Drivers and Passengers: Sexual Polarity Simplified
Tantric teachings abound with references to the Feminine and Masculine, alongside a list of qualities that each of these archetypes is said to embody. We are told that these qualities do not coincide with sex or gender, and that we all have elements of both. Yet there are times when I’ve found the gendered language cumbersome, both in trying to understand myself or conveying these concepts to others.
In an effort to come up with terms that reflect the essence of polarity in a non-gendered way, the concept of “drivers” and “passengers” came to mind, and it translates quite nicely!
What is Polarity?
Polarity is a contrast of opposites that creates spark and chemistry, wherein each half is drawn to the other through an impulse toward wholeness. The Taoists observed that nature consists of opposites: night and day, hot and cold, life and death. They represented the essence of this observation in the symbol of the yin yang, with each half continually spinning into the other, and containing the essence of the other at its core. As human beings we are embedded in this process, and as we interact with others these qualities within us are dynamically engaged.
Why Drivers and Passengers?
I love the idea of drivers and passengers as a metaphor for sex, and a perfect analogy for how active and passive roles can play out in a given experience. Say two people meet and they decide to go on a journey together. One person must drive and the other must be a passenger. They can switch roles as many times as they like, but in any given moment only one person can be doing one thing, otherwise it doesn’t work. They may decide beforehand where they want to go, or they may meander and explore, but either way there are certain qualities each person can cultivate to ensure a pleasant ride.
What makes a good driver?
Good drivers are calm, confident and resourceful. They enjoy being in the driver’s seat, and inspire trust in all their passengers. They are knowledgeable about the vehicle as well as the terrain they are driving, and decisive in their navigation. They are prepared to handle unexpected situations and do so with calm and quick thinking. Their priority is to keep everyone in the car safe and happy. Good drivers are considerate of their passenger’s needs, willing to make stops when needed, adjust the music and temperature, and collaborate with the passenger on their intended destination.
On the other hand…
Bad drivers can come in two forms: uncertain or overbearing. Uncertain drivers are nervous and shaky at the wheel, forcing their passengers to remain continually vigilant and assisting with the drive. Nervous drivers may freeze up, make poor decisions, lose their way, and not get either party to the place they want to go. Overbearing drivers may also make poor decisions, but more from a lack of concern for their passenger. They have their own agenda in mind and they don’t really care how the passenger feels about it. Once the passenger is in the car, they may take off and speed, make dangerous moves, change the destination, and disregard the passenger’s desires completely.
What makes a good passenger?
Good passengers enjoy being treated to a ride, and can fully surrender into the experience (given that the driver is safe). They take responsibility for their needs (ex. asking for stops, temperature adjustments etc) by clearly articulating it to the driver and not expecting the driver to be a mind reader. But when it comes to the rest of the ride, they are simply able to let go, kick up their feet, roll down the window and savour the adventure. They appreciate the driver’s skill and effort and express their gratitude and enjoyment in a wholehearted way.
Unpleasant passengers on the other hand, may be overly controlling, ungracious or unresponsive. Controlling passengers might be grabbing the steering wheel continually, or criticising and advising the driver at every turn. There might be a lack of trust and refusal to let go, even if the driver is skilled and trustworthy. Unresponsive passengers are disengaged and leave all decisions and responsibilities to the driver. When the driver asks “Where do you want to go?”, they simply shrug and remain silent, hoping that whatever choice the driver makes will magically be the right one. Often they are dissatisfied but don’t take the initiative to figure out their needs and communicate them. Blame and responsibility are externalized, and both parties are left frustrated.
Which role to take?
Most of us tend to be more inclined toward one role or the other, regardless of gender. This is the role we enjoy the most, in which we feel the most at home. (For some its 50/50).
But in some cases we might end up defaulting to the opposite role as a coping strategy to work around past fears and traumas. There are some who long to be confident drivers but will agree to be the passenger because their fear of being inadequate is too great. And there are those who insist on driving even though they resent the responsibility, because they’ve been harmed by too many bad drivers.
Finally, sometimes the role we fall into depends on the person we are with. Knowing ourselves and following our authentic yes can help us gauge where we want to be.
Creating the perfect driver-passenger team
The key to any exciting sexual experience is an interplay of complimentary energies that contrast, yet complete each other. Being in touch with ourselves, our natural inclinations, and where we’re flowing in that particular moment can help us decide where we want to move from that day. Knowing the responsibilities of each role can also help us tap into their tremendous gifts and teachings.
What role do you identify with the most? How does this play out for you and what qualities do you enjoy in a partner? Let me know in the comments section below!