On Relationships: An invitation to men and women
I posted this meme on my Instagram page (Instagram.com/candacefolden) and my Facebook page (Solstice Counseling and Consulting, PLLC) about a month ago. I was blown away by the number of comments and private messages people of both genders sent me expressing how painful their relationships are, and how malnourished they feel at a very deep level. Since I am on the front lines of relationship struggles with my clients, it feels important to start a conversation about what I see because most of us want the experience of romantic love.*
In my practice, I work with individuals as well as couples. And let me tell you, men and women alike are as confused about why their relationships are falling apart, or why they can’t find a sustainable love at all. Both genders are hungry for connection and intimacy, but keep falling short of the mark. Many people are simply giving up because they are so tired of being hurt, disappointed, and betrayed by love again and again. They tell themselves they are fine on their own, that they don’t need a partner, or their life is complete as is. And this breaks my heart.
Because what I sense most of all with my clients, and in the collective, is a profound loneliness. A pushing away and burying of the very yearning at the core of their existence. The aching to be seen by a beloved, to fill the empty heart space that wants someone to share their life with.
I have some thoughts about why this has happened.
The feminine-that beautiful emotive, receptive, inviting, connected energy that exists in all of us regardless of gender- has not been cherished and revered in this largely patriarchal society for quite some time. Instead, She has been forced to go underground as countless women learned that their true value is what they can provide and produce, not how they are connected to themselves and the Divine.
And women have been excellent students.
Women today are amazingly self-sufficient. Independent. Unerringly competent. We don’t “need” a man. We can pay our own bills, hire someone to fix the dishwasher ( or fix it ourselves) and change a flat tire faster than a pit crew. We can take ourselves out for a nice dinner and love our own company. We can have our own orgasms, and raise our children as single mothers. Hell, we don’t even need a man to have a child at this point.
Don’t get me wrong. Honoring our independence is a part of self love. But many women have taken it too far. We have unintentionally made men somewhat obsolete and have no energetic, emotional or physical space for them in our self- sufficient lives. We have become so good at doing it all and taking care of ourselves that men are a side dish, if they are even on our plate at all.
And we have paid a very high price for this. I can’t tell you the number of women who have shame around their desire for romantic love. They should not want it if they are happy with themselves. They make themselves wrong for wanting someone to come home to, and for not wanting to do life alone. The yearning has become a dirty little secret nobody wants to talk about. But that does not make it go away.
Yep, it’s important to be happy with who you are. Absolutely. But it is equally as important to own your craving for a lover, if that is what you truly desire. It is not weak or stupid to want to be held by a Beloved. Wanting to share love does not mean abdicating the strength to face life independently.
Ladies, we have made our hearts impenetrable because we have had to in this masculine driven world. But for most women I know, the armor is cracking and light is seeping in. And this is wonderful news. Why?
Because here’s what I know about men. They want to love us well. They really do. But they have no idea in most cases how to do that. Patriarchy has splintered them off as well. They hear things almost from birth like “Man up” “Boys don’t cry” and so they are forced to disown their feminine essence to survive in this culture.
When their partner comes to them wanting comfort, nurturing, emotional support or any other “feminine” thing, they freeze. Or shut down. Or turn away. You can’t give to another to what you have not allowed your self to have. And they have not been allowed to have it.
The end result is that both people in the partnership feel incredibly starved.
Men, we need you to heal your unseen feminine so you can handle the full force of ours. It’s how we are going to feel safe and trust you. We have felt the pain of your turning away when we need you most for far too long. We need you to cherish our big wide open hearts. And as relationship coach John Wineland says, we need you to be on purpose in your life, to lead us places that we can’t go on our own.
Women, we need to honor our feminine energies in any way possible. Sacred dance. Pleasure. Movement. Creativity. When we lead with our masculine, we push away the very men who want nothing more than to be there for us in beautiful ways. We need to get out of the way and let them lead. There is no space for them to step into that role if we are already there. And we need to gift them with our expressiveness, our receptivity, our connection to life, our inspiration and invitations. And it is a gift even though we have been told it’s our curse.
Let’s stop blaming each other ok? Let’s stop stereotyping men as bumbling, incompetent idiots, and women as needy clinging vines just because they expresses a feeling. Deep down, we are on the same team. We each want a love that feeds our souls and nourishes our wounded hearts. The desire for that kind union is the most noble and vulnerable pursuit I know.
*of course, I can not speak for all men and all women. This is reflective of my own personal and professional experience.