I have just realised that I have all these pictures, ideals and beliefs in my head about women in relationships and on how a woman should be in a relationship.
For so long I was unaware of these pictures as I have been single for ages and there has been no potential on the horizon, but recently that has changed… and so has my behaviour.
You see, when there was no potential relationship with a man, I was just being me… no one to impress, no neediness or anything, but as soon as I had a potential, these pictures started popping up all over the place. The hard thing was to realise that the pictures are not me; that I have taken them on so that I would fit in and belong.
These pictures look a bit like this, and for each woman they will be different, but here are some of mine:
- As a woman I should look a certain way, either sexy or feminine, for a man to like me and want to be in a relationship with me
- The house should be clean and tidy or else I am not a good woman
- The dinner should be perfect and everyone should enjoy it otherwise I am a failure as a woman
- I should be happy, fun and playful otherwise I am not a good woman
- I should be a good parent
- I should be smart
And the list will go on until bit by bit I get more and more honest about these pictures and beliefs that I have somehow had in my mind and thought were me, but aren’t really. At some point in my life, probably when I was very young, I must have felt that the real me would be rejected and I tried to fit a picture of what I thought I should be instead. When the picture gets rejected I think it‘s me and do not realise that it is just the picture or a false ideal.
I am starting to realise that from my role models, and from what I have seen on TV, in movies and in society, I have taken on these pictures of what it is to be, not only a woman, but also a women in relationship, as being me – but in fact it is not me at all.
The tricky part is that when I get caught in the trying to be the ‘picture’, in trying to look sexy, to have the house picture perfect clean and to make the perfect dinner, to have the perfect relationship, I have to leave who I am naturally and put myself under a lot of pressure to be who I am not. This pressure causes anxiety and stress and worse than that, it causes me to not be me.
In that moment, I contract or feel less and cannot for the life of me just relax and be me…
The other choice that I consider in that moment is to give up completely because it’s like I will never be able to reach the impossible standards I have set for myself as a woman – and I have only set the standards because of the pictures in my head.
I am not sure how it must feel for the man at the other end of this scenario – I am yet to discover that – but it must feel kind of strange meeting a woman and seeing her as herself but then the next time that you see her she is anxious and putting on a show. It’s no wonder guys can sometimes get cold feet in a relationship with a woman and run. Maybe it’s just that they feel the falseness of the picture and say no to that. Maybe they are not interested in the “made up version” and in fact the part they liked was the real one.
It has taken me years to acquire all these pictures of woman in relationship and how a woman ‘should’ be, act and behave in a relationship, so as much as I would like to discard them overnight, I realise that this is a work in progress and requires my honesty and awareness to slowly, one by one, become aware of each picture and decipher whether it’s me or a picture.
I may be attached to some pictures more than others and identified in them in some way, depending on how ingrained they are in me and that is okay, as it is all part of my process. Now my process is to unravel the what is not me, so that I can be me as a woman in relationship.
by Rosie Bason, Age 35, Massage therapist, Parent, Business owner, Goonellabah