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Let’s Get Real!  

Several weeks ago, I was hiking a long wooded trail that circled a pond near my home, when I spotted two swans happy in each other’s company.

They were clearly a couple, bathing and grooming in the warmth of the early September day, and their playfulness was so intimate, I felt like I should give them their privacy.

Swans, Coupledom & Jane Fonda

Written by Lee Bodkin

Instead, I walked to the far end of the pond and found an old green bench where the show continued with a clear line of sight. I was completely mesmerized by the beauty of their dance. As I thought about these coupled swans and myself, being single at this moment, I realized that I am so like a swan. I am happiest and feel complete with a partner. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

At my age, I also know that I will not enter into another relationship until I am solid in myself and able to show up as my true self—the strong and vulnerable parts, the silly, insecure, and the serious parts—every last bit of me. I refuse to hide my authentic self in any way or pretend to be something I’m not—as I have done in past relationships.

So where does Jane Fonda come into this story? Well, a few weeks after my swan encounter, while I was listening to Julia Louis-Dreyfus interview Jane Fonda for her Podcast, Wiser Than Me, Fonda’s words struck the same deep chord the swans had stirred in me a few weeks earlier. 

At one point in the conversation, Fonda admits that she has never been able to totally be herself in a romantic relationship with a man, and will not try again at 85. Then added, “Since the very beginning of my life, I think I was conditioned to not be who I am in order to make a man love me.”

Some part of me was surprised, while another part thought, of course you were. Because on some level, I know that I was as well. How many women out there—regardless of your age—feel this way? It is generational conditioning and it runs so very deep. It is not necessarily something a mother sets out to teach her daughter, it is simply a subtle imprinting that gets downloaded unless mom has the self-awareness to make a different choice.

I truly applaud the women who can stand in their true self in partnership with a man.

Toward the end of the podcast, Fonda adds, “I’m sure that there were a number of men that came my way who were perfect for me and not afraid of saying, “Come on Fonda, show up, let’s be real.”

As for me, I am committed to doing the work that will empower me to show up as my authentic self—and I plan to wait for that partner who says to me, “Let’s be real.”

How about you?