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Maybe due to our general discomfort and anxiety in discussing sexual matters openly, we often miss the complexity of our sexual experiences and tend to simplistically collapse them onto each other.

For example, it seems, for many that any experience of sexual feelings calls for at least an attempt to express it with concrete behaviors. Because the feelings might be more or less spontaneous, acting on them seems like the natural response.

We must often be reminded, in both non-sexual and sexual contexts, that feelings do not demand a response with a concrete behavior. Feelings and behaviors are two separate experiences. Finding someone attractive does not mean we need to try to have sex with him or her.

At the same time, choosing not to have sex with a person (behavior) does not mean we have to deny the attraction (feelings). This seems to be a hard tension to hold. Either I feel attracted to a person and I need to act on it OR if I can’t act on it, I need to repress the attraction. It’s much harder to accept the attraction without the action.

The consideration need not stop here. The process is shortchanged if the assumption is made that sexual attraction requires even the desire for behavioral expression.

Being attracted to someone does not mean I have to attempt to have sex with that person, or even that I desire to have sex with that person. We can be attracted to and affected by the beauty of another person without the desire for particular behaviors.

The deep truth of Eros is often missed in automatically assuming sexual feelings are revealing a desire for literal sex.

What does it mean to be drawn to the life force of this particular person at this particular time?

For instance, as a true expression of Love, strong masculine energy might desire and seek the breakthrough of a “beloved” by penetrating through barriers – physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual, so that this chosen person might experience the fullness of life. In this sense, the masculine life force and strength is offered on behalf of the beloved.

Sexualized, this would be portrayed as the desire to see the beloved “turned on,” but the desire to turn someone “on” can be expressed in non-sexual contexts as well. For example, this might be a teacher passionately desiring the light of knowledge to come on for a student.

On the other hand, when the masculine is more in a position and need to receive, he might be drawn to the vibrant flow of feminine energy or the vigorous strength of masculine energy. With the complement of the feminine his masculine is comforted, nurtured, and aroused, while connection with the masculine his masculinity is affirmed, empowered, and strengthen. Both can be desired and needed at different times and with different levels of intensity, with no respect for one’s sexual orientation. This attraction is more about receiving the life force of another than offering one’s own.

The same considerations can be given with feminine energy. Is the attraction pointing to a desire to arouse, draw out, invite, or “mother” this beloved into a fuller experience of life and love?  Is the attraction pointing to the desire to “feel like a woman,” of which the masculine presence helps to facilitate?

We do well not to automatically assume our attractions necessitate behavioral expressions or even a desire for a particular concrete expression.

Going beneath the surface attraction allows us enjoy the presence of Eros and discover the deeper desires of our heart.

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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