The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"It's not my problem..."

A lady friend, “Janet”, has been without a serious relationship for the twenty-plus years I’ve known her.  Never been married.   Janet recently began to date a gentleman in his 60’s (as she is) who she was concerned about—apparently his sex drive is quite low.

They are going away together for a weekend, and she again repeated a complaint that he was not…hmmm…well, “male” enough in terms of being aggressive, initiative, sexual.  They’re “working things out” she said, but it’s frustrating.

I suggested that they might want to go into counseling together.  Janet rejected the idea: “I’m not the one with the problem” she said.


There are at least two reasons why I think this statement is tone-deaf and dishonest.

1) If she is attempting to work out a relationship with him, then their sexual interactions involve both of them.  A coach or therapist can give specific “prescriptions” to two people for games, conversations, communications, environments and so forth that would be very difficult to give to a single person, who then has to go and negotiate the instructions with his/her partner.

2) She’s not with this guy by coincidence.  Or by someone else’s choice.   This is her choice, the best she can do with the resources and options she has.  In other words, he is a mirror.    She isn’t able to extend her femininity to attract a man with more masculine force than this one has (at least, not one without serious drawbacks in other arenas).  Relationships are a chance to see ourselves in a mirror, and if we accept that, we get to grow.

If Janet doesn’t see this, and use this as an opportunity to see herself…if she cannot see herself as energetic twin with the man who is trying to love her, I fear that this, like all her other relationships, will end in ashes, and she will go on.  And the tragedy is that I don’t believe she REALLY doesn’t think it has anything to do with her.

Rather, she is too afraid to look at who she really is.  Afraid that if she looks deeply she will find something so hideous and broken that she will lose hope.  Better to live in the illusion that “it’s someone else.”

She is not my client, she is my friend.  So there are things I don’t say.  I was not invited.
But if she did ask,  her answer is to love herself so deeply that it overflows, and then be generous with the overflow.  With the advantage of already being filled with love, she could afford to go to couples counseling whether or not she was serving him…or them…or herself. 

And from that position, I honestly believe, she has a chance.

As it is…all I can do is love her, and hope for the best. 

But frankly…that’s not a lot of hope.



Anonymous said...

Fascinating and informative, but I'm really surprised there's not been a peep from you concerning 12 Years a Slave.

Terri Allain said...

"There is no need to look outside yourself for love. In your heart is all the love you need. If you are generous with your love, everyone will love you and you will never be alone. Being generous with love will make you happy. If you're selfish with your love, you will always be alone, and there is no one to blame but you." The mastery of love -Don Miguel Ruiz