As a relationship blogger I’ve come to realize the masses of material around me. I sit in a coffee shop that I frequent to get a bite to eat before work and most of what I overhear from the wait staff has to do with relationships. One was a blossoming romance that included a child from a previous marriage, and yet another was about who would take the kids for the weekend. I had an unfortunate heavy heart that most of the chatter included breakdowns and break-ups. It included devastation and divorce. I wondered how we could all get back to a place where relationships and partnerships provided us with the sense of support and strength they were meant for. Where we grew together and genuinely appreciated one another, even if we get pissed off from time to time.
Not to offend, but it’s my personal opinion that no one is in the mood to work really hard for anything anymore. When I sit and read about dating and relationships it appears apparent why we have shifted into a culture of divorce rather than long unions. Article after article on what you are doing wrong with your new relationship and tips or “how-tos” on anything from keeping him guessing to 12 ways to have a happy marriage. But is it really that simple? And if it were that simple why are we in an epic fail? We learn Why Men Love Bitches or how to Get Married This Year, 365 Days to I Do or how to Get the Guy, but we forget that this mainstream culture of self-help and fast fixes just sheds light on the problem. These are just outlines to a very long syllabus. Relationships take work, dedication, and lots of commitment through the years.
I am not suggesting that every divorce should be stopped. There are several reasons divorce takes place and the hurt and pain can not be overcome. Sadness or unhappiness can sometimes be a reason to split. However, all I am suggesting is that when you take the vow to commit to someone for the rest of your life, that you remember just how much work, patience, perseverance, work, humor, work, respect, and did I mention- work, that it is going to take. Get angry with me, get really angry with me and explain yourself to death about why your divorce was reasonable. Many times over I am going to disagree with you. You get to choose who you marry. That’s right, it’s a choice. You get to choose who you will be able to run the business of marriage with for the rest of your life.
The percentage of divorce gets higher with the number of divorces you have. So you have a 40-50 percent chance of getting divorced the first time and a 70 percent chance of divorcing again. The common denominator of that statistic is you.
I first heard of conscious uncoupling when Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow announced their split, as I am sure, most of us did. Thank goodness the Wall Street Journal took the time to write an article on what was meant by conscious uncoupling. According to the article the term could, “be new language that could frame the end of a marriage or relationship in my positive light.” I was happy to hear that definition because basically what we are saying is that we are going to put a pretty frame on a shitty picture. Break-ups and divorces suck. Make no mistake about it that they leave people jaded and discouraged. Society has become a mecca of pretty frames on all sorts of false pictures (Facebook facades). Now we sit in a society that is ready to approach the hurtful parts of life by being consciously fanciful and politically incorrect. Distorting the truth doesn’t make it any easier. Conscious uncoupling is a sham.
Isn’t dating suppose to be a way for us to test the efficacy of marriage? But if we are a break-up culture, is the desired effect to separate or to sustain the marriage? And we are a break up culture. A culture that wants more, faster and easier. What it took for our grandparents and parents to sustain a marriage, we are just not interested in putting in that kind of effort. A recent article in Shape magazine discussed that treating your relationship like your job could have positive effects on the happiness and teamwork in your relationship. The article simply suggests that if we put in as much effort for our relationships as we do in our jobs, we would be in a better position with a better attitude. I mean when was the last time you neglected your job or just walked in late? You make an attentive effort to be on time, to dress accordingly, to follow the employee handbook. Maybe you can establish a relationship handbook and overcome the complacency and inflexibility you seem to have in regards to your relationship. Sorry Gwen, but remarking on your divorce as conscious uncoupling is bullshit. Talk is cheap. Cheesy wording is even cheaper.
One day at the gym I overheard a man and woman chatting with one another. The woman was talking about her upcoming celebration for 23 years of marriage and he was discussing that his 40 year marriage anniversary had just passed. I remain in awe about how these couples manage to give support and love throughout the years. I also can’t help but wonder how couples today will connect and survive in today’s technology driven society.
The digital age brought around a huge evolution for business and educational styles. Our daily lives have changed significantly due to search engines and social sites. But have our dating lives and our self-development increased at the same pace? Smart phones have become a great technological advance to cellphones. Have humans evolved in their dating styles or are we still T9 dating?
The release of smart phones and social dating sites has left us no more savvy consumers in the dating world than we are in the public arena. If you are hoping to get out of bad dating patterns, hiding online won’t help. Give a girl who dates jerks 5 guys and she is likely to pick the 1 jerk out of the bunch. Give her 100 guys and she is still likely to pick the jerk. The real question is if your mental aptitude for dating has enough ram to keep up with the current technology. Maybe it is time to upgrade ourselves before we go fishing, get on ok cupid, download the tinder app or pay for sites like match and e-harmony.
The first smart phone came out in 1993. In the last ten years smart phones are the new norm. But what has happen to our dating lives? What are the advances to our human development that are making dating better today then it was ten years ago? In a world where you have 1,009 Facebook friends and 876 Instagram followers, the only human evolution has happened to our egos. That doesn’t equate with making us more responsible dating partners. Bigger egos may make approaching another person easier as we become more aggressive, but it isn’t helping us develop compassion for being thoughtful in romantic relationships.
Society might be on the cusp of social explosion. I can not tell you how many photos I have seen where guys have their pants unbuttoned and I can almost see their junk. This isn’t what I signed on for. This type of dating has allowed the douches to get even douchier (as if it was possible). I find myself erasing more messages than actually connecting on a real human level. What is socially appropriate publically weeds out that kind of behavior and nonsense. But online, anything goes.
You are what you are online and offline. Whatever attitude, defenses, lifestyles, or energy that you have as a person, you will have on a computer. It is important to develop yourself with other people in mind. Sorry, Selfies, it’s not all about you.
When I travel, I usually have my head down working on something. Whether I am reading a book or working on a new paper, I consistently miss what is going on around me at airports, on trains or buses. It is assumed that I and most of you also miss a lot going on in other venues too. Don’t get me wrong, I love people watching, but over the course of the last several years I see the same thing, other people with their heads down too. We have all become so exceptionally busy with our phones and tablets. As I sit and write on my iPad, I’m a catalyst of the social ineptitude.
I look around the environment while waiting to board my plane. People, human beings, engaging in real conversations as strangers. Directly in front of me a young woman spoke to another woman about college. Behind them sat a gentleman with headphones draped around his informal dress of an old school MTV shirt, jeans and a dodgers hat; conversing with an older gentleman for some minutes. After the conversation ended I saw the younger man reach for something. Next to him sat his cell phone on a ledge. The ledge clung to furniture that looked like it came directly out of a Jetsons cartoon. I glanced up at the futuristic looking table, at the top a huge sign read: Charging Station. Then I began to think about all the possibilities for a sign like that. All the possibilities for human charging and not just electronic device charging. We have to be willing to give into the idea that ourselves, not just our devices need charging. We have to be conscious of the types of charging our bodies, souls and minds need.
The sign could hang above our beds, we recharge with rest there. It could be above the dinner table or in the kitchen; when we share in cooking and eating together we are recharging our souls. It could hang at the gym where we prepare our bodies for their full recharge and potential. However, we have to be visionaries like the phone charging station.
In order to prepare ourselves for “charging” we need to be conscious of noise. There is noise that goes on all around us. In communication noise is understood as anything that interferes with the communication between the speaker and the audience. Noise can be physical or psychological. In today’s American society phones have become not just physical noise but psychological noise. We have an unconscious instinction to have our devices on us, which leads to anxiety and all sorts of cognitive, emotional and intellectual noise. During the times of charging, the noise needs to stop. Electronics don’t have the kinds of needs that we do as humans, but it is important that we stop the noise around us when charging.
There is a lot of talk about mindfulness in psychology currently. This is a fancy way of saying “awareness in the moment.” However, can we actually achieve this state unless we gain some sort of social reboot? We are so untuned to our environments and connected to devises. We need to reboot. We need to engage socially so we slowly learn how to become independent from our devices.
But with all the physical noise going on around us and all the psychological noise in our head, how can we obtain such a state?
Then it happened. As I was writing this very article a woman around sixty years old knelt down near me. I was waiting for her to ask about my article so I could tell her about the fascinating ideas floating in my head. She knelt down to ask me how to post a photo from her phone onto Facebook. Strike 1.
Then a man in his late forties shot in between me and the woman as he anxiously and diligently spoke to the wire of his headphones to another human being on the other end. Strike 2.
I watched near me as two teenagers spoke to one another with no eye contact but instead utilized their phones while deciding what to snap chat. Strike 3.
This wasn’t just a generational reboot. It was a mass social reboot. If we don’t take care of our own human charging, we are going to crash. Mindfulness won’t be possible and social interaction will no longer be needed. We are creating noise because our minds lack real social connection. We have come to prefer fake over real, text over talk, internet connection over human closeness. It would be a challenge to actively participate in human charging. Its time for the social reboot.
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”
Mohandas K. Gandhi
Gandhi was a wise man. This article will focus on the words portion of that quote. Using more hopeful language can help you become positive in many aspects of your life. The power of language and the thoughts behind them influence our feelings and actions. They are influenced through subconscious and conscious means. Understanding why is much less important to me than showing you how new words can change those feelings and actions.
What if I told you that eliminating negative feelings you have about yourself is as easy as changing the way you talk? Reorienting your language can help change your life. Think about the different Facebook status that you come across. Some of the negative status that you read over and over again are by the same people. Their cynical and negative nature comes across in most aspects of their lives. As you read this, you may even decide you are that person. There is no judgement here, but just take note that the people who try to be positive (not overly) and tempered have an overall better outlook on life, that stems from their words, into their thoughts, out in their actions, and across in their Facebook status. They might not be skinnier, smarter, or better. It may just be that the language they use creates groundwork for a more positive outcome; you have to be willing to change your words.
Enlist this new set of standards in your language:
1. Say Goodbye to Can’t, Don’t, and Never
2. Be cautious with Always and All (extreme words make us feel worse and defeated)
3. Use Self-Affirmations (I am good the way I am, I am happy to be me, I can be successful)
4. Eliminate self-judgement (don’t analyze yourself in the mirror)
5. Take non-judgmental stances (the more we critics others, the harder it is to have positive words)
I figured that it is time to write some more articles about my personal journey; I mean what good is all the objective relationship advice and discussion if you don’t hear some of my subjective experiences. Self-realizations have to be a part of the process in order to implement change. You can have all the knowledge in the world, but it won’t do you any good if you can not put it to use.
This all began one day when I called my mom to let her know that I had some news. It went like this:
Me: “Mom, guess what?”
Me: “Jason and Jamie are getting married!” (Both good friends of mine).
Mom: “You are getting married! You and John are getting married!” (Screaming to my father). Honey, Laurie and John are getting married!”
Me: “MOM! MOM! MOM! I said Jamie and Jason are getting married.”
As I listened to my mom’s demeanor change and calm, I explained to her that John and I had broken up months ago.
I also told her that I was glad to know what excitement she would feel for a man to propose to me; even if it was a man she had yet to meet. Thank God my Dad wasn’t updating his Facebook status at the time! Why was it that every time I traveled the 2000 plus miles home, everyone wanted to know who the man in my life was? It was a typical question that made its way into conversation after conversation. I mean, maybe it was partially my fault for making my last relationship FBO (Facebook Official). Or maybe I felt uncomfortable about even being asked that question.
Whatever the reason was, it had a multitude of social and personal factors. What matters is how we react to it; it helps you discern where you are in the growing process. In the aftermath of my mom carrying on, I realized it was the first time that I acknowledged the ending of my last relationship. As I had to, once again, tell close family members and friends that I had ended yet another relationship; I began to feel the weight of what I thought would be their disappointment, but I realized it may have been my own.
So I looked back at the reasons why my other relationships had ended. I realized one common theme: that for whatever reason or another some aspect of each relationship was falling short of what I or the other person really wanted or needed in the relationship. That is the thing about dating and being in relationships with other people; we are trying to figure out what we want our best relationship to look like; the person we want to spend the rest of our life with. For some of us that happens in our 20’s, but for some of us it will be in our 30’s and on. As I get ready to turn 30 in less than a year, I welcome the idea that I have yet to find my best relationship.
During my 10 plus years of dating, if anything, I was getting much better at it. I was understanding the realities of what it takes to make a relationship healthy and long-lasting. In my mid-twenty dating, I thought I could harness change or mold the people who I was with. I now realize there is little you can do to change anyone.
The best you will get is the best that person is capable of giving you. Who they are today and the habits they have are what they will have tomorrow and forever. Everyone has faults, but if you can strengthen each other in personality and purpose in life you will find that happiness and love will thrive. So, Mom and everyone, I can not promise you wedding bells in my future, but I can promise you that I will strive to welcome it as I find true happiness and love in myself. Until then, I will be, Just one.
I have heard people say this about romantic relationships: “You should not have to work in a relationship” or “Your relationship should not be work.” What should it be then? All of the good friendships that I made took time and energy to foster and to keep. Why do people not complain about the work they had to put into their friendships, but will emote that kind of rant in their romantic ones?
Those statements boggle me. We are a society that believes we get things handed to us. Our grandparents or parents stayed together because they believed in the commitment in marriage and believed that hard work was the only thing that got you anywhere. They faced the same issues and frustrations that we do with relationships today. It looked different, but the solutions are similar.
I am asking that we stop treating marriage like a drive-thru. You need to park the car, get out, and go inside. If you are having difficulty in your marriage, the best thing you can do is seek professional therapeutic help from someone who you can trust and who has a track record of reconnecting marriages. Marriage will never be simple.
1. Relationships take time to foster. If you are in a hurry to walk down the aisle, that is a clear sign that your heart may not be in the right place. In Facebook world it appears everyone is getting married and having babies. However, in real-time, there are still a lot of singles out there.
2. The best way to keep your relationship simple is to always remember the friendship that is behind it. It is vital to be your partners’ best friend. You should continue to get to know each other for years to come. As you change together, you will need to learn new things about one another.
3. You have to nurture the marriage all the time. Just like we maintain our cars, water our grass, or dedicate ourselves to educational leaps through school; you constantly need to nurture your marriage. If you keep up with the little ways that you can stay connected, your marriage will keep on the right track. If you don’t keep nurturing the marriage, it will get put in the shop, die, or not pass the 9th grade. We maintain almost every aspect of our lives. We maintain our jobs and our progress. Why should it be any different in romantic relationships?
4. There must be mutual respect. We respect our friends. If you are my friend and I don’t text you back right away, you are not going to text me two hours later and say ? or why didn’t you text me back? We set boundaries and keep them very well in most of our friendships. We need to learn to do the same in our relationships. We must respect our significant other for the obligations they may have, the love that they may need, and everything in between.
5. You have to have a passion to have fun together. Have fun together in everything you do. Fun can be fostered by become more caring and in tune in the relationship. Make a list of three things that you will each do each day for the next two weeks. See how this new daily caring makes for more positive exchanges in the relationship. (Such as 1. Tell them you love them every morning when you get up. 2. Write them a note and leave it someone different each day. 3. Call them during lunch just to ask how they are doing.) If you are saying, three things every day?! Yes, three things each day for two weeks. You manage to eat three times a day and go to the bathroom multiple times. Make it routine!
In the relationship world, this tune plays out in real life and in the movies. Someone might let you down by claiming all the responsibility and breaking up with you by letting you know that “It’s not you, it’s me.”
But who is it really? When it comes to whose fault it is that a relationship doesn’t work out, can any one party be to blame?
When any relationship ends, whether it is a friendship or a romantic relationship, a small assessment is done. The assessment takes place by talking to friends, looking back on old relationships, and by replaying what went right or wrong during the past few months leading up to the loss of friendship or break-up. We try to find answers, but the truth is that sometimes those answers don’t exist.
We tend to think about all the bad things that happen when ending the relationship rather than having an objective idea of what the relationship looked like. Both parties contributed to the ending of the relationship in some way. It is important for you to be able to evaluate your contribution so you can be aware of it in future relationships. Never try to assess or blame the other person’s contribution; this is when we get into trouble and make a bad situation worse. Always use “I” statements instead of “You” statements.
We live in a world filled with more break-ups and breakdowns than commitment. Working hard to mend a relationship or assertiveness to make one’s life better seem like daunting tasks. We are too used to giving up being the new “norm.” I am not suggesting that you try to stay with someone who is abusive physically or mentally, but that you take the time to assess your life, your hang-ups, and your past to understand where it puts you in your relationships today.
It is easy for us to pass the buck and the blame onto someone else or to profess ourselves the blame to slip out of something. Maybe in a world filled with easy outs, it is time that we went back to fighting for the health in our relationships. It is time that we seek out professional help to overcome the barriers that lead us to struggle in romantic relationships or friendships.