I admit this weekend I watched a few too many Lifetime Christmas movies, which has me thinking about the messages women receive around relationships. These Christmas movies usually have some forlorn single woman who is once again alone for the holidays and is dreading spending the holidays with her family because they will once again belittle her for still being single. The main character is usually portrayed as a super strong independent woman and that is the reason why she hasn’t found a suitable partner because she is too career-focused, too stubborn, too independent, etc. Eventually, she meets some wonderful man either through a magical Christmas list, Santa wish or some form of interference from the pesky friends and family. Thrown in some misunderstandings, the woman being too independent, the guy being too nice and then the happy ending where the guy saves her from her loneliness and we have a movie. This from my research on my couch is the formula for an appropriate romantic Christmas movie.
So the messages we receive are:
So in my observation through my clients and observing society we have two extremes:
A prime example of number 2: I had a client who was dating a guy who was getting ready to move away for a job. They had been dating for around a year and she was debating whether or not she wanted to move with him. She kept telling me that if she moved she would be pathetic because she wanted to be a strong woman and not NEED a guy. She thought she would be weak if she followed him. She also really loved the guy, had a career that would allow her to relocate fairly easily and when she listened to her gut she really wanted to go with him. We spent much of our time together helping her get clear on what she really wanted not what the messages were sending her. She realized that needing someone wasn’t all bad, and she couldn’t imagine not having a life without him in it even if that meant to some people she might appear pathetic. She eventually decided to move with him (he moved a few months ahead of her and then she followed him) and last I heard they are doing well.
Both types of camps are missing the true reality: Relationships are hard. They require work, love, compromise, communication, caring, vulnerability, and strength. Relationships are messy, complicated, joyous, lonely, and bonding. Relationships involve meeting another human being and genuinely accepting their humanity. They involve working together as a team to bring out the best in each other. Each relationship is as unique and wonderful as we are as individuals. There is no secret or magic bullet. Relationships are a joyous part of life that requires us to show up as ourselves on a daily basis.
When we let go of the stereotypes and the generalizations and look at our relationships as a unique experience we can live happier.
What is your view of relationship? What are your keys to relationship success?
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