Planet Waves | Intimacy is... by Eric Francis


"Compersion," photograph of Maria and Eric
by Neal McDonough, electonically painted
by Via Davis at Studio Psycherotica.

Intimacy is Introspection that We Share

By Eric Francis

<><>My philosophy of organic love begins with the idea that all love is an expression of selflove. We say this casually, we read it in spiritual textbooks, but the concept is rather elusive. The reason it's elusive is, I believe, that despite the fact that we are very often taught to hate ourselves by advertising, teachers and parents, we don't see all the forms that self-hatred takes -- such as self- doubt, or shame. And to compound things, we call hatred love.

<><>If, for example, we buy into the idea that an exercise program or a new pair of sunglasses makes us more lovable, this is buying into the deeper idea that we are unlovable. We thus try to turn unlove into love, but it does not work; we just go on being unloving toward ourselves, expecting different results.

<><>This fundamental confusion about how we feel about ourselves corresponds to a fundamental confusion about how we feel about each other. If we feel unlovable and seek another for the feeling of being loved, we're really multiplying the sense of being unloved. This may sound harsh, but as evidence I offer the condition that relationships so often wind up in, which is a festival of guilt, mistrust and resentment. And then we wonder why.

<><>Selfloving is an important factor in sex. What we bring into relationships we multiply in relationships. What we bring into sex, we multiply in sex. Just because you're not making babies does not mean you're not using sex to procreate. What we procreate are feelings, and the deepest feelings we have are feelings we hold about ourselves.

<><>Masturbation is the most fundamental sex. It is the first sex we ever have, and it has nothing to do with romance, reproduction, or commitment. It is purely about pleasure and surrender.

<><>If our ideas about masturbation are tainted by guilt, shame, unworthiness, fear or uneasiness, then these are core sexual values. We contain them, and when we open up to another person sexually these feelings that come out. We can act out sex on another person and seem, for a time, to get around our doubts, but what we're really doing is distracting ourselves from our own damaged or incomplete sense of self. The presence of another person can ease the grief of incomplete selflove, but it does not make it go away -- which is why so many times we are loved, but do not feel loved.

<><>Sex is a central metaphor for love, and a powerful means of expressing love. This is why I suggest that sexual relationships start with exploring masturbation together. It's a kind of litmus test and clarifying process that helps us bring out our real feelings about sex, and about ourselves, before we actually engage our sexual energy directly.

<><>There are many people who believe that sexual intercourse creates a direct energetic connection, through the lower chakras, which can last for many years. Information, feelings and other energy move through this connection. Yet we don't always know what is going on inside another person. Indeed, Tantric teachers tell us that working sexual energy stirs up the issues of the lower chakras (power and survival issues, for example) and exposes them.

<><>Masturbating together recognizes this. It opens up sexual energy without forming a direct physical sexual bond. Yet it brings to the surface who we are, for the other person to see. It's a way of saying, "This is who I am in all my fearless glory." If we truly feel good about sex, and about ourselves, then we are likely to have a lot of fun masturbating with a potential lover. If not, there are reasons, and those reasons need to be explored, if there is going to be an honest and clear relationship. They are explored in a process of shared introspection -- of self-disclosure and listening.

<><>When we share the emotions and ideas that arise in deep introspection, this is intimacy. Too often, sex is a way of getting around intimacy rather than entering intimacy. It is possible to have sex with another person without talking much about it at all. You just undress and do it. This feels like intimacy, but when the material that we are carrying inside comes to the surface, then we face the first test.

<><>When you think of all the possible toxic complications of sex in our world, such as ethical concerns, unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, it's amazing that sharing masturbation is not more popular. But you can't just share masturbation like you can jump into sex. It needs to be proposed gently, and carefully negotiated, and it can't be done "aggressively" since it's self-exploration. And this is a real test of a person's values -- which it's good to know before becoming sexually involved.

<><>But it's natural: sharing natural primal sex in a ritual that can truly be called a return to an organic state of being.++

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