Sunday, November 21, 2010

Guarding Your Heart

A friend of mine blogged recently about guarding your heart (something she reflected upon after reading Proverbs 4:23) and asked what "guarding your heart" means. How do you go about doing this? From a Biblical sense I agree with one of the people who responded by saying that "You guard your heart by loving Christ above all else. He will then lead your heart and protect it for you." Essentially, the Biblical intention of "guarding your heart" aligns with a phrase I've heard from a few of my friends, "A woman's heart should be so lost in God that a man needs to seek Him to find her." Now please excuse the sexist language, from my perspective this applies equally to men as to women and extends beyond heterosexual relationships. As a woman of faith, this does resonate with me. However, I think it is equally important to consider a practical application of guarding your heart. Afterall, God gave us free choice and as a result of doing so we have agency in our own lives (Thank God!).

From a more practical sense, guarding your heart entails wisdom as opposed to being "blind" or "naive." In essence, the pragmatic or practical intention of "guarding your heart" is being "informed by insight from past experiences" and yet remaining "open and sensitive to the present." This quote is from a book entitled "On Caring" and was actually used to describe courage; however, it resonated with me and seemed to provide a practical description of guarding your heart. In fact, as I reflect further, it takes a substantial amount of courage to guard your heart, which may explain why the phrase is applicable to both phenomena. As those who have experienced a broken heart know, it takes a great deal of courage to "guard your heart" rather than build a wall around it.

On the last season of The Bachelorette, one of the potential bachelor's was known for telling the bachelorette that he would "guard and protect her heart." The thing is, I don't think anyone can guard your heart except you. Its a paradox to believe someone else is capable of protecting your heart. Just as no one else can truly mend your broken heart, no one else can protect it for you. From my perspective, the condition of your heart is your own responsibility. An expression that resonates with me in relation to being in love is: "being in love with someone is giving them the power to destroy you but trusting them not to." The inherent implication is that YOU decide to give the other person that power and YOU decide to trust them with it. The hope is that you do so wisely and intentionally, that you guard your heart in the process.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Minnesota Nice

This week was the annual conference for my field's primary organization NCFR (National Council on Family Relations). NCFR is headquartered here in Minneapolis, MN so the annual conference is held here every four years. The first NCFR conference I attended was four years ago in 2006 and was held here, in downtown Minneapolis. At the time, I had no idea I'd be living here the next time the conference was hosted in Minnesota. Over the past two years that I've been living here I've experienced & subsequently struggled with the phenomenon known as "Minnesota Nice." This term is worn as a badge of honor by Minnesotans. It is something they fully embrace and embody, as is evidenced by one of the signs in the Silent Auction room at the conference that read "It's Minnesota nice to bid on items." However, this is something that I have really struggled to "adjust" to.

During a small group discussion a couple weeks ago, one of my classmates, who is an out of state student, was talking about how difficult it is to make friends here. This resonated with my own experiences. Another student in the class (who is originally from Peru but has lived in Minnesota for 20 years or so) articulated "Minnesota Nice" as passive aggressiveness. It seems to me that, "Minnesota Nice" is just a socially acceptable or sanctioned form of passive aggressiveness. Now I do not believe this is the intent of "Minnesota Nice." I believe this term has derived as a way to categorize behavior that is situated in the Scandinavian/Norwegian culture or ways of being that have greatly influenced Minnesota culture. From my limited understanding of and experience with this culture, it seems that conflict and confrontation are avoided at all cost. The underlying assumption of this value is that conflict and confrontation are always negative. However, I would argue that conflict and confrontation are necessary components of life and it is important that individuals be able to constructively engage in conflict. Cultural values that discourage conflict and confrontation, constrain individual's ability to develop the skills necessary to engage in conflict in meaningful and constructive ways.

Regardless, these cultural values have profoundly shaped Minnesotan's understanding of and approaches to conflict. From my perspective, this behavioral adaptation has resulted in a form of "passive aggressiveness." It seems as though people here do not understand that it is possible to disagree with someone or confront someone in a respectful, constructive manner. Instead people avoid confrontation or confront people in a manner that appears passive aggressive. All of this comes across as fake or inauthentic. As a result, I've had difficulty trusting people here. Many people have asked me whether I plan to stay in the area after I graduate. And honestly, I don't know. I love the cities. I love that it doesn't have a "big city feel" but still has all the advantages of a city. There's just so much to do here: comedy shows, Broadway musicals, art museums, a variety of college and professional sports teams and so much more. However, being so far away from my family and close friends has been really difficult. There have been many times I've felt very isolated and alone here. The truth is, that regardless of how much I love it here, if I don't feel as though I have family here (whether "real" or fictive) by the time I graduate, I don't know that I can stay here and be happy. If I happen to find my life partner here, I will be very content to live the rest of my life in the Twin Cities. But I believe that life is about relationships. Its about people. And all the advantages of living in a city mean very little if you don't have special people in your life to share them with.

I believe that critically reflecting on this phenomenon, Minnesota Nice, and tracing (what I believe to be) its origin to cultural values has helped me to gain a better understanding of this behavior and ultimately reframe some of my experiences.

*Disclaimer* For the ease of describing my experiences I attributed this phenomenon to all Minnesotans. I realize this is unfair and do not believe this applies to all Minnesotans. I also do not mean to imply that this is a defining feature of Minnesota culture. It is simply a trend I have noticed throughout my experiences living here and something that I've struggled with over the past couple years.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Suffering in Silence

I am a "suffer in silence" kind of person. I'm not going to "tweet" or update my facebook status to let everyone know when I'm struggling or hurting. Most of the time, I will struggle without people knowing that I'm struggling. Aside from my family (primarily my mom) and very select few people at certain moments in time, I do not often turn to others when I'm hurting. Over the past year or so I turned to blogging to help me process my thoughts and feelings by "embodying my thoughts in text." Doing so has been challenging as it is against my "nature" to expose my vulnerabilities and weaknesses to others. However, to my surprise, I have found that this self-reflective process, which makes my intimate thoughts and feelings public, has helped others. I have been so humbled knowing that my experiences, thoughts, feelings, and insights have benefited others. And in many ways, I've felt supported and validated by others, via their comments on my posts or private messages I've received. While I expected that the intentional process of self-reflection would be beneficial, I was not expecting how the responses from others would contribute to my well-being and healing process.

So I find myself at a familiar crossroads. My heart is aching; my mind is reeling; and I feel alone. It is times like these that being so far from my family and close friends is the most difficult. However, I am thankful for the distraction that being a doctoral student offers. I think I would have spent the entire weekend in bed if it weren't for my coursework. Tomorrow begins one of the most hectic and exhausting weeks of my semester (the national annual conference for my field is being held here). After a weekend of "sulking," this busy week is exactly what I need to force me to focus on something, anything else. Of course, tasty Bradstreet cocktails with a friend on Saturday won't hurt either! ;)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Invictus- "Unconquered"

While I was at home last week, one of the movies I watched was Invictus which is based on true events following Nelson Mandela's election as the South African president. Mandeal utilized the South African rugby team's success in the World Cup as a way to address lingering hostility between white and black South African's following the apartheid era. Aside from the fact it is a good movie, I became intrigued by the title of the movie which refers to a poem that Nelson Mandela used as comfort and inspiration during his years imprisoned at Robben Island. I have included the poem below and bolded the phrases that I find particularly salient.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

This poem appears to be referring to locus of control, which refers to an individual's perception about the underlying main causes of events in his/her life. The poem reflects the life paradigm of an individual who exhibits internal locus of control. People with an internal locus of control tend to believe that they are in control of their life or "master of [their] fate." These people believe their life is the result of their own decisions and efforts and tend to seek life satisfaction and happiness from within. Individuals who operate from an external locus of control believe in fate and luck and seek life satisfaction and happiness in external circumstances and situations. These people tend to say or think "I'll be happy once I am making more money" or I'll be happy once I move" or "I'll be happy once I find a boyfriend/girlfriend."

As the above poem and Mandela's experience clearly illustrate, individuals cannot always control their life circumstances or situations; however, we can control the way we choose to perceive and respond to the situations we find ourselves in, which is eloquently articulated in the closing two lines of this poem. I believe this reflects a balanced locus of control, which is likely the healthiest approach. For those of you who are unsure what approach you employ, Discovery Health has a short 10 question Locus of Control and Attribution Style Test. I urge you to take the test, reflect on the results, and determine how your approach influences your life.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


I was watching Lipstick Jungle tonight and Natasha Bedingfield had a guest appearance in one of the episodes and sang "Soulmate." This song is beautiful and really resonates with me. I've included a YouTube video that includes the lyrics for those of you who are unfamiliar with the song.

While I love the song and definitely relate to the essence of the message, I also tend to "push back" against the term "soulmate." I do not believe that there is just one person out there for each of us. I know too many people who have lost their love early in life and I just don't believe that they are destined to be alone the rest of their lives. So, here is what I believe:

1.) I do not believe that there is one soulmate for every individual, but I do believe that there are only a limited number of individuals with the potential to be a particular individual's soulmate. Potential soulmates are compatible based on core values, beliefs, life experiences & expectations as well as the life paradigm each individual operates from.

2.) I believe another important component of a soulmate is the presence of chemistry between two individuals. I found this MSN article describing the 5 Kinds of Chemistry especially useful. In my own opinion, soulmates will share each of these types of chemistry. While I believe that chemistry provides the "natural" feeling or connection between two individuals I do not believe that means the relationship will be easy.

3.) I believe that finding a soulmate is the result of both fate and personal decisions, which both influence timing. For example, I ended up in Minnesota based on my decision to apply to the U of M's Phd program. However, the opportunities & experiences that led up to that decision are the culmination of both fate and personal decisions. Beyond that, being in a situation where I meet one particular individual (someone with the potential to be my soulmate) may be considered fate whereas my own decision to place myself in a situation where I could meet that individual is a choice.

Although I do believe that the term soulmate captures the essence of what I am ultimately searching for, I also believe that the assumptions and expectations that are typically associated with the term do not reflect my own beliefs (a selection of which have been presented here). While Natasha Bedingfield's song "Soulmate" resonates with me (as I'm sure it does with others) I felt the need to articulate my own beliefs about the loaded term.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Making Things Explicit...Avoiding the "Bad Call"

Within the course of my life in general and relationships specifically I prefer to make things explicit. I prefer to know where I stand with people. I have found that being authentic, honest, and explicit really facilitates this process. However, it is not easy to do this; I've been in very uncomfortable and at times awkward situations by attempting to identify and make explicit undercurrents. I have also learned that doing this does not always resolve the issue because if the person or people I'm interacting with avoid being honest and explicit (sometimes even to themselves) awkward undercurrents may remain.

I'd like to use a sports metaphor to further illustrate the benefit of being explicit within the context of friendships and relationships. Imagine you are watching a football game and the ref calls a face-mask penalty against your team. [For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a face-mask call is I have included a youtube video below of what it looks like. As you can see from the video it is illegal because it could really injure the player, ie. break his neck.] Upon replay, you can see that your team's player did not actually grab on to the face-mask but the player's hand was close to the face-mask. Most people choose to get upset with the ref for making a bad call. However, I appreciate the way my dad reframes the situation. He argues that if the player had made a fundamentally sound tackle (ie. hit them low and wrap up) his hand would not be anywhere near the face-mask which does not even give the ref an opportunity to make the "bad call."

When this is applied to friendships and relationships, being explicit about how you feel, what you think, etc. reduces the potential for misunderstandings. Being explicit means the other person does not have a reason to question or assume what is going on. As I was told many years ago, "when you assume you make an ass out of 'u' and 'me'." I have been in situations where misunderstandings and hurt feelings could have been avoided had both parties been honest and explicit. However, being honest and explicit can also, cause problems especially if you are interacting with a very sensitive person or people unwilling to critically reflect on the situation. Regardless, I firmly believe that making things explicit avoids the likelihood that you or your friend or partner will feel the need to question or make assumptions about your friendship or relationship. By making things explicit others aren't put in the situation where they even have the possibility to "make a bad call."

Monday, May 31, 2010

"Lots of People Lose Themselves in Love..."

This blog post was partially inspired by a friend of mine's recent blog. She and I have both experienced heartbreak in the past year and a half. Each of us was left feeling broken following the end of our respective relationships and have spent a considerable amount of time processing these relationships in order to emotionally and cognitively prepare ourselves for healthier relationships.

What I've come to realize in the past few months was how much of myself that I sacrificed or lost within the context of that relationship. As embarrassing as this is to admit, a quote from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 3), clearly and succinctly summarizes what I've experienced.

"Lots of people lose themselves in love; the hitch is you can't stay lost, sooner or later you have to get back to yourself."

It was not until a couple months ago that I finally "got back to being me" and fully realized how much of myself I lost within that relationship. The reality is, that a healthy relationship supplements each individual, meaning that they bring out the best in one another.

At the time, I thought I was becoming a better version of myself within the relationship because I was with someone who, in many ways, had opposite temperament traits than I did and challenged me. What I now realize is that it was not being with him that made me a better version of myself. It was the effort I placed in taking from the relationship to improve myself. Now that I can differentiate between the two I will ensure that the person I am with not only provides opportunities for me to become a better version of myself, but actively contributes to that process. I realize that I need to be with someone who brings out the best in me, without me having to consciously do so. I now know what I'm not willing to sacrifice or lose within the context of my next relationship.

If I needed to experience the brokenness and heartache that I endured following the breakup in order to come to this understanding then, from a place of wholeness, I can honestly say it was worthwhile.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Bachelorette: "A Game of Love"

On Monday evening I watched the season premier of The Bachelorette and was quickly reminded why I despise love/relationship reality tv. To begin with, I feel like, for the most part, the people who go one those shows are desperate to fall in love. And from my observation, those who are desperate to fall in love (or in other words are in love with the idea of being in love) are more likely to enter into relationships and "fall in love" with the wrong person. They are more likely to "settle." It seems to me, that the potential suitors are in love with the idea of Ali. Even Ali mentioned that she is "ready to fall in love". I may say that I am emotionally and cognitively ready to begin dating, but my focus is not on "falling in love" it is on finding a companion, best friend, and lover.

I found the following article in the Huffington Post that seems to echo my sentiments regarding the absurdity of Monday's episode of The Bachelorette.
The Bachelorette: How Far Will We Go to Find Love?

Secondly, the contrived nature of reality dating shows, which does not even attempt to reflect actual life, are not an appropriate venue to seriously seek a companion. The "rules" (the number of roses to be distributed is dictated) and implicit expectations (proposal at the finale) are reflective of a game. The competitive nature of the "suitors" also reflects the "love as a game" mentality. Suitors want to "win" her heart. Their concern is with beating everyone else, rather than honestly assessing whether or not they are compatible with Ali. Love is not a game; or at the very least, should not be treated as a game.

It is likely that my disdain for the show is reflective of my own approach to seeking a companion. I am not someone who casually dates. If I'm truly interested in someone and see potential I have absolutely no interest in or desire to seek or engage in the process with anyone else. Whereas, if I do not see potential with someone, I will not even waste time going on a single date with them. I have a very strong intuitive sense which strongly influences my approach. Therefore, dating numerous guys at once does not even remotely appeal to me.

I suppose there are those who would argue that the show is entertaining but I have to question the influence these shows have on expectations and subsequent approaches to dating, relationships, love, and marriage.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Life full of laughter and Love ever after

As I was driving home from campus the other day I heard a new song on the radio that resonated with me. After typing a few of the key words into google once I got home, I discovered the song title was "Life After You" by Daughtry. Although the entire song resonated with my life experiences, there were three lines in particular that I found salient and worthy of reflection.

"All that I'm after is a life full of laughter
As long as I'm laughin' with you
I'm thinkin' that all that still matters is love ever after"

As a graduate student my life is often best described as exhausting, stressful, hectic, and intense. Considering my intention to have a career in academia, my life will likely always be characterized by the aforementioned descriptors. Now understand that I thrive in this kind of environment (hence the reason I want to enter academia). However, I also recognize that I need someone to come home to that allows me to escape this life. I want someone who will "balance" this part of my personality and lifestyle. Although I appreciate the serious aspects of my personality that have allowed me such success academically, I also really enjoy indulging the fun, "spunky" aspects of my personality. I want to be with someone I can laugh with. Someone with the ability to make me laugh. Someone who encourages me to be goofy and silly. I firmly believe laughing is good for the heart and soul and an absolute necessity to counter all the stress that is encountered in daily life. I realized how important it is to be able to laugh with one another and I believe that laughter is rooted in a relationship that is both authentic and natural.

The last line of the lyrics listed above, provided me an opportunity to reframe for myself the misconception that our society recognizes as "happily ever after." Anyone who has read my blog regularly is already aware of my frustration with our society's unrealistic expectations of love and relationships that I argue is embedded in the "happily every after" "fairytale" ending of all movies. For those of you who are unaware of this perspective, a brief overview: I believe that people have a misconception that the "right" relationship should be easy. Instead, I believe a more realistic expectation of love and relationships is that although two people may be "natural" together, this does not mean that love or relationships should be or are easy. Operating within this framework, I am now committed to a perspective of "love ever after." After all, doesn't this better represent the vows that two individuals make during the marriage ceremony. The vows aren't "I promise never to make you angry, upset, or sad and to always make you happy." The vows are "for better or for worse" indicating that it won't always be easy, but the couple is committed to "love ever after."

I never cease to be amazed that songs have the ability to make me reflect on my own values and life experiences. In this case, Daughtry's "Life After You" allowed me to realize the salience of laughter and the experience of finding someone you can laugh with. It also allowed me to reframe the "happily ever after" that I have so much disdain for into "love ever after" that I believe is something worthy of striving for.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Live life and love

As a result of a lot of heartache and self reflection in the past six months or so, I have developed a sentence that I believe appropriately articulates my approach to life and love. "Live life and love abundantly, fiercely, passionately, authentically, generously, and wisely." However, I have also discovered that actually living and loving this way is a challenge. I've come to realize that at times these "traits" conflict with one another. For instance, sometimes it seems impossible to love generously and wisely simultaneously. Or that living authentically at times impedes the ability to love generously. And loving fiercely and passionately often overshadow one's ability to love wisely. I have come to recognize that these "traits" do not necessarily come easily or even occur harmoniously, but I believe they are worthy goals to strive for. I believe that attempting to live and love in a manner that fulfills these is worthwhile, even in spite of the difficulty and heartache that will likely occur in the attempt.

There are days (and there have been many recently) that I feel it is all I can do to "live life and love." (period). But if at my worst, and on my worst days, if I'm still living and loving, then maybe I'm not doing so bad after all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Theories of love

There are a variety of theories of love that few outside the family studies field are familiar with or aware of. In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I felt it'd be appropriate to describe a few of these theories as I find they have practical application in my own experiences. However, before describing formal theories of love it is important to recognize that all individuals have their own "theories" of love (although they are often implicit) and operate within relationships in accordance to these theories of love. This means, that individuals' expectations and interactions within relationships are strongly influenced by personal theories of love. Informal theories of love are often based in our own experiences. However, I find that the formal theories I outline below can provide additional insight that may better inform these "personal theories of love."

Robert Sternberg conceptualized love as a process, which implies that it changes throughout a person's life. His theory is often referred to as the Triangular Theory of Love with three interconnected components: intimacy, commitment, and passion. Because love is dynamic, the three components are not always in perfect balance. According to Sternberg:
  1. intimacy refers to loving relationships characterized by feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bondness.
  2. commitment is a decision to love someone else and a decision to maintain that love over time. It refers to love as a conscious act of will or deliberate choice.
  3. passion refers to the physical attraction and romantic feelings that initially draw us to another person.
Sternberg identified eight types of love which represents a combination of the three components of love, but only one includes all three. Because love changes, it is possible, and likely, that a single relationship may experience each type of love. Sternberg's theory resonates with me because it recognizes and makes central the dynamic nature of love. It highlights the way love evolves and changes overtime.

Another theory of love that I find particularly salient is Lee's Six Types of Love Styles. John Alan Lee conceptualized love in a manner similar to the Greeks, who identified multiple words to differentiate types of love.
  1. Eros refers to a type of sensual or sexual love.
  2. Ludas refers to a love that is playful, flirtatious, carefree, and casual.
  3. Storge can be conceptualized as friendship love or a type of affectionate love between companions.
  4. Manic lovers experience very high highs, and very low lows and are typically associated with jealousy, protectiveness and exclusivity.
  5. Pragma refers to a love guided by logic and practicality.
  6. Agape is described as a selfless, enduring, other-centered type of love and is typically referred to as unconditional, willful love.
Personally I desire to experience a love that incorporates EACH of these love styles. I want someone I can be playful and flirty with, someone who is my best friend, someone who makes the choice to love me, and someone who is protective of me and our relationship. I see value in each love type when combined with the others and appreciate the possibility of these love styles to balance and compliment one another. This theory of love resonates with me because I appreciate its recognition of the multidimensionality of love.

In general, I think many people fail to recognize the multidimensional and dynamic nature of love. People often have unrealistic expectations about love and therefore relationships. It seems that many people expect love to look a certain way and never change. However, these two theories of love support the notion that love is multidimensional and dynamic. These two theories of love, along with my own experiences, have profoundly influenced my "love paradigm" which profoundly influences my expectations of and interactions within the confines of a relationship. Reviewing these theories has facilitated my own reflection on past relationships and has allowed me to critically reflect on my expectations within the context of a relationship. It is my hope that others will consider (either accept or reject) these theories in relation to their own "theories" of love and reflect how your own theories of love influence your expectations of and interactions within relationships.

Friday, January 29, 2010

"Perfect Love"

Through discussion with a few friends this week I have identified a few viewpoints/perspectives/paradigms that are not negotiable for me, within the context of a relationship. To begin with, I operate within a framework that may be considered "a life long-learner." This means that I value personal growth and am constantly striving to become a better version of myself (attempting to become the person God intends for me to be). As such, I strive to become a more balanced individual. In many ways, I seek people who have opposite personality traits than I do (specifically using the Myers-Briggs temperament) who can challenge me to become more balanced. However, it is not enough to find someone who may be opposite me in temperament, that person must respect and value our differences. If we do not both operate within a framework that recognizes that both of our temperaments/interests/etc. are valuable, the relationship and individuals will not thrive. It really just comes down to respecting and valuing one another and recognizing how eachother's differences compliment each individual. People who operate within a framework of self-righteousness (which may be a strong word to use here, but nonetheless conveys my point) and views their own temperament/interests/beliefs as superior to others are incapable of this kind of relationship. These kind of people often view themselves as "perfect" and have no desire to identify or develop their weaknesses or critically reflect on their beliefs and values. I refuse to be in a relationship with an individual who is unwilling to engage in critical reflection on himself and who does not value and respect our differences.

I have also recently determined the important role that "theories of compatibility" play within the context of dating and relationships. I operate from the "80-20 rule of relationships." I believe that you will only find about 80% of what you are looking for in a companion/spouse/mate. I believe it is extremely unrealistic to believe that you will find someone 100% "perfect" for you. And honestly, why would you want to find someone "perfect?" Isn't the amount of variation in humanity what makes the human experience unique? Personally, I do not want to be in a relationship where my companion expects me to be perfect. Think of how much pressure that would be! Also, I believe that a lack of awareness or acceptance of the 80/20 rule contributes to the occurrence of cheating. People often will find the 20% they may be "missing" in their relationship in someone else. The problem is, if they choose to act on that (either by cheating or ending the relationship, etc.) they essentially are losing the 80% and end up with the 20%. I hypothesize that people who expect to find the "perfect" person are MORE likely to fall victim to this situation. Of course this would need to be empirically tested to be validated. Regardless, I want to be with someone who recognizes that I am not perfect. I do not want to be put on a pedestal. I do not want the pressure associated with the expectation of perfection. I want someone who acknowledges that the 80% we have together is enough and desirable. To those who believe in finding the perfect person or perfect love I present the following quotes to be considered.

"The only perfection one will find in life is in imperfection."-me-

"Perfect love is rare indeed - for to be a lover will require that you continually have the subtlety of the very wise, the flexibility of the child, the sensitivity of the artist, the understanding of the philosopher, the acceptance of the saint, the tolerance of the scholar and the fortitude of the certain." -Leo Buscaglia-

Personally, I am completely overwhelmed and intimidated by this description of perfect love and characteristics of a perfect lover. Not to say I do not aim for these things, but I believe few would argue that to be able to fully satisfy each of these qualities is impossible, or at the very least very unlikely. Therefore, I find a great deal of comfort in the 80-20 rule because it takes pressure off the relationship and off each individual. Of course, supposing you embrace the 80-20 rule of relationships, the challenge becomes identifying which things must fall within the 80% and which are negotiable and may fall in the 20%. However, that is beyond the scope of my thoughts within this blog.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Putting the Sin in Single

Something that really frustrates me about our society is the constant emphasis on "couples" and relationships. Its as if being a part of a couple is superior to being single. As Carrie recognized in Sex and the City, there are numerous occasions that honor and recognize couples. Couples celebrate anniversaries, they receive numerous gifts through bridal showers/bachelorette parties, and of course the ultimate celebration of marriage. I'm not saying that these are negative things. But what celebrations and recognition of "singles" are there? None! A couple years back a group of my friends and I decided to host a pub crawl entitled "Putting the SIN in single" to honor and celebrate our singlehood. It was a BLAST and by far the most fun I've had on a pub crawl. But this is the exception rather than the rule. Singles end up isolated and in many ways disregarded by society. Fortunately I know many strong, independent women who are single...unfortunately we're spread out across the US (shout out to Mandy, Melissa, Cassie, and Angela...among others). Personally, I'd rather be single the remainder of my life then "settle" for someone just so that I'm in a relationship. I'm content with surrounding myself with amazing friends. However, that doesn't make it any less frustrating.

Tonight I am celebrating 1 year of friendship with one of my best friends. Its not often that we celebrate anniversaries for friendships. I'm sure that part of that is that friendships tend to grow gradually and rarely require the DTR (define the relationship) talk that romantic relationships do. However, I think it is important that we celebrate friendships in the same way that couples celebrate their relationships. And often, these are the relationships that are going to be sustaining. I think it is likely, though, that we often take for granted our friendships.

To those of you who are single, embrace your singlehood and celebrate your friendships. To those of you who are part of a couple, enjoy your companion, but don't neglect your friendships. Because I have been on the receiving end of having a friendship neglected because of a relationship, and it is extremely hurtful. And also because I believe it to be extremely important, both individually and as a couple, that both people maintain their friendships. Otherwise the relationship bears the responsibility for satisfying all needs of each individual which is not desirable or healthy.

Today I urge you to recognize and appreciate your friendships. And for those of you who are single join me in living out the essence of "putting the sin in single," because lets face it, I don't want to be friends with a bunch of sluts! ;) Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of you who have supported me through the past year! Whether through phone calls, text messages, discussions over cocktails, or supportive comments on my blog. Love you all!