“We are so connected the word ‘connected’ doesn’t even make sense.” ~ Rumi
For over thirty years I’ve been tenaciously throwing myself into the transformational fires of intimate relationship over and over again.
For I began a romantic, believing in the popular songs and fairytale movies of my 1980s youth that all promised a beautiful princess was waiting for me just beyond some horizon. Whitney Houston swore she was saving all her love for me, and John Cusack (“Say Anything”) assured me I’d win over a woman’s heart by just being nice to her.
When my romantic escapades with women began in my early teens, I was certain love would be easy. Besides, I got along great with my three sisters and two moms (mom, step-mom), so I figured that if anyone should excel at loving a woman that someone should be me.
What I actually experienced over the next twenty years proved dramatically otherwise.
In my early 20s I became an Air Force Officer tasked with managing billion-dollar avionics programs and launching GPS satellites into space. The military also afforded me the opportunity to earn a Masters Degree in Human Relations. Yet none of that responsibility or education taught me anything about how to relate well to a woman in intimacy.
After my service ended at age 26, I became a personal growth workshop junkie. I threw myself into all kinds of so-called “transformational exercises,” from questioning my stressful thoughts to loudly howling out my painful past to eye-gazing deep into the eye-ball souls of countless willing women (and men, too). Yet still I could never understand why women always seemed to want more from me when I believed I was already giving her so much.
I was also a long-time practitioner of spiritual disciplines and mindfulness meditation. Various teachers and practices had taught me an abundance of big, liberating ideas about life, about myself, but none offered any useful insight into why I kept choosing women so easily angered by me. Nor did any spiritual practice ever help stop me from (recklessly) fighting a woman’s anger with mine.
Indeed, despite all my best intentions and efforts, I just couldn’t succeed at a relationship with a woman.
By the time I was 36, all I saw around and behind me was the twisted and hideous wreckage of dozens of relationships that had come crashing spectacularly down from their high-heaven hopes. Rather than see my part in things and really learn from my mistakes, I mostly just blamed my sweet-smelling co-pilots for foolishly flipping whatever knobs and hysterically yanking at the steering wheel such that she made our fiery demise inevitable. It never occurred to me that I might be the one who needed flying lessons.
It was then, at 36, amidst the blazing wreckage of yet another catastrophic heartbreak, that I resolved to stop sucking at love. I refused to believe I was destined to screw up relationships for the rest of my life. I decided there must be secrets to love and intimacy that someone could teach me – that someone should have taught me 20 years earlier.
It is true that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Because I was truly ready to do love well, whatever that required of me, and so my teachers of exquisite relationship began to appear.
Soon after this declaration a friend put a book into my hands: The Way Of The Superior Man (David Deida). I drank it down like a sun-burnt man who’s been wandering lost in the desert drinks down his first cup of cold water. All of a sudden I felt like Neo in The Matrix awakening to see the world anew! Where I once saw people, movies, trees, cities, music, art, sports, and sunsets, as relatively firm objects or things or interesting experiences to be had or figured out, I now saw undulating expressions of Masculine and Feminine energies dancing together in the moment-by- moment unfolding of Life, itself.
My learning and growth accelerated from there.
Living in Los Angeles – after migrating across the country from Miami with a spiritual music band I’d managed for five years – I had access to world class teachers. I began to attend intimacy and attraction workshops in Santa Monica with Michaela Boehm (now famously known as the “intimacy coach to the stars”). Michaela taught me many things, including how to be a still, rooted, openhearted expression of Masculine presence in service to the dynamic, ever-changing dance of Feminine flow. I got to go head-to-head on stage with Dr. Pat Allen, the feisty 80-yrs-aged author of Getting To ’I Do’, during her weekly relationship talks (she called them “shows”) at a tiny Odyssey Theater in west LA. She would invite people on stage to talk with her about their relationship challenges, and I took advantage of the opportunity. Our conversations were sometimes adversarial, often hilarious, and always educational.
Surrounded as I was by the sexually adventurous culture of southern California, I also gingerly dipped my genitals into the realms of sexual tantra. I learned breathing practices to help my body feel more “orgasmic” while holding off ejaculation.
I experienced all this and more, starving as I was for teachers and adventures that might unlock the secrets of love and intimacy.
I also dated and dated and dated, intentionally practicing what I was learning on dates, and with female friends, too. For example, an ex- girlfriend once complained that I wouldn’t walk on the street-side of the sidewalk with her. At the time I saw her complaint as arbitrary and absurd. But as I learned what it meant to offer masculine presence to a woman, and what impact it had on her, I started experimenting with it. I immediately noticed two things profound: One, I felt viscerally stronger in my body, as if my spine was suddenly plugged into an electric socket. Two, I noticed that in the moment I moved my body to be street-side of her, every woman’s body showed subtle signs of relaxing – whether a sudden deep sigh or a hint of delight escaping her face.
I’d never been tuned into such subtleties in the body before or understood any differences between masculine and feminine communication. I was giddy to be finally learning what I should have been taught years ago.
My journey of spiritual awakening began when I was ten. But it wasn’t until I was 36, and had suffered immensely, that my journey of “relational awakening” began. I’m now 46 and five years into the extraordinary relationship I ached a lifetime for. I didn’t get here by accident.
I got here by finally accepting I didn’t know what I was doing, and by being willing to learn.
This is the introduction to my newest book, Choose Her Every Day (Or Leave Her), a collection of essays I wrote throughout this 7 years journey to discover the secrets of intimacy, relationship, love. It contains many of the insights, wisdoms, and practices that I now teach my coaching clients, both individuals and couples, and certainly continue to use in my own relationship.
This collection is by no means complete, as my awakening journey remains ever-unfolding. I also do not insist everything in it is absolute truth (or that any of it is), or that my insights and discoveries are applicable to everyone. I always reserve the right to be wrong.
Do know this: If you’re doing it well, the journey into intimacy with another is a courageous journey into intimacy with your own true self.
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