Ask Anne-Marie: Can I Be In My Authentic Erotic Expression If My Desire Isn't Fully Supported By My Partner?
This article is in response to a question posted to the Ask Anne-Marie global forum. A place where we co-explore burning questions across multiple topics of leadership, erotic nature, power dynamics and relationships.
Do you believe, in order to experience fully our true erotic nature, to completely embody our being, that we need to have a partner who feels and believes the same as we do?
What IF our partner doesn’t share our intentions, isn’t open or willing, or has different motives within the relationship?
I don’t believe that a successful relationship requires our partner to feel and believe the same as us. However, I do feel that we need to have enough shared reality when it comes to our core values and purpose in partnership to grow into our greatest potential together. This shared relational ground is what helps us make our differences digestible and opens the door to growth and transformation.
As I read your question, I sensed that a deeper aspect of your inquiry is about how to be in relationship when one person is eagerly seeking to remember and embrace their full erotic, creative and embodied self, while the other person doesn’t share this same passion and hunger. And additionally, how to navigate the relationship when one partner discounts or invalidates the yearnings of the other.
When this occurs, it’s often an indication that our partner is feeling threatened by the difference. If this is the case, then what we’re really talking about is how to navigate being in a relationship in which core values differ or differences cause fear reactions. There is no magic bullet answer for this situation. I think it’s quite complicated, and perhaps equally simple. How’s that for a paradox?
The paraphrased question I hear is: What if my desire for embodiment doesn’t match my partner’s desires? He seems to have other intentions, ulterior motives, and his heart is not open and willing to join me on this path. Can this be a deal breaker?
What do you yearn for?
Erotic nature is our power and primordial life force, which is expressed in a multitude of ways. The journey of embodiment is a process of integrating and bringing back home the parts of ourselves that we have forgotten or banished through cultural conditioning.
We access our erotic and embodied self from the inside out. Simultaneously, our evolution is also catalyzed through relationship with a partner and with life itself. Our embodiment path is a deeply personal journey and a relational one.
starting with you
Connecting with our erotic nature doesn’t depend on a partner doing it with us. However, it’s inspiring and supportive to walk a deeply soulful journey side by side with people we love and trust. Sometimes we don’t get what we need from an external source. This can serve as a painful push to look within and into the well of our own being. Feeling alone can fuel a deeper descent into our wisdom body.
I want to know what you yearn for. What is the fuel in your heart and body that has you asking this question?
The following questions are for you to use as self-inquiry. You can bring these prompts into discussion with a friend, or use them in a free writing exercise. If the process sparks new questions, please share them with me!
What does erotic embodiment look like in your life right now?
How do you access your erotic nature?
When does it feel hard to contact or seemingly has gone away?
What do you long to explore more of in the realms of embodiment and erotic intelligence?
What do you need to feel supported in your erotic unfolding?
What do you feel you may be holding back from expressing?
You And Your Partner
You mention a yearning to embody your erotic nature in your partnership. Here are few more questions to contemplate, in relation to your partnership.
What would you allow yourself to explore and experience if you felt completely supported by your partner?
What would your ideal relational environment look like?
What kind of encouragement, safety, and trust do you need to access your most embodied and erotic self?
What do you need that you’re not getting from your partner (or yourself)?
Remembering purpose and exposing differences
There are many reasons why people choose to be in relationship. When the initial attraction and original intention for being together shift, the gap we experience can build into chronic stress.
Differences are inevitable in any partnership. It’s part of the complexity of interpersonal dynamics. Exploring whether your primary values align (the most precious desires of your heart) in relationship is key.
It’s helpful to investigate what present day desires and needs are holding your relationship together. This process will reveal whether there is enough shared reality for both people to live their most wholehearted life, whatever that means to each of you.
Is there shared desire or has the purpose that brought you together shifted? Completed? Gotten lost? This is true for any kind of relationship: business partners, romantic partners, friendships, family and so on.
For example, if a partnership is built upon the shared value and dream of creating a family, what happens after the children have grown and left the nest? Is the couple able to find common ground again, and to sustain a sense of deep purpose and nourishment? Or do they realize that their original intent in pairing up is no longer enough to keep the fire going? Maybe, one of the partners has come to the realization that, despite loving each other and their family deeply, they’ve been following what they thought they ‘should’ do, and as a result, have put on hold an aspect of themselves that now desperately needs attention and growth. This may be a turning point in the relationship, and its current form may need to evolve or dissolve.
Sometimes, our personal growth and individual soul trajectories call us in opposing directions.
Heartbreak when love isn’t enough
In my own life, I’ve experienced two partnerships that had to give way when I finally realized that my primal hunger couldn’t be met by my partner. I could no longer deny that my hunger for turning towards the gristle and grim of my human experience in order to embrace the depths of my being (both the light and the dark) was essential and primary to my purpose in life. The fuel to my existence is my continuous burning desire to find freedom, and remember love, from the inside out.
I suddenly had to dismantle the fantasies of ‘happily ever after,' or chasing the next external conquest of a bigger home, a better job, a baby, more travel, and so on, as a covert way to keep the partnership together. I became deeply engaged in the process of popping my fantasy bubbles, as well as challenging the inherited cultural conditioning that encouraged me to chase happiness outside of myself. This included seeking refuge or happiness in a partner who would rescue me from my human suffering.
It turned out that my desire for liberation was counter to what these men desired, or perhaps were ready for at that time. We couldn’t evolve into the next chapter together, because there wasn’t enough shared purpose and alignment.
It shredded my heart. I underwent a profound grief process when it became time to let go of these primary attachments. Surrendering the lifestyle we had built together that felt safe and comfortable in so many ways. Interrupting the family bond we created. Grieving and letting go of the dreams that once felt so tangible and real.
No one was wrong, we just began to orient in different directions, and there was too big of a chasm to hold the relationship together. I had to feel all the fear of letting go of safety and familiarity to follow my heart’s calling. I was being called towards a blank canvas of new experiences and growth that were waiting for my surrender through letting go. I had moments of terror, bargaining with myself that it could work if I just tried harder. But the way forward lived in a willingness to stay the course with my authentic desires.
In both situations, my partner and I had incredible support from a guide who created space for each of us to initiate vulnerable and heartfelt conversations. Our meetings with this ally made it safe to embrace our courage and see the patterns at play between us. This process allowed compassion and love to be present while we listened for clarity to reveal itself.
While my love for these men didn’t waver, I did experience times of contraction, self-doubt, guilt and fear. What became increasingly clear was that my longing to grow and expand spiritually was not a shared reality between us. Given our differences, I couldn’t stay. It was such a heartbreak to realize that the love was not enough
I remember feeling my heart shatter the first time I recognized this simple truth. I’ll never forget waking up at 3 AM in a beautiful loft in Paris, silently watching my partner sleeping next to me. As I gazed upon this handsome face, the one that I kissed so many times and loved with my whole heart, tears streamed down my face. My devotion toward him flooded my entire being. I felt unwavering love for him, but my spirit wanted to fly in directions that I didn’t yet understand.
This early morning realization had first been seeded during our time in couples therapy many years prior. During that time, we learned he simply didn’t share my yearnings. After months of grieving our potential, the time to let go had actually arrived. I had to follow my hunger, and it was clear that his path was not to join me. Love was not enough.
When he woke up, we spoke about the acceptance that had finally emerged. We didn’t try to bargain anymore. We both recognized the truth. No one was to blame. Tears fell. We accepted that we needed different things. It was a heartbreaking and bittersweet release that was also filled with grace.
Tools for conscious communication
If you want to address this difference and the impact it’s having on you both, you will need the lion-hearted courage and power of your presence to open a dialogue. It is a revolutionary path to take a stand by both claiming your sovereignty and deep hunger for embodiment, while also prioritizing connection (which includes navigating differences) with your partner.
I would suggest you initiate some kind of dialogue with your partner. While there are many ways to do this, here are some ways to approach these delicate and rich conversations:
1. Invite the Authentic & Vulnerable Conversation
Here is your opportunity to embrace a bold and radical leap by initiating a conversation. You can begin by layling out the context of what calls you to this process of embodiment and why. You can include your internal dilemma that you sense there is impact on him and you want to better understand what’s happening in his world. Your purpose here is to take leadership and invite intimate and honest conversations. Partly to open your inner world and partly to assess his availability to receive you and what’s getting in the way for him if he cannot.
2. Check Assumptions & Expose Differences With an open heart
Share examples of what has felt hurtful to you and ask to understand his experience more. Checking assumptions is always a great place to start. Stay curious and seek to understand. No one has to be right or wrong. Exposing differences and creating space for them to co-exist is such important ground work.
3. Listen to Each other & Explore Differences with Curiosity
Listen to him and study how you both respond and feel. Can he share his vulnerability in response to any perceived threats? Does he understand the impact of his actions on you? What can you learn about what happens for him when you follow this longing? Is it a dead end where no conversation is possible without pain? Or is there an open doorway to evolving together?
Curiosity is key, especially when there are differences.
4. Notice Traps
It’s a common threat response to perceive differences as “someone is right, therefore someone is wrong.” Another trap can be “If I’m willing to hear your side, then it means I agree, but since I don’t want to agree with you, I’m going to dismiss your experience and convince you of mine.” Notice these traps. Listening and hearing someone’s different experience doesn’t mean you agree. You can even say, “I know we have different experiences and that’s okay. I want to understand your world first, and then I want you to understand mine.”
Differences don’t have to break connection long-term.
Differences can feel life-threatening to a part of us. The key to navigating differences is tracking and taking responsibility for patterns of manipulation and control that innocently arise when we want people to see it our way. It’s helpful to know our strategies of defense when fears arise. Do we try to control, comply, or blame? Blaming and shaming are forms of attempting to control another person so they will give in and stop the pain we’re feeling.
5. Remember Love and connection
Name and explore what you appreciate about one another as much as you can during this process to soften the nervous system and sustain a sense of trust and safety. It’s natural for habitual responses of fight, flight, or freeze patterns to arise when we have challenging conversations. Seek to stay in connection to the love you feel for one another, even when there is hurt and misunderstanding.
6. Explore the need and vulnerability behind the logic
Get to the emotion behind the reason and logic. What are you or your partner feeling or trying to avoid feeling? Is there room for you both to hear each other and learn more about the vulnerable layers underneath? If so, you’ve got some great traction to build on.
7. Now what?
What happens if there isn’t an opening and the door appears closed? This is a good time to take space and digest. Take time to yourself, or with a trusted ally who can help you sort through your emotions and the deeper questions that seek your attention, such as:
Can I live with this difference?
Is the threat (fears, vulnerability, uncertainty) in the relationship something we’re both willing to embrace together?
How do we co-create a relationship in which we’re both equally responsible for our own experience and needs?
What are the familiar patterns that may be playing out from childhood in this relationship? And if so, how can I rewire this pattern into a relational experience that serves me and the relationship?
The fortitude of unconditional love starts within
It takes an incredible amount of will and courage to initiate these honest conversations when we don’t know where it will take us.
Sometimes it’s too much for us to touch into ourselves, much less another person’s differing experience. This is a good time to practice taking a pause instead of falling into reactive patterns. Even if that means taking a 10-minute break to walk around the block.
When both people take responsibility for their feelings and fears, a radical liberation can occur for the whole partnership, even if loss, grief and pain comes with the choices.
Follow your heart and inner compass
Follow your heart and inner compass, no one will do it for you.
I have learned that I can survive grief and loss. And that when I follow my inner compass, life always takes care of me, even when it doesn’t look the way I wanted or expected. And this means that sometimes, I spend days in the desert of not knowing. Or in my cave of grief and aloneness in order to find the deeper well-spring of love, trust, and wisdom that lives within the unknown beyond fear and logic.
Know what you prioritize. Take a stand and an oath to your core values. Draw upon them as a means to orient home when you find yourself in dialogues about differences with your beloved.
To slow down decision making, and suspend habitual responses, in order to feel our way into what’s truest in each moment takes maturity and wisdom.
This precious human life is filled with complexity and uncertainty. Your heart is your beloved compass. Apprentice to it. Let the softness of your heart tend to the mind when it spins in fears and patterns of avoidance. When you’re activated and your mind has run off, along with your self trust and inner peace, reach for trustworthy, safe, and nonjudgmental support.
Create space to listen and engage with practices and allies that will support you to interrupt protective habits that keep you stuck in painful or limiting ways of being. You’re worth it! Align with those who see your light and brilliance, and reflect it back to you with celebration, pride, and wonder of who you are and who you are becoming.