Feminine Longings, Masculine Drives: Unearthing Subtle Misunderstandings Leading to Relational Conflict.
How many times have you felt frustrated that your partner doesn’t understand you? Or baffled by a partner that seems upset and you have no idea why?
Many relational conflicts happen because we don’t have words to communicate our deeper longings and drives. We get in fights about things, but rarely do we ever address the thing.
This is tragic. So much love, intimacy, and connectedness is possible in moments of conflict, but we often miss these opportunities because a) we aren’t in touch with the real thing, i.e., our deepest drives and longings, and b) we don’t know how to communicate the thing even when we do track it down.
We came together to write out some of the feminine longings and masculine drives we’ve encountered most frequently in our work as coaches and in our personal relationships. Our hope is that in having these in hand, you may more easily communicate and understand your deeper needs as you continue opening your heart to partners.
Note: Though we use the words masculine and feminine, we do not mean men and women strictly, but rather the energies of masculinity and femininity which occur in all of us regardless of sex or gender identity.
The Feminine Longings
1. She wants her unique beauty to be celebrated. She wants to know that you see all levels of her complex, intricate, and unique beauty: her feminine essence, her movements, her body, her voice, her secret desires. A part of her loves to dress up in gorgeous colors, glitter and jewels, beautiful makeup. This is not superficial or frivolous — her beauty is who she is, the same way your strength is who you are.
She expresses her unique essence through beautifying herself and her spaces, and she loves it when you notice that.
When I first brought him to my home, the interaction felt so intimate, so vulnerable to share the world I had created for myself, with him. As he looked at my altar with candles and crystals, my art I painted, the careful way I arranged my necklace, I felt like he was seeing inside my soul.
2. She wants to be chosen. She wants to know that out of all the women in the world, you’ve chosen to invest your attention on her. You didn’t just stumble into relationship or take whatever you could get. You searched far and wide for her specifically.
Feeling chosen doesn’t mean a marriage vow or even exclusivity. It means that in this moment right now, there is nowhere else you’d rather be and no one else you’d rather be with. You’re fully here, unwaveringly present, with her, now. That’s how she feels chosen.
Despite my strong feminist philosophy, I realized a part of me had always wanted a man to ‘claim’ me. I hadn’t felt that before. With my current man, I had just poured out my heart to him, sharing that I wanted to go deep and explore intimacy with him, only him. He agreed we’d be exclusive. We moved to make love and he growled in my ear: “You’re all mine.” My whole body lit up and melted into an electrified, soft goo.
3. She wants a safe space to land. The world can often feel harsh and overstimulating to her sensitive system. She is often vigilant, on guard, protecting herself. She wants to feel like, in your arms, she can finally relax and let go.
She longs to feel like she can trust you, that you will be honest (do what you say), look out for her, anticipate her needs (e.g., water), and protect her from danger (like walking on the busy side of the road). She’s constantly asking herself and testing you to see, “Can I trust him?” The testing never ends because even if she could trust you five minutes ago, maybe she can’t now.
At Burning Man this year, I was going out with some of my girlfriends. Our man friend agreed to stay sober and keep an eye on us, so we felt held and safe. He biked alongside us, directing us where to go, made sure we were drinking water, staying warm enough. When a few men came over we didn’t want to talk to, he asked them to leave.
He stayed with us all night, never trying to ‘get’ something from the exchange. I felt so safe and loved with him, and it brought out this playful, joyful, bubbly side of me, like he was handling my safety so I could feel free and laugh and dance and play.
4. She wants to be led. During the day, she makes millions of decisions, handles things, organizes her life. When she’s with you, she’s craving that you pick the path and lead her. When she’s led skillfully, it is the most peaceful, surrendered feeling for her.
Ideally, the masculine can feel into her desires (or she speaks them out loud) and then he can direct the experience so that she can flow with it. The masculine is the river banks, she’s the flood.
In salsa class, the instructor told me to close my eyes and follow his lead. At first it felt clunky and clumsy — I wanted to take over! — but I took a deep breath, softened my shoulders and belly, and then fell into this fluidity and flow. My mind could finally relax and quiet as my body moved in response to his steps. I didn’t have to figure out the right next move; I could just surrender.
5. She wants to self-express, fully, deeply, primally. She may feel self-conscious on the surface, but a part of her wants to be a wild woman, in touch with the primal rawness of her emotions, passion, sex. She wants to scream until her voice runs out. She wants to stomp her feet and shake her fists and swing her hips with wild abandon. She wants to sob, big body-shaking heaves of grief.
She wants to laugh like a hyena until she cries midway. She wants to yell at you, hate you, curse your life, and through all this wildness, she wants to know you’re still there, unafraid of her and deeply loving her wildness. She’s constantly watching you, wondering, “Can he handle me? All of me?”
When she does let out her wildness, it’s not a problem to solve but rather a gift to witness with love and presence. As she feels seen and heard, the emotion will move through her.
I was so angry at him I wrote a “Fuck You” letter. I didn’t want to even see him. But I invited him in. Told him he had to shut up, not say a word, and I would yell at him. I yelled about the way he didn’t follow through on his promises, I cried my heartbreak, let him see the pain I felt. He just witnessed it, didn’t say a word or do anything.
Eventually, the heat of my anger subsidized and I fell into a pool of tears, softness, love, and turn-on. I lay my head on his chest and he held me, telling me how sexy I was, how much he loved hearing my anger, that he’s sorry for spots he didn’t show up as the man he wanted to be. I felt safe, surrendered. I could let out all of me, even my ‘crazy’, and he not only accepted it but loved it, wanted it. There was nothing to hide.
6. She wants to be penetrated on every level — physically, emotionally, spiritually. She wants that squirmy, hot, holy-shit-what-do-I-do feeling of being totally seen and nailed. Past her masks, her pretenses, her personality, down to her soul. She wants you to meet her there — beyond the words, the walls around her heart, to the soft, tender, vulnerable, wide open love beneath.
She craves that feeling of nowhere to hide, where every part of her is blasted open and seen with love. In every moment, she is either opening to you or closing to you. She wants to know that you can feel her and stay totally with her, breath to breath, belly to belly, second to second, no matter what. Every minute you’re fully present with you, you’re having sex energetically, even if not physically.
He watched me, holding my gaze intently. I felt all these emotions moving across my face — shy, awkward, tender, rebellious, sexy, vulnerable — as his intense attention penetrated through layers of my conditioning and personality. He didn’t say a word. I had nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. He saw every thought pass across my face, every time I closed, he felt it and slowed down.
Every time I opened, his attention penetrated into me deeper. My whole body felt hot, squirmy, exposed, and insanely turned on. I felt his attention through my whole body, from my pelvis, up my belly, up into my chest.
The Masculine Drives
1. He wants to open her. He senses she contains multitudes. Beyond who she is when she is keeping it together, beyond the outer toughness or good-girl politeness or other protective personae, he knows her insides are rich, complex, nuanced.
From the wild tenderness of her heart to the hurricane that is her ire, from the wisdom of her tears to how she smiles when she’s moved, he wants to see her, know her, feel her, all of her. And to do this, to gain admittance, to open her, he must surrender, must attune himself to her subtleties, must learn to use his gifts to grow larger in love.
We were making love at noon. Day by day, we’d grown closer and closer. In the heat of summer, I moved inside her slowly. Suddenly, I felt her energy shift. I looked up, looked into her face, and all I saw was radiance. There was a sense of holiness, and for a moment, I was taken with the vision of me as a priest kneeling in humility and reverence at the foot of a temple.
She looked upon me with graciousness and I began to weep. “I am opening,” she said, “I am opening for you.”
2. He wants to be trusted. He wants her to trust that he can take care of things, trust that he can handle her in all her flavors, trust him when he says, “Babe, I’ve got it.” When she needs him to alter direction, she can tell him and he’ll respond. Otherwise, when she surrenders, when she takes her hands off the wheel, when she lets go, he can joyfully, warmly, with pride, step into powerful and loving leadership.
He can cease attempts to win her trust, and relax into the confident and loving care of having her in his charge.
We were heading to the parking garage. Downtown Seattle has a lot of these, but I knew which was ours. As we walked, I felt us disconnect. What was it? I paused and then I knew: She was doubting me. She was looking at street signs, tugging on my hand, spinning. “Hey,” I said, smiling at her, “I can tell you’re anxious, but I know exactly where we are. I know exactly where we are going. Just trust me.” Instantly, she relaxed.
And as we walked, as her body leaned deeply into mine, I grew a little taller in my proudness.
3. He wants to care for her. She’s capable, strong, independent. She can take care of herself. She doesn’t need him. He knows all that. And still, he wants to hold her. He wants to adore her. He wants to draw baths for her, shower her with love, learn her favorite snacks and supply them at surprising moments. He wants to hold doors for her, take her out, carry her bags, make her dinner.
And when boundaries are needed, when it is time to focus on business or pleasures outside the relationship, he wants to create them strong and clear so she doesn’t have to.
I thought taking care of her would be one of those inconvenient duties that rack up good karma. Until she got sick and I was in a position to take care of her, I didn’t understand what was in it for me.
I remember the housemates coming into the kitchen, gathering around me, and asking what I was doing as I placed crackers carefully on a plate. “She wanted exactly 25 crackers. And 25 little slices of cheese. And a bowl of tomato soup.” I felt tenderness arranging it all in a thoughtful presentation. Why was I feeling such joy? When I brought it to her in bed, I loved watching her eat. When she thanked me, I said, “of course.”
I did not know how to tell her what a gift it was, what a heart-opening experience it was, for me to practice giving in this way.
4. He wants to discover and commit himself to his purpose. At some point, he may ask himself, “What am I doing here on earth?” This is an extremely dangerous question, one which will give rise to two conflicting reflexes.
The first will be to get rid of the question completely. It threatens his comfort, sanity, and normalcy. The second reflex will be to allow himself to be seduced by it completely. Although this route is terrifying, it is also tantalizing. It is the path he really wants to take.
If he yearns to be an artist, perhaps he begins drawing regularly. If he wants to end world hunger, he volunteers at a food bank. Day by day, he dedicates himself, and slowly, a sense of deep soul alignment arises, goading him onward into deeper and deeper expressions of purpose.
For more than a year, I’d been investing my time in community and connection. In that time, I’d grown immensely. Now, I found myself at an adult summer camp standing in the rim of a circle of 60 others. Someone said “Come toward the middle of the circle if you know that you’ve committed your life to creating community and connection in the world.”
My knees trembled and I began to weep. I was scared, but I stepped forward. It felt like a step toward a point of no return. As I stood tall in this new position, my body began to vibrate. A pulsing in crown, throat, gut, and cock. This was integrity. This was alignment.
5. He wants to be appreciated. Pursuing love and purpose, he will make sacrifices. He will dedicate himself, giving up things he thought he never could, allowing the tissue paper of boyhood to be stripped from him piece by piece, leaving behind only that which is essential.
This crucible, wherein he learns to be a queen-maker, a purpose-pursuer, a warrior-lover, will ask him, again and again, to renounce, to dissolve, and to die.
Appreciation is not remittance for some great thing he’s done. Appreciation is a balm, an acknowledgement, a clear seeing. It is reassurance that he is following a noble path. It is a map to and for his heart.
And how does one appreciate? By seeing his goodness and thanking him. By placing hands upon his stiff shoulders and giving them a rub. By telling him how his care touches your heart in ways you didn’t know were possible.
I was 14, in the rural Dominican Republic, volunteering beside my mother and a group of dedicated doctors and nurses as we brought medical care to villagers. I hadn’t wanted to go on this trip at all, was upset that I was spending two weeks of my summer here (I was so self-centered!). My heart began changing after we arrived.
Niurka was 16. Being near in age, traveling from village to village in the back of pickup trucks, we grew quite close during my time there. I had a huge crush on her. One day, I was helping a young girl lace up the back of her dress. I tied the knots carefully and thoughtfully. “Gracias,” the girl said, and ran away. Standing before me, Niurka beamed. “You are a good guy,” she spoke in Spanish. I bloomed at hearing this.
I continue aiming at being that kind of man.
Megan D. Lambert is a masculine / feminine life coach who helps men understand women better, and women quiet their minds and get more into their bodies. She holds a double BA in psychology and neuroscience from University of Southern California. She spent 4 years as an executive leadership coach and facilitator for Fortune 100 companies before starting her own coaching company. She’s a certified relationship & sexuality coach, with 4 years of experience helping hundreds of people experience more connection, intimacy, and love in their lives. She currently lives in Bali, where she enjoys coaching online, ecstatic dance, fresh juices, and yoga.
Devin Gleeson is a life and business coach and group facilitator who helps men and women discover, explore, and deeply pursue purposeful living. After receiving his BA in Greek and Latin classics, Devin began deeply exploring the terrain of communal living, intimacy, sacred sexuality, personal growth, spirituality, sales, coaching, and group facilitation. He lives in an intentional community in Seattle, Washington where he enjoys studying multiple languages, co-creating wild experiments and experiences with his 7 housemates and his broader community, and coaching clientele into unbelievably beautiful living.