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Mindset, Growth, and Grief in Relationships

Our cultural messaging around relationships, around self-knowledge, and around love (of the self and of each other) is focused very strongly on growth. Part of the cultural force of the relationship escalator is the idea of tying ourselves to someone else and forcing joint growth (a kind of support pole for the bean vines of our hearts - even if sometimes the effect is more "decorative pruning" or "bonsai") - and when we choose to identify the limits on this and grow independently, apart from these scripts, the lack of script can lead to just that - a lack. The absence of script, the additional work needed to determine what you want, and - just as much - releasing culturally given expectations that your relationship needs to be about growth rather than happiness can be a source of complicated emotions for folks.

If your relationships change over time, and some of those changes look like de-escalations, or you decide you're divesting from the escalator and not using that language in your re-imagining of your relationships, but changes are things that cause folks on the outside of your relationship to question its structure and its "realness" or "okayness" because it's going sideways or down to THEIR perception, it's okay to have emotional responses about that. It's okay for some of them to be big, or to need time to process the idea that you're really not "doing the escalator" with anyone. Your relationships can be healthy and good for you and still include times when you sit with 'negative' emotions or feelings of grief.

It's a series of mindset shifts to align your expectations and your nervous system with what you want in your head. Our cultural messaging says all these mindset shifts - and relationships as a whole- are a generative process, that it's all growth. But often in reality it feels like loss and like letting go of something on the way there, and that's something we should accept rather than beating ourselves up for. It's not a failure to not be in growth mindset at all times - it's integrating the lessons we've learned and getting to know the people we are now.


To talk more about this and the practicality of living and loving in off-escalator relationships, come chat with me and Annie Undone on Sunday, March 3 at 2pm Eastern in our workshop Deconstructing the Relationship Escalator. Tickets are available here, email me if you need a discounted ticket.

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