Relationships In The New Millennium
By Dr. Pat Allen
The Uncommitable Man", The Gold Digging Woman","Careers vs Home &
Family". These and many more statements are being flung about as if some 'new reality' were taking over the planet concerning relationships. After 25 years of counseling men and women in straight, gay and lesbian romances - before, during or after the dust settles - I have come to the realization that there is nothing 'new'! There is simply an unwillingness to follow the 'old' common-sense ideas about dating, mating, and relating!
Mother Nature has more to say about relationships than many of you are willing to acknowledge. Books are coming out weekly espousing neuropepticle bonding, addictive sexual and otherwise patterned behavior, brain chemistry and neurological structures, which impact sexual choice. In the past, churches and governments controlled much in the way of mating and marriage. Today, at least in the western cultures, romance and individual choice has taken over the process resulting in happiness for some and misery for others.
Eric Fromn, in his classic book "The Art of Loving", speaks of four requirements for loving skills: (1) it must be a priority in your life. Today men and women don't 'need' to mate and marry; it is only a preference. Men can cook, clean and live alone. Women, thanks to courageous leaders in the women's liberation movement, can earn a living and lead independent lives alone. The 'proverbial itch' for sex can be scratched safely without benefit of marriage. We are now free to choose how, when, who, where, and why we date, mate, and perhaps marry. All of this spontaneity, I believe, has led us to chaos.
Another Eric Fromn premise, (2) discipline confronts the chaos directly. Discipline is either externally or internally applied. In the 'old traditional days' it was externally applied with sanctions, civil and religious, in support of direct confrontation. Today with few limitations, internal discipline must govern decisions, but which guru, preacher, teacher, talk show host, or quasi therapist has the answers? As a rather small fish "Pop Shrink", I have my own way of putting in my 25 cents worth. I believe that we are all bound by Mother Nature when it comes to picking a sex partner or life partner.
As long as two thirds of males are naturally polygamous, and two thirds of females are naturally monogamous, the battle of the sexes will rage on until women are more committed to themselves as females than entertaining men sexually, hoping that somehow a man will be more like a woman sexually. Uncommitability is more a woman's problem than a man's.
In "The Art of Loving" is (3) the exchange of respect and cherishing. Respect for one's ideas, wants, thoughts, goals, and performance, along with a genuine cherishing of one's physical well-being, feelings, and need to be loved and empathized with, are basic needs for everyone from childhood through old age. The rub comes in the terms 'equally' and/or 'equitably'. If each partner wishes to be 'equally' respected and 'equally' cherished, a competitive war of needs may take over the dance of love.
In a convenient relationship, i.e. one in which each partner is equally respected and cherished, there must be some distance based on pragmatic reality. Two people can 'equally' disco but they cannot 'equally' waltz. A waltz is much more intimate but also much more dependent on each partner sacrificing some personal freedoms for the sake of the dance.
A covenant relationship is one in which one person is designated the respected leader, either because of personal skills or because the significant other doesn't want the job. Likewise, the cherished follower is designated as such because of their temperament needs or because the significant other doesn't want the job as much.
Unlike the past where women were automatically categorized as the cherished, helpless, dependent followers of the respected protector provider male, today either men or women may lead or follow depending on their personal negations concerning time allocations, space responsibilities, money handling and sexual or non-sexual play needs. Equity exchanges rather than equality is the new way of relating.
Last but not least (4) concentration is a keystone in the art of loving. I believe that the ONLY way we know we love ourselves or anyone else is by the commitments we are willing to make and keep! The daily, consistent, attentive keeping of all agreements requires a sacrifice of narcissistic ego that many are unwilling to make. If you do your half in all your loving relationships, at least you know you CAN LOVE and you are bound to find your lovable soulmate one day!
Carl Jung, the great Swiss analyst, believed in spiritual connection between the feminine (anima) soul in a man and the masculine (animus) soul in a woman. The animus anchoring the anima by saying 'NO' to immoral or unethical requests. A virtuous woman inspires her man to the best he can be. The anima within a man needs to express itself through his loving generosity, protectiveness and cherishing, or he will wallow in self-gratification as a little boy forever.
The waltz of love between the yin (feminine) and the yang (masculine) energizes and empowers both people, body and soul. Masculine energy gives to get back. Feminine energy receives and gives back.
In today's free choice, energy exchanges between men and women or men and men or women and women, only awareness and action can avoid competition and conflict. Chemistry is given by nature; compatibility is given by life circumstances, but in the communication of thoughts and feelings, wants and not wants, equity love can be exchanged in the new millennium.
Pat Allen, Ph.D., MFT, is a psychotherapist and counselor. She is the author of "Conversational Rape", "Staying Married and Loving It", and "Getting To I Do," as well as the cassette "Training for Effective Living", and the audio-video album "Lifetime of Love". Weekly Seminars are held on Mondays - Century City Playhouse, 10508 West Pico Blvd., Century City 7 to 8:30 P.M.; Wednesdays - Costa Mesa Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue 7 to 8:30 P.M. Upcoming 3-hour seminars are scheduled for Friday, June 11 at 6:45 P.M. "Getting To I Do" and Friday, June 25 at 6:45 P.M. "How To Get What You Want From Your Man Without Asking". For more information, call or write 3355 Via Lido, Suite 205, Newport Beach, CA 92601, (800) 496-3983. http://www.patallen.psynet.com
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