Yoga Articles by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad

Transforming Sexuality: Changing the Context of Conquest (Page 5)

Diana Alstad and Joel Kramer 

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Joel:Conquest usually involves an initiating male and a receptive female. Even when it's the woman who starts the dance by playing seductive, she usually waits for the man to take the sexual initiative. If she always leaves this first step to him, he can begin to feel it as a pressure. This can lock the man in a performance role in which he is so concerned with his images of adequacy that he can't be spontaneous and let go. Performance, comparison, and adequacy fears keep him from getting involved at deep, emotional levels, and the sexuality gets locked in fixed patterns which eventually dull it.

Diana: For the woman to take the initiative means facing the fear of rejection. Even within a relationship, when you make sexual overtures, you take the risk the other person will not be open to you at that moment. Constantly living with the possibility of rejection as part of the initiator's role is one reason men armor themselves and are less open emotionally.

Joel: It's important for a man to learn to allow a woman to turn him on. A man may think he would love women to come on to him, but when they do, this strikes against the chords of male conditioning. The normal male headset is that the man is in control and he does "it" when he wants. His own need, his internal push, is his driver. He's not ordinarily open to the woman turning him on out of her need. A woman who directly initiates is felt as a challenge to his adequacy - implying she's not satisfied or that she wants control. This way of reacting to her, much of it unconscious, reinforces the women's fear of rejection. The man is ambivalent, caught between wanting to stay in control and a desire for more spontaneity without having to "perform."

Diana: It seems that much of the male sex drive has more to do with the man's physiological rhythm or superficial attraction to a woman than with emotions or being sensitive to where the woman is at. The woman initially feels flattered at being the chosen one, but in time she feels taken for granted, and the mechanical aspects of his desire become evident to her.

Joel: You could talk about people getting addicted to conquest like being addicted to drugs or a hit of any sort of intense stimulation. Your nervous system, your sexuality gets hooked into needing a certain level of intensity. An easy way to get intensity is through one-night stands. Conquest can also be played over and over within a relationship, in more subtle ways - through withholding affection, arguing, flirtations, or external dalliances which add the stimulation of jealousy. Quarreling can jack up the emotions and interest, and then surrendering to sex afterwards revives the conquest drama. When either isn't getting enough attention, he or she can begin to withhold, making the other win them again. But since the quality of passion in repeated conquest of the same person is dimmer than it was initially, going to others can seem more appealing. A new person turning on to you touches back into that initial raw desire. A woman might find, for example, that if another man wants her, her husband's interest rekindles. Being afraid to lose her, he feeds more energy into her, trying to capture her again. There is no way for her not to like this. This works the same for men, too.

Diana: If a relationship is based on romance, there is bound to be great fear involved at its core - fear that another person will generate the now lost extremes that you can't seem to recapture together. This fear can become part of the excitement in the relationship, since jealousy revives old feelings associated with the suspense of conquest: Who will be chosen?

Joel: Over a lifetime, conquest sexuality may develop in different directions. You can lose interest in conquest after you have run the number so many times that the very repetitiveness of its patterns gets dull. Even repeated newness gets old. Fast openings usually lead to fast closings, and this reinforces mistrust. Sexuality can open you too soon, before the relationship has built the supports to handle intimacy. Trust only grows in time - trust that the other cares about you and will take you into account.

Diana: Using the other for your own adequacy feels empty over the years, bringing cynicism and closing you to love. The conflicts that conquest sex generates over a lifetime can cause interest in sexuality to wane or even disappear. The fear of losing one's sexuality, stemming from disinterest, can drive men and women to further conquests, in a desperate attempt to prove they are as sexual as they used to be. Sexual problems such as difficulty with orgasm, impotence, and frigidity could well be linked with these conflicts.

Joel: One way people regenerate interest in sex is by making the stimulus hit stronger. This is why a lot of sexuality eventually hooks into taboo - things that at certain levels are frowned on or forbidden. Social taboo, or anything generally considered "kinky" - or perverse, can be used to rekindle sexual interest after one has become jaded with self-centered sex.

Diana: Generally, when people are looking for a relationship, what they're interested in is who is turning them on the most at any given moment. The spectacular pleasures of sexuality are ephemeral, however, and in and of themselves are not a good foundation for the kinds of merging that intimacy over time can bring. At first the quality of sexuality influences the rest of the relationship to a very great degree, but this soon reverses and then it's the other aspects that influence the sexuality. You can bury bad feelings initially through sex, but eventually this doesn't work. The intensities that come in a mature relationship are of a different order and have another flavor. Here the energy is coming from a place of true intertwining.

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