Flowster (glossary entry)  

(NOTE: This article may be renamed at some point in the future.)

Roles and Behavior Strategies in Folk and Professional Psychology

(old title: Commitment to Purpose over Task)

Choice-Roles in Sex and Relationships

In the 1999 Telluride lectures, entitled "The Nuts and Bolts of Spiritual Intimacy", Deida uses the term "flowster" in a discussion about relationship dynamics to refer to the partner who allows the decisions to be made by the other person — the flowster is someone who "goes with the flow".

When he calls it feminine, he basically means they are letting someone else decide. This is evident in all four levels of the archetypes (the Maiden lets the Warrior decide; the Mother lets the Lover decide, the Crone lets the Magician decide and the Queen lets the King decide).

If sticking with your plans means not having to decide anything new ("having no choice" in Men's Weekend terminology), then one could easily say that the man who does not change his plans is a "flowster". But of course he is not — by "sticking to it" he has to exercise decisiveness. (Alternatively, the man who sticks to it might be misguided by ego or ignorance — see the confidence and commitment articles.)

So, the flowster does not relate to our discussion, because decision is required in any case. To cope with change, one must decide how to deal with the change, and if that involves changing plans, then one must decide on the specifics of any new plan.

Let's go back to "Nuts and Bolts of Spiritual Intimacy". Here Deida uses "flowster" to describe a man exhibiting a feminine behavior role. As Deida describes in "The Red Realm" (a 1999 book focused on sexuality) in the "Crimson" chapter:

There may be reasons for a masculine person's need to submit to domination. He may be acting on a spiritual desire to contact a higher feminine archetype to which he can devote himself. He may be healing — or wallowing in — the wounds of childhood abuse. He may simply want to shift from being stuck one-sidedly in his masculine at the corporate office all day.
David Deida, The Red Realm, Chapter 19 "Crimson", section "The Obsessive Need to be Dominated"

This illustrates a few of the complex situations that lead to role reversal in sex, and they are analogous to the larger topic of role choices in any life-situation.

Roles and choices thereto are a pretty big topic. Suffice it to say that mature, functioning individuals will choose the appropriate role based on the situation and their abilities.

Returning to sex for the moment: as listeners to "Nuts and Bolts" are advised, extending your sexual role behavior to other aspects of your life makes sense whenever you can do so. For "the masculine" (and for any persons or groups who consider Deida's style of masculinity and masculine atmosphere to be part of their purpose), this means taking charge and being the more committed element.

In "Red Realm", Deida has to address the question: what happens when both partners are male? As psychologists have found, in homosexual relationships, most of the time there is a diversification into specific roles, which apply in the bedroom and do not necessarily reflect the individuals' behavior elsewhere in their lives. So we have another example of role choice based on situation and ability.

What do we do when both men are in the army, and one reports to the other (who has higher rank)? Most of the time it is simple, each man is making promises and keeping them. However, war is famously FUBAR, and plans change. When a new order is given that contradicts a previous one, the lower-rank man copes by abandoning the earlier task and switching to something new.

Choice-Roles in Life

Now we do back to the original topic, which is what to do in the realms of your decision-making, planning, coping with change, balancing priorities, keeping promises, persuing goals and serving a life-purpose.

Roles are chosen based on ability, aptitude and effectiveness: they are a strategy. So we have to look to variations in ability, and in this case there are two faculties involved:

- the ability to make the right plans from the start,

- the ability to revise and adapt to changes in the environment and other new information

These are a matter of individual temperament, and derive from mental capacities for intuition, awareness, analysis, deduction, and so on. There are two dimensions, typically referred to as intuition or "common sense", and "intelligence". Each individual is endowed with a certain amount of each. Both play a role in the two faculties I just cited (planning and adaptability).

As I mentioned before there are two strategies that can be used to deal with change:

Back to temperament: as a child, usually at a very young age1, the individual experiments with planning and adapting. Each child finds that he is more or less successful at either of the two strategies. This depends on both his common sense and his intelligence. Both are required at both points in the strategy (the initial plan, and the decision about how to cope with change).

After childhood the individual has usually developed a personality that incorporates his preference for one strategy over the other. But this is still only a preference, and as with any role-choice situation, people will choose one strategy or another based on the situation (as in Deida's example of sex role reversal).

In social organizations, there is usually a group belief-system that reinforces the "Stick to the original plan" strategy. This is evident in corporate culture, military campaigns, and MDI groups like Backbone.


1 : exceptions occur in individuals with delayed development disorder, who in many cases will find themselves still engaged in this work well after they have reached puberty.

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