Interview with GS Youngblood, Author of The Masculine in Relationship
Today, we will talk about masculine and feminine energy in relationships. I am sitting down with GS Youngblood, the author of The Masculine in Relationship: A Blueprint for Inspiring the Trust, Lust, and Devotion of a Strong Woman. When I read the book as a marriage therapist, it all clicked. He articulated something I've felt but couldn't quite describe. This book allowed me to shed a layer of defensiveness and criticalness in my own marriage, all because I felt heard and understood. Since then, I’ve recommended the book to countless couples I work with in marriage and couples therapy.
GS, before we dive into the details, your experience of marriage and divorce inspired you to shift and transform your perspective on masculine and feminine dynamics. Can you tell me a little more about that?
Yes, I felt a certain compulsion to do this work. I don’t want guys to go through what I went through in my marriage. I was married to a very strong woman, and I was unaware of polarity dynamics. She needed a man who could inhabit the masculine pole, whereas I had come to the point where I was just trying to keep the peace. Ultimately, it led to our separation.
Your book about masculine and feminine energy in relationships will resonate with so many couples who are undergoing marriage counseling. You acknowledge that there is a systemic issue around authentic masculine leadership.
What is Masculine and Feminine Energy in a Relationship?
Masculine energy is often associated with qualities such as strength, assertiveness, action, logic, and independence. Feminine energy is more often focused on intuition, nurturing, receptivity, empathy, and collaboration.
Polarity Between Masculine and Feminine
Can you talk more about masculine and feminine energy in relationships and the polarity between them?
Firstly, I need to say that all my gender references are just for my ease of speaking. It doesn't matter what gender we're talking about. What's important is you have one person in a masculine pole and one feminine pole, and it could be either gender.
Polarity is the notion that one person in the relationship will be the leader and that they are so strong and competent it allows the other person to surrender to their lead.
In certain situations, you have a lead and a follow. Let's say we're tango dancing. In tango, you have a very strong lead-follow dynamic. It doesn't work without that. If you have two leads, you're constantly clashing in the tango.
This is no different than in a professional environment. We need people to step up at work. The majority of people are happy to fall in line with somebody who has a clear vision of things.
This is even more pronounced in a relationship because you're in this realm of intimacy where often there is one person who wants to surrender to their feminine energy. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a woman.
Polarity and Intimacy
Now, take this notion of polarity into the realm of intimacy, where the goal is to keep the juice of that intimate relationship alive.
If you're doing the taxes, doing the laundry, or figuring out how to take the garbage out, you don't need polarity. When you get to intimacy, and you bring that same sameness into the relationship, it tends to get dull.
So, what you’re saying is that partners with feminine energy want someone to step up and take control? There are plenty of times when I know my husband appreciates when I lead in a scenario. We all need an opportunity to tap out.
I teach men that there needs to be some areas where they step up and bring that leadership. I'll give you an example: vacation planning. In many couples, the woman does the vacation planning. I challenge my guys to plan the next vacation. What I mean by that is to go and research three destinations, what it will cost, and activities to do there. When those actions are complete, go to your partner and say, “Hey baby, I think we need to take a vacation this year, and here are three places that I would love to go.” That is life leadership.
I think we have societally and culturally lost sight of what healthy masculine and feminine energy in relationships is. I have realized as a marriage therapist that no matter how much healing I facilitate through the therapeutic process, there is a re-education needed to help married and unmarried couples capture the relationships they fantasize about having.
Toxic Masculine in Male or Female Partners
Let’s talk about what happens when there is an imbalance in the marriage or relationship, and this leadership struggle is ongoing. I see this a lot with married and unmarried couples I work with.
Women start to embody a toxic masculine space, where they often nag incessantly or act in a 'bitchy' manner, but they may want to be rescued and surrender to their husband’s leadership.
Or they are functioning in a toxic feminine role, from a place of victimhood and disempowerment.
Husbands often toggle between disengagement and passivity, which is toxic feminine, or they swing the pendulum too far and become overbearing, controlling, and aggressive as a toxic masculine presence.
Neither member of the relationship is genuinely grasping or experiencing healthy masculine and healthy feminine energy.
Many men think they need to acknowledge ‘not being masculine enough’ to start doing the work on themselves, and that can be hard to admit. Men don’t want that to be even partially true.
For many men, it's hard to face that level of insecurity that something might be wrong. In working with married and unmarried couples, it is not enough to just learn healthy communication or conflict resolution. When we are traumatized, triggered, or have a chronically dysregulated nervous system, partners don't remember to use the skills they learned in marriage therapy, and we revert to old conditioning.
I've had many clients in my marriage and couples therapy practice read The Masculine in Relationship. The husbands say it resonates with them, but they also feel a bit uncomfortable with the material. Women feel validated but also eager for their husbands to put it into practice. In my experience, personally and professionally, your book about masculine and feminine energy in relationships is a wonderful tool for unlocking and working with a therapist who understands and embodies the concepts as a path to implementation.
What I would say to your female clients and readers is: Let him have his space. If he were to engage in this work or read the book The Masculine in Relationship, give the man space to do it in private, and don't ask him what he's learning and how it's going. Your desperation to have a better relationship and more polarity dynamics will be obvious, and he will experience that as pressure. He may feel that there is something broken or insufficient about him. Men are driven by feeling competent in life. When we're not feeling competent, we feel shame. You wanting your man to change may shut him down and make him more resistant than he needs to be.
So what your book about masculine and feminine energy in relationships also does, GS, is acknowledge how we got to this space. The centuries-long absence of grounded masculine leadership leads to the disruption of feminine embodiment.
You May or May Not Be the Problem, But You Are the Solution
I have a quote in The Masculine in Relationship: “You may or may not be the problem, but you are the solution.” And so I put all the weight on the men, not because it's their fault, but because I want to empower them and stop looking for the answer externally. Now, do the women play their part? Yes.
Men say to me: “Why do I have to do all the work? I go to work all day, and I provide this great life, and I have to come home and do all this stuff, too?” I get it. I'm empathetic to that, and I ask them, “Do you want her in her masculine, or do you want her in her feminine?”
What advice can I give couples during their marriage and couples therapy sessions in regard to masculine and feminine energy in relationships?
Don't step in immediately to fill the leadership vacuum.
Women are competent, and if the guy doesn't step up, she will move ahead and do it. It’s important to have some empathy for what is happening on the woman's side. The man could be doing nothing or be absent-minded. And the more contempt that creeps into the relationship over time, the quicker and the more violently she steps in. She thinks, “Get out of the way, asshole. I'll take care of this again.”
What I Need From You …
Women can even reiterate: “I need you to handle this, and I need you to handle it competently. This is what I need from you as my man.”
Try to rest in the anxiety that it would induce to say that to your man and not jump in. Another method is to have an objective conversation about what you want. Start with reassurance that you love him and you want to be with him, then move on to your needs. “I realized I've been longing for you to step up and lead. The other day, when I asked your opinion on what we should do about our son's grades, you didn't even have an opinion, and I really wanted to see some leadership. I want to partner with you.”
Emotional Leadership is Key
Emotional leadership is key, too. Usually, the woman is saddled with the need to bring emotional leadership into the relationship.
I say to men all the time, “You want to change your dynamic with your partner? Start bringing some emotional leadership into your relationship.”
Quickly, your relationship will feel similar to when things were ‘good’ before the years of emotional neglect built up.
The reality is women and men are all in this together in their relationship. We women have been so disconnected from our true feminine nature that we struggle with vulnerability. We have an entitlement around anxiety, emotional drama, and weaponizing our emotions. We have the same accountability to come back to our true feminine selves and learn to communicate from our hearts.
Embodying Masculine Leadership
Let's take a moment to talk about how much work is involved in a man truly embodying masculine leadership. This isn't a thing where a woman can just tweak her presentation and boom, he shifts into embodied masculine. You advocate for a lot of personal development and healing work. It is essential to understand how the individual embodiment work you speak about is the foundation of a healthy marriage or relationship.
Grounding the Nervous System
I am a huge proponent of a daily embodiment practice to ground the nervous system.
In most cases, a grounded nervous system would solve whatever problem you’re having.
Men come to me with all their unique circumstances and challenges, but almost always, the answer is getting your nervous system more grounded. That doesn't happen in a day or a week, or a month.
Wow, that is something I want women to hear. You weren’t about to save this marriage or relationship just by changing your approach. A man or a woman has to be committed to completely reworking and overhauling their somatic experience of living life, relationships, people, and triggers. This is a healing process.
Terry Real has a great name for it: The Whoosh. When your nervous system goes boom and the anxiety explodes within you. After years of embodiment practice, it gradually gets quieter.
By daily embodiment practice, do you mean meditation?
Meditation is a component of embodiment. In meditation, you generally close your eyes, and you use your mind to notice that same mind’s thinking. You use that same mind to not think those thoughts, and then you let go and disidentify, but all the while, you're using the same mind. It’s quite incestuous. People try meditation for years, and they continue to drift off into thought, get frustrated, quit, and it doesn't really help them.
Embodiment is different. Embodiment is not trying to do anything.
You take some of your attention and turn it away from the thinking mind and into a sensation in the body. You and I are both sitting in chairs, and we can feel the weight of our butt in the chair. I'll look away, close my eyes, and just feel. When you do that, it naturally crowds out those thoughts in your head.
Your awareness is focused so powerfully in a different space with a different sensation.
Physical sensations are more attention-attracting. I find embodiment much more accessible and effective for people.
Nervous system training is the trending conversation right now, and we're starting to understand how nervous system health translates to relationship health and personal health, as well as how we respond to the world versus react to the world. As a mental health professional and a trauma-informed EMDR therapist, I am realizing that so much of what has been called mental illness is actually poor nervous system health. We have been so bombarded in a modern world for so long that we don't even know how disconnected we are from our true operating selves.
I use EMDR with couples in marriage counseling, which is a unique approach that I have never heard of another couples therapist doing. So much of it is about a modern lifestyle where we don't rest and heal our minds and bodies. We cannot tolerate the amount of stressful stimulus that facing our insecurities brings into our minds and bodies.
Cultivating of Spaciousness
In my video course, I talk a lot about a new topic that I'm learning from one of my teachers and starting to really implement in my life to great effect.
It’s the cultivation of spaciousness. This is not a quality that's really ever associated with masculinity, but it’s powerful to have spaciousness within you to receive the moment as it is—instead of how you want it to be or how you don't want it to be.
I feel so free because of this; I'm working with men on it.
That's beautiful. Life is an adventure rather than a mission. And in a marriage or any relationship, it's exploring that adventure for women and men together and being with these unfolding moments.
As well as your book The Masculine in Relationship, what other resources do you recommend?
I recommend my book The Art of Embodiment for Men and the video course for everybody to go deeper into daily practice. I teach men, but women can get a lot out of embodiment, too. Visit my website www.gsyoungblood.com, to get on the mailing list, and you’ll be the first to know about my new course. If you want to just sort of get tidbits and things, then go to my Instagram. So ladies, send your men my way.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to us, GS!