Your Creativity or Your Love Life

Sasha and Miles, a man who is supportive of creativity!
Sasha and Miles, a man who is supportive of creativity!

This is a guest post by Sasha Cagen.

Why would I ever have to choose between being creative and having a partner? The mere idea is preposterous. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I feared that my creativity would die in a serious long-term relationship.

I remember the moment when this belief crystallized.

I was sitting on the edge of the bathtub in my studio apartment, chatting with an old friend from college. I remember the bathroom rug. I was about 28.

We were catching up. We had written a zine together six years earlier, and once our lives were intertwined, but by then we lived 3,000 miles apart in totally different worlds. We were reflecting about our creative lives, because at that point, neither of us was writing much. My friend told me her older sister got married and she had watched her become more domestic and settled; she seemed content. She wondered aloud, “Maybe life just gets simpler when you couple up and settle down.” The implication: That creative flame dies down and all the bristling energy around it. And life gets simpler, happier.

In that moment, her casual remark gelled as true for me. My fear was born: That settling down and having a partner would mean the death of my creative life.

My spirit recoiled.

Of course, it wasn’t just one conversation that caused me to think that being single would be more compatible with being creative, but I remember that talk well. Being in a serious relationship came to mean the death of my creative life. Probably I worried that I would lose my time alone and give all of myself to a quiet domesticity. I thought I would attract another writer and he would be a better writer than me, so I would give up my writing. (Strange to admit those insecurities, but true.)

I’d also absorbed ideas from a culture that says that men are the ones who are mission-driven and ambitious, but that didn’t square with my experience. I also was ambitious. Motherhood scared me even more. Being creative is where I feel myself come to life and make a contribution, to feel me. My creativity needs expanses of time. I didn’t want to give up my time.

Over the ten years since, I’ve been in a number of relationships. But I must admit that fear still lurked.

The ghost of Jane Austen followed me through life. Unlike Jane, I write nonfiction, but we both write about singleness and relationships. Staying single was Jane’s option for maintaining a creative life. But that was the eighteenth century; today it’s 2013. You would think we would have more options today, and we do!

My world started to open up as I started to examine my limiting beliefs and speak with more pride about my creative work.

All those assumptions started to fall away. I felt more free. My most recent boyfriend was super excited about my work as a writer and community-builder and he wanted us to collaborate. His support gave me strength to amplify my voice.

Now we are close friends. And we still support each other creatively.

Through that relationship I felt a door open, realizing that a relationship could actually support my creativity. Sure, I’d heard that many times, but I actually needed to live it to know it.

Of course’s it’s not an either-or: your creativity or your love life. But I needed to figure that out to know it, through my own journey in my own sweet time.

Naming a limiting belief is often the first step in letting it go.

It feels great to let that one go.

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rsz_smallerheadshotsashaquirkySasha Cagen is the author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics. While she researches her new book Quirkytogether she is teaching a new online class Quirkytogether 101. In this class and community you get to connect with others who share a vision of independence and interdependence in relationships. You’ll discover your version of a quirkytogether relationship where you bring your full quirky self to the relationship, honoring your individual spark and the spark of your partner. Join us in this weeklong online class and you’ll never lose yourself in a relationship again.

5 thoughts on “Your Creativity or Your Love Life

  1. Interesting article, Sasha.

    I certainly believe that some people who find themselves in long term relationships may lose their creative spark but I think like everything else, it mostly comes down to finding that right person for you who will support, encourage and ignite your creativity rather than let it burn out.

    In terms of the fear that motherhood would perhaps make you less creative – Whilst being a mother will of course take up a lot of the time that we currently have, I think that creative spirit is best fueled by new experiences and big changes to our world. And what’s more of a life changing experience that becoming a mother. :)

    1. Totally. It’s been an interesting journey for me to examine those beliefs and realize that my beliefs were not true. So much freedom there.

      There are so many mothers also who remain prolific also. I remain in awe of them and am always curious about how they structure their lives.

      Continuing to evolve and having new experiences is so key for creativity! That’s one reason it’s been important for me to keep quirkyalone as the foundation for me personally and also to explore what quirkyalone looks like quirkytogether! The class I’m organizing is going to be a great way to do that together.

    2. Hello ladies-
      I almost gave up on everything that was me because my first husband belittled me ( he was an alcoholic) and somehow made me think my art, products and writing was useless!
      Well I finally realized that I was better then that and that I was amazing! I had two boys, one 4 and one 2 months and I didn’t want then to see and model after either an alcoholic abusive man or a meek, tired, lifeless women so I stepped away, took my boys, struggled and regained my strength. I began building myself back up, renewed my faith and knowledge of positive energy and living.
      I now, 8 years later have a wonderful husband of 3 years, and 5 kids- his, hers and ours but all are ours! 😉
      I have also opened my own shop, my kids love my products and learning as well as being involved in the creative process as well as the research! I am truely blessed and want you to know that YES you can have both!!!!
      If you have a few minutes come check out my chemical-free, artistic world of. “Amyke Design”
      http://www.etsy.com/shop/amykedesign

  2. 14 years into a relationship, I can tell you you don’t have to choose. You DO have to choose the right partner (particularly women, since the relationship/creative pursuits dilemma seems to inhibit women more than men), one who respects what you do and will do whatever it takes not to get in the way of your creative pursuits. Many women are afraid to set those boundaries and sometimes thats all it takes. Also, having your own house/separate studio area is crucial.

  3. 14 years into a relationship, I can tell you you don’t have to choose. You DO have to choose the right partner (particularly women, since the relationship/creative pursuits dilemma seems to inhibit women more than men), one who respects what you do and will do whatever it takes not to get in the way of your creative pursuits. Many women are afraid to set those boundaries and sometimes thats all it takes. Also, having your own house/separate studio area is crucial.
    Nobody is going to take you seriously until you do.

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