Saturday, April 24, 2010

Are relationships about getting our needs met?

Last week I went out with a male friend who has made it clear that he would like to be more than just a friend--this, despite the fact that he already has a partner. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, but I thought that we had gotten to a place where we could enjoy each other's company without any expectations or agendas.

From my part, I don't feel that I have expectations from him or an agenda. I don't secretly hope that he will leave his partner and be mine. I don't expect him to take me out and treat me to dinners; we pay our own way. When I'm going through difficult emotional times, I don't expect him to come running to me and make it all better. I don't expect him to call me or show up in my life frequently. I'm just happy when he calls and I enjoy his company because I find him to be truthful, aware (except in the sexual arena), kind, loving, intelligent, wise, and fun to be around. I appreciate who he is and do not try to change him. We have very different ideas about certain things, mainly about what a partnership between a man and a woman should look like. But we both tell the truth and have a passion for freedom, and that to me is a very good reason to have him in my life.

This is the first relationship that I've had with a man which is not about getting my needs met. In my younger years (OK, up to a few years ago) I didn't see the point of being with a man unless there was a possibility that the relationship would lead to marriage. Hurray! I'm growing up.

So you can imagine how surprised I was when last week, at the Chinese restaurant, this friend told me that he wasn't getting his needs met from me. He asked me if I ever intended to have sex with him. "No," was my reply. He appeared hurt. Then there was hope in his eyes as he asked, "Well, would you consider just sleeping with me?" "No," I replied. He finally got it and became sullen.

When I asked him what he was feeling, he said he was feeling rejected. I was surprised and sad that he couldn't feel how much I love him because he had sex and love linked together. His belief seems to be that if a woman loves him, she will want to have sex with him. I explained that I love him and that this is his issue to resolve. He's mature enough to understand this but still needs to go away to process. Whether he decides to see me again or not is his choice.

I've been thinking of all the conditions that we place on our friends. If you love me you will...have sex with me, give me money, come to my birthday party, listen to my story, agree with me that my ex-husband is a jerk, etc. etc. The list goes on and on. What a heavy burden we put on friendship!

Can we imagine being in relationship just for the sheer pleasure of connecting?
Can we imagine being in relationship without getting anything out of it? Without any agreements of what the other person owes us or what we owe them?

I certainly hope so, because that's the only friendship that I'm willing to have these days...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Goddess vs. Disney

I finally had a realization as to why I'm having such a hard time ageing. It's because of all the Disney movies I watched when I was a little girl (thank you, Walt!) It seems that Disney--and our society in general--only has three female archetypes that are twisted versions of the maiden/mother/crone goddess triad.

According to Disney:
  1. The maiden is the beautiful, young, innocent woman who has no power--well, basically she is asleep--and is waiting for the prince to save her. Yep, I bought into that archetype big time and was lucky enough (or unlucky enough) that I could play that role well into my 40s.
  2. The mother is really the step-mother. She is still beautiful and has power, but the wrong kind of power. She has power over others, which she misuses to her own ends. She is the mean Queen who is not to be trusted and wants to kill the maiden. Basically she is a powerful bitch who is to be feared and the whole world is better off when she dies.
  3. The crone is the old witch-hag who eats little children, who gives Snow White the poisoned apple to eat, etc. etc. She is ugly in her old age, bent over with big warts on her big nose, which mirrors the ugliness that she has inside.

No wonder I'm having trouble finding a mature archetype to emulate. I used to be pretty enough to play the maiden role well and while that role looked good it was really painful. In real life the prince never shows up to save you; you have to save yourself. Decades wasted waiting for something to happen that didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of happening! Uh, thank you Mr. Disney, society, and advertising for supporting me in believing something that just caused suffering (to me and those poor guys who showed up but couldn't be the prince)

Having passed the maiden stage, there is no archetype for the mature or older woman. Both are bitches. Ok, if I have to choose I guess I'll be the Queen bitch. At least she has power and gets to do what she wants, while still being fairly attractive.

But what about being a Queen who has real power, personal power, which is combined with compassion? Uh, no such archetype in Disney's fairy-tales or in our society for that matter.

And what about the beautiful older woman, who is a wise elder, guiding the young? Nope. No such archetype in Disney's world or in our modern day world.

No wonder women are going back to the goddess. It's time for archetypes that honor mature and older women, and offer us the freedom to be who we were meant to be.

Personally, I don't consider myself a "goddess" person as I am not into ritual or wearing goddessy clothing. But I am glad to borrow the archetype of a priestess who owns her power and uses it to support awakening.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The challenges of relationships

Relationships are hard work. I don't mean sexual partnerships such as husband and wife. Those are super hard work which I have avoided--or rather it has avoided me--for two decades. People think that being in a partnership will be romantic and fun, and they will get their needs met. Well, that hasn't been my experience. Partnerships will push every button you have. If you are conscious you will use this to grow. If you are not, you will leave and start the same partnership with another person. There is no escape.

But I'm not talking about sexual partnerships. I'm talking about friendships. What do you do when a friend does something that triggers you?

Do you say something to her? Probably not a good idea when you're angry. The issue will get lost in the emotions, and it will be more about winning the battle.

Do you wait until you're no longer angry, and then speak to her? Possibly. But some time will have passed by then, and the issue will seem petty. Of course the real issue isn't petty. The real issue is usually something important, like trust.

And what if she's a defensive type of person, and she won't hear anything you have to say? Then isn't speaking with her a waste of time?

But if you don't say anything, these little issues pile up until you can't have a real friendship. Unspoken issues have a tendency to leak out and poison the friendship.

The easiest thing seems to be to not say anything and stop seeing the person--that is if the relationship isn't that important to you. But if you do that often enough then you are left with very few friends, or all alone.

I don't have the answers. This is an issue I'm dealing with right now. But it's a weekend, and frankly I would rather sit alone and read a book...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Learning Self-Love

If you accept that everything that happens to you is a projection of what is going on inside you--which I do--then when ever there is a problem, the first place to look is within. If there's a battle going on outside, what is the battle that is going on inside? If someone out there hates me, how do I hate myself? This last question has been important to me lately, as I realize that most of my problems stem from self-hatred. Actually I would venture to say that most people's problems are the result of some form of self-hatred.

I read a book a while ago, I think the title was The Five As of Love. Basically it stated that there are five aspects to love, all of which begin with the letter "A":
  1. Appreciation
  2. Acceptance
  3. Allowing
  4. Attention
  5. Affection

So one by one I started asking myself how I treat myself in regards to the above:

  1. Do I appreciate myself? Uh, no. I'm always looking for things that I've done wrong so that I can improve. So I'm constantly criticizing myself. That must be why I need to hear appreciative words from others (my boss is great at that.) Perhaps if I appreciated myself, I wouldn't be so starved for it. I started listing the things that I appreciate about myself, and at first it felt wrong. It felt arrogant. But after a while I found myself relaxing. Hmmm... I do some things well. Maybe I'm not such a lost cause!
  2. Do I accept myself? Nope. As soon as I do something that isn't perfect, I start beating myself up. Why didn't I catch that mistake? Why did I make that comment? There's a constant judge going on in my head. Ok, how about I accept that I'm not perfect? So I started listing all the things that I accept about myself: I accept that I get frightened; I accept that I like to be in control; I accept that I have a temper. Whew! Again, I found myself relaxing as I said these things.
  3. Do I allow myself to just be? Not really. What a relief it would be to just allow myself to be what ever it is I'm being.

I think the only "A" that I got is that I pay attention to myself--too much attention to myself. Perhaps if I started appreciating and accepting myself, then I wouldn't have to focus on everything that I'm doing wrong. And then perhaps I'd be able to relax and that relaxed way of being would be reflected on the outside as well. It's worth a try...