. No man really believes that sex will end his
loneliness and enable him to know who he really is. But it helps a little,
and even if it doesn't, simply attempting to get close makes a difference.
Sex, or sexual fantasy, is a way of finding a little comfort in a hard life.
It represents everything that we don't typically get to have as a man:
openness, love, lusciousness, connection, attractiveness, things we don't
readily associate with men. But it is what most people expect men to want in
sex. Some men have given up on the whole area of sex and sexual
relationships, having tried unsuccessfully and painfully to find what they
thought would be appealing.
Men in sexual relationships with women often find that after a wonderful
initial period of falling in love, the women begin to lose interest in sex
and the men feel deeply abandoned. What is left for men is their work and
other forms of activity they tackle like work.
Women are conditioned to use sex to get our attention and to build a
relationship of closeness and trust. They mostly experience truly valid
sexual feelings only in the context of safety and closeness. Once they have
a safe relationship they begin to show their real needs and their own sexual
standpoint, or at least not sex on someone else's terms.
For many women there has been no other time in their lives when they could
work out for themselves what sex was on their own terms.
The way they show how hard that can be is to want sex only when everything
is just right in most areas of their life. This is because the feelings of
powerlessness, victimisation and the consequent resentment are so deeply
installed that they cannot even imagine what sex with a man could be like
for them on their own terms.
The common coping mechanism for this is for the woman to be upset at whoever
is close and safe, her man. Sex on her terms starts to become possible when
the upset is over.
On the other side of the bed, the man has been conditioned not to show his
feelings in order to show that he is a man. Mostly we don't know what
sharing feelings is about. But when we are feeling bad, worried, tense or
upset, we want sex. There is no other way so readily available to us to get
the close human attention that we need to heal the tension, to be ourselves
and to be able to relax from whatever is the problem.
After a tight day at work sex is a way to unwind. It's a coping mechanism
for just about any problems we have. But it doesn't solve the problems. It
merely helps us to cope with them. It can, in fact, be disastrously counter
productive to have our focus on sex and never to figure out what needs to
change in other areas for us to have a better life. Many men have hard times
in relationships with women until the need or expectation for sex is eased
somehow , best by realising what is going on. The ways out of this include
being open about ourselves and being close to our partners in ways other
than sex, such as in the everyday sharing of personal and social life.
A common way for a woman to keep a man is to give him sex whenever he wants
it. He may never figure out the connection between, on the one hand, getting
sex on demand or at a hint and, on the other, being yelled at for nothing.
It's because there is resentment at the sexual duty whether it is imposed,
or self-imposed as a result of the conditioning of girls and women.
If a woman can find a way to heal "not cope with" the effects of that
conditioning she can regain, maybe for the first time, her innate qualities
of caring and ease with men, with and without sex. This whole dynamic is a
result of our social conditioning and no part of it is related to who we
really are as individual men and women.
The great, as yet unmet, challenge is to heal the conditioned tension of
daily life. To have "liberation" and not just "comfort". Tension builds
daily and inexorably until life is mainly taken up with coping with it.
Middle age is usually thought to be a chronological phase around midlife.
What we really mean is the time when life is reduced to coping, when the
flexibility of youth and optimism no longer works.
It is not an intractable condition. It begins to lift as soon as effective
work in discharging the emotional tension is begun. You don't have to
discharge all of the tension to be youthful at whatever age, you merely have
to begin and maintain the regular discharge of painful emotions. When
individuals or couples begin to work through their tensions, all sorts of
time together may become important close time. Sex does not have to be the
only time for closeness. Sex can be a time when whatever happens is what
happens, and is enriching for both.
Because the confusion between sex and closeness begins so early in life the
emotional discharge work needed to free a person from confusions in the area
of sex needs to be more systematic. Liberation from sexual tensions can be
"won" with regular, persistent and exhaustive discharge work on all the
incidents connected with sex in any way beginning with the first that is
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