The Work of Relationship

I’m traveling this week and visited a voodoo museum. I found this: containers of ritual candles with two that are empty - for love and for hexing. These, over luck, health, money, and friendship.


We don’t do relationships or love well. Many of us learn from our families of origin that relationship and love are obligation and duty, and from culture, we come to anticipate that love is a means to wholeness (ie s/he/they complete/s me).  We try to fill a God-sized and shaped hole with  person/s  (and I write this as a deeply spiritual but non-religious person), seeking meaning and perfection through perfectly imperfect people. We do not know love as mutuality, complementarity, and a spiritual practice. bell hooks, author, takes on relationship and love in several of her books, acknowledging what so many writers and philosophers superficially address: our inability to love well (self and other) is related to patriarchy and cultures based on dominion rather than partnership. We are not inculcated in the language of emotion or love, instead we promote transcendence of the subjective (emotion) and the sensual (body wisdom), valuing logic and mental activity and production as Purpose - how much and how well we love isn’t factored into the GDP after all, so what's the point?. Then we are left wondering why we feel so unmoored, lost, disconnected from self and partner/s and community.


Love and hate - extreme polarities that bleed into each other from intensity, unmet expectations, attachment styles, woundedness, disconnection. So we light candles, believing if we want something hard enough, the Law of Attraction will grant us our wish (or is it 3?) of happily-ever -afters or, perhaps, hexes.


We’ve forgotten: the scripts we use of love and relationship, often written along gender lines, are inherited from culture, not biology, nor are the scripts destiny. You can relearn Self (your emotions are intelligent and offer insights); relearn love and expectations around worth, desire, and deserving; relearn that we need each other in partnership/s and community; relearn forgiveness and compassion for mistakes made by parents, lineage, and culture. All are forms of Rewilding - healing and valuing your entirety and understanding your connection to and mutuality with the matrix of life (culture, systems, the environment, partners, community). But it is Work - the work of relationship (communication, vigilance, self-awareness, commitment to growth, compromise), and we are all so tired. It’s much easier to project and blame and light candles than reflect, relearn, integrate.


Interested in learning more about relationship and love and cultural normatives around these, see the resources below. I do not claim expertise in relationship but I do facilitate spaces that allow for judgement-free self-inquiry - revelations that often reach beyond the personal into relationship (partnership, parenting, career, community). At the time of this writing, our next circle is 1/26/20, registration through The Resiliency Institute or find a circle near you through The Divine Feminine App


“We are put on earth a little space/That we may learn to bear the beams of love” (William Blake). Love is purpose and exigent.  Light those candles if you must, but then get to Work.






de Botton, A. The Course of Love and other discussions, such as his On Being podcast:

Eisler, R. Books including Sacred Pleasure and The Power of Partnership. Also check out her work through the Center for Partnership Studies

Griffin, S. The Eros of Everyday Life

hooks, b. Books including All About Love, The Will to Change, and Communion: The Female Search for Love

Lorde, A. Sister Outsider (her essay on the erotic is phenomenal and related to our perceptions and understanding of love and body wisdom)

Perel, E. Mating in Captivity and Podcast (found on iTunes) Where Should We Begin




Past, related blogs and pages:


Radical self-love: On Body Diversity:

Recommended Resources:

That Thing Called Love:



Written by Dr. Allison Mitch (PT, DPT); written material is copyright protected, please cite accordingly (thank you for reading!). Picture is Allison’s. For questions or collaboration, please email

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