Category Archives: Communication skills

can't get hard, cause of ED, cause of erectile dysfunction, men's health, mark groves, createthelove, positive psychology

Why You Really Can’t Get Hard

I was a late bloomer to the sex game. Even the concept of dating a girl scared me so much that I never had to worry about the sex part, I was still working on the “be kinda cool around chicks” part. I didn’t kiss a girl until high school and the first assisted ejaculation didn’t come till shortly thereafter that kiss. Anyone who’s touched a booby knows that once you’ve touched one, you want to either touch those boobies a lot more, and/or all the boobies around you, for pretty much every waking hour. So, stopping at “light petting” wasn’t likely to happen, despite my church’s best effort.

My sexual experiences and education came quick… (the puns are so easy here, right?!?)

When I entered (gawwwwwd it’s killing me) my first relationship I was quick to fall. I was such a romantic and so excited about love that I would celebrate our monthly anniversary… Cheesy right?!? I love cheese.

I was very passionate about building a bond with my girlfriend. Relationships came naturally to me, and I had no problem being committed to the person I loved and seeking purpose in being a great and loving partner… and building and feeding my own life and passions (calm down co-dependent police).

Unfortunately (at the time), that relationship ended. As most are, it was a painful breakup. I took about seven months to myself. I went out with friends, I met new girls, but it wasn’t until I met the next girl I dated, that I got sexual with anyone again.

She would be the fifth girl I’d kissed in my life, and the second I slept with… All this by the ripe age of twenty. Why am I telling you this? You’ll see. Read on.

That relationship would end and it would break my heart wide open. I no longer wanted love, because from my perspective with a freshly broken heart, love meant hurt. I had many friends at that time were hooking up with girls and sampling different goodies. All this time I had stayed in my integrity and it had gotten me what?!? A devastated heart.

So in that moment I would choose to try a different path. A month after my girlfriend and I broke up, for the first time in my life, I brought a girl home from the bar to my parent’s house..to have a one-night-stand with. Well, that was the plan. We were both naked and about to do it, but I couldn’t get it up. For the first time in my life, my wiener was like a noodle. I mean, all systems should’ve been go. Hot girl. Check. Naked. Check. R&B music. Check. Lubricated. Check. Hard…wait. nope. fail.

And so we (I) would welcome the first of three causes of ED:

(1). Being out of integrity:

Man… it would take me years and many shots of Jack Daniels to actually own this truth: I was out of integrity for most of the sexual encounters I had outside of relationship. I am not a one-night-stand guy. But yet, for years, I tried to make this my truth. My MO. I got celebrated for hooking up with ladies and I saved myself from heartbreak by never letting anyone truly love me. I lived through and told some great stories though.

I danced in the space of promiscuity to avoid love.  Over time I would recognize that if I drank enough I could drink away my built-in guidance system that wouldn’t allow me to get erect when the sex wasn’t in alignment for me. I was drinking away the very thing that was there to protect me. Sometimes I would even use Viagra or Cialis to curb my values and integrity. Using pills to escape truth seems to be common these days doesn’t it?

The penis is interesting, right? Because it must work in order to have sex. The vagina has an out… It requires lubrication, yes. But women can still allow entry and find things for lubrication in order to have sex. A guy can’t prop his dick on a kick stand or wrap it to a popsicle stick. It has to work in order to have sex. A man doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve, he wears it on his dick. Our dicks are connected to our hearts, and we can’t avoid that truth. Although, do we ever f*cking try.

Which leads me to point numero dos:

(2). When we begin to actually care:

This one is messed up… because when we care is when our penis is supposed to work. I had a good friend who was a family doctor who told me that one of the number one causes of ED was “new partner anxiety”.

It would be a couple years after that big heartbreak before my walls even started to come down a bit. I hadn’t felt butterflies in years and even the hint of loving someone hadn’t edged its way into my experience. I went on dates, I drank my way through encounters. Then, when I finally met a girl I cared about, I understood this statement wholeheartedly.

I was in integrity, I cared about her. I waited until what felt like the “right” time, and then boom. No boom. Again, all systems should’ve been go. But yet, I couldn’t do it, because I couldn’t get hard.

I didn’t intellectually understand why this was happening in that moment, but now I see that my fear of getting hurt was causing me to have a fear of letting this woman in (ohhhhh the irony). In my experience, relationships had led to heartbreaks and pain. Sex, on a meaningful level, had solidified that truth. And here I was, at the potential for heartbreak’s door, and it was like trying to put a marshmallow in a piggy bank. When I actually needed to perform, I couldn’t.

I realized that I had placed my masculinity and my lovability in sex. And the pressure of having to perform for someone where it actually mattered, mattered a lot. In a way, so much that it scared me and paralyzed my dong.

(3). Health/fitness/nutrition:

In order for the penis to get erect it requires blood flow. It’s no secret that ED is related to cardiovascular disease. I’ll also save the long-winded information about how your physical health is likely directly related to your emotional health.

So, instead, let’s focus on this: Erectile Dysfunction can be a symptom of cardiovascular disease, if you’re at all concerned about the health of your vascular system and you have risk factors associated with it, definitely go to your doctor. In all reality, adhering to a healthy diet, learning how to manage stress and having a good exercise regimen are the likely solutions to this issue. The trick is, you have to want good health more than you want to work 80 hour weeks, eat sh*tty food, and continue to ignore the glaring health signs that you need to pay attention to. That’s about as clear of a PSA (Public Service Announcement) I can provide.

mark groves, positive psychology, createthelove, treat ED, erectile dysfunction

What’s the solution?

Maybe it’s time we saw our dicks as something different than battering rams? Maybe we need to see them as they are: very accurate barometers of our hearts. From emotional health to physical health, it all seems to manifest in the very thing we need in order to procreate. Ironic right? Our bodies and minds attempt to require a certain level of health and congruency in order to pass on our seed. Coincidence? I think not.

It’s time we accept as men that we are emotional creatures. We require connection and love. We desire closeness and intimacy that is safe and secure. When we’re operating from a certain level of awareness, we can’t shut off the truth that whom we choose to share our sexual energy with, is important. Accepting this reality made me finally understand the saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” But boy, was it ever blissful to do shots, dance on speakers, and not know the real consequences of those choices, until I knew them.

If you want to stop getting ED the first thing you have to do is stop living out of integrity. How do you know what is in/out of integrity?! The truth is, you already know the answer to that. You know what choices you’re making that don’t feel good. You know when you’re hit by the cloud of guilt that blows over you the moment after you reach coitus. Yep. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

Next, you need to make different choices, and in turn, that will change how you feel about yourself (as in you’ll start loving yourself because you’ll start loving your choices… finally!). Personally, I took a vacation from women. I vowed to not have sex or be intimate with anyone where it didn’t feel in integrity and/or who I didn’t have feelings for. This taught me that I could stay committed to my integrity, and I also learned how to live in my aloneness. I invite you to do the same. Its other incredible benefit is that it also rewires our brains by teaching us that we deserve great love and that our worthiness isn’t found in random encounters. It teaches us that we’re a man of integrity. It teaches us that we get to choose. And most importantly, it teaches us that we get to decide what kind of man we want to be.

What about the scenarios where we actually care? Most of the time in these cases it’s the anxiety of love that has us not performing, so we need to talk about it. We need to express that we care and this is why erectile dysfunction is happening. We need to let our partner in on the secret, and then it’s not a secret. ED only has power over us if we let it. Your ED is asking you to be vulnerable and communicate, which is a skill that is necessary to create a loving and wonderful partnership… Your dick is soft so it can teach you to be soft too. F*cked up right? Ohhhhh the lessons in life’s experiences are vast.

New partner anxiety and infidelity aren’t the only ways ED can show up in relationships. It can be that we’re not communicating something that hurts. Perhaps our partner cheated on us and we haven’t stood up for ourselves and dealt with the hurt. Perhaps we’re no longer attracted to our partners.  And maybe, just maybe, we’re holding on to emotions instead of sharing them.

As a partner of someone who is experiencing ED, the worst thing you can do is take it personally and make it about you. Be curious, be understanding. Don’t shame him. Ask questions. Love him. Hear him. And then ask how you can help support him.

My journey has allowed me so much clarity surrounding my relationship to my penis, to sex, and to my partner. I now see that my body always knew what was right.

It’s funny, because often I’ll get asked, “Do you regret or wish you could take any of your choices/mistakes back?” No, I don’t. It sucks that I’ve hurt people and been hurt. It is unfortunate that I had to stray from my path so much to find it… but that’s exactly it; I had to leave my truth to know what it was. Other people were part of my lessons, as I was part of theirs.

When I look back, I look back with clear eyes because I’ve learned from my past. So any hope to change it would be hoping to change the experience that taught me the very things I needed to learn to be the man I am today. So you see, there are no mistakes. Life has a brilliant way of teaching us. And sometimes that lesson is through Jack Daniels and getting some extra exercise from a few walks of shame.

mark groves, createthelove, relationship advice, dating advice, nyc couples therapy, motivational speaker

Did Your Parents Make You Bad At Relationships?

I spent a lot of my life chasing women who would never let me catch them. And the ones who wanted to catch me? Wasn’t interested. There was no…. challenge.

As I woke up to the realities of my patterns I began to see the same stories playing out in all of the relationships around me. The same frustration that incessantly coursed through my veins was running rampant and infecting the masses.

Wait, was there a plague that caused the love of the unavailable?!

And who were these unavailable people? Why did they seem to never care as much as I did? Why did I feel like I was loving all out and they were just chilled out, not at all concerned about what was going on between us, drinking Mai Tais by the pool, never afraid to lose anyone? And, on top of that, why did I feel like I was taking crazy pills and they seemed liked they could give two shits?

Well, if you’re like I was, don’t worry, you’re not crazy, but your emotional brain is. The good news is I’m about to make all of your irrational behaviour make sense AND give you some actionable tips on how to actually choose relationships where we choose each other.

Wait… those exist?!

In relationships we generally take one of two roles… The Pursuer and The Runner. To put it more simply, we’ll either be the one always running after and chasing love (pursuer), or we’ll be the one always fleeing from it and feeling controlled and smothered by love (runner).

So you may be reading this thinking, “No way, I’ve been both”. And while you are likely right, you will be one more than the other the majority of the time… and I would put money on the fact that you became the other when you got really hurt. (I went from pursuer to runner… smooth move. This comes from the belief that love hurt us so we just won’t entertain love anymore).

“So what does this mean about me if I’m the pursuer?”

Here’s the deal, the pursuer is often someone who’s greatest fear is being left. Ironically, the very behaviours we choose when we’re a pursuer; being clingy, needy, jealous and feeling desperately fearful, are the very things that make our greatest fear (being left) realized. Add to that the fact that we tend to pick people who never really want to be caught, makes this painful reality a regular. We live in a state of fear, and we often see love and anxiety as being synonymous.

This is why when someone truly wants to love and choose us, we can often not feel excited. We mistake the safety of a secure partner with a lack of connection and there’s no spark. Know that we can change this though. Once we reduce the anxiety and live in a space of security, we begin to choose partners from a place of authentic connection, and not just because we’re repeating patterns.

Where does this behaviour begin? Why would anyone want to be in a relationship like this?! Welllll… let’s get in a time machine and go back to childhood.

Pursuers usually have a parent (caregiver) who wasn’t around. Maybe that person worked a lot. Maybe they left. Maybe they were an alcoholic. Maybe we never knew them. Maybe we had a great childhood, yet we just didn’t feel acknowledged. Maybe we were in a large family and didn’t feel noticed or heard. Maybe we felt like we weren’t told enough we were loved and shown general affection.

Having this experience as a child usually has us believing that we were never enough. That no matter how much we achieve or how much drama and trouble we cause, we will never be noticed and loved for who we truly are. Pursuers tend to act out and/or be high achievers. Pursuers are often in a constant state of anxiety because they’ve always been waiting to be chosen. They’ve been waiting to receive the love and affirmation they never got as a child. Stay tuned for the way out of this perceived insanity. (Hint: We’ll never fully choose someone who loves us for who we are till we do. We must model the love we seek.)

Runners:

Ohhhhhhh runners. Why can’t we just find someone we want to be with? Why does love scare us so much? Why does everyone get so crazy and smothering in relationships? People are so needy right?!

The runner is usually afraid of intimacy. It’s what love brings that scares the crap out of them. The runner usually has a parent (caregiver) who was controlling and all over them. They maybe grew up in a very religious and/or culturally restrictive environment. Maybe they were not rewarded for self-expression. Maybe their parents got divorced and they saw the devastation that relationship can bring. Maybe one parent abused the other (or both). Maybe they were abused by the people who were supposed to love them. Maybe they’ve had their heart broken by a romantic partner. Maybe they were bullied or picked on.

No matter the reason, runners are often afraid of what comes along with loving people and letting them in. Runners are afraid of being caught, because being caught means being loved, and their association with love is likely hurt, trauma, heartbreak, and even the loss of themselves and their own identity.

mark groves, vancouver relationship, relationship advice, couple's therapy,

Ok, so we’ve roughly broken down where these behaviours begin and how they often manifest, but now that we know that, how the eff do we change these patterns? How do we stop running after and running from love? Why the hell does our emotional brain do such crazy things?!? Gawwwwwd. Someone pass me a tequila shot.

I’m going to get real serious on you here. Our fear of being excluded from groups, tribes, communities, and most importantly, relationships, is so great that we become who we need to be to be loved. We become a identity which we create so that we get to maintain our inclusion in the group. In that moment when we begin to become an “actor” and wear a mask, we separate from ourselves…. Woahhhhh, right? That’s some deep sh*t right there. We’re not born this way though… we’re born with an open heart and a soul that longs to express who we are at our core.

So when do we begin this formation of a false identity?!

Well, the very people who welcome us into this world were taught that they had to become something else to be loved. So, just like we hand down our DNA which provides our hair and eye colour, we are also handed down the emotional wounds of our parents. So, our parents usually impart onto us the same cultural and religious expectations which were imparted onto them. They pass down the same emotional wounds their parents gave them.

It’s only fair right?!? “You need to change and become this perfect ideal like I had to, otherwise it makes my choices not make sense. You need to give up you and abandon your heart, because I had to. That’s just how life is.” (Don’t be mad at them, they were/are doing the best they can with what they have/know.)

This is why in arguments and relational experiences, we will only ever be able to go as deeply as our parents (caregivers) have gone. They can only teach us what they know. All of this is proven untrue if our parents have done the work and healed their pasts. If they’ve broken free of the mold and blazed a trail of truth.

The good thing is, even if our parents haven’t transformed themselves, we can. We can learn how to go deeper. We can learn why we do what we do and heal our childhood experience. We can look at the ways in which we’ve changed who we are, our self expression, and what parts we let the world see, and what parts we have hidden in order to be loved. We can learn.

The way out is simple, but it requires courage:

  1. Accept who you are currently being: If we can take ownership for how we’re currently showing up to love, we can make different choices, because we can’t change where we’re going if we don’t consciously know and accept where we are.
  2. Begin to lean into the uncomfortable. Patterns change by changing them. There is no escape from this truth. So, embrace your power to change your life and how you love. For pursuers it means giving love room to breath and asking for what we need from relationships. Feel unsafe and like the relationship isn’t secure? Ask for what is required in order to calm your anxiety. For runners it’s about slowing down. It’s about letting yourself get caught. It’s about communicating the fears you have and asking for the space you need to breath… and then returning once your partner gives you that space.
  3. Let love in. Decide to finally let love in, and by doing that we not only heal ourselves, we also invite those around us to heal as well. We go deeper. We see that love is meant to feel free.

Pursuer or runner, we’re both afraid of the same thing: receiving the love we so desperately crave.

The difference is we’re just going about protecting ourselves from being hurt in different ways. At the baseline of these relationship patterns is always fear. When we acknowledge and communicate these fears, we begin to dissolve them. The walls between us and other lower, and we slowly (or quickly) begin to form the belief that we are lovable and worthy of a great partnership. We change the stories we were taught. We finally get to see into our partner’s hearts and be seen in return.

So, I ask you to turn within. If you don’t do the work, no one will. And you will always hit the same emotional limit with every partner you choose. Different name, same patterns. If we’re willing to look, we’ll see that our partners are our path to healing our childhood, we just need to choose one who’s willing to heal with us.

Originally published on Thought Catalog

she left, breakup, divorce, relationship advice, mark groves vancouver relationship coach, positive psychology

Love Her Before She Leaves You

“I had no idea things were that bad. When she left it was such a shock.”

Was it really? Because I’m sure there were signs lonnnnnng before the bags were packed and a trail of smoke led out your front door. This is a common feeling for men; that we didn’t know she was going to go, till she did. We didn’t hear her all of those times when she cried and didn’t feel heard or understood. We didn’t understand just how unhappy she was, and now we clearly do as she’s no longer in our life.

Don’t shoot the messenger, the research supports what I’m saying; women initiate divorce far more than men do. It’s not like this is a shock right?! A lot of the clients I work with have male partners who aren’t interested in attending coaching with their partner. Women have a more attuned emotional barometer to the relationship. And men, although not happy that their partner is dissatisfied with the relationship, are okay with the relationship just continuing as it is.

I’m guilty of this naive ignorance. I remember when I was in my early twenties talking to my dad once and telling him about my frustrations with my then-girlfriend. She had expressed to me some things that she needed for me to do better and I responded with, “If it’s so bad, why don’t you leave? You have it so good.” Wow. What an arrogant and poor response. It hurts me to even type it because I’m sure, in that moment, I completely devastated her emotional safety and told her that her needs weren’t important. What a message to send.

When I told my dad this story and what I said, he was appalled (for good reason). He said sternly to me, “Wow Mark, she’s telling you how to love her.”

Eff. In that moment my heart descended into my stomach. I needed to be better. That wasn’t how I wanted to love. And that definitely wasn’t how I wanted my partner to feel in being loved by me. There are many moments in relationships where we are being invited to love our partner. We often think these are the big things like the anniversaries, the birthdays, and the holidays. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Our invitation to love others is always in the many moments in between the ones we think are important.

John Gottman, who’s a relationship guru that studies marriages, calls our invitations to connect with our partners “bids”. This could be something as mundane as one person reading the paper and declaring out loud, “Hmmmm. That’s interesting!” They’re not just making a remark. In that comment is a request to connect. In that moment we have a choice, to either “turn towards” or “turn away” as Gottman calls it.

Just how important is responding to these bids?

In the research these interactions have an incredibly powerful effect on how our relationships fair and whether or not they will last. Couples who only turned towards bids 33 percent of the time were divorced in a six year follow up. The couples who were still in magical bliss after that same six year period responded to 87% of bids.

Wow. This is profound. Gottman can predict, just by observing a couple’s interactions, whether a couple will divorce with over 94% accuracy. This is regardless of sexual orientation, whether they have children, or their socio-economic status. So, in essence, our words and how they’re delivered, literally do shape our world.

I don’t know about you, but as a man, and a human, knowing just how powerful my words and actions are and how much they can transform the world, I’m not okay with being mediocre. I want to take responsibility for my actions, the words I choose, and how I operate in all relationships, not just romantic. As men (and women), we need to be better. We need to be committed to learning how to communicate how we’re feeling so that we don’t demonstrate those unheard feelings with anger, withdrawing, frustration and words that scathe.

Of course the challenge is that we (men) have been generally cultured and socialized to not share our feelings and frustrations. We’ve been told to not use language to communicate our fears and feelings because only pussies and sissies do that. When we engage in emotional conversations, we don’t have a toolbox filled with as many words and as much emotional fluency that can articulate the range of things we’re feeling. But, the best thing about all of this is, we can learn how to.

It takes admitting that our relationship may not be so good and that we can, in fact, get much better at communicating and understanding how to have our partners feel heard. You know how women generally want to talk about the SAME thing over and over and over and over? That doesn’t happen when they feel loved, appreciated, heard and understood. And the truth is, if you love a woman like that, she will almost always give you that same love right back.

breakup, divorce, she left, positive psychology, relationship advice, dating advice, mark groves

Now, of course it would be simple if women always communicated effectively and told us what their ACTUAL needs and feelings were. So women, you’re not off the hook. You’re in a relationship with a man. And as Alison Armstrong says, “Men are not hairy women.” You need to learn how to speak his language. You need to learn that men are not broken humans who don’t have any emotional intelligence and aren’t capable of hearing you. We are different, and you also need to understand how the male brain works and that we process emotions differently (due to socialization). It’s actually on you to communicate your needs, fears and thoughts clearly. Your partner doesn’t have a google maps to your brain and heart, or even better yet, your vagina. (Although all of those things would be nice)

So, man or woman, straight, gay, whatever…We all need to begin to realize that behind every tantrum, frustration or complaint, is always an unmet emotional need. So, for example, it’s not about the fact that we left the toilet seat up AGAIN (it is funny when they fall in at 2am), it’s what leaving the toilet seat up means about them (the message they receive): they aren’t important, they’re not a priority, their needs don’t matter… etc. We need to learn how to understand what this need is and see that she (or he) is not just trying to play catch when she throws her shoe at you. She has a hurt, a wound, a fear, and what is happening is triggering that pain point. This is why communication is paramount to successful relationships.

I write this to men mainly because the emotional impact of a breakup/divorce is greater on us. This is clear in the research, as we see that men are generally more emotionally dependent on their partners. When men were asked who they would go to if they were feeling depressed, 71% of men selected their wife whereas only 39% of women selected their husband. When we lose our partners, in a lot of ways we lose our support system. Our happiness and the health benefits of relationships are also larger for us…so when we lose our relationship, often those emotions go out the door with her.

Of course hindsight is 20/20, but it doesn’t have to be.

We don’t see just how important she is, till she no longer is…with us. We don’t see how much love actually matters to us because we’re too busy watching the game. Our needs matter too, but we have to love her always, not just when we’re about to lose her. Not just till we get her back. Not just in the moments we think matter, because all moments matter.

Love and relationships require effort. We might not always understand her, but she just wants to know that we’re trying. She wants to know that our efforts match our words. She wants to know that her well being matters as much as our own. She wants to feel safe in our arms. She wants to feel loved always, not just when it’s convenient.

So love her before she leaves you. (and him too ladies).

relationship status, talk about us, breakup, dating, relationship advice, dating advice, couple, seeing each other

The One Dating Conversation You’re Not Having That Could Make Or Break Your Future

When I was younger the setting of most of my teenage make-outs was far from ideal. I mean, there was a roof over my head, and food in the fridge, but in the basement of our family home, nestled in the back corner, was our “study”. The temperature of our basement was sometimes close to freezing, and I can remember mornings when I could see my breath. Hardly the ideal environment to try to get a girl’s clothes off.

But alas, I was a resilient young man. Temperature wasn’t going to stop me from studying the female body. I can remember a specific time when I was making out with a girl who I had been dating for a little over a month. We hadn’t had “The Talk” yet, but I could feel it perched on the ledge of her every breath. 

As my hand moved to the clasp of her bra, she grabbed my face and aggressively demanded my focus to her eyes. Raging with testosterone and trepidation for the imminent conversation that was about to happen, blood redirected itself to my brain to collect my thoughts as she sheepishly mumbled:

“What is going on between us?”

Well, that killed the mood. 

The man in me wondered, “Why couldn’t she have just waited another forty-five minutes (ten minutes is probably more realistic) to have this conversation?”

I had known that this conversation would come, and it would be the end of my relationship-free romance. It wasn’t that I was seeing other people, or that I didn’t enjoy her company. I did. I just didn’t want to be ‘in’ a relationship with her.

Let’s talk about the dating and relationship rules that we seem to have formulated when it comes to trying to navigate the booby-traps of new love.

She wanted to talk about ‘us’ for awhile. She likely chatted with her friends and they went through the formulaic algorithm that we seem to have created for the specific question we all seem to ponder:

“When is it ok to have the talk about what our relationship status is?”

Let me be very clear:

It is ok to have that conversation the moment you wonder (I’ll explain). 

I work with people all of the time who avoid this conversation because they’re afraid of what they might hear. They’re afraid that the response will be different than what they want to hear. They’re afraid that the person they’re dating might not want what they want, and that scares the crap out of them.

Think about what belief is REALLY going on here and what we’re giving meaning to:

Someone else not wanting what we want means that they don’t want us. 

AND 

We would rather avoid that conversation to avoid rejection, than get clear information on how to best make  informed decisions moving forward.

Look, I’m not here to sugarcoat or placate to the tenderness people want to hear. I’m going to tell you what’s up.

Let’s consider how this impacts our lives; we avoid conversations where we could get more clarity about someone’s intentions because we’re afraid their intentions (to be or not be in a relationship) may not match ours. 

That’s seems sort of ridiculous, doesn’t it?!

Let’s think of this scenario differently. 

Imagine that lately you’ve been feeling ill. For some time now, something in your body is just not feeling right. And, like most of us, you consider your options:

(a) Go to the doctor, find out what’s going on (and maybe that it’s nothing) and do something about it (or not), or

(b) Ignore it and allow it to grow into something that we can no longer treat. And potentially, you could die.

Your sickness becomes a colossal mess because, out of fear of hearing something might be wrong with you, you avoid the very information that would allow you to make proactive decisions and act. 

I know this sounds extreme — Because this is very serious.

us, relationship advice, dating advice, couple, about us, scared, avoiding, breakup, soulmate

Here are 4 long-term and very serious consequences of avoiding “The Talk”:

1. You are building two roads to two different places:  Imagine that both you and your partner own a construction company, and that this company builds roads. When you consider what the company mission statement is, your belief is that you’re building roads that lead to wedded bliss.  And oddly, when probed, we find out that his/hers leads to orgasms, lack of commitment, and fleeting love that allows them to sample all the goods around. 

Wow. Quite a difference. So, if this goes undiscussed, we’ll have one company, building two different things. Doesn’t sound very smart, does it?

When this happens in the context of relationships, we’ll have hurt, anxiety, pain, and lots of time we can NEVER get back. All because we never talked about relationship mission statements. 

Don’t be fooled. Relationships require similar mission statements and intentions. Because, when not aligned, all of a sudden, maybe it’s three months or ten years down the road, you’re going to realize that you’re not building what you thought you were building. And you’re going to be really, really, really(really) angry. 

And the truth is, you should be frustrated with yourself, because all you had to do was ask. 

2. You are destroying your self-worth:  When we avoid speaking our truth and what we desire from a relationship, we step further and further away from our hearts. We are, indirectly, telling ourselves that what we want isn’t important. Our desires and beliefs don’t matter. What we need, doesn’t matter. We…don’t matter. And if we have kids, we’re teaching them the exact same thing. It is that big of a deal.

3. You are wasting valuable time:  Tick Tock goes the clock. Maybe right now you think it’s not a big deal – you’ve got time, right? What’s another couple weeks or months? Well, quickly, those months will turn into years. And you will be left in a desecrated pile of “I should haves” and, “Why didn’t I justs” as you pick up the pieces of your broken heart, one that you consciously chose to break by not having the conversations that matter. 

And if that doesn’t sound serious enough, consider how quickly our lives can change. One coffee shop lineup, one yoga class, one walk in the park. That’s all it takes to meet the person we’ve been seeking. But you’ll never be in that position to meet them if you don’t take control of your life and make conscious decisions about who you want in it. 

4. You are filling the gap:  Maybe there’s many reasons you’re avoiding the conversation. Maybe you like companionship? Great. Maybe you like getting laid and spooning to Netflix marathons? Who doesn’t?! Maybe this person is almost what you want but not quite it. What’s the harm? 

But they’re not that person. And the longer you hold onto them and fill the space of partnership in your life with mediocrity, you take away the space for your match to enter it.

Chew on that for awhile(but not too long, we’ve got love to find.)


Truth be told, there is no magic formula to dating. That’s why the book “He’s Just Not That Into You” doesn’t mean anything when we’re in the storm, because when emotion is involved it’s hard for us to be impartial. 

There are rules that are right sometimes, but if there is anything I’ve learned from dating, it’s this: 

When we are really into someone, none of the rules matter. All the books and courses we have taken mean nothing. We text and call as much as we want. We see each other as much as we want. We kiss when we want. We even bang when we want. And we say, “I love you” when we feel it. 

When we start worrying about all the algorithms and pathways we need to go down, we begin to step outside ourselves. We loose our authenticity and our honesty, because we are pretending to be someone we’re not. 

Let’s be our quirky, funny, weird, witty, sarcastic, awkward, and amazing selves. When we do that we give ourselves the freedom to just be. We’re not putting our energy into pretending, and that means we can put more energy into loving.

SPOILER ALERT: That girl and I broke up. And I never got to finish the make-out. Because I didn’t tell her what she wanted to hear. I told her the truth. The end. 

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Why The Promise Of Forever Can Mean The Death Of Your Relationship

It’s really interesting that we go from relationships of varying quality and length in our teens and twenties and then leap into a “serious” relationship or marriage and expect it to last forever.

Often, we haven’t learned from our past relationships or taken the time to ask ourselves how we contributed to those relationship outcomes. When a relationship ends, it’s easy to blame the other person but sometimes we neglect to explore what our role was.

How do we learn how to “be” in a relationship? Are we ever really ready for marriage and lifelong monogamy?

Most of our relationship knowledge and skills come from our parents and various other mentors.

This can be a good thing. But it can also be an extremely bad thing.

Our parents might have left a path of destruction and then we wonder why we have blocks to love. Seldom is it true that they loved perfectly and are models of monogamistic bliss. They are human after all.

By the time we finally “commit”, most of us have not actively sought out what makes relationships work.  We haven’t done an inventory of the behaviours we have and don’t have, that influence how we merge hearts and how to build and maintain love.

On top of that, we might never have learned how to pick great partners or to explore and honour what connection truly is.

Relationships don’t generally last a lifetime. I’m not trying to be a negative dick. This is a fact. One that we usually choose to ignore.

People get fired up over divorce and breakups. As a society, we frown upon the divorced. Their story reflects one of our greatest fears; that our relationships might one day end too.

And that fear makes sense. Breakups are hard and it’s easy to get caught up in the dream of soulmates and having one lover for our lifetime. We all want to believe that life and love is always puppy dogs and ice cream. (I love both).

It’s not. Love can be hard. Love can hurt. Love sometimes feels as though it fails us. And ironically, love is often one of our greatest sources of pain.

And if love wasn’t already hard enough, let’s throw in the fact that sometimes we make bad choices and end up down a path that is no longer where we want to be. After all, this is real life. Not a fairy tale or perfect love story.

In this real life, relationships don’t “fail” per se. We tend to outgrow them, or don’t have the skills necessary to navigate them. We often don’t know or understand how to grow together. And at times, we exist in relationships where we were never really invested in the first place.

Relationship longevity is only ONE marker of relationship success.

Certainly not the only one.

But it is BY FAR the one we place the most emphasis on.

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This is ridiculous. If “staying together” is our gauge of success, then almost everyone on this planet is/will be, or has been a failure at some point in their life. And all of us have this human relationship game all wrong.

The truth is that anyone can make the worst relationship last forever. Because “staying together” tells us nothing about the juice of the relationship. It’s not a marker of the quality of the relationship.

I believe we should define relationship success in a way that holds us accountable.

Are you doing the best you can? Are you being the best possible partner you know you’re capable of being? Are you making the choices and living in a way that you expect from your partner?

Yes? Amazing.

No? Why not?

Do you love who you are and bring that back to the relationship?

If not, why? What’s holding you back?

Instead of being driven and focused by needing the relationship to last forever, set it as an intention that guides your behaviour in each moment.

Relationship success is about living in the now and showing up each day. It’s about being the best possible version of you in each moment. And choosing your partner – moment by moment.

We can only take responsibility for our side of the relationship. It’s up to us to set the benchmark for the type of relationship we want. Those that can’t keep up, won’t. But instead of holding onto someone and dating their potential, let them go and find someone who’s ready and wants to love like you do.

By living and loving this way, we reframe what the end of a relationship means for us. We do everything we can and if a relationship ends, we let it go because we’ve done our best. We’ve given it our all. 

You are accountable to your potential. How you choose to live and love is up to you! Don’t wait until shit hits the fan to figure out how to be a great partner.

Choose to be amazing today.

Strive to be and do the best you can. Embrace the adventure. Accept and appreciate your learnings. And always move forward. Even if it’s just a small step.

When we live and love like this, moments add up into days, the days into years, and maybe even the years into your forever.

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A Shout-Out To The Good Dads, You’re Changing The World

For the most part we learn and develop our relationship skills through the modelling and integration of how our parents communicated and loved. For a lot of people that’s an incredibly good thing, and for others, it can be a challenge to unlearn unhealthy behaviours so that they can thrive in their romantic relationships.

The real struggle (and empowered truth) is that relationship skills appear to be hereditary. And what our parents struggle with, likely theirs did as well. It’s not about pointing fingers, being a victim, or blaming them for our faults. I see many behaviours I’ve picked up from observing my parents and/or other mentors. But instead of using these challenges as the reason to stay stuck and blame them for our relationship failures, we can see that this awareness allows us to change the pattern.

My father and I share many deep conversations on love. Unlike the models that most men are taught, my father has always been exceptionally good at peering into my heart. He would ask the right questions to get to the bottom of my fears, and even further, he would allow me the safe and loving space to be who I was and feel everything I was feeling. Regardless of whether it was considered “manly”.

I realize that this is rare. I also recognize that my father is born in an era where these acknowledgments of emotion are few and far between. After another one of our “talks” the other day I asked him, “How is it that in a time when men were not endorsed or promoted to be emotional, you have embodied so many of these essential skills?”

My father replied, “My past relationships and the one with your mother demanded it of me. And your grandfather often would to talk to us, as kids, about how we were feeling. Your grandfather was a very emotionally intelligent man.”

And it had me thinking… Is being a gentleman hereditary?! I thought about all of those times that my grandfather was transferring these skills to his kids, he never realized the massive impact he was actually having. His desire to be present and defy the mould of the classic male archetype has transcended two generations. And it has inspired a lot of the work I do.

Wow. That, to me, is so powerful. The decisions of one man can change the course of his kids lives, and then, in turn, the lives they touch, and so one. That is incredible. My grandfather wasn’t always a great partner, and my father recognized some of grandpa’s language choices and shifted how he showed up in his relationships. This is the perfect evidence that we have the power to change how we love and communicate in any moment. Unlike the DNA genetics we pass on, the emotional genetics are ones we can consciously choose to change. And that, in turn, impacts people and has the rippling effect to change the world.

I’m not a father, however I can tell you that I take the words I choose and the role I have in people’s lives very seriously. I consider how I’m modelling my behaviour for strangers, kids, and partners.

If our fathers don’t connect with us then it’s important to try to connect with our fathers. Not all of our fathers are going to be open to that, and that reality is okay. We can’t make people become how we wish them to become. We can’t force someone to open up emotionally. But, what we can do is invite them to join us. We can start by being the one who initiates the conversation. Have you ever asked what your father’s greatest dream is? What is his greatest fear? Just these two questions are ones not everyone discusses, but they are a safer gateway to vulnerability.

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Now, I recognize that not everyone shares the same childhood experience and some men don’t even have fathers present. So how do we change the way we have learned to communicate and show up so that we can change the lineage of our emotional intelligence? How do we become the “ideal” man who communicates from a place of kindness and empathy, and still knows how to honour his boundaries?

1. Find a mentor: Look for men whom you look up to. Find men who are already the way you would like to be. The types of men who are already doing the type of job you want, emulate the integrity and values that resonate with you, and communicate with their friends and partners in a healthy and loving way. A mentor will offer guidance and feedback which we allow you to get to where you would like to be. To a life that is similar to theirs. My friend Connor Beaton has an organization called Mantalks that specializes in bringing great men together… which leads perfectly to number two….

2. Surround yourself with men like you want to become: When we have people around us who live the life we used to live and choose the things we no longer wish to choose anymore, they will be an anchor to our growth. Maybe the single greatest hack to our evolution is surrounding ourselves with men who reflect who we want to be.

How do we find those people? Go to events that your future self goes to. Ask friends if they have friends they could introduce you to. Every year I go to a conference by myself and/or sign up for a course that focuses on an area I would like to grow and expand in. This choice alone has expanded my network substantially. I’ve met incredible people, created lifelong friendships, and been influenced by the types of people I want influencing me.

3. Hire a coach:  During my whole life I have had amazing men around me and a fantastic community who have always supported me in every way I could imagine. And still, despite all of this, I know that hiring a coach is an investment in myself. The difference between a coach and a mentor is one I didn’t grasp till I hired a coach… We pay a coach to hold us accountable. Research suggests that when we pay someone for their time and to work with us we are more likely to engage in the necessary changes and growth that is agreed upon. Find a coach who works in the specific area you want to grow in.

◊♦◊

I never realized until that recent moment with my father how deeply grateful I am for the man he chose to be and the long lineage of men in my family. The words we choose, and the energy and intention we put behind those words can change the hereditary path of our families. We can literally decide that we will be the last generation to communicate from a place of fear.

Instead of passing on material and wealth, let’s strive to pass on healthy and loving communication. Let’s teach our children to honour their emotion and love their partner with the utmost respect and passion.


Originally published at www.reclaimingmalerolemodels.com

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How To Choose People Who Won’t Let You Down

We can all relate to the young couple that gets pregnant by accident. Maybe it was us, maybe it was someone we knew. Nevertheless, it’s a time that is stressful and is a struggle for all involved. The consequences of sex weighs heavily on the woman. I mean, that is biologically obvious, but even beyond that, the hormonal changes and the bond a mother develops with a child are incredibly profound. As a man, I can’t relate to what that is exactly like, but I have experienced the love of my mother, and it is unlike anything else, she would do anything for me. (Shoutout to my mom!).

I know a young couple who got pregnant, and based on their lives and where they were at, they decided to terminate the pregnancy.

This article is not about pro-choice or premarital sex, so leave your judgements at the door. Read on if you can be without judgment. Stop here if you can’t.

The appointment was made and the plans were enacted. At home, nervous and stressed with the reality of her decision, the woman got ready as she waited for her man to come pick her up to drive her to the clinic.

So she waited. And waited. And he never showed up.

She, like we all do if we can when anything goes wrong, called her mom. Her mom rushed over and picked her up and drove her to the clinic. She had the procedure, and the recovery was painful and longer than expected. But she endured it all, alone.

When I heard this story, my heart broke for her. As with everything, life has a way of moving forward whether or not we choose to participate. That man’s choices didn’t change outcomes, he just sent the message of the kind of man he was in the storm. Not the kind of man I would even want as a friend, let alone a partner or father.

The irony is that it was actually the second time I had heard a story like this.

ie. Man is ok with the boning part, but can’t own the responsibility that comes along with getting his ding dong wet.

It pisses me off that men like this exist. I mean, we’ve all let people down, that’s part of being human. But when life gets messy and people REALLY need us, we must put our ego and our crap aside because what they need is more important than what we need in that moment.  Men who act selfishly when other people need them the most give all of the amazing and kind-hearted men a bad rap. These men are the ones who women often remember and their actions have women believing they are not worthy of being loved.

What these men do is anything but love. They are cowards of the heart.

So I ask the men who can’t show up for the people in their lives:

What kind of message do you think you send to the world and the people in it?

I’m not talking about the message you send just to women, but to the children you abandon and the truths you flee from?

What kind of message do you send to yourself? These choices just poison your soul and hurt your own heart.

You are your choices. You are anything but a man.

But before I get too Mangry (new word, just invented), at first when I wanted to write this article, I was going to write it solely about the men who haven’t shown up for others. And to be fair, there are a lot. But here’s why I couldn’t just write to them:

Because there are many men who have had their hearts torn apart by women who have lied, cheated, and let them down. There are kids whose mothers broke their heart, day-in and day-out too.

We perpetuate stories of gender issues, and the reality is that people let people down. And it sucks.

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So how do we improve our lives and our choices so as to create space for people who will show up for us?

If we all took the time to consider the messages our actions send, we would make a lot of different choices. What we do in each moment and the decisions we make can change lives, for good and for bad. The influence we can have on a person through the words we choose is so profound that it can model their view of love and of the world in general. And other people, if we allow them to, can do the same for us.

One of the most important aspects of creating the life we want is taking ownership that a large part of how other people show up for us lies in our own hands. I know that can sound twisted, but our lives are generally a reflection of what we allow. We can’t change how people show up for us, but we can change how we show up for ourselves and what behaviours we consider to be acceptable.

When people let us down big time, they have usually let us down in many small and moderate ways before that. Sometimes it takes the deep lows for us to wake up and see that they’re not there for us. The whole time we’ve been trying to convince others to choose and show up for us, we were really just waiting to love ourselves.

Part of letting go of the pain associated with people never choosing us is recognizing that their choices are never really about us. We can’t force people to become how we need them to be and we can’t change how they love us. We can just invite them to meet us in the middle, and if they can, amazing. If they can’t, then it just creates more space for those who can.

It can be viewed that this is a very dismissive way to love. But if a relationship feels heavy and we spend our lives convincing people to change and love us in the way in which we need them to, is that a life well spent? There are so many wonderful hearts, who, despite maybe not knowing exactly how to do it, are willing to join us on the journey and learn. They’re willing to try to understand how we love and what we need, and we, in turn, agree to fulfill the other side of that agreement.

When you begin to follow your heart and let go of the need to control everything, you will see that the world has a wonderful way of bringing into your life exactly what the choices you make reflect you truly want.

Till you meet that special person, I want to tell you what all those people from your past who have let you down wanted to say but didn’t know how:

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry that your heart broke in so many ways. I’m sorry that I told you all the things you wanted to hear but never showed you what those words actually mean. I’m sorry that I left you waiting to be told that you are everything to me. I’m sorry that in my own pain and selfishness, I failed to see the impact of my actions on your life and your heart. Don’t dwell on me, I’m not worth it. Don’t try to change me or convince me to love you, because I don’t even love myself. All I can say is I’m sorry.”

It’s time to choose you, so someone who is worthy of your love can choose you too.

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Are There Enough Good Men For Good Women?

The other day I was speaking to my friend about the realities of dating and relationships today. It only takes a glimpse into the interactions on any relationship article or Instagram love quote, to see there are far more women reading and striving to improve their relationships than men.

This isn’t just true in the realm of social media. Women are the consumers of far more articles and books regarding bettering themselves in love. Whereas, we as men, are more open and willing to read a book on how to be a better leader, how to pick up women or manipulate our way through life. Many of these books, I’m reluctant to admit, have had a comfortable life on my shelf.

The line between work and home and how we behave is vague at best. As men, do we not see that the way we behave in romantic relationships and family systems is a form of leadership and teamwork too? That the way we are at home can translate to how we show up at work, and vice versa?

In addition, women are often a much more accurate barometer of the emotional state of relationships. Just think about the percentage of times a man says, “I want to talk about us” or “Things just seem off, I was hoping we could have a chat about how we’re doing.”

Male-initiated emotional conversations are few and far between. And this is even further supported by the mere fact that about two thirds of divorces are set in motion by women.

If we were to survey most established romantic relationships, it wouldn’t take long before we would see that men can exist in a relationship that is not necessarily amazing, but not bad either. Kind of like a “good enough to stay and not bad enough to leave” situation. I don’t mean all men, but most men. And when a woman finally leaves that’s when he says, “Wait!? I didn’t even realize things were bad! You never even tried!”

Oh yes. She did. And we were not listening, and maybe she was not saying it the right way. Or maybe no one taught us how to maintain a great relationship.

In order for men to thrive in relationships, good men need to teach good men.

However, with women there is a belief that they have an inherent ability to thrive in relationships and there is a pervasive arrogance to the messages regarding their emotional intelligence and capacity for love. One needs to only survey a couple of women before you’ll hear the commonly uttered phrase, “There are no good men out there.”

It’s a provocative thought isn’t it? Are there enough good men for good women? 

To move forward there is a need to define the idea of what makes a “good man” and what makes a “good woman”?

We could argue that a good man is one who shows integrity, honesty, the qualities of good fatherhood, supportiveness, empathy, and is kind in his words and offers fidelity. This is going to be defined a little differently by each person, but for sake of argument we can/will assume this is what makes men inherently “good”.

What defines a good woman? It’s likely very similar to what makes for a good man, except for the ever important caveat of women having different genitalia.

What makes a good women seems controversial to even discuss, doesn’t it? Because we usually just assume that on average women are the “good ones”, don’t we?

It sounds insulting to state “There are no good women out there” as it indicates that women on average are not good.

Then why is it ok to suggest that men are not good?

From what I have observed and read in the relationship world, I see that men are under the microscope when it comes to love and relationships, and women are told they are perfect at love, and that men need to step it up.

Have we truly invited men to be emotional?

Brené Brown’s research supports the idea that when a man breaks down and shares emotions with a woman, he loses her trust. His vulnerability reduces the safety his lady feels. This in turn, causes her to become angry and in some ways resent him for displaying a softer side of masculinity.

I thought we wanted emotional men? Is emotional equilibrium what we truly seek?

Based on the vast majority of literature and conversations I indulge in, the mass consensus appears to be that men should be to be able to talk about how they feel.

So what do women really want?

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It’s no wonder men feel confused about what role they need to play in relationships. There is a disconnect between what is asked of them and what they are empowered and rewarded for being.

Now, truth be told, it’s not like men everywhere are shedding tears, opening their hearts, and losing their woman because of emotional transparency. Men do not tend to share their emotions, they do not tell the women in their lives that they are upset or don’t feel loved.

Men are lost, because no one taught them what being a man means, or what they are taught is patriarchal and “old fashioned”.

Brene’s research demonstrates men being their vulnerable selves may actually result in disconnection with their partner, which is the opposite result of the intention of sharing. So on each man goes, pretending that men don’t have emotions and are not good at talking about feelings.

Because if he is sensitive he is a “pussy”, certainly not emotionally intelligent and aware of his emotional state.

We can safely say that all those things which traditionally defined the masculine model for the last couple of centuries have been displaced, and women often find themselves making the money and decisions.

We are quick to point out where men can step it up, but we do not think or discuss the idea of where women can step up their game, do we?

Women do so many things well. They show up emotionally and they create community. Women, are inherently good. They are beautifully kind, empathetic, nurturing and supportive. They build amazing social programs and have rallied to create a female empowerment movement that is unbelievably inspiring, and unbelievably needed.

There is still much oppression of the feminine, and every country and culture has a lot of work to do to have women treated with equality, and empowered and supported by all men.

That’s why I think this conversation is important, because in order for women to thrive, men need to as well.

I think that we are all here for connection and to share our hearts, but we cannot do it alone.

It begs me to ask: Are we forgetting about men, in the effort to save women? Have we forgotten about all the good men out there through our desire not to disturb the feminine?

Celebration of men and the male model is uncommon. We tend not to talk about all the amazing fathers, and unbelievably stand up men who we can call at any hour and would do anything for all the people in their lives.

Because there are a lot of them. 

I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up with, and really have only enjoyed the company of great men. Men of integrity and consistency in how they show up for the women and men in their lives. But, I do not think that it is rare, and it is not only my friends and athletic teammates who are like this.

Everywhere I travel I meet incredible men.

I can see and find good men, because they are who I look for. Just like all the women I know are incredible, intelligent, kind and have some of the brightest souls on the planet.

The truth is, we get what we focus on.

There are a lot of women who focus on their inability to find good men.

I hear “There are no good men out there” from women who have emotional wounds. Women who have chosen men and ignored red flags. Women who cheat and lie to themselves and others. Women who have their own work to do.

I’m not saying men don’t have work to do. We do. And women have work to do too. It’s a human problem, not a gender problem. We, as men, need to build from within first and create conscious communities where men can learn to support and develop together.

We need to teach each other, and even more importantly, we need to teach our sons how to become a good men and what that means. We need to be GREAT fathers.

We need to embrace and embody the emotional skills required of us to be amazing leaders in every facet of our lives. 

We need to show up for the women(and men) in our lives and demonstrate kindness and empathy. 

 We need to remember and celebrate all of the men who are changing the world. 

We need to create a space for men to thrive, and instead of trying to destroy each other, we need to build each other up. 

I commend all the good men who push for change and equality. Who don’t see gender, and instead see hearts; hearts that crave connection and love.

I am so proud to be a man and to share this planet with such amazing and wonderful men. 

To answer the question, “Are There Enough Good Men For Good Women?”: YES, I believe that there are more than enough good men out there.  And if this is true, it begs the next question:

Are there enough good women who can hold the space for good men? 

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Is The World Ready For Emotional Men?

We talk a lot about wanting men to be able to communicate their emotions, but do we really want them to own how they feel?

Have the men of generations past and the historical absence of emotional transparency created a lack of credibility when the men of today share how they feel?

I’m interested to know your thoughts. Please share in the comments below!

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Why I Wish You Would Cheat On Me

Sometimes our fears can truly get the best of us. We can exist in relationships that don’t satiate a single cell in our body. Often it’s a fear of looking in and asking the tough questions. Questions like, “Why am I feeling this way? Why is my relationship feeling disconnected? Should we still be together?”

But we don’t ask. In avoiding the pursuit of actionable knowledge we have the excuse to stay the same. We get to keep living in the story that, “This is what relationships are supposed to be like. We’re supposed to grow apart. No one is happy forever.”

I have such a deep understanding of what this feels like because I have known this scenario all too well myself.

We loved each other. Maybe not on a “elevated” or “enlightened” level. And in hindsight maybe it wasn’t whole. I can’t tell you because I didn’t have the awareness.

In that moment of time I had no idea how I had become so accustomed to monotony. To playing safe and not appreciating every wonderful thing about her. I don’t think I could’ve intellectually conversed about the current state of our relationship. It was a feeling. A deep sense in my heart that I wanted more. That this relationship had run its course.

But we stayed. We satisfied the “list”.

And isn’t that the greatest irony? That we won’t forego anything on the list for a higher level connection, but often we’ll skip right by needing a connection to satisfy the list.

Money, comfort, stability, appearance. All these things can have such a glaring spotlight that we fail to miss what we always knew: This relationship, for whatever reason, is not where I want to be.

We have this giant fear as humans:

When relationships grow apart we can’t let them go.

We can’t have them end.

Is relationship longevity really the sign of relationship success? If that’s true I know a lot of successful relationships with some sad people in them. This societal, cultural and religiously engrained belief system has us avoiding conversations and truths. And instead we embrace misalignment, constant anxiety, and the desire to “stay together” has us distancing ourselves further and away from who we are as individuals.

What an insane irony:

Needing to be with someone else has us becoming someone else.

Don’t we want more?! Don’t we crave more?! The reality of this is that your truth will always catch up with you. And this is why we cheat, disrespect our partners with words that scathe, and begin and continue to build a script that has us resenting ourselves for putting “Being Together” ahead of being ourselves. We are so afraid to go against the grain that we become another robot. Another person in society who says yes to the bullshit and reinforces our relationship dysfunctions and our fear of being an individual and being alone.

I’ve lived this. I lacked quality sleep. The line of behaviour that was acceptable with other women got greyer. I started to take her for granted. I got shorter tempered and being with her every day was a reminder of my misalignment.

I hated her for that.

Yet I chose it. Everyday. The pain was not enough for me to have an adult conversation and say from the largest space in my heart, “I love you dearly. I am no longer invested in this relationship, and I no longer wish to be. For that reason I need to let you go. To find a love that would love you in the way you deserve.”

My selfishness and my fear of hurting another human had me paralyzed. I wished she would just break up with me. I hoped she would get so tired of how I was behaving and the choices I was making that she would just leave me. Or, my ultimate plan, was if she cheated on me it would just make it so much easier. Because not being romantically in love anymore was not enough of a reason. If she cheated I would have to leave. How could I stay with someone like that? Everyone would respect my decision to walk away.

So she did. And I stayed.

I know. Mind blowing. 

And we worked it out. And we got right back to the same place we had been hovering for so long. I lived in a constant state of anxiety. Anxiety I chose.

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We avoid the pain. We run from adult conversations that have us breaking hearts and changing lives into a more positive direction. A direction that aligns with our dreams and desires. It’s interesting this paradox. Maybe it’s that we’re scared we won’t meet someone new, or that they won’t be able to go on.

Imagine if we went about it differently.

Imagine if we spoke to people from the belief that they have all the tools they need. They will cope, they will find the space and strength to move forward, and that they will grow from the experience and be grateful for the role we have played in their life. And even if all of these tools are not present at the time of the breakup, they will reach out to their network and ask for help. And isn’t it crazy that this fear has US playing small? It has us sitting in mediocre love because that is better than stepping into the unknown.

The unknown is where the juice is. That’s what love is. Uncertainty. The fear of loss all whilst being buried in the deliciousness and exhilaration of merging hearts. Hearts that can never guarantee forever. With a soul that says to us,”I’m in this with you. I’m going to do my best to give you all of me…and when I no longer can I will let you go with love and appreciation for what we’ve shared.”

Every partner and experience is another piece of DNA that composes what love and relationships mean to us.

I finally had the conversation. We ended the relationship and we both moved on. We both survived, and we both have since loved again. Grateful for what we had taught one another and how we had set such a platform for what love meant to us. She will forever be one of the largest contributors to the man I am today. I cannot, and would never take back or change anything from the experience. What I can do to honour her and our experience is choose differently moving forward. I can take all of these learnings and bring them to the next relationship.

Know that your relationships are allowed to end. You’re allowed to not be in love anymore. You’re allowed to grow out of relationships. You can live and love any way that fills your heart. No one else has to live your life. So live it for you.