From Chance to Wisdom
In my experience, there are four agreements that are necessary as foundations for any healthy relationship regardless of the context - meaning it doesn't matter if it's a professional context, if it's friendship, or if it's sexual, intimate, and romantic.
In fact the more intimate it is the more important I think these agreements are, but unfortunately - and paradoxically - the less likely someone is to actually be willing to have the conversation that’s required. That's for many reasons, most of them self-esteem issues are at their source and fear-based.
Let me explain: If we are attached to the hope that someone will like us, to the degree that it becomes a need for their approval and therefore induces fear in ourselves, and/or we have scarcity around whether or not we will actually find somebody who is a fit, or whether or not we can find someone else if a relationship does not work out, we have a tendency to overlook things that we know are important to address because if the person doesn't like us then we may take that personally in the case of a self-esteem issue, or we don't want to set up any barriers to them liking us or connecting with us.
But in doing so, we skip over critical foundational steps - and virtually assure we end up with someone who is not a fit or find ourselves in a conflict without the agreement reality as to how we find our way out of it and get back into connection.
So we ignore wisdom in favor of the immediacy of false connection - so as to not "rock the boat". At its worst, of course, this borders on codependency and external validation and that a path that if you continue down that road leads to frustration, heartache, and worse.
However if we have an abundance mindset - a certainty that there are plenty of people out there who might be a fit for us - and fit is more important than not being alone - we understand that it's easier to find somebody who's a fit that it is to deal with the frustration and challenges and eventual heartbreak of someone who is not a fit, and we are internally validated in terms of our esteem for ourselves, then we choose wisdom over chance.
The reality is we are actually choosing wisdom and communication over something much worse than chance: predictably negative results.
When do I lay out these agreements? On the first date.
Some people may fret at this moment - and they are worried it is too late - they already skipped over these agreements and find themselves in the quagmire of shoulds and implicit agreements and unstated yet clear expectations you never agreed to. That can be an icky and frustrating place.
But don’t fret: you can transform any relationship - or “reboot” or - or start over from scratch and begin to date someone again - you can use the agreements as a way to transform friendships - I have. I have used the agreements and the conversation around them to bring years-long friendships back to life.
We’ll talk about skillful means - how most effectively to do that - after we lay out the agreements and flesh them out fully.
Four Foundational Agreements For Healthy Relating
- We tell the truth and we hear the truth and we value truth over comfort
- We do not hold anyone accountable to agreements they have not made
- If we are upset, we make a request (for a new agreement)
- We accept that we are responsible for our own experience and our own emotions.
- Make no assumptions
- Don’t make anything up
Let’s examine each of these agreements fully.
Agreement 1: Truth Over Comfort
The first agreement is that we tell the truth and we hear the truth and we value truth over comfort.
The “comfort” might be our own, or it may be the comfort of others.
Here is an excellent standard: if we are afraid to say it - or afraid that somebody can’t hear it or might take it personally - that’s probably the very thing that should be said.
And as I am sure you have experienced, the longer we delay the telling of that truth, the bigger it becomes in our mind and the worse it will be when we tell them - for the relating, for our internal anxiousness around sharing it, and for them when they find out how long we delayed; telling the truth brings relief for all without delay. There may be broken agreements to clean up - something we will address later on in this book, but that aside, telling the truth should increase intimacy and connection.
Hearing the truth - if done openly and spaciously - always will.
Telling the truth is not an excuse to be a jerk.
There is a popular theme in some circles where someone is a jerk (that is a technical term) and they finish it off (or begin it) with “I am just speaking my truth”.
That is not in alignment with the spirit of this rule - because most often “speaking your truth” is just being self-indulgent. The spirit of this rule is to increase intimacy and to increase connection. Thus, we want to tell the truth with skillful means - meaning in a way that honors both ourselves, yet delivered in a way the other person is best able to receive it. As well as caring for the relating or the relationship - the 3rd entity that is created by the synergy of the two of you.
Why is this so important? Relationships begin to die in the unsaid.
The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence; the grass is always greener where it is tended to, cared for, and nurtured.
If there is enough unsaid in the relationship, you are not even relating to the human in front of you anymore - you are relating to all the stuff you have not said, or do not think you can say - and that shows up as being distracted, shut down, simply not present, or simply being silent. So instead of relating to the dynamic and vibrant human in front of you, you are simply in your head about … all the things.
That build-up - that residue - kills true intimacy.
And yet, telling the truth and hearing the truth are - at the very least - very different sets of capacities.
That can not be overstated - and as I have said over and over again, communication skills are physical skills that take practice - and these component skills definitely take a lot of practice.
To start with, telling the truth can take a lot of courage. Hearing the truth takes openness and, at times, a willingness to hear feedback and truths that are difficult to hear.
And the list goes on - on both sides.
But imagine telling the truth about something - something you are scared to share about yourself - and having your partner thank you, express gratitude for trusting them to share it with them, and acknowledge you for the courage that it took and to express that they trust you even more now - and to do it without judgment - with love and acceptance.
One of the things I have noticed about the current conversation around masculine/feminine dynamics and masculinity, in general, is just how threatened some men teaching polarity seem to be by certain things.
Notice I did not call them leaders - just people teaching these dynamics. There is a flavor to the way they teach it that reminds me of a born-again Christian who was recently baptized, or someone in a 12-Step program in their first few months of sobriety. Or a recent convert from one religion to another, or like somebody engaged in partisan politics who feels that the other side is evil even when they agree with their proposal. Or somebody who has recently found a transformational path - be it meditation or a community or a weekend workshop - and find it to quench a thirst that they've had for decades - and can’t stop talking about it and are hounding you to go.
This is understandable. As humans when we find a solution to a problem that we suffered from that may not have even been articulated previously we engage in it with a certain zeal.
The problem is there is an even greater need for clear, powerful, centered, principled men and the masculine these days. Feminine women are craving it - and the world is crying out for principled leadership, a commitment to truth, and is longing for depth.
And that last part is the real challenge here.
Make no mistake: men who are two-dimensional in their approach to masculine-feminine dynamics [meaning they lack depth, understanding of context, and when to powerfully lead and when to be more in flow, and the ability to calibrate to what is needed when and with whom] are the loudest voices in this domain. But you can engage in polarity without being polarizing.
You can be clear without being a dogmatic fundamentalist. We are all evolving all the time. What is the nature of personal evolution? The increasing capacity to take on an ever-increasing number of perspectives. To understand. To be able to argue from the other side and only then to show why you disagree with it. To honor it and then offer a better approach. It’s clear that these dogmatic, fundamentalists are in reaction. They are in fear. You can tell by their reactivity and their deflection. You can tell by their lack of tolerance for dissent.
You can tell by the things they are triggered by: Prince, conversations around gender identification, and their assertion that the trappings - the costume - of masculinity [beard and boots] are the answer. If they were really certain of their own internal masculine core - what I am calling a Column of Iron and Light - they would not be threatened by any of these things.
They would know it does not matter what someone wears. Don’t mistake reactivity and contraction for clarity and warriorship.
They are not offering a new, emergent path. Rather they are offering a 50s style approach because it makes them feel safer in chaotic times. That is also intrinsic to the nature of evolution: when we are under pressure, we contract and regress. We go back to stable structures that give us comfort. But that is not what we need right now. What we need is a new path that provides a better option that addresses the current chaos, and provides clarity in the face of it without denying or deflecting the realities of our current, complex times.
What we need are more Evolutionary Gentlemen.
Continue with Part 1 of The Problem With Most Male Polarity Coaches »here«
Part 1 of The Problem With Most Male Polarity Coaches is back »here«.
Part 2 is below.
Recently I have peeked into male-oriented polarity groups and I’ve been researching how a lot of men are coaching men around relating to women in all-male containers.
I am going to make some sweeping generalizations here, and I know not all men’s groups and coaches will fall into this category, but the overwhelming majority I have seen falls into what I will talk about. And I will explain why I think they are making some grave mistakes.
First, they are addressing a real problem. The problem that has women lamenting “where have all the real men gone?” for at least the last decade. The problem of the lack of polarity. The problem of milquetoast intimate relating between men and women. There are many things in our cultural evolution that have led to this problem - one I have been examining and hearing about for over a decade now with some intentionality - but I’ll get into the “why” we find ourselves here at another time. For now, suffice it to say they are addressing a real problem. That, and men who feel isolated or guilty simply for being men. So there are men attempting to regain their masculine core.
But what I have noticed - by far - are men giving men coaching that has them be liked by other men. Not be more effective with feminine yet empowered women. It’s as if they are more comfortable high-fiving in the locker room than they are gazing into a women’s eyes while you make slow, deep, connected love to them.
The themes I see are these:
- Women are basically children and behave like children and you have to treat them that way
- Women “can’t be trusted” because they have feelings that are transient that make agreements or understandings fluid and - the one that finally had me say “enough” and write this:
- At her worst, she is broken and at her best, she is fractured. No matter how many accolades, successes, or children - a man is what makes her feel complete.
Frankly, it borders on misogyny.
My basic reaction to this is: “Wow. How do you say you date young women with low self-esteem to make yourself feel superior without saying you date young women with low self-esteem to make yourself feel superior?”
There is a lot to unpack there, but to men who buy into this sh*t: don’t listen to men who have clearly only dated low-quality, still in trauma, or immature women who have low self-esteem.
These opinions not only reveal more about those men who think these things but also, reveal a lot about the kind of woman he has dated and continues to attract than it does about women in general.
These aren't insights. They just reveal low consciousness. Average mindsets. Mediocre relating and below-average relationships.
But if you say any crap congruently enough, plenty of people will buy it. Especially if they are lost and looking for direction. And in the echo chamber of man-on-man polarity coaching, there is a lot of crap. But are they effective with women? Are they having fulfilling relationships - regardless of how long? Or are they just plowing through one-night stands and getting high-fives from their “bros”.
Humans rise to the expectations we hold for them, communicate to them, and if we are developed enough and aligned enough within ourselves, we become a truing element - we don’t even need to declare a boundary usually because it is woven into the fabric of our being. It is an outgrowth of self-respect.
Just as when a woman says “all men ever want is sex”. First, if she believes that, she will attract those kinds of men. Basic Law of Attraction stuff - and then her confirmation bias will make it seem like the ultimate reality.
Similarly, if men think all women need a man to feel complete, can’t take care of themselves, and are basically childlike and/or broken, they will notice, attract, and continue to date those types of women. Basic Law of Attraction stuff - and then his confirmation bias will make it seem like the ultimate reality.
Part 2 of The Problem With Most Male Polarity Coaches is back »HERE«.
Part 3 is below.