When I was growing up, I remember the emphasis being on 'The Relationship."
Find someone. Make sure they had a good job and were a good person. Get married and have kids.
That's about the extent of what I was taught about relationships.
If we look back historically, the emphasis was on the relationship because it was a means for survival. We relied on each other for food and shelter. The goal was to reproduce: more hands meant more help providing for the family. Women were at a disadvantage in providing for a family and it was important to find someone who could help care for you.
Thankfully, times have changed. We live in a time where relationships are a choice. They are no longer a means for survival. Women are able to fully support themselves and there are an abundance of opportunities for everyone.
But while the dynamics of relationships have changed, our reasons for choosing them have not. Many of us are still taught that outdated idea of find a partner, get married, have kids.
There is little consideration given to what type of partner actually works for us. (And if you were lucky enough to be taught that, congratulations! You're one step ahead of the game!)
Are you someone that values independence and likes to travel? Find a partner who is secure enough to honor that, rather than settling for someone that expects you to be home with them all. the. time.
Do you desire a partner who is active and social? Or do you prefer someone who is more of a homebody?
Are you an empath or highly sensitive person who needs alone time to recharge? Or do you prefer having someone who is always around?
If you have never given this consideration, it's a great time to start. Even if you have been in a committed relationship for awhile, knowing what you require/desire from a relationship makes it easier to ask for and create.
For more on this, check out last week's Friday at Five.
I was upset with my guy a few weeks ago and some not nice thoughts started cropping up.
What started the upset is that I had an expectation on something and he didn't meet it. I couldn't tell you what it was at this moment (which shows how little of importance it was). It may have been that I asked him to lunch and he said no. Or I asked him to take out the trash and he forgot.
What I did notice, which was super important, is how quickly my mind started working to accumulate evidence in support of my upset. My thought was initially focused on how disappointed I was, and my monkey mind quickly spiraled into all the reasons why I was justified in my thinking. I started racking my brain for other times I was let down by him.
Most of this happened unconsciously....meaning that I wasn't even aware of what I was doing!
It wasn't until I thought of an event that happened four or five years ago that I caught myself and went, "whoa!"
Because I was focused on an upset, my monkey mind quickly gathered more thoughts and situations to perpetuate and valid that feeling of upset, even if it meant going back YEARS.
I could have stayed mad and upset. I could have vented all that evidence at my guy, criticizing him for letting me down.
And, in fact, I have done that in prior relationships. I have argued and justified how I was 'right' and my partner was 'wrong.' I shared all the evidence in favor of my 'rightness.'
What that created was me being in the habit of looking for ways he was wrong and letting me down.
I had inadvertently focused myself on the negatives of the relationship, so rather than looking at everything that was going right in the relationship (and everything he was doing 'right' to support me), I kept focusing on everything that was wrong or missing.
That didn't create the connection I wanted in my personal relationship. It destroyed it.
Once I realized what path I was going down, I switched my thinking. I started appreciating everything that my guy does do, every day, often without my asking.
I switched my focus to his good qualities - those qualities that attracted me to him in the first place. Those qualities that keep me attracted to him after all these years.
Upsets will happen in relationships.
Relationships consist of two people - two people with their own wants, needs and desires.
But we don't have to get stuck there. We don't have to focus on everything wrong or missing.
When we start focusing on what we do have and all the goodness that does exist, our relationships will be able to continue to grow.
And this focus applies to every aspect of our lives.
Did you catch last week's Friday at Five? You can listen here.
I was the girl who couldn't get a date for prom. As in, no one asked me (until a week before my senior prom and a new co-worker felt sorry for me that I was going to my prom solo. Again.)
It was during these high school years that I developed a belief that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. I had a ton of evidence to support it too. I rationalized that I must not be that bad because some guys would ask me out, just none from high school. I figured that if I didn't let those guys get too close to see that there was something wrong with me, I would be okay.
I remember a 'friend' during my senior year of high school saying to me, "What is wrong with you? You are going to lose the best thing that ever happened to you." I couldn't let that happen, so I basically went insane trying to prevent it. (Sorry, Mike) Losing my boyfriend at the time would confirm that I was defective, unlovable, and undesirable.
Thankfully, I have come a long, long way from that girl I was in high school. It took years of asking questions and breaking down the beliefs I had carefully built up over the years, but I did it.
I used to be so jealous. Of pretty girls. Smart girls. Funny girls. Rich girls. Talented girls. Basically every girl that I thought was better than me. Every girl who didn't have something fundamentally wrong with them. Every girl who had their life together.
I would criticize and cut them down to make myself feel better because I didn't want to acknowledge how much "better" they were than me.
They were the problem, not me.
It took a long time to realize that instead of cutting everyone else down that I could build myself up....because there was nothing wrong with me.
And all the fears and insecurities I had, all these other girls carried as well.
When I got that my being jealous of them was really rooting for someone else to win my guy, I was dumbfounded. Why would I root for someone else when we are happy together? Why would I root for someone else to be in a relationship with my guy, when he is the one who chose to be with me?
I am so much happier and peaceful in life, now that I am not treating everyone as a threat or competitor. I know I am the best version of me and that is enough.
For more on this subject, check out last week's Friday at Five.
I made self care a priority a priority when I was single and looking. I had a workout routine and watched what I ate; I shaved regularly; I wore make up regularly. I was following what all the marketers said we needed to do to feel sexy and attract a partner.
After I met my ex-boyfriend and we had dated for about six months, I was happy to be past the 'honeymoon' period. I felt like now that I 'had' him, I didn't have to work as hard on myself. I stopped wearing make up, unless it was a special occasion. He liked me any way. I indulged in more comfort foods, since ordering take out and watching movies was a way to spend time together, I stopped working out regularly. Why spend time doing that when I could spend time together with him? Once winter hit, I stopped shaving. No one else would see my legs and my boyfriend would like me anyway.
But as I made all these changes in my life, another change appeared in our relationship. The closeness and connection that we had at the beginning was fading. Sex was happening way less often (or not at all). Kissing stopped, other than a quick peck hello/goodbye (or goodnight). I stopped desiring his arms around me because I was afraid that any intimacy would lead to sex, which was something I wasn't interested in. I told myself I was too tired, too stressed, too much to do.
The truth was that I didn't enjoy it.
As the years went on, and we became glorified roommates, I became very unhappy. I hated life. I resented my relationship. Even though superficially it looked like most of my friend's relationship's, I craved closeness and connection. I craved being loved and being in love.
I was aware enough to know that my feeling this way had little to do with him and all to do with me. I started looking up female sexual dysfunction and focusing on finding what was wrong with me. My whole adult life, up to this point, centered around that one thought. Something is wrong with me and I need to find it, so I can fix it.
Somewhere on my journey to fix my life, I stumbled on a book, "The Power of Your Subconscious Mind." It was a mind blowing book. I had to read it several times to digest everything that was presented, and then I went to work on me.
I knew I felt better when I worked out and when I ate (or rather didn't eat) certain foods. I knew I felt sexier with smooth legs and when I wore make up. So I started adding these things back into my life and, as I started feeling better about myself, I was actually able to receive the love that had always been there.
When I wasn't feeling good about myself, it didn't matter what my partner said or did. It didn't matter if he told me he loved me 500 times. It didn't matter if he looked at me with love in his eyes, appreciating me for who I was. It didn't matter because it wasn't true for me.
I didn't believe that he could love me. I could believe he was just saying it. I didn't believe he could look at me with love in his eyes. I could believe that he was looking to pick out what was wrong with me and ask himself why he was with me. That thought resonated with my belief of myself. The others (the kind, loving ones) didn't.
How we feel and what we believe to be true about ourselves directly ties into what we will be able to receive from others. We will devote our time and focus validating those beliefs. Anything that doesn't validate them will be ignored or twisted in a such a way until it does.
So if you've lost that loving feeling, one question you could ask is, "how much do I love myself?" Or "how good do I feel about myself?"
We can only receive where we are at, so if we are desiring more, it begins with us being able to receive it.
Want to hear more? Check out Episode 6 of Friday at Five.
I tried to fit in to this reality; I did everything I was 'supposed' to do: went to college, got a job, bought a house. And I was absolutely miserable. It was went I lost everything that I found the greatest gift. I found myself. I went back to my roots and explored all things 'hooey,' weird, and 'out there.' I embraced my psychic gifts and started using my intuition again, which allowed me to re-discover the magic and mystery that does exist in this life (when we are brave enough to embrace it).