Full text of Select The Right Relationship by Alexandra Redcay at TEDxUpperEastSide conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: MP3 – Select the right relationship by Alexandra Redcay at TEDxUpperEastSide
I want everybody to close their eyes. I want you to imagine being in love. Maybe you have been in love, maybe you hope to be in love.
What was that like? Your heart starts racing, your stomach gets all weird. You call up your best friend and say, “Oh, my gosh, I think I just met the love of my life!” Right? In three weeks. We figured that out so quick. We make these very quick decisions. All of our emotion comes rushing so quickly.
But then, what happens down the road? We realize, “What were we thinking?” Right?
50% of marriages fail. Why? Two of my very good friends called me within a week of each other and told me that their marriage of over 10 years had failed. Now even though everyone else around them knew that they weren’t really making a good decision at the time. You know, my best friend – her mother and I knew over 10 years ago that the guy that she picked was kind of controlling; he was dismissive towards women, and he really wanted a woman that would stay home, cook, clean, and have their child. And my friend was not at all interested in that, she was singing jazz in New York City. She was very happy to have that life, but that’s not what he was interested in.
But somewhere along the way, she fell in love with him, and so she sacrificed for the family, she sacrificed for what she thought was the right decision. And 10 years down the road, she realized she didn’t recognize herself, and then she decided to leave.
A woman asked me the other day – she was complaining, at 40, saying that there was no good man left. And she said that the only men that are out there are the Peter Pan guys. The men who, as she described, don’t want to grow up, that they don’t want to have kids, they don’t want to get married, they don’t want to settle down. And she spent all her time and energy trying to ‘un-Peter-Pan’ them.
And she asked me, what do I think, and why does this come about, and why can’t she find anybody, and why can’t she fix this situation.
And so I said to her: “How honest do you want me to be?”
And she said, “Oh, yes, very honest. I’m really serious. I want to fix this problem. How do I do this?”
And I said: “Well, I think you’re investing all your energy in people that are really happy. They’re totally fine. Why should they get married, have kids, and settle down? They don’t want to, you do.”
So, the issue is your focus, the issue is your perspective. How are we selecting partners? And why are we trying to force them to change? Or, why are we ignoring who they are, or the red flags that are right in front of our face? I have women all the time complaining – in their 30s, 40s, and 50s that they can’t find the man of their dreams or woman of their dreams.
I have men complaining that they feel that they’re being overlooked because they are the good guy, they’re the nice guy, they’re the friend, and what they find is that people are dating the unavailable person, the player, the pathological liar, the person who’s already married. So, we make all these decisions in our relationships, and we end up two, three years down the road, 10 years down the road, in despair. We struggle to try to find the relationship that we want, whether that leads to marriage or just to long term commitment.
Why do we repeat this cycle over and over and over again? And the woman that asked me earlier – that I had talked about, that asked my advice about why this happens – and she says: “Oh, no! I don’t date the Peter Pan guys. I just see them out there. Well, except the last two relationships, I did date the Peter Pan guy.”
“Oh, okay, so you do date them. So why do you choose them?”
She couldn’t really explain it. And then she just kept coming back and saying: “No, no, I don’t really date them.”
“Okay, except the last two.”
So, she became really defensive in this conversation and was denying the truth that everyone else around her could see – the people that loved her the most, her friends, her family.
And so I asked myself: on the path of love, what happens? What do we do? It starts off beautiful, wonderful, perfect. You’re totally in love with this person in a very short period of time. And then, we see a red flag, but we ignore it because we say: “No, no. It must be us. We’re crazy. We’re too picky.”
But the problem is that our friends and family see it too. And they are concerned. They may or may not say anything. And then, what’s our response? We attack them. “Well, you will never be happy if I am happy.” “I finally found someone I love and you can’t accept it.” “Well, you just don’t know him. He is different when we are alone.”
We tell ourselves this all the time.
Then there is a combination of red flags. And we tell ourselves, “Well, all relationships take work,” which is true, but we tell ourselves this in a misguided way, so our friends and family express their concern. And what do we do? We attack them. We’re defensive. And then we begin to isolate from them. They try to intervene, and they say: “Look, I am really concerned about this person that you’re dating. And I want you to think about that. I want you to try and pick someone else or just end it.”
And we may even admit to ourselves: “Yeah, I probably should end it. I know this person isn’t good for me.”
But we don’t. And so then what happens is – because family or friends, or anyone in our life, colleagues, co-workers, because they conflict with us, and they say, “Look, there is a problem here,” we feel embarrassed, we feel ashamed. And so, what do we do? We separate from them. So we don’t go to the friends’ house anymore because they’re always complaining.