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What does partnership mean to you?

What does partnership mean to you?

As someone who writes about love, sex and relationships, I’m a keen observer of how people connect romantically, sexually and intimately. Over the past decade alone, this landscape has transformed with new and evolving types of relationships, sexual experiences and connections being openly discussed, attempted, abandoned and pursued like never before.

I believe this type of exploration and boundary testing is a fundamental part of humanity’s evolution. If you are a consenting adult, go forth in whatever way feels right for you.

However, often it seems that when we are in an intimate connection with another, we respond to their needs and requirements rather than checking in with our own. Women in particular often fall into this trap but I have observed the same behaviour in some men too.

Many years ago, when I interviewed people of all ages about the concept of partnership, most had never sat down and asked themselves what it meant to them as an individual. What did they believe was important in an intimate partnership?

When given the space to contemplate this question with someone who had no interest or agenda in judging their response, it was amazing how quickly they could share this fundamental truth. Many surprised themselves with the clarity this realisation brought with it.

Those interviews are currently queued up and await the finessing required to become a book. It’s on my to-do list.

Meanwhile, I look around and am concerned about some of the contorted relationships people willingly enter and stay in, even when it’s clear they are designed to accommodate their partner’s needs, rather than their own. This is an unhealthy choice that will not deliver alignment with self.

If you have the time, I’d encourage you to sit down in a quiet spot with just you, a pen and some paper. Ask yourself, what does partnership mean to you? Then write down your answer. Once you’ve done this, read over your words and see if they line up with your current relationship dynamic. If not, there is clearly something you need to look at.

“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.

My book is here!!

My book is here!!

So it’s here. My book, The Men I’ve Almost Dated, is available online. It’s out there.

Now.

Yikes! After such a long period of time, I can hardly believe it.

What if people hate it? What if they love it? What if they don’t care? The thoughts scurry through my brain before I come back, for a moment, to a place of inner calm because it’s done now. It’s born. All I can do is tell people about it.

So here’s the summary. The Men I’ve Almost Dated is about my life in my 30s, the men I dated (or almost dated), sex, dubious decision-making, divorce and men behaving badly. It’s not a ‘how-to guide’ on getting it right when it comes to men and dating. However, it may be a ‘how-to guide’ on how to get it atrociously wrong. I’ll let you be the judge.

Over the coming days and weeks I’ll be sharing more about my book on this blog and my social media channels – so keep your eyes peeled. But for now, if you’d like to grab yourself a copy, head over to my webpage for all the details. You can buy the eBook version today and the print version will be available in coming weeks.

Happy reading!

The right one will fill you up

Feed your spirit

‘Thank you for saying yes,’ he said.

I was at the wedding reception for my good friend Jenelyn yesterday and her new husband Adam looked lovingly across at her as he said these words in his speech. It was a precious moment and we all felt honoured to share it with them on their special day.

Jenelyn waited a long time for the right man to come her way and she’s chosen well. She lights up when he is around and now radiates a new level of self-possession and calmness conjured from the magic of knowing she is nurtured and supported to be whoever she desires to be. Adam is the same.

Earlier in the week, my housemate Brad and my friend Meaghan had been discussing relationships and love when I heard Meaghan say, ‘The right one feeds you.’

‘The right person will fill you up.’

As I watched Jenelyn and Adam together, I was reminded of Meaghan’s words and the fundamental truth they held.

When you’re in a relationship with the right person, they fill you up. Their presence in your life will lift your spirit and fill you with light. Of course, there will be hard times and they will inevitably drive you crazy sometimes, but their presence will feed your spirit and you will feed theirs.

That’s just how it works.

Do we forget this vital point when we find ourselves buffeted this way and that in a stormy relationship that diminishes our spirit and makes us feel lesser? I think we do. Lord knows, when I look back at some of my previous relationships it’s clear I had forgotten that imperative for a strong relationship.

The right person will feed me. The right one will fill me with light and help me to shine brightly, just as I am. They will not seek to diminish me; they will help me stand alone in my power and reach all I wish to be. They will be there to catch me when I fall. They will not run from conflict, they will find a way through it so we can grow together.

And I will do the same for them.

It was these thoughts that flooded through my mind yesterday as I watched Jenelyn and Adam exchange their vows and openly express their love for each other. They have found the right one to walk forward with. They have found the one that fills them with light. They have found the one who feeds them.

Whoever you are, I wish the same for you.

 

 

Choose yourself before you plunge back in

AloneOver the past ten years I’ve noticed a trend that doesn’t seem to be diminishing and it’s played on my mind. I’ve tried to twist my perspective this way and that and I still haven’t come up with a definitive answer.

So today I thought I’d write about it and see if you had thoughts to share on the matter.

As a divorced woman in my 40s I’ve watched the relationships of numerous friends and acquaintances break-up. And it’s what has happened next that has me most perplexed.

Invariably the men move on to other relationships quickly while the women generally spend more time in recovery before even dipping their toe in the water again. Most men seem to barely draw breath before launching into something new. They can be emerging from a 10-year relationship or an intense affair and just a few weeks later they’re out there again, ready to repeat the experience. And they do. Within a very short space of time (often weeks or months) they’ll be ensconced in another relationship.

Most women on the other hand seem to take time for more self-reflection. They allow themselves the space to heal and are, often, not the least bit interested in trying on someone new until they’ve sorted through the mess of the old.

When I see this happening time and time again, I find it a little disconcerting.

Is it that men simply don’t need to process what went wrong? Do they truly have the capacity to just compartmentalise their past, stick it in a box and get on with it? Or are women just more inclined to navel-gaze and mull things over for extended periods of time?

As a woman, I can’t claim to know what goes on inside a man’s head when it comes to these things. However I can’t help but think it’s not a healthy pattern to simply go from one relationship into the next without giving yourself the space to think about what went wrong. I also wonder why many men appear to find this type of self-contemplation so hard to do.

Is it that men can’t be alone? Or are they conditioned through our culture and societal expectations that they must have a partner to be considered successful? And so their first thought is they must find someone new and simply forget what came before – they just have to ‘get on with it’ because there are ‘plenty more fish in the sea’.

Now, I’m not advocating that humans are meant to live without companionship. As a wise man once told me, ‘No one really wants to be alone and if they say otherwise they are lying.’ Relationships with other human beings with the accompaniments of companionship, acceptance and physical touch are a vital part of our existence. And like all human beings, I desire that for myself too.

But surely there is more room for the self-awareness that comes from being alone, outside a relationship. And why do most women seem more willing to have that experience and to grant themselves the space to do so?

Are women more adaptable? Can they more easily fill their own inner well? Have many men not been taught how to do this and instead look to have it filled by women?

One of my male friends would tell me it’s all about the male ‘lizard brain’ that is purely motivated by sex and not much else. But I know many women who also value sex highly as a vital way to connect with their partners, so it can’t all be about that.

Like I said at the start of this post, I don’t have an answer to all this. But I do question the behaviour when I see it time and time again. I also know that those emotions that have been shoveled under the carpet will eventually re-surface in a not-so-healthy way in a later relationship and the new partner will have to deal with the male’s unresolved issues from the past.

And, as a woman who’s been on the receiving end of that experience, I have to tell you it’s no fun.