All in Relationships

To Have a Friend, You Must Be a Friend, Part 1

I’ve been thinking about friendship lately. I have a friend who, during an earlier phase of our friendship, would close their emails with “Your tenuous friend.” This simultaneously amused, reassured, and unsettled me.

That I was amused by their closing has to do with similarities in our sense of humor: we both love irony, paradox, and can even see humor in the tenuousness of life itself.

That they signed as “friend” was reassuring because I have harbored doubts about my worthiness as a friend since childhood. As children, we all have doubts about friendship because in that stage of life friendship is naturally tenuous—your friend today may ignore you tomorrow or even become your enemy. In that stage, we are just beginners but as we grow older most of us learn that we deserve to have good friends upon whom we can rely. This understanding is a natural by-product of healthy self-esteem: I am worthy of good friends, and I am a good friend. That they signed as friend told me that I am moving into a more adult sphere where I am willing to trust my friends and to be trustworthy to them.

That I was unsettled by having a “tenuous” friend also had to do with my feelings of unworthiness from childhood. Why can’t they just sign “Your friend,” instead of reminding me of my insecurities? Well, let me tell you something: if they had signed it “Your friend,” that would have unsettled me, too.

A View to Constellations - by Suzi Tucker

Pickpocketed from Wikipedia: “A constellation is a group of stars that forms an imaginary outline or pattern on the celestial sphere…”

A systemic constellation refers to a group of relationships that forms an imaginary pattern or outline on the internal and external landscape of a human system. Rather than an animal, the pattern we see tends to be in the shape of despair or disappointment or anger, loneliness, illness, poverty, grief, longing, lack of thriving …

This pattern appears imprinted on the family or organizational system as a whole or on the heart of an individual.

Systemic constellations are both surgical and encompassing; they invite change quickly and unfold over a long time. Bert Hellinger, the provocative founder of the work, has assembled thinking from the realms of philosophy, psychology, sociology, and art to try to understand where things fall apart — and how they can come back together no matter the amount of damage that has been done.

Vulnerability and Honoring “Thank You”

I have a friend who thanks me from time to time for something I’ve done for her. Her thank-yous seem sincere and heartfelt, maybe even earnest. I find it challenging to take them in, to really believe them. This is undoubtedly a vestige of learning as a child that I was worthless and always would be. This shaming was at the heart of my mother’s parenting approach. I imagine she learned it from her mother.

Sex and the Balance of Give and Take

One way for a couple to think about their relationship is for each partner to say of it, "There is me, there is you, and there is us." It’s in the us where the couple gets to create the relationship, including what role sex will play.

In almost any couple’s sexual relationship, one partner has more desire than the other. If this partner’s desire isn't reciprocated by the other, it puts the partner in a weakened position, facing the possibility of rejection anytime he or she makes an overture for sex. Bert Hellinger, the founder of Family System Constellations, sees the balance of give and take as one of the fundamental needs of any relationship, and it is especially important in the sexual realm.

From A to Z: Being Alpha, Becoming Zen

This morning in Men’s Yoga, I found myself resisting the teacher’s suggestions to quiet the mind by becoming more aware of the sensations in my body. The part of the brain responsible for these sensations is called the sensorimotor brain, and it is evolutionarily much older than our cognitive, “talking brain.” My sensorimotor brain keeps me breathing, enables me to walk without falling, lets me know when something is hot or cold, causes pain when some part of my body is broken or ailing, and tells me the beautiful woman next to me might just be interested in a little bit of romancing. 

Intimacy

My friend Frank (not his real name) answers his phone. He has this notoriously unreliable Bluetooth earpiece that he loves to use. Today it’s having a bad day. He sounds like a Martian. I tell him I’ll call back. When he answers the second time he’s no longer a Martian. I say, “Ah! It’s my old friend Frank – the one I know and love!” This joke brings him to tears because he’s not my old friend Frank, he’s the new Frank. The one who is fighting a disease that will shorten his life dramatically.
 

Compromise Is Not The Answer

Compromise is a way of reaching agreement in which each person gives up something that was wanted to end an argument or dispute. This may sound reasonable, but it rarely happens in intimate relationships. Say one of you wants to vacation at the beach and the other wants the mountains. A compromise might be to go to the beach this year and the mountains next year. But what if you really don’t like the beach? Do you go to the beach and sulk? Or, do you go and put on a happy face while silently letting your resentment grow?