Relationship Desires--Do They Change in Midlife?
Updated: Jan 10
We opened this month's Circles pondering the question about what we, as women, feel we need, desire, or expect from a partner at this time in our lives. We asked ourselves if these expectations mirrored those from when we were young and in the first blushes of love.
The groups included both married and divorced women. For the most part, there was little difference between the responses. After going around and around citing perceived wins and failures in all of our relationships, it became clear that the core traits, characteristics and qualities we desire from our partners in our lives is very similar to those from our youth. What's clearer, is that with our maturity, life experience and acquired wisdom we're better able to identify, pursue and achieve our desires from having a better sense of ourselves.
Here is what the group felt is most important for successful partnership:
* Feeling loved and cherished--being in love
* Knowing you and your partner are mutually committed to making things work
* Being able to trust and be loyal to yourself and your partner
* Having a foundation of mutual respect and integrity
* Sharing core values
* Being able to both compromise
* Sharing good communication skills
* Leaving room for freedom and independence within the partnership
* Feeling safe
* Embracing forgiveness
* Connecting spiritually
While being in love or feeling a love/soul connection with our partners was paramount and served as a springboard for all the other expectations, the big takeaway from the discussion was-- knowing who we are, connecting with our personal identities and being comfortable with our inner beings has to come first before we can succeed and find fulfillment in partnership- whether new or existing. We're idealistic when we're young with all good intentions but we're certainly not skilled or adept at it.
"When you're young you're just beginning to explore and claim who you are and who you want to become. Of course this would impact the decisions we made about our relationships and long term needs."
"When you think about it, many of us have never even lived independently for long, going straight from a college dorm to cohabitation with our partners. Add the responsibilities of children to the mix, the urge to create the "perfect family," putting ourselves second to everyone else, one could say we've spent much of the first half of our partnerships in fight or flight modes! That just served to pull us farther away from our inner beings and in many cases, struggling and unfulfilled in our relationships."
"Let's also not forget about all the self judgement women can be guilty of and how hard it is for us to let go! The wisdom that comes with age frees us up to see things more clearly and shift away from those destructive behaviors."
The consensus was the list above stands the test of time. However most of those traits, desires and values would be meaningless unless we are aligned with ourselves and hopefully can say the same about our partners. This is a self learning process that happens over time. Experience and maturity help us to better connect with and trust ourselves; understand how to navigate the ups, downs and constant changes in life; learn how to let go of judgement; and simply be more practiced at letting go of everything that doesn't serve us. This inner alignment is what leads us to get the very best out of our partnerships.
The questions to ask oneself are "Have you been open to doing this growth work on your journey? Are you courageous enough to take a hard look at your emotional needs without judgement? Can you allow yourself to be vulnerable as a starting point to fulfillment?"
From this writer's perspective, perceived success at anything in our lives always comes back to connecting with ourselves and our inner voices at a soul level. What do you think? Did we miss anything from the list? Please join the conversation and add your thoughts below.