The blog I’ve been threatening for a little while: an homage to my discovery of Helena Hart, YouTube and self-published relationship coach!
This blog feels challenging to write for reasons I myself don’t quite understand. I’m not intending to actually convey her wisdom, and those others in her field; simply a sense of my appreciation for it and why. I think the difficulty arises in knowing that I live in the age of presumed, default, and yet wounded feminism, which insists we women damn the barricades, full speed ahead on some of our least-connected impulses and perspectives. It feels incumbent upon me to say that obviously I appreciate the legal rights I enjoy, thanks to “suffrage”, while not always resonating with their cultural fallout.
Perhaps a part of that cultural fallout is a squeamishness in admitting to something as girly as wanting to “play my cards right” in relationship. I can just feel — even from the way I’m attempting to explain this right now — that the conflicted subconscious is regarding something about hook up culture as modern and empowering, while something about intentionally shopping for Mr. Right as archaic and laughable.
Oh, and speaking of Mr. Right, the audience for Helena and her peers is absolutely comprised of women, and straight ones at that. Quite a few of the coaches Helena has on her show are males, and some of them are just great, but the market for relationship coaching seems to be, overwhelmingly, female, regardless of the gender of the coach. One more contextual note: despite, or perhaps because of, or perhaps both, rampant cultural feminism, I’ve noticed any market that is by, for, and about women is something we all tend to look down our noses at.
I fell ass-backwards into romance novel audiobook narration five or six years ago, and have narrated about fifty books to date, primarily by one very prolific author (couple different pseudonyms — Lexi Timms, Roxie O’Dell, I forget what else).
When people hear I narrate audiobooks, they’re very interested. When they hear I narrate romance, they’re very scornful. Why? They wouldn’t have the same reaction to hearing I narrate Clive Cussler novels, which is just romance for men in the sense that the themes are solely and unrelentingly centered on shit men care about and that women don’t: extreme swashbuckling. Disclaimer: I’ve only read one Clive Cussler book in my life and that was plenty for me. But generally speaking, authors that focus on narrowly masculine interests are regarded with a degree of legitimacy and respect absent that afforded to authors that focus on narrowly feminine interests.
My favorite authors are ones who, if I didn’t know their gender already, I’d never guess, because they so deeply occupy the perspectives and inner worlds of all their characters that it’s more like channeling than fiction. And there are plenty of critiques to be made about romance novels — I’m not, like, elevating them to some unique status. I would say their male characters tend to be quite hastily sketched, which is the mirror of the reaction I have to, you know, Isaac Asimov for instance. Like, did that guy ever meet an actual female? I had the same reaction to the Star Wars sequels, at least until I stopped watching them. I don’t know how you take Natalie Portman and make her seem frivolous and bad at her job, but those writers managed it. Unbelievable.
And I celebrate the tradition of feminist literary and film critique of female characters as they’re written, generally functioning in a symbolic way to galvanize the male protagonist’s actions and evoke his emotions. We’re weary of portrayals of women whose apparent sole focus is on a male, and so the proliferation of relationship coaches like Helena Hart et al seems extra “tone deaf” these days.
“Tone deaf” ahaha. That’s become a phrase that will live in infamy, by the way, for me. It’s what you say to someone when they’re caring about the shit they care about and not paying enough lip service to what you have decided they should care about. You know who’s really tone deaf? Autistic people. And I fucking love autistic people. They are true to themselves to a degree that is unimaginable to most of us, and I think it’s spiritually no coincidence a lot of them have chosen to flood our space time reality with their high stakes authenticity, right now. If it’s time to be upset, they’re gonna get upset, and it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about it. Really refreshing.
So Helena Hart. I had recently discovered her just before meeting Nick, but hadn’t taken enough of a dive, unfortunately. I listen to her videos now with chagrin sometimes, because I had a degree of psychic pain about the circumstances of our early dating — the choices I made, the choices I abdicated that got made for me — and I know I would have recognized and resonated with Helena’s wisdom on that, with a little more exposure, and probably saved myself a lot of heartache. You don’t have to trust a man if you trust yourself and your own boundaries, she always says. Sometimes now I listen with a sense of “shoulda woulda coulda” but of course, when you miss the easy lessons bus because you’re running late, you can still always catch the hard lessons bus.
So, funny story — there was an evening, early on, where Nick and I both had our laptops and were wanting to watch something on YouTube, but he wanted to use my laptop for it, and I wanted to use his. I was embarrassed because I knew, the minute I opened YouTube, it would populate with Helena Hart suggestions which are frankly click-baity, out of context: Get A Man To Chase You Again! or something. Nick, as it turns out, was embarrassed for exactly the same reason, because he’d recently discovered Jordan Peterson, and knew his YouTube would populate with equally click-baity uploads titled not by Peterson himself, because he’s truly above all that, but by his fans: “Jordan Peterson DESTROYS feminists to their faces” etc. I forget how this resolved, but he’s since come to love and appreciate Helena Hart as I’ve come to love and appreciate Jordan Peterson, neither of whose wisdom can possibly be encapsulated in a form the click bait suggests.
Okay, so the basic reclamation that’s going on here, with this emergence of YouTube dating coach gurus, who’ve inherited a rather long tradition perhaps most famously advanced by John Grey’s Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (a book I initially scorned without reading, in my uber-woke-washed grad school days, and later realized was pretty badass), is that of feminine and masculine energies as something important and unavoidable and worth negotiating consciously in their own right. We each inherit both, obviously, and then in romantic partnership we’re able to, ideally, polarize in complementary and synergistic fashion, which is something we’re biologically programmed but psychologically under-prepared for.
I look at it through the lens of roles, really — we wear so many different hats in so many different situations. Some feel like “have to’s” and some feel like “get to’s”, but despite our seeming obsession with 100% me, 100% of the time, take it or leave it, reality really doesn’t work that way. I have to condense and filter myself down to write a blog, or interface with a customer, or hang out with my family, or anything else. Our roles emerge in response to our circumstances and frankly most of them hinge on what we can offer from the neck up, so to speak. Knowing how to do a job, or teach a subject, or perform a task.
The “job” of being the woman in a relationship, or being the man, can feel utterly liberating or utterly enslaving, bound up as we are in our variety of inherited and experienced impressions of what that means, not to mention our hormones and egos. It’s work, to get a sense of that terrain and negotiate it with intention. Why should this work fall to women, as the entirely female market demographic proves is the case? Because men won’t do it. It’s for women to energetically lead relationships, point blank. Men create a buffer of physical safety and comfort for women, and women create a buffer of emotional safety and comfort for men.
Men are made for swashbuckling, by whatever name, and they swashbuckle most happily and effectively in meaningful connection with a woman, to the extent that they’ve risen to that occasion. Romantic relationship is an occasion men must rise to, or if it’s not, then it functions as something else for them. I don’t think I realized how generally negative and wounded the tone of women’s interpretations of men’s priorities are, culturally, until I started listening to Helena Hart and the contrast she presents. She’s unfailingly reverent to the spirit of aligned masculinity, but unfailingly rational about the manner in which this can impact women; and most of all, unfailingly oriented to the energetic heart of the matter, not to its surface or symptoms, but conceptually fluent in its surface and symptoms, which is a deadly-helpful combination.
It’s pretty crazy to realize that no one ever taught me this stuff. It’s an education that’s been absent in my other influences. If I had a daughter, or if I could go back in time as an advocate for my younger self, I would absolutely sit her down with some Helena Hart and say, knock yourself out. Become the master of your own feminine energy resources, because you’ll be the target of male attention whether you do or not. And for everyone, generally, we can be extremely intelligent and effective people and yet carry a painfully low relationship IQ throughout our lives, as both men and women.
Feminine energy is at the heart of HH’s coaching, and it was with a sense of the utmost relief I discovered a person talking about that on purpose. It’s a whole thing. Teal Swan does too, at times and obliquely, but teaching it to people is a career in its own right, as Helena Hart and I’m sure many others have proven. And our feminine cultural confusion makes us hungry for this knowledge. Embrace your feminine truth! No, not that way — your otherfeminine truth!
It’s fucking tedious, as much as I appreciate it. I’m a bit of a prototypical female in the sense that I demand the ultimate liberation, that of having the freedom to explore my innate femininity to its extreme, as I sashay through all the doors opened for me by ladies more militant than I. Oh well, isn’t that what we want for our children? To enjoy privileges we never had and to not even blink?
HH advises fully “employing” our masculine (ie initiating) energy, as women, where it’s most helpful — on driving forward our own lives and interests. Where it’s not most helpful is in relationship with a male, who can subside to a somewhat castrated role in our lives as a result of our masculine energy filling up the room and pushing his out. The most castrated male partners I’ve ever met have been attached to the most domineering women I’ve ever met, and this is sad for both parties because domineering isn’t the same as being strong, and castration isn’t the same as being sensitive. Women are inherently frustrated with men who abdicate their masculine initiative, but we’re also really shitty at giving them the space to fully step into their own masculine initiative, and most importantly, making that a partner prerequisite — because we’re too busy showing how “strong” we are. Women are up to some effing heroics, and I’ve been guilty of it myself. The more we “do”, the less it works. In the world of interpersonal energy dynamics, taking outward action isn’t the same as accomplishing something. We can’t strategize our relationships using the same attitudes with which we strategize our careers.
Helena, who always keeps it positive, still admits laughingly at times that much of her coaching consists of women asking, essentially, “How can I turn this chickenshit into chicken salad?,” and Helena saying, “Well, you can’t, but you can move on firmly and lovingly, with a clear communication about what you’re looking for and why this isn’t it, and he may or may not step up to bat at a later time, which is not your concern.” Dating for women can and really should be pretty binary, as one of her guests noted on one occasion: at each fork in the road, a man is a one or a zero. These forks in the road could be things like, inclusion in his life in more than one context. Eliminating other potential partners from his field. Having developed his own life enough that it makes sense he’d be ready to include a partner, irrespective of specific chemistry. Being a one at that fork in the road is a minimum requirement but not necessarily sufficient in itself to justify continued investment.
Back to feminine energy, HH asks us to entertain the notion that it’s there, it’s powerful, and it can do much of the heavy lifting for us, but as I’ve experienced in my own life, no one teaches women how to flex this particular muscle. The good thing is, it’s never too late. You don’t have to figure it out and then start over on a whole different relationship because you blew it with the last one. The magic of aligned femininity evoking aligned masculinity (and vice versa when that occurs, but I haven’t noticed any YouTube channels about it) is that it can turn around a bad relationship, improve a reasonably good one, and de-insane-ify dating. “Get your attention off of that man,” she urges, “unless and until he’s right in front of you, and then be entirely present.”
“Lean back into your feminine energy” is another often repeated reminder. Like, physically lean back, slow down time, get your head out of the future and the past, and appreciate everything about this magnificent male, with no agenda. Advancing an agenda is the man’s job, and green lighting it, or yellow lighting it or red lighting it, in view of a continuous, un-betrayed connection with her own heart, is a woman’s. Women advance agendas all the time, obviously, as well they should, but this again is where romantic partnership can’t be negotiated as if it’s a job.
She told a really funny story — prior to marrying, she went on a first and only date on one occasion with a man who would not stop talking, performing, and dominating the conversation. He never asked her a single question about herself. At first she was annoyed but then thought: I’ve been talking all day at work. I don’t really need to have the spotlight on me any more today. I’m obviously never going on a second date with this person, so let me just enjoy the ride and listen to what he has to say and appreciate him as much as I can, while I eat this delicious meal that he’s paying for. Her approach is consciously Law of Attraction based — instead of making it a power struggle or a source of condemnation, she surrendered to the reality of the date with this man, reached for the greatest appreciation she could find, enjoyed being a very short-term sounding board for him, and kindly declined his obviously hopeful offer for a second date.
There’s no reason to get resentful or bent out of shape when you trade your time, commitment and investment in tiny, well-earned chunks. Far from being a man’s “ball and chain”, as unaligned relationship can feel, in fact women stand to close the circuit on a man’s sense of his own power and freedom. Dating is onerous for men and would be even more so if women got their shit together, including me historically, and stopped over-investing too early.
Dating is onerous for women, too, but in a different way — really a never-ending invitation to solidify boundaries and communication, or else. Communication, the Helena Hart way, is one of my favorite emphases. Never fake. Never ever ever fake, or manipulative, which a man can feel from a mile away, for one thing, and even if he couldn’t, isn’t the right way to be, for the other thing. However, we women can feel truckloads of feelings, and vomit them all over people, and worst of all use those feelings as demands. So, the knack is for a woman to speak her own emotional truth, unfailingly, but succinctly and un-demandingly. That’s the ninja level shit, there.
Why shouldn’t it be a demand, though, since men can be so dodge-y and outright play dumb half the time? It goes back to that binary thing, though. He’s always got the opportunity to be a one or a zero. He can lean into the one or subside to zero, and that’s his choice. His sacred, autonomous choice, that no one gets to make but him.
This makes perfect sense in dating, but gets tougher in committed relationship, where women can feel most stuck, and specifically stuck at the lowest emotional denominator, as set by the man. But consider — women are famous for overcommitting and over-investing too early, and then playing tug-of-war with reality as it emerges. A woman shouldn’t commit to a man but to her deepest truth, a posture which ironically facilitates a stronger connection than otherwise. So it never really stops being binary, but with larger chunks of investment or de-investment being on the table, at each fork in the road.
In this specific area, women ought to negotiate dating and love *more* like a business deal, in fact. HH and guests on her show are always of the mindset, why would you have sex with someone if they’re unwilling to discuss concerns of importance to you — or worse, why would you have sex with someone when you yourself are too nervous to initiate discussion of important concerns?
As stupid as this sounds, I’ve totally fallen prey to it myself. You don’t want to seem needy or nervous, you want to “go with the flow” — you want to be easy to hang out with, and not be this girl who’s like “we need to talk”. But subconsciously assuming the role of the male fantasy — the girl who’s all fun and no work — isn’t good for women or even that desirable for men, frankly. Confident and secure is one thing, remaining mute on negotiations that escalate with more and more at stake, totally unverbalized and acknowledged, is another.
If men are the gas, women are the brake, and again — not artificially or as a manipulation tactic. Women are more risk averse in everything, and wisely so — that’s why our car insurance is lower — there’s nothing better than being risk averse in dating and love, but not in a shut-down way. It’s amazing — I know it never occurs to most of us, in moments of conflict or stress — but we can, actually, stay soft. We’re always upside down when we see our job as changing or controlling another’s behavior. We’re always right side up when we stay soft but honestly risk averse. Maintaining that emotional connection with ourselves leads him by example, and taking our own emotional safety and peace of mind seriously invites him to be part of our solution, not part of our problem.
The temptation to manipulate is strong for women, because that’s historically and culturally been our resort, whereas men’s has been psychological and emotional disconnection. But from HH’s perspective, you only accomplish one of two stupid things: you get yourself a man stupid enough to be manipulated, or a man predatorial enough to know and not care, neither of which can be counted as a win. And I should add, Helena’s approach is geared towards women who do desire meaningful partnership, not hook ups, for I think obvious reasons.
It’s amazing how much people want to be appreciated with no agenda. And it’s amazing how willing we all are to overlook evidence of an emotional juvenile in the body of a desirable adult. There’s nothing wrong with being an emotional juvenile, especially since most of us are, as these are — you know — the emotional dark ages. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with learning together and growing each other’s depth in partnership, which is one of the reasons we’re drawn to it. We’re also drawn to healing one another’s unconscious wounds, which means evoking stuff that’s painful and working through it. Real integrity means owning what’s true for ourselves as a prerequisite to discourse, which is what makes dating extra tough — what’s true for ourselves energetically, as sacred feminine, as sacred masculine, feels so politically distorted that betraying it seems the path of strength, and honoring it the path of weakness.
Worse, all our loudest influences encourage us towards the shadow side of our own sex magic — hollow, disconnected predation for men, surface level sparkle and inner chaos for women. If I were any woman, anywhere, in any state of single-ness or commitment or widowhood or whatever, I would start including some Helena Hart in my sphere of influence. I’m obviously not getting paid to rep her, because no one’s ever paid me for my writing except like once I got $25, and if they did pay me I’d have to actually edit and tighten shit up, not indulge my constant signature stream-of-consciousness lol.
But just hearing someone who’s dialed in on these concepts talk about them, relative to any specific question — and she’s got avalanches of free YouTube content so there’s no need to get any fancier than that, I just listen on headphones while I drive — is a much-needed antidote to the cultural dating/love/sex default. I fuck up my relationship energy dynamics all the time, but even I can look around and see women just — agh, just slapping the wrong cards down on the table, relative to the challenges men present.
Every woman — I absolutely believe this — every woman is beautiful, has an inner beauty that can and sometimes does become an outer beauty, which can become more revealed or more concealed over time, and every woman has the inner toolkit to run her love life like a queen who only deals in kings. We don’t learn it from men, though, and we don’t learn it from male-centric culture, and we don’t learn it from feminist culture to the extent that it’s still flailing in wounded response to male-centric culture. None of those things are where it’s at. We learn it from other women, and if you’re anything like me, you did not have that mom or that aunt or that sister who had any more of a clue than you. I didn’t even have someone tell me to tweeze between my eyebrows, for chrissakes, let alone what to do with my abundance of feminine energy.
Helena Hart is a fantastic starting place because, rather than trying to overcome her own competition, she integrates her competition — she facilitates live stream discussions with equivalent subject matter experts, like, every day as far as I can tell. She’s a content generator par excellance. I’ve been turned on to lots of complementary but differently emphasized perspectives, thanks to her facilitation. And she’s just a lovely, lovely woman. I’m older than her for sure, but I just wish she could have been my mentor from, like, age fourteen. I think my entire dating life trajectory would have been — maybe not different, but far less bewildering and painful. My own parents were a little nihilistic in this, and many departments.
Nick’s thoughts on Helena Hart’s ideas, for what it’s worth, are as follows (and keep in mind he’s a lot younger than me): “It seems like young men are given more agency, or give themselves more agency, to be more ways in the world, whereas young women tend to…homogenize themselves? Towards some type of sex symbol goal that’s really surface level? So, it’s like, you ask ten girls out, one of them says yes, and it almost doesn’t matter which one because they’re all kind of the same. Here’s my butt, midriff shirt, my list of demands, I have no responsibility but to be sexy and judge everything you do, etcetera. They don’t want to be just a fixture in your life, but they almost seem like a fixture in their own lives, so…”
“Well…” He took off his hat and scratched his head. His hair is getting too long and bothering him, this COVID lockdown fire season. Really hard to accomplish something as simple as a haircut. “Like — convictions. Like you were really committed to veganism, and could discuss that intelligently but without accusation, and that was really different. Most girls I’ve known who even flirt with the idea will say ‘oh I’m vegetarian’ and then you say ‘let’s go get a burger’ and they’re like ‘haha okay’, type thing.”
I don’t lead with veganism, by the way, but it tends to come up over meals, which tend to occur in dating. I’m so integrated with it I don’t even remember I’m vegan until someone brings it up.
The story of Nick and I meeting and dating isn’t a success story, by the way, except to the extent we fucked up enough and traumatized ourselves and each other enough to spawn a whole next level of relationship video game, which is currently playing out, and so by no means am I advancing either of our early perspectives as something to write home about. And, somewhat sadly, I wouldn’t currently entrust any of my questions or confusions, as they emerge, to any of the few female friends I do have, in a deep way. All kinds of people can have all kinds of great advice for me in other areas of my life, I’ve noticed, even if they’re not meta-curious and familiar with the principles of the Law of Attraction. But in this area, the wrong advice is almost worse than no advice — the wrong advice being advice that’s incognizant of spiritual truths AND basic risk mitigation AND softness. It’s really tempting to triangulate, too, in our relationships — that’s a whole ‘nother subject.
Suffice to say, I’m a girl, my brain works like a girl brain, and the success of my relationship is important to me. Helena Hart has filled the role of big (younger) sister in many ways, and strengthened my overall grasp of romantic energy dynamics. I think she’s spot on, and highly recommend.