January 21, 2010

Got the Environmentalist Relationship Blues?

Today, while doing my usual reading of the online version of The New York Times, I came across an article with the following title: Therapists Report Increase in Green Disputes. I was intrigued because I had images of neighbors or communities having disagreements with one another about how to help the environment.

Visions of towns trying to figure out how to recycle more kinds of plastic and other items were popping in my head like kernels of popcorn in a popcorn maker. Of course, this all occurred within seconds but my idealistic dream was crushed once I began reading the article.

For the record, I was nowhere close to what the article was addressing. Apparently, more and more couples are having relationship problems because one person is becoming more environmentally concerned while the other person wants to remain blissfully clueless as to what is happening.

Therapists have been counseling more couples as to how to keep the relationship together when one person is going on the road to becoming a tree hugger. The interesting thing is that the person who is becoming more concerned about the environment is viewed as a threat because their path is considered more dangerous to the relationship.

In the article, one guy was stated as feeling that his partner thought she was superior because she was concerned about how much water he was using. Another person shared how her family felt threatened because she wanted to become a vegan.

Reading this article was an eye opener because it was a painful reminder of how it is still unusual in some people’s eyes to care about the environment. It was also kind of sad to realize that people who want to eat in a manner that reflects what they feel is right for them have to defend their choice.

In my experience, when I became a vegan and became a bona fide tree hugger, I did lose friends but I also gained many new friends. When I became a Buddhist, some in my family accused me of being brainwashed.

Anytime someone does something different or unusual there is a backlash of some kind from those who simply feel threatened. Now the interesting thing is that their fear has more to do with them than the person who decided to change directions.

People are mirrors for one another. What we don’t like in another person often is a reflection of what we don’t like about ourselves.

Nadia Ballas-Ruta writes and runs her own blog, HappyLotus. In addition to her blog, she is a regular contributor at Tiny Buddha. She is a free spirit who believes in being happy, green and eating as natural and healthy as possible. You can also follow her on Twitter @happylotus.

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