Feeling Comfortable With Women
by Matt

When relating to women, I learned to keep myself cold and walled off, unless the relationship was on my terms. I put a lot of mental effort into the pursuit of women, but I tended to view them as untrustworthy harpies, while somewhere out there was the ideal, perfect woman. I didn't deserve that perfect being, so I had to work hard to improve myself. I was trying to avoid being influenced by women, but actually my feelings about them were running my life. Without a group of some kind to structure our interactions, I was often paralyzed. In a public place, if I saw a woman I was attracted to, I would be incapable of speaking to her. I'd go totally into my head, debating, plotting, and I'd end up slinking away in humiliation. 

Then I became involved in a community about personal development and growth for men. It had elements of teaching you how to think about yourself in order to grow into the man you wanted to be. I became a leader in that community. By the time I found OM, I was involved in other kinds of growth work, meeting regularly with men to talk about issues, and learning the masculine archetypes. I had also delved into helpful practices such as meditation and neurolinguistic programming. At the same time, I was in a relationship that was almost the mirror image of my experience with my mom, always having the potential for her to become angry and violent. 

OMing gave me an awareness of the layers of thought and emotion at play in an interaction with a woman. I was trying hard to do the stroking well, while I watched what was going on in my mind. Receiving adjustments set in motion a distinctive train of thought. I had the attitude that I was in charge of the stroking, and if the woman asked me to do it differently, then it was no longer my way. Instead of realizing the strokee could sense a change that would improve the connection and the sensation, I'd get resentful and start stroking like an automaton. I'd judge her, thinking she's missing out on an opportunity, just because she can't get past her own ego and thinks she needs to manage what's happening. 

The more often I saw myself go through this pattern of reactions, the more I noticed how it came up in my relationships as well. I began to see my beliefs and notions about women, how I had a lot of hurt and resentment towards them, how I felt they were unfair to me. The OM container was a value-neutral place where I could interact with a woman and have some boundaries around the interaction, so I could feel safe to observe what I was going through. Gradually I realized, I could study my relationship to myself regarding women, learn and grow a little bit, and then move on. And it only took fifteen minutes, whereas in the past, I'd have to get an apartment with a woman for a year before I got one lesson like that.

One day I was at a gathering of people who were into OMing, and I was standing against the wall, observing. A woman walked up and asked if I wanted to OM with her sometime. I said, “No, thank you,” and she said, “Okay, thank you,” and walked away. It didn't seem like it was a big deal for her. But I felt terrible for saying no, like I'd insulted her. Then I saw another woman who looked interesting, and I wanted to go over and ask her to OM. But the first woman was still in the room, and I didn't want to make her feel bad by approaching someone else. I got completely frozen there against the wall, unable to do what I wanted to do, which was go interact with that girl. 

My experience had convinced me that a woman with hurt feelings is dangerous. She might attack me or sabotage me socially. I had always been drawn to environments where there were women who tended to be vindictive. The women I met through OM weren't anything like that. They were secure and took responsibility for their feelings. In connecting with more women like that, I began to feel a sense of safety that I'd never had before.

My relationship with my mom is better these days. When I'm with her, I'm not triggered by a tone of voice that used to make me angry. I can even appreciate all she's done for me. She's never been perfect, but she did the best she could. I receive this unconditional love from someone who seems to genuinely believe I'm special.

My interactions with women in general have become more satisfying. Instead of feeling, Oh my god, there's a woman, this is an important moment, and I have do everything right, I find the intensity is turned way down. I can relax, be casual. There are women on Earth, and life is happening. It's fine.