MGU 187 | Non-Traditional Relationships

 

There is something to be said about platonic relationships that often outweigh romantic relationships. In our evolving world, more and more are starting to value friendships in partnerships more than the trappings of sex and romance. In this episode, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen dive deep into these non-traditional relationships, finding their inspiration from an article in The Atlantic titled “What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life?” They discuss the different instances that people choose to live together as friends, platonic life partners, ride or die buddies, and the likes. They also break the notion that people of the opposite sex cannot be friends, sharing with us their relationship with each other and proving people wrong. Love is so much more than cupid, arrows, and marriage. It is complex and not necessarily just within the context of romance. Join Jason and Whitney as they discuss more about the different expressions of love, honoring those relationships that thrive beyond the traditional understanding of it.

Listen to the podcast here:

Non-Traditional Relationships: On Platonic Love Over Romance

One of the things that Whitney and I do here behind the scenes of the show is we often talk about not only the subject matter of previous episodes and seeing how you dear reader and our readers around the world respond to those topics, but moving forward, what we want to discuss. Our most popular episodes are actually about relationships. Now we’ve had behind-the-scenes talks in moments of, “Should we make this a relationship show because those are doing so well,” but we’ve decided not to niche down in that way.

We want to talk about a lot of subjects pertaining to wellness, mental health, emotional wellness, relationships are certainly a part of that conversation. It is interesting to notice how our most popular and most downloaded episodes are surrounded by the subject matter of how we relate to one another as human beings. I came across an interesting article that popped up in my feed that I shared with Whitney from the Atlantic. We often like to share articles with each other and for you dear reader, and anyone who wants to access the article in anything we’re going to discuss, you can go to our website, which is Wellevatr.com.

It’s been a while since we actually discussed this, Whitney. I feel like we’re due. This article from the Atlantic popped up and the headline is What If Friendship and Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life? Our Boyfriends, our significant others, and our husbands are supposed to be our No. 1. Our worlds are backwards. It’s a long article. I’m not going to read too much ad nauseum from it. The gist of it is detailing some women that they profiled who were in, I suppose, platonic partnerships, where they put their friendship and their connection at the very top of their level of importance, consideration, and attention in their lives, not their romantic relationships.

It’s an absolutely beautiful story. They give a few examples. The primary story is about two women named Kami and Kate. How they met and how they bonded and their experience with romantic relationships and that their connection endured so much and many life changes moving across the country, changing jobs, changing professions, changing husbands, changing partners. The framework of this whole thing is that they talk about examples of friends like this, that sweep into frameworks that are typically reserved for romantic partners. In some of these examples, these platonic partners will live in each other’s houses that they purchased together.

They’ll raise each other’s children, they’ll use joint credit cards, they’ll have the same bank account. In some states they’ll actually have the power of attorney and medical leverage for each other, depending on if something happens. Many of these friendships, these platonic partnerships have I suppose the structure and the trappings of romantic relationships, but not the sex. That’s the one thing missing. It talks a lot about how people get very confused by this type of relationship. You guys are together, but you’re not sexual and you’re not married, but you have all the frameworks of it.

It’s interesting to talk about the pushback for these platonic relationships that society, friends, and family gets so confused and I suppose even maybe intimidated by certain things. I wanted to dive into this because I find it fascinating. The article is a wonderful piece of storytelling. First of all, in framing this and some of the terms they use, which some of these I’ve never heard of were instead of romantic partners, they use terminologies like, “Best soul friend, platonic life partner, my person, my ride, or die, my queerplatonic partner or big friendship.” It’s so interesting because as we on the show continue to explore trans identities, moving beyond gender pronouns and binary thinking, we’re committed to exploring areas of life that we’re not familiar with.

We need more to represent people of different ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, sexuality, and gender. Click To Tweet

This is something, Whitney, that is so fascinating. I’m wondering how it lands with you. We can dig even deeper into this because there’s some interesting historical context too, about some huge people in our history that had very similar relationships like this. It’s not necessarily a new thing. They give examples from 1800, 1900 of people that were in platonic relationships, but not sexual ones. Much like bisexuality or transgender, these are things that have been happening, I suppose, behind the scenes of human society for a long time, but are now only being talked about in the mainstream. It’s super interesting to think about in this context, because sometimes if my romantic relationships don’t work out, maybe I should get a commune with all of my friends and be in a relationship together. I’ve had thoughts like that before. I don’t know that I have a leadoff question per se, Whitney, but I’m wondering how this subject lands for you.

It’s definitely something that is neat and I can relate to it in some ways. I grew up with a close best friend, lived across the street from me. We’ve gone through lots of ups and downs over the years, but we’ve always kept that term for each other. I’ve referred to you as a best friend. You and I have talked about how it would be neat to live right next to each other and even build a tunnel system so our animals could run between our homes.

On that note, that’s one of the big perks of this article. They reference how good friends could take care of each other’s children. I do think that our society would benefit from more dynamics like that because a lot of us feel very alone. Even if we consider our animals, our children, we all know what it’s like when we need someone to watch them. We usually call on our friends. Some people prefer to have professionals, but I usually prefer to have somebody that I know close, who loves my animal Evie in particular, and I can trust. It’s also nice to have more of a trade relationship than a financial exchange.

In general, we could benefit from supporting each other, and maybe a trade isn’t the best word, but it is that idea of having each other’s backs. I’ve also thought about my relationship with my sister. My sister and I are very close. I consider her a friend but we’ve transcended the word friend, I suppose. We have an intimate relationship and there were times where I thought, “It’d be so nice to live with my sister.” To have that loving support that we have with each other, especially now, she’s living by herself and she lives in a cool home. I thought like, “If it were easier to travel or I felt more comfortable traveling now during the pandemic, I wouldn’t even think twice about going and staying with her for as long as I felt like it because I love being around her. I love helping her out, supporting her.”

That article brought this up for me too. It also reminded me of how people are very confused by our relationship, Jason, and to your point, and one of the major points in this article is I was having a conversation with somebody who was so surprised when I said that you and I went from dating to friendship. Whereas most people have this model in their head or they believe that people typically go from friendship to dating and not the other way around, but you have had relationships with multiple of your previous partners. I think that’s cool and it’s very rare and confusing to people, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with it.

A lot of people think, “That’s not possible. It’s not possible for people of the opposite sex to be friends. It’s not possible for people who used to date to be friends,” which is so bizarre. It reminds me of this article because we have so many limitations in our minds and that’s what they are and they’ll stay limitations if we don’t consider doing them differently. That’s one of the big things that I’m perceiving from this article. Lastly, another example that came up for me because I was reflecting on how the media might represent this. There’s a great show on Netflix called Grace and Frankie. It’s about these two older women who have this tight friendship and they live together and they date.

Society's metric of happiness and fulfillment is by you having to be partnered romantically. Click To Tweet

One of them gets married in that season and I haven’t been up-to-date on it fully, but I love that show. It’s this beautiful story of two older women that at some points were single and dating and that deep bond that they have together. I’m trying to think of other examples, but we need more of that. We need more to represent people of all different ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, sexuality, and gender. To see more stories like this, to help us see it more like the norm. I also think that we’re in a time where we’re breaking out of or redefining what we perceive as normal because there are so many different variations and we are fortunate to live in a time that tends to be more accepting. It’s more common for people to do things that are outside of traditional relationship norms. That’s great for us. I believe that we’re making progress. We still have some ways to go.

What is interesting is how there’s a lot of perception around what other people believe is going to make you happy. In some cases, and I’ll give you some examples when people ask relationship questions, it’s also about them wanting to gauge whether or not you’re operating in a framework that is safe and familiar to them. I talk about my mom pretty often on the show. I’ve talked about my mom, my dad and my family have been open about that. You’ve talked about your family too. An interesting dynamic in terms of love, romance, partnership, and happiness, my mom all the time will say, “I just want you to be happy. I want you to be fulfilled in your life and however, that plays out for you.”

I feel blessed to have a mom that has flat out, told me, “If you came out as gay, BI, trans, or whatever, I would love you no matter what.” I know that’s true. I very much believe her and know she’s sincere in that. The thing that is interesting though, is when she tells me about colleagues of hers, work acquaintances, or friends that are like, “How’s Jason doing.” Like, “He’s okay. He’s doing all right. He’s still in California.” Like, “Does he have a wife? Is he married? Is he ever going to have kids?” These are verbatim questions, “Does he have a wife? Is he married? Is he ever going to have kids? Isn’t he in his 40s now?” She gets a decently high amount of these types of questions.

It highlights what is a pretty common form of questioning of people examining the dynamic and the framework of your relationships in your life to gauge whether or not you’re happy like, “Is he happy? Is he fulfilled? Does he have a wife? Does he have kids? If he doesn’t have a wife and he doesn’t have kids and he’s approaching his mid-40s, how could he be happy?” There’s subtext there. There is a lot of subtext in those questions. To this point, this Atlantic article talking about platonic life partnership or being lifelong best friends, even moving in together as you joked, we’d get a couple of houses and have an animal tunnel.

This goes toward the fact that there are a lot more different kinds of love than just arrows. In the Western world, in Western countries, we tend to focus on using the word love as synonymous with arrows, with romantic love. Again, we use love in a lot of different contexts, don’t we? “I love my car. I love my cat. I love my best friend. I love my new T-shirt.” We throw that word around, but we can also agree that the qualitative difference of how we love our T-shirt, our cat, our car, our best friend, our mom, and our lover are all very different and nuanced. It’s almost like we have this fixation on romantic love that is the standard for happiness and fulfillment, but there are so many different expressions of love that in traditional English, we have that word.

We go back to the Greeks and they had Philos, Eros, Agape, and all these different qualities of love instead of one word for it. Language is partially to blame in this consideration, but also society’s metric of happiness and fulfillment by, “You have to be partnered romantically. You have to be in marriage structure and you have to have kids.” Maybe that’s a Midwest thing or the people that my mom’s in interacting with. I know too, Whitney, you and I have discussed this over the years from time to time, you also get inquiries from your family about this stuff, don’t you, or have they ease back on that over the years?

MGU 187 | Non-Traditional Relationships

Non-Traditional Relationships: It’s also nice to have more of a trade relationship than a financial exchange. We could benefit from supporting each other and having each other’s backs.

 

That comes often from my mother who has that mindset as many people in her generation, my dad doesn’t seem to care. My dad’s very liberal, accepting and it’s a huge blessing. Honestly, I can’t think of my dad caring that much. Maybe he’s trusting of me and my decisions. It’s interesting. My dad also is a little bit stoic, so sometimes he might not express it verbally, but it’s fascinating with him, but my mom is very opinionated and traditional in a lot of ways. Tradition is interesting because to me it feels limiting sometimes. Sometimes I feel it can be comforting, but there are limits to it.

In comforting, I mean that it feels familiar, it feels safe. That’s a huge part of traditional models of identity is that it’s familiar and it’s safe. Psychologically, when something’s familiar, we equate that with being safe because we understand it when we don’t understand something, when it’s unfamiliar to us, it can feel unsafe. It can evoke feelings of insecurity within us. I often think that’s a reason that my mom prefers tradition because it’s very familiar to her. It’s a sure thing. I know this works. Other people have done it. For you, Jason, being a rebel, you’re more comfortable doing things that are outside the norm.

For me being a questioner, as we’ve talked about before, these are our tendencies as defined by Gretchen Rubin’s framework around this. I questioned things until I understand them. That, in many ways, allows me to go outside the norms, because if they can make some sense to me, then I don’t have a problem with them. That puts me into that gray area. It’s like, “If you can explain why there’s a benefit, then I will generally be very accepting of it.” I also try to be accepting of things even if I don’t understand them, because I’m driven to include everybody. Inclusivity is incredibly important.

I have that to each their type of mindset and not everybody’s going to be that way. Not everybody feels comfortable being open-minded because, as I said, sometimes being too open leaves room for people that are maybe the outsiders, and the outsiders can feel scary. This mentality and maybe having a society that’s opening up to different gender norms and different sexuality and becoming a little bit more fluid, inclusive, and accepting that is threatening to some people because they don’t feel like there’s a solid ground to stand on. Plus, it also goes against some religious beliefs. Tradition can also be tied into religion in a lot of ways. That’s always an interesting thing to examine.

I honestly think that’s one of the reasons that I don’t align with religion super-strongly is because it feels too rigid. I remember when I was going to church for a little while, that may often be made me feel uncomfortable. Like the Christian viewpoint around sexuality and gender that felt too rigid for me. Even though I am cis-gendered and straight, I still have such an open mind and try to have an open heart as well. It made me uncomfortable that perhaps people at my church were not in that same mindset and this idea of something being allowed, acceptable, or okay.

For example, friendships, that came up too. One comes immediately to mind. One of my friends was married to a guy that I thought was great. We would be at church or at events at the church and have great conversations. It felt like a natural friendship between us and we were watching a TV show that I wanted to discuss with him. Every time I would see him at church I’d be like, “Did you see the new episode of the show?” One day, outside of the church, I was like, “I wonder what he thought about this.” I texted my friend and I said, “Would you mind sharing your husband’s phone number? I wanted to text him about this TV show.”

Psychologically, when something's familiar, we equate that with being safe. Click To Tweet

She told me she felt uncomfortable with it and explained that she didn’t think that it was appropriate for us to be communicating. These were people in Los Angeles in their early 30s, seemingly pretty woke in some ways and liberal in some other ways. In fact, I’m fairly certain they were literally liberal in their viewpoints but because of some of the constraints of Christianity that I didn’t fully align with, I suppose, and it means something different to a lot of different people. For them, it was not acceptable for men and women to be friends, especially if the male was married. I, to this day, don’t understand.

It comes down to that old school fear and she even said this to me, “I don’t want to add any temptation.” I’m thinking that’s so interesting because you can’t control temptation but so many people try to. They’re like, “Maybe if I put the blinders on my partner, then I can control my partner’s behavior.” That’s where it ties into this whole conversation our viewpoints on friendships and these belief systems we have. Of course, there is a deep human desire that maybe we don’t have as much control over as we think we do, but that’s what makes us human.

It comes down to trying to control ourselves so much. We try to control and create safety because it feels so threatening these basic human desires. Those human desires can be there and maybe a little less controlled and allowing ourselves to be human is ultimately something I would like to see more of, even if it makes me uncomfortable or feel unsafe. That’s okay. I would like to see more people get more uncomfortable with these things because that gives us the broom to flourish and open up our ideas to different relationships.

What’s interesting to this conversation about temptation, Whitney, there’s part of the reason why addictive substances, addictive marketing, social media, and a lot of the things that we talk about here on the show are so effective is because our brains are wired for those things. To me, it’s almost like if I put myself into a relationship where I’m worried about the other person being tempted, it’s not so much the temptation or the desire or the thoughts of wanting things that I would be worried about. First of all, realizing I can’t control another person. That’s the first thing, is no matter what steps I might take to inoculate this person from wanting someone else or wanting to have sex with someone else or being tempted, or even having the thought of it, I can’t control that person’s thoughts or actions even in a structure of marriage.

We talk about tradition and maybe that’s the “safe choice.” Look at the infidelity rates. It’s not the institution of marriage that has prevented infidelity far from it. In some cases, if you look at the work of Esther Perel and her examination into psychology and sexuality, she posits a theory, sometimes that, “Going into a structure of marriage or a committed relationship without being clear about who you are or what your real intentions are led to more infidelity,” because we’re not taking away desire, temptation, and human want. To your point, Whitney, we could lobotomize ourselves, yes.

Proverbially speaking, we’re not lobotomizing ourselves to the point where we’re robots or automatons who don’t want anything. My point is it’s more about, “Do I have a foundation of trust and communication built in a relationship to the point that I know they’re going to be tempted.” I know that they’re human. They’re going to have sexual thoughts about someone else. They’re going to have different desires, but instead of acting on those things without bringing it up, is the communication and the trust solid enough where they could come to me and say, “I’m having feelings about so-and-so or I had a thought about this.”

MGU 187 | Non-Traditional Relationships

Non-Traditional Relationships: In Western countries, we tend to focus on using the word love as synonymous with arrows, with romantic love. But then again, we use love in a lot of different contexts.

 

To me, it’s not about preventing temptation or desire. It’s about building a structure of communication and trust where you can bring those things to the table and discuss them. In a lot of contexts, if you’re in a relationship that’s too controlling, at the core people want freedom, but I think some people do want to be controlled and feel safer being controlled and some people do feel safer of, “You lead. You tell me what to do. You’re in control of the relationship. I’ll just follow.” Some people do prefer that for a litany of reasons. If you try and force a standard onto someone or try and prevent their behavior, in most cases, people will rebel at some point against that. They will rebel in some way. The example you brought up of this former friend of yours, not wanting her husband to be tempted by a text thread of you, “What’s their level of communication and trust in that relationship,” would be my question.

It’s interesting because I remember also it might’ve even been the same friend but I’ve heard from several friends of mine that are married they described the relationship is very different and I’ve never been married so I don’t know what that’s like. I’m fascinated by marriage and it’s something that has evolved for me over time. I come to a point similar to how I feel about having children. It’s like, “I’m not putting my pressure on it to happen or not.” If I get married, I want it to feel like an intentional thing, not something I do because I feel like I should.

Going back to your point, Jason, of all of these constructs around happiness being so tied because I know plenty of people personally that are not only unhappy in their marriages but perhaps even less happy than they would be if they weren’t married or maybe they are with the wrong person. The term wrong person is also odd because you can try your hardest. I remember when we had Sunny on our show. She talked about how she thought that she picked the perfect husband and they were going to be together forever and their relationship didn’t go in that direction.

That takes a lot of acceptance. We have so much fear around marriage that we try to control it in all these ways. It feels unsafe. It feels terrifying for some people to get a divorce. We have so much stigma around divorce. We have so many different intense emotions around marriage. The older I got, the more I thought like, “I’m okay if I don’t get married. I don’t need to get married to be happy or feel satisfied. I don’t even need a romantic partner to feel happy or satisfied.” That’s a radical idea for some generations, but the younger generations as was pointing out in the article, they are getting married later on in life.

Growing up, both you and I, Jason, had that statistic, which may still be there if not increased is 50% of marriages ended in divorce. This high percentage of them looming over our heads. My parents seem very happy and they’re still together so I was fortunate in that. I grew up with a lot of people whose parents, I perceived to be happy. Most of my friends, parents are still together since my childhood. I don’t know how we are not falling into the statistics, but I certainly, as I got older, started to meet more people that are children of divorced parents or parents that were never married like yours, Jason. Your parents were never married, correct?

Yeah, that’s right. 

There's a desire among younger generations to have a life without limits because we see more possibilities. Click To Tweet

It’s interesting. My point is that we grew up with this idea of seeing a lot of examples of relationships that don’t work. The examples of people that aren’t happy. Many Millennials and people in that range of generation, have you grown up wanting to find happiness and put it making happiness a priority? Now there’s such a big movement around purpose. That’s a word that I hear over and over again. The younger generations, especially are growing up, feeling like purpose is very important. We are learning to untether ourselves from things like productivity and hustle.

When it comes to our personal and professional lives, we’re starting to redefine a lot. We’re starting to push back against some of these traditional models that we’ve seen for our relationships, our friendships, and our work lives. I think that’s cool. We’re doing that because there’s a desire to have a life without limits. We see more possibilities. We’re fortunate that we live in a time where we have access to more information and we live in a country that seems like it’s becoming more accepting and it’s teetering on that line. We have freedom of speech.

We have more equality. Not for everybody yet. We still have a long way to go, but there has been a lot of progress made if you look back over history, I believe. Redefining all of our relationships is something that many of us are open to doing. I suppose as we see the more rigid generations phasing out, getting older, and passing away and we see the more open-minded generations having more power. You could even see this is happening in the government. Someone like AOC. She, I think of too how she’s representing a new way of living and standing up for people in terms of gender and wealth.

She’s got a very modern viewpoint that she’s bringing to politics and I hope actually going to be something that we see more and more of. It seems that many of us look at the older politicians as being old white men. Now we have more women. We have younger people coming in. We have people of color. We have people of representing in some profound ways. Hopefully, this country will start to reflect that. Who knows if that’ll fully happen in our lifetime, Jason, but I see a lot of promise in this.

It’s an important thing for us to have conversations about, and also make sure, as I said, that it’s represented in the media. I would love to see more TV shows and movies reflecting these. Remember, Brokeback Mountain how big of a deal that movie was when it came out, it’s two men had this romantic thing. It was so taboo. That was so shocking back then but a lot has changed in the media since then. Now, it’s less shocking, which is interesting.

You brought up divorce rates and I, out of curiosity, wanted to look it up in real-time. I found an article from, IFStudies.org. It was published in November of 2020, and it said, “The divorce rate hit a record low. For every 1,000 marriages in the US last year, only 14.9 ended in divorce, according to a newly released American community survey from the Census Bureau. This is the lowest divorce rate we have seen in 50 years. It’s even slightly lower than in 1970 when fifteen marriages ended in divorce per 1,000 marriages.” Super fascinating. Also apparently, the median duration of marriages in the United States has increased almost one year in the past decade from nineteen years of marriage in 2010, rather than 19.8 years in 2019.

MGU 187 | Non-Traditional Relationships

Non-Traditional Relationships: The younger generations are growing up feeling like purpose is very important. We are learning to untether ourselves from things like productivity and hustle. When it comes to our personal and professional lives, we’re starting to redefine a lot

 

It’s saying that the divorce rate is dropping right now, and it talks about the stability of kids being in the house during the pandemic. It talks about the economic advantages on your taxes of staying married, the impact of disconnection by being alone. It’s interesting to dig into the psychology of this. People aren’t getting divorced, but are they doing it for the kids, “Staying together for the kids?” Are they doing it because of the rampant economic destruction that’s happened in the past months? Are they doing it because they are afraid of being alone? It doesn’t go deeper into the psychology behind it, but those three things jumped out at me like, “I wonder why people are staying together.”

Is it out of love and connection, or is it more out of fear and convenience because if it’s out of fear and convenience, then what happens when the pandemic ends? That’s what I’m curious about. Once people have a feeling of more economic stability or the kids are back in school, or they’re feeling more connected to their workmates or their friends, or they can go out more. I wonder if that’s going to shift this conversation statistically once people have access to those things again. For me too, it goes back to what you were saying about the motivations of why people choose to get married in the first place.

If people are choosing to be in a romantic partnership out of loneliness, or many cases to somehow try and get the love, the validation, the attention, and approval we didn’t get as children. In a lot of cases, people are bringing their unhealed trauma from childhood and then expecting their romantic partner, or in some cases, their friends to give them what they feel that their parents didn’t give them. This is a slippery slope, isn’t it? Putting a romantic partner in a parent role is a super uncomfortable thing. I don’t mean like BDSM daddy stuff. Literally having two parents a partner because they didn’t get the love, validation, approval, direction, and wisdom they wanted from their parents.

This is something that I’m looking at in my relationship history, “Did I engage in any of that in terms of either trying to play the father role or maybe looking to be mothered in some ways by the women that I was with.” I certainly have trauma that I’m still working on in terms of abandonment and not good enoughness. If I’m honest about it, the fear of abandonment has been so strong and it’s been such a trigger trauma in my life that if I look back at certain relationships I’ve been in, I have stayed longer than my heart wanted to be in them because I was afraid of the abandonment.

The fear of abandonment either being abandoned or abandoning someone else in the past has kept me in relationships longer than I think I ought to have been in them because of that unhealed trauma. That’s another layer to look at in a relationship, isn’t it? “How are we using a person or a relationship to try and get our needs met?” This is an important question because I often think that the frame that I put on it is much, like you said about you feel like you don’t have this burning need to be in a romantic relationship, but for some people, it is a burning need.

We have billions of dollars on dating apps, cosmetics, dating coaches, and relationship coaches trying to help you find your person. It’s interesting because if we were to remove this fervent need of, “I’ve got to find my person to feel complete.” Entire industries would pretty much collapse if people were like, “Whether I have a partner or don’t have a partner, I’m going to be fine.” That’s a very dangerous mentality from a business perspective. As I said, all the billions of dollars that are pumped into coaching, dating apps, and relationships, and working on yourselves, and preparing for your partner to come in.

Putting a romantic partner in a parent role is a super uncomfortable thing. Click To Tweet

To your point, it’s like, “What if we were to accept the fact that there are no guarantees and it’s quite possible, we might end up alone without a romantic partner, and can we be okay with that?” That’s one thing that I’ve done a hell of a lot of work on and keep working on, Whit, to what you brought up is whether I do have a life partner, a wife or I don’t, can I live a good fulfilled, meaningful life? The answer is, yes, it requires shedding a hell of a lot of conditioning. I also don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to want those things. That’s not what I’m saying, if you do feel like you want a life partner or a husband, a wife, that’s a vision of yours. I’m not saying that’s something to be wrong with.

It is important to ask ourselves why we want things though. For me, I’ve taken periods of intentional aloneness and singleness because I knew that I had to work on certain things. There was a lot of pain, sadness, and trauma that was preventing me from connecting on a level as I wanted to, with a partner. Periods of intentional aloneness and singleness can be a very healthy thing, as opposed to jumping from relationship to relationship, which I’ve also done in the past. Honoring the times that we need to work on ourselves, heal ourselves, regain our confidence and perspective and get clear about why we want to be in a relationship, that’s an important question.

I sound like a broken record, but if we’re lonely, we’re despondent, we have a broken heart and we think that jumping into the next relationship, that’s going to heal us. It doesn’t heal us. I’m reiterating a lot of the same things here. Whether or not, we have this mad rush after the pandemic ends, I have a few girlfriends that have joked, including our mutual friend Lish, that it’s going to be the dating scene when the pandemic ends. I’ve had some friends of mine that are women be like, “It’s going to be the snarling wielder beasts of men have been locked in the dungeon and they’re lonely and they’re horny.” They’re actually not looking forward to the dating scene after the pandemic because they’re like, “Dudes are going to be so thirsty after this, they’re going to be acting so inappropriately.”

It’s been funny to engage in those conversations with mutual friends of ours, where on one hand they want to start dating again but on the other hand, they’re mortified to see how men are going to be behaving after all these ends. Not to throw guys under the bus, but I can see where they’re coming from. Dude’s been locked up for a year without any female contact or human contact or male contact, any romantic sexual contact. It’s going to be fascinating when shit opens up again. That’s all I’m saying.

It’ll be fascinating for socializing in general because a lot of people have been yearning for human connection and doing it virtually. There are studies that show it’s not the same. It doesn’t have the same impact. It doesn’t hit us on the psychological needs. What’s interesting, I’m curious about the COVID children, the kids that were born during this time, or were very young during this time and they’re growing up, this is their reality. How is that shaping them mentally? I saw one video of a parent talking about how any time that they take their child into a social setting, like grocery shopping, it’s major stimulation for these children because they’re not used to being around that many people.

Think about the kids that are in school. Now, school is completely different. I don’t know if kids are allowed, I guess it depends on where they live, but a lot of school systems have kept kids separate, the 6 feet apart from one another. They’re not touching each other as much, and that might be benefiting their health or maybe not. I don’t know. Mentally, imagine it’s got to feel confusing or maybe it’s reshaping their brains and maybe it’ll be challenging for them to socialize. That’s what going to be interesting given that we’re approaching the year mark with COVID in the US, and the quarantine or the physical distancing that we’ve been doing it’s definitely going to have an impact.

MGU 187 | Non-Traditional Relationships

Non-Traditional Relationships: If people are choosing to be in a romantic partnership out of loneliness, in many cases, we’re somehow trying to get the love, validation, attention, and approval that we didn’t get as children,

 

There are people like me, I don’t personally feel that impacted by it because I enjoy spending a lot of time by myself. As we’ve talked about before, the challenge is that we’re not moving that muscle. We’re not exercising or socializing muscles. It might feel even harder to socialize with someone like me after this. I’m so used to being more on my own and not going to events. That’s helpful for introverts in some ways. I certainly don’t mind socializing online and using platforms like Clubhouse to form connections with people, that’s fine with me. No one’s going to know until we start having more in-person interaction again.

I agree it is going to be interesting for friendships looking at how I haven’t seen some friends since this happened, or maybe I’ve seen them very briefly, how my dynamics with some friends have changed based on their viewpoints on the pandemic, their behavior during the pandemic. A lot is changing for us socially, whether it’s romantic or friendship and family too. I actually feel closer to my family. I feel like it brought us together in a lot of ways. I had made the decision to go spend a few months with them in 2020. I was extra motivated to do that because of what’s been going on and because it’s taught me how precious all of this is. As I said, I look forward to feeling more comfortable traveling because I would like to go spend more time with my family. All of these dynamics are changing in ways that we don’t know the ripple effect yet.

To your point, I was having a text conversation with our mutual friend, L, who as a side note, if anyone is in Los Angeles or passing through LA, she has an incredible upcycled, sustainable vintage clothing store in Highland Park called Marquis Moon. L and I were talking, Whitney about the simultaneous desire to go to these events, to concerts, and bars and be in a larger social context. Also the fear of it, it’s a desire and a fear. She said that, and I said, “You absolutely read my mind.” As someone who is labeled an extrovert, and I agree with it, I have tended historically to go toward the side of extroversion. I miss being on a stage. I miss playing shows. I miss going to shows I miss the trade shows we talk about, I miss having a dinner party with friends, something even as simple as that.

When I think about going to a festival, a concert, even the trade shows you and I talk about my body also has this interesting reaction of almost assuming that I’m going to feel panicked and anxious. I don’t know that’s true, but when I put myself and imagine myself walking the show floor at Natural Products Expo, or being at Burning Man or Coachella or whatever, I imagine these large-scale gatherings and there’s a part of me again, that’s like, “I miss that. I want to do those things.” When I actually imagined myself in it, I start to feel some anxiety buildup.

In my gut, I imagine myself with all these people surrounding me in all their energies and being surrounded by thousands, or even tens of thousands of people, and wonder how I’m going to do in that context. In the past, it wasn’t a big deal but when I think about it now, Whitney, I start to feel nervous about it. Nervous is the right word. I’m curious for you as someone who is on the other side of the coin, you tend to lean toward introversion. When you start to think about big events like this, what comes up for you? Do you feel that desire, nervousness, and fear, or what comes up when you put yourself in that context?

I haven’t thought about it. At this moment, I don’t feel concerned about them per se. Generally, I make decisions when the decision is presented, and right now that hasn’t been, so until someone says, “You can go to this event now, and here’s how it’s going to be handled.” That’s the only way that I could figure out if I would feel comfortable with that. I did see a friend of mine. I believe that this friend went to an in-person event. I remember feeling surprised by that. I know one other person an acquaintance of mine that also went to another in-person event and I was surprised because I didn’t realize that those were happening.

Hopefully, we, as humanity, can continue to try, understand, and embrace people living in alternative structures of relationship and career. Click To Tweet

I also trust that people are going to make the best decisions for themselves. I haven’t been presented with an opportunity to do much in person. I haven’t had to say yes or no to them. I don’t think I feel ready, but then again, if an event was laid out in a very specific way and I felt trusting of the organizers, and maybe I’d consider it, I suppose. I’m not concerned yet. I also feel like as an introvert. This downtime has been rejuvenating. When an event comes up, I don’t feel eager to go to an event, but I feel like, “I could handle it.” I’ve replenished my energy for almost a year and I’d be open to experiencing it again.

When I did my cross-country trip in 2020, that felt satisfying for me. I didn’t have a lot of interaction with people, but because I was out in the world, literally in the country going across the country being in different environments was satisfying for me. Seeing people from a distance I feel like is good for me mentally. My desk is in front of a window on a decently busy street or going to the grocery store. That’s enough interaction for me personally. Sometimes that feels uncomfortable. When I’m in situations, Jason, where I don’t feel like they have been properly set up, that makes me uncomfortable, or I don’t feel like control because right now, I want to keep my distance from strangers that makes me feel more comfortable.

If I know that stranger is being mindful, or I know that there’s a system in place to keep us apart and the surfaces are being cleaned. If I feel like that is being well taken care of, great. I’ve gotten into some grocery stores, for example, I’m like, “I don’t know if they’re being mindful now.” Another example is I drove by in an area of Los Angeles and there were so many people out now that we’re allowed to eat outdoors again at restaurants. There were so many bars and restaurants full of people on their outdoor tables and I thought, “I have zero desire to do that.” Maybe I’d go to a restaurant, but I don’t feel like I need to go to a restaurant. I’m happy getting takeout, making food at home. That’s completely fine, but I was more fascinated by the people that were out at bars socializing. Some people are eager to get back into that world of socializing in these public settings. It’s just not for me.

We go back to one of the aspects of our conversation when we started this show, which is we’re hardwired for connection. We have the desire. We want to be with people. The stay at home order getting lifted in Los Angeles has been fascinating driving down like Melrose Avenue and seeing the sidewalks packed with people but it goes back to people are hardwired for connection. They’re hardwired for tribalism. They want to be around other people. Our reality in Los Angeles is not the same reality as say, people in Texas and Florida or states that maybe didn’t have a stay-at-home order or states that are allowing people to have indoor things.

This maybe puts somewhat of a bow on this conversation of people are doing things differently and for a human being to explore love, connection, and companionship in a structure that doesn’t fit the norms. Hopefully, we, as humanity continue to try, understand and embrace people living in alternative structures of relationships and careers. That’s another thing too, that we could offshoot of this is choosing a career that society doesn’t understand, or your parents don’t understand. There are so many permutations of this conversation, but it ultimately comes back to the work of us as individuals finding out who we are, what we’re passionate about, what has great meaning, living in alignment with that, and doing the work to find out more and more about what we want, why we want it and who we truly are, what makes us tick. That’s what this is about.

Having the courage to live a life that we feel aligned with no matter what people think. One of the toughest things is not necessarily getting clear about what you value and what’s important to you, the kind of life you want to live. Realizing if that life structure doesn’t fit the norm, preparing yourself for questions, pushback, and maybe even some violence in certain ways. We are curious dear reader, how you feel about these subject matters, alternative relationships, platonic partnerships, how you feel about reintegrating into the world romantically or in any other context.

We always love hearing from you directly our email, where you can reach Whitney and myself is, [email protected]. That’s also our website, Wellvatr.com. You can also find us on social media. As Whitney mentioned, we’re both on Clubhouse. If you happen to be on that app, we have a weekly Wednesday room called the Dolphin Tank. It’s a natural products community. It’s a pitch session for brands, entrepreneurs, investors, influencers, impactors, CEOs, anyone who’s involved in the natural products and wellness industries to come and tell us about what you’re up to in the world, what your goals and ambitions are, and also how we can support you.

If you’re on Clubhouse or you’re getting on Clubhouse, you can join us in the Dolphin Tank. We’ve got a great group and community in there, and we’d love for you to join us if you’re in the industry. On all the social platforms we’re at, Wellevatr.com. Thanks for getting uncomfortable with us and exploring these topics of connection, romance, relationship, doing things differently because it’s something that Whitney and I are always trying to open our minds and our hearts to exploring on a much broader and deep level. We love you. We appreciate your support of the show and we’ll catch you again soon with another episode. 

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