Don’t Give Up, Scarlett!

The idea that we aren’t suited to monogamous relationships has been a subject of debate for ages. Hopelessful romantics will argue that not only are we suited to monogamy, a monogamous relationship is the best possible relationship attainable. On the flip side are those who’ll claim monogamy is an unnatural dynamic for us. Things like our biological imperative are frequently referenced as rationale by not just polyamorists, hedonists, and sensualists, but by everyday folk who’ve simply had difficulty making monogamy work.

This topic was in the news recently thanks to a candid interview Playboy magazine published with actress and chanteuse Scarlett Johansson in a bit of shrewdly deliberate Valentine’s Day counter programming. E! News expanded on the topic in an article that quotes a number of other celebrities like Ethan Hawke, Cameron Diaz, and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, who voice support for the contention that monogamy just isn’t workable.

monogamywordcloudMs. Johansson, while respectful and reverent of the theoretical concept of monogamy, claims it’s “hard work” for “everyone.” Then makes the leap that her claim “proves that it’s not a natural thing.”

Ms. Johansson has been married twice, so undoubtedly a lifelong monogamous relationship is something to which she aspires. But her extrapolating her own inability to achieve one into it being an unnatural concept for everyone is both presumptuous and laughable. She hasn’t done it, so therefore it’s not doable. Really?

For sure there are probably plenty of people out there, both in and out of monogamous relationships, who either wholeheartedly agree with the “unnatural” characterization or who are open to the possibility that Ms. Johansson is onto something.

For what it’s worth, here’s where I come down on the subject of monogamy. I can understand why a high percentage of people feel it’s unattainable or unsustainable, that it’s ongoing hard work, a grind. Even unnatural. If one isn’t in a relationship characterized by True Love, not in an Everything relationship, then the bottom line is that it will absolutely be an effort to remain in that relationship in a monogamous way. Imagine perpetually trying to get the square peg in the round hole. It just ain’t happening, no matter how hard you try. To varying degrees, that applies to a pretty big percentage of romantic relationships.

The heart seeks not only love but True Love. That’s the romantic Holy Grail. The Powerball Trillion-Dollar Jackpot. To realize a True Love/Everything relationship, you’ve got to be willing to define exactly what’s important to you in a partner and a relationship, then, when you manifest/meet that person, be willing open your heart fully without expectation. You gotta give big love to hope to receive it. That’s just how it works.

From my own personal experience, as someone who’s been married and divorced, and nearly married a second time before finding True Love in middle age, I can assure you that monogamy and True Love are a seamless whole, inextricably connected to each other. Monogamy isn’t “work” when you’re in an Everything relationship. It’s the opposite:  your connection to your partner is so deep, strong, and ever growing that the notion of other possibilities is absolutely irrelevant.

It’s surely the case that for celebrities like Ms. Johansson and Mr. Hawke there’s no shortage of opportunity, of possibility, available to them. Perhaps that reality undercuts the conviction and fearlessness required to open the heart fully, be truly vulnerable and exposed, since those choices carry with them the risk of failure. With so much opportunity, there’s less motivation to step outside the comfort zone, to risk rejection. Why freely offer more of yourself than you’re comfortable offering, when someone who you consider a perfect match is happy with whatever you’re willing to offer? Oh, it turns out they’re actually not down with your limits? Adios, then! Who’s next?

To reiterate, just opening up your heart to someone doesn’t mean you’ll end up in a True Love relationship with them. There’s always the chance of rejection. But if you want an Everything relationship, want True Love, you’ve gotta give everything of yourself. No holding back. And do so without expectation of reciprocation, by the way. Hope for it, yes. Never expect it.

True Love is out there, Scarlett! Don’t let cynicism and doubt forged by past experience obscure that truth. Don’t let fear keep you from enjoying an Everything relationship. And for anyone in a relationship who agrees with the idea that monogamy might not be natural, that it’s perpetual hard work, maybe it’s time to evaluate whether you’re stuck in the square peg/round hole dynamic, bearing in mind that there are no right reasons to remain in the wrong relationship.

From Russia, With Love!

I visited Russia this month, spending a week in Moscow. My 16-year-old daughter is a student at Bolshoi Ballet Academy there, and since she had a couple weekdays off in observance of International Women’s Day, we took in a lot of the city’s sights together.

The highlight of my first night:  a visit to Red Square, a place steeped in significance and history. Arguably the most eye-popping building on the square is St. Basil’s Cathedral, with its multi-colored domed spires. Completed in 1561, it’s an impressive structure — easily one of the most iconic buildings in the world.St. Basil's Cathedral - "Love-ly!" – Version 2

Architectural cred and visual splendor aside, what really moved me  about it was something totally unexpected and something I might not have observed if I first visited Red Square in the daytime:  love, in symbolic form. See if you can spot it in the main image before looking at the close-up image below.

Perhaps it’s just whimsy but I’d like to believe that the universal symbol for love was a planned aspect of the design. “Whimsy” because there obviously were no electric lights illuminating the cathedral at night in the 16th Century. But since the front side of the structure faces roughly northwest, I’d like to think that at a certain time of year when the sun is out, the same effect can be seen during daytime.

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Do I have a point? Yep, I do. Love is everywhere. When you set aside fear and embrace it, you’re not only constantly reminded of that utterly heartlifting fact, you manifest it everywhere you go.

 

Don’t Sweat the Disconnects

There’s nothing like the feeling of full, hearts-blasted-wide-open connectedness with your romantic partner. It’s a feeling that gets right to the core of an Everything relationship.

When you don’t allow fear to prevent your heart from opening fully, that openness welcoming your partner to do the same, you’ll both experience the awesome, transformative power of True Love, as communication in all forms is flowing at 100%.

Does that mean that those of us lucky enough to be in an Everything relationship feel this elevating and energizing flow of maximum connectedness all the time, 24-7? Nope. Why? Because we’re human. We’re individuals who sometimes get wrapped up in and distracted by our own shit, our own emotions. And sometimes in those moments our hearts aren’t open fully. We say, do, or don’t say or don’t do something that causes our partner to withdraw a bit, to dial back the openness of their heart somewhat.

The triggers for these moments of disconnect usually aren’t intentional. But they still happen. A lot less frequently in Everything relationships than in non-Everything relationships, for sure. But a suggestion that Everything couples never experience disconnects would be flat-out wrong.

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What does characterize Everything relationships, though, is the partners’ desire and ability to move past momentary disconnects, to recognize that when one happens it doesn’t mean that the relationship is somehow no longer quite as strong and pure as it was before the disconnect arose. That, believe it or not, moving past and beyond disconnects further strengthens and expands Love, offering valuable teaching moments contributing to individual growth that can only be a boost to the relationship.

If you’re feeling that you and your partner are spending more time in disconnects than you are enjoying the bliss of full-blast connectedness, look inward and ask yourself if you’re opening your heart fully and fearlessly. If you are, consistently, and that’s not welcoming your partner to do the same, or if you’re just not willing to do so, it’s possible that your Everything relationship is still out there for you.

If you are fortunate enough to be enjoying an Everything relationship, or are in a newer relationship that you feel is headed in that direction, when disconnects happen, and they will, don’t dwell on the negative. Don’t over-analytically explode a granular thing into a potential indictment of your relationship. The uniqueness and power of what you and your partner are lucky enough to share will rocket you through the occasional disconnect and actually bolster your togetherness in the process.

Happy Valentine’s Day! If you didn’t catch it, here’s my Valentine’s Day post from last year.

Does Nicholas Sparks’ Divorce Say Anything About True Love?

Online news media and social media were abuzz earlier this month when news broke of the end of mega-successful romance author Nicholas Sparks’ 25-year marriage.

An article on The Huffington Post culled tweets expressive of the sentiment that if Nicholas Sparks, the mind behind culturally impactful books (and movies) like The Notebook, Safe Haven, Nights in Rodanthe, The Lucky One, and so on and so forth–who had previously cited his relationship with wife Cathy as inspiration for his work–the-notebook-2004-copywas giving up on a relationship, then True Love must be dead and buried.

Frankly I’m amazed that so many expressed the sentiment of feeling cheated somehow because Sparks’ literary output had had a positive impact on them, perhaps giving them hope that a relationship like those depicted in his books and films was out there somewhere for them, but now, since his own marriage proved not to be an Everything relationship, that somehow undercut the hopeful and optimistic message underlying his overall body of work.

Responding, then, to the question posed in the title of this post, does Nicholas Sparks’ divorce say anything about True Love? In a nutshell, hells yes it does! It says that True Love is alive and well, thank you very much. After 25 years and probably a ton of practical reasons to remain together: kids, finances, and, in this particular case, public perception, Nicholas and Cathy Sparks recognized that their relationship had run its course. It was not a True Love relationship. Not an Everything relationship.

Why? Because one simply cannot have had a True Love relationship. If it voluntarily ends, regardless of the specifics, it fell short of True Love. By acknowledging this, by accepting that a better reality might well be out there for both of them, romantically speaking, Nicholas and Cathy Sparks are totally and unequivocally validating the lure and desire for the most vaunted relational state possible for us as human beings–you got it: True Love.

True Love knows no age. It becomes possible when the circumstances of one’s life–one’s understanding of one’s self, one’s contentedness with the individual completeness of one’s life, and one’s precise definition of who and what one wants in their ideal romantic partner and relationship–set the stage for it.

In Nicholas Sparks’ case, his relationship with and marriage to Cathy was good enough to inspire him to hypothesize great, True Love romance and express it in ways that spoke to millions and millions. Ultimately, it perhaps even spoke to him and Cathy, helping them realize that “good enough” is a far cry from True Love, from Everything. And now they’re both free to pursue that for themselves. With all that they experienced and learned from each other, about what they want and don’t want in their respective Everything relationships, helping refine their visions of their ideal relationships.

From where I stand people shouldn’t take the Sparks divorce as the death knell of True Love. Quite the opposite:  they should take it as convincing validation that True Love is alive and well, thank you very much.

Why “Cheating” Isn’t Inherently a Bad Thing

Why do people “cheat” on their partners? Pretty loaded question, that. While this post will tackle the subject from an intellectual perspective, a high percentage of adults (myself included) have direct, and therefore a subjective/emotional experience of this widespread reality.

Stats vary quite widely but the median indicates that over 50% of both men and women–at least those who’ve participated in surveys about infidelity–have been unfaithful at some point in their lives (men 57%, women 54%).

What gives? Since it’s pretty rampant, lots of ink has been devoted to the topic, ranging from the sensationalistic (think Cosmopolitan magazine) to the more psychologically oriented (Psychology Today). Given the near parity across the gender line, it’s clear that both sexes are looking for something outside their relationships in roughly equal numbers.

Let’s take the example of a married man–hell, let’s even give him a couple of young kids–who comes on to female coworker, much to her dismay since she’s a) not interested and b) feels the experience is more proof of her theory that men simply can’t be trusted.

source:

source: myinterestingfacts.com

Why would the guy do this? Well, while it’s likely that he finds his coworker attractive, there are probably hundreds if not thousands of possible specific, detailed “reasons,” with dissatisfaction or unhappiness the root cause of the vast majority of them. Even if you advance the idea that the guy’s self-sabotaging/self-destructive, why is he that way? More likely than not because he’s unhappy or dissatisfied.

A closer look at “unhappy or dissatisfied” is necessary here. Someone who is either of these things could be 1) individually unfulfilled or dissatisfied with their life and generally satisfied with their partner and relationship, 2) individually fulfilled and satisfied but unhappy or dissatisfied with their partner, or 3) individually unfulfilled/dissatisfied and unhappy/dissatisfied with their partner.

In the case of #1, someone who’s unfulfilled in their own life may very well look outside of themselves hoping someone else will provide that sense of happiness and fulfillment. While they may be satisfied with their current relationship, they may simultaneously feel that someone else might “make them happier.” Truth be told this dynamic probably applies to a seriously high percentage of the planet’s adult population whose basic needs for food, shelter, etc. are met and who are in a relationship. So, unwilling (typically subconsciously) to take responsibility for their own contentment/fulfillment/happiness, they look to others to provide it.

In our example, the guy probably feels his wife is no longer “making him happy.” As long as he continues to look outside of himself instead of within for his happiness and fulfillment, he’ll never enjoy an Everything relationship. Without making that inner change, he could successfully woo his coworker, fall for her and vice versa, leave his wife and marry her…and then find himself contemplating repeating the cycle after the novelty and excitement of the new relationship wear off and he again feels unhappy/dissatisfied.

With respect to #2, this is someone who’s individually fulfilled and happy but feels their relationship is lacking and probably doesn’t have the potential to improve. Those in this category remain in their relationships for reasons like financial security, fear of the unknown (better the devil you know than the one you don’t…), fear of being alone, the misguided sense that staying in a relationship you and very possibly your partner are unhappy with is “best for the kid/s,” and the equally misguided sense that ending the relationship would be more hurtful to their partner than ending it and giving everyone a chance at a better reality. Rather than being willing to throw “everything” away by having an affair, those in this category are actually hoping to find their relationship Everything. If they were enjoying Everything already they wouldn’t be making sexual/romantic overtures to others, or accepting them. It’s as simple as that.

#3 is pretty self-explanatory. Someone in this situation is individually unhappy and unfulfilled and dissatisfied with their relationship. The old adage “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” speaks to this person.

While the above suggests relationship satisfaction and longevity are probably the exception more than the rule, given the general amount of dissatisfaction floating around these days, as mentioned above there is one type of person who wouldn’t consider cheating on their partner, and probably only one type of person: someone who’s in an Everything relationship.

Those lucky enough to have found their True Love and Everything fully feel that there is literally nothing more they could possibly want from a romantic partner. Every aspect of an Everything relationship fires on all cylinders with a constant twin-turbo boost. The upshot: no one in an Everything relationship would be unfaithful to their partner. Under any circumstances. Including any scenario where there’s no way their partner would ever find out about their infidelity.

The words used to describe the act of a romantic partner looking outside their relationship for something more are primarily pejorative: Cheating, Betrayal, Infidelity, Unfaithfulness. While the act undoubtedly may cause one’s partner pain and sadness, I’m wholeheartedly of the opinion that staying in the relationship causes much greater pain and sadness, as continuing to exist in a non-Everything relationship denies everyone a chance at a better reality. So it’s wrong to paint the person who chooses to look outside a non-Everything relationship for their chance at Everything in a wholly negative light, since they are acting in the best interests of everyone involved.

Ideally when someone comes to the realization that their current relationship isn’t their Everything and never will be, they decisively and compassionately bring that relationship to a conclusion, after which they’re free and clear to pursue their Everything. When that ideal doesn’t happen, it’s typically because the person looking outside their current situation is impacted by fear, as covered a few paragraphs earlier.

But having the awareness that your current relationship isn’t and won’t ever be your Everything yet remaining in it, that’s a decision that deserves the pejorative “cheating,” as you are actively cheating your partner, yourself, and any children you and your partner have together out of a better reality. While the ideal “better reality” would of course be an Everything relationship, in actuality even being alone for a while, perhaps taking the time to define what your Everything relationship specifically looks like, is better than remaining in a non-Everything relationship–for all concerned.

None of this means that I condone stepping out on one’s partner. What I condone and encourage is not dragging out a non-Everything relationship out of fear. If you are certain you don’t and never will have Everything with your current partner, compassionately, lovingly bring the relationship to a close so that they, any children you have together, and you yourself can connect with a better reality.

 

 

 

 

Relationship and Romance Questionnaire

Welcome to Destination Everything, a blog focusing on one of the most amazing things it’s possible for us to experience: romantic love.  Info about the motivation behind the blog is available on the Mission page.

I’m extremely curious about people’s perspectives on relationships, love, and romance–regardless of relationship status, i.e. in a relationship or not, in love or not, currently enjoying bliss with one’s soulmate or looking forward to meeting that person. As such, I’ve put together a short questionnaire, the responses to which will enhance the content of the blog and factor into a book series that will begin publication in 2018 and a companion reality TV series.

image via getlevelten.com

image via getlevelten.com

If you’re interested in anonymously (only first names and ages will be used) sharing your thoughts, I thank you in advance for taking the questionnaire. Rest assured no contact information will be requested.

And by all means feel free to forward this post to anyone and everyone you think would be interested in participating! Depending on the particular pathway through the questionnaire and the time devoted to the occasional non-multiple choice questions, it should take around ten minutes or so to complete. Many thanks!

➡️ Start the Questionnaire! ⬅️

What Everything Looks Like*

Up till the time my soulmate, Lien, and I started living together, in addition to our constant daily interactions, every week I emailed her a proposed schedule for our time together for the upcoming week, covering the broad strokes and leaving plenty of room for spontaneity. A fixed component of this email involved a continuously expanding description of our Love.

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I realized that my weekly addition of a new descriptive for the nature of our Love resulted in a pretty awesome, extensive characterization of the type of Love that’s representative of Everything:

Undying, ever-expanding, deepening, soul-stirring, all-encompassing, once-in-a-million-lifetimes, written-in-the-stars, head-over-heels, heartlifting, permasmile-inducing, sparkle-in-the-eyes, tingly-all-over, awe-inspiring, perpetually electrifying, knows-no-limits, mind-blowing, off-the-charts, beyond-belief, perfection-surpassing, elevating and energizing, mutually mesmerizing, constantly steamilicious, spellbinding, laws-of-physics-defying, limitations-of-language-proving, absolutely positively Ahhhhmazing❤️, Schmoopilicious, shout-it-from-the-rooftops, ever-rejuvenating, way-better-than-Nicholas Sparks-novels, ever-yummilicious, Everything/Forever, if-we-could-bottle-it-we’d-be-trillionaires, über-profound, astoundingly magical, pulse-quickening, must-have-more, utterly breathtaking, beyond-all-measure, ever-blissful True Love!

“Seinfeld” fans may have taken notice of “Schmoopilicious” above. It’s my conjoining of the term “Schmoopie” from the absolutely hysterical “Soup Nazi” episode of that phenomenal series with “delicious.”

This is an example of what’s possible when it comes to imagining the Love of your wildest dreams. My experience of Everything, to which the asterisk in the post’s title refers, exceeds my wildest dreams by leaps and bounds. Individual results are likely to vary, but be equally astounding.

I’m constantly humbled and profoundly grateful to be enjoying Everything. And I wholeheartedly encourage you to do the same. Is it really as easy as dreaming it and visualizing it, and being unwilling to settle for anything less? All I can say is that it since it worked for me there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever it shouldn’t work for you.

Know who you are and where you’re going in life (both of these are essential, since the more precisely they’re defined, the better you embody someone else’s Everything), then define your relationship Everything and unfailingly manifest it. That’s the only way to make it happen.

 

 

The Two Basic Reasons Relationships Don’t Result in Everything

So you’ve met a phenomenal person you’re quite romantically excited about and vice-versa, and things are off to a strong start. While there are infinite possible ways to meet and begin a relationship, once underway there are only two possible eventual outcomes: you either end up together forever, enjoying Everything, or you don’t.

While there can be myriad variations of and details associated with “you don’t”–all those whys and why nots–there really are only two underlying scenarios that can lead to that outcome. From the guy’s perspective, they are:

Wrong girl, Right time

Wrong girl, Wrong time

Completing the spectrum of scenarios that either lead to Everything or don’t, from the standpoint of a guy seeking his Everything, the desired outcome is obviously:

Right girl, Right time

Anyone who thinks in a symmetrical/completist manner may wonder if a possible variation is missing on the non-Everything side, namely Right Girl, Wrong Time–the culturally ingrained “the one who got away.”

There isn’t. Quite simply, if you don’t wind up together in a lifelong relationship characterized by True Love, she was not the Right Girl for you, period. No matter that you were together for a few years, were married, have children together, etc. She is not the one who got away. The Right Girl does not “get away.” In other words, having your Right Girl is fully synonymous with having your relationship Everything. Except in the case of an untimely passing, one cannot have had Everything.

Each of the two non-RR scenarios has variations:

  • In WR, you could realize she’s not your Everything, or she could realize you’re not her Everything. Or both of those things could happen. This could occur soon after the start of a new relationship, or after a lot of water’s gone under the bridge. In either case, you are ready for your Everything—she’s just not it.
  • In WW there are a few permutations, from her being the wrong girl at the wrong time from your perspective to the opposite, to a mix of those.

RR is quite straightforward. It is, simply, Everything in both directions, i.e. True Love. Crack out the Cristal and toast to your mutual good fortune!

Zooming in a bit on the concept of Wrong time, there can obviously be a range of considerations that make the timing component unfavorable. You or she could be dealing with a health issue, an emotionally all-consuming family situation, a period of intense financial difficulty (this characterized my situation for several years, during which, in addition to having scant resources for dating, I also questioned the likelihood of an RR situation arising for me). It also sometimes happens that you meet a potential soulmate while either you or she isn’t entirely unattached, relationship wise.

For guys, it should be fairly evident that the most difficult scenario is the version of Wrong Girl, Right Time where the sense that she’s not the right girl comes from her, not from you. Regardless of the specifics of a given WR situation, though, the result can be a dynamic where you, she, or both of you are biding time, i.e. hanging onto what you can of the relationship while you, she, or both of you keep an eye out for what’s next. We’ll cover the perils of biding time in a future post.

While the WR and WW scenarios are sometimes easily identifiable, or manifest quickly, it can also take time for what you thought/hoped was a RR relationship to resolve into either WR or WW. This can take mere weeks…or decades. Basically, those of us looking for Everything may view new relationships through RR-colored lenses–we so very much want to find our Everything!–especially in cases where we haven’t precisely defined the nature of the Everything we seek.

Similarly, RR can also take time to congeal. In cases where RR becomes the outcome, sometimes you may know it in your heart of hearts from early on but that awareness is not as quick in coming for her, vice-versa, or you both arrive at that conclusion, and not always simultaneously, after being together for a while. There’s no preferred path to RR. Here, as in most things, results trump process.

While the “True Love at first sight” version of RR is clearly the most unabashedly romantic and whimsical, RRs arising from that rather rare circumstance are functionally no different than RRs that take a bit more time to manifest.

Since Everything can’t be forced, it’s best not to over-analyze your relationship to the point where you suck all enjoyment out of the present moment, and/or apply undue pressure on your potential soulmate, yourself, and the situation in general. Because by doing so you run the risk of turning a potential RR into a WR. Instead, be true to yourself and follow your heart. If she’s your Everything, and vice-versa, this approach will yield positive results.

image credit: http://www.sharonebardavid.com