Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"You should stop bugging me."

One of the pleasures of strolling around Manhattan is getting to eavesdrop on other people's conversations. Sometimes it's a long dialogue on the subway, or sometimes it's just hearing snippets of an argument while passing on the sidewalk. The latter happened for me yesterday on 49th street.

I was heading down the street and passed a young man and woman who appeared to be engaging in a round of fooling around / horseplay, with a mixture of affection and anger mixed in. He kept trying to touch her, she laughed while pulling away from him and complaining, "You should stop bugging me!" Yet every time she pulled away, she moved right back toward him.

Was I seeing a couple in love? A couple in hate? A couple in heat? Or some combination thereof? It occurred to me that in so many relationships these elements are intertwined. Clearly she carried "shoulds" about him not bugging her, then did every thing in her power to make sure he would bug her. I was reminded how common it is for so many to use "shoulds" to complain about their significant other, then use their behavior to ensure that the action continues.

Is this a "healthy" way to be with another person? I certainly can't say what works for anyone else, but it sure doesn't seem like a peaceful way to me. My next book discusses how "should-less" relationships can bring fun, peace, and enjoyment to every day interactions, as opposed to stress, attack, and annoyance. Which one do you prefer?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

If You Love Me You "Should"...

Be Monogamous

On the surface of it, this seems like a common expectation, isn't it? After all, in most marriage ceremonies there is usually a line involving "forsaking all others until death do you part." It makes sense that when an idea is so deeply ingrained culturally that it would play out in the form of "shoulds" in individual relationships.

The only problem with this is that a large amount of unions/partnerships are not monogamous in practice. From Elliot Spitzer, to Bill Clinton, to Matthew Broderick, to John F. Kennedy, to Brad Pitt, we are constantly being reminded that monogamous long-term relationships may in fact not be the norm.

What if there was a way to have an open and honest conversation with your wife/husband/significant other/partner about the realities of monogamy, without the "shoulds?" Wouldn't it be great for two people in a relationship to come together and honestly communicate preferences, wants, and desires, without judgments and without shame? Many couples are in fact doing more of this, and navigating the murky waters of "cheating" vs. "having an agreement."

In order to successfully do this, each person must drop their "shoulds." They must challenge what they've learned about relationships from their families, friends, culture, society, and be willing to have a possibly uncomfortable conversation with the person they care about. Remember, none of us were born into this world declaring, "I should find one person and only have sex with them the rest of my life." This is a learned belief, and one that seems to be in conflict with reality for many relationships.

Instead of judging that, talk about it. The more a couple communicates, the less likely there will be lying or deceit. The more they talk about their feelings, the less likely they will experience feeling betrayed and hurt. And wouldn't that be so much easier ?

Friday, May 15, 2009

So given that we have countless books and "experts" out there trying to help people succeed in relationships, why do we keep screwing it up?

The answer to this is that our own thoughts and belief systems have put up barriers to our ability to bond and connect with others. More precisely, it is our “shoulds” that lead us to feel alienated from each other, angry at one another, isolated, and afraid. “Shoulds” are rigid expectations that we carry around, usually outside of our immediate awareness. But if you have ever had a relationship that suffered because you judged your partner’s behavior, acted out of anger against someone, or even because you carried any kind of grudge, then you have experienced the consequences of carrying such “shoulds,” and this is the right blog for you.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Should-less Relationships

Relationships don’t have to be THAT hard. We are all walking around on this earth trying to connect with others, trying to build meaningful and satisfying bonds with others. But for so many there is something getting in the way of this experience, something preventing individuals and couples from having the joyful life they want and deserve.

You would think it would be different by now. After all, humans have been roaming the planet for billions of years, SOMEHOW we’ve made it this far. We now have more ways than ever to stay connected: cell phones, e-mails, text messaging, access to travel. Go to any bookstore and you’ll find dozens of books which instruct people how to stay in fulfilling relationships. Turn on any daytime talk show and you’ll see “experts” sharing how to have better communication, more sex, happier unions. More and more American states and worldwide governments are recognizing same sex marriages and as valid and legally sanctified unions. Given all this, why do we keep screwing things up?

This next major topic for this blog will be navigating the waters of should-less relationships. This is a course many have traveled, but never quite like this. Please keep reading for observations, tips, and strategies for making all your relationships free of destructive "shoulds."

Kassie DePaiva!

The final interview from the Rock the Soap Cruise is up! Getting a chance to sit down and chat with an actress whose work I have admired for 16 years was truly amazing. Most of these questions were asked in a starstruck haze, but I encourage you to read them for yourself here.

What is that strange book in Kassie DePaiva's hands? Click on the picture to enlarge it and find out!

I am really proud of how these interviews turned out and hope you have enjoyed them too. After this, back to Should-less meanderings on day to day life!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hetrick-Martin Institute!

Hey Folks! First of all I must thank the 8 wonderful readers of the this blog who check-in even when I'm not updating regularly. You rock! If you're brave enough, tell me who you are!

I am so honored to have been asked to be part of this event on Saturday, May 9, here in NYC. The Hetrick-Martin does tireless work every day to help gay youth choose a healthy should-less path in life. If you're in the area, please stop by!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Melissa Claire Egan!

When I interviewed Melissa Claire Egan (Annie Novak Lavery on All My Children) on board the Rock the Soap Cruise, all I kept thinking was, "courage." This young woman has the courage to reach inside herself and expose the deepest parts of her soul every day in front of her audience and in front of her peers. She was even brave enough to stand up to the Soap Shrink and my issues with the portrayal of the psychiatric profession on her show! Please press here to learn how she brings curiosity, depth, and humor to the role we've all come to love.