It is easy to be single. The only person you have to attend to is, well, you. You get to decide when you will have dinner, when you will head to the gym. No one is soliciting you to go spend time with their family and all parts of your world are in your control. It takes less effort to be single than in a relationship. However, what’s easier isn’t always what’s best. The rewards of a healthy relationship are said to have significant positive impacts on your health and your life.
You develop a better you in the context of being in community with others. You develop the craft to be a better self when you are in romantic relationships. Our individualist culture praises differences and independence; which leads to negative connotations about being in a relationship. Some classics are “ball and chain”, “tied down” or “locked in.” The battle of individualist argues that it is about control. So we fight to have control in our romantic relationships, instead of cultivating a collective effort to want what is best for our partner and ourselves.
There is a collaborative lack of commitment in our culture. I recall hearing a friend say this about not including her boyfriend in a recent decision, “It’s my body and I’ll get a tattoo if I want.” I thought to myself for a second. What’s the big deal with getting our partners opinion on something. Didn’t we make the decision to be with someone who we knew would challenge us when necessary and support us through our seasons. I had an analogy; a band sets up a play list so they have a plan for the direction the show will go. If one member just decides that they want to begin with another song, it is going to be a disaster. Not only will they be playing different chords, but they will experience emotions that come from the crowd being turned off by the unorganized tunes. What a mess. The same goes for our relationships. If we set out with a “play list” and a plan for the direction we want to go, there will be less discrepancy in the future. If we communicate our true needs and wants to our partners early on, we will be safe to make the appropriate changes in the relationship. We will also be safe to walk away if this isn’t the right relationship for us.
Why are we so afraid to make collaborative decisions? You don’t loose your individuality by respecting the opinion of your partner. Are we purposely becoming a society where individualism trumps hard work and collaboration? We complicate things a lot more. We place ridiculous expectations on our partners and the end result is disappointment.
What would it take for you to be happy in your relationship? Coffee in the morning, a kiss before work, and a cuddle in the evening, become things that aren’t good enough. We want extravagant treatment in a world where ordinary relationships have become boring.
Let go. We should begin by humbly accepting that we can’t always be in control; that we must consider our partners opinion and needs; that expecting too much is insane. We need one another. There is no shame in needing someone. When we begin to accept the basics of this, we begin to let go. We begin to see that a great team and partnership is something worth working for. Relationships and partnerships provide us with the sense of support and strength. It is easy to swipe left or right. Then get matched up with someone who swipes you too. You two have made your very first decision together- each other. You’ll have a bunch of other decisions to make from here on out. Its everything after the swipe that matters.
Originally posted on Travis Barton Life:
We’ve all heard that money can’t buy happiness. We hear it over and over again, but usually pay little mind to it (as evidenced by most of the population working their tails off to achieve wealth). Many of us already know – especially those of us who study what makes people happy – that this phrase holds a lot of truth! Chasing riches is the downfall of plenty of people. When we focus so intently on attaining money, it can cause the balance of our life to become way out of whack and send even the wealthiest of people into sadness and depression. We see lottery winners who are broken, millionaires who openly admit to being depressed and lonely, and plenty of miserable people who have plenty of money and we think, ‘What could they possibly have to complain about?’ Why is it then, even when we see the outcome…
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As you get older, you learn. You gain insight and you grow. You learn about love. You learn that falling in love is intentional and that intent means letting go of the youthful past and making way for a healthy future. You learn that break-ups don’t have to be breakdowns. You learn that broken families don’t have to “act” broken. You learn that marrying your best friend is important. That flaws are not red flags and that red flags are worth attending to.
You learn that you are not going to change the person you are with. You learn to adapt. You learn that to keep a marriage vibrant it may take more work than anything you’ve endured in your life. You learn patience, perseverance, and a willingness to say you are sorry. You learn that when you are with the right person, your passion fuels the work. You learn that date nights should never stop. You learn that happiness comes when we stop expecting our relationship to be like other ones. You learn to ask your partner for what you want and do it politely. You never stop working on yourself.
You understand that forgiveness is golden and being stubborn leaves you restless. You learn that the grass only appears greener on the other side because you aren’t watering your own. You learn to compromise. Always give your best self to your partner and when you can’t- try harder. Travel together. Be supportive of one another’s dreams. Cuddle. Sleep in and have breakfast in bed. Bring her flowers often. Kiss him when he comes home. Hold hands. Compliment one another. Be empathetic.
You learn that the heart doesn’t just want what it wants. You learn that love is a passionate experience with your mind, body, and soul. Hold on tight to one another in hard times. Never let go. Talk. Listen. Listen more. Give all of yourself to the other person. Never look back with regret.
You learn something from each relationship you have. You learn to not wait on anyone to love you back. You learn to let go of things that aren’t yours. You learn to seek guidance when you don’t have the answer. You learn that you can love more than one person in a lifetime. You learn that each love is different but not comparable. When you learn about love, you give more. You open up. You feel free.
Source: The Ugly Truth About Your Fling
I went for a late night run with my roommate last night. We ran through our town and down pacific coast highway; our usual route when we want to get a couple of miles in after a day’s work. We have taken this route many times before. As we jog down the end of a long stretch before heading back, something happens. And it happens multiple times. From the line of cars slowing to a stop near us…. it begins…. its difficult to make at first but then the roaring becomes clear….. the set up strikes and the men begin making the most annoying and inconsiderate noise out of their silly little mouths… there it was… the Cat Call. Multiple shouts of unknown origin came somewhere from the many vehicles. As my friend and I blast through the sidewalks, we begin rolling our eyes. We image that this sorry excuse for a way to tell a woman she is “hot” is anything but the sort. By the end of hearing three or four repeat attempts to gain our attention, we remain uncomfortable; wanting to give those boys a punch in the face. Yes, boys. We blow it off and go on about our work-out. By the end of our run, I start to wonder…. Where did that cat call come from? And Why do men think that its okay to use?
In the wikipedia, cat calling is described as, “a whistle, shout, or comment of a sexual nature to a woman passing by.” The bottom line is that cat calling is inconsiderate.
In an article that Carlos Andres Gomez wrote on the Good Men Project he rallies for men to grow up. He writes about the wrongs of cat calling. He reports that these unsolicited cries for affection go unattended by women, but men still engage in them. I can’t help but wonder why mama didn’t teach you any manners, and that if you have a comment about a woman being beautiful, you need to tell her politely. Respect is a little thing that goes a long way. Cat calling is no better than any form of sexual harassment that takes place in society today.
When I recently went to Las Vegas on a ladies trip, I was completely enamored by the overall lack of respect and consideration for women. I walked to the restroom and a man grabbed my arm in order to spring chatter in my ear about my looks. Let’s just say, it was not well received. Others in small crowds there thought it okay to grab a women’s ass. I don’t care who she is or what she is wearing, sexual harassment is sexual harassment. Just because a woman is wearing something sexy, does not give you a free pass to act like a dick. Cat calls are trashy. Quarters to your cat calls men, it’s time to buy a clue.
When you stop comparing and expecting you begin to see the world for its beauty. You walk more slowly and you love more fully. You learn that we are humans and that we need one another. You learn that fear is really what drives all your worries and that hope is what drives your purpose. You gain insight with intention. You listen more than talk and give more than receive.
You learn about yourself. You understand that in order to be the best partner, you need to love you. This means leaving behind the years of trying to figure yourself out and enjoying the person you are each and every day. Be unapologetic in the way you treat yourself. Take care of your mind, body, and soul. Do yoga. Get massages. Read books. Engage in conversations. Be open-minded. Build a firm foundation in yourself. Always be willing to give yourself second chances. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but don’t be a victim. Take risks and chances, but protect your heart. Learn to sit and breath without the distraction of another person in the room. Be willing to take yourself to dinner and announce “just one.” Don’t be ashamed to cry. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Leave your bad attitude as quickly as you can.
You learn to laugh. You learn to let go. You learn to have fun. Then you stop comparing yourself to others. You learn that telling yourself you are beautiful isn’t vain. And that shame and guilt are heavy shoes and walking in them for too long is tiring.
You learn about work. You learn that working isn’t an option. You learn that loving your job is a huge step towards a happy life. You learn that having great co-workers is as important as having great friends. You learn that someone else bad day doesn’t have to ruin yours. You learn to have an attitude of teamwork. Suggestions and criticisms become constructive and not offensive. You engage in the team effort. You learn that you can’t micromanage and you let go of perfection. You know that always having to be right is exhausting.
You learn about friends. You keep the friends around who are genuine. The rest float on. You learn that having a small number of true friends is better than thousands of Facebook likes. To be a good friend, you have to be giving. You have to reach out to your friends, spend time laughing about the past, enjoying the present, and not worrying about the future. You learn that being single around your coupled friends is humbling and not feeling lonely is rewarding. You learn that feeling sorry for yourself is a waste of time and reaching your hand out to others alleviates the discontent with yourself. You learn not to gossip. You learn that communication doesn’t have to be constant. That like-minded people make you feel alive.
Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers. Say hi to someone in the grocery line. Give a high-five to a kid walking by. You learn to stop staring down at your smart phone and look up. Don’t be afraid to smile even when you don’t feel like it. Act as if. Act as if you care, love, and have compassion for every person you meet.
You learn about love. You learn that falling in love is intentional and that intent means letting go of the youthful past and making way for a healthy future. You learn that break-ups don’t have to be breakdowns. You learn that marrying your best friend is important. That flaws are not red flags and that red flags are worth attending to. You learn that to keep a marriage vibrant it may take more work than anything you’ve endured in your life. You learn patience, perseverance, and a willingness to say you are sorry. You learn that when you are with the right person, your passion fuels the work. You learn that date nights should never stop. You learn that happiness comes when we stop expecting our relationship to be like other ones. You learn to ask your partner for what you want and do it politely. You never stop working on yourself. You understand that forgiveness is golden and being stubborn leaves you restless. You learn that the grass only appears greener on the other side because you aren’t watering your own. You learn to compromise. Always give your best self to your partner and when you can’t- try harder. Travel together. Be supportive of one another’s dreams. Cuddle. Sleep in and have breakfast in bed. Bring her flowers often. Kiss him when he comes home. Hold hands.
You learn to find peace. You learn that balance is important. That trying to question why things are the way they are is a waste of time. You learn to stop. You learn to take a step back and surrender yourself to something more powerful than you. You learn that in order to be happy you must have positive energy. You learn to forgive and really forget. You learn that you have mindful choices. You learn that money is just green and white paper. You learn that feeling inspired is necessary. You learn that your journey is no less incredible than anyone else’s.
The Dalai Lama says, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” It is not my intention, to hurt anyone in this article. It is my intention to provide peace to my own pain. Comfort to companions. Vindication to victims.
Maybe I will regret this. I have never had that thought when publishing an article. This is the cloud of doubt that follows me around six months after ending the relationship. I hope that in reading this, the victims and the abusers seek help.
I am concerned with the hearts and the lives of men and women who are emotionally abused and those who become emotional abusers. Emotional abuse can be unintentional for the abuser and difficult to identify for the victim. When we hurt, we hurt others. That doesn’t make it okay. We have a duty to take responsibility for our actions. All of us.
As I sit to write this article a wave of anxiety, of fear, and of dread takes me over. My hands shake and my stomach aches. I am afraid of the man who used to be emotionally abusive to me. I am fearful because it was his charm on the outside and low self-worth on the inside that made me doubt my confidence and my self-esteem. That is what the emotional abuser will do, he or she will use subtle tactics like manipulation or shame to confuse you. I hope my words bring solace to the quiet women in the world. I hope they bring hope that there are others of us, just like you, that struggle to break free from an emotionally abusive relationship.
It was 12:34 am and I had just finished watching the movie, Big Eyes, with some girlfriends. The movie evoked a liberating nature with a story of a woman who was lied to, shot down, and emotionally run out of her own life. Tim Burton’s visuals were accompanied by the vocal soundtrack of Lana Del Rey. This made the familiar embrace of comfortable confusion all that more real to me.
Lana Del Ray would play on the television in the background and he would call me princess and seem present to our relationship. He was a charmer, from the very beginning. These charming actions and his complete denial of mistreatment would provoke much anxiety in me throughout the course of the relationship. This anxiety would be followed by feeling of low self-worth and doubt. I was in denial of even calling it abuse. That’s because the mistreatment doesn’t seem like abuse. The abuser will have you in long-term doubt. I learned to develop coping to alleviate my own anxiety. I did well. I was encouraging, thoughtful, and empathetic towards him; while he was discouraging towards me. I understood that he had some past wounds and insecurities that lead to his treatment of myself and other women. I thought that my own coping skills and those that I introduced in the relationship would change things for the better. They did not.
I was more lost inside of myself, not sharing his actions with anyone else. My roommates and good friends saw us interact. I cried, worried, and doubted often. I learned how to keep that all inside. If I didn’t, my friends would make me question the relationship, then I would have a little bit of strength to question him. By the end of these conversations, nothing was solved and I would stay with him. A part of me felt like I needed him. That wasn’t it. The truth was: My new lack of confidence and low self-worth I was inundated with while in the relationship needed him. Abusers do this. They break you down to keep you down. You chalk it up to relationship difficulties. You apologize for their behavior and you justify their actions.
I was new to the my neighborhood so I discussed wanting to join a flag football team to get to know some people. He asked why I needed to make new friends and discouraged me when I wanted to meet new people. He shot down every conversation about hanging out with his friends and rarely let me see his family. He promised he wouldn’t do the same bad behaviors of leaving me out and cheating again and again. He devalued me. He confused me. As the emotional abuser breaks you down, he also gets upset when you confront his actions. I navigate these patterns for a living, so it was how I could finally acknowledge the discomfort I had just endured. Even as a professional, I still have trouble putting it all together; when I lost myself, how my confidence and self-worth got so low, and why I stayed.
There I was, feeling alone with no one new neighborhood friends. He’d send pictures of his trips and text over the iPhone. I would sit at home on the weekends and read for fear of the shaming and intimidating questions I would meet on the other end of the phone, had I gone anywhere or made friends in the neighborhood. He didn’t want me to have guy friends, not even ones I had for years. So I learned to hang with my girlfriends. I thought he would be happy that I was “respecting his wishes”, but then more shaming took place. I would text a picture of me and my girlfriends at a hometown bar watching a small hometown country band. He would banter mean things back, that “he didn’t want to see me watching a bunch of dudes playing music.” I sent the picture because I assumed he would appreciate me being with my girlfriends. But nothing was ever good enough. Anytime I told a story about being with a girlfriend, he would ask me if, “I was out trolling.” Nothing was ever good enough.
When you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, trying to get answers or trying to justify actions will only leave you more and more confused. When you are able to recognize that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, take space and seek out help. Surround yourself with good friends who value you and know you for who you were before you got into the relationship. Join a support group, get a therapist, build yourself back up. Trust me, you deserve it.
I learned to live in a world of lies and unsympathetic behaviors. It was the constant manipulation, negativity, and relationship sabotage that I couldn’t stand. There were times when he would introduce me as his girlfriend and times when he played “too shy” to do it. He would claim to be “scared of commitment.” He had learned the correct conversations that yield getting close to a woman’s heart.
As I rewind, I realize how confused and conflicted I felt. I realize how many red flags there were and how I should have walked away months earlier. He would be attentive when he felt me wanting to walk away. Then when I was invested he would push me away or run away on a trip. I know now that I could not have changed him. The few and far between reaches to make you happy. This is all a game. I am afraid the abuser is in charge of moving the game pieces. And trust me, no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to change that.
Lana Del Ray’s song plays as the credits roll up on Big Eyes. I get it, I am not a painter whose husband stole my artistic essence for fame. But when you have a heart like mine, that bleeds for others, you know that it’s not the number of people in the audience, but the lives, if even one, that you can touch. When a man is emotionally abusive to you, it sure feels like he stole the one thing that you have fought so hard to create: yourself. I think he steals it because he fails to find a self.
I asked him once about going to a wedding with him. He replied, “Why would I take you?” I had learned from our relational exchanges to not ask questions like that. Getting shot down or discouraged was the status quo of the relationship. I can not begin to explain or elaborate on the chaos that goes on in one’s head when emotional abuse is taking place. You doubt yourself, you doubt your own insight on yourself, and you doubt your own intentions. You begin to believe that you truly might not be good enough. This lie is a part of where you have come from, because the emotionally abuse partner seeks out people who are vulnerable to this kind of situation. I was lucky. I was able to break free in a little short of a year. Six months later my mind is still break free of and overcoming all the lies that he spoke over me. Like shrapnel, it never truly goes away.
I could no longer empathize with a monster. An emotionally abusive relationship will have that effect on you. The residue of your partner’s nature will linger and you will feel the guilt and the shame that they worked so hard to instill in you. I beg and plead with you to break free. Reach for my hand, listen to Lana’s words, and break free. “We can fly. They had us caged up like a bird in mid-summer, We’ve got things to tell you. Like we know that you are liars. ” We can fly. Together.
He told me he loved me. Maybe in his favorite moments he really did think I was the one. But in his moments of doubt, he was willing to betray me. A man who doesn’t know himself and have a firm foundation in loyalty and respect will do this.
I had wanted to see Big Eyes for months now. Timing is everything. I would not have had the strength to write this before. But now, well now, I can fly. And so can you.