Being the Kelly Clarkson fan I am, I follow her Facebook news feed. On February 8th, her team posted her two upcoming People Magazine covers (week of February 18th) in which the headline was “I Found Love At Last!...Finding Mr. Right.” I was flabbergasted for a few reasons. In 2010, I wrote an article about how magazines with a mostly female audience over-emphasize sex and romance as opposed to self-accomplishment and growth. Being the girl-power singer Clarkson is, I’m surprised she would feed into such a bad media habit (granted there may be more to her feature than the headline indicates). Secondly, I wonder why she would do that type of cover story as if an engagement break or divorce can’t happen. How foolish would she feel if they split or had a bitter ending? She would’ve publicly declared that she figured dating out and found “Mr. Right,” only to appear to be really wrong. Once footballer Roy Williams became singer Kelly Rowland’s ex-fiancé, Rowland said she felt “embarrassed” for repeatedly publicly gushing about her engagement and covering Modern Bride, vowing to keep her future rmoantic relationships private.
I’ve never understood why celebrities advertise their relationships with cover stories and joint interviews. What’s the story there? So what, you’re in love. I thought they didn’t like everyone being in their business. I find it especially obnoxious when they arrogantly imply they have invincible, eternal love or make the same declarations about their current partner that they did about the last three. Maybe you should stop falling in love like a high-school student, but that’s another article. Actors Nicole Kidman & Tom Cruise reportedly claimed to People Magazine that they would “be on their honeymoon for the rest of their lives.” Are they dead, because I’m pretty sure their honeymoon is over. As a matter of fact, isn’t Cruise ending is third honeymoon with Katie Holmes, whom he notoriously giddily jumped on Oprah’s couch about? Unless you’re shipping a project or overcame some hurdle together, like a severe illness, why are you promoting your relationship again?
Considering the buzz it creates, you would think celebrities would be the ones to publicize their romantic entanglements the most, but they have nothing on everyday people. It’s crazy how many of our loved ones make shrines to their relationships out of their social media pages. I know one person who every other status or photo is about or of their boyfriend. The boyfriend comments on every post and they actually go back and forth having conversations that everyone can see. It makes me wonder…"Is your relationship for you or me?" The way some people plaster it, you would think their relationship was a product or service. I also want to ask “Do you have an identity outside of your relationship?" Most people use sites like Tumblr or Facebook to show their interests. You can learn a lot by looking at someone’s social media page. If you look at my Tumblr, you’ll learn that I battle with depression, love music (especially Beyonce` & Demi Lovato), voted for Obama, watch General Hospital (recast Jason!) and love High School Musical. If I look at some other people’s pages, all I’ll learn is that they’re in a relationship. Guess that’s who they are. And of course, if they break up with their beloved, all of the sudden they’ll be hush-hush. The moral to this story, kids, is that when you publicize your relationship, not only are you inviting everyone into your business, but you look foolish and like you’re defining yourself by your mate.
J.Says responds to an advice question sent to her: "Do relationship titles really matter?"-Jessica T. Hit the "Contact/Info" tab to submit questions for J.Says. J.Says is NOT a licensed therapist. Follow advice at your own discretion. *Note: This video has been moved from another section.
"What about the plans that you left behind…what about the promise that you made to stay with me ‘till your dying day, said you’d never go away…they’re just things that people say…”-Lady Antebellum
I was listening to Christina Aguilera’s “Back to Basics” album, in which there are few songs inspired by her relationship with then-husband Jordan Bratman, with whom she had a son. Aguilera croons about how negatively different her life would be without him and how he “saves her from herself” and so on. I love the songs, but after I got through singing along and loving them, I thought “Wow. She made some powerful statements and yet, they’re not together anymore.” More than likely, if Aguilera’s current relationship goes well, there will be new odes dedicated.
I honestly wonder how people keep their faith in the existence and/or longevity of romantic love after hearing and giving so many professions. Don’t declarations and professions lose their meaning, power and potency the more you hear or say them? Do they or don’t they? Forgive me if I sound a little jaded or cynical (which I am), but I’m trying to figure out how to wisely operate here. Someone told me they love me. And while I still believe that to be true, they’re not in my life anymore at all. So what am I supposed to do when the next person tells me they love me? Walk on air and feel like I have a partner in crime like I did the 1st time? Shall we remove such declarations from our mouths altogether? Should we reword them? Should we say “I’ll love you until the irreversible or unforgivable happens” instead?
Just to be clear, my ponderings on this topic didn’t start with my broken heart. Prior to, I always thought it was silly for celeb couples to do magazine cover stories about their love as if they couldn’t breakup. Unless they were discussing something specific, such as how they handle long-distance or how one mate battling an illness has impacted their relationship, I thought it was pointless and the couple would feel stupid for parading their relationship around later on. Last summer, when “Nick and Vanessa’s Dream Wedding” aired on TLC, I watched TV personality Vanessa Minnilo giddily prance around in her wedding dress and sing to her new husband Nick Lachey “you get to have this forever.” Earlier in the special she touted to others “I’m going to be Mrs. Lachey.” It felt strange to hear her say all of this. I thought “how can she be so proud and sure? She says ‘I’m going to be Mrs. Lachey’ as if there hasn’t already been a Mrs. Lachey (Nick and songstress Jessica Simpson split in 2005 after 3 years of marriage). People promise before family, friends and God (if they’re Christian), to support, love and protect one another, only to rip each other to shreds, become the one their spouse needs protection from and split years, if not months, later. The divorce rate is through the roof. Granted, few promise forever without the intention of trying to make forever happen, but it just doesn’t. It’s funny how you can build such a life and a history with someone, and with just a few words or actions, it can all go away as quickly as it came. It makes you question your senses and your ability to decipher what’s the truth and what’s a lie; what’s dependable and what’s not. Everything seems so futile afterward. Can’t help but ask are “I love you,”“you make my life better” and all that other stuff just things that people say?
What it sounds like when you speak
Straight from my journal, live and in living print.
I had lunch with friends and everyone was taking turns updating the group on what’s new in their lives. I hate the update merry-go-round, especially when things aren’t going as well in my life as I want them to. Not necessarily because I’m embarrassed about anything, but because I don’t always feel like getting interviewed about my life or going into some in-depth discussion. Save that for therapy. Anyhow, when it was my turn to update, I failed at ducking and dodging. It came up that I’m still heartbroken and hung-up on my ex. I then was given a sermon on how I need to move on and date some other guy to do so, which I’m already opposed to. I just want to be left alone. This is MY process and I can’t be on anyone else’s healing clock; everyone is different in what it takes for them to recover from and cope with loss. If I could be “over it” instantaneously, I would. Sometimes it makes me want to stay where I am emotionally because of external pressure. I want to move because I want to and I’m ready to, not because someone told me it’s time. I’m also over people telling me how much value and energy I should assign to this situation. No one gets to define what’s important to ME. Invalidating my feelings or what’s important to me isn’t going to make me feel empowered; it’s exactly the opposite. I feel bullied instead of supported.
So I got my heartbroken a year ago and I’m still recovering. More than 1 person has suggested dating other people. I’m against that because I understand that even if you intend to have a casual dating relationship with someone, that doesn’t stop the possibility of an emotional attachment, on anyone’s end, from developing. I also know that if I want a committed relationship, it takes a WHOLE person with a solid sense of identity to make it work, NOT half. Whatever emotional work I need to do to feel more complete and whole again, I need to do it WITHOUT being in a relationship. Relationships take an enormous amount of emotional energy and commitment that one simply cannot offer when they’re still patching up and nursing a broken heart or trying to redefine themselves after pouring their soul into another person (and possibly losing sight of who they were in the process).
I’m a big believer in pausing and taking time to absorb the epiphanies that come after a life-changing or lesson-giving experience. When coming out of such an event, I believe one should take time to reflect, analyze, readjust and rebuild. What just happened to me and what am I supposed to learn from this? How did I get here, where do I want to go now and how do I get there? All too often, people continue about life without absorbing the helpful life tools that the experience presented. They may have an epiphany, but they don’t take time to figure out how to implement it. The end result is making the same mistakes over and over again and not developing into the person they were meant to be or doing what they were meant to do. In application to coming out of a relationship and going right into another, those who don’t heal up or “absorb the epiphany,” end up dating a person with a similar personality or bringing detrimental emotional baggage into the relationship. Emotional baggage comes in a lot of different forms, too. It can come in the form of trust issues, paranoia, codependence, or having unreasonable expectations of your partner (like subconsciously expecting them to fill your voids or patch up your heart; which only YOU can do).
Most people seek a new relationship (be it causal or committed) soon after a breakup because they’re having trouble dealing with the isolation of affection and attention. When you’re used to being flirted with, kissed, hugged, sexed, emotionally bonded or having constant company, it can be difficult to suddenly be without. Going on a date or having a new boo is like a warm blanket. Comfort food. A night light. It also boosts confidence as it gives the illusion that you’ve moved on. Having a new boo, despite how effective it may feel, cures the symptom (isolation of affection and attention) and not the illness (emotional brokenness, heartache, loss, etc.). Even in a casual situation, you run the risk of becoming dependent on flirtatious company.
I am going to be honest with myself: I’M NOT READY. I’m not ready for ANY type of romantic undertaking, and I refuse to engage with someone romantically in an attempt “to move on.” I refuse to make a band-aid out of someone. I refuse to engage being “half” a person. If I pursue dating or a relationship, I want it to be because of what someone is bringing to the table and I’m equipped to go forth, NOT because I need to try something to start over. Crawling up under another person is NOT the answer to healing. It’s an internal issue that requires an internal resolution.
I major problem I see with a lot of people in the dating game is that they link up with others that romantically or emotionally don’t have the same desires or expectations. For example, someone who seeks a committed relationship dating a person who only desires to date casually. As illogical as it may seem to do such a thing, people consciously and subconsciously do it all the time. On the conscious end, individuals often convince themselves they can change someone else’s feelings or comfortably change their own. The subconscious folk blindly have romantic entanglements without seeking a clear of understanding of the other persons (or their own) intentions. Dating this way typically ends up in confusion, resentment, frustration and heartbreak. How you start as a couple is often how you end. Let me offer an example to illustrate my point.
Scenario: Ryan wants to get married and is looking for a committed relationship. Ryan became taken with Jennifer who recently got out of a relationship with Brandon. Jennifer is VERY interested in Ryan and her behavior reflects this, but she told Ryan she wanted to remain friends for the time being because she still deciding whether or not to go back to Brandon. Ryan was convinced that if he proved himself to be a more suitable mate than Brandon, Jennifer would give into her feelings for him and forget about her ex. Jennifer decided to change their status from “friends” to “casually dating.” Jennifer told Ryan she was focusing on him and new dating options, yet she still kept in occasional contact with Brandon.
Jennifer and Ryan will LIKELY not work, even if she stops talking to Brandon. 1st, Ryan wants ultimately to get married; at minimum a serious relationship. With Jennifer, she went from “friends” to “causally dating;” two forms of NOT serious. NOT committed. She might have a strong interest in Ryan, but being the Bonnie to his Clyde is not a part of her goal. She is emotionally going to behave differently. Ryan is currently one of Jennifer’s OPTIONS, NOT the CHOICE. While Ryan is centralizing ALL of his energy, heart & focus on Jennifer, he’ll receive most, if not less, of her energy. Either way, it won’t be equal. She has a high potential to “yo-yo” or be emotionally fickle; one moment in love and dedicated, the next moment unsure (There are varied reasons why she may become unsure; interest in another person, Brandon returning, wanting singlehood or freedom, etc.). At its ugliest, the moment Jennifer feels suffocated or discontent, she’ll quickly remind Ryan “I told you I didn’t want a serious relationship!”(despite her acting like the “forever yours” girlfriend). In an attempt to avoid all of this, Ryan may try to compromise and try to make himself okay with just casually dating, but the fact remains he isn’t. He wants to put a ring on it. He’s going to get frustrated. He’s going to feel like he settled. He’s going to feel resentful, and all of that energy is going to seep into their dynamic.
Independent of what the relationship status is on paper, how you internally feel about the other person or the relationship will affect your approach and behavior. Be honest with yourself about your internal feelings and act accordingly. You can tell yourself to go into “casual dating” mode all you want, but that doesn’t mean your emotions toward the other person will change and match the relationship level.
If you’re in a dating situation where you both want something casual and it seems to be progressing into something more, TALK about it. It’s important to have that evaluative conversation. Otherwise, your relationship will gradually reach an ambiguous definition. In the wake of ambiguity, emotions can rise, expectations are unclear and entitlement can set in. You (or your dating partner) may feel entitled to things in which you are not owed. The “what are we?” or the “I have deeper feelings for you” conversation is not an easy or comfortable one to have, but alas, it must be done. If you’re uncertain about what someone’s dating intentions are, pay close attention to their statements and actions. Are they congruent? If not, that’s a sign you may want to get out of Dodge. Well, that’s my romance advice for the day. Hope that helps.
Or at least part of the potential reason anyway.
The reason why a lot of people fall in love is the same reason why they “fall out” of love. It’s really easy to fall for someone or get attached when they take care of you. It’s easy when they nurture long-unmet needs, seemingly fill voids or fulfill neglected desires. To a degree, when someone does all of those things, they become some sort of security-blanket, safe-place or “superman.” This concept may seem romantic or beautiful in theory, and isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be the death of a relationship.
People go down the aisle or enter a committed relationship subconsciously thinking “I’ll fill your voids, you’ll fill mine. I save you, you save me.” Initially, it’s a fair exchange that works out perfectly. But eventually, with time, age and personal growth (or stagnation for that matter), it gets to be too much. You suddenly have the weight of your own internal issues AND those of your significant other on your back. “Saving” each other didn’t work out as well as you thought and you’re beginning to resent your role as savior. In addition, you’re agitated by the fact that your partner doesn’t want to save you anymore either. That, or you’re agitated because they want you to “be who you used to be” or change into someone new. Now you’re out of a safe-place. Your home, or the time you spend together, has now gone from paradise to a battleground, and like Deena Jones in Dreamgirls, “you’re not at home in your own home.” You’re back to unmet needs, gaping voids and unfulfilled desires. On the way to divorce or a break-up, emotional cheating or infidelity may occur (for some reason, people think that a new person will be more capable of saving them). If not infidelity, the ugliness comes in the form of depression, substance and/or domestic abuse, or the couple rips each other in half emotionally.
Kids, significant others are supposed to be support, not saviors, band-aids or therapists. Like Oprah Winfrey said in her series finale, “Don't wait for anybody to fix you, save you or complete you. Jerry Maguire was just a movie." ONLY you can fill your voids. It’s just not a reasonable or a fair expectation that your partner is going to heal your wounds. Anytime the source of your fulfilled desires, filled voids or met needs is someone else, you will lose because the moment that person isn’t around anymore or stops doing their “job,” you’re wounds will get deeper, wider and more painful. Most couples have their share of baggage that they bring into the relationship. It’s your job to do whatever it takes to reduce your baggage as much you can, so that you don’t unfairly project that responsibility to your partner.
My dump area for all my random thoughts, observations and advice that don't fit into the other categories.