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“I love you but I love me more.”

“I love you, but I love me more.”

I’ve been thinking about this quote all day. It’s from Sex and the City – the iconic series about women, sex and friendship that many of us loved during the 90s. The quote is from Samantha Jones when she realises she has sacrificed her goals and independence for the man she loves. She has upended her life to help him follow his dream so he can be a success. With her talent and skills, she has taken him from unknown to superstar. But one day, she realises she can’t do it anymore. Although she loves him, she loves herself more.

Somewhere along the way, she willingly chose to lose herself in help him create his dreams. So she leaves and returns to the life that fills her up rather than living a life that ensures his needs are met, rather than her own.

Many years ago, while I was still married, my then-husband’s interests were increasingly divergent from my own. He wanted to stay home, watch the football several nights a week and renovate our house. Increasingly, I wanted to socialise, travel and expand my world. As time went by, and he refused to join me, I chose to go out without him. A female family member told me I should stay at home.

“Even though he won’t go out at all, I should stay home with him because that’s what he wants?” I asked her.

“Yes,” she said.

I left my marriage a year or two later. Clearly, I felt differently to her.

A lot of years have passed since then but I’ve noticed a pattern when it comes to women and the men they love.

I’ve heard women say things like, “Oh, he doesn’t like me to do things without him, so I don’t [insert her dream or passion here]” or, “I just know that he has all this potential so I’m going to help him [insert his dream].”

These are good women who love their men. But I wonder if they realise what they are doing to themselves and their relationships when they shelve their own dreams and desires so they can help their partners achieve theirs.

In partnerships, there are absolutely swings and roundabouts. As we progress through our lives, there will be times when one partner needs more support to help them achieve and reach for their goals. But too often it seems like the woman does a lot more heavy lifting in this department than the man. And we do it voluntarily because that’s what a good wife/girlfriend/partner does. Therein lies the challenge.

In this modern age, there is no reason for women to believe they must put their needs second to their male partner. There is no reason why men shouldn’t do 50 percent of the housework and child-rearing when their female partners also work full-time. But the statistics tell us that women are consistently taking the heavier load.

Mothers still frequently do more for their sons than their daughters. I’ve heard friends with sons and daughters talk about how much more difficult it is for boys than girls. Girls must fend for themselves more because they’re more capable while the mothers are just that bit more protective of their sons. The daughters see this behaviour and carry it forward into their intimate relationships later on.

Culturally, we’re still shown messages every day that women should make more allowances for their men. Female celebrities forgive their male partners for all sorts of indiscretions (including abuse) while their men and their careers still flourish. Just take a look at some of the sportsmen and musicians of the world for examples where women and the man’s adoring fans forgive all kinds of appalling behaviour. Mind you, a woman is unlikely to get away with similar antics without being called a myriad of names and probably losing her income.

The common theme parroted by women throughout all of these situations, is love. Too often it’s the narrative of unconditional love. “You must love unconditionally,” we’re told. But I think women have misinterpreted this message.

Telling a woman she should stay home all the time and shrink her world because that’s what her husband wants, is not love.

Prioritising his dreams and desires over yours, is not love.

Continuing to pick up more of the home and child-rearing tasks, is not love.

Ensuring sons are treated with more care than our daughters, is not love.

Making allowances for disrespectful and sometimes abusive behaviour, is not love.

We must love fiercely – we must set boundaries and say no, this is not okay. We must love ourselves fiercely and refuse to enable poor masculine behaviour. We must only only accept equality because that is what we deserve.

We must demand respect, not beg for it.

We must love fiercely with boundaries and accept nothing less.

If we learn to do this effectively, we will empower ourselves as women and also empower our men, instead of demeaning ourselves and emasculating them.

Love fiercely. And know you can love them but you need to love yourself more.

Unconditional love doesn’t mean giving away your power. We need to stop believing it does.

Loving him is no excuse

Loving him is no excuse

I want to talk to you about, what I believe, is one of the greatest and cruellest ironies of our time – that you can love someone with every part of your being but they don’t have to love you back.

That’s right, they don’t have to love you back.

You can be willing to put up with all kinds of shit for them – bust open your pelvic floor giving birth to their children, put up with their toxic relatives, mates and exes, support them while they work their “shit” out, move past the fact they have sex with people who are not you!, have them bruise and batter your body, denigrate your values, abandon you for a younger model, drink too much, have addictions that you try to help them get clear of, accept that he would rather watch porn than have sex with you, or know that he’s going to make you have sex whether you want to or not, pay all the bills and get the laundry done, and so on, and so on.

And you will say it is because you love him.

I mean, how many times have you heard a woman use those four words, “But I love him” as she excuses another piece of appalling behaviour. Your best friend could tell you the same story and you would say, “Get the hell out of there!”

But for you, it’s different because you love him. And somehow that makes it okay.

You may even convince yourself that despite all the challenges you are facing in your relationship, you will make it through because you love him and he loves you.

He might even tell you that he does. And you will let yourself believe him because you want him to love you, so much. Even if the way he shows that love isn’t exactly how you would ever dream of showing it. In fact, you would never treat him the way he treats you. But somehow, in your heart, you tell yourself that it’s okay.

You love him.

Because the alternative is that he doesn’t love you back and that can’t possibly be.

I mean your love is so powerful it can move mountains, right? And if you feel this way he must feel it too, right?

No. And ladies, this is where we get to the true crux of the matter – we can love with every fibre of our being and he will never, ever love us back in the way we deserve or in the way we love him.

But we keep on hoping don’t we? Hoping he will change? He will choose us first over her, his work, his mother, or his amateur drinking championships with his mates every Friday night.

The question of course is, why do we keep thinking it’s possible when it is patently and blatantly…a lie.

Why indeed?

Well, I have a couple of theories about this and I’m willing to share them with you. And I’d like you to think them over and maybe drop me a line later and let me know your thoughts.

My first one is this…

We believe that men deserve more than us, so we accept less.

Let’s face it, in today’s society women are still earning less than men, have less money when they’re old, are more likely to be single, and more likely to do most of the child rearing in amongst everything else they’ve got going on. But still nothing changes? It’s not as if this stuff is news. It’s been happening for a long, long time. And yes, things are changing for the better, of course they are. But those changes look a bit glacial to me sister!

I mean seriously, why are men still not paying child support when they get women pregnant. He can sign away his parental rights and never have to be responsible for the child he helped to create in any way because, after all, he wanted her to get an abortion and she didn’t so, it’s down to her. Never mind the fact that he was probably the one who didn’t use any birth control. Seriously, talk to any single woman who is sexually active and she will tell you that, yes, even in the year 2020, men still carry on about having to wear a condom because it interferes with his pleasure – even though cumming is pretty much a given for him whether he has a rubber on or off while, for women, yeah, it’s still not a sure thing is it? But still, men don’t like it so it’s down to us women to pump our bodies full of hormones that make us moody, gain weight, may or may not work, have other side effects and don’t protect us from STDs at all. But hey, we take the hit because we accept less. And then if we get pregnant and don’t want to terminate because we don’t believe in it, have fertility issues, it might be our only chance or whatever the reason, he can just walk away because he doesn’t want it.

Now, to be clear, I am pro-choice because you know, the woman’s body is going to be the incubator for that new life and it’s her pelvic floor so I feel like that is her business, no one else’s. But equally fellas, if you can be “man enough” to put your dick in then you can be man enough to catch the baby when it falls out nine months later. And yes, that does mean financial responsibility even if you can’t manage the emotional support a child requires.

But still, we accept less because that’s our job right, to carry the baby? So often we literally do.

And while we’re on the subject of accepting less, why do women often accept less money in their financial settlements when their marriages breakdown? If the woman leaves she feels too guilty and doesn’t want to fight it, so gives him more. If he leaves, you’re too broken to fight it, so you accept less.

We believe we deserve less. So we get less.

And then there’s the thing where we pursue men who aren’t really into us and who quite frankly, don’t deserve us because of that very reason. If someone finds you unattractive and doesn’t want to invest time in getting to know you and doesn’t value you highly, then that should instantly make them look less attractive to you. It should be a turn off!!

But it’s not, is it? No, invariably it makes us want them more. We love him so he just has to see how amazing we are. He doesn’t get it…yet. We loooovvvve him. Let’s see if I’m thinner, wear more make-up, change my clothes, starve myself, get breast implants, get a Brazilian so my vagina looks like it belongs to an eight-year-old …maybe that will do it. Then he will see.

Ha! But he doesn’t, does he?

Now at this juncture, some male readers who have misguidedly stumbled upon this post may be tempted to begin the “Whataboutery parade”. Some female readers may be similarly tempted.

If that’s you I’d like to say, please don’t. This post isn’t for you. Let us agree to part ways and go on with our lives. I bear you no grudge, this isn’t meant to attack anyone. I’m just telling you like I see it. So please, thank you, now move on.

There are a few other things I’d like to cover about this topic including the influence of religious doctrine and the whole downfall of Adam being due to Eve not being able to control herself and leading him astray – which of course goes to the continuing emasculating concept that men are a bunch of halfwits with limited self-control who women need to take care of and make allowances for – but I don’t have time for that right now. I’m too busy learning how to not accept less than I am worth and hoping to help other women do the same.

Some relationships are so strong your Soul can never forget them

Some relationships are so strong your Soul can never forget them

“Maybe some relationships are so strong your Soul can never forget them.” I wish I could claim these words as my own but they are not. They belong to my wonderful friend @Shannynsteel and were uttered this morning while we walked through a nearby forest.

We were talking about love and soul connections and I was musing on the topic of past life hangovers – this is how I describe instances when we reconnect with someone strongly in this lifetime and feel it deeply because we have done so in previous lifetimes as well.

This has certainly happened to me a lot and to be honest, it often creates far more drama, sadness and confusion than a romantic heart might want to believe.

If you haven’t experienced these types of connections then I don’t necessarily recommend them unless you are prepared to pass through a ring of emotional fire and explore parts of your psyche that will make no logical sense at all.

Metaphysicians such as Carolyn Myss talk of souls drinking from a river of forgetfulness (or words to that effect) before they return for their next life in human form. Firstly, they make agreements with other souls about what they will help each other learn, then they drink to forget those agreements and finally they are born here. This seems a very sensible and wise approach considering the many lives we have traversed before.

But what happens when you’re someone like me who has past life hangovers? Did I not drink enough from the river? Or is it part of my lesson to sometimes straddle the divide between this and previous lives?

I’m still wrangling with these questions.

Past life hangovers have manifested in my intimate relationships far more often than I would like.

While I feel an incredible intensity and depth with these men, I am usually unaware of the past life connection while I’m involved with them. But hindsight inevitably directs a blazing light on the truth of it all.

In one relationship, I found myself saying a particular phrase of love to the man and placing my hand directly in the middle of his chest while I said it. It was curious because the words and the way they were spoken were not my usual way of expressing myself. As that relationship crumbled to the ground, I had a vision of him and I in medieval times and saw myself place my hand in the middle of his chest, just like I had done only days before. He and I had done this dance more than once in other lives.

In another connection (this time with a man much younger than me), we were powerfully drawn to each other but it caused us both feelings of confusion. It was never consummated although I suspect we both thought about taking it further. Much later, I realised that while we had been having one of our more volatile conversations, I had looked at his face and seen a much older man – not the young man he currently is.  

In another situation, I found myself remembering a man I had loved very deeply. Every time I thought of him, I saw his big blue eyes looking straight at me. When we reconnected much later, I realised his eyes were another colour entirely and it felt, for the first time, like I was seeing the man fully in this lifetime, rather than the one I had known in a previous life.

Past life hangovers had wreaked chaos in my personal life. Clearly my soul recognises them and they recognise me – that is why we are drawn together. But then it disintegrates into a mess because our souls want to stay connected but our paths are to be separate this time around.

I am getting better at spotting these patterns earlier these days but it has certainly been a strong influence in my love life over the years.

Did I not drink enough at the river of forgetfulness or is it just that some relationships are so strong you can never forget them?

Perhaps I will never know.  

Does whole-hearted love still matter?

Does whole-hearted love still matter?

I’ve been thinking about love today. This is unsurprising because I’ve been working on my next play and of course, like most of my writing, it is about love and all that goes with it – the good, the bad and the ugly.

The question of whole-heartededly showing up for love in a partnership is coming up and I wonder if many people still believe in that concept.

I see so many relationships that are not based on whole-hearted love. Instead they rely on obligation, financial security, fear of being alone, convenience, public image and even that old deluded adage about staying together for the children’s sake. Why people are still using that last excuse is beyond me – isn’t it abundantly clear that when people stay together for the wrong reasons they sentence their children to an adulthood where they will repeat and then try to break those negative relationship habits modelled by their parents?

But I digress. Back to whole-hearted love.

Whole-hearted love to me, means showing up openly and vulnerably. It means coming together with one other person and connecting in a way that is sacred to you both.  

My play explores this concept of whole-hearted love and more controversially, love in open relationships. I have to say, when it comes to whole-hearted love, I find the open and polyamorous dynamic problematic.

To be clear, have sex with whoever you want, with however many people you want and of whatever gender you desire. As long as it’s between two consenting adults – who cares. It is certainly none of my business or anyone else’s for that matter.

But it’s the whole-hearted piece that plays on my mind.

Whole-heartedly loving someone else, to me at least, means showing up for one person and proudly too. It’s not about giving a bit here then giving a bit over there and then returning back here. That isn’t whole-hearted love.

And before you say, but it’s just sex and only a physical act, I have to say no – that’s not all it is.

You can’t get any closer to someone energetically than when you have sex – there is a merging of your energetic fields and when you detach, part of that other person’s energy stays on you. Then you take it with you when you return to your other lover. Then you end up with someone else’s energy in your bed with both of you.

Is that whole-hearted love – to carry energy from one to the next and contaminate the sacred space between you?

I can’t believe that it is.

This brings me to my next question – do we not desire whole-hearted love anymore? Is it considered a mute point in society? Is it redundant and perhaps unneeded? Is it old-fashioned?

I can hear that song playing in my head by Iva Davies when he sings,

“I don’t know where to be begin
Don’t want to hear it again
I don’t believe anymore
This is all I know
I know I’ve heard it before.”

Have we simply stopped believing that whole-hearted love is possible?

Now, I’m not saying I believe whole-hearted love is easily found or easily kept. Sometimes it arrives for a limited period of time then disappears as quickly as it came. I’ve lived long enough in the world to understand that whole-hearted love doesn’t guarantee longevity.

But I do believe it demands through its very nature, exclusivity.

Part of me wonders if some people have given up on it altogether because they don’t believe they deserve it in the first place. If you don’t believe you deserve something then why would you expect it? Certainly, from my own personal observations and conversations, it’s clear that some people agree to polyamorous partnerships because their partner convinces them it is necessary for their relationship to survive. So one gives in to the other because they fear losing them altogether.

I even read an horrendous article recently that gave instructions on how to convince your “unwilling partner” to change their mind – it read like a narcissist’s handbook by encouraging the person to persistently undermine their unwilling partner’s values and beliefs until they finally gave in. I found this horrifying and deeply disturbing.

Now I’m definitely not suggesting this is how all people approach polyamory with their partners. But I have noticed people who give in or are pressured to be in these types of relationships because they fear losing their partners are devastated as a result. The impacts on their self-esteem, feelings of self-worth and being deserving of love can be emotionally catastrophic.

Sex is an amazing and wonderful thing. It can be liberating, fun, stress-relieving and great exercise. It can also be a divinely intimate and sacred act between two people who are showing up whole-heartedly for each other and that connection.

I can’t help but feel sex in a polyamorous dynamic, can’t co-exist easily or at all with whole-hearted love.

But perhaps it doesn’t need to.

When Love Goes Kaput

When Love Goes Kaput

A lot of us have been struggling with love and matters of the heart over the last few days. I’ve had so many conversations with friends about loving the wrong people, putting yourself out there and being rejected, trying to work out how you feel and then how the other person feels, losing your cool, saying the wrong thing, feeling disappointed then happy within minutes, and so on. It’s been a veritable emotion-filled quagmire with many of us trying to lift one foot out of the mud one excruciating step at a time, only to take another step and get sucked back in again.

There’s probably a very good reason astrologically why this is all happening now (astrology friends feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below) but that’s not my area of expertise.

However, as someone with a PhD in Heartbreak, I can say that I am very experienced in matters of the heart, and the joys and devastation of loving people who don’t quite fit, run away, are too scared to tell you how they feel or are just wrong (even when you think they’re right!). I can’t say my experience has necessarily made me any more successful at navigating romantic relationships – heck, I’m currently residing in Italy, the most romantic country in the world and I’m single so you do the math! But I have learned some things over the years:

  • Falling for someone never happens as you expect it will and your feelings will invariably take you by surprise.
  • They will rarely match the template you have created in your head for the perfect partner. Often they will look like the exact opposite of what you thought you wanted.
  • You can meet them in the most unexpected places and sometimes your attraction to them will hit you immediately, right in the middle of your chest. Other times it will grow silently before one day rearing its head up like an asp at midnight, striking you in the middle of your chest and.. and… oh sorry, I just had a flashback, please disregard.  
  • Sometimes they will be older or younger than your mind thinks they should be.  When this happens, remember it is the person that you are loving not the date on their birth certificate. Obviously, they need to be above the age of consent. Also consider that the years between you also equal life experience and that can sometimes cause issues.
  • Sometimes you will take a chance but they will not love you back. You will keep hoping but they won’t change their mind and you will feel terribly hurt. You may even lose their friendship when this happens.
  • You can’t make someone love you back – that is an impossible request of anyone because love cannot be forced or manipulated into being. It just is, or it isn’t.
  • If someone doesn’t love you back then they don’t deserve you. Full stop. No returns on this one. Don’t keep throwing yourself at them hoping that, one day, they will finally see the magical amazingness that is you. If they can’t see it, then it’s not your job to help them open their eyes.
  • When you fall for the wrong person and they treat you appallingly, it is vital that you learn from the experience so you don’t repeat it!!! Too many of us go back to the same type of guy (or girl) over and over again and wonder why we get the same results. If you see there is a pattern, change it so you can get a different result. If you can’t see the pattern, ask an honest friend or an impartial counselor for their input.

Bottom line, most of us will at some stage have our heart broken. But you will survive it, I promise. You will go on to love someone else and maybe, just maybe, if the planets align and you hold your head in exactly the right position when you wish on that next shooting star, they will love you back too.

Until then, be kind to you and love yourself. That’s the least you can do and is completely what you deserve.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Partnership: Desires of the Soul

Partnership: Desires of the Soul

I’m sifting through the interviews for my book on partnership and as I read the thoughts of men and women of all ages, the overwhelming desire is for connection. Whether in marriage, dating, polyamory or choosing to be single because you can’t face another brush with rejection, we all want connection.

Our reasons may differ but our desire is the same.

There is a beautiful vulnerability in people when they talk openly about partnership with me. The anonymity of being able to share their story entices them to reveal their innermost thoughts, beliefs, perceived failures, joys and love, so much love. There is pain there too. Of course there is. My primary motivation for beginning this work was to relieve my own pain; pain born from a decade littered with men who had little to give and me, a woman who wanted to give everything. I wanted to know how to do it better; how to create something that was more positive, sustainable, supportive, embracing and loving for myself. So I began talking to others, seeking answers.

My only question has been, what does partnership mean to you? And then I have simply followed the conversation wherever it has led me organically. Men, women, gay, straight, single, not single, young, retiring, so many interviews and so many perspectives. The magic of their thoughts touches me when I read them through. We’ve talked about divorce, parental disapproval, trust, having children, losing children, managing ourselves better, sex and sexual dysfunction, working out our previous traumas, choosing to isolate, choosing monogamy and choosing others to fill emotional holes that can’t be filled within a current partnership.

Every person is different. Even when I have been privileged to interview both people in a partnership, their answers have been different; sometimes their views are in complete opposition from ‘being on the same page’ to ‘ marriage is bi-polar’. Yet, for them it works.

And every single person has allowed me, for a few precious minutes or sometimes an hour, to glimpse inside their Soul and see what is truly important to them. What a treasured gift they have given me, all of them.

As I now edit and begin tying their stories together I wonder, “Can I do their stories justice? Can I honour the trust they have endowed on me?” I hope so.

Have I worked out what partnership means to me yet? I don’t know. They are all so clear but I, I feel like I am still seeking the answer. It’s as if it is still hiding within my Soul, waiting to rise to the surface when the right person should ask.

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash