by Lawrence Lanoff
With tears tumbling, we comforted our kitty gently, thanking her for the love she brought us as life slipped away from her frail, tired body. My girlfriend and I have been dealing with the loss of Sydney for a week now.
Trauma has the potential to destroy intimate connections and we have both been acutely aware of this. To ease our minds, and help diminish the effects of stress, we hiked a lot. On one particular hike though, we argued over a misunderstanding we had. We quickly resolved the conflict, but it made me think about the most common myths and misperceptions that we have regarding relationships.
These myths have the potential to cause us vast amounts of pain on top of life’s unexpected stresses. I thought I would share a few of those myths today and offer a suggestion about what we can do differently.
Myth one – we are supposed to work out our problems with our partner.
In my experience, our sense of self is fragile and easy to disrupt. This is why I don’t recommend entering the psyche of a partner. It’s none of our business. I call this my “no fly zone.” What this means is basically, stay out of my psyche. If you fundamentally don’t like the psyche of your partner, find somebody else. Essential “isness” of a person is what it is. It’s their job to change things – not ours. Bottom line: Work your shit out with a professional.
Myth two – it’s good to treat our partners like children.
This myth is a killer – and one I see all the time. We learn a lot about how to treat our intimate circle from how our parents treated us. As adults, we are responsible for making conscious changes and personality adjustments to correct the fucked up things our parents did to us. When our partners take over the roll of the quipping, abusive parent, it really sucks. Nobody wants to live with mommy and daddy again. The bottom line: It’s best to treat our partners like adults. It’s also a hell of a lot sexier.
Myth three – our partner is a mirror of us
For those of us who believe this, all I can say is quit being so narcissistic. If everybody is a reflection of us always, it leaves us feeling helpless to change things, or in a position where we are constantly trying to fix the people around us who are “reflecting” disintegrated parts of ourselves. The bottom line: Our partners are individuals. They really do have lives independent from us. So does the rest of the planet.
Myth four – our partner is our other half.
Perhaps the most common relationship myth is the one that comes to us from Aristophanes via Plato – the myth of symmetry. This myth says that the purpose of relationship is to find our “other half”. Many myths suggest that this “other half” is a missing part of us and until we meet this person, our lives will remain incomplete. This myth puts a ton of stress on the question, “is this person my soulmate?” The bottom line: There are many, many potential “soulmates” in life. Furthermore, just because a person is my soulmate doesn’t mean they are cool to be around. Been there. Done that.
Myth five – you can mind read.
This is such a bunch of cow poo. The adult psyche eventually has to come to the realization that it can’t read minds. Understanding this allows us to grasp that we are probably wrong about what we believe, what we perceive, and what we feel regarding the actions, motives, and behaviors of our partners. Mommy appeared to mind read because we were three years old. We also once believed in Santa. We are constantly getting it wrong, but filtering that wrongness out of our conscious perception. This makes us believe that we are getting it right. The bottom line: We have to wake up to the reality that we get it wrong – a lot.
What then? For me, the key is making the conscious decision to treat our partners sweetly –especially in difficult times. Err on the side of kindness and sweetness, because we don’t really know what is going on inside of another person.
Kindness is a decision we have to make consciously, but one that allows a partnership to grow and flourish in ease and flow. Additionally, If we treat one another as capable adults who are choosing to spend time together, it gives us a lot of room to enjoy one another and have fun being together.