This week I’ve been talking to people about relationships, and the thing I found most fascinating is this idea that love conquers all. The idea that if you just met somebody, fall in love, find that perfect match when we’re young knowing that this is the one, is a crazy notion that we seem to have in our society. And if we don’t connect with that right person or it doesn’t work out, that is somehow the end and we don’t get another opportunity.
I’m here to tell you that the idea of there’s a lot of fish in the sea is real not just because there’s a lot of people out there who are open to having different sorts of relationships but because you can’t always match with somebody just by love. It’s not that you don’t care about them or what happens to them, but in all honesty most relationships are actually some level of business partnership. The notion that moving forward you actually have to have shared goals, shared values and shared idea about where you’re going to end up in terms of where the relationship takes you, you don’t often think about those things. As young person, you must be friends in high school, high school sweethearts caught up in romanticism of it all, the emotional connection. When things change and responsibilities come, sometimes that whole romanticism that was there in your teens actually stops being relevant anymore. You’re growing up you’ve got responsibilities and often we find at this point in time, two individuals who seemingly have this great relationship suddenly start to have issues.
As teenagers, you’re never going to ask the question… do you think that we should actually try and buy a home, or are you happy renting for the rest of your life? Do you actually want to settle down somewhere and have children or are you just hoping that you could travel the world and be a free spirit? Do you want to have children when you’re young or do you want to have them when you’re older and be able to travel and live your life first? These issues are ones that we don’t educate our children about. We don’t teach them about the kinds of things that are going to impact on their relationships when they’re young.
On the flip side of that, when we come out of the relationship and we’re looking to get in another relationship, we often find that we are drawn in the same things that we had on our previous relationships, but somehow package it up as looking different somehow yet often the issues underlying that relationship ended up being the same. For example, my first husband was now alcoholic , when I met my next partner, my big issue was to make sure my partner didn’t drink, but that partner used to smoke a bit of marijuana, his emotional disconnection, a result of his own issue was much the same as it was for the alcoholic. So the difference between the two were really pretty minor, but in my head, they had to be different because they walked and talked different but the underlying issue is still actually the same.
I’ve seen women who come through that midlife phase, come out of their relationship not happy, not getting what they wanted and go straight into a new relationship. They don’t actually sit down and think about what do they want for themselves out of a relationship, what’s that kind of connection that they want, are they prepared to bear their soul and expose themselves in a vulnerable way? A lot of people hold themselves back, they want to talk about the things that they really want or really need in a relationship but fear of rejection and fear of actually exposing themselves and being vulnerable. Brene Brown in TED Talks talked about, The power of vulnerability. It is the idea that you can’t experience joy unless you open yourself up and be vulnerable. Although sometimes by opening yourself up and being vulnerable, you are drawn to the person who has supported that component of your vulnerability and therefore, we feel the need to accept everything that surrounds us as something that even though we might not like it, we have to deal with.
Let me give you an example. I talk in the book about when sometimes you come into a relationship later in your life, you make compromises about the things you probably shouldn’t, I’m not saying you can’t compromise, all relationships are about compromise. That’s actually what makes us human being, but in my situation, my daughters had grown up and left home and I no longer have that responsibility when I’m looking at meeting somebody new. I have been in the situation where I’ve meet people who of the similar age and they’ve got younger children. I’m not opposed of people having children, but the reality is I want to travel. I want to be able to experience other cultures, I want to be able to pick up and take off overseas, live there for several months, if that’s what I wanted to do. I want to go away for weekends, I wanted to be free to pick up and do things that I wanted to do and I don’t want to feel like I have to make considerations for weekend sporting events and all of the things that impact when you have younger children. Share care arrangements you can make allowances for because you might have only them half of time, maybe you can work with that. You have to be clear to what it is that you want for yourself and what the person brings. Just because you met somebody, had sex… you think I’ll just hang out with them, there hasn’t been a better option more recently doesn’t make a relationship.
And a lot of women who I have talked to have been afraid to step back and say this is what I want to myself. I want to meet somebody who is emotionally available, I want to meet somebody who’s secure in themselves and understands who they are as a person, I want to meet somebody who has the similar financial perspective to the way that I approach money. I want to meet somebody who sees that in ten years’ time, when they have grandchildren, that they had to be close and actually spend time to those grandchildren or alternatively, I want to meet somebody whose believes just because they have grandchildren it doesn’t define how they are supposed to live their lives and they can still go on and travel and do other things.
I understand that some point in the future, because it’s in the future and we don’t know what the future brings. We are going to have some compromises and some adjustments, I say to my clients that your future needs to be a bit of a hand drawn map on piece of crumpled paper with the pen on your hand and at some point your goals want to change and its okay, you can change the way your map looks, It’s your map. You can do that but the thing you should not do is to compromise yourself just because you don’t want to be alone, don’t screw up your map and throw it in the bin and completely adopts somebody else’s map, that’s their dream, that’s their life, that’s their goal for themselves and you could choose to be a part of it, but there has to be a marrying of those things. There has to be a shared goals. A shared outcome.
As young people, if you decide to get married, one of the things you should talk about is how many children do I want. How do I think about private school education or do I want to stay five minutes around the corner from my parents, do I want to live overseas for a while. Does my job mean that I have to travel internationally and that means that my partner is always left with the responsibility of their children, how do I feel about that? The majority of issues that happen in a relationship and lead to divorce are about needs not being met because most of the time, they are never discussed or addressed.
We think we fall in love, this person loves me, therefore everything else is just perfect and we’ll work it out along the way cause love conquers all. It’s all shit. Love doesn’t conquer all. And in fact the idea that love conquers all is actually why most people end up in the situation where they make compromises and stay in relationship that they should’ve never got into in the first place, because they didn’t ever give them what they need. I feel like I’m on my soapbox this week, but I had a really interesting conversation with a couple of women last week around the idea that when you meet somebody, it must be about where you meet them or the kind of work that they do or their background or their life story and there is this idea that if I have success meeting somebody in an online dating site, then if my girlfriend went to the same dating site she could find the same kind of person. No that’s not how it works. You have to be clear with your own issues, resolve them and work them through, know your own foibles because I know my own foibles, I’m pretty clear on what they are but then it’s about when you meet somebody, you have to be honest to those foibles and you need to be prepared to be really upfront about what it is that you want. I’ve met some beautiful people whose life doesn’t match mine, It’s about my life journey and my life stage and if that doesn’t match up to the other person’s life stage, my decision to not enter a relationship with that person, it has nothing to do with them personally, It’s to do with the fact that my life stage and their life stage don’t marry up and can’t, if I compromise myself, to make my life stage marry up on what his is, I’ll end up resenting him. That’s not fair to anybody. Not to you. Not to them.
I hope that was interesting.
I hope it’s something that’s really useful for you and if you found it useful you might be able to share it with your friends.
Alright gorgeous have a great week.