Are you a romantic or tantric lover? Or both?
Romantic love was an invention of courtly England in the 16th century when knights used it to woo the unattainable princess. It was an ideal of unrequited love that sparked minstrel serenades full of longing for the fair beloved, romantic poems and the code of chivalry.
Today romance is often used to woo the desired other in the beginning courtship phase of a relationship . For the primal masculine he is ‘hunting’ and wants to make her ‘his’. Romance is a necessary endeavor to reach this goal.
But if you have been married or in a long relationship you learn that once the honeymoon romantic phase is over, usually in six to eighteen months, the romance drops off.
I remember feeling a little shocked but getting it when a male client once admitted, a little sheepishly, why he had quit with the flowers and the special dinners. He has got her now, he burst out with. They were married and had children together, the job is done, so why keep up the hard work of romance? I thought about his wife and her desperate longing for romantic appreciation. The job wasn’t done. Now how to get him to see that?
The feminine essence tends to enjoy romance more than the masculine essence. Being made to feel special, adored and valued by words and actions of love allows her to surrender into her feminine essence, to flow freely, to be more sure of herself. It kind of tickles a part of the feminine that gives her life a little more shine.
It can also be a reset button on her love. She opens her heart and remembers why she chose him as her partner. And it is a win-win as he is gratified to see her radiance blooming open when she sees the flowers in the bath, when she receives his little gifts, enjoys the date night he organises. (Hint – don’t get in the bath with her unless invited.)
However, many men in relationships tell me that when they try to be romantic, their partner resists or criticises his attempts. Her heart is closed to him. This is sometimes because she is caught up in the dis-attraction that happens after the honeymoon phase. Or she sees his romancing as really foreplay to get sex, rather than purely for love of her. He, on the other hand is wondering why they don’t have sex anymore, and is really frustrated and longing for intimacy. And for the masculine essence, sexual intimacy is often his way towards deeper love.
The key for him is to persist with his romantic offerings without an agenda for sex. Most likely, over time, she will trust him and open her heart again to enjoying romantic moments with him. This flows into the whole relationship, including sexual connection. For her, a key is to not get addicted to romance and see it as essential to her love. As a woman recently told me, it took her a while to realise that mending her window latches was how her husband showed his romantic interest.
Romantic offerings to the masculine essence is not about the flowers, the shine or the bubbles. He does likes to be made to feel special and reminded of your love. He will appreciate words or notes of gratitude showing how you feel about what he does for you, giving him a gift of an experience that matches his interests, offering physical affection like holding hands in public, a foot massage, dressing up in clothes he loves to see you in, romantic sex.
Importantly, let’s not mistake romance for love, passion and trust. After the romantic honeymoon phase of a relationship is over, then it really is about going deeper into love and evolving together. And in fact, often many of the things we find adorable in the honeymoon phase, are now the traits we find most irritating, or even repulsive. His silence was so profound, but now it is boring. Her wild laughter was exciting and now it seems deranged. The cute habit he has of snuffling in his sleep, now it is a sign of self-neglect and almost grounds for divorce.
There are many relationships that end when the honeymoon is over and people go looking for the next romantic infatuation. Instead of leaving, in nearly all cases, the end of the honeymoon phase is a good time to stay, to work through the limitations and conflicts to drop into a deeper layer of connection, sexuality and intimacy. Occasionally it reveals an incompatible relationship and should end, but usually it’s the opportunity to move from romantic love to tantric love.
Tantric love includes all kinds of unromantic bodily functions and harsher realities. The underbelly of romance is shame. In the courtly romantic mode is the concept of woman as pure, perfect, untainted, delicate, unreachable. And the man is cast in the role of rejected suitor.
In my experience working with women from many cultures, there is a tendency for women to feel shame, even disgust, about their bodies. Factually, women bleed and discharge from their vaginas, leak milk from breasts when feeding babies, excrete urine and faeces, get wet with arousal and some women ejaculate large amounts of fluid during sex. It is very ‘unromantic’.
Have you ever noticed that when you make love fully all these things seem less important? If you are revelling in desire, you care little about bodily fluids, in fact it can be erotic to slip and slide and sweat. Because we are moving beyond the layers of indoctrinated shame, the romantic ideal of untaintedness.
Tantra embraces it all. An American man I met many years ago in India, told me a story of one of his unforgettable initiations with a tantric master. The guru lectured him on the absolute honouring of the divine feminine shakti and he lapped it all up. He felt his adoration growing daily for his partner, who was with him. After he had performed many pujas, chanted and prayed, he was presented with a plate, decorated with flowers. In the middle of the plate was her faeces, ready for him to eat. To prove his embrace of all of Her. India of course was rife with parasites and bacteria harmful to foreigners. He told me he did the ritual….
Luckily, we don’t have to do that, but it can feel very distasteful to embrace the shadows in relationship, to let it all burn in the fire of love. It is when it feels most unromantic that a deeper fire can burn, that sweeps away separation and protections, allowing authentic vulnerabilities to emerge. Opening our hearts much wider than our irritations and preferences.
A couple can start by bringing their bodies together, lying or sitting, front to front, relaxing and breathing together, naked is best but clothed is fine. Looking into each others eyes, going beyond the day to day. This opens the energy between them. It allows the natural flow of masculine and feminine polarity to emerge. The divine energy can start to come through.
You do not need to feel romantic or even loving to do this. It is a commitment to love, trusting in the other and in the divine, willing to let go of separation and choosing oneness. There are other tantric practices and this simple one is a very good start. “One love in the two-bodied form”, as it has been called.
Choose with awareness and trust your heart
Do you need more romantic or tantric loving? Do you need romance to lighten up and make things sparkle and open between you, or in your own life? Or is it time for more tantric practices, more about opening to the deeper love, the recognition of the divine in the other. Both have their time and place. It is up to us to sense what’s needed to create more love and presence, to experiment and to take a risk. Once we have the tools and skills this is easier of course.
If you are in a couple there may be obstacles, history, fears to overcome. If you are solo, there may be beliefs or fears stopping you opening and deepening in your own life.
Have you got lost in the lip gloss of life? Or are you, whether single of partnered, ready to dive deeper into the mysteries of divine intimacy and love?