Questioning Definitions of Relationship Success
My guess is that we would enjoy the fragrance of sweet love far more and suffer through the smell of shame and sadness a lot less if we composted our cultural concepts of ‘successful’ relationships.
“Huh?,” you say? Well, let me explain...
Here are some classic ‘relationship success’ concepts: “happily ever after,” “the one” and “white picket fence.” These are the top three on my radar at the moment and I’m sure you could add your own. You need only go to the romance section on Netflix for a little inspiration.
My guess is that those interested in ‘New Paradigm Relating’ have some experience with the classic concepts of relationship messing with them. The stuff that arises when we judge our love lives against these measures of “success” is rarely pleasant. And I wish more people could enjoy a sense of self that was free of the shame and sadness that lay in the shadows of these measuring sticks.
If we stopped scrutinizing ourselves against old concepts of “success” I think a lot more happiness and feelings of love would take root. If we progressively let these idealized concepts go, perhaps some of our dear friends wouldn’t bury themselves in shame around relationships gone “wrong”. And maybe people would delight more in creatively cultivating love lives that truly fed their unique authentic Nature.
I’m not saying that we should throw these old concepts entirely out. Why waste that which really matters within? I’m thinking, let’s compost. And by composting I mean taking the time to break them down into their essential elements such that they prepare a fertile ground from which new patterns of relating can grow and blossom.
Perhaps an example might help: When I compost “happily ever after” the essential piece in there for me is just simple “happiness.” When I pile more and more concepts and conditions on top of how happiness is supposed look, act and behave I seem to create greater and greater barriers between me and a sense of satisfaction.
However, when I break down this concept into something really really simple it can create enriched terrain within. I want happiness. End of story. Happiness. Here, now. Ideal partner, no ideal partner. I can liberate happiness from the tangle of these complex thought forms and place it in the ground of my being, which can then fertilize my relationship to life. Whatever growth that comes out of a ground sown with the simple substance of happiness will be far more resilient and vibrant than if I buried an embalmed corpse in there.
Ick. I know. Who wants to go there? But sadly it’s kinda what we do. Expired-holding-onto-old-forms-and-utterly-resistant-to-letting-things-go embalmed bodies are the ultimate antithesis to composting. And, unfortunately, these undigested hunks of material can populate our psyches as they hoard and pollute the resources that would otherwise nurture the natural blossoming of our love.
To me, attempts to push away the realities of love and life can look like holding onto detailed lists of standards which a mate must meet before any heart opening is deemed appropriate or safe. Or these fixed forms can be unmetabolized primary relationship patterns that arose in childhood and lay stuck underneath the aforementioned lists and criteria. We can grab onto all manner of ideas and concepts that try to shield us from the vulnerability of life’s natural cycles.
Resentment. Denial. Failure to forgive and accept. Unprocessed grief. We can take the analogy further and call these emotional strategies to resist letting things break apart embalming fluid. But do we really need to go there? I know it’s compelling. I’ve done it myself. But how would it be if we tried to keep it natural?
Need more examples of how to compost these ‘relationship success’ concepts? How about breaking down “The One” into “Oneness” or “white picket fence” into “home.” I believe that these cultural tropes continue to propagate because there is something inherently important within the heart of all these images. And yet we can easily get stuck in dissatisfaction when that which really feeds us sits inaccessible and lost in all the mass market packaging.
Your embodied satisfaction is what I’m rooting for. How does “happiness” live in you? Can you tap into a felt sense of it, independent of cultural ideas about what you need before you can have it? How might you ground more deeply into “Oneness”? What helps create an internal experience of “home” for you? How might you take these simple elements into your heart and being?
Are you curious to discover what form of beauty, color and tastiness might grow out of this alive and fertile ground? I am. I hope you share.