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Healthy Relationships

Damned if I Do, Damned if I Don’t: The Dynamics of our Relationships

Damned if I Do, Damned if I Don’t: The Dynamics of our Relationships

by Pamela Jenkins

4 years ago

With the divorce rate continuing to climb, I think it’s about time that men and women started to get real with each other. We were meant to live together in harmony but because of our lack of understanding about ourselves and each other, we are becoming further divided.

My personal experience with dating after the end of a 20-year marriage relationship has been a huge lesson in personal growth. If you have ever spent any time on a dating website, you will completely agree with what I am about to say. How many of the dating profiles have you ever read that mentioned the word “drama?” I can only speak about what I personally observed but it is a very common word used among men although I am pretty sure that most of us women mention it as well.

 The truth is that a little “drama” is necessary for our personal growth and development. The only way two people can really have a good relationship these days is because they have learned to be great at forgiving one another. If not, they either move on and have the same opportunity to grow with someone else or they stay in the comfort zones of their unhappy relationships. On the other hand, more people these days opt for the choice to stay single but that doesn’t bring real happiness either. We were meant for relationship…. meant to love and be loved!

Although most men and women say that they do not want drama, they seek it out by the masses and then turn around and blame their unhappiness on the person that they were attracted to in the first place. Let’s be true to ourselves and at least admit that we are attracted to drama in some way. We are drawn to it every time we engage in a social media political or religious debate, watch the news or gossip with our friends about all the drama in other people’s lives. Why do you think the Hollywood tabloids are a billion-dollar industry? Drama sells because we are attracted to it and we know it!

I am sure that most men want to know what it is that women really want but honestly, I am not even sure that women are aware of what they really want from men. This only leaves men feeling a sense of confusion, a sense of damned if I do, damned if I don’t. Let me explain why there is such confusion. Women obviously appear to have more emotional feeling which men often call “drama.” On the other hand, ladies do not be fooled…. MEN HAVE EMOTIONS TOO! Just so we understand something about emotion, ANGER IS A SECONDARY EMOTION AND USUALLY COMES FROM HURT AND FEAR.

A major problem with men’s’ avoidance of emotion comes from how society views it.  I will never forget a personal experience I had as a high school teacher. Years ago, I was leading a discussion with my students on the topic of emotion when one of my students, a popular football player, announced “Miss, if I were to express how I really felt inside, I would go to jail!” I was shocked but impressed at his honesty.
If things are to get better in the relationships between the sexes, it will take courage to be transparent much like my former student.  It is not healthy to suppress such emotional pain, no wonder we have an epidemic of hypertension and heart disease!

This is what I have come to understand, both from research and personal experience:  MEN ARE EXPECTED TO BE STRONG AND TOUGH (RESCUER & PROTECTOR), BUT ALSO VULNERABLE AND IN TOUCH WITH A WOMANS FEELINGS.
Women want a strong man because women have a need for security but on the other hand, we also want a man that will show his feelings and express how much he adores us. BUT GOD FORBID THAT THE MAN IS TOO SWEET AND LOVING OR WE WILL TURN AROUND AND CALL HIM “WEAK!” Remember nice guys finish last? Because of these mixed messages, men feel a sense of “DAMNED IF I DO, DAMNED IF I DON’T!”  
Likewise, most women would give anything to know what men really want from their women. Just as women don’t know what they really want, I believe that holds true for men as well.

Again, through my research and personal experience, I have come to believe that although most men say that they do not want drama in their lives, they are actually very attracted to drama. Here is what I mean by that statement.

Men want women who know themselves and are confident but GOD FORBID THAT THEY ARE TOO CONFIDENT, OUTSPOKEN AND INDEPENDENT OR THEY ARE CALLED A “#&%@!” Men want women to be attractive, intelligent and independent but just not too independent because then we won’t need them anymore. Men need to be needed!  On the other hand, men are usually turned off by needy women. Because of these mixed messages, women feel a sense of “DAMNED IF I DO, DAMNED IF I DON’T!”
As you can clearly see, neither men nor women have it all together. Both have a sense of confusion and often blame each other for being hypocritical. It is easy to blame but unfortunately never gets us anywhere. Everyone has some sort of drama in their lives or they are working hard to avoid it. You can avoid something but that doesn’t make it go away. Furthermore, avoidance takes a lot of energy and often results in isolation and a lack of love.

I believe that we can heal our relationships but certain things will have to take place before that happens. First, it is going to take open and honest communication and that involves real courage. Furthermore, the requirement for courage is vulnerability. If we were never taught how to be vulnerable, we must learn. It is going to require trust so my advice would be to seek out good counsel with people that you can trust. Good counselors are great listeners and mirror back to you the beliefs that are hidden deep inside of you. They help you understand yourself better!

In addition to learning to be open, honest and vulnerable, one must be willing to face and forgive themselves for holding on to the pain of the past. Those resentments, judgments, and criticisms that rooted in us in our childhood. It is a process but unless we take personal responsibility for our part, we will only become more and more bound up with hurts.

Because I believe in a higher power, I have gained personal insight through prayer, reflection and meditation. I look at the example of Jesus and ask the question, did he ever show emotion? Of course, he did, he got very angry at the things that were destructive to us (righteous anger) and he also cried and felt deeply for the hurting.

Our young boys must be allowed to express painful emotion in a healthy way without believing that it makes them look weak. Our young girls must be allowed to have a voice and a sense of independence about themselves. If we are ever going to change a generation, I personally believe that it starts with men because of the power and influence that they possess in the world.

It can be fearful to think about opening yourself up to others and letting yourself be known. We have this fear that we will be rejected if others really knew what went on inside of us. I know that I have personally lived much of my life this way but I am realizing that life is a journey of self-discovery and healing through the power of love.

I believe who we are attracted to says a lot about us. Look at the person that you are most attracted to and ask yourself, “what traits about them do I despise?” Very often, they are the same traits that you have…I know, right! That is a tough pill to swallow. I have found that we are attracted to people for two reasons: There is something about them we admire and want for ourselves and there is something about them that we don’t like about ourselves.

I can remember being about 16 years of age when I first set my sights on a particular guy in high school.  I didn’t even know who he was, all I knew was that I was really attracted to him and we eventually had an 8-year relationship that was nearly the death of me! Was it all his fault? Absolutely not! Those mental patterns of fear and control were already set up in me before he ever crossed my path. I think I was just looking for someone to help me heal but I had no understanding of who I even was at that age.

Most teenagers today have no clue who they really are, precisely why I am so passionate about students becoming educated in courses like psychology and sociology. They need to understand emotional intelligence (ability to manage emotion) and how to communicate effectively. With today’s technology, more young people do not have the skills to effectively communicate with each other. These days they rarely communicate directly (face to face or verbally) and often when they must, they are fearful about doing it. Many people have a fear of public speaking but more young people are becoming afraid to even talk on a personal level.

Personal responsibility and transparent communication are key to healing our relationships now and in the future. Additionally, healing our relationships will require us to heal ourselves in the process but we must first be willing. The question now becomes, “which force is leading our way, love or fear?”


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