The eroticization of male dominance and female passivity in couple relations is a game in which there are no winners, a luring trap that blocks what makes human relationships human — an empathic connection — a hardwired drive to mutually know and compassionately understand one another that is rooted in our nature to matter as meaning-seeking relational beings.
This capacity remains dormant, however, unless developed. It is a learned ability that requires such skills as being open and vulnerable to one another, an essential aspect of growing the courage we need to love with our whole heart. (To love with our whole heart, in a nutshell, means to develop our capacity to remain empathically connected to self and other, in moments when core fears, such as inadequacy or rejection, get triggered.)
In a cultural context that relegates empathy, vulnerability and emotional closeness as weakness or “girly,” and emotions of pain, hurt or fear as signs of inferiority or defect, especially for men (to women who want to be “accepted” as “equals” in this milieu), is it any wonder why so many couples get tripped up in their attempts to create vibrant, mutually enriching relationships?
It has to do with the dehumanizing nature of these cultural norms.
For this and other reasons, looking more closely at the negative impact of these cultural stories opens up possibilities for men and women to see one another anew, and, rather than compete, to honor the intrinsic dignity and value of each in relation to the other, first and foremost, as human beings, with an amazing potential to work cooperatively as partners in forming a healthy relationship and an enriching context for one another to grow and self-actualize as uniquely contributing individuals.