Day 2 Lunch

Sex, Domination and Mid-Life Crisis

The conversation has been edited for clarity in reading. The meaning has not been changed and nothing has been deleted.

Chris: 

This is our fourth interview with myself, Graham Reid Phoenix and Cheta. We broached today’s topic in our very first interview where I left, you know, a cliffhanger-type question at the end that we’re going to go into and we never closed that loop, so we’re going to come back and talk about that. 

In our last interview, we’re going to move into the topic of sex, and so we can start there today. I’d love to talk about sex. I’d love to talk about midlife crisis and other things. 

Graham: 

Well, the two are so tied in together. 

Chris: 

Oh, really? Before linking them, why don’t we go back and just talk about sex first. I want to hear how they’re linked later. 

From the perspective of masculine energy and what we’re learning about becoming a real man growing up for a lot of us, what are your views on sex in general? When do you have sex? What does sex mean once you have it? 

Graham: 

The first thing, particularly when you’re young, teenage years or early twenties, sex for most boys and young men becomes an expression of their masculinity. When you grow up, you’re not sure, always, how to express that masculinity. The peak of it comes in sex and comes in that physical expression of who you are. The danger is that when you’re good at it, and you enjoy it, that becomes your masculinity. 

Chris: 

Actually having sex is the way that you are a man. 

Graham: 

The way you are a man with a woman. The trouble is that women don’t see it that way, and you get this dichotomy between men and women, where women are looking for emotional clarity, emotional strength and men are looking to wow their woman, drag her off to bed and give her a great time. While women enjoy that, it doesn’t, for them, create a relationship. Men get confused because it’s given them their success in the past. 

Eventually they meet a woman who they have a great night with, but nothing comes of it; so they get confused. As they get a bit older, because masculinity is all about performance—sex is about performance—performance starts being affected. A man doesn’t know how to deal with it. He doesn’t know how to deal with rejection from women; he thinks he’s being rejected because he’s not good enough. He’s not good enough in bed, his performance isn’t great. I’m sure you know. I’ve been there.

Chris:

I’ve been there, too.

Graham:
I know many men who’ve been there. They don’t know how to deal with it. They try and deal with the performance issue, They then get addicted to porn, which we use to try and create that edge, which makes things worse. Then there’s pills—little blue pills—I’ve taken the little blue pills. 

Chris: 

Yeah. I’m not a big porn guy myself. It’s just not my thing. But I know a lot of people who are. Most people when I talk to them, they’re surprised that I’m not. I’m just not into porn. But if I was with a partner, that’s fine, I could watch something, but it’s not a big part of my life. 

The little blue pills, I’ve certainly taken my share of those. 

Graham: 

I’ve taken those. The interesting thing is that while they do have a physical effect, they don’t actually solve the problem. 

Chris: 

Because they don’t deal with the psychological reasons why somebody might have that issue. 

Graham: 

Men get confused because, though we all love sex, though women love sex, it’s, for women, just a small part of the whole package – the emotional package.

Chris: 

What I’m looking for more clarity on is, if a man expresses himself through sex do you find, in your experience, that underneath what they’re really looking for is love and connection but confusing the issue with sex, or does it just depend on the man? 

Graham: 

No, no. There are two things: There’s love and connection, which men are desperately looking for, and there’s dominance. The real problem with sex comes out in dominance, because masculinity is tied up with dominance—men being dominant. Men satisfy themselves by dominating wives, women, children, other men. 

Chris: 

Now, why is that? Why does somebody get satisfaction out of the dominance?

Graham:

Because they see that as being a man, because the media and history connects men with dominance. Let me just quote you one thing. You know, we’re about to do the Billionaire Adventure Club in Turkey following the footsteps of Alexander. 

Chris: 

Right. 

Graham: 

Alexander’s whole life was around dominance, it was about conquering other people. He became associated, and he’s still associated with, strength—masculine strength. That strength was shown by how he dominated other people. He used it for constructive good but lot of men just use it to dominate. I’ve done that myself in my marriage. There were times when I needed to dominate my boys; I needed to dominate my wife. I learned it from my father. My father was a dominant man. He needed to dominate his family to feel great about himself. 

Chris: 

Interesting. 

Graham: 

That then gets tied up with sex. 

Chris: 

I’m wondering how domination—the need for domination—how that might link to not being good enough, or not feeling lovable. Is there a connection, or is it just a totally different need?

Graham: 

No, no. There’s a connection, because we all have the problem of not feeling good enough and not being loved, but what you create in dominance is the connection. The important thing is that it’s love and connection. If someone can’t get the love, the connection will substitute for that. If you dominate someone… 

Chris: 

Like in sex. 

Graham: 

Like in sex.

If you have a connection, that’s a great substitute for love. If you 

can’t find the love, you can pretend that that is love. 

Chris: 

For a while. 

Graham: 

For a while.

You know, connection can be seen as love both by the person dominating and the person being dominated. Many people, when they’re dominated by someone, pretend that’s love. How many battered women go back to their men, the men who battered them, who dominated them? The women can’t find connection or love elsewhere, so they’ll go back and suffer the beating. They know it’s not love, deep in their hearts, but it’s better than being lonely. 

Chris: 

Yeah. From what I’ve known and from my studies over the years I’ve found that’s most often, if not always, just playing out the patterns from childhood. They do not believe that they’re good enough. Maybe they need the love of their father. They believe that that’s the only way to get attention and they replicate it over and over again to play out their childhood fantasies. 

Graham: 

And of course, sex comes so much into that. It’s a very sad fact that so many men who sexually abuse children or women, actually learned that when they were young. The only way they know to express love is through sex. Through dominating sex, and a lot of men learn that. A lot of men think, superficially, that that’s going to create something. When you’re lonely going out and just picking up women just for sex to get a connection is very powerful. 

Chris: 

When we talking about addictions, when we look at obsessive, compulsive behavior, if somebody deep down doesn’t feel good enough, doesn’t feel lovable and their means of feeling that connection is via sex, that’s a perfect setup for sex addiction, love addiction, going out and never being fulfilled because you really don’t have what you feel like you’re missing at a deep, deep level. 

Graham: 

For men, we have to remember that sex is a very powerful drug. You know, the actual moment of completion, that actual moment of ejaculation, for a man, is a very powerful drug, chemically inside. It’s very different for women in that sense. 

Chris: 

In Hollywood there’s been a lot of talk, recently, about sex addiction. You hear about a movie star that they call a sex addict. People the say, “That’s ridiculous. Sex isn’t an addiction. It’s not a chemical drug.” I beg to differ. It is the real deal and sex addiction is a real addiction, love addiction is a real addiction. 

All of these things happen from the need to fill a void—an internal void—which comes back to loving oneself. That’s the first step of your process, your work with men in your 40 day challenge.

Graham: 

I work with men to actually understand that process of where sex really lies in their life and in their relationships. It’s a very important expression of love. It’s a very important expression of intimacy, but it is an expression of it. It’s not the love. It’s not the intimacy. 

Chris: 

So, in terms of when to have sex in a relationship, if you’re dating, I take it that there are no hard and fast rules. 

Graham: 

I certainly don’t have any. 

Chris: 

Yeah. 

Graham: 

It just depends. It can work as a very early expression. It comes down to whether it works or not at any particular moment in a relationship, it depends on what’s behind it, on what your intention is, what your feeling is. There’s classic situations where men and women meet and are taken by a really powerful urge, which is very genuine, which is not cynical. It’s not a cynical pickup, you know, what can we do tonight? I’ve experienced this situation where you meet someone and you feel an instant powerful urge. There’s no rule that you shouldn’t follow that. You have to wait 28 days and… 

Chris: 

When you look at that, I think we all have to decide on our own rules. 

Graham: 

That’s very important, because, one of the real problems with masculinity is the socialisation that comes from the media, from parents. People have a lot of difficulty with masculinity because of all the role models on films and TV. To an extent they are are fine, I watch them and I learn things from different people. Sean Connery is a great model for me. James Bond is a great model, but I don’t want to be either of those. 

In the end, you know, your masculinity as a man is who you are and you make the choice of who you are. That’s the important thing in the 40 day challenge. I get men to look at themselves and to evaluate who they are and what their level of masculinity is.

Chris:

But there can be a lot of confusion too, if you have inner drives. In my courses, I always tell people that the unconscious mind is where your behaviors are generated from. We’re constantly going through life, behaving how we behave, and a lot of that is based on unconscious, unmet needs that are driving behaviors, often in obsessive, compulsive ways or other ways, because we don’t feel good enough, we don’t feel love underneath; and so, we find ourselves trying to fill that void that’s not really there, except for emotionally and otherwise… 

So how does someone differentiate and sort out what they want from all the confusion, whether their choices are ones that are healthy for them, that are healthy for others, that are something that’s coming from a whole perspective, a healed perspective or coming from a place that’s just unhealthy, unwhole, unhealed, and driven by fear? 

Graham: 

Okay. Now to get to that place you’re talking about can take a lot of work. It can take maybe psychological work or maybe personal development work. Doing a quick 40 day challenge is not going to cure and solve all those issues or take you to that point. What it does do and what I look at in men is creating a base—a base on which people can then build and deal with the issues they have. 

Part of the issue, or part of the trick, if you like, is to recognise what issues you’ve got, not necessarily solve them, not say, “Oh, if I do this, I’m going to be a whole man. I’m going to be complete.” 

Chris: 

Right. I’ll be healed. Stamp healed in my forehead. I’m done. 

Graham: 

No way. But what you do do is you go, “Ah, I see where I am, I see what I’m doing, I see that I have addictions, I see that I have emotional issues, but I can stand strong in myself acknowledging those.” 

Chris: 

And accepting those things. 

Graham: 

Accepting them and realising, “I have to go and do some work on them.” 

Chris: 

Like anything else, I guess it’s progress, not perfection. 

Graham: 

Yes, absolutely. It’s totally progress. One of the important things is that self-development work is crucial. I’ve done a great deal. I spent four or five years working on myself. What I found, though, is that that work is successful only on the bases you have. The foundation you build for yourself and your life is crucial. Buildings exist on the foundations—a strong foundation is only that though, it’s not a building—but without it the building will collapse. That’s the kind of work I’m talking about in men, it is that foundational work that opens you up to doing much deeper work, building on that foundation. 

Chris: 

You know, if men and women have such different meanings for sex, what type of conversations do you have to have before you have sex? What type of understanding should one have? She’s thinking it means one thing, you’re thinking it means another. I’m taking it from our conversation that, as we mature as men, our meaning for sex becomes much more emotionally textured, much more rich, much more profound. For me, a basic need, fearful drive type of sex, going out and planting your seed wherever you can, from an emotionally textured or rich and powerful, mature way of looking at it, it takes on a whole different meaning for me. 

There’s still going to be differences in meaning that the woman might raise versus the man. What needs to be communicated? 

Graham: 

John Gray has written very beautifully on this—you know ‘Men are from Mars, Women from Venus’, you talked about him yesterday. 

He talks about the different forms of sex, about the difference between gourmet sex and quickie sex, he says there is a rich tapestry of different approaches. If you communicate between partners, it’s okay for a man at a certain point to turn around to his partner and just go for a quick, tough sex, which takes three minutes before he’s rushing off to the airport, and the woman can accept it, because that’s not all he does.

Chris:

That was bold and brave for you to say three minutes. I got to say, I just gained much more respect for you because you said three minutes instead of ten.

Graham:

I can do it in three minutes, but that only works because I can also take an hour and a half as well. I can understand and respect Cheta’s needs. When you understand and respect your partner’s needs, she will also respect your needs. There’ll be times when she’ll go, “I know what you need right now.” There’ll be times when I go, “I know what you need right now.” That communication is where a lot of men won’t go. They won’t actually talk to their partner about it. They won’t talk about performance problems. They won’t talk about not being able to do it.

Chris:

Graham, I’ll tell you what, I was thinking a lot of men will do this and I say, “Chris, what will you do?” I know that for me for most of my life I deeply craved love. Deeply craved that love and connection. Deeply craved that place. 

You know, I have so many walls and barriers up because I didn’t want to get hurt, so I would, through sex, settle for sex and settle for that connection. What I really wanted more than anything was love, and I would confuse love with sex. But from a mature perspective, I look at it in a different way where love and sex can be intermittently intertwined, but the barriers have to come down, the walls have to come down, the intimacy has to be there—all those things.

Graham:

And for sex to be really powerful, the intimacy has to be there.

Chris:

It has to be there, yeah. 

Graham: 

The honesty, the emotion—because it is an emotional event. When men deny it as an emotional event, it just becomes porn.

Chris:

When you look at performance issues, if that’s where somebody is, you can understand why they would have performance issues because that’s all it means to them. It doesn’t have that emotional texture and that richness to it, the deeper level qualities where performance goes out the door. Who cares? It’s not about performance anymore. It’s about being present and being intimate and sharing that moment. Graham: 

But that’s… 

Chris: 

…two different mind spaces. 

Graham: 

But that’s the point. When you’re present and sharing that moment, as a man, you cannot perform and still have a great time and the woman can still have a great time. When you can accept that, then it ceases to be an issue. It’s not performance anymore. 

Chris: 

Exactly! I was going to say, we take the word performance right out. 80 

Conversations about Men and Masculinity 

Graham: 

Yes. 

Chris: 

Talk to me a little about midlife crisis. You know, I’m 41 years old, I’m certainly right in the middle of my midlife crisis, I really am, and I know it. I admit it. I built a company. We were doing up to 22 million dollars in global sales through the trainings and through all this. 

I have bragging rights to say, “Oh, I was doing a million dollars in a day, and up to 3 million dollars in a day.” All of that stuff is fine and great. I have had massive breakthroughs on every level of my life for sure, I’ve been doing this for 15 years now. I’ve been into personal development all my life. Yet, I find myself in a place where I’m in my forties and I’ve got the largest NLP training company in the world, I’ve mastered the mind and how it relates to things, but I found the limits. I found the limits to that approach, or, at least, my expression of that approach. I’m finding myself at a place where it’s time for Chris to get out of his head and into his heart.

Graham:

I’ve been there myself. As a boss of mine once said when I gave my notice in to go for a job back in the theatre, he said, “Well yeah, Graham. You know, when you get to your age, early forties, some men go for younger women and some men try and go back to their youth and their job.” For me it was about going back to youth. It’s the point at which we start feeling our own mortality and vulnerability. We cease to be, you know, slim and light, our sexual performance falls off.

Chris:

I’m actually lucky, my sexual performance fell off earlier. Now, I’m coming back around.

Graham:

You’re coming back around.

Chris:

I’m bringing the heart into it men, I’m bringing sexy back. 

Graham: 

Well, you’re coming through your crisis. 

Chris: 

I’m coming through my crisis. Thank God! 

Graham: 

You get there, into your forties, and you wonder, what the hell have you been doing? Typically in our twenties we’re just striving to do anything we can. In our thirties, we are making everything solid. You’ve made money, you’ve influenced people, you’re successful. You get to your forties, and you say to yourself “What do I have out of that? I have money, I have friends, but I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel I’ve got anywhere, and time is running out.” 

You think time is running out and you think there’s supposed to be a purpose to your life, and you can’t see what it is. That all gets mixed up; it becomes emotional and you don’t want to reveal that emotion. What do we do when that happens? As men we want to prove ourselves. So, we go, maybe, sky diving or we climb mountains or we find a young girlfriend, we want to make ourselves feel physically alive again because we have ceased to feel alive any more, we think, because we associate aliveness with a physical quality. So, we try and get that physical quality. 

I tried to go back and work in the theatre, which was stupid because I was beyond that. Everything I was doing had become cerebral and I’d forgotten that I could celebrate that. 

The great thing that happens is that we all come through it. When you start realising that, for example, sex is not about performance, that your passion can be just about small things, not necessarily financial success, that you can get financial success now without striving, or that you can just enjoy yourself. Midlife crisis is very weird. It’s obviously different for different men because of how they’ve grown up and the issues they’ve had. 

I’m in my sixties, I’ve passed that middle age. I’m now at an age where I just love everything I do. I have a sense of my own mortality. I know that I’m closer to death than I am to birth, and that’s fine. One of the reasons it’s fine is because of the work I used to do. I had done everything I needed to do, and I could let my work go, I could let everything go and start enjoying life. I didn’t have to prove anything anymore. I didn’t have to get anywhere. I could do whatever I want. 

It seems simple. It seems glib to say that the cure for midlife crisis is just to live through it, but it’s in accepting that you’re vulnerable, accepting that you’re emotional and accepting that that’s okay. Weakness is good. Weakness in men can be strength. Power can be little things, like the ability to feel an emotion, the ability to cry, the ability just to be yourself. Midlife crisis, I think, is that point when many men finally become themselves.

Chris:

Some of them don’t, right? Some of them go the other way. They try to find the younger model for their wife. They try to go out and ride a bike or buy the Ferrari.

Graham:

They get the facelift.

Chris:

They get the facelift, yeah. So, they go a different path that’s not the one you are talking about..

Graham:

All I can say is that they, in my view and in my experience, become more and more desperate as they go on into their fifties.

Chris:

It’s like you get to a fork on the road. You can go the path of desperation, or you can go the path of inspiration and discover who you really are. You can be inspired to live a different type of a life. Graham:
We will all get there. As men, we’ll all get to that point where we question. We come to the fork in the road. We question what on earth we’re doing. If you question properly, if you accept that questioning, you can become so powerful. But don’t go for the facelift or the wig. Chris:
Or the Ferrari. 

Graham: 

Well, no, you can buy a Ferrari, that’s okay. 

Chris: 

Why not? Get a few of them.
This brings us back to the first question that I left everybody waiting for the answer to after our first interview. You had mentioned that it’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to break down. It’s okay to cry. But that type of chaos, is it with your woman that you necessarily want to do that, or is it someplace else? 

Graham: 

As a man you want to make sure you have some male friends you can do that with. 

Chris: 

And why is that? 

Graham: 

Because there’s a point at which in a male-female relationship, a relationship of polarity, the man is the foundation. The man has a grounded strength that allows the feminine to be chaotic around him. A woman needs to feel that strength and that groundedness. It’s okay to be emotional with your woman but you don’t want to lose that groundedness. If, however, what’s going on is so deep, so chaotic, that you feel it slipping away from you, you need to go to that place and explore that to find the foundation again. The best way can be with another man who couldn’t care less where you go. But as a friend he can be there to hold you, not physically, but to hold you emotionally. 

Chris: 

To be a sounding board because they’re dealing with the same things you’re dealing with. 

Graham: 

What men do, when they let themselves go into that place, is they come back. I do it. I get very emotional at sometimes. I question whether I’m good enough, whether I’m loved, but I always come through it and I come back to this grounded point. 

Chris: 

Whereas, if you bring that stuff up with a woman, in that type of an environment, you might emotionally cause her to wonder: are you going to be there?

Graham: 

Yes. 

Chris: 

Do you have the strength to be there? 

Graham: 

Yes. 

Chris: 

What do you think about that, Cheta? 

Cheta: 

I think that’s true because the whole trust issue comes back again. Is he going to be there for me? It throws a woman into uncertainty. 

Chris: 

That’s the worst place for a woman to be, right? 

Graham: 

That is not a nice place to be. 

Chris: 

Not a nice place to be. But we say that there are times when you can be that vulnerable with your woman, you just can’t stay there, is what you have said to me before? 

Graham: 

It’s two things. One is, you can’t stay there; but the other is, you can be vulnerable about things that don’t affect that grounded nature of the relationship. So, for example, I can be vulnerable about my relationship with my sons because that doesn’t interfere with the relationship I have with Cheta. 

It can be something in life that I get confused about, or want to talk about. She can happily listen to it knowing it’s not knocking me off as a man. I’m not being knocked off my foundation. I’m exploring my masculinity. I’m exploring myself as a father. I’m exploring my relationship with somebody else. 

Chris: 

When you look at, say, fears around your career, or where you’re going to make money, or how you’re going to do this, are you saying that the more appropriate place to explore those are with other men? Graham: 

Yes. I will explore with Cheta a lot of detail and information about where I’m going financially, where I’m developing success, but what is important is that whenever I talk to her, it’s about the development, about where it’s going to grow. It’s not about “I really don’t know what I’m doing and I’m lost.” 

Chris: 

Right. 

Graham: 

And “life is disappearing and I don’t know where to go.

Chris:

You might be able to go there with your woman, you just don’t want to stay in that place. Correct?

Graham:

Yes, but honesty can be great. You need to understand where you’re being honest, or where it’s being constructive and helpful.

Chris:

How important is a man’s mission?

Graham:

I think it’s probably the most central quality of masculinity. It’s why men, in the end, mostly seem to be more successful in business. It’s why men become conquerors and politicians. One of the central qualities is the directed nature of a man, the mission, the focus. It comes both from man’s physical, sexual nature, which is very focused, and from the prehistoric role of men as hunters, going out into the dangerous world to find animals to kill and bring back. 

To do that men needed to be focused. They needed to be absolutely on mission. They can’t be knocked away by, “Oh, I just need to go and do this,” or “I need to go do that first” or “Maybe I need to go and wash the clothes for children.” Somehow, that quality of focus provides something that women are attracted to as well. Women feel protected by a man who goes there, in life, in business, in success. 

Women nowadays are a lot more successful in business and that’s often because at work and in business, they develop this quality of focus. This more masculine quality of focus. Women have found that they need to look at these masculine qualities which they’re perfectly capable of assuming without ruining their femininity. 

We’ve all seen men who are lost, who lose their focus. When a woman sees a man who is lost, she gets very worried. She gets very worried about what their relationship is going to be, what their future is going to be. 

Often when Cheta and I are travelling, we look around and we see men who are in retirement, who have lost their focus. We see the women taking over control of that relationship. 

Many men in their seventies are travelling the world. They’ve been successful men. We see them following their women who are organising everything, buying the tickets, sorting out hotels, because the men have left their job, they’ve left their passion and they haven’t found any substitute for it. They become weak, many elder men are weak. They’re lost, they don’t have the focus. They don’t know what to do anymore. If you look at successful men, millionaires, how many of them actually retire? The Donald Trumps of this world, the Richard Bransons, they have more money than they know what to do with, but they don’t retire. 

Chris: 

They don’t stop. 

Graham: 

They don’t stop, because their focus is what’s important, not the money.

Chris:

Graham, I know the whole purpose of us sitting down having these interviews is to create a learning experience. I have questions that I want answers for, and I know a lot of other people have questions that they wanted answered as well. It is also to get people to know who you are in the community even more than you’ve already built up, because you’ve built a big brand on your own already. It’s just continuing to expand more and more every day and that’s exciting. 

I just want to thank you for sharing your heart and your soul, your energy. Thank you, Cheta, for these conversations and thank you for sharing with the people that are reading this. You know, I’m sure that over the last four conversations there are a lot of people that have learned a lot. 

Graham: 

Yeah, already, I know. The fascinating thing for me is how much I’ve learned just talking, what comes out from inside that I didn’t plan. You know, we haven’t scripted this. We didn’t even know what we’re going to talk about, but it’s all there inside and I love that. Thank you so much, Chris. 

Chris: 

Thank you. This is the beginning of a relationship that will be long and very powerful. So, thank you. 

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