I met Eric on my three months long trip in Central America at a random couch surfing party. He was exactly my type: adventurous, mysterious, and a badass. It was “love at first 6 hours of talking.”

He was in Panama for five months already, studying Spanish, learning how to dance salsa, and figuring out whether he should pursue a law degree. He lived to challenge himself. Whether it is with martial arts, learning languages, unconventional career choices, or adapting to foreign cultures, life as a warrior, on edge, was in his blood. And it was so attractive to me!

A few months later, we moved together to San Diego, where Eric was starting law school. Just like any other couple, we had our ups and downs, we were learning and growing how not to step on each other’s blisters or what to do when we did.

In the summer, we went to Beijing, where Eric was interning at a law firm. Despite high hopes and dreams of working with international law, the experience was so disappointing to him that he decided not to go back to school next year. Instead, we moved back to my home base: San Francisco.

At that time, I was doing web design that allowed me to support both of us. Eric wasn’t sure what his next step should be. You see, most of his life, he was a definition of the masculine: driven, goal-oriented, go-getter. Contemplating his stint at law school made him realize that he was chasing his family’s idea of success, not his own. We knew it would be good for him to slow down and find what success meant to him before rushing into the next endeavor. 

Our relationship was everything I wanted, except for sexual attraction and my completely diminished sex drive. I would be lying in bed with this most beautiful man I knew, who I loved dearly, and feel no urge to have sex whatsoever, which was both heartbreaking and confusing. We tried what we could to fix it but eventually had to transition into friendship.

The next three years, I spent mourning our relationship and trying to understand what happened and what we could have done. One of the best insights I got came from a spiritual teacher David Deida and his work on sexual polarity.

Sexual polarity refers to the chemistry, tension, or charge between people with opposite energies: masculine and feminine, yang and yin. This idea is based on the premise that everyone has feminine and masculine energy within them. Most of the time, people have a preference for one of these energies sexually. More polarity there is between you and your partner, meaning more masculine is one of you and more feminine another – more chemistry you’ll experience. People with feminine essence prefer to be ravished, taken (sexually), while those with the masculine one feel at home taking charge and being “the ravisher.”

You can think of Feminine being the ocean while Masculine being the ship. The ocean might be calm and pleasant one moment only to turn rough and stormy the next. But if it’s a good ship, it is steadily going towards its destination regardless. It knows that the ocean is chaotic by nature, and it’s pointless to hold it against it.

Feminine energy is the energy of change, chaos, creativity, flow, vibrance. Feminine comes alive by feeling the fullness of life and love.

Masculine energy is goal-oriented, driven; it is the energy that is identified with emptiness, death, consciousness. Masculine loves challenges.

When we first met, there was a lot of polarity between us. It was easy for me to stay connected to my feminine while traveling, having spontaneous adventures, spending a lot of time in nature. Eric, on the other hand, was in his masculine: from spearfishing to being a disciplined martial artist to studying law.

When we got to San Francisco, things changed. I had to spend a lot of time in front of the computer, problem-solving, which engaged my masculine side. There wasn’t much time for activities that prior would help me connect to my feminine: dance, yoga, nature. In the meantime, Eric didn’t have a schedule; he picked up several hobbies and, for the first time in his life, was learning what it was like to do things just for fun (i.e., connecting to his feminine).

Turns out, this scenario was a perfect example of sexual polarity at work. Or rather, what happens when partners get de-polarized. If I knew about it, I would have been much more vigilant about finding ways to prioritize my feminine and being more conscious about “taking off” my masculine before entering the bedroom.

Today understanding the subtleties of how sexual polarity works helps me to create or re-creating chemistry intentionally instead of just relying on chance.