I've led a bohemian lifestyle all my life. Lived in Japan teaching English for 10 years, tried to repatriate to homeland USA, but did not find a niche, now teaching English in Korea. I have had some serious girlfriends and dated, but all never produced good results. Now I think that maybe I have a phobia of making a commitment to one girl because of a fear of failure and regret. So, although I feel like committing and settling down, the reality is much different. I have been single all my life and have learned to live alone, its not very much fun, but its simple and easy. I want to learn how to make a commitment to a girl for love and marriage and overcome my fears of failure, regret and resentment. Is there some proper training with which I can learn to live with a female partner? How can I feel good about committing my life in a marriage relationship?
Thank you for a delightful Valentine's Day question. It is the age-old question of how to keep your independence so you can self-actualize while being in a loving, committed relationship.
The word marriage, in its traditional form, brings up images of control, self-sacrifice and boring lifestyles. It also brings up images of Prince Charming and Cinderella living a life of happiness that he and she quickly discovers--does NOT exist!
Is it possible to be yourself and allow your partner to be free to be herself? What does it take to surrender to love and trust that she will love you for who you are--a creative, free spirit? Is it even possible to be true to yourself and your soul and live in a committed relationship?
Checking out the spiritual leaders, such as Jesus and Buddha, the answer is "No." Even Gandhi thought it best to say goodbye to his marriage even though he was already committed. He did not think he could fulfill his marriage responsibilities and fulfill his purpose in life.
However, I never agreed with the idea that I had to give up my need for emotional love, physical love and sexual love in order to fulfill my purpose in life. After spending five years alone, healing my broken heart, I began to experience a deep desire that would not go away. My heart and solar plexus were opening and finally--I felt emotionally secure.
I began to feel an unbearable longing to connect in an intimate relationship with another human being. This deep human need seemed to be a longing from my soul. My desire to know, and to be known, was so strong and magnetic, I could not resist. This longing, pulled me toward a partner, even though I was afraid to surrender to love... once again.
It sounds as if you have not surrendered your heart, soul and body to love for the first time. So, let me tell you something that may help you let go of control so you can love freely and fully. When you surrender to love, you are surrendering to the divine love of the universe. You are not surrendering to another person.
Love is bigger than your current identity. It is scary to surrender to anything that is bigger and stronger than that which you think you are. This is why the ego cannot surrender to love. Your image ego will do everything it can to keep you in a state of control, which will keep you single forever.
The only part of you that can surrender is your heart. Your heart is the part of you that knows love, needs love, creates love and is love. However, your emotional self is afraid to love and be loved. In reality, there are some very good reasons for your fear.
The traditional relationship patterns you learned from your parents did not foster self-realization. Therefore, you are not sure you will be loved for who you are because this did not happen in your past relationships. As a result, you have a phobia of commitment and a fear of intimacy.
There is a bottom-line fear inside each of us that comes from our learning history. We are afraid that no one will love us for our real, authentic self. We think we have to be perfect and please the other person in order to be loved. This is not a surprise because we were trained to please others, take care of others and negate our own needs.
This old relationship model is based on a sexist value system in which one person takes care of the other. This unhealthy, relationship is called care-taking. It is also called a co-dependent relationship. Traditionally the woman takes care of the man and the children. Then in turn the children are taught to take care of their mother and father.
If you try to break out of this unhealthy, care-taking relationship pattern you are guilt tripped back into behaving, as "they want you to behave." "They" may be your parents, your religion or your government. If you leave your mother like the bohemian Jesus did, you are called, selfish and narcissistic.
This care-taking pattern has continued throughout the centuries keeping women and children trapped in a subservient position across the globe. However, care-taking is unhealthy for both people involved. Even if you are the one who is controlling the other person, you are weak. Look at the sexist societies where the men control the women. The men are insecure, frightened and terrified to lose control.
Men have yet to become conscious of the fact that they are subservient to the women in terms of real power. Real power is healthy energy flow, which makes one potent. Healthy energy flow does not occur in a care-taking relationship. Healthy energy flow occurs in a loving relationship where both people are free.
This care-taking pattern exists even in alternative lifestyles and same sex relationships. Therefore, it is not always gender based. In some families, the man is the primary caretaker. Let me define care-taking so it is clear exactly what this unhealthy relationship dynamic consists of and how it makes you weak. Care-taking has been given the name the "Messiah Complex" because it is based on thinking and acting like the other person cannot live without you. You act like the other person needs you to SAVE them and rescue them. I do not have room to explain all the dynamics.
The major point is the act of care-taking cripples the person being taken care of as well as the person who is doing the care-taking. A caretaker relates to her partner as if he is a victim. This is the reason the men who have been taken care of by their wives, end up being impotent, sick and puny.
The end result it that the two people are codependent and engulfed with each other. This means their energy fields are intertwined, weak and lack luster. They pull and push each other energetically. Neither person has a radiant energy field, so they are both crippled.
The analogy I like to use is, plants growing in flowerpots. Care-taking occurs when two people are trying to grow in the same flowerpot. To be healthy each person needs his or her own flowerpot. When two people live in their own flowerpot you have a healthy, loving relationship.
In summary, with care-taking you feel victimized and unable to fulfill your purpose in life. In a loving relationship, you feel empowered and able to enjoy your moments and self-actualize.
The care-taking model is based on control. Each person controls the other one. The woman controls the man by treating him like he cannot feed himself. The man controls the woman by demanding that she wait on him. As a result, both are weak.
The current divorce rate does not reflect an unhealthy movement. Instead, divorce in many cases is breaking up old unhealthy relationships patterns. Men and women are seeking new, healthy models of how to relate to each other. We need new ways of being in relationship to each other.
The new forms will come from alternative lifestyles such as your bohemian lifestyle. You and your future partner can create a committed, loving relationship that is not based on control and care-taking.
New relationships models are also coming from the gay and lesbian lifestyles. Psychological research since the 1970's has shown that lesbian and gay parents raise children who are more comfortable being who they are in the world. One of the reasons this is true is because the two adults relate more equally to each other than traditional relationships. Therefore lesbians and gay parents do not force their children into as much care-taking and guilt tripping as the traditional model.
Dr Abbie Goldberg author of 'Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children: Research on the Family Life Cycle' published by The American Psychological Association concludes, "Lesbian and gay parents divide up housework, paid work and child care more evenly. So they're modeling less traditional gender norms, more egalitarian."
If you want a relationship where both you and your partner can flourish, you need to relate equally to each other. Then you will create a healthy, loving relationship that meets your needs and encourages both of you to flourish.
An equal exchange of energy is satisfying and fulfilling. It does not define you or control you. It allows you to grow in your own flowerpot as you nourish, share and love each other.
"Is there some proper training with which I can learn to live with a female partner?"
Yes, you need to unlearn your old way of relating to women and learn to relate to women equally. The way to do this is to look inside your own heart and become emotionally secure so you can face your real fears.
Your emotional self knows your needs, desires and fears. Your real fears need to be faced so you can slowly and securely enter a loving relationship. You will do this as you open your solar plexus and heart. The process of opening your heart makes you emotionally secure enough to love with self-confidence.
"How can I feel good about committing my life in a marriage relationship?"
Commit yourself to personal growth and you will have many exciting, rich and real adventures. Surrender to love and trust the natural process of loving.
Follow your emotional self; he is the one who will fall in love and you will never be the same.
Action Steps to a Healthy, Loving Relationship
- Be realistic. Know that perfect people and perfect relationships do not exist. Real people have real relationships and they are good enough. Give up fantasies and self-righteousness any time you find yourself thinking unrealistically.
- Stop care-taking others and don't let others caretaker you. Become conscious and aware of when you are care-taking so you can stop these ego states from controlling you and ruining your life. Working with the source is extremely helpful. Get to know the patterns you learned from your parents and separate from these unhealthy patterns. Read the article, "How Not to Lose Yourself in a Relationship" in my free library.
- Be brave and creative. Continue to be a free spirit and create a loving, soul committed relationship where you and your partner can flourish. Break all the rules and enjoy the new ways of be-ing. Get in your own flowerpot and make sure she stays in hers.
- Become emotionally secure so it is not so scary to love fully and freely. Read past columns for more information about emotional maturity and ego elimination. Work with an emotionally mature professional who can teach you how to open your solar plexus and heart. I also recommend the self-help emotional guide "Opening the Heart," eBook and audio, which guides you inside your own heart and shows you how to become emotionally secure so you can face your real fears.
- Celebrate Valentine's Day with clear, clean love energy. Be grateful for anyone you love and for anyone who loves you-- purely and cleanly.
Finally, Kahlil Gibran describes how individual strength and mutual support can work so well together in a close relationship in these wonderful words from his book, The Prophet...
Then Almitra spoke again and said,
"And what of marriage, Master?"
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.
Coaching copyright © 2010 Dr. Doris Jeanette
Doris Jeanette, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist with 35 years of clinical experience helping couples, parents and children create healthy, loving relationships. It is never too late to start the journey inward to your emotional self so you can experience pure, clean love energy. Dr. Jeanette is available for phone and in-person sessions. In-person sessions are currently possible in Glenwood Springs, CO. To set up a session use contact information at