WTF Happened to Relationships?

I inspired to write this article, because when I look around today (through the lens of my clients in my practice, and in my own daily experience), I see a modern society that is held together by the thin strand of superficial relationships.
 
I really want to see you SO BAD soon, let’s make it happen!
She’s great in almost every way EXCEPT for this one thing?
Are there ANY good men left out there?
 
These are some of the moments I capture in deep observation. Based on these and others, I have defined two main challenges I see in building authentically beautiful caring & inspiring Intimate Relationships.
 
The first challenge is this: In the era of self-love and self-care, many of us have created unrealistic expectations for the caliber of human we are to allow into our world. While this tall order was created from a place of care for oneself, it can be a destructive force in destroying even potentially fulfilling relationships, because who the fuck can check all those boxes?!
 
I think part of this shift occurred in the last 50-years when Women’s Rights began to emerge. Before [in the institute of marriage], the woman was highly dependent on the male for financial and material survival, and so they were given no choice in putting up with whatever treatment their husband dished out. Men could be abusive, neglectful, temperamental, or unfaithful and largely, women did not have a real option to leave and find a new partner. Partnership was not about love or passion back then, but rather maintaining social and economical status. It was an arrangement of procreation and survival of the family.
 
It’s only recently that women were allowed into the workforce, allowing her the ability to financially support herself and her family. This shift gave women CHOICE, which means they didn’t have to stay in an abusive, unfulfilling, or unfaithful marriage anymore.
The feeling of choice after so many deafening years of oppression was like sexy new adventure or an exciting new vacation! Though uncharted, this territory was extremely exciting and empowering for women everywhere. And with this shift, came the birth of the Passionate Marriage.
 
Today, our expectations for partnership stack up high compared to the old paradigm:
+ We still want security, financial support, safety and a good home life to raise a family in.
+ We also want sensitivity, emotional intelligence, the ability to share and be open and vulnerable with me.
+ We want an erotic and explorative sex life. We want the alchemy of passion and desire to take place regularly in between the comfort of our sheets.
+ We want open and skilled communication. We want intelligence, and someone that can engage in a stimulating conversation with us.
+ Ladies- We want a strong man, that exhurberates sexy masculinity, who can take charge and dominate. And we want him to be sensitive, soft and in-touch with his emotions.
+ Men- We want an independent woman who can hold her own, that is a beautiful force in the world. In the same breath, we’d like her to be a soft and submissive sex kitten, ready for sexual connection and penetration at any given moment. And it’d be nice if she wasn’t ‘too emotional’.
+ We want a best friend and trusted confidant who can hold the weight of our most intimate secrets with a softness caring grip.
+ We desire a creative partner, and intelligent equal, who can create and build and invision new ideas.
+ We want emotional support; someone I can vent to, who can hold ALL of my experience and sooth me as needed.
+ We want a co-parent and co-household manager who can split every single child-bearing and household duty 50/50.
 
ALL OF THIS FROM A SINGLE PERSON?!
 
And I notice this SAME weight of expectation crumbling the institution of close friendship (perhaps minus the passionate sex life).
 
In the wake of self-empowerment and self-love, I think many of us have gotten unrealistic with our expectations of another. And really what is damaging to me in this case, is that are large checklists are destroying what it means to be truly intimate.
 
Because to me, true Intimacy is about seeing both the light and dark sides of another person. It is about getting to know their weaknesses and their strengths. To experience both their delightful traits and their challenging traits...AND TO LOVE AND ACCEPT THEM STILL.
 
Being loved in our darkest places...that is the feeling of true, transformative Love. And this, can be deeply healing.
 
So, my counsel to any folks out there struggling to find the people you desire in your life (weather this be in friendships or in partnership) is to re-examine your expectations.
Look at all that you are wanting from one person, and decide, is this realistic? Do I need this, or would I be happy if a few of these traits were fulfilled by this person? What’s the most important of this list to me?
 
And from here, perhaps we can open our hearts and expand our minds to allow regular people with normal-human flaws have a chance at being that connection we deeply desire right now.
 
Here’s the second challenge I see: In a society where everyone feels busy, time is like a fleeting resource we cannot get back, and the demands for the average person from work, school, & home life are outweighing our given human ability-- CONNECTIONS seem to be more fleeting, less meaningful, and often times living on a surface level.
 
What I see is people running around, to spread their already depleted-supply of time between a whole bunch of people (friends, lovers, family, etc).
 
In my own experience it has showed up like this: Someone in my life (maybe a friend I haven’t seen in a while) will message me here and again something like this “I realllllllly miss you and want to see you so bad! We need to make this happen asap!”
 
And then, I will hear nothing from then for months or years even. Next thing I know, I’m out somewhere (let’s say at a bar) and I see this person. They come up to me for an explosive moment of reunion, HI HOW HAVE YOU BEEN OMG IT IS SO GOOD TO SEE YOU!
 
And then, after a few minutes of seemingly surface small-talk, they’ll say something like Oh, I’ve got to go say hi to so-and-so. It was so nice to see you!!!
 
Here’s what I observe in cases like these: Here is a person, that is attached to the idea of ‘having many friends.’ So they’ll send me a random text message, or come say hi to me for a couple minutes if we run into each other, in order to maintain our friendship in a way. Since we’ve conversed for like two minutes in the last year, you can still include my name when you make a mental list of all your friends, right?
 
And what I feel from this interaction is that I actually am not that interested in creating relationship with this person. Because our interactions and connection feel fleeting, surface-y, and disingenuous in some regard.
 
Because in those relationships, there is often no vulnerability explored and intimacy shared. So these types of friends, I categorize as ‘party friends’ or ‘social friends.’ This is really helpful for me because then my only expectation of these particular people is that they will likely say hi to me and engage in a short, surface conversation when I see them.
 
And that is okay, because I expect nothing more.
 
I think the pain and challenge comes when one holds onto these friendship with a death-grip, hoping and trying to make the relationship into a deep, inspiring, challenging, growth-orientated relationship. When it is not that. So then, you might feel disappointment because your friends are not showing up for you in the way that you want.
 
Instead, I counsel you to begin looking at people clearly, and making expectations or desires of them that are realistic based on how they are.
 
If you want a deep, challenging, inspiring, supportive Intimate Relationship, then you have to find people who are up for that. And the truth is, many people are not ready for that.
 
This is a challenge I’ve struggled with near and dear to my heart. After my mom died suddenly and tragically, leaving me an orphan at age 22, something changed deep inside of me that I cannot explain in words. I gained a wealth of wisdom that most folks will not begin to contemplate until their 50’s or 60’s, and this felt very isolating. I understood on a deep level that the only relationships that matter (to me, right now) are the authentic, deep, intimate ones. And I embarked on a journey of trying to find people that wanted that too, at age 22 (very challenging).
 
True Intimacy requires deep surrender, unwavering honesty, and a raw, authentic way of being that is challenging to do in relationship with another. Living in a way that is unapologetically, authentically You requires great self-acceptance.
 
So, learn to appreciate your ‘social-friends’ for that quick hit of dopamine they provide you with when you engage with them for a few moments out on the town.
 
And for your deep, transformative, healing Intimate Relationships, you need to look for those people. Surround yourself with these types of people and more will come you. Put yourself out there in new and maybe intimidating ways, in order to call in your TRIBE (I like to call this my Inner-Squish).
 
I think when we can all get more realistic about what certain people can provide for us in terms of relationship (based on how they are, not how you want them to be), then we can feel less disappointed. We can feel more inspired to go out and seek out the relationships we desire, rather than lost in a pit of sorrow for how our current relationships aren’t “measuring up.”
 
If you have thoughts, questions, or a story of your own to share? Please reach out to me directly to share! I love hearing from you.
 
I love you. I appreciate you. Thank you for taking precious moments out of your day to read.
 

 

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