Intimate relationships these days have more pitfalls than most of us can handle.

Relationships present a minefield of the individual need for self-expression, power struggles, childhood traumas, and divergent goals — everything each partner is entitled to in this age of entitlement. It is rare to see two people happy and content in their relationship.

David Deida, author of The Way of the Superior Manhas his own way of getting around the sticky issue of men and women and the differences between them that are at the root of the complexity of intimate relationships. Instead of men and women he refers to those with masculine essences and those with feminine essences.

According to Deida, the essential “Masculine plea” is, “I want out of here!”

The basic need is for freedom.

This doesn’t mean a man (or a more masculine woman) always wants to run away, but rather that his masculine nature will have him constantly seeking ways to escape the constraints he experiences in the world around and within him. Sometimes this means staying put and fighting through difficulties or constraints, writes Bryan Reeves.

On the other hand, according to Deida, “The feminine in each of us longs for deeper love and tries to find it in intimate relationships, family, or friends.” In a relationship the feminine plea is translated as a constant confirmation of his love for her.

If we are not aware of these archetypal forces at play in our intimate relationships, we endanger our relationships unnecessarily.

How many women complain that the man in their life is distant and unavailable? Probably the same as the number of men who feel that the woman in their life is demanding.

Don’t we all (or at least the vast majority of us) recall the day when we realized that we had become strangers in our own relationship?  Once your existence and every happiness centered on your partner and now you don’t know what you are doing the relationship.

It’s like this: Pat and Julie are arguing about the trash that Pat should have put out. He thinks the argument is about her constant nagging; she thinks the fight is about him not shouldering his responsibilities. But actually, they are to both fighting to have their basic need met. He is fighting to keep his freedom; she is fighting about her need to be loved.

If we were aware of these archetypical energies swirling around right at the outset of a relationship it would affect how we approach the other person and their needs and how we would express our own needs.

What can couples do?

Look out for the archetypical force at play in your partner. If your partner is feminine by nature, he or she will crave love and connection from your relationship. Find ways to show that. Specifically make sure that you verbalize your continuing love when you are in the process of removing yourself or getting involved an activity, like watching TV, in order to assert your freedom.

A partner who is masculine by nature will always crave freedom.

If you’re the more Feminine partner, look out for signs that your partner wants out of the constraints of his current situation. He is feeling trapped by life, not by his relationship.

One way of handling the situation might be to ask him directly: “Is this your way of asking for some time out? Because I’m okay with that.” Often when something is called by name, the emotions surrounding it, dissipates.

Continue the conversation on masculinity

Ideapod recently hosted an online salon with leading thinkers discussing what masculinity means in the 21st century. Check out the discussion below.

If you want to be part of the conversation, share your ideas on Ideapod using #masculinity in the description. Respond to others so we can arrive at a new understanding of what masculinity means in the 21st century.