About the Episode
Jemma Rane tells us a bit more about the video that went viral on TikTok of her explaining why so many women are the divorce initiators over men. Learn how the stages of grief are involved in the death of a relationship and how many women experience these symptoms before a relationship is even close to being over.
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My guest has been quietly coaching clients on personal transformation for over a decade. Her coaching is from personal experience and recently with social media, her first post on Tik Tok went viral, about how women including herself, are the ones initiating divorce. We’re going to talk about that today because I think the stats are staggering as far as how many women initiate divorce versus men. We’re going to dive into that today because my guest is awesome, Jemma Rane. What’s shakin?
That’s a great intro, thank you very much. I’m happy to be here.
Thank you, I’m glad to have you here and my team is excited to have you here too because of your perspectives and I’m sure they’re excited to see the exchange between us too.
I threw out a stat at the beginning of this that you gave us, which is 80% of divorces are initiated by women. Can you unpack that a little bit for me, the whys, the hows, or how they even get to the point? Are the men cowards to where they’re unhappy or what is it?
It’s multi-layered, because marriages end because of a crisis of connection in the marriage, and since the emotional labor has been the responsibility of women, they’re tracking the connectedness in the relationship. Since they’re monitoring it, they are aware of their lack of fulfillment, if they feel disconnected from their partners. Whereas men usually aren’t as aware if they are not tracking it. The women are the ones bringing it up with their partners, and unfortunately, they’re usually dismissed. They get to a point in the relationship where they have felt unfulfilled for too long. It also leads to them feeling uncared for, they will know cognitively, my partner loves me, but I don’t feel loved. There’s a huge difference between knowing your love and not feeling loved, and if you remain in a relationship where you don’t feel cared for, for too long, not only are you lonely, and we know now from our Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, loneliness is an epidemic. It diminishes your sense of self worth to remain in a relationship when you don’t feel cared for and so then at a certain point they just say, I know I deserve more than this, and I’m ready to go.
There’s something you said towards the beginning of that wonderful dissertation about women.. Did you say women are emotional timekeepers or the emotional trackers in the relationship?
They are the lion’s share of the emotional labor, helping other people navigate their emotions and paying attention. It covers so much, it’s not just with their partners, it’s with friends, it’s with family, it’s with co-workers, and it’s invisible labor. They’re also not often appreciated for that, for caring and nourishing the relationships of their lives.
That’s interesting. You also said something that stuck out to me, that when these things are brought up typically by women in the relationship, which I believe very much to be true, since it usually goes “Hey, can we talk?” but men are typically dismissive of this, why is that?
I believe men are typically very sensitive to feelings of inadequacy and where they go in their heads is that they’re failing,, and I don’t think they’re aware of that. “I’m failing her. I’m failing at this,” There’s such discomfort around that, and so they either get defensive or they shut down. In some conversations, women will tell me that their partner said nothing. Think about this, the woman is saying, “I’m in pain here.” and their partner either doesn’t say anything or says, “You’re crazy. You’re going through a phase where you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re overreacting. I can’t do anything to make you happy.” That direct dismissal feels really disrespectful and hurts or it’s indirect, like in my case where my ex husband was very caring in the moment, but yet the next day he carried on as if we never had the conversation until I brought it up again and again.
Was there any real resolution or action steps that came out of conversations like that?
It sounded almost like your husband at the time was just trying to get through the arguments, and then as soon as the argument was done, he would feel “Okay I can move back to whatever I was doing now,” is that accurate?
I would like to change the language a little bit, it’s interesting. I’m also curious if this is a male’s perspective on the word argument. It’s this feeling of “Oh, it’s conflict, we’re on opposing sides.” The way that I was initiating the conversation was very much in this tone. It wasn’t a complaint, it was a “Hey, we’re disconnected. We have to figure this out.” There were no insults, there was no blaming or criticizing, it was “I’m feeling alone in this relationship.” He and I are both the children of therapists, we were raised by therapists so we know disconnection is the kiss of death for a relationship. It was a conversation and I think he didn’t know what to do.
That was an intentional word by the way, because coming from a male perspective with an argument, that’s a lot of what it can be. It’s taken me years of self work to understand that’s not the case, to have your guard let down. As a man to be able to allow that conversation to take place, rather than the immediate defenses to go up, so it’s very much a natural response I feel of males, or women who have taken a masculine role in the relationship.
Let’s talk about that for a minute too. I think that’s a really interesting topic that we all have masculine and feminine energy. I can tell one of the effects of being uncared for, for feeling uncared for in your relationship with some women when I’m working with them, their masculine energy is much more dominant because they built up some walls from feeling uncared for. They’ve kind of forgotten how to receive, they know how to give. It’s interesting that you bring that up.
It’s almost like trying to fill the gap yourself, that was never meant to be filled by you.
It’s meant to be part of the coupling, but now because that’s missing, what do you do over time, you figure out a way to kind of supplement that on your own, but it really never fills the void does it?
One of the reasons that I think it doesn’t, is because it’s about learning how to care for yourself. Actually, men and women are both fairly lousy at this, because guys are looking for external appreciation, validation, and recognition; I call it chasing gold stars. Men are really conditioned by society to think that their worth is contingent upon their career success, being providers. That’s all external, that can be taken away from you at any moment. They also are steered away from learning how to experience and move through unpleasant emotions, besides anger. Women are caring for others, they’re taught that their value is caring for others over themselves, so they also don’t know how to care for themselves.
No doubt. Talking about the catalyst to get to that point to where in divorces it’s 80% of the women are typically the initiators. This is all getting them to that point. But there’s something else interesting that that you provided us too, is that figure goes from 80% and 90% of women that are college educated. Why in the world is that?
I think it has to do with their understanding that they can support themselves financially. Women who haven’t gone to college can do that as well, it’s just there can be more fear around it. Part of the shift I think needs to happen now is that it’s important for men to expand their sense of worth beyond how they’re doing in their career, to understand it’s not about their doing, it’s not about task oriented activities, it’s about their being. Women who are basically saying, “Can you please be with me, be present with me, connect with me.” That’s your value. Women can support themselves financially.
We’re at a point where we need it, and the men puff up around that like, “Yeah, but I’m a great provider. Look at the life I’m providing you!” In a lot of these situations they’re not being great providers possibly, and or the women are sometimes, bringing in more household income anyway.
There’s a scenario with my brother and his wife. She makes more than him, she’s a CPA now and he’s working as a Tech Support Manager for Cars.com and the income proportion has been that she has made more than he has. I’m actually saying this as a compliment because at the same time, that almost has no play in how they view their marriage with each other. They’ve actually got a very healthy view of that and it doesn’t intimidate him in his role either. Here’s why I think so: it’s because he is very good at being present with his wife, when she comes home from work or he does, it’s actually even more traditional to where she feels like she can receive and still allow his positive masculinity to be in that rightful place in their home. Then it’s like “Who cares who makes more?” Even though she knows that, of course she could supply for herself and I’m sure this is the case in a lot of places now, especially men and traditional trade type work or something like that where women might be the executive, similar to this kind of scenario. They’re making sometimes one and a half or two times the amount of their husbands.
Absolutely, and he’s not threatened by that. Tell me what you think about this, when you tell me that story, I think part of the reason he’s not threatened is because he understands that his worth is about who he is.
That’s exactly it. Bringing to the table, it’s “Well I can still be the man of the house,” and this is by no means a sexist comment at all, I’m talking about positive masculinity, which I think there’s a lot of that that’s lost in society today, in my personal opinion. Some of it has to do with the men not being present, but their focus is in the wrong place. Exactly what you’re saying, it is for external validation rather than the coupling to fulfill those emotional needs that each in that relationship need.
Absolutely, and one of the things that I’ve noticed it’s really interesting to me, is that men will use the skills of emotional and relational intelligence in their careers, they’re using them every day, and then they’ll say to me, “I don’t know what happens, I just can’t do it in my relationship.” They don’t bring it home with them and it’s fascinating to me because they’ll tell me stories about how they’ve navigated work situations, and they’re brilliantly navigated, they’re attuning to the other person. Think about business negotiations, you’re listening for the other person’s needs, you’re curious about them, you want to understand them on a deeper level, you want to make sure that your clients feel heard, you talk about growing a business. Why are we not talking about growing relationships?
That’s a good perspective. How do you feel about the difference in rate of growth between a husband and a wife? If one might not be looking to grow and the other one is? How do you define growth? What do you see as the pace of it, should they be simultaneous, is it working on yourself and working on the marriage? What do you feel about growth in a relationship?
I think it’s so important and I think the relationship isn’t going to thrive, and the balance is something to always be played with. It’s not always going to be the right balance but for each person in the partnership to be investing in their own personal growth, and investing in the growth of the relationship, and another very common pattern is that the men will invest in their growth to advance their careers, and the women will invest in the growth of the relationship and the deep connectedness of the relationship. They may already be investing in their personal growth but at a certain point that they recognize they’re unfulfilled, they’ll often invest even more in their personal growth, and if men aren’t doing so for personal reasons beyond their careers, they’ll kind of lag behind.
The women then outgrow the relationship.
Wow, that’s hard hitting, I’m sure for anybody that’s listening at this point too. You used a very good phrase there too, when you said that they will outgrow the relationship. It’s almost as if the relationship itself just stays where it’s at.
Then as you invest in yourself and become more emotionally intelligent, more emotionally aware and mature, then you realize this relationship is not moving forward, it doesn’t really serve me anymore.
Absolutely, “I’m bored.” Not to say a person is boring, it’s to say, “I’m bored here, where’s the stimulation, where’s the inspiration.” We also want a certain degree of challenge and curiosity to keep us growing and learning. Also, for women, we don’t want to be the experts on growth within the relationship, we want to be inspired and stimulated by our partner too, we want to be learning from them or they’re saying “Hey guess what I heard today, what do you think of this?” We want to be stimulated in that way too in terms of intellectual intimacy.
No doubt, that it’s not just all about sex is it?
No, and I think the other part that men aren’t getting is that if we don’t have the emotional intimacy, the physical intimacy suffers too. I will hear clients say to me,, “Oh no, everything’s fine with the sex.” Then they’ll tell me about such a long term disconnection in the marriage and I think there’s no way that the physical intimacy is actually intimate. As we work together, it comes out that they’re having sex with their partner out of obligation, like the Saturday night obligatory sex.
It’s a function now at this point.
In order for the physical intimacy to actually feel connective, intimate and passionate, you want to have the emotional, intellectual and experiential intimacy as well. The interesting thing is, both people in the hetero relationship are longing for intimacy, they’re just trying to get it from different angles.
That’s so intriguing. I’m going to go back to the statistic quickly because I’m going to take the inverse for a moment, because if it’s 80% typically the women initiate those one out of five guys, what happens with them to where they’re like okay this isn’t serving me anymore?
It’s often a similar thing, they may not be identifying it in the same way, but they’re not feeling seen, appreciated, and they’re not feeling a sense of connection either. Sometimes they’re going to go looking for it elsewhere, and some women will do this too. There’s a lot of women in long term relationships, when they’re feeling unfulfilled, suddenly they find themselves in an emotional affair because somebody else is seeing them. For men, it tends to be the same reasons, I just don’t know that they’re identifying it in that way.
That makes sense, and it’s the difference too because I firmly believe that women are generally emotionally more connected than men are. It’s how we’re wired.
I also think that it’s important for us to be more focused on our similarities, because our brains are different, there are different hormones, there are biological differences, but we have been conditioned to think that we are much more different than we are, and that’s part of the problem. As long as we keep thinking that we are so different, then we will continue to assign the emotional labor to women because we’re just assuming they’re better at it. Guys are then assuming I just, “I don’t get this, I can’t do it well,” so then they’re gonna shy away from it. When you look at young children. They’re equally intuitive, they’re equally compassionate, boys and girls.
Yes, I have boy and girl twins, I see it.. I’ve seen it since they first looked at each other and smiled at each other when they were three months old.
Yes, and then men are steered away from that. I have a lot of compassion for men because they are told to man up from the time they are young kids. Which essentially means value your independence and it means value power over others to earn your place, your confidence and your sense of worth. Then they’re struggling on their own emotionally; they’re told to disconnect from themselves emotionally. That’s painful.
Yes. I could see that happening to it, when women can take on this masculine role in the relationship, and all of a sudden there is no more crying that they’ll do, there are no more emotional outbursts, it’s almost kind of like flatline.
I did that.
You did? Tell me about that experience.
Now I’m somebody who, in any general conversation, can be in the conversation and also kind of witnessing it as a third party. Even once I get emotionally triggered I can catch myself going, “Oh, you’re being a little emotionally triggered right now.”
That takes work.
Yeah, it takes a lot of practice but then you can stay calm and you can continue to look at the dynamic that’s playing out. At the same time, if I’m calm, my understanding is people are gonna hear me better. I was intentionally calm in these conversations, and yet my ex said to me after we split up, “If you had been crying when you were telling me you were unhappy, I would have heard it more.” So initially I thought “Wait, so I’m being blamed.” Then I realized there’s a wiring in our brain in terms of mirror neurons, when you see someone else crying, you do feel that there is something there like women will say, “Why does my partner only recognize my pain when I’m crying?” There’s something that happens there too in terms of the neuroscience of it.
I don’t doubt that either. That’s almost like a vulnerability of the feminine side of you too, and men yearn for that. We really do yearn for that, to see the woman that we care about actually be able to be exposed, bare naked emotionally, to us so that we can step into the fullness of our positive masculinity and say, “I’ve got you. I’m here for you.”
I’m so glad you brought that up because that was one of the things that I was saying, “I sometimes need to hear from you, it’s going to be okay, I’ve got you.” I don’t want to be the one that always has to say that. I think for me, as my masculine energy became a little more dominant it was about, “I don’t trust I’m going to be cared for. I’m going to be spoken to always with respect and kindness. However, I’m not trusting that I’m going to be emotionally cared for.”
Yeah, I hear you.
Then my walls go up.
That’s for sure an interesting segue too, because you have it in relationships where you’re emotionally disconnected now, but even though it’s typically women that 80% of the time initiate divorce. What about those that don’t, because where you’re coming from, they see the issues, they feel disconnected but why is it so hard to leave that relationship? Especially if that person is considered a nice guy, or a nice girl?
If we touch on the nice guy dynamic or a nice girl dynamic, it is that you don’t want to hurt them. You were told in terms of nice guys, there’s a lot of assholes out there, so if you find that rare nice guy, you’re so lucky. The way my ex interacted with me was always with respect. He valued my opinions, I knew he adored me, he was very supportive of me. We had a really strong friendship and even once I recognized I was unfulfilled, I was telling myself, “Who are you to think that you can go out there and leave a nice guy and find something better? All these other women are suffering with assholes. Why do you deserve better? You already have better.”
You just gave a checklist of the asshole too by the way. Jemma was explaining what her ex was not, if yours is that way, reality check.
Yes, and there’s a number of things I thought of like, “Am I going to ever find someone who loves me in this way, like he really loves me?” Then I realized, “Oh, here’s this thing again. I don’t actually sometimes feel that love, I don’t feel it.” This was at the end of the marriage because we were happy, we were married for 20 years and we were happy and connected for a very long time. That’s one of the reasons why I was compelled to step forward with that initial Tik Tok video, is that even if you’ve been very connected, the disconnection, at a certain point, if it goes on for too long, look what happens, wth people who know how to communicate with each other. That connection is important, it can still happen. I think also, people are scared to be alone, not realizing if they already feel alone.
It’s like we’re linked. That is that when you’re scared to be alone in that moment, yes the reality check is that you already are alone.
You already feel loneliness. Loneliness is not about physical proximity, the pain of it, it’s about the emotional experience of being disconnected.
Then if you stay in that position, it’s like you’re choosing to be lonely in that position, it’s like there’s nothing that you can step into to change that, to create some environments where you will not be alone. You’re choosing to stay in that place right now where you are alone emotionally and physically, even though you are still married.
Absolutely, and you listen to people talk about this situation because it’s usually women deciding to leave, they’ll say how “I feel like a single parent. I feel like I’ve been abandoned.” They’re already doing so much on their own already.
Those are probably true in those scenarios.
What is going to be harder, if you’re actually on your own, and then they have this realization, “I’m already doing it all.”
Can you say that question again, what is going to be harder, please?
Yeah, what is going to be harder, if you leave the relationship and you’re on your own? If you’re already doing it, if you’re already so self sufficient, it gives you the time when you leave. It’s great if you can be alone for a bit before you enter another relationship to reconnect with yourself, that’s a huge part of this when we’re talking about the balance of investing in your own growth. The balance in a healthy relationship is investing in yourself, and the relationship. So when women are unhappy in a relationship, there’s so much focus on all that their partner isn’t doing, there’s so much external focus. It’s important for them to return to learning how to connect and care for themselves.
Wow. You were married for 20 years. You recognized you still like this person, you still love this person, it’s just that you weren’t fulfilled. Where did you feel that unfulfillment, because it sounds like your checklist of asshole didn’t apply to him, so how were you still unfulfilled?
That’s a really good question, and a lot of men are emailing me to ask that question. They are saying, “Wait, I don’t understand. I’m watching your videos and you keep saying all these nice things about your ex, and they’re all very true right?” He was a wonderful man, but the lack of fulfillment comes from feeling disconnected. You’re not engaged with it, and so we were still very friendly with each other and then you start to realize, “Well, this is feeling more like a friendship. Would we have these conversations with our neighbors that we know? Probably.”
The men will say, “I don’t understand. She wants me to talk to her every day about what’s going on with me, and I think I am.” I’ll say okay, well tell me a little bit about the last conversation that you think was connected, and they will and I reply, “Would you have that conversation with your neighbor?” “Yeah I would.” Then it doesn’t feel intimate to her, it doesn’t feel special. For me, because I’m in the space of personal growth, I’m always learning and wanting to have those conversations. This is just in terms of what’s a good fit for me personally, not for everybody but for someone who not just enjoys talking about those topics, because my ex did, but I need to be learning from them as well. I need to have that type of intellectual stimulation. That’s just my fit, so that was what didn’t work for me. And, like we’ve talked about experiential intimacy, there was a lack of us having adventures together, experiences of novelty, exploration, discovery.
I’m going back to how you were describing, which is a lot again of typical males, which is why I use the word argument before, and then your axe would go on to being like, “Oh that conversation never happened yesterday.” How did it get to the point where you were saying, “Okay, for real this time. We need to go our own ways.” When did that finally sink in for you, and how did he actually accept that? If he would forget the conversations.
When I was bringing them up and talking about the disconnection, I was still giving the message I’m still in this, I want us to work on this. I talk in one of my videos about the straw that broke the camel’s back . There was an exchange with a pattern that had existed throughout our relationship, that I really thought “I don’t want to sign on for this anymore. This doesn’t feel good to me and I don’t think this particular pattern is going to change, and I’m tired of it.” In addition to the disconnection, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Then COVID had hit and COVID quarantine, and I had been asking for quality time together, and the only reason that we hadn’t been having quality time together was because of work schedules, and I think he didn’t know what to do, and at the same time I said “We have to figure this out, what’s the priority here? If we’re just passing ships in the night.” Which is what so many people tell me about their relationships, that exact phrase, the distractions were all gone when we were in quarantine because of COVID. I realized I’ve been asking for more quality time together, now we have the opportunity to be together, and this isn’t feeling better to me.
My goodness. Wow.
In that conversation, it was a very emotional conversation because I realized I was done, and I knew I was hurting him. Even though I’d been telling him for the last handful of years, “I’m unhappy about this.” He was hearing it in a different way, because he knew that I couldn’t do this anymore, and so in terms of you asking about his acceptance of it, it’s almost like the stages of grief. There isn’t acceptance initially, there’s bargaining, there’s denial, and then the acceptance of it starts to hit, and you’re watching your partner move through all these stages of grief, especially when you’re in quarantine, it’s really really hard.
Do you feel like some of those stages of grief can actually start happening before the conversation?
That’s such a good question, I think they do for women. In the same way, both people in the partnership have actually been engaging in self deception. The women have these moments of great clarity of, “I don’t know if I can stay in thi.” Then the idea of leaving is terrifying, and they slide back into self deception, “No, I can stay, I can stay. I have some hope.” Then the men are denying it too, on some unconscious level, they know there’s disconnection, but they’re distracting themselves with work and denying it. So, I’m not really sure. They’re not letting it into their consciousness that this is a possibility. I think the women start grieving earlier and then they’re the bad guys.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, right? You’ve been suffering. You’ve been expressing how you’ve been suffering, it’s been dismissed, and now you’re the asshole for ending the relationship. You’re the one who’s labeled as the bad guy, the person who’s betraying the partnership, who’s breaking up the family, all of those labels “You’re selfish, you’re heartless.”
How do you overcome those labels? Especially having a nice guy like you did.
I know they’re not true.. I’ve been called heartless. I’ve overheard those conversations unfortunately, and I thought “Wow, that’s interesting.” To me that’s just a denial of taking some accountability of what went on, and I also understand it’s a defensive description of what went on. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m actually the opposite. I am so heart centered. It’s not true.
I can tell, just even in your mannerisms. Sometimes I’ll go back and watch the show and I’ll mute it, and I’ll just watch the individual. It’s really interesting.
I’m so glad you brought that up, please tell me what skill that is strengthening in you.
It’s profiling, for me, that’s what it is, to help understand people’s body languages. That goes back to legitimate training I’ve had in surveillance and elicitation, but reading people that way, it helps me. There’s someone I entered into business with recently, and it was from a podcast, and I took a look after the fact because they were extremely intelligent sounding on the show itself, and then I went back and viewed it, and thought “Woah, I was not paying attention to the body language.”
Did you think you were taking it on some level, or no?
Probably on some level, but then I dismissed it because of how articulate this individual was.
Absolutely. I also think you’re probably using that skill in your relationship.
That is a skill of atoning into somebody else’s emotional environment. One of the exercises that I give couples is to watch the show, put it on mute and pause it at certain times and each write down what emotion they think the person on screen is expressing and then compare. We also misread people’s nonverbal cues all the time, facial expressions, but it’s such a great thing to learn how to do.
Yes, it is. Words mean a lot to me, they really do, especially the choice of words. It’s also matching up, because if there’s a mismatch in between the body language and the words, then I’m immediately more apprehensive. But I love doing that, I love going back to the show and muting.
What you said is also really important, I have recognized in myself that I am easily seduced by words. I have to be very careful, so if somebody presents as having high emotional intelligence, I want to continue engaging with that person, and yet you have to do the same with the body language, you have to pay attention to the actions because they can completely contradict or not support the words, and the person is out of integrity, and the words express who they want to be I think, and they may not be that person yet.
I wish I had a rewind button, because that is the second time you’ve said something today that I want to hear you ask that question again. That’s so amazing, the words express who they want to be, but in their actions and in their body language, how they’re actually portraying themselves, is really who they are.
We want to continue to look at ourselves and welcome feedback from the people that we trust in our lives, also help us see where we’re out of integrity because we’re all out of integrity, sometimes. Where our words aren’t matching our actions, and for some people, they’re really out of integrity, and you’re maybe not going to keep them in your lives, because it’s hurtful.
This is a fun conversation. I’m seeing this society disconnect too, especially after last year with COVID, and I have hopes in this because we talked a lot about positive masculinity. There is also positive femininity that should exist in a relationship too, and when those get out of whack, there should be and can be shifts in that depending on what’s needed in that time, especially when kids come into play. It’s so different because it just requires a different scenario, because not all relationships have the traditional 9-5, especially with entrepreneurs to where it makes sense for the female in the relationship to have to take on those roles temporarily but then that’s what you’re saying is carrying that emotional load too?
Absolutely, with parenting , I think the great thing is that more and more fathers are now understanding just how important they are to their children. There’s been a lot of evolution with that, when I look at my father’s generation, they didn’t really understand how much they meant to us. They didn’t understand their role, they were handing it over a lot to the women, and so this generation of fathers is often much more involved.
Yet, even when they’re very caring, the emotional labor can still sometimes be handed over to the women. In part it’s because it’s important for men to learn how to navigate their own emotional landscape more. Men get criticized a lot for jumping in too early with solutions and sometimes just criticized for when they’re trying to fix things. Those solutions are actually very valuable, it’s just the timing of when it enters into the conversation, that until somebody feels seen and heard in terms of what they, what they’re going through, they’re not in a space to be solution focused. Yet sometimes, I think men are overly criticized, in terms of talking about solutions and brainstorming about them, are not valued at all.
Absolutely, I can see the disconnect on both sides. That probably happens and maybe even can cause part of that disconnection that you talked about too, because if the woman doesn’t feel seen or heard in the relationship, it could go back to what you’re talking about with your ex. When I use the word argument, “I just need to get through this argument and everything’s gonna be cool. So I’m gonna come up with the fix as fast as I possibly can.”
I think you’re right, and I think that there’s also this conditioning for men in society to perceive things in this oppositional way? Because they’re taught in terms of power over, or power under they’re taught winning or losing, they’re taught sides. You’ll hear them talk about, “Well, whose side are you on?” Why are there sides?
Why aren’t we on the same side, why aren’t we on the same page? When women are saying “I feel disconnected, I feel lonely.” They’re not saying we’re on opposing sides, they’re saying, “We’re in this together. Can we please figure this out,” they’re not saying “you’re a terrible person. Go fix this.” they’re saying “Hey, can we figure this out together?” I think we need to also move away from that polarized way of thinking, more towards collaboration. Men are actually steered away from collaborative thinking
For sure, pushed away almost.
Yes, shamed, exactly.
Especially if a female will take on more of that masculine role in the relationship too, because what you’re saying as far as bringing that “I’m going to win” attitude right when the conversation starts and you take it as an argument. I feel that women can also do the same when they’ve taken on more of that masculine role in the relationship, like saying “I am fired up, I’m going to come into this and I’m going to win this.” They’re going in like, “I have a grievance and I’m gonna freaking win this.” As they start it, it’s not a conversation anymore.
No, It’s a competition
Our brains are rewarded for a feeling of being right and winning that. They’re chemically rewarded for that, so it’s a problem. It creates even more distance and we kind of have to catch ourselves because people will move into that “I need to win” position when they don’t feel heard. It’s the most powerful thing someone can do at the beginning of a conversation is say, “I can see how you’d feel that way.” You don’t have to agree with the other person’s point of view, you just want to understand it. It needs to go, “ I can see how you would feel that way, tell me more about that” Then get curious about it. “What’s happening that you’re feeling that way?” That’s what’s so confusing to me, is if somebody is saying that they’re unhappy with some aspect of the relationship, why are you not curious?
Can I ask you a question in terms of your as somebody who thinks about and invests in personal development?
Yes, and now I’m being interviewed, I like it. This happened yesterday with a psychiatrist.
I like to coach.
No, it’s good. We both ended up crying with each other on the show yesterday.
Oh wow. What is your understanding of how you effectively create meaningful connections with the people in your life?
A lot of it is asking the questions, and even though I think it’s a tempered instinct now, that instinct has always been there. Especially with being an entrepreneur, to jump in there with the solutions. A lot of times it’s interesting, because my solutions are typically to try to create more connections because I can identify the things like, “Okay, well maybe we should spend some more time together, maybe we should put some priorities on the activities that we have together. How about we set aside some time to just have a conversation, like an emotional checking kind of a thing?”
I’ll recognize when there’s a conversation, I’ve been saying this for a long time too, I’m not here to compete with you, that’s not it. I don’t want anybody to win, because if we’re in that thought process and mindset to begin with, we’re just stamping our feet and saying, “I need to be heard!” Even that is saying, “I’m going to go in and win because it’s a victory at that moment.” This is when it gets really bad I think, and for women that are listening, if you have to go into a relationship or a conversation, thinking that I’m going to make sure that I’m heard. That’s also setting up that competitive attitude, so if I noticed and recognized that, there’s still very real emotions that can come up like anger, frustration because especially if you put yourself on the defensive immediately, you can be triggered. If you can just focus on the only way to come out of this conversation, is to eliminate the competition and try to create more connections in the conversation and ensure that there are actions.
We can go back to your ex towards the beginning of our show today, when he would forget about it the next day, that’s why I asked the questions like, “What decisions or what actions came out of that conversation?” You said nothing. That’s why he dismissed it and it was gone as soon as it happened, because his win would have been “Okay, this is over now.” That’s the win in his mind. If it’s a man and you’re thinking, “I just need to get through this and then that’s my win” If you’re a woman, and you’re thinking, “I just need to be heard and that’s my win.” That’s still coming to this from a place of disconnection.
Absolutely, I agree with you and I think it’s when we always try to go a layer deeper and deeper into understanding it. Also so that we can have compassion for each other around the disconnection, so that we can identify the problem better to come up with a solution. I think for a lot of men, they don’t know what to do if they don’t have any solutions, that leads them to be dismissive, that leads them to shy away from another conversation about. They feel so inadequate and so it’s better to just say, “I don’t know what to do but I am going to, I want to figure this out with you. Let me go do some research, let me go talk to some other people.” I mean, it’s demonstrating investment too.
It’s really important. This is the first time in my coaching career that men are coming to me to say, “I recognize that I need to invest in more emotional intelligence growth, not just for my relationship but for myself.” It’s always been in relation to their careers that men have come to me to say, “I realize I have an issue with anger, I do not know how to control my anger, and it’s destroying, not just personal relationships.” Again, it’s about their careers. “I don’t want to sabotage this opportunity in my career, or I need to invest in my emotional intelligence growth for my career advancement.” This is the first time because of these Tik Tok videos, that men are saying, “I need to understand myself better, for my partner and for me.”
Yeah, that’s good to hear too. I couldn’t have done the show with you five years ago.
Would it have set you off?
Not so much, but it is the amount of work that I’ve invested into myself over these years too. It takes that, and coming back to where you know you’ve got these two wins that you’re looking to have, the win in the conversation or really it becomes an argument if you’re even thinking going into it or during it, that “I’m gonna win this thing.” Even on a subconscious level, this is really to look at it from the inverse for everyone that’s listening to it, if you’re a woman, understand when you go into a conversation, that your man is going to want to present a solution. As long as that solution is from a place of action and creating a deeper connection, it’s a good thing. If he’s looking for a solution just to squash the conversation in the moment, that’s a bad thing. That’s the inverse on the other side is that, as a man, you need to go into that conversation and say I know she’s going to want to be seen and heard. I’ll have a solution, because if I genuinely see and hear her, my solution is going to be much more appropriate.
Exactly, and if I present the wrong solution, she may feel even less heard. I think the timing, like we talked about, is important. It’s also part of the growth for men, and even for somebody like myself, I’m very solution focused. My teenage kids say to me that sometimes I jump in with solutions too quickly. It’s also important for all of us to learn how to sit with the discomfort of, “I don’t have an answer right now. I don’t know but we can figure this out.”
I think that’s part of the conversation, to just start off with making sure you understand where the other person is coming from, that the goal is around connection. We’ve been told for years that the goal is around effective communication and that’s part of it, but that’s not the real goal. We use effective communication to create meaningful connections. The goal is real connection.
If there’s no opportunity to create that, if that’s not the goal, then it’s probably time to move on.
You start to notice the patterns that he was talking about, because that is the pattern isn’t it?
I think that in terms of connecting more of this than the other reason is that men are stepping forward with solutions, sometimes too quickly, is because they’re uncomfortable with feeling inadequate. If you have solutions you don’t feel inadequate. It’s important to be okay with sometimes not having a solution, and to understand that doesn’t make you inadequate. Then, what you’re seeing in terms of women initiating these conversations is that it’s important for some thought to go into how they’re initiated. If they’re initiated with a complaint, immediately your partner is going on the defensive. These complaints that I hear with both people in the partnership are often a complaint not about behavior, it’s about the character of the person. So instead of saying, “When you do this, I feel like there’s no consideration for what’s going on for me.” They’ll say “You’re selfish.” Initiate the conversation with a request, with being assertive about what you want and try to veer away from the complaints.
Wow, where do we go in society from this moment, because there’s a lot that has come up last year. Still, I feel that they still feel stuck and there was something I was looking at on Instagram, and I didn’t seem to like it saying, “Being alone is okay.”
Well, not really, I don’t know if you want to take it from that perspective, because right now you are alone and it’s not okay. You’re alone even in the moment.
Yes, I know what you mean. I think it’s tricky because we like to stick things in boxes with labels and say that’s what it is, and so we want to continue to be flexible in terms of how we understand things, so it’s not just being alone is okay. Sometimes we want to have moments of time where we’re alone with ourselves, so that we can reconnect to ourselves. How we’ve been suffering collectively, globally is from loneliness, is from disconnection. I think one of the reasons that that first video of mine went viral, is because people heard it in different way because of this experience of being isolated from each other during this COVID experience. I think, hopefully, people are understanding that if we prioritize feeling connected with people, we will naturally feel more fulfilled in our lives, and that means connecting with ourselves too.
Oh, that’s a huge thing, because connecting with ourselves also includes trusting ourselves.
From the beginning, we were talking about how you get scared in the moment or you feel like you’re going to be alone, but you already are alone and it comes to well, females don’t feel like they can really provide for themselves when really they are already doing that and they’re carrying the emotional labor, almost 100% of it. They already typically make plenty of money, a lot of times even more than men, how do you help people create that trust, especially women in themselves?
It’s a process, it’s helping them recognize where they are trusting themselves and where they aren’t. As a coach, there’s more of a focus on present to future than a therapist that is past to present and yet, it’s still important to recognize how childhood wounds are playing into this. That some people have more of a fear of abandonment, because of stuff that’s gone on in their childhood, to understand for them part of the reason that you’re maybe feeling this intense sense of loneliness and this fear of leaving your relationship, is because of what happened in childhood. In terms of self trust, part of it is, when people say to me “I don’t know how to start this process,” tell your truth. You don’t have to have the answers yet, just speak about what you are genuinely feeling and experiencing, and as you hear yourself saying those words to people that you trust, you then start to trust yourself more. It’s a process that then when you make a decision and you take action, and you recognize, it feels good. That builds self trust, “I just did the right thing for myself.” For me leaving my marriage as sad as it was, those first weeks and my own place, I mean I just felt, I felt free, I felt happy, I felt a sense of peace that added to my sense of self trust. I just did the right thing, I listened to myself, I trusted myself that it was right for me. Here’s the proof. right. This feels good.
Validating your own existence, really.
Yeah, I love it, Jemma. This conversation has been incredible today. Thank you. Everyone go to Jemmaranecoaching.com, and on Tik Tok, @JemmaRaneCoaching.Thank you, Jemma.
Thank you so much for having me.