Letter from Publisher
I am thrilled that Natural Awakenings had the privilege this month to interview Alison Armstrong, one of the world’s leading relationship experts. Based on 25 years of study, Armstrong challenges our perspective on members of the opposite sex. She asks us to consider the questions: “What if no one is misbehaving? What if there are good reasons for the things that other people do, and we just don’t understand those reasons?” By understanding and respecting our differences, we can truly honor each other and create deep and real partnerships, not just romantically, but with all the people in our lives.
I recently listened to a fascinating talk that Armstrong gave on the topic of expectations and how detrimental they are. When we place expectations on others, she says, we deny them the gift of being able to truly give to us from the heart. Instead, we leave them only two disempowering options: to submit or resist. Either choice creates distance and resentment.
Most of us tend to apply expectations in not only romantic relationships, but also relationships with friends and family. If an expectation is not met—that is, if the other person resists—we tend to interpret that resistance as a personal rejection or a lack of love or concern for us. We may become judgmental and decide the other person is wrong or deliberately “misbehaving,” or we may berate ourselves as not being sufficiently good or worthy. Interestingly, if an expectation is met, it sets the stage for additional expectations.
According to Armstrong, relationships are based on expectations; but partnerships are based on accountabilities. The distinction is that rather than demanding, complaining and expecting our partner to fulfill our needs, we sort through and identify which needs are truly important and critical for our well-being, express those needs to him or her, explain what filling this need would provide for us and how our lives would be enhanced; then, we ask our partners if they would be willing to be accountable to provide this for us.
Perhaps if we let go of our expectations that others should march to our tune, believe what we believe, think how we think, and live as we live, we can shift our perspective towards approaching others as partners with whom we can share openly and honestly. By healing ourselves and our relationships, we can experience personal peace and share it in the world.
In celebration of partnerships,
Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher