Passion, Polarity & Parallelism
(based on Cliff Barry's work on Parallelism)
I'm pacing around my house in a steaming, hissing, fuming eruption. He is just dead WRONG. His position is so far removed from reality that my brain is throbbing. He must be from another planet, or certifiably insane. That's it! No-one should be expected to put up with this madness. "I'm DONE".
And I leave. And as I pick up the pieces of my shattered world I wonder for the 100th time: "Can passion and stability co-exist in relationship?"
This is the question that has fueled my quest over the past few years and swallowed up hours of conversation. I've sailed through tranquil waters inside a supportive and stable relationship without a rift in sight – and our sexual spark was barely enough to light a match. I've also gone through seasons of tumbling through waves into jagged rocks, hooked into a lover who set off lightening inside my fibers every time we crashed into each other.
A friend once told me, "If it's good it won't be easy, and if it's easy, it won't be good". I interpreted this to mean that if we choose a partner who is too much like us, we end up slipping into a sort of sameness that is easily maintained but less rewarding. We are lulled into a comfortable relationship slumber. We are safe, but the relationship becomes one- dimensional, and we both remain un-stretched. The delicious, personality expanding, "down-to-the-very-hair-on-your-skin" satisfying kind of relationship requires the successful navigation of some obstacles.
In his book "The Erotic Mind", acclaimed sex therapist Jack Morin endeavors to capture the ephemeral nature of passion in a succinct formula. We can interpret the formula as:
Passion = Attraction + Obstacle
When we feel that adrenal-firing chemistry with another, it is because the two essential ingredients of attraction and obstacle have been thrown into the mixer. At first, the obstacle may be circumstantial, like one of you being pre-committed to another relationship. Or perhaps the obstacle is simply the function of societal lines framing the outer limits of appropriate interaction between two strangers. These initial obstacles can cause enough friction to have us sparking like two live wires. But if the obstacle is purely circumstantial, once all the hoops of propriety have been jumped through, our spark will eventually sputter out.
According to the passion formula, if obstacles decrease, so does passion. What if the secret to lasting passion is to create lasting obstacles?
Perhaps our unconscious operative when we create drama or distance in a relationship is to create obstacles, thereby keeping our passion alive. As we see ourselves being lulled into the tranquil waters of neutrality, our soul's need for passion stirs us deep inside to create obstacles in the best way we know: by creating situations of conflict and unrest. And we travel unwittingly and without consent back and forth between passion and stability, sensing a lack of completeness on both sides of the fence.
Is it a naive fantasy to escape this painful oscillation between obstacles of conflict and amicability of sameness?
Absolutely not. I happen to believe that there is a spirit-quenching-elixir of passion and stability available to all of us. And it manifests through a skillful application of the principles of polarity and parallelism.
Let's revisit Morin's formula:
Passion = Attraction + Obstacle
Wonderful - but we've all experienced obstacles that are simply not sustainable. How can we craft an obstacle that generates passion within a supported and stable environment?
Passion thrives in the field of tension between two opposites and can be accessed by harnessing the power of Polarity.
Electrical current flows when the positive and negative ends of a battery are connected. It is the relative difference in the charge of each pole that creates the conditions for current to flow.
The current of sexual chemistry is generated by the sense of "otherness" when our partner and ourselves are opposite in some way –– when we stake out our positions at poles of opposite charge. So positioning ourselves and our partner in the right kind of opposition can create the charge of passion we are craving. So intentionally creating the right kind of opposition between ourselves and our partner can create the very charge of passion we are craving. And if we can effectively maintain this polarity, we can create a sustainable obstacle.
The question is how? How, in real life, do we go about staking out our positions at poles of opposite charge?
At the most basic level, there are two human archetypes: masculine and feminine.
The ultimate goal is to fully develop both archetypes within oneself. However, along the that long journey of evolution we must first stop to play in either one or the other.
The evolutionary split into two genders was by design, so that human-kind can hedge its bets and evolve into increasingly diverse biological permutations.
An archetype is a universal energetic pattern that we see demonstrated over and over again in our reality. Human beings are complete, self-contained packages containing both the feminine and masculine energies. Our masculine side is governed by the left brain and is responsible for planning, organizing, analyzing and measuring. It is also the part of us that is driven to protect, to take action, to use our skills, courage and decisiveness to serve our community. Our feminine side is governed by the right brain and is responsible for our ability to perceive and intuit, to connect all the dots of the big picture and birth new inspirations and creativity. It is also the part of us that is drawn to nurture, to include others in our projects and world, to simply surrender and be in the flow of life.
Our masculine aspect thrives on logic and single-minded purpose and doing, our feminine aspect operates through feeling, fluidity, connection and being. They are both a part of us but they speak completely different languages.
Relationship works best when there is a strong relative difference between the masculine and feminine energies of the partners. If one partner is strongly embodying the masculine archetype, and the other is rooted in the feminine archetype, both the positive and negative poles are in place and electricity will easily flow. This clear "otherness" between the partners becomes a sustainable obstacle capable of driving endless passion.
We press up against this obstacle in the moments when we see our partner as "robotic", making cold calculations that seem devoid of human warmth and feeling. Or conversely, when they appear like an irrational child erupting uncontrolled emotion that crashes over our clear cut lines of logic.
If one partner prefers to follow inner impulses and surrender into blind faith while the other is staunch believer in proof and logic, the chasm of polarity may, at times, appear unbridgeable.
In these moments we can easily lose sight of what drew us together. We may conclude that our differences are irreconcilable.
From here the burn of un-tempered passion becomes almost too hot to bear, "He NEVER listens!" "She is completely CRAZY!".
But before we "other" them right out of our lives, it serves to acknowledge that the mind-breaking differences between us are the very source of our passion.
And here we find our union has fragmented, like a split between the right and left brain hemispheres. Desperately seeking a bridge on which we can walk freely between passion and stability. Desperately seeking some way to reconcile our differences.
That bridge – and the final piece of our 3-part puzzle – is parallelism.
Isaac Newton's well-known law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Surprisingly, what we learned in classroom physics also proves useful in the realm of relationship. Parallelism is based on the "law of e-motion" that says for every dynamic in the relationship, there is an equal and opposite dynamic.
It's all based on a very deep truth, that can be difficult to accept, that "all's fair in love". It means that if your partner is hurting you in some way, then somewhere there must exist a parallel way in which you are hurting your partner. Therefore, if you've ever been the victim, you've also been the perpetrator.
Here's why this is important: a strong sense of otherness makes it easy to think in terms of victim and perpetrator. On the victim side you may find yourself thinking:
"It's never enough for her"
"He is so insensitive"
We often hoard our hurts as if they were some kind of currency. Tallying up an invisible hurt account with all the times we've taken in hurts.
At this level of perception, we see this as a unilateral transaction – you are simply receiving hurt.
Picturing the hurt account in your mind's eye, you may see something like this:
However, if we have ability to zoom out in our awareness, we will see that the emotional books balance in every relationship.
What if for each "hurt" you've taken in, you've also given one back:
The first thing that happens when viewing a dynamic through the lens of parallelism is that you begin to feel empowered, suddenly you are an active part of the exchange. The gap between victim and perpetrator is bridged and a sense of equality is achieved.
The second is that a mechanism of accountability is added to the relationship. The realization that for every dynamic there is an equal and opposite dynamic precludes any illusions that things are just "happening" to you or that you are a helpless victim. In the balance of hurts, debits equal credits, always.
OVERCOMING OBSTACLES WITH PARALLELISM
Imagine you're in a relationship where your man doesn't compliment, doesn't say I love you. You start thinking that you are unseen and unappreciated. One day you decide to do something that he will definitely notice and you look through your closet for your cutest dress and do your hair and makeup. Looking gorgeous, you cook him his favorite meal while you sing and prance around the kitchen in anticipation. He finally arrives at home, 45 minutes late, barely acknowledges your presence, and walks toward the shower.
You think that you are un-noticed, un-thanked, taken for granted. It would be easy to credit the balance of hurts with this offense and see yourself as a victim of his insensitivity.
Next time you find yourself here, use this "law of e-motion" cheat sheet to come back to neutral.
Remember the "law of e-motion" For every dynamic in the relationship, there is an equal and opposite dynamic – if you've been hurt, it means you've also given hurt. Note: when you are in the heat of the moment, this may be as far as you can go.
Do your emotional accounting Once the heat of the moment has subsided enough for you to "zoom out" your awareness and see the big picture, you can do your emotional accounting.
Search through your memory, your fights and any pains he's shared with you to locate a time when you've added to the balance of hurts. For example, are there times when you are overly critical of him? Perhaps your comments, looks and sighs have been taunting him with the message that he's not enough, that he's doing it wrong. What if an eye roll from you is a painful flashing bill board that he's failed as a partner and is incapable of making you happy?
This will most likely require looking outside the current situation, because most likely the parallel dynamic will show up as a separate issue.
If you regularly tend to your emotional accounting, your relationship dynamics will become much more balanced. Suddenly, you are no longer the victim, you are equal players in the game.
If you've ever shamed yourself for choosing a relationship wrought with obstacles, now is the time to honor yourself for choosing "good" over "easy". Perhaps without even knowing it, you've been drawing on the passion equation in your own life.
And when polarity and obstacle threaten the very bond that keeps you together, it's a good indication that you may need to do some emotional bookkeeping.
Polarity, parallelism and the passion formula are three relationship mind-tools available to you at any time. And through continued practice and awareness, you can guide your way to an ever deeper and more fulfilling relationship.
Heidi Loeppky is the founder of Shamaya Tantra and is currently training as a Shadow Work® facilitator. She is the co-creator of the Canadian Tantra Festival and offers regular Tantra workshops in her home base of Edmonton, Alberta. Her websites are ShamayaTantra.com and CanadaTantra.com.
This article originally appeared in our free email newsletter in May 2017. T