“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.
“She’s a cougar,” he said, smiling with amusement.
Davy* (not his real name) was dismissing the romantic interest of a woman at the speed dating event – she was an attractive 52-year-old.
“How old are you?” I asked. Davy looked like he might be quite close to 50 himself.
He looked surprised for a second then answered, “I’m 47.”
“But you’d go out with a woman five years younger than you, right?” I queried.
“Yeah, of course,” he said offhandedly before changing the subject.
Davy’s comments shouldn’t have surprised me but they did. I keep hoping that when it comes to gender politics, we will have evolved more. But too many men seem to be stuck in some weird dimension located around the 1950s where double-standards are still in residence and remain quite comfortable, thank you very much.
Over the past year or so, I have watched:
- Tony Robbins (a supposedly evolved thought leader) disparage the #metoo movement and use his physicality to push a woman back (into her box?) at an event in front of thousands of people
- legislation be passed in some southern states in the United States to control women and their reproductive choices by preventing their access to abortion (even in the cases of rape and incest!). No surprises that the legislators have frequently been white men and religious doctrine has played an influencing role.
- increasing commentary on social media about how abortion shouldn’t be permitted in Australia either – once again with a lot of men and religious rhetoric leading the discussion (men + religion often doesn’t always work out so great for women’s rights)
- Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius (following the murder of yet another woman in Melbourne this week) state, “The key point, is this is about men’s behaviour, it’s not about women’s behaviour. Every time I hear about woman being attacked – for me as a man – it gives me some pause for reflection about what it is in our community that makes men think it’s okay to attack women, or take what they want from women”.
Some public commentators subsequently bleated the same old “but not all men” statement in response to Luke’s words instead of doing some of their own reflection and saying, “Well, yeah, I can see that men are doing this and I’m a man, so I guess I have a role to play. What action can I take?”
- Tanya Plibersek pull out of the Labor leadership race stating she could “not reconcile” the “important responsibilities I have to my family with the additional responsibilities of the Labor leadership” (Sydney Morning Herald, May 26, 2019) clearly indicating that perhaps Australia’s parliament isn’t the most family friendly or supportive place for women
- Australia’s prime minister give a speech on International Women’s Day saying “We don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse.” In other words, women can’t rise if it means others [men] will be displaced. Despite the fact that many women haven’t risen because they haven’t received the same advantages as men.
Let’s just say, as a woman, a feminist and someone who supports equality, these events have been disappointing to say the least. We’re not in the 1950s anymore, so why does it feel like we’re still there?
I understand these are tricky times. Men don’t always know these days what their role is. Most want to do the right thing but there is, I’m afraid, a large degree of apathy when it comes to standing up and saying to other men, “Mate, that’s not how we do things anymore. Women deserve our respect. We don’t control them. And we don’t dismiss their opinions just because they don’t align with our beliefs about how things should (and have always) been.”
There also seems to be a degree of reticence by some men to genuinely reflect on their own behaviour and consider that their ‘normal’ treatment of women is no longer acceptable (not that it ever was). Instead of being calm and less emotional (as they often tell us women to be), some men jump to angry defensiveness at the very mention that they may have a role to play in addressing the issues women are experiencing at the hands of men. It’s much easier it seems to point back to women and somehow blame them for being the problem than take a look at their own behaviour.
Some don’t like the thought that they may not hold exclusive power for much longer and are using their influence to try to retain the status quo. I think this explains the swing to the right we are seeing in the US particularly, and also in other nations globally where governments are increasingly seeking to stifle women’s voices and rights.
For example, a woman’s right to decide if she is going to use her womb to procreate is one of the few things that men cannot directly control – it is one of the few things women have exclusive power over. Yet, we are seeing moves in some places to remove our rights to this body autonomy. If we ever needed a sign that some men were very fearful – then this is a big one. Let’s not delude ourselves. If those men were really concerned about unwanted pregnancies, they would be legislating to make it unlawful for men to have sex without birth control (vasectomy anyone?) or legally ensuring they had to be 100 percent involved post-birth (both financially and in person) and provide adequate flexibility in workplaces, etc. But of course, they’re not doing that. Forcing birth control on men (which would definitely prevent abortions because their would be no accidental pregnancies in the first place) is out of the question yet forcing women to procreate against their will is acceptable, apparently. Double standards anyone?
Women are standing up and demanding more. And I won’t lie, a lot of us are angry about the way things have been going. We’re angry because things aren’t changing and, in fact, sometimes it feels like we’re going backwards.
I believe that when we work together, women, men or however you identify, we can achieve great things. But at the moment, many men are sitting on the sidelines and allowing the status quo to be maintained through their silence.
You need to get into the game gentlemen. We need you there. We want you there. We want to hear you standing beside us saying things like:
“It’s not good enough. Women deserve to have autonomy over their bodies, just like I have over my body.”
“Mate, don’t speak about women disrespectfully. No means no and she doesn’t have to stroke your ego and worry you might become abusive just because she hurt your feelings by saying no.”
“We need more flexible work arrangements so parents can work and take care of their children, so I’m going to make that company policy.”
“Being violent towards women is never acceptable and if I know that you are intimidating or being violent towards a woman, I’m going to pull you into line, report you and let you know very clearly that it’s not acceptable behaviour.”
Good men, we need you to do this because a lot of your peers don’t seem to be listening. We need your help. If you want to know what your role is nowadays, this is a big part of it. This is how you help provide for the safety and rights of the women and society you care about – you make sure women have a non-negotiable, equal voice at the table.
This is how we work in partnership to create a better world.
Men, this is your cue.
#metoo #feminist #menthisisyourcue #equality #equalrights
If you’ve been single and searching for love for a while, I’m pretty sure someone ‘wise’ will have advised you verbally or in an article somewhere that, ‘When you learn how to love yourself, he will come.’
Now I want you to picture me doing some major eye-rolling until I make myself dizzy.
You see, while I know that most of the time this advice is well-intentioned (except when it’s patronisingly delivered by someone who also happens to be in a partnership – yes, occasionally people do this), the truth is this statement about loving yourself and then he’ll come, simply isn’t true.
There are loads and loads of women out there who do not love themselves and yet have managed to create partnerships with wonderful people who love them. Have you noticed that?
I also know lots of women out there who do love themselves; they’ve done a lot of work around self-love for years and years, and yet they’re still single.
Now, am I sounding the death knell for your search for the right man?
Am I saying that learning to love yourself is a thankless and pointless task?
What I am saying is this advice about first you need to love yourself before you get to have a partner who loves you back can be, well, kind of a mean thing to say to someone. It also sets up this idea that your goal or ‘prize’ in learning to love yourself is that you get the love of someone else.
And that’s really beside the point of the whole journey of self-exploration.
Trust me, I’m speaking about this from a position of some expertise and experience. I’ve been mostly single for the past 10 years and I have done HUGE amounts of work around self-love. As someone with heightened self-awareness and intuitive ability, the Universe has pushed me to go deep with this stuff time and time again. And it’s still an ongoing process.
Is it easier to create a stronger, healthier and more viable long-term love partnership with someone if you have strong self-love and everything that goes with that understanding of self? Yes, I really believe that to be true.
However, the right man still needs to be there in front of you, at the same stage as you, for that to even become an option. And maybe he’s not ready yet. Maybe you’ve still got things you have to do. Maybe it’s not time. Maybe you’ve done the work but he’s still around the corner paying some other karmic dues or embedding some other life lesson he needs to learn before he can progress.
These factors are real possibilities. You both need to be in ‘the same step’ in order for you to come together. Maybe he’s just not there yet.
So please stop buying into this theme that suggests it’s your fault that you’re still single because you haven’t done the work yet. After all, that’s what this kind of self-help is doing. Too often it suggests that you just need to work harder.
Well, I think that’s a rort because I know you’re working hard on yourself beautiful woman. You’re getting up every day and you’re doing your best. You’re looking at your ‘stuff’ and you’re beginning the journey of self-accountability and facing your life lessons because you know you have to in order for your soul to progress. And you do want to progress. I know that. But for someone to dangle this carrot of ‘self-love’ as being the answer for you to attract the ‘one’ is illusory and somewhat misleading.
We all need to learn how to love ourselves first; that much I believe to be true.
We all also desire the love of another, a partner to travel life’s journey with. I believe that to be true as well.
But I don’t necessarily believe that you must do the former in order to successfully attract the latter. Although it may be a helpful contributing factor, it is not the comprehensive answer.
So keep doing your best you fabulous, complex woman. Keep striving and learning. Know that whether you are with someone or alone, you still need to walk your path and nourish your self-love daily. But please don’t buy into the self-help rort that it’s your fault that you’re single because there’s nothing wrong with you.
It’s just not the right time yet.
Lucretia Ackfield is a writer and transformational teacher who has learnt the lessons of love and romance the hard way. You can read her voyeuristic, hilarious and sometimes mortifying stories of the single life in her memoir The Men I’ve Almost Dated. Or, if you’d like to work on developing your self-awareness and intuition, you can join her Facebook group Rock Your Inner Channel.
Are you still waiting for a man to rescue you? Except, the men you keep attracting are not the White Knights. Instead they are the reflection of all the ways you doubt yourself and all the parts of you that you don’t believe are ‘good enough’.
You are attracting the Dark Knight; the one who is the epitome of the dark sadness in your soul. Yet you accept his negative behaviours, his emotional abuse, his dismissiveness, his devaluing of you and non-acceptance because you do those things to yourself little by little every day. You don’t believe you’re worth anymore.
And deep down you know this. You know you are the root of the pattern. You probably even have a good idea where it’s come from. Maybe it’s from your childhood and your teens. Maybe your Dad didn’t listen to you, made you feel small. Maybe you never felt you could speak up and instead you focused on being the good girl. Trying to do the ‘right thing’. But you were never easy. People sometimes found you difficult. ‘Why can’t you just ‘get over’ things?’ they’d ask you.
But you never could. Your very unique and capricious soul was marked with discontent of yourself as you tried to be one thing and wanted desperately to be another.
Fast forward and now you’re an adult. But those marks of the past persist and now manifest in your entrenched ‘not good enoughness’. So you attract the same and you accept the same. Your Dark Knight arrives.
The curious thing is the Dark Knight often looks exactly like his White Knight brother. They are, after all, two sides of the same coin because we all, even you, have light and shadow within us. It’s just up to us to manage the shadows and grow the light.
The Dark Knight is just as shiny on the surface. He is just as good-looking and just as attentive (for a moment or two). But soon enough his shadows make themselves known. He doesn’t return calls, belittles you just a little, suggests oh so subtly that maybe you need to change yourself…condense yourself into a box he’s more comfortable with. And you respond in kind, oh so subtly, because it’s more comfortable that way. It’s the pattern you adhere to. It’s your comfortable zone. And your mind is happy there, sort of. Your soul weeps but it often seems like the pain of conformity and the life you’ve lived for so long, is preferable to unhooking your caboose and letting go of someone else’s direction. Far better to conform to their projection.
For the Dark Knight is merely your reflection and you are responsible for your predicament. I know these words seem harsh. I’ve directed them to myself often enough. But I know them to be true. For my boundaries are decided by me and if I don’t put any in place then how does anyone know they’re there?
My heart will still search for love in the Dark Knight because I wish to find it there. I crave it. I see his potential. But therein lies the trick of the light because his potential is mine. He is me. But I must cut him loose in order to allow my light to shine. His shadows are his to manage and he is my reflection. I cannot allow his shadows to suffocate my light. Yet I have done, so many times. So many Dark Knights have galloped in and swept me away and I have loved them. I have given myself unto them willingly. Desperately seeking the light of love that glimmers within them.
But they cannot light the match that ignites my lantern. They will instead snuff it out as they simply do what I do to myself, time and again. I snuff out my own light with my feelings of not being worthy, of not being enough, of not deserving more, of not being heard.
But I am done with the Dark Knights. I cannot carry their shadows any longer. And I know the White Knight can only come unto me when my own light shines brightly; when my own shadows are gently but firmly confined back where they should be.
I must focus on my light. I must be accountable for dealing with my own shadows and sending them on their way, one by one. Only then will I stop attracting the Dark Knights of My Own Soul.
Only then will the White Knight come.
Only then will I be free of the shadows of me.
Only then will I realise, perhaps my White Knight, is me.
Lucretia Ackfield is a writer and transformational teacher who helps women unlock their intuitive power so they can become their own White Knights. For more information about her programs and tips about using your intuition, join her Facebook group Rock Your Inner Channel or visit her Facebook page Lucretia’s Words.
There was a moment during the editing process for The Men I’ve Almost Dated, when I said I wanted to rewrite the entire thing. I think my editor, Kristy, almost had conniptions at that point. There she was trying to steer me towards the finishing line while I was suggesting a rewind to the beginning.
I was half-serious because as I re-read my stories, it felt like they were written by someone else. Oh, I knew I’d definitely done all the things in the book and lived through those experiences. But the person I’d become was very different from that 30-something woman who somewhat blindly made her way out of a 10-year marriage, through divorce and into the dysfunctional world of dating.
Take for instance my chapter entitled, Why Men Are Like Feral Cats. Even now it seems like an outrageous statement to make but, back then, I came across a number of men who were exactly like our feline friends. As I wrote, ‘Men couldn’t have anything in common with previously domesticated but now wild animals running the streets with absolutely no sense of responsibility. Could they?’
If you’ve been single for any period of time you’ll know the types of ‘cats’ I’m referring to here. In my book I’ve broken them down into some categories. These include the Never-Been-Faithful Cat who ‘flirts and behaves like the most unattached man with any attractive woman within a five-kilometre radius.’ There’s the Shameless Cat who ‘will chat up multiple women in the same location, within minutes of each other’ (for him it’s purely a numbers game). And of course, there’s the Shady Cat. He’s the one disguised as the nice guy until his partner is out of earshot (or in the next room) and then suddenly he’s all hands and innuendo.
Are you seeing the similarities yet between some men and feral cats? I’ll give you a hint…it may have something to do with their need to copulate with as many females as possible, regardless of their relationship status.
Fortunately, I‘ve also come to know some lovely men who don’t resemble feral cats in any way whatsoever. Ladies they do exist, thank goodness! But the feral cats are still out there and when I look back at the woman who had those experiences, I shake my head ruefully. I was so naïve about men and human behaviour when I ventured into the Land of Single. Learning about feral cats was just one of the lessons I learned the hard way.
As I read my book from beginning to end, I realised how much I’d grown from all the experiences it described. I was wiser but in many ways, when it comes to men, yet still just as clueless.
Today I wonder if that will ever change? Or is that just one of the constant mysteries of life…that men and women are different creatures so we must always be prone to miscommunication, misdirection and misdemeanors while we navigate the dating world?
I’m not sure, but I’m still out there hoping for the best. Except these days, I can usually spot a ‘feral cat’ at 10 paces.
Would you like to read more about men, feral cats, divorce and dysfunctional dating? The Men I’ve Almost Dated is available now in eBook and paperback. Get your copy today!
It’s interesting to observe people’s reactions when I start telling people about some of the less than ideal male behaviour I’ve described in my book, The Men I’ve Almost Dated. The thing is, I’ve been pretty honest about my dating experiences and often men don’t come off as behaving very well.
One recent conversation with a couple (let’s call them Maggie and James) went something like this.
‘I think it sounds great!’ Maggie said enthusiastically after I’d briefly described the content of the book.
‘Are you dating anyone now?’ James asked.
‘No,’ I said.
‘Well no one’s going to ask you out once you publish,’ he said. ‘No one will want to date you!’
‘Of course they will. It will just weed at the ones she doesn’t want because they’ll know she’ll just call them on their crap if they try it on,’ Maggie said indignantly.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naïve to the fact that occasionally the things I mention in my book might polarise opinion or make some people uncomfortable. The very topics of divorce, dating, sex and pursuing the wrong men is highly topical and a lot of people will have opinions about it.
The suggestion that I will be deemed less attractive by the opposite sex because I’m honest about some very ordinary male behaviour is a little disconcerting yet not surprising. The inference from James’ comments was that I might be too ‘scary’ or ‘intimidating’ because I put it all out there.
I’ve heard this argument before about women being ‘intimidating’ or ‘too confident’ and that it apparently scares men off. James’ remarks were just another edition of that same old story. Honestly, I think these types of comments are just another way to keep women small. The very idea that we should hold ourselves back in some way to make men more comfortable is completely repellant to me. That being said, I don’t believe women are better than men or that we should exclude them from our lives. Relationships between men and women are a delicate balancing act that should be based on mutual respect and freedom to be precisely who you are. But that’s a soapbox for another day.
In the meantime, am I worried that no man will ever ask me out once they read my book?
Um, no, because I’m more in Maggie’s camp and hope that it actually turns away the players from my life. Because the truth is, I don’t want any more men I’ve almost dated. I want the real thing now. If some men find me too intimidating, full frontal or whatever because I choose to tell a story based on my perspectives and experience, then they are clearly not the men for me.
And I’m really 100 percent okay with that.
The Men I’ve Almost Dated is now on sale. Find out more>