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Power vs. Connection

by | Jun 12, 2018

Relationships….

We’re in ’em all the time: with our friends, families, children, lovers, co-workers, spouses. They can be wonderful, can’t they? When you’re feeling “on the same page” and mutual love and respect, when you look at someone you care about and know what they need, at just the right moment to feel seen and heard and worthy. When you breathe deeply to know you are also seen and heard and worthy.

Yes, relationships can be wonderful.

And, also….

They can be fucking awful and painful and raw and draining.

So, what’s the difference between a really solid, fulfilling, wonderful relationship and one that sucks? No, seriously, I’m asking because this is the thing I’m chasing the most right now.

It’s no secret that I’m single. Been single for about 5 years now. I’ve done some dating. A couple of times I thought “hey…this is THE one that I’ve been looking for!”. But, then it wasn’t. And I’m not alone as a middle age woman who is pretty damn happy being single. Many women feel pretty satisfied being alone. For me, it’s because I have amazing, nurturing, fulfilling relationships all around me. I have stellar relationships with my kids (they drive me nuts, but they’re seriously great humans), I have spectacular friends, I have an amazing family (got super lucky with them! from parents to siblings to the sibling in-laws), and my work brings me the most incredible people to be around.

But the one that eludes me…it’s the big one. My white whale…My Moby Dick. (hahahaha, that’s so funny I made myself laugh with that one!!) And let me be crystal clear here: I could be very happily single for the rest of my life. I’ve got that one nailed. I’m fucking rocking the single life. But, what I’ve just started to get is that I’ve spent so long in my own personal growth arena that I’ve only got one frontier left to conquer. And that’s intimate relationships.

Recently I’ve been thinking about what I heard from Mel Robbins (if you don’t know her, check her out, she’s RAD) on the subject of relationships. When you’re in them, you’re either chasing power or you’re chasing connection. Whoa. Could it really be THAT simple? Being in relationship with someone is either you trying to have power over them in some form, OR you trying to connect with them? Huh, o.k. So, I started doing some digging in my own life.

And guess what I found out, it’s true. I don’t have one teeny iota of a need to have any kind of power over any of my friends, my family or my clients or associates. Not one itty bitty bit. What I do need, more than anything is connection with them. I need to know that my friends and family are going to listen when I need to talk, that they see my true authentic self, that they value me as a human being and as an important person in their lives. Even with my kids, for whom I’m responsible for clothing, feeding, housing and teaching, I don’t need to have power over them, rather I want to connect with them in all the ways I can.

But, in intimate relationships, wow…can that be a different story. Remember way back when I wrote about being a hard cube of sugar? About needing to find the softness? (if you don’t, go here: https://www.samsalenger.com/Im-a-sweet-little-fucking-cube-of-sugar and https://www.samsalenger.com/Are-you-hard-thats-what-she-said) I think this is the core of the issue. When we stay “in power” over someone we stay hard. If we stopped being in power and were truly just in connection, it would be impossible to stay in the form of a compact, angular cube of sugar. We’d have to melt. We’d have to allow ourselves to soften.

I’ve written before about the difficulty of being a capable, independent woman AND being melty and soft. I think I like this new spin of power vs. connection because it doesn’t demand

that we are mushy or incapable. It does demand, however, that we are responsible for remaining in search of connection instead of power. And that’s a tricky enough business because power in a relationship is such a dicey thing. This is where women in midlife get tripped up. I recently spent some time with a happily married friend who said “I let him do things for me that I could totally do on my own, but it makes him feel good to do them, so why not let him?”

MIND BLOWN. That is true connection, and zero power on her part.

My feisty, independent streak and my sharp tongue get me in trouble with this all the time. I’m like my daughter was at 2…”I do it myself!” Not a great way to connect. And, it’s a great way to show power, isn’t it? So, I’m still learning. Learning how to encourage connection, to value connection over all else, and to feel connection in the most vulnerable of ways.

I am on my journey from sweet little fucking cube of sugar, through melty jello, and into into a state of connection. I would love to hear about your journey and find even more places to have connection!

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