Yoga Articles by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad
Transforming Sexuality: Changing the Context of Conquest (Page 6)
Diana Alstad and Joel Kramer
Joel: What you are talking about is really a movement from youth to adulthood. There is great reluctance to move into this new space, just as there is reluctance to grow up. The beginning of;a relationship is a period of grace, where through the highs of openings and discoveries, a special energy permeates everything. Youth is also like a period of grace, offering tremendous energy that seems boundless. You can mistreat your body without paying many dues, so you can be more careless and carefree. Growing up means you have to be more careful, since health isn't just a given. But if you hone yourself as you age, you can actually gain energy and have more focus than in youth.
Diana: The same is true with relationships. The beginning is a time of innocence, but as a relationship matures, habits replace the sense of discovery; ways of relating become old, confined, and highly patterned. To keep a relationship new and alive, you have to put energy into it, for without attention, awareness, and care, habits will end by stultifying it.
Newness is the key to passion - for each person to be new in themselves and in the relationship. In the first blush of a young relationship, the two people are totally involved, immersed, in each other. Gradually, as they reenter the stream of life, other things - careers, children, friends - take over and the relationship becomes a context for living. Each person following his or her path out in the world can bring to the relationship rich sources of newness - people, ideas, and interests.
Joel: "Newness" doesn't necessarily dissipate over time; on the contrary, it may reemerge as two people get to know each other in depth. There can be great excitement and learning in that process. In fact, continuity allows certain depths of passion that only come from getting to know a person, for it takes time to develop intimacy and trust.
Diana: Newness also comes from working through problems: instead of trying to ignore or get rid of them, you can use them as an occasion to learn about yourself and the other person. Communication is the doorway for newness to enter. Communication is a dance that involves listening to the other person and trying to understand their needs and where they're coming from - which does not necessarily imply doing what they want. It does involve being more interested in understanding than in either blaming or convincing the other that it's their fault and that if only they would change, everything would be all right.
Joel: Approaching sexuality out of a willingness to explore, rather than expectations of how it should be, allows passion to live. Instead of diminishing, this kind of relationship builds in time.
Diana: As a relationship matures and communication gets deeper and more refined, merging can occur. Magic returns in this new space of discovery and adventure. The sexual energy generated by this intertwining is more subtle, but no less powerful or sensual than conquest sexuality. When a man and woman merge instead of being locked in power plays, they get to a point of integration in which they transform each other; the differences between them become a source of expansion rather than antagonism.
Joel: What we are talking about is another way of looking at and approaching relationships and sexuality, in which the major interest is in exploring and growing together. We all hunger for solutions, but rather than defining or laying out a new way to be, we must all be pioneers if we're going to create a new way to live together. No real solution can come until both men and women truly see the nature of the problem, which lives in each of us and which also only lives in relationship. "Seeing" the problem brings forth change; seeing the patterns changes you. As long as men and women are hooked into romance, they can never meet each other totally. If we are to open opportunities to meet as human beings, we must leave the whole context of conquest. It takes equals to create the possibility of mature love.