I want to share something with you that was so profound, and so important for my growth and development as a person that I felt not only compelled to write about it; I felt obligated.
That message is the stunning realization that as a society we have it so, so wrong about relationships. About gender roles. About happiness. And we are all just so incredibly lost in these lives we are supposed to find fulfilling when in truth they are anything but. We have this notion that men and women and completely different creatures, I mean sure we have some differences but the truth is we are more alike than we are different and the idea that we're so vastly mismatched is not an observation based on truth, it's what we've been taught.
We've been taught that men are emotionally repressed sex machines, but they aren't. We've been taught that women are self sacrificing innocent nurturers, but we aren't. Sure some would fall into that category, but all of us? Men aren't naturally emotionally stunted they are TAUGHT TO BE. Women aren't naturally sexually repressed we are TAUGHT TO BE. The truth is that men and women have similar sexual desires. Do you really believe that behind all their talk, all men want from women is purely sexual satisfaction? Do you really believe that women don't look at men and sometimes think HEY, I'D LIKE TO HOP ON THAT DICK? Of course they do. The difference is men are taught that vocalizing sexual needs is normal and women are taught that it is dishonorable. The needs and tendencies are the same but how we EXPRESS them is different. Do you see what's happening there?
The same can be said for men's emotional needs. How many times do you think a little boy or man needs to be told he's a pussy for crying before he stops doing it all together? How many times does he need to be told you don't look at a woman for an emotionally satisfying experience you look at her for a sexually satisfying one? We are telling boys and girls these things about our natures that simply aren't true. And it's killing our relationships.
We've created roles in which we THINK men seek sex and women seek commitment. But some men aren't sex crazy and some women are terrified of commitment. So we trudge along in these fabricated roles from dating right up until marriage and afterwards. We have the wedding and the kids and do all the RIGHT THINGS and say all the RIGHT THINGS and repress all the RIGHT THINGS and then what? Are we now somehow perfectly satisfied with our lives? Absolutely not. The opposite in fact. Many of us in our late 20s and 30s are sitting here wondering why. the fuck. am i not happy.
I have the wife/husband/partner. I have the home. The kids. The job.
And yet I feel alone. And miserable.
You feel alone because no one really knows you. You've been so busy pretending and taking on roles and wearing a mask that not a single person in this world knows what makes you truly happy. And the profoundly sad part? You don't even know what makes you happy. You did everything you were taught would bring you happiness and yet here you are forlorn and isolated.
So you do what you can to fill the void. Set little goals. Lose weight. Make more money. Get a new job. But it doesn't help. You still feel empty. So you look to your partner. Well he must be the problem because I've tried everything and it didn't work. So we hyper-focus on their shortcomings and become relentless and critical in our observations. Before you know it we come to the conclusion that YES, it is in fact my partner because I feel distant from him. He doesn't 'get' me. He doesn't know how to meet my needs.
Well here's a cosmic slap in the face for you. YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO MEET YOUR NEEDS EITHER. And you're right, neither does he. You think that 'meeting his needs' means fulfilling your role as a wife but let me tell you your husband probably doesn't give a single shit about that role. He doesn't care if you cook every meal or keep the house tidy, maybe all he wants is a compliment and a hug and an hour with you in the evenings. So why do we waste all our time in roles that don't really fulfill anyone? Does it benefit the woman to be with a man who's cold and emotionally distant and reluctant to help out? The stereotypical provide-for-the-family-check-out-other-women schtick? It doesn't serve anyone.
So why are we still doing it? Why are we wasting our time in roles and behaviors that are not only unhelpful but detrimental in our relationships?
The thing is, if we accept we don't know what truly makes us happy we have to take responsibility for the fact that your partner doesn't satisfy you because you are unable to articulate your needs. Then it becomes a you problem and not a him/her problem. Not everyone wants that responsibility. We think there should be this magical person who just intimately knows what we want and how to give it to us.
That is complete and utter bullshit.
Our satisfaction in a relationship stems from one thing and one thing only, our ability to clearly articulate exactly what we need. If we selected partners not based on looks or money or status but solely on their ability to satisfy us emotionally I'm telling ya the divorce rate would fall rapidly. But we don't pick partners that way do we? We pick them based on our masks. Our roles. And how well we see their ability to play their role.
So we need to tell people what really makes us happy. How does that work exactly? It goes a little something like this. You recognize that you want your partner to contribute to household chores. Totally reasonable request. But it's not about the damn chores. What does it say when they don't help out? What feeling do you get when they do? Not helping out with chores might make you feel unloved and unimportant and unworthy of your partners attention. If, instead of bitching about the garbage, you just said to your partner 'when I ask you to give me a hand and you don't do it it makes me feel unloved and unwanted' how different would that conversation be?
And if they ignore your requests, the first thing you need to do is find out if your meeting THEIR requests. Too often as women we fall into this trap where we ask them to help but we feel they should just naturally want to help out, so not only are we not really asking for what we need we are reluctant to ask in the first place. But maybe your partners hesitance is multifaceted. Maybe he sees the garbage as just the garbage and not what it really means to you so he's bewildered when you get upset. And maybe, just maybe, even though we are supposed to be emotional masters, we aren't meeting their needs either. Maybe he's a bit resentful too. Maybe last night all he wanted was a few minutes of your time and you treated him like a piece of furniture. Maybe he feels like he's lost his purpose because women are now in this state of overfunctioning mother wife-ness that hurts almost everyone. Maybe he's resistant to you because instead of a partner you feel like his caregiver, a role he doesn't want and frankly you don't want either.
I know all the women right now are like HEY WHOA. If I don't mother him and control him and boss him around then nothing will ever get done.
Well let me tell ya, it will. Maybe if you focused on meeting his emotional needs and shut the fuck up about the rest, he would just do things for you because he wanted to. Maybe if you gave him the space to feel wanted and desired and he got all warm and fuzzy inside he would wash the dishes with a smile on his face. And you know what? If you don't trust that he's capable enough of doing the most menial mundane shit to some degree of satisfaction then LEAVE HIM. He is clearly an incompetent idiot and you'd be better served with someone more intelligent. Stop berating this poor dumb creature and let him crawl back under the rock from whence he came.
But I'm here to tell you that if the only thing you focus on in your relationship is satisfying your partners emotional need, the rest will come naturally. Sure there will be disagreements and bumps, but how much more willing are you to compromise and comply when you're, well, happy? If instead of men harassing us about sex all the damn time they just said they really feel loved when we compliment how hard they work and rub their shoulders, how easy would that be? And they'd feel great about themselves and help you out with those asshole kids at bedtime. AND THEN YOU'D WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH HIM WITHOUT HIM ASKING. And then you'd both feel great. And all of a sudden you're a fucking team. Because you started to focus on what matters.
Dropping the mask and the role requires us to do soul searching that we've never done before. What truly makes our hearts sing? What is the one thing that you need in this life to make you feel amazing?
For me it was discovering that more than anything in this world I want to feel understood. I love the feeling of telling a story or feeling and someone saying 'hey me too'! That 'two peas in a pod' effect. And what that requires from my partner is empathy, active listening, and an effort to at least show minimal interest in the things that I love.
There. Now when I tell that to my partner how much easier is it for me to get that need met? Now that's the only thing he needs to worry about because when you give me that I will give you the world. And so will your partner. When you do the things that matter to them the most they will in turn do the things that matter to you the most. And that doesn't mean dishes and blowjobs it means making you feel loved and appreciated, but that might be through dishes and blowjobs, if that makes sense.
Human connection is THE thing we're seeking. It's all the things. It's everything. So stop focusing on cars and houses and status and roles because the only thing that will bring you a sense of real deep satisfaction is a loving connection with another human being. And maybe you'll pull out the stops and do the work and learn to take off the mask and articulate your needs and you'll find that your partner isn't receptive. Isn't willing to grow. Won't learn to speak the language. And even when you try to find out their needs and lead by example it just doesn't work. Maybe then it's time to move on and find someone that is legitimately interested in giving you exactly what you need in this life. But now instead of stumbling your way sorting through a sea of partners and magically expecting to find 'the one' that just gets it and knows exactly how to meet your needs, you'll accept that your partners ability to do so largely depends on you.
That's why relationships wax and wane with time. In the beginning we're so enamored and in love that we do things for each other, we overlook the bad and focus on the good. As time goes on we stop trying, and most importantly we don't know how to ask for what we want and we don't know how to tell our partners how to give it to us. We spin our wheels as wives and husbands and partners and parents because we feel like if we fill that role enough that IT WILL BE ENOUGH. But it isn't. Because the roles don't mean shit. The only thing that matters is the ability to look at another human being and feel completely understood and accepted for who you really are.
So drop the roles and the mask. You don't like being a stereotypical wife or husband? Stop it right now. Do some digging to find that feeling and that need that just makes your heart explode. That will take time and effort, but I'm telling you it is so so so worth it. Involve your partner in the conversation. Learn who they really are. Be open about your likes and dislikes without the filters of what men and women should and shouldn't like, because the reason we're told we're so different is because if we all just communicated directly and were truly satisfied in our relationships we'd stop using THINGS to make us feel better. We wouldn't buy shoes to make us feel great because we'd already feel great, and feel great knowing happiness doesn't come from shoes. Not only would we not buy the shoes we would stop buying into the idea that women need to change every part of their appearances to get love from a man. Imagine that impact. Think about the myriad industries that are built entirely on female insecurity and the idea that we should seek love through our appearances. Because let me tell you a secret, men care way less about our appearances than we're taught they do.
The gender roles we're taught serve society by dividing us, by making us so busy squabbling over laundry that we go out and buy a dress to make ourselves feel better. Because men don't 'get' women right? And women don't understand men, isn't that true? It isn't true. We aren't that different. We aren't from different planets. We have certain nuances and personalities differ and we're all individuals but we all want the same damn thing, and that's to be loved and to love. It's the only thing that brings true satisfaction from our lives. And the potential for love doesn't exist with every person, there will be those that we don't have enough in common with or that aren't emotionally available, so try your best but don't waste your time. Find a person who speaks the language and that's interested in getting in touch with themselves, mix it with a few common interests and intriguing differences, a mutual attraction, and you'll have a recipe for a great relationship because you finally know how to ask for one and how to give one.
The only thing holding us back from the happiness we seek is our ability to recognize our own shortcomings. If you're married and unhappy and you think a new partner might be the answer, maybe it will be, but if you don't change your actions and behavior you will repeat the same cycle with the new person. If you're single and you are hopelessly looking for 'the one' just stop. 'The one' could be a great person, but becomes 'the one' when you give him or her the tools to satisfy your needs. It all depends on you.
We give in to this notion that 'the right person' should just know us inside and out so when we're unhappy we blame the person. Or we blame ourselves by thinking 'I should just be happy as an individual' and your unhappiness comes from not loving yourself. Well maybe. But your it's perfectly ok to need someone in your life and to have expectations for them, what isn't ok is the expectation they should just inherently know what we need and how to give it to us. That's like throwing darts at a dartboard in the dark. And now you know why so many relationships fail. We choose partners based on false pretenses thinking they will make us happy (a monstrous expectation), and when they don't, instead of accepting responsibility and looking within, we point the finger at the partner and move on to the next one. But guess what? Then it happens with the next person too.
So just stop. Right now. Find out what you need, tell your partner, put in the effort and the time, and if it doesn't work? Move on. Stop pretending to be his mom and he'll stop pretending to be some macho douchebag and just be your damn selves and do your best to love and appreciate who they really are.
Be compassionate for others and fearless in your vulnerability and stop repressing, suppressing, and pretending. When you do, you have this feeling of finally getting it, finally understanding the 'why' behind your unhappiness and your struggle to find it. The key has always been there you just didn't know how to use it, but now you do.
So unlock your potential to love and be loved and rest easy knowing that we all, women and men, want exactly the same thing.