Somewhere along the way, something changed.
I’ve spent most of my life trying to understand women and relationships. And I’ve spent the vast majority of it really, really bad at understanding women, other people, and relationships. Something always seemed to be so much of an enigma, it felt completely out of sight and out of reach.
In 2007, some pieces I hadn’t seen started coming into my awareness. From 2007 onward, understanding women and relationships (including myself in relationships) was one of my top priorities. In fact, for long periods of time, despite running my own business, it was absolutely my top priority. I would spend days and weeks and months devouring literature, lectures, presentations, etc, from both men and women about psychology, sociology, spirituality, philosophy, relationships, etc. I studied everything from pickup artists to Tony Robbins to Marianne Williamson to “The Rules” to taking a “Calling in the One” course. It was a lot of work, but I knew it was important for me to understand.
Finally, in the March of 2012, some of the most amazing women I know kept telling me over and over and over about the positive impact I was having on them. Based on what they had been reflecting to me, something seemed to be shifting…where instead of trying to understand them, I was now able to help guide them through their own work and growth as women.
But I still didn’t believe it. I looked at my past and saw a history of relationships that I’d ended poorly – some of them, beyond poorly. I saw and felt the guilt and shame I’d had about some of the ways that I’d acted, completely self-unaware, unaware of my own impact on some amazing and delicate women, and very much lacking presence with them in ways that were, sometimes, harmful. I was also in the middle of my own painful, confusing, heart-wrenching relationship work that would last for the rest of 2012.
How was someone like me supposed to actually help women? It made no logical sense to me.
But, no matter how much I rationalized that I was ill-equipped for this kind of work, the most amazing women I’d ever met kept telling me the same thing: how valuable our conversations and guidance were for them and their own growth. I decided in November of 2012, eight months later, to trust those amazing women more than I trusted myself. I decided that I wasn’t going to hold back any more: I decided that the things I’d intuited, combined with the personal and relationship psychology, spirituality, and everything else I’d dumped into my head, heart, and body over the previous six years…all of it would be up and open for discussion.
Sometimes I messed up. Sometimes my own projections or feelings would get mixed up and misinterpreted as theirs. Sometimes I’d say something stupid or offensive. But, most of the time – the vast majority of the time, in fact – I was being told that I was having a profound impact on the women I was talking to and working with.
Without the persistence and amazing support of some good friends – you each know who you are – against my own stubbornness and other psychological junk in the way, I wouldn’t be writing this post and I very well may not have helped as many women as I have in the last few months.
But let me back up for a moment here…
Discovering the Masculine/Feminine Model
In all of the relationship and personal growth work that I did, I found myself returning to two fundamental concepts that served as a useful model for understanding what was both challenging and the solution in men, women, and their relationships.
The model that I kept coming back to was that of masculinity and femininity. I saw that, even further beneath the psychological realm of ego, attachment theory, and your relationship with your parents, was something both profound and incredibly useful in the realm of masculinity and femininity. I spent years diving into the model and how it applied, almost obsessively seeking to understand every nuance of it.
When I worked on my own stuff, I referenced this model and connected with both my masculine and feminine sides. When I worked with other men and women, I found the same masculine/feminine model to be immensely useful. When it came to relationships, I again found the same profound impact.
I want to be clear here and say that I don’t believe the masculine/feminine model is the end-all-be-all. The more I work with it, the more I find that it can serve as a useful context and starting point…once the problem and solutions are understood in this context, we can then work on your psychology, your past, your models of love and relationships, etc. Very quickly, the masculine/feminine model is departed, all the while, continuing to serve as a context and reference point along the way.
Why this is Challenging for Men and Women Today
Since the beginning of mankind, most people followed traditional biological-sex (male/female) roles. Men hunted and gathered and left the home and worked in order to serve the home. Women stayed home to tend the family and home and serve the home with their presence.
This generally served humanity (let’s say, sufficiently) for a very long time.
But then something very important happened: The Industrial Revolution.
With the industrial revolution, three critical things happened. First, the time-cost of living decreased. You didn’t have to work for hours and hours on the farm each day just to eat. You could work for much less time and energy in order to meet your basic needs. Second, mass production increased the quality of life at such a lower cost that, in effect, the cost of living well was democratized. Anyone could live well, regardless of their physical capacities and capabilities or knowledge. The rise of information workers essentially leveled the playing field for both men and women to be able to work and earn similar incomes. Third, knowledge became commoditized and accessible in ways it never had been before. Instead of knowledge being reserved for the rich and privileged, anyone could have access to life-changing information. This raised the overall consciousness and awareness of both men and women of what was possible for themselves and their relationships.
As the decades went on, about a century later, the workplace landscape had shifted so dramatically that it eventually catalyzed a shift in culture to the extent that women were then given equal legal rights to vote, etc. Now, in the early 20th century, not only was the stage set to create the space for women and men to be treated as equals, it was now beginning to get legal recognition as well.
The last major catalyst came during World War II when women took up jobs in factories, jobs typically reserved for men, with Rosie the Riveter becoming iconic in propagating the idea that women can – and should have the opportunity to – do anything a man can do, just as well, if not, better.
In short, over just a couple of centuries, women had claimed and begun developing their masculine side…the part of them that directs their own lives, defines their own purpose, and is wholly self-sufficient.
From this point forward, culturally and legally, women no longer needed men. Period. It wasn’t smooth sailing from here, but the major work had been done.
But what about men? How did all of this affect them?
To be honest, us men are pretty slow. This went on for centuries – where women made efforts to claim their masculine side – before men realized they had the opportunity to claim their feminine side. It wasn’t until 20 years after World War II that it became culturally acceptable for men to do so, giving rise to the hippie generation.
As men began exploring their feminine, they became more flowy, less aggressive, less directed. Peace and Love. Flowy clothes, flowy music, flowy drugs. Direction and purpose, unnecessary.
And as this dynamic played out, women cultivating their masculine and men cultivating their feminine, people as a whole became more whole themselves. We all need access to both parts of ourselves, masculine and feminine. This isn’t to say that we should strive for balance – unless it’s our individual nature, we shouldn’t – but we should be able to recognize our masculine or feminine core essence, cultivate that, and also cultivate the complimentary masculine or feminine parts within us that we deem valuable.
The challenge is that as women cultivated their masculine and men cultivated their feminine, things got confusing. A woman with a developed masculine side most often still has a feminine essence. And a man with a developed feminine side most often still has a masculine essence. (And women can have a masculine core and men can have a feminine core. It’s simply the minority.) But in the cultivation of these complimentary parts, men and women began to lose touch with that essence that’s within them…that deepest, truest part of themselves.
I see this day in and day out. Men that are confused and directionless as they’ve so strongly cultivated their feminine and have no idea what they’re actually doing with their lives, let alone their women. And women, understandably so, aren’t too thrilled with these kinds of men.
And I see women that are exhausted because their masculine is so strongly developed that they actually play that role in their relationships and at work…but that’s not their deepest, truest self either…their heart never rests as they are perpetually playing another persona for the rest of their world… Their heart goes untouched, their yearning turned away from because it’s too painful, and they simply keep doing the best they know to get by.
In our Western culture where the power and impact of the masculine is valued so much more than the feminine (and, in my opinion, very dangerously so), women understandably feel hesitant to relax the masculine side of them and relax into their feminine. In our culture, it’s amazingly rare to see the feminine deeply revered enough to create a very safe, open space for the feminine to flow.
As a man, and behalf of all men, I want to say to women: I’m so sorry we’ve built our culture to deeply neglect the wisdom and beauty inherent in your being. And we’re working on it. And I know it’s slow going…we’re a bit dense, but I believe we’ll get there. There are some of us working very diligently toward serving you better from here on out.
So Why Work with Women?
If us men also need to get our act together, why am I working with women and not men?
It’s a fair question. And the truth is, as my friend Christin put it, that I simply love women. I can work with men (and do with my friends), but it’s much more fulfilling for me to help a woman feel safe and comfortable reconnecting with and opening more fully into her feminine. If I worked with men, I’d just want to punch them until they saw how they’re destroying their relationships by both not revering the femininity of their partner and also by not owning their own masculinity. And I’d rather not up my blood pressure on a daily basis.
In all honesty, working with women is deeply fulfilling to me. For whatever reason, I connect with the pain that women consciously or unconsciously sense by being disconnected from their femininity. I’ve seen women live their whole lives disconnected from it and that unhappiness pains my heart like nothing else. When I can work with a woman and help her through the process of relaxing again back into her feminine, it moves me to tears…in fact, it’s the only thing that consistently moves me to tears. As someone who didn’t cry for almost ten years, I find this significant.
How I’m Working with Women
There’s an amazing group here in Boulder called Daring Divas. Jessie May, Hope, and Liz – three absolutely amazing women – believe enough in my work that they’ve given me several opportunities in the upcoming months to design and lead workshops for their group of 1,100+ women. Not only that, but they also believe enough in me doing this work that I’ll be the first man to ever lead a workshop for them. I’m so incredibly humbled and honored.
In addition to women’s workshops, I’ll also be working with my coach and friend Christin Myrick leading couples workshops. Our first one is the first weekend in March and we’ve got some other neat plans for soon after which will be accessible to anyone around the world. So stay tuned for that.
I will be taking one-on-one coaching clients beginning in February. The work that I have done with my amazing women friends here has all been one-on-one. I love it and they keep telling me how much of an impact it’s having on their own life and personal growth as women. I’ll be offering six-week coaching sessions of 1.5 hours a week.
I’ll be writing an ebook and leading a multi-day workshop here in Boulder which will be recorded and offered for sale before the end of the year.
I’ll be offering a $9/mo subscription to weekly content, interviews, private forums, etc, through FullFeminine.com as well.
I also want to note that I’m still running Ontolo. In fact, I’m more excited about Ontolo than I have been in a long time. So that will still be a priority.
Finally, I want to say thank you to all of the wonderful women I’ve known and worked with through the years and especially those I’ve come to know these past few months. You are each an inspiration. Seeing your courage and willingness to grow and change gives me even more inspiration to continue serving as best as I can.
Image Credit: aigle_dore