Honouring the Feminine and Masculine in Intimate Relationship

Boundary Confusion in Relationship Work

Inspired by my experiences at Cynthia Connop and Ernst Dams’ Living Love Workshop at the Joining Gathering 2012

My partner Paul and I attended a retreat called The Joining where we spent a beautiful couple of days learning about, celebrating and rejoicing the dance between the feminine and masculine energies. We shared special experiences of opening further into our gender potentials with another 100 amazing men and women with the same passion for connection, community and conscious cultivation of the masculine and feminine. It was here that Paul and I met Cynthia and Ernest who facilitated a couple of workshops that focused on David Deida’s work that embraces raising the masculine and feminine sexual essences.

The Basis of the David Deida Work

The whole aim of this work is to cultivate the masculine and feminine sexual essence that can become lost in our contemporary couple relationships. Deida points out in his work that there are three stages of evolution for the masculine and feminine. In the first stage, the masculine and feminine are sexually polarised but they are embroiled in control and power issues. The second stage evolves from the power struggles but unfortunately can all too easily become sexually unpolarised. Our relationships then become more like good friends than intimate lovers. In the third stage of David Deida’s work is where we aim to re-polarise our sexual essence in respectful, safe intimate relationships.

The aspirations of this work are profound! In a time of significant changes in couple relationships over the last few generations and when there are very high rates of relationship separation, this kind of work is greatly needed. Our intimate relationship could provide the glue for meaningful connection and increase resilience in a stressful, disconnected world.

My Group Experience & My Confusion

In the group, it was wonderful to have the time, focus and support of other beautiful women to re-embrace my feminine essence through dance, body movement, expression of feelings, and supporting other women into their feminine essence. However, my confusion arose when I discovered that I was not cultivating my feminine essence for my partner and he was not cultivating his masculine essence for me, but rather we were to freely give our sexual essence to any man or woman in the group.

After a challenging group experience, emotional discussions with Paul and then further discussions between Paul, Cynthia, Ernst and myself, I still swing between two camps of thought and feelings on the issue.  Does it honour our relationship to do this work largely exclusively with my partner or is it acceptable to do this work with any man (for me) or woman (for my partner). While I can see the enormous value of learning how to cultivate our sexual essence in our intimate relationship, I question how we can honour the sacredness, specialness and boundaries of the relationships while we do this work.


On one hand, I can see how the exercises with other people were triggering past betrayals from past relationships that still need healing. Yet on the other hand, I question how much of what I was feeling was a normal adaptive emotional response to the actual experiences in the group that required me to hear them and act on them. I question, what is right for Paul and I in our own unique relationship and more generally, how are we to really honour our intimate relationships and cultivate them while learning the David Deida work?


I would greatly value anyone’s input who is familiar with David Deida work with sexual polarity…

11 Responses to “Honouring the Feminine and Masculine in Intimate Relationship”

  • Devi:

    well put vanessa, i hear you…. i love doing this work with my partner but often i am doing it as a single woman. regardless i find there to be benefits at all times on some level, either for me or the person i’m working with… fortunately this year i had a partner for a lot of the exercise who i truly respected and admired so i was able to go deeper than i would have with the men (or women) i had just met there.. xx

  • Rudran Brannock:

    I enjoyed your article Vanessa. I have been able to feel for some years now the natural movement of energies between men and women that re there all the time. The Deida work has helped me to become more conscious of them and to easier discriminate them in my general relationships. Ameya and I have created boundaries around our contract with each other. WE are both quite aware of these energies and are aware that we will evolve. So we may decide to change the boundaries at a later time when we become more evolved around these primal archetypes.

  • for me its the intention infused in the energy expressed with another, just because these workshops are available doesnt mean we have to “go along” with what others are doing, i have in the past and haven’t in the past do what honors you and your partner in the situation, set agreements, energy can be heartfelt and purely energy without a sexual infusion, although it may feel pleasurable, it doensnt need to be sexual, and on the other hand it can if you “allow” it. I completely allow all textures with Rudran my beloved and my awareness is heightened at all times. For me personally i choose to allow it to be fully charged with Rudran to have the maximum potential to go as deep as we can with each other, yet i can also give to another ie in my work…or friends a deep connection of spirit that is almost androgynous…this is a complex topic and we are all in subtledly different evolution and perspective with it, I do know for me now to be monogomous and honour my partner and myself i consciously choose to share it with him…..if i feel myself lose that integrity he or i will be the first to call it, check in and see where we have a loose connection with ourselves individually or our divine alchemical recipe and address it. There isnt a right or wrong just what you choose to practice. At a month shy of 50 and experimenting with all kind of relatings, and agreements, i know feel this way with Rudran is a way of deepening our path of love together. Anything else i choose right now would not be honouring or in integrity with myself or Rudran and therefore be a distraction to the depth of love that has vast, boundless and immeasurable possibilities. love Ameya

  • Gayatri:

    Great article!

    In my relationship we have established that we are in a strictly monogamous relationship, however it’s ok to hug, cuddle, embrace, share etc with others. In fact, we both went to the Joining with the intention to do that. When I connect with another man I honour the divine masculine in him, and not so much the man as a person. Coming from the safe place of a monogamous relationship, I could open myself fully to other men (and women) in Cynthia and Ernst’s workshops. The emphasis for me is that it’s nothing personal. In the same way, the closing ceremony was wonderful for me. However, I would have preferred to say “I honour the masculine in you” rather than “I honour the man in you”.

    Making agreements and boundaries is crucial to me, to establish trust and deep intimacy. But keeping it flexible by going over the agreements again from time to time to see whether they still reflect both persons’ beliefs. This is very important to me because I want to be able to trust my partner to honour the boundaries all the time, no matter what. And coming to me BEFORE transcending them. And vice versa.

    I really recommend “Finding God through Sex” by David Deida. It’s actually not so much about sex (or god), but about the polarisation of the male and feminine in an intimate relationship, transcending intimate love to go to universal love. I’ve been having great joy reading and discussing this book with my partner.

  • Myra:

    At first I felt it would have been wonderful to do this workshop with a partner but when I was finished I realised that I learned so much about myself and how I related to men, some of the men there taught me more about how to trust and the depth of their honesty opened my heart. I wonder if the experience of seeing different masculine energies can bring greater depth to a partnership by adding dimensions you may not have thought of before :) I imagine this may also be true for men.

  • Max:

    An interesting journey indeed Vanessa! I have personally really enjoyed the work of David Deida in the past… belonging to a men’s group for 3 years which was based on his curriculum and soaking up hours and hours of his audio material :) In my experience, the levels that he uses as a guide are very helpful for people functioning at whatever level they are at within themselves and within relationship. The first 2 stages help to explore the dynamics of 2 very dynamic energies – the masculine & feminine polarities – and in the third stage, we can use these energies to make whatever choices are required to create more consciousness in each other.

    In doing the practices, I found my inner surrender was paramount to shedding the layers of ‘stuff/illusion’ that was keeping me from greater presence and deeper experience of connectedness… lowering the barriers and receiving whatever energies were presented to me by the other… whether it was a man or a woman.

    Thank you for your blog post! xx

  • Paul Mischefski:

    Hi Vanessa, I admire your courage and openness in sharing your experience!

    I understand the space you are coming from completely. Deida’s teachings are but one body of work on relationships. They work for some people and do not work for others. I certainly wouldn’t see them as a one-fit-for-all belief system.

    Personally after workshops with Deida himself, several other facilitators and being in a long-term men’s group based on his work, I have taken what resonates for me and left what doesn’t.

    I have seen many people who have gotten caught up in the sexual energy and have not been able to maintain safe boundaries and agreements, or the sanctity and sacredness of their intimate connection, and their relationships have suffered or broken as a result. I have also seen people told there must be something wrong with them or what they are doing if this happens.

    I think any philosophy is as good as people’s ability to make it work and how much it resonates with their own sense of integrity and soul values. Personally I know in my heart and my own intuition what fits for me and have learned to honour that first and foremost above anyone else’s teachings.

    The other aspect of this in my experience is, no matter how good the sexual energy gets, people’s relationships are only as strong as their skills and ability to communicate and hear each other on a deeper soul level and create trust and honouring borne from genuine and authentic respect for and “seeing” each other.

    That is a whole different form of intimacy again that sometimes can be much stronger and more authentic developed outside of the energy of sexuality work. Sexual intimacy is just one aspect of relating and intimacy, yet so many people put such big emphasis on it, sometimes to the detriment of developing other areas.

    Just one view!

    Blessings, Paul.

  • Suzanne Warwick:

    For me it is the opportunity to choose more fully … so if I notice my sexual energy is enlivened by someone other than my partner, it is just that … enlivened and I consider it a gift. Sometimes I notice that my mind starts to run with it; I’m turned on and so is he and that means there is potential, blah, blah And it may be true AND I can choose. From this place my I am more consciously relating to myself and others.

  • Vanessa, I appreciate your candid sharing on this topic. I really like listening to David Deida’s talks and I like reading his books, but I have not experienced such a workshop. I can see how that type of experience would be a challenge for me and my wife.

    One thing that resonates with me from Deida’s work is the focus on breathing. That through your breath you can allow that energy to be there and feel it wash over you without having to act on it and to become even more present and magnetic to your own partner. I don’t know exactly how this plays out in real life, however. Thanks for giving more to think about.

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