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Men’s Sexual Shame: Maidens, Nymphs and Muses

I invite you on a journey to understand deeper aspects of the ritual initiation in masculinity and the intimate and sexual issues that men face in their romantic relationships.

In order to do that, we are going to enter the realm of the Maidens, also known as the Nymphs or Muses.

We all know who the Maidens are. In mythology, the Hero meets the Maidens or the Nymphs after having separated from his mother, learned his father’s skills, gotten direction from the elderly and relying on his male mentor to keep him on his path. The Maidens seduce and tempt the hero and are seduced by him. They represent passion, risk and constant change in a man’s life.

“When you were in your adolescence, you were in the Maiden’s world (or hungered, above all else, to be in their world). Your hormones drove you to that hunger sexually. Your desire to experiment with love’s feelings drove you to it emotionally. Your need to feel loved by females other than your mother drove you to it psychologically. In the stages of male development, adolescence is a second birth. At biological birth, the infant is born into boyhood. In his second birth, the boy is born into manhood. A boy or adolescent cannot help but feel that a Maiden (and/or sometimes a female mentor with whom he has sex or another intimacy) is mothering him into manhood… During our adolescence, we would do anything to get into bed with them, or get them to pay attention to us. We would lie to our brothers and friends to prove we had received gifts from the Maidens. We would lie, cheat and steal to get the Maiden’s love. Many of us still do.” Michael Gurian, The Invisible Presence

Although the Maidens are only a step in a boy’s journey of maturity, their gifts are essential for his masculine development. He needs female attentions, sexual or otherwise, in order to feel worthy as a male lover. When a young man reaches the realm of the Maidens unprepared, he is deeply unsure of himself. He is desperate for love and attention so he is ready to sacrifice his self-image development to have the Maiden’s attention. At this stage, he believes that having the love of a princess is manhood. He needs to assure himself that he can posses the Maiden, dominate her and be loved by her. If the Hero reaches this realm while still initiated, not having separated psychologically from his mother and not being able to rely on his father’s or other mature men’s teachings and guidance, he will remain stuck there. In mythology, this is represented by the hero’s prolonged sleep in the Maiden’s castle or garden, or in her servitude. He feels lost without her love.

Some men remain stuck at that stage for years and years. And the older they become, the more they need to surround themselves with young, beautiful women so that they can feel complete. Furthermore, they are unable to see the maiden-like beauty of their partner as her body ages.

If you find yourself fantasizing about other women, generally younger than your partner or wife, if you are sex addicted, preferring sexual fantasies involving adolescent girls or young women to actual relationships with women who are your peers, if you constantly seek the experience of falling in love and never seem to be able to move on to more mature stages in a romantic relationship you might be stuck in the World of the Maidens.

I am not saying that having an active fantasy life is a problem. However, if your fantasy life has a negative impact on your intimacy with your partner, then it is important for you to further explore this issue in your men’s group, with a coach, therapist or trusted mentor.

Your lack of separation from your mother, coupled with the lack of healthy guidance from your father or other mentors, might have stoped you from joyfully accepting the Maiden’s gifts and left you stranded in their captivity.

Fortunately, no matter how old you are right now, it is still possible to break free and wake up from this deep sleep that made you forget who you really are and you can continue your journey of becoming the man you want to be so that you can finally experience freedom, love and connection in your life.

So here is what you can do:

I like to call the first step, the Awakening, because it involves becoming aware of the problem.

Our culture fantasizes and stereotypes the Maiden so men from all over the world worship her above all other partners in love, and women all over the world try to be that image – and remain forever young and beautiful. So guys, the time has come to wake up and understand what the Maidens have to offer.

And then, in order to be able to continue your journey towards authentic masculinity, you need to take the second step: accept their gifts. That is the only way you will be able to move on.

I am going to leave you reflecting on Gurian’s brilliant questions that will help you understand how to actually work through this:

1. What did she teach me about sexuality and sensuality?

2. What did she let me teach her about sexuality and sensuality?

3. What did I learn from her about how to set boundaries?

4. What did she let me teach her about how to set boundaries?

5. What wonderful lessons of hers will I never forget?

6. How did she help me to feel I was becoming a worthy young man?

7. What feelings did I have with her? When did I cry with her and/ or nurture her tears of pain and joy?

8. What was I afraid to learn during my time with her about sexuality and sensuality?

9. What was I afraid to teach her about sexuality and sensuality?

10. What was I too immature to learn from my time with her about boundaries?

11. What was I too immature to teach her about boundaries?  

12. What wonderful lessons of hers have I forgotten, lessons I should have learned better?

13. What feelings did I repress with her? When did I hold back feelings and force her to hold back hers?


All right guys, share your thoughts in the comments section and email me your questions at

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