Most people choose their relationship styles based on those of their parents and the culture that they grow up in rather than creating conscious relationships.
In fact, people often don’t see relationship style as a choice. There is a mainstream cultural story and unless there is a reason to move away from that story – that is the way a relationship goes. For example, girl meets boy at a dance. Boy asks girl for her number. Boy and girl start dating and fall in love. Boy and girl move in together. Boy and girl get married and live happily ever after. Until very recently in many countries, this story was always boy and girl. Now this story can apply to all genders and all mixes of genders.
In the not so distant past in many cultures, the story was very different.
Love had nothing to do with it. Marriages were arranged by the parents. The story there was that you learned to love the person that was chosen for you. That person was chosen for social and business reasons – to unite two families – rather than looking at simply uniting the two people who were getting married. There are still quite a number of cultures where many marriages are still arranged.
The style of relationship and the pattern that the relationship follows is linked as well to long standing myths.
The one that stands out the most is ‘And they all lived happily ever after’. In this story, the couple meet, overcome adversity and finally marry and then live happily ever after or marry and have children and then live happily ever after. The end of the book, story or movie has the couple or family with the life that they always wanted. Of course life is not static. So the idea of walking off into the sunset and living happily ever after can leave people believing that they need do nothing further to remain happy together and to keep the ‘perfect’ or ‘ideal’ relationship forever. Unfortunately, this is pure fiction. Conscious Relationships need work and attention in order to continue to thrive just like all other parts of life. So to live on happily, one needs to work on the relationship and pay specific attention to the relationship.
The Monogamy Hangover® comes from more than just the pressure to follow the mainstream relationship style but also from peer pressure to follow the current trend – to take steps in a particular order, in a particular time.
The pressure can be so intense that anxiety levels soar when your relationship doesn’t progress as planned. One client spoke of the anxiety she felt when her new paramour didn’t change her status from single to in a relationship on FaceBook after they had agreed to be monogamous partners.
Social media ‘rules’ are particularly troublesome. Do you put your partner on your FaceBook profile? When do you add someone to a profile? When do you post pictures of someone or tag them? How often do you post pictures? All of these questions have come up as issues with clients. If someone posts at a particular time, it means that the relationship is ‘real’ or ‘central’. If they do not post at the time, then it is interpreted as a problem with the relationship or that the relationship is casual.
What is the antidote to the Monogamy Hangover ®? Having conscious relationships.
Making conscious choices about what your relationships will look like. Will they confirm to modern cultural standards? Will you follow the trends?
In 2019, non-monogamy is the trendy relationship choice. People are being urged to try non-monogamy of all kinds as a way to liven their relationships or as a primary relationship choice – with the understanding that one person cannot be responsible for meeting all of our intimacy needs. The assumption is that this means non-monogamy. However, emotional intimacy does not necessarily coincide with physical intimacy so one could be monogamous and have a number of close friendships that meet some of their emotional needs.
Most people think of serious committed conscious relationships as ones in which the people live together.
Often they don’t even consider the possibility of living separately. When you are designing your relationship consciously, all ways of living are on the table as possibilities for any relationship you choose. Living separately can be one way to create a relationship that keeps it’s spark over a very long period of time.
Choosing to explore various relationship styles, sexual styles, intimacy styles and make conscious choices about how you will live and love requires a willingness to examine family myths, cultural myths, personal patterns – positive and negative.
It requires a willingness to think outside the box – to explore possibilities from other cultures. Most of all, it requires a willingness to confront the difficult and uncomfortable stuff and to stay with this stuff until you work it through.
To engage consciously, you have to know what you desire and then you have to be able to communicate this well to the person with whom you want a relationship.
You have to be willing to communicate the difficult stuff and to listen to it as well. You have to be willing to look at your expectations, desires, hard limits and points that are negotiable and then be able to communicate these to other people who are potential partners. The more present you are able to be when talking about relationship potentials with a partner, the more your relationship is likely to take the shape you desire. All of these are skills that you can learn and practice to make it easier to create and maintain conscious relationships.
My friend and colleague, Anita Cassidy of Alethya.com and I, developed a workshop to help with all issues related to the Monogamy Hangover ® and to help build the skills needed for conscious relationships. The next London workshop is on 10 March. For tickets, go here. There are limited places left. If you want help creating conscious relationships, sign up for a free 30 minute discovery sessionwith me to explore options and for exploring everything about conscious relationships, sign up with https://alethya.com/