I’m always struck by the interest society has in other people’s relationships. I understand that as social animals, we don’t lead isolated lives and like to connect with others. Taking an interest in others relationships is natural human behaviour and can be a positive experience.
But there is a line to be crossed. And it’s the line often stepped over by the ‘judgey’ folk. I’m not a fan of the ‘judgey’ folk and I have them in my sights.
Basically I believe if you’re not hurting anyone by the life choices you make, then I salute your life choices!
- Are you happy? Yes! That’s great!
- Is your partner happy? Yes! That’s great!
And that’s where it kind of ends for me. I might be interested in the choices you’ve made and I might ask you some questions (I love talking to other people about their lives and why they choose to do certain things – or not) to hear more, see if what you’re doing might be something I could be doing. That’s how we learn, and for me, it’s part of my ongoing tendency to normalise my behaviour against other folk.
But the thing about the ‘judgey’ folk is they can have a profound effect on the lives of the people they cast their eyes and words over. I guess that’s what they are after.
I receive many emails from sleep deprived people who choose not to take the path of separate sleeping for fear of the judgement they will expose themselves to. This judgement tends to focus on a few themes – namely ‘Sleeping separately means……
- you have rejected your partner
- you don’t like your partner
- you don’t want to have sex with your partner
- you aren’t having sex with your partner
- your partner doesn’t want to have sex with you
- you are weird to not want to sleep next to your partner
- you are selfish to want to have a room exactly as you want it so you can sleep
- you can’t compromise
- you can’t possibly be in love with your partner – well, not as much as all the people who share a bed each night
- you are emotionally distant
- you are emotionally stunted
- you are ugly and your partner does not want to have sex with you and that’s why you are sleeping in a room by yourself
I have had all of the above ‘observations’ shared with me – some with concern, and some by idiots on the internet in response to articles written about me and the book. The readers who have emailed me have shared similar experiences.
As a forthright (my boss’s description of me) woman, I can’t imagine not prioritising my needs for fear of what others might say. But for some it’s real. My heart goes out to the people who feel the need to please others rather than themselves. I do believe there is a lingering gender trait at play here, around the woman (even more so if she’s a wife) yielding to the requests of the man in the relationship.
I’m so sad we haven’t moved past that construct yet. But I do live in hope.
The process of moving beyond letting other’s opinions of you control your decisions is complex, complicated and each individual’s story. Lauren Suval on Psych Central explains that caring too much about what others think can interfere with our intuition and stop us following our heart. (I would add it also stops us following our heads.) On Psychology Today, Michael Formica also talks of getting so lost in what others think that we lose our sense of self.
On a very practical level – if you spend LOTS of time listening to, and planning your world around what even at least three other people think….. how will you ever find the time to listen to what YOU think? The answer is, you probably won’t.
My ultimate goal with my book, this blog and other joint ventures, is to make sleeping separately is a non-issue. I want the focus of conversation to be that what matters is the health of anyone in a couple and how they manage that. Diet, sleep, exercise, living arrangements – they are just all part of the package of tools that individuals use to ensure they are being the best version of themselves.
So what can you do when faced with a barrage, or even just a little bit, of judgement? First and foremost – believe in you. You know yourself better than anyone, so learn to trust your heart and head when they are screaming at you. Secondly….. head to Google. There are many great forums and sites out there dealing with self esteem and a quick search of How to deal with judgemental people provided links to many valid sites worth a read.
Third and last suggestion…. use this a little more when someone is telling you how to make a life choice.