Loving someone has no guarantees of having your “ideal partner” checklist to be fulfilled. In this heartwarming episode, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen talks about love, faith, marriage versus partnership, self-care, and commitment. The elements of an ideal relationship greatly vary from person to person, and Jason and Whitney re-evaluate what they want to get from love. They talk about finding faith again despite the ups and downs they have experienced in different relationships and how it has impacted their decisions in being with someone. Join Jason and Whitney in this engaging conversation that will teach you to choose wisely, love freely, and commit genuinely.
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Elements Of An Ideal Relationship
Life is bizarre, weird and it’s unfigure-outable, yet we’re obsessed with trying to figure life and ourselves out. It’s a never-ending abyss of clues and mysteries and questions and I feel like love is a huge part of that.
I have a question. Have you read the book, Selfie?
I haven’t yet because I forgot and it’s buried underneath three other books. I started reading a book by Waylon Lewis that I like called Things I Would Like to Do with You. It was sweet. I’m four chapters in.
When did you get that book?
Lauren is the young lady I’m dating. She gifted it to me and she wrote an incredible inscription in it.
I feel like when I read that book years ago and I know Waylon. He does incredible work with this brand, Elephant Journal. That book moved me as a woman. Jason is a very sensitive guy, but I can tell on your reaction that you may not be getting into it in the same way that I did. I think it’s because it was written by a man about love and as a woman, I read that thinking, “How amazing would it be to be loved in this way?” It was interesting when I read that because I know Waylon as a person. I’ve spent time with him. It’s always interesting when you read something written by someone you know. I know it’s real because I feel like that came deep from his heart. It wasn’t poetry inspired or a song inspired by something.
Sometimes you hear songs and then you find out later on that the song was written in collaboration with a few people and here you are attaching all this meaning to it. It might not even be what you thought that song meant. It sounded like a romantic song or might not be about the type of romance that you thought. Maybe it was written by multiple people that has nothing to do with their lives. It’s just them writing something fictional. I always feel sad about that, but I haven’t asked Waylon this. I get the impression that everything in that book is deep from his heart and his experiences, which is I think why it landed so well. I think it’s acceptable for you to be reading that book before Selfie. I also think it’s interesting that you are gifted by a woman. What context did she give you for why she gave you that book?
She’s written for Elephant Journal. She has articles that are published by Elephant Journal. I was familiar with her writing and she’s actually a tremendous writer. We were talking about writing a lot. We discussed writing a lot. She has great articles on her blog and on Elephant Journal.
What does that have to do with the book?
It was our mutual appreciation for Elephant Journal. We spend a lot of time discussing the nuances of relationships, masculine and feminine. We talk a lot about those things. Tangentially, I was aware he published this book, but I never investigated it. She wrapped it and she gave it to me as a gift. It was such a sweet gift.
It’d be so interesting if she would reveal more about why she gave it to you. I feel like when I read that, I thought, “I want a man to love me like this.” That’s a very vulnerable thing. I don’t know if I would feel brave enough to give that to a man because the whole book is about him and his relationships with women. I feel it’s a very vulnerable book, I feel. Don’t you think? Have you reached there yet?
No, I’m in chapter four or five now, but every night I will sit down and read and I find that his writing is very evocative. It literally takes me to a different place, which is interesting.
It’s very visual the way that he described things. It’s mostly based on his experiences in Boulder, Colorado. I always feel like I’m transported to Boulder when I read that book again.
The way he talks about love is done from a perspective that is important to shift the narrative around the assumptions of how men perceive love, romance and connection. I love the fact that he wrote this. For me, I was nodding my head about ways I could identify with him feeling like he was falling in love with someone but not saying it. He was appreciating the curvature of their mouth, the way that they would laugh or the way that they would chew food on a picnic. These nuances that I was nodding my head. These little almost indetectable, indecipherable things in someone when you’re deepening your connection. I don’t like falling in love, rising in love, expanding into love. You notice these cute little quirky things that endear you even deeper to a person.
In my experience, a lot of men do not express that or maybe it’s just been the men that I’ve dated except for Jason. You’d be the one exception when we dated. That was one of the things that drew me into Jason. I was coming out of a challenging relationship when Jason and I started dating in 2012. We have a whole episode on our relationship history. We dated and then we broke up and then we became friends. He’s dating someone else. We’ve dated multiple people since our breakup, which was in 2015. In that episode, Jason has a good knack for dates in a way that is even more precise than mine.
Jason and I were both coming out of relationships at the same time. We started developing our friendship. At first, we had been acquaintances for a while and then I was actually helping him with some social media content and strategy. That was August or September 2012 and then we saw each other in person at Expo East. You had just broken up with your girlfriend before Expo East and I was in the middle of my breakup. As soon as my relationship ended, it led very quickly into our relationship. I remember very distinctly that it felt so nourishing to me and unique the way that Jason would write me emails or send me text messages the things that he would say.
It’s similar to how Waylon writes. It makes sense that you are relating to that book. It’s also interesting to me, thinking back, you might be the only guy that I’ve dated that has expressed things in that way. It’s been so long since we dated, but I don’t know if anyone’s ever pointed out a lot of the nuances about me. I think that’s part of the reason that this book is so beautiful, but it’s also brings up sadness in me. If a man was feeling that way about me, it’d be nice to know it. I feel like a lot of men struggle to express in that way. That’s interesting to me, too. That’s why I was saying that as a woman, I feel like there’s a little bit of a different perspective, but maybe that’s me being a bit sexist.
The way that I read that book was almost like I was reading a fantasy, but knowing that it was written by someone real and not a made-up. This feeling of, “Will I ever experience someone who notices all the little details about me in his feelings and is open about them and vulnerable.” Is that even that important? That’s the other thing that we could dig into this episode. There’s so much we could explore as usual. One of the things that I’ve been thinking a lot about is the difference between what I think I want versus what is actually important and how that plays a role in relationships. Many of us, we’ve talked about expectations and at least one episode here and that ties into things like rejection and heartbreak.
We’re going through life trying to figure out what love means. A lot of us are only hearing it from more of a surface level or from a superficial level. This is part of what you want to talk about Jason is a lot of us hear through romantic songs. These romantic songs might not even be based on reality. They might be made up, movies and books and all these things. We see all these examples of love in the media. That’s probably where we get most of our ideas about love because when we look at love within people, we actually know, we usually see more of the flaws of it. Every once in a while, maybe we see someone that seems to have the perfect relationship. At least for me, every relationship that I know of has these challenges.
You listen to the radio and it sounds everything could be perfect and maybe it’s about finding the right person and the one and all of these different ideas. I’m at this point in my life where I’m unraveling a lot of those ideas about what love is and what I want. It doesn’t even matter what I want. Is what I want based on something important or is it based on some fantasy or programming that I’ve been given throughout my life? It’s fascinating to get to this point of examining it. If you think about it, many people go into relationships with checklists. They have this, “I want this, this and this.” Some people are able to go, “He doesn’t quite have this, but has this and that,” so that’s okay. The pros outweigh the cons. Some people will say, “I never thought that I’d want to be with someone like this before.” That’s still based on some list. Even if that person isn’t checking off the boxes.
The checklist thing is interesting. I’ve written a list of the qualities I want in a life partner three or four times in my adult life. It’s not like every year I refresh it. It’s more when I get inspired or want to reboot it, I’ll write a new list. Interestingly, I hadn’t looked at this list in a while. Now that I’m dating someone new, I revisited the list and I looked at it. I was thinking about what I know of her. It’s still very new. I’m looking at the list and going like, “Interesting.”
Meaning she is checking off the boxes or she’s not or the things that you want to change?Someone not taking care of themselves can be a turn-off. Click To Tweet
All of it.
In other words, it’s not exactly what you thought that you wanted.
In asking for what I want, there’s almost a hierarchy of importance. There are things I know in my heart that are non-negotiable.
That’s the thing though. What makes them a non-negotiable? How do you even know if they’re a non-negotiable?
I’ll give you an easy one, cigarette smoking. If I met someone amazing and they were a cigarette smoker, with all due respect, I don’t want to breathe it. I don’t want to be around it. I don’t want to smell it on you.
What if they were madly in love with you and they said, “Jason, I’m giving up cigarettes.”
This is the whole what-if scenario.
It is not necessarily, but what if they’ve been smoking for ten years and they meet you. You say, “I can’t date you because you smoke cigarettes,” and they say, “I love you so much. I’m willing to change.”
They’re changing for me, not for them.
How do you know?
Why didn’t they change before they met me?
I know we can disagree on this, but we’ve talked about so much in these episodes. The difference between looking at life black and white versus gray areas. This is the thing. We’re constantly changing as human beings and just because they didn’t change before they met you, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t want to change. Maybe you sparked something.
It’s suspect at best.
Is it suspect because you’re afraid?
It’s suspect because anyone who’s like, “I met this great new guy, I’m going to change.”
They’re changing one part of themselves. Is their identity wrapped up into cigarette smoking or is that just a poor habit?
If you’re doing something willfully every single day that you know is destroying yourself and not adding any nutritional or helpful benefit to your life, it’s a willful thing that people are doing.
It’s an addiction though and I’m also speaking to someone that doesn’t struggle with addiction, but from what I understand about addiction. There’s a reason it’s called an addiction. It’s not just a habit.
I know that. I’m not trying to be insensitive.
You’re still putting somebody in a box, in a category. This is a defining characteristic. If you believe that people can change and evolve as human beings, then if somebody’s willpower becomes strong enough and they’re willing to make that change, then why would you not even give them a chance?
I wouldn’t be attracted to them in the first place.
How do you know?The lack of trust and faith is the reason why some people don’t get into relationships or distance themselves from people. Click To Tweet
I’ve seen and I’ve talked to incredibly amazing, beautiful women and then they start smoking and it’s an immediate turnoff.
You’re telling me if that woman came back three months later and was no longer smoking and you were still attracted to them, you would still wouldn’t give them a chance?
If you’re done with smoking, great. If we meet and you’re a smoker, it’s not happening.
You said to me that if they stopped smoking and three months later, then you would give them a chance.
Yes, after they’re done smoking. She’s not a smoker anymore.
That’s my exact point. My point is that I believe that people can change.
I do too, but I also know that if someone is not taking good care of themselves, it’s an immediate turn-off to me. This is part of a larger thing.
In a way, it’s a temporary deal breaker because if you believe people can change, then something what you might not like in somebody, you’re still open to the possibility that it could change and then you might want to be with them.
Of course, but we can only live in the moment and we can’t live in the possibility of what might happen in the future. With me, when I meet someone, it’s like, “Are our lifestyle choices in alignment? Do the way we see the world jive? Is the vibe there? Do we both value and have our hearts focused on similar end or compatible things, even if they’re different?” Readers, I’m not trying to hit upon you for being a smoker. My point is that if I meet someone and there’s a connection and I observe that they don’t take the best care of themselves and smoking is one part of that, whatever it is, it turns me off. I don’t want to shift it. I don’t want to be attracted to someone who doesn’t take care of themselves, and I’m glad I’m not. This is a tangential analogy but like pheromones. It’s either when you like someone’s smell, their vibe and the stuff they’re putting out in the world misting. You either vibe with it and you’re attracted to it or you’re not. For me, if I observe that somebody isn’t taking good care of themselves, it’s a turn-off.
This is part of what we want to get into and the inspiration for talking about this is and I’ve been in this firsthand, so I’ll speak with my experience. I had been with somebody who I was head over heels with very quickly. It still felt like I was being very conscious about getting into the relationship, but it was one of those experiences where we went on a date, the date went great and we spent every day together for two or three weeks. It was one of those, “This is amazing and exciting.” Everything felt like it was falling into place. Not to say that I didn’t have my doubts or fears come up during that time, but it did feel good. It wasn’t until at least a few months into the relationship that I started to notice what you’re bringing up. This person had elements of him that indicated that he didn’t prioritize his self-care.
It took me some time. I didn’t even know this about him. Part of the element of relationships we want to talk about is you don’t know someone in the beginning. You can go through weeks and months with somebody in this honeymoon phase as they call it, where either you have the rose-colored glasses on or more people just haven’t revealed their full selves to you. It can actually take years for some people and even in even couples in long-term relationships are still discovering things. Even people who think there’ll be together forever still get break up or go through divorces. That’s probably one of the harder things about relationships is you never know. Because as we’ve talked about in other episodes, we’re both human beings. Two people coming into a relationship are bringing so much there.
Whether they’re purposely trying to hide something at the beginning or put on their best selves or holding back so that they don’t rock the boat and then the boat may start to rock when they feel safer in the relationship. My point being, Jason is that again, to be devil’s advocate, if you see something upfront like smoking, sure that’s an indication for you. I’m not a smoker and I don’t want to be with someone who’s a smoker either. Luckily, it’s not super common in the people that I meet these days. It also depends on what type of smoking we’re referring to here. My point being is that there are also times if somebody will reveal over time something that might have been a deal-breaker for you and you don’t even recognize it until you’re already invested in the relationship, what happens then?
I believe they call that entrapment.
That’s happened to me too and you were there. He was so incredibly upset about me breaking up with him and dating Jason so quickly, which is understandable. I’m sure it was very challenging for him and it felt easier for me to go through the breakup because I immediately got into another relationship. As Jason and I have talked about many times, that probably wasn’t the wisest choice for us to date so quickly but that’s also how it happened. What are we going to do? I felt like we were being pretty conscious. We are very excited about each other and we didn’t want to wait to date each other. We’ve even talked about it. Do you remember this? We talked about maybe waiting six months or so after our breakups and our willpower was probably not that strong or we made the choice not to. Probably a few weeks, month or so, this person started. He cyberhacked an account and were tweeting publicly these horrible things and photos about me.
I found out months later that this person had been hacked into my email account and had been checking my emails and virtually spying on me for about six months before he admitted it to me. It was horrifying, especially because this is a person that I had known and we had mutual friends. I met him through mutual friends and we dated for two years. I didn’t ever think that someone would do that. It’s not necessarily a cautionary tale because what are you going to do? Go around being scared that everybody you date, anyone new who’s going to betray you or do something crazy like that. That’s the thing about relationships. It takes a lot of courage to go into them. It takes a lot of trust and faith. That’s the reason why some people don’t get into relationships or distance themselves from people or sabotage things. They’re deeply afraid either of something that’s never happened to them that they suspect could happen or because they’ve gone through challenging things in the past and they’re afraid it’s going to happen again.
It’s interesting how the heart heals and the will to connect can return. You saw me go through a hard breakup years ago. It’s that feeling of such devastation when something like that ends. The heartbreak and the expectation thinking about the future. The mending process and the healing process that occurs. There’s this thought and I remember it being, “I don’t want to do this again. I’m done.” One of my aims in life is to unfold to as much unconditional love as I possibly can. I stumble sometimes, but I feel like I’m getting better at practicing unconditional love. In that, I reflect on how destroyed I was thinking back and where I’m at feeling strong, clear and feeling at ease. I’m more so with my heart. There’s a beauty in taking risks and being courageous enough to say yes to things, not knowing how they’re going to unfold. Not knowing a person completely yet because it does take years. Not even knowing what the outcome’s going to be and doing it anyway because something is telling you, “This feels right. This feels good. Keep going.”
Part of the lesson that we’re both sharing here is that despite some of the hardest moments that we’ve experienced during and after relationships, we still got up and tried again. We found that faith. That speaks to us as individuals, but it also is hopefully inspiring anyone that struggles with that. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that if you’re struggling. If you’re somebody that’s trying to avoid relationship, that’s where you’re at in your life at this point. The other thing that this brings up for me is as human beings, we’re always looking for strategies. We’re looking for the ideal way and the wrong way to do things. We’ve talked about this in other episodes, right versus wrong, black and white. At this time in my life, I don’t know if there’s a right way to do a relationship or wrong way.
I’ve done a lot of things in relationships that felt good at the time and then later I found out maybe they weren’t the best choices. There’s still part of me that’s like, “What am I going to do? I can’t go back in time and change it.” If I made that choice, that was the choice that felt right for me at the time. Part of the inspiration for us doing this episode was based on this video that we saw from Jay Shetty. His point was and some advice that he was giving is to take your time getting to know somebody. That was part of his advice. I’ll let Jason jump in because I know he wanted to summarize his feelings from this, but before that, I want to say that, yes we can sit here and go, “This is how I’m going to do it. The next time I meet someone, I’m going to take my time.”
Even if you went through every lesson you’ve learned about love and the things that you’ve learned from other people, there’s still no guarantee it’s going to work out. There’s no magic formula for love. If there was, then nobody would have relationship troubles, but even the people that have had fantastic relationships that we perceive from the outside, they still have challenges and things come up that are unexpected and things that they don’t know how to navigate through. There’s part of me that thinks, you still have to take the strategies and the advice with a grain of salt. I’ve been thinking so much. This is reflecting on my viewpoints with love. It’s almost like I’m getting cracked open and having all of these new ideas about it that I haven’t considered before.
There’ll be days where I have a feeling and I feel so attached to that feeling, Jason, and then the next day I don’t even identify with that feeling anymore. Does that happen to you too? This probably comes up a lot when you’re going through a breakup or a hard time. Coming back to the one that you were sharing that happened back in 2016. You probably had highs and lows, ups and downs from hour to hour. It’s a torture that feeling because it’s not even a consistent pain. It’s all about what’s your mind is doing and how you’re responding to the thoughts that are coming up for you and try not to be to come to attach to them. We can become very attached to these thoughts and thinking that those are true and becoming very absolute about them. You look back and you realize that those were just thoughts.
Also in our thinking, for me, if I look back on that, I also need to take a lot of personal responsibility in the expectations I had, in the assumptions I made, in also realizing that I didn’t know the full history of this person or what they went through. There’s something to be said for getting to know someone and letting it go at the pace it wants. There’s no formula here. When I say the pace it wants, what I mean is this, I do my best to see the best in everyone. I feel like I make a conscientious effort to try and see the good qualities in people, especially when I feel there’s a deep romantic connection being created with someone. I want to be present and see the good qualities of that person.
I also know though that if I’m going to be in any relationship for any length of time, I’m going to see sides of them that might be unexpected. In any deep relationship, I’m going to see this person crying, broken down, probably not believing in themselves, angry at themselves, angry at me, angry at the world or swimming in chaos. As much as I see them in laughter, peace and their fullness, to me it’s about, I need to go for a minute longer of deconstructing my mental expectations around the media, movies, literature, music and all this stuff about “perfect love,” which is usually people in the beginning of their relationship. Everything was great and we were surrounded by flowers, birds, chocolate, sex, magic and all that.Love is about commitment even when it's not fun, laughter, or roses. Click To Tweet
The interesting part is the in-between of if I say yes to you, I know that I’m saying yes to layers that have not yet been revealed. I’m also saying yes to the fact that if I’m choosing you, you’re probably a person who’s dedicated to growth and evolution on some level. The person that I’m “in love with” is not going to be the same woman that wakes up in my bed. You’re not going to be the same woman. It’s this question of, am I willing to allow myself to be surprised in many different ways by the evolution and the layers of this person that I haven’t even seen yet? That does take a lot of courage and commitment. Love is about commitment even when it’s not fun, laughter or roses. Are you willing to stick in it?
That’s interesting too because it takes two people to be committed. It’s very remarkable to me that people have long, healthy relationships because at least in this time in my life, I think that not only do I have to get to that point where I feel that committed and I feel that grounded in myself, clear, open, vulnerable and all of those different things that it takes, but then it’s finding somebody else that’s going to match that, sometimes that feels challenging. Because you can meet someone and they might seem like they can meet you there, but you later find out that they can’t or won’t. Maybe they have a different understanding of what a relationship is. It’s tough. The older I get, the more I realize how challenging it is.
I remember there was a point in my life or maybe it was most of my life up until this point, I had felt so perplexed as to why relationships couldn’t work out. I wasn’t even trying to be wise about it. It was just the way that I viewed relationships out of perhaps ignorance. I was perplexed why they wouldn’t work. I don’t remember how old I was when it occurred to me. Maybe it was through my own experiences and relationships and realizing things like, “How is this not working? I thought that they checked off all these boxes. This person had everything that I thought I wanted.” It’s not that simple.
That’s what I mean when it comes down to a strategy. Two people have to be in agreement with that strategy. Two people have to be committed to that strategy. I think this is also one of the benefits of a more religious take on relationships. You look at cultures where they have arranged marriages, those marriages tend to statistically last much longer. These people are coming together not because they fell in love and there was this love at first sight moment. These relationships where they’re put together by two families. It’s almost like they are strategic. The point being is it a commitment thing. They maybe they don’t even see another option.
They think, “My parents chose me for this person. This is the person I’m going to marry and I’m committed to making it work.” They just figure it out. There’s part of me that maybe has a westerner who sees that and I think, “That’s not romantic. I want to have my free will and choose who I want. I want to experience the butterfly,” all that stuff. Is it at the cost of maybe not ended up in a relationship that work so well? Also to that point of Jay’s video is a lot of people get drawn to each other and they spend a few weeks together that are amazing and then they realize that it’s not that amazing or it was only temporarily amazing.
This is so interesting you bring this up because I think the philosophy of marrying somebody you’re in love with is relatively new to human culture. Traditionally, as you alluded to with arranged marriage, marriage was not just from what I understand historically a religious union. It was done because families wanted to strategically unite to share resources and power. If you had two families in a country, a province, a town, by uniting their families, they’re sharing livestock, crops, money, power and land. A few generations, this idea of, “I need to truly, deeply love the person I’m with,” is new to us.
We’re obviously in an interesting new time where we have dating sites. We talked about this in the other episode with Tinder, Bumble and all these other platforms. Those are so new. Dating sites are still relatively new in the past 15 to 20 years, in terms of their popularity. I look back on my dad’s parents who were with each other until the end. I don’t remember how many they were married. My grandma was in her 80s, I think maybe the 50 or 60 years would be my guess. That’s how old she was when they met. My grandfather was 97 and a half when he passed away. She had passed away five years before him. For him, he’s in his 90s when he loses his wife to death and he didn’t remarry the rest of the years that he had left.
I loved hearing their story because they made it through their marriage very happily. I don’t know the depths of the challenges they had, but my perception as their granddaughter just seemed like they had this great relationship. Actually, I spoke to my grandfather a little under two days before he passed. I talked to him about his relationship with my grandma and he was a very matter of fact about it. I expected him to be more reminiscent about it. I remember being very surprised at his reaction because I think I asked him what he missed most about her and he said her presence, which is sweet. I remember the way you said it, it was just a matter of fact. For me, I was romanticizing that my grandfather was longing for my grandma around, but he actually was very accepting about it. That was one of the things that I love about my grandfather. He didn’t let life get to him too much.
My point bringing him up is that they met when they were out with friends. My grandma said that she knew the moment they met. It was one of these relationships that felt like, “Here’s my person. This is the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.” The way that they described, at least in my memory was that it was a matter of fact relationship. They met each other, they liked each other. He courted her and he did a lot of romantic gestures. They had a family with three children and he moved to her town. They’ve got a house there and that’s where they spent the rest of their lives. It was this very simple type of thing. I don’t know off the top of my head if my grandma had even dated other people before him or what their dating history was.
It was fascinating because back then maybe it was this more practical view of marriage. Like, “I met this person, I liked him. I’m going to get married to him.” I look at my parents’ relationship. They’re also still together and happily married, all things considered. They met when my mom was in college and my dad was in law school. She was probably around twenty-something. They’ve been together ever since. I know that she often tells the story of this other boyfriend. I know that there was at least one other significant relationship, but that might’ve been it. My mom probably dated a few people, met my dad, fell in love and they have been committed to each other ever since.
It’s interesting you bring this up because if we look at our parents and our grandparents’ generation, I remember reading an article about marriage and divorce rates with Millennials. They’re theorizing that by virtue of Millennials and to a lesser extent Gen X-ers being more selective. They’re having more relationships and going on more dates and waiting that divorce rates in the Millennial generation are actually much lower. It’s interesting because it’s the same story with my grandparents. They met at a bar and fell in love. It’s a done deal. Sixty-five years is done. I have my parents but I also think about myself, how many relationships I’ve been in and how many people I’ve dated.
Going back to your parents because of both of our parents were in the generation where divorce started to become more common.
Technically Whitney, I am a bastard. We assume John Snow was, he’s not. When people are like, “You’re such a bastard.” I’m like, “That’s technically correct. You have another insult you’d like to fling at me. One that’s untrue.” I was born out of wedlock.
In our lifetime, mine and Jason’s, the divorce rate has been 50% at some point which is not like rolling a dice, it’s flipping a coin.
It’s like, “Do you want to do this? Let’s go to Vegas.”
As you’re saying for Millennials, the divorce rate has gone down, but that’s part of partially because they’re being more selective. That’s interesting because I would imagine that our grandparents’ generation didn’t get divorced as frequently.
I would assume that. I don’t see the stats but yes.
It’s some odd phase for a few generations where divorce became very common. What’s interesting with Millennials is that they’re getting married later in life, but then that doesn’t fully correlate with our grandparents who got married. How old were your grandparents and they got married?
They got married in their early twenties. My grandmother might have even been a teenager.
Getting married in your late teens, early twenties was very commonplace for our grandparents. Our parents’ generation was probably twenty-ish. I think that trend continued on mainly with the younger Millennials, because people that are closer to my age, it was still pretty common for people to get married in their early to mid-twenties. Getting married in your 30s seems like you’re old, but we’re getting to a point where that’s becoming more acceptable and maybe even more beneficial for us. These are all just trends of statistics, but what does it even mean?
Can I fling a few ideas out that I think are interesting in my head? There were a couple of things. The conditioning to get married young, teens early twenties. That was probably partially due to the fact that generations ago, our lifespan wasn’t what it is now. Our lifespan I think for men, the American male is somewhere in the 70s and women it’s 80s. The lifespan in the past 200 to 300 years has exponentially increased.
The other thing is financially. That was something that I heard about the divorce rates for Millennials. One of the reasons is that women are more financially independent. Especially Millennial women tend to make their own money. Now that the wages are going up for women, but the difference in pay is becoming more evened out. It’s not there yet. Women are maybe marrying later and they’re doing it because of love, not because they’re trying to be financially dependent. Whereas I think my grandmother on my dad’s side and probably my mother, to be honest, there was a drive to marry someone that would provide for them. Whereas for me, I actually would much prefer to provide for myself. I think it’d be beneficial to have somebody with a joint income. That sounds nice, but I feel like it would truly be joint. It wouldn’t be like let the man make all the money. It would be let’s both make money and let’s support each other in our lives together. That sounds nice, but I know that I’m part of that equation as well. That’s been a big shift.Religion is keeping people together and in a very committed way. Click To Tweet
I think the life expectancy growing exponentially, what you said about the income gap closing and women’s rights and women’s pay becoming more equalized. The third thing I think that stands out here too is the disassociation in a lot of people’s minds culturally between the religious aspect. We’re getting married in the eyes of God and so therefore we need to stay together because then we’d be breaking a vow to God. I think new spirituality, people’s different spiritual beliefs, breaking away from this idea that divorce is immoral or against God, that attitude and that belief shifting I think is a huge part of this too.
It’s hard to say if it’s shifting though because for me, a few years ago I was going to a Christian Church regularly. Most of the people there were in their late 20s, early 30s. A great majority of them were married. I witnessed so much of that Christian marriage dynamic between them. It was fascinating to me because it made me realize that I hadn’t spent that much time with Christians in that sense in terms of religious Christians. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see the statistic, unless we’re actually looking at statistics. Maybe we’re also in this bubble of living in California and being around a lot of more spiritually-minded people that seem more free-spirited. Whereas in my experience and I witnessed this in my family too, and I pay more attention and noticing people’s behavior online.
When Jason and I were learning more about the demographic of people that have been into our work with Wellevatr, a lot of them are married and a lot of them consider themselves religious and not spiritual. I think that’s still a huge part of marriage. Religion is still keeping people together and in a very committed way. That’s actually very sweet. One thing that I noticed when I was going to church every week is that the men that were probably even a little younger than me just felt so committed to their wives. The things that they would post on social media and the things that they would say and the way that they would act around each other. I thought it was so beautiful because outside of church I would see men that were the same age or older and having completely different dynamics with their girlfriends or maybe even their wives. I did find that it seemed to me that the people that were very religious had a different perspective on their relationships and that’s fascinating to me too.
I think it’s interesting in general, this evolution of how we talk about love and how we discern between lust and passion and then this unconditional love, which I think is very much based in commitment. We talked about this and also from a language perspective. Falling in love is such a weird thing. I still catch myself saying it, but then I catch myself saying it and I’m like, “That’s not actually what I want.” I don’t want to fall.
Were you thinking about this before we saw Jay’s video?
Yes, I was. I’ve been thinking about it a lot actually. Expanding into love, rising into love and meeting someone in love. That energetically feels so much better than falling in love. Falling to me just sounds like it’s this idea that I’m giving my whole self over. You are giving of yourself. What I think is important in any relationship, specifically romantic is to co-create something with this person. To give yourself to this union. It’s almost like this third energy exists. There’s your energy, there’s your partner’s energy and then there’s this third energy, which is the unit.
It’s called the Venn Diagram with the two circles that come together. It’s not necessarily a third thing. It’s where the two circles intersect.
I see it as a container is being created that these two people are filling up. For me, I always think about the nature and the quality of the love that’s created with someone because we use this word love. I think the Greeks or as close to anything in terms of accurately describing because they had ten different kinds of love that they would use in their language. There was eros and philia, which is Philadelphia, which is brotherly love. They had familial love. They had romantic love. They had not just one word. They had many words to describe the quality of the energy of the love you felt. How I love car is not how I love you. How I love Bella, how I love my career, how I love my Japanese pen, how I love my mother.
You can be close friends with someone and still hear them talk about things.
My point is this, the quality of the love I experienced for an inanimate object is different than my mother is different, my girlfriend and different than my best friend. We use this word to try and encapsulate it all, but the nuances, the subtleties and the intention of those kinds of love are all very different. From a societal perspective, I think that it’s interesting in terms of thinking about how we’re using language to describe love. When people talk about love, a lot of people and we look at media in influencing this. It’s not actually love, it’s conditional affection.
It’s I love you as long as you act a certain way or you do certain things, but the moment you decide you want to be someone else or you do something I dislike or disapprove of, I’m retracting my “love” from you. I observe that a lot of people are conditionally affectionate and amorous, but that’s not love in my opinion. There’s a difference and I think there’s a lot of confusion between those two things. Because with a lot of people it’s like, “We’re crazy in love until he did this one thing,” and I don’t mean cheating.
There are lots of couples who are even together after cheating.
What I’m trying to say is there seems to be an aspect romantically of our culture that’s a bit disposable in the sense of as soon as this person does something or acts a certain way “I’m going to ghost them or I’m going to let go of them.” Because as wonderful as dating apps are, I have observed in a lot of young people that it’s the single like, “Onto the next one,” because all you literally have to do is pick up the phone and swipe and find someone new. Whether that’s a conscious decision or a subconscious thing, I think that there’s a thing going on there where it’s like, “I’ve got all these options. I may as well keep all the doors open. Why should I just pick one door?” I think that’s why with a lot of people, there are commitment issues because there’s so much availability all the time.
How do you even know if the next person is going to be any better?
It’s fascinating. I find that it’s incredibly confusing. There are times when I think back to how my grandparents’ relationship seemed to go. I was actually thinking about this just how wonderful it seems to meet somebody and decide to be with them and then spend 60 or 70 years together. Maybe these people, even though they are happily married, what if they’re also wondering if they could have been with somebody else? The grass is always greener and I don’t know if it’s always that easy. There’s also a part of me that thinks it’s nice that I’m not married yet because I haven’t had to spend my life with the same person. It sounds comfortable to be with somebody. For me not being married, I feel there’s the disease at times of, “Am I ever going to get married? Am I going to have children?”
Those questions are coming up. I wonder what will it feel like to get married and will I be with that person? What would it feel like to have kids and no longer have that question in my head anymore? That’s something I’ve never experienced. Definitely, when it comes to kids, you make that decision and you’re there for the rest of your life. Whereas I think marriage is slightly different in that some people still think that they could change their minds and get a divorce. There’s also something to be said for the people and again going back to some religions where getting a divorce is not an option for most people. What does it feel like to get married and know that you’re committed and you’re no longer in a place of questioning and wondering?
One of my friends that I went to church with said this to me, that when she got married, she felt completely different about her husband once they said their vows. She said she couldn’t quite explain it, but something majorly shifted. I think that she also said it was something about the commitment that brought them so much closer. Maybe it was this another level of trust and security, which I think as human beings is a very natural thing. We want to feel secure. It’s something about survival. There’s something about that companionship, knowing that you don’t have to do things alone and knowing that you’ll always have somebody there to listen, to laugh with you or do things with you. All those forms of companionship. Maybe not having to question it, “Will I be with this person? Will I have a date?”
That does have its appeal, although I’d also say the older I get, the more I value my independence as a woman and wonder what would I feel like in being married? Would there be part of me that felt trapped or panicked in the sense of feeling like I’m no longer independent? I can’t just do whatever I want all the time because I’m in a relationship maybe for the rest of my life where everything that I do and the decisions that I make are part of the dynamic with my husband. Jason for you, you’ve never been married either. What are your feelings about all of this?
I don’t find it to be a necessity to be married. If I were not to be married, I don’t think it would crush me. I do have a specific vision in my head of being married and how I’d like to be married.
Does it need to be a marriage or a partnership?
No, I personally like the idea in my heart. I get a warm loving feeling that washes over me when I think about choosing a person. I’m using the door analogy. I’ve shut all the other doors. This is the door I’ve chosen. I’m shutting the door and I’m going to be in the room with you. To me, there’s something very deep and soulful about that level of commitment to another person. I have this idea that commensurating the union. I’m not talking about 100 to 200 people. A small group of people that I deeply love in my life. I have an actual vision in my head of how I’d like to get married.
I see it. There were these parts of the California coast where the forest meets the sea where you’ll have these immense lush forests and they’ll push right up against a cliff-side next to the ocean. I have this vision of being in the forest barefoot with my soon to be wife. There’s this ocean view, but we’re in nature, we’re surrounded by these beautiful trees and there’s a small group of our deepest loved ones witnessing this. It’s very simple, natural and we’re with nature. It’s so clear in my mind, I can almost feel, smell and be there. Would I like to get married? Absolutely.
What you’re describing is something that I think of too. I love the idea of having a wedding. To me, the wedding sounds so wonderful. I’m also somebody who wouldn’t mind spending a lot of money on a wedding. Speaking of Evie, my dog. She’s getting old. Sometimes it makes me sad because I thought, “It’d be so nice if I had kids and Evie was still around.” Even though she can drive me crazy with barking. It’d be so nice to have her at my wedding, those things. As she gets older, I see that being less and less of a possibility. A wedding ceremony has something about it that’s so sweet and I hope that I get to experience that. I want to experience that too as I get older. We have to think beyond that. To your point about this choice to be with somebody, it is sweet. I’m wondering if you, Jason, now that you’re in your 40s, there’s a completely different relationship to the thought of marriage.
For me, the older I get, I’m wondering if you feel that too because it’s no longer in my head. It’s definitely going to happen. It’s not about me being older physically, it’s about my mentality that shifted as I’ve gotten older and how I don’t see it as, “Of course, I’m going to get married like I used to and have kids.” It’s almost more precious and I can look at it. Maybe it’s about letting go of the expectation of thinking, “I’ll actually be remarkable if I do get married and have kids,” because at this point, it’s very up in the air. It’s very unclear. I don’t want to get married just to get married. I think that’s the other reason that I value about being older and unmarried versus the people that get married in their twenties. It’s the fact that I’ve had a chance to reflect on it.
There are times when I cannot imagine being married years ago. I know friends that were married or had kids back then and I was thinking, “Oh my gosh.” The things that I’ve learned about myself and the things I’ve experienced. Granted, we never know, it’s like the sliding doors type of thing. We don’t know who we would become if we had gotten married at any other point previous. There’s part of me that does feel grateful that I have not gone down that path yet because I’m learning so much about myself being an unmarried woman. Maybe I would’ve learned very different things about myself being a married woman. It goes back to this idea of it doesn’t matter to me. This is the way that my life has panned out based on the choices that I’ve made and perhaps due to whatever the universe has in store for me. I don’t feel like I’ve ever gone through a point of denying. Most of my relationships there’s that hope that I would get married. Is that something that you’re still hoping for when you’re with somebody? Do you find yourself valuating this person, like, “I’m only going to be serious with them if I could see myself marrying them?”
It’s not about marrying them. It’s, “Would they make a good caretaker for my animals?” That’s to be quite honest. I say that because I’ve literally brought dates over to my place that was aloof about the animals and I’m like, “We’re done.” I’ve had people that have like recoiled with the animals, I’m like, “You can get out of here. You can take your things and go right now. Goodbye.” Isn’t that judgmental? No, it’s a preference. I want someone to love my animals the way I love them. They’re my children. You don’t dig them? You’re physically recoiling from them? Take your ramen leftovers and go.
I am doing my best to not project too much when I go into a relationship and I think I’m doing better at it than, “The future.” How about you stay present and maybe one day you’ll find yourself in the forest barefoot with this person? I don’t know. I’m trying to have less expectations. When you say, do I have hope for marriage when I’m with someone new? To be honest, I don’t allow my mind to indulge in those kinds of things the way it used to in my twenties and thirties. Maybe it’s because I’ve had my heart broken so much and allowed my heart to be broken.
Maybe it’s because I’ve dated and been in a relationship with as many people as I have. I feel like, especially the one I’m in because it’s so new. I’m just not trying to project ideas into the future, truly. If I find my mind wandering there, I try and focus on the present moment because I don’t want to play in the future. I have no idea what wants to happen. I have no idea what wants to be. I do know what feels good to me, what feels like my gut is telling me to do and I can keep saying yes to that moment to moment and trust that it’s going to lead me to where I need to be. That’s all I can control.
Going back to what we were saying about the purpose of marriage, we’re in a time where you can have children and not be married. You can have long-term partnerships and joint bank accounts. There’s a tax incentive to be married or there are certain rights when someone gets sick. There are certain benefits to it. It’s wonderful that it’s becoming available for more people in different types of relationships. It’s a nice option, but it doesn’t need to be the goal. For some people, maybe it does feel important to be the goal. There’s still a cultural expectation like, “Why aren’t you married yet? You’re at this age. Why you don’t have kids yet?”
A lot of the times the people that say those things are people that are already married and maybe they just assume that other people want to get married or are going to get married or other people that have kids. I often hear that from older generations. They seem to be the more judgmental. When I talk to other people that are closer to me in age, especially those that aren’t married, they don’t ask you these things. There’s no judgment around it. Beyond the judgment and some of the benefits in society to being married, why does it matter if you are or aren’t?
I think it’s the romantic notion that I found the one and this deep psychological romance around like, “I found my person.” That is such a deeply idealized thing in our literature for thousands of years.
Are you saying that you relate to that too, Jason or you’re just saying from a cultural perspective?
I relate to that too. I think about growing up and all the ancient Greek, Roman and the Egyptian mythology and religion. This idea of romance, love and Shakespearian stuff. This is nothing new. This is thousands of years of human story, legend and human myth constructed around love, romance and connection. This whole vision I have of I’m standing barefoot in the forest with my love. We’re getting married, there’s flowers and there’s nature, there are baby deer and pigs and God knows what. The animals come in from the forest like it’s a cartoon. It’s a very romantic notion. When I say romantic, I mean that in a very literary sense. The vision I have in my head is very cinematic and very romantic.
Isn’t the origin of romantic from Roman times? Coming back to my question at the very beginning of this episode is you need to read the book, Selfie. It’s encouraging me to dig further back into history and culture because it’s fascinating when you look at the origin of human behavior, culture, psychology, and all these different things. Part of the hypothesis in the book is are we just being controlled by society, culture and tradition? Are we being ruled by all of those things? Maybe that’s why we feel in conflict with some things. They’re not necessarily what works best for us or what we want. There are things that we’ve been taught and conditioned into wanting, thinking and all that. It’s fascinating to me. The more that I’ve read that book and started thinking about life from that perspective, the more that I feel in a place of questioning the things that I’ve wanted in a good way. To me, a healthy way that’s helping me understand myself more and then also surrender to all the unknown.
That’s important because it’s a critical examination into what do I authentically want? What’s an original desire or an original thought? What’s a conditioned desire or conditioned thought? You’ve touched on a massive thing. It’s not just about love, it’s about so many things of how do I actually truly feel or perceive this thing and what is the program that I’m running that was installed in me, that I might not even be aware of that’s running in me? That’s a constant examination and a constant unraveling. I feel like once you commit to that and once you start going down that rabbit hole, there’s no turning back.
I enjoy it. I think I’m someone that I’ve always been a why person. I like to understand why things are and why I am and all of that. I don’t know if there are any answers. It might be getting all these little clues, collecting things and constantly shifting. One thing I’ve been reflecting a lot about is this idea that maybe it’s not about arriving anywhere. I feel like so much of our lives are centered around this idea of arriving. I’ve found the one and I’m married to that person. I’ve arrived, I got the career that I wanted and I got the success. I reached the milestones. As we’ve talked about in other episodes, what happens when you do arrive and is it true that you’ve arisen? Are you ever satisfied with the place that you’re at or is it just onto the next thing? It starts to reframe life for me, my goals and what’s important to me. I’ve become a little bit more fluid and less connected to expectations. The more that I think whatever’s going to be will be. That feels more comfortable to me, but who knows? I could change my mind after my yoga class.
You probably will. Minds do that. They change. The reality in life is we have no idea what’s waiting for us. We can’t accurately predict what’s going to happen. To me, the most sane option that I have found is to try and make a loving, clear decision moment to moment and do my best to do that. Some moments I’m better at it than others.
If you want something, you commit to it. That’s probably the reason commitment is so important to love. It’s not about what you want. In fact, Jay Shetty, what he says in that video we watched is that it’s not about your mood changing because your mood is going to change a lot.
Your feelings are going to change too.
It’s about committing. No matter what you feel or what mood you’re in, you’re committed to making this work. Marriage and love is a commitment. You have to decide as an individual if you’re committed to something and then you have to find somebody else who’s equally committed. I haven’t found that yet, so who knows?
We keep looking and staying open to the possibilities. That’s all we can do. This is an ongoing examination because as we say yes to love and we say yes to relationships, any relationships they’re going to teach us more about ourselves, they always do. My final thought here on this topic of commitment is I have also found this very same thing in my creative or business endeavors. When I’m all in and I don’t have one foot out the door, when literally as we sit in this room, the door is shut and we are in it, whether that’s romance or business or art, there is something about shutting the door and locking the thing and just being with it.
There is such a flowering, an expansion and a deepening of your relationship to whatever it is you’re focusing on. I think in my experience can only be achieved by shutting the door and focusing on the person or the thing that’s right in front of you and not keeping all the doors open like, “My options. We’re always one foot in, one foot out.” It’s okay if you are. I know what that feeling feels like, but I also know that there were depth and nourishment that I could never get to when I had one foot out the door.
It would be interesting to see what it’ll be like to be all in.
That’s our encouragement, is how can you be all-in in your life? How can all of us be all in and what areas are we maybe feeling like our hearts want to be full in, but our minds are trying to talk us out of it? Remember what happened last time when you did this? Your mind is always going to be there jabbering things in your ear. I think the question is can we cultivate the courage to trust our hearts and be all-in knowing that there are no guarantees, knowing that we don’t know the outcome, knowing that we don’t know how this person is going to act or react? Ultimately, isn’t that it? It’s taking the great leap over and over and getting our ass kicked, healing, taking the leap again.
As I’ve said several times, it involves two people. A lot of people are afraid that the other person is not going to be as committed.
There’s only one way to find out. We want to encourage you guys to leave any comments for us. What are your thoughts on love? What are your thoughts on relationship, the state of relationship and connection? What does love mean to you? What is your experience? How can you be full in? How can you put both feet in whatever pool that is, whether that’s your relationships, your business, your creative endeavors? How can you play more full out and be fully committed? That is our invitation and our question to you. You can connect with us on all of the social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We are all over there to interact with you and share more tips on wellness, consciousness, relationship and all the things to help you live a loving, open and high-performance lifestyle. We will see you again soon with another episode.
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