Wednesday, October 15, 2014
From the looks of things, there seems to be an awful lot of confused women out here. We seek advice from friendsand search the internet for forums that speak to our dilemmas. Everywhere we turn, there is an outlet freely dispensing advice to the baffled and befuddled. And then there are all the relationship experts who promise that if we will just buy a book, they will tell us how men reallythink, teach us how to date like pros, and how to attract the love we want. It appears as if everyone has the answers to our problems but us. Why do we need so much help? And when did we get to be so confused?
Recently, while reading a relationship advice column that is featured in a popular online magazine, I stopped in the middle of perusing the letter of the week and immediatelysent the link to my best friend. For a brief moment, I felt like Jerry Springer. “WHERE DO THEY FIND THESE PEOPLE?” I wrote in the subject line of the e-mail. I just couldn’t understand how a woman past the age of 50 could be so confused about how to proceed in a relationship with a 58-year-old “boyfriend” who still liveswith his mother and refuses to marry her. “Help!” she wrote.
My take on it? She didn’t need to write a letter seeking advice, because she already knew what to do. It seemed that all she really wanted was to vent her frustrations. She talked about his controlling mother and how his sistersconstantly tried to sabotage the relationship; they didn’t have a man, nor had she ever seen them with one, she wrote. Her boyfriend, as she was quick to point out, was agood man, so it couldn’t be about him. And certainly, it had nothing to do with her. No, not her. She was not to blame. She was just a woman in love trying to make it all workwhile fighting against a constant onslaught of negativity. And she was tired. Tired and confused, it seemed.
In relationships, “I’m confused” is often code for “I don’t want to make a decision about this right now”, and in order to avoid making a decision, we sidestep the real issues or seek to ascribe blame to others when the blissfulrelationship we are attempting to cultivate doesn’t quite match the story we have created in our minds. We claimthat perhaps we are making too much of things; being too quick to judge, or not patient enough. We make comparisons and tell ourselves that things could be worse.Or best of all, we feign confusion and act like we don’t know what to do.
Somewhere, somehow, we’ve come to believe that being confused absolves us of taking responsibility for the choices we make and we settle for playing the victim in our very own made for TV dramas; seeking approval and support from others to maintain relationships that we know will ultimately not serve us. But we are grown women. We don’t need anyone’s approval. And if our choice just happens to be a 58-year-old who lives with mommy and refuses to marry us, then so be it. All we need to do is choose, and then take responsibility for all that comesalong with the choices we make. The question is not so much, “What should I do?” as it is, “Is this what I want for myself?” That’s it. And if the answer is “no”, we know that we have some work to do.
Navigating relationships can get a little tricky and sometimes we really do need advice or a good sounding board. But the more we practice taking responsibility forthe choices we make in our relationships, the clearer things will become. We are stronger, wiser, and far more intuitive than we give ourselves credit for. We don’t need to walk around in confusion. We need only to trust in ourselves.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
More often than not, we look at love as being some huge prize reserved for those of us who are good enough to deserve it. We have to be lucky enough, pretty enough, smart enough, sexy enough, patient enough and kind enough. As a result, we spend an awful lot of time attempting to master those things we assume will get us that prize.
But eventually something happens. Some of us begin to notice that we aren’t winning. We assume that somewhere, somehow, something went wrong. We go back over our list and check off all the things we’ve done to better prepare ourselves for the competition, and come to the conclusion that we haven’t done enough. So, we up our game. We read more books, attend more classes, diet more, exercise more, and find new ways to improve our appearance. And in the midst of it all, are the firm declarations that we are only doing it for ourselves, not because we believe that if we get “better”, we will finally be good enough to love. But sometimes, just sometimes, that’s a lie.
It’s a lie we tell ourselves because we have learned to mask our fears. We have learned that strong women know their own worth and don’t need validation from others. But there is a deeper truth behind that story; and that is we often do want the validation. We want to be recognized. We want to be acknowledged and we want to be chosen. We want to be good enough to love. But we can’t say that. We don’t want to look like we care that much. We don’t want to appear weak or needy, because being weak is for losers. We want to win. And when we do, we want to accept our prize showing the world that we were always confident in our ability to have it. Now, that is not to say that every good thing we do for ourselves is to get love and approval from men or from anyone else, for that matter. What I am saying is that if we are honest, we would admit that a lot of what we do actually is.
Although there are many who would proudly proclaim that they don’t need or even want the validation, there is still that quiet whisper of those who are not quite so convinced. And they are ashamed; ashamed of their desire to be loved or of their fear of not being good enough. So, let’s start having more real conversations-not just the ones where we tell one another how great and powerful and worthy we are. While we are all of those things, there are times when we are also afraid and unsure and vulnerable. And it is during these times that we should be able to simply say, without judgment, “Sometimes, I feel like I’m just not good enough.” We don’t need to hear how smart or pretty or talented we are and we don’t need to hear what we could do to make ourselves better. We only need to hear, “I know how that feels.”
- Angie G.
Monday, September 30, 2013
The word “fear” has come up a lot recently during conversations I’ve had about relationships. Everybody seems to have a story about it. We fear getting hurt. We fear being trapped. We fear choosing the wrong mate. And many of us fear that we will never find someone. With all the talk about fear, I started to wonder how we got so comfortable using that word to describe our feelings about relationships. Then it occurred to me, we really are fearful.
Gone are the days when believed that we would find our perfect love-that person who would cherish and care deeply for us. We have come to see love as a rare find that can only come to us if we are lucky or good or have learned how to correctly play the game. We have become jaded. We have become grown women who have seen enough to know that often, the pursuit of love does not have the fairytale ending we once dreamed of. So, we temper our expectations with just enough skepticism to show ourselves and the world that we get it. We aren’t looking for a fairytale. We want something real; and because we are so focused on being real, we have forgotten what it looks like to be shameless about our dreams of having that love that is perfect for us. We have forgotten what it looks like to be naive and eternally hopeful in the face of love. We have become fearful of being judged or ridiculed for wanting too much.
As we focus more and more on what’s “real”, we choose to talk about our disappointments, how we have failed, and how others have failed us. We talk about limited opportunities and single girl contingency plans. We talk about finding our satisfaction outside of relationships. We talk about choosing to have a life instead of chasing a relationship. And when we are being particularly generous with ourselves, we allow ourselves to speak about that course we took to better prepare ourselves for that potential relationship, should we be so lucky to ever find it. But love is not something that is out there for us to find or to “get right.” And, it is not something that can be won or lost. Love just is.
So what would it look like if we allowed ourselves to truly believe that we don’t ever have to find love, because we are constantly surrounded and embraced by it? To know that there is nothing we could ever do that could separate us from it, and that we can never lose it or get it wrong? And finally, what would it look like if we chose to change our conversation and began to speak positively about love? We can start today by letting go of the fear that we won’t have it and we can boldly speak the desire of our heart into existence. Today, we can choose to love fearlessly.