Relationship Fitness

S19 E2: Transitioning from ‘me’ to ‘we’

In Season 19, Episode Two: “Transitioning from ‘me’ to ‘we,'” Vince and guest Luis Maimoni, a licensed marriage and family therapist, discuss the importance of shifting focus in relationships from individual desires to collective goals. They delve into the complexities of commitments at various relationship stages and address common challenges like assumptions, expectations, and handling conflicts. This episode explores the necessity of mutual understanding and premarital counseling to navigate transitions effectively.

Guest Luis Maimoni is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in relationships of all kinds, including men having relationship difficulties. Luis offers a no cost, no obligation consultation. Schedule a visit via his website: LuisTheTherapist.com

Season 19, ‘Building and Keeping Commitments,’ 

Episode Two: Transitioning from ‘me’ to ‘we.’

Vince:

Welcome to ‘Relationship Workout for Men,’ a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional about choosing a better partner and being a better partner for the person they choose. In Season 19, ‘Building and Keeping Commitments,’ Episode Two, we’re exploring the transition from ‘me’ to ‘we.’

I’m your host, Vince Vasquez, and today I’m joined by Luis Maimoni, a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in helping men navigate relationship difficulties.

Today’s theme is the necessity of commitment for long-term success. We’ll discuss what commitments we make at various stages—on first contact, during the first date, when deciding to cohabitate, and upon marriage—and when it might be appropriate to break those commitments. This is the focus of our episode. Welcome Luis. And what are your thoughts?

Luis:

It’s a pleasure to be here. As a single man navigating the realms of online dating, hitting up bars, and joining social clubs, I’m actively looking for a partner. Trust and commitment are crucial in any relationship, but managing these at the beginning can be challenging since I barely know the woman. Initially, the commitment is minimal; I can interact with as many women as I want through texting, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings. However, the commitment deepens when I decide to leave my house for a first date, making an effort to be presentable and engaged.

During the first date, the commitment is still flexible, allowing me to withdraw after the first contact, date, or even when deciding whether to cohabit. At this stage, it’s vital to assess if the person is a good fit. Often, the initial excitement of a first date can lead to extended interactions and a premature sense of intimacy. It’s crucial to use the early dates to ask meaningful questions about her life, interests, and values to build a genuine connection. This not only sets the stage for future dates but also helps in deciding if there’s potential for a more serious commitment.

As the relationship progresses, discussions about cohabitation and marriage introduce different levels of commitment, influenced by personal, social, and religious beliefs. Understanding each other’s backgrounds and expectations is essential before making significant commitments. Lastly, it’s important to recognize that commitment can be challenged by issues like infidelity, substance abuse, or domestic violence, which may necessitate ending the relationship. Building commitment should be a gradual process, prioritizing mutual understanding and trust.

Vince:

Luis, that was very insightful. I’d like to circle back to the beginning when you mentioned intimacy. It seems many men, while dating, are primarily focused on the goal of having sex, often saying and doing whatever might maximize the chances of that outcome. This approach, however, overlooks the importance of emotional intimacy.

Considering that our long-term goal is to achieve both sexual and emotional intimacy, asking the right questions from the start is crucial. Drama and conflict, which often arise from misunderstandings, can diminish the likelihood of intimacy because if you don’t like each other in the moment due to an argument, you’re less likely to desire a sexual connection.

Therefore, if we begin by asking meaningful questions to gain a deeper understanding of each other, as you suggested, we can achieve a more profound and lasting intimacy. By prioritizing emotional connection over immediate sexual gratification, we’re more likely to develop a deeper emotional bond. What are your thoughts on this approach?

Luis:

Well, I think that men are not just lonely; we’re actively seeking physical touch and connection. Our motivations to make this happen are very high. For many men, it’s possible to engage in physical activities without creating a sense of connection or intimacy. It’s just, ‘Hey, this was really a lot of fun. Thanks, babe. Let’s do it next week.’ However, this raises some broad gender generalizations because, although women can also behave this way, it is more typical for a woman to seek emotional intimacy after experiencing physical intimacy.

This situation brings up ethical considerations in dating: How do I really want to show up? Who do I want to be? And am I looking for ‘Miss Right,’ or just ‘Miss Right Now’?

Vince:

So, the topic of this episode is transitioning from ‘me’ to ‘we’, right? If I’m all about ‘me,’ then I’m looking for ‘Miss Right Now’—whatever I can get at this moment. But if I’ve transitioned to looking for a ‘we,’ then this relates back to your points about getting to know her better and asking more thoughtful questions.

It could happen that I ask a question and receive an answer I didn’t want to hear. This response might indicate that I don’t see long-term potential with her, which could change my immediate intentions. Sometimes, we avoid asking certain questions because we fear the answers. However, that’s not a good reason to avoid asking the question.

Luis:

Invariably, when you ask someone if they would rather know or not know, people say they would always prefer to know. I fall into that category. Sex is too important to leave to chance. And it’s not something that I feel we can talk our way through. However, for others for whom sex is not a priority, maybe it’s okay. No judgment.

Vince:

Yeah, I think it involves finding someone who aligns with what you want, which brings us back to another point you made about assumptions and expectations. There certainly are many assumptions and expectations that we bring into a relationship, right? We may not even know where they originate from, such as from our parents, for example.

How do you bridge that gap? It can be so broad, and you may not recognize what expectations you have until they aren’t being met. You might not realize that your assumptions and expectations are not being fulfilled until you’re deep into a committed relationship.

How do you examine these assumptions and expectations?

Luis:

I recommend premarital counseling for everyone. It’s just a wise idea. There’s no way you’re going to surface all the underlying issues because they are invisible; we don’t know what we don’t know. For instance, one of my college buddies had recently married, and I spent a night at their house. His wife shared a story about how, soon after they were married, my friend was sulking around the house. When she asked him why, he said, ‘You didn’t make me coffee.’ She was surprised and told him, ‘I’ve never made you coffee—not during our dating, not during our engagement. Why would marriage change that?’ He had assumed that marriage would somehow make her more inclined to serve him coffee in the morning. I think they’re divorced now anyway.

This story exemplifies the transition from ‘me’ to ‘we.’ At the beginning of dating, it’s natural to focus on oneself, but by the end of it, the relationship should take precedence. We should think of ‘we’ without completely sidelining ‘I’—that’s another trap. We must prioritize ‘we,’ which means making a commitment to the relationship. That’s how we navigate the transition.

Vince:

And that’s a great way to end the episode. However, I don’t want to lose sight of a point you made about domestic violence against men. Could you elaborate a bit more? It’s not something we often think about, and I agree that we men tend to say, ‘I’ll deal with it.

Luis:

It surprised me that, although I specialize in treating men, I have seen a significant number of men who have been victims of domestic violence. It’s usually not physical—though it can involve thrown objects—but more often it is verbal, involving eviscerating, emasculating rage directed at a man. We can’t respond physically, nor do we necessarily have the verbal skills to retaliate. Because we are conditioned to endure pain and just keep moving forward, that’s what we do. However, this creates a tremendous imbalance in the household, and the tension and trauma are palpable.

If you’re a man who suspects he might be a victim of domestic violence, I encourage you to do some research. It won’t take long to find a checklist. If you find that many items apply to you, then, my friend, you need to seek support. The dynamics of domestic violence are similar regardless of gender. Consider whether you’re allowed to have friends, a private phone, or your own email. Reflect on your partner’s reactions when they’re displeased, or when you last felt joy in your relationship. It really is an issue. The numbers vary, but between 30 to 40% of domestic violence victims are men.

If this is happening in your relationship, it’s crucial to shift focus back to your own needs. Being open to getting help is essential, especially if we lack the tools for verbal engagement, fear raising our voices, or refuse to be physical. Feeling trapped and isolated can exacerbate the situation. The dominant emotion that arises is humiliation, which is one of the hardest emotions to confront. Seeking help and admitting the need for it can feel humiliating. However, the professionals who are there to support you will provide a safe, non-judgmental space. They will listen to your side and give you the tools you need to be safe.

Vince:

Wow, good advice.

All right. So that’s going to wrap up episode two. In the next episode, we’re going to talk about building trust and commitment. Thank you, Luis.

Luis Maimoni is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in relationships of all kinds, including men having relationship difficulties. Luis offers a no cost, no obligation consultation.

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