Monday, May 26, 2014

On "Fishing"... Do You Want What You Get or Get What You Want?

"Come follow me," Jesus said, "And I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

In my late teens, this was one of my favorite verses from the Bible. I liked men and I liked to fish, so it was an easy metaphor for me to grasp. At one point I began to think I would lure men in with my body and then talk to them about God, if they didn't already know about Him. I found out through my Senior High drama class that back massages and foot massages could go a long way towards breaking down barriers as well. So besides being "That Girl on the Bicycle" I became the Christian girl who would "give a massage with a message"... much to many a young man's confusion and I suspect frustration, as that was all I would that point in my life anyway.

I entered college a year younger than most everyone else, at 17 rather than 18 (because, thanks to my mother's insistence with the school board back in Radcliff, KY, I ended up skipping sixth grade). Granted, I'd spent most of those first 18+ years "hiding out" with Mom, rather than having much in the way of normal peer to peer interactions, so, really I'd say I was more like a 12-year-old emotionally.

It wasn't until much later in life that I realized how my naivete' was a big part of my appeal to men. I'm not sure if I were more or less needy than most women, having never had the validation of my father in my life, but I kept much of that well hidden with my verbosity and intellectual confidence. Inevitably though, via that combination of my still youthful naivete' and neediness, I cast a rather broad net into the world of men, and, sure enough, I caught a few "fish" here and there.

The reverse was also true. There were men around who were doing basically the same thing, unconsciously putting out their nets into which naive women like myself would be "drawn in". In the long run, there was probably a fairly equal amount of "tossing back" or "rejection" from me and from them as we were all trying to figure out what we wanted based on what we could get or "catch" in those unconscious nets.

As I have discussed on this blog before, one of the ways we "net" each other is with anima and animus "projections". I'd offer that another way is much more primal, mostly involving women making themselves more visually attractive and/or erotically stimulating for men. Some women are more adept at this than others, and/or are born with certain physical traits that lend themselves more naturally to that kind of appeal. Others can afford lots of plastic surgery to re-create themselves to fit current cultural "norms", or at least what they think others see as "sexy".

In his many books on relations between men and women, David Deida describes a woman's "feminine radiance" as a unique spiritual gift that she has to offer to men and the world. However, he also makes a distinction between developing that on a purely physical, superficial level and having it literally "radiate" from the core of her being.

To illustrate the polarity between men and women, Deida points to the typical football game with its very focused, goal oriented, and freedom oriented men (as in "breaking free" into the end zone) playing the game, while the (mostly) female cheerleaders play a more supportive role on the sidelines, being Especially Radiant while doing so! While underway with the USS George Washington during football season, we were visited by the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. Informed by Deida's ideas, it became very obvious to me, seeing the cheerleaders on and off stage, just how good they were at turning their radiance "On" and "Off" as well.

And then I had the opportunity to watch a season of "America's Next Top Model" when it first came out. Given that all of these women were physically attractive, some of them in unique ways, it came as somewhat of a surprise to me that what the judges and producers really wanted to see was their range of emotional expression and how well they could communicate that through their faces and bodies.

Another time when I was underway with the USS George Washington, I saw the movie, Dangerous Beauty which has since become one of my all-time favorites. It's based on the true story of Veronica Franco a courtesan in Venice in the 1500's. As part of her "training" her mother challenges her to consciously embody a range of emotions - from anger and disdain to submission, rapture, and finally - to make her lover believe that "he is the only man in the universe".

For all of the implication that women have been "subordinated" by men throughout history, I am going to propose, that we have also held great power as well. I think many women are just as guilty of abusing their power(s) as men have ever been. In general, men may hold sway over much of our physical world, but women have always had the greater power over the emotional side of life, and I dare say we deny that at our own peril. (And before anyone gets too upset about these generalizations - let me acknowledge that I realize that is what they are and that there are always going to be exceptions within and across genders.)

I would like to offer that "net casting" is probably very deep programming for all concerned. Every species looks for a way to attract a mate, and each individual in that species will employ those devices with greater or lessor success, with that "success" measured in terms of the number of offspring they are ultimately able to procreate.

However, as I suggested in my previous post, there is much more going on for human beings than just "reproduction" of the species. Consequently, if we keep using tools evolved primarily for finding mates for reproduction, when reproducing is not, or is no longer what is most important to us, then it is no wonder we keep finding ourselves in trouble, struggling to find more overall satisfaction in our relationships. Maybe its time we come up with some better methods of finding people we want to be relating with for those other reasons? In other words, the "casting a net" approach isn't really the most effective for most of us human beings in this more complex, modern world.

From my own point of view, it's no longer about what I can catch in my "net" by "chance"; it's also not about letting myself be "drawn into" someone else's "net" when they are not really clear about what they want. It's about knowing very clearly what I actually want, and keeping my mind and heart open to meeting someone who a) also knows very clearly what they want, b) doesn't need a lot of "woo/woo emotional/biochemical stimulation" to get them to pay attention, and c) actually wants the same most important things in a relationship that I want. (In other words, it does not have to be a "perfect match", but we should be able to share many of the things that are most meaningful to both of us.)

Keep in mind, for any individual to figure out what is most meaningful for them requires what I call "homework." If you're too busy just letting your more lowly evolved (limbic brain) biology (unconsciously) cast nets everywhere "looking for love", you're probably not going to have the time, nor the mental energy to do that "What's really most meaningful to me?" homework. It's also highly unlikely that you're ever going to have the presence of mind to engage a potential partner in dialogue to find out what is most meaningful to them. Therefore, there's basically no way to get to that place of sharing what is mutually meaningful without self-knowledge and without knowledge of the other person as well, far more knowledge than anyone might gain from a "first impression", or "love a first sight"!

As one of my favorite authors on the subject of relationships,Terry Gorski puts it: "Most relationships fail due to selection errors." As I have suggested repeatedly in posts throughout this Blue Moon Turtle Blog: I'm convinced there are better ways to "select" our friends and our intimate partners, to satisfy the total complex of our human nature, rather than just the biological aspect of it.

For instance:

1) Figure out what is most meaningful to you and to your potential partner, and see if these things intersect.

2) Beware of emotional/biochemical addictions to experiences like falling in love.

3) Understand the limits of intuition, and back it up with what Gorski calls a "rational basis of trust" born of actual experiential knowledge of the other person over a fairly long period of time and in multiple circumstances.

4) Know your own anima or animus, and be as conscious as you possibly can be so as to minimize if not altogether eliminate your tendency to "project" onto others.

5) Be careful misinterpreting basic biological/emotional-biochemical experiences masquerading as something "higher" or "more spiritual."

And, lastly (for now),

6) Be aware of your tendency to a) not be completely clear about what you actually want in a relationship, and b) unconsciously "casting your net" merely to see who you can catch, and how you might control them, rather than being more sensitive to the humanity of the other person and their need to be treated with empathy and respect.

Granted, if we never learn to approach these most challenging of human relationships more consciously, and we simply continue to allow our lower biology, our limbic brains, to keep running the show, we will, nevertheless, continue to produce more human beings. My contention is that we will not be producing happy, peaceful, well-adjusted human beings, nor will we ultimately produce a happy, peaceful, well-adjusted and sustainable society. We're only going to "get what we get" - but not necessarily get what we really want.