Relationships 103: Understanding the Three Stages in IntimateRelationships

Posted in Love & Relationships.

 After previously discussing a foundation for communication in relationships, it’s time to go deeper into understanding physically intimate relationships. I love the work of David Deida and how he describes the role of masculine and feminine energies in relationships.

Men and women have both masculine and feminine energies. Thus in gay and lesbian relationships, one partner will typically have more masculine and/or feminine energy than the other. Only about 20% of the population of intimate partners has what Deida refers to as balanced masculine and feminine energies. I will go into more detail of the energies in another article. For the purpose of this article, just know that his relationship work addresses all lifestyles by acknowledging masculine and feminine energies in both men and women. He also does a great job of describing intimate relationships by utilizing a simple three stage model. He addresses these stages in his book “Intimate Communion” (Deida, 1995). The three stages I will elaborate on are, Dependence Relationship, 50/50 Relationship, and Intimate Communion.

The Dependence Relationship usually involves some sort of more traditional type of relationship where power and control are present. “In a Dependence Relationship, one partner often needs to feel in control; while the other partner often gives up his or her authentic power in order to feel loved and accepted. Partners typically become dependent on each other for money, emotional support, parenting or sex. Although the sex is sometimes good (especially during the making-up period after a fight), partners often end up feeling limited by old-style gender roles of by an imbalance of financial or physical power” (Deida, 1995). Many people at this point attempt to transition to a healthier style of relationship where they create personal boundaries and focus on taking care of themselves instead of always focusing on their mates needs. 
This brings us to the next stage, the 50/50 Relationship. Most of us who have been in therapy and done significant personal growth work are familiar with this safer and more equal type of relationship where independence and healthier communication is firmly established. Typically, parenting, household chores, finances, and all the other responsibilities are split 50/50 right down the middle. These couples “attempt to strike their own inner balance between Masculine and Feminine qualities, both at home and in the workplace” (Deida, 1995). In fact both partners are usually engaged in careers and bringing in their own paycheck. This relationship tends to be more peaceful, respectful, and calm than Dependence Relationships. However, many times the equality of the 50/50 relationship cancels out the passionate nature of the Masculine and Feminine and thus neutralizes the sexual energy.  “For some of us, a cooperative partnership that emphasizes communication and shared responsibilities is sufficient. Others in this situation eventually suffer a feeling of incompleteness and develop a yearning to touch and be touched far more deeply and more passionately—both sexually and spiritually—than a 50/50 Relationship often allows” (Deida, 1995).
When you are in stage three of intimacy with your lover, everything is organic. Trust is established. Uninhibited lovemaking is safe, gentle, wild and animalistic depending on the energies of the masculine and feminine between partners in the present moment. There is no need to explain anything. “Therefore, in Intimate Communion we learn to practice loving even when we feel hurt, rejected or resistant. First we practice love, and then our native sexual essence blooms naturally, inevitably, because we are learning to give from our core, which includes the root of our sexuality” (Deida, 1995).
In stage three, Intimate Communion, we are freely and spontaneously giving our love and trust to our mate. In this space of love and trust the feminine has a wide open heart and the masculine is totally present for the other. “At certain moments we might beg and whimper; at other moments we might aggressively ravish our partner in love. Still at other times our loving is serene and sweet. But whether shouting, screaming, pleading, pushing, pulling, biting, or hugging, we are gifting our partner with our uninhibited and free love, flowing directly from our sexual essence without fear or doubt.” (Deida, 1995). The “difference between rape and ravishment is simple: LOVE. Is love the motive of every squeeze, shriek and nibble, regardless of how forceful, aggressive or passionate? Or is it a motive of need—the need for sex, the need for power, the need for control” (Deida, 1995)? The big distinguishing factor in stage three is we are always loving our partner and then extending that love out into the world in everything we do. We are not falling in or out of love, but rather being and practicing love. “If you are waiting to feel love, in passionate sex or safe conversation, you are making a mistake. Love is an action that you do—and when you do it, you feel it. When you are loving, others find you lovable. Love is an action you can practice” (Deida, 1995). 
Practice love, be love, and miracles happen. In relationships, regardless of the stage you identify with, love is the answer. Love will guide you. Sometimes it means leaving a relationship as we learn to love ourselves. Other times our partner desires to explore personal growth and the relationship stages with us. Moving from stage one to stage three, or from stage one to stage two takes work, commitment, and time. I’m here to tell you that being, loving, and playing with your partner in stage three is total freedom and pure bliss. I welcome you to embark on this love adventure if you dare. It’s not easy, and, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
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